celery-tahini-date salad

4 large pitted dates
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes (mine are old and dead so I added also a dash of Penzey’s Berbere powder)
1/4 tsp sea salt
8 stalks celery, cut thin on the bias (I also included lots of robust leaves)
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/4 cup roughly chopped mint
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Put dates in a bowl, pour over 1/2 cup boiling water and let sit 10 mins. Whizz up dates and soaking liquid with lemon juice, zest, tahini, chile, and salt. Add the celery and herbs and almonds, mix up.

Noelle’s Tuna Salad

from a friend:

White Tuna (in water)
Apple (sweet-tart)
Pickles (for real, yo)
Celery Salt
Black Pepper
Mustard (dijon)
Balsamic Vinegar
Maple Syrup

Take the apple, cauliflower, celery, and pickles and chop up into small happy pieces and throw them in a big bowl. Mix in a few cans of tuna, as little or as much as you like. I generally do more veggies than tuna. Plop on a nice dijon mustard and mayo. Add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, lemon juice, vinegar, a couple shakes of pepper and celery salt. Mix it all together.

dried cherries cure hiccups

Occasionally when I eat something spicy, it immediately triggers a bout of hiccups. That happened to me today with the first bite of spicy butternut squash soup, right before a client phone call. For some reason, I just then craved dried sour cherries specifically, and I had the sudden thought that eating them might cure the hiccups. Which was completely bizarre and obviously bullshit, EXCEPT THAT IT WORKED. Instantly. First cherry in the mouth, hiccups gone. WTF? But AWESOME.

Ga Xao Xa Ot – Spicy Lemongrass Chicken

Had another go at a Ravenous Couple recipe, this time for a lemongrassy chicken (ga xao xa ot). I like their recipes and their site is an excellent resource, but it seems that I always want to alter things a fair amount to get ’em the way I like ’em.

In this case, when I make this again (and I will), I will scrape off the chunks of lemongrass from the marinade before I cook, and I won’t bother with adding any garlic or lemongrass to the frying oil. Both tallasiandude and I don’t particularly like the texture of the chunks of seasoning on the meat.

So my version wound up being:

cut up package of boneless chicken thigh, and mix in a bowl with:

1 minced shallot
3 cloves minced garlic (maybe mash this up so it’s not in minced chunks)
1 stalk lemongrass, mince the tender white end
1 tbsp red chili pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp (generous, probably more like 3) fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp fresh ground pepper

I started late, so rather than “marinade the chicken for about 2 hours or overnight covered in the fridge” I just did an hour on the counter.

Scrape off the marinade bits from the chicken (maybe even rinse), and if you feel like it strain them out of the marinade liquid so you can add that liquid later with the coconut juice. In a large frying pan heat 1-2 tbs of cooking oil on high heat and add the chicken and dried peppers and sear until outside is browned, and stir occasionally. Add stock/coconut juice, cover and cook until juice is reduced by about half. If it seems like it is going to dry out and burn, just add the liquid sooner and let it stew. It tended to seem cooked when it really wasn’t, so cut open a chunk to check that it’s cooked through.

I served mine with jasmine rice, steamed broccoli, and steamed sugar snap peas. Delicious!

cuban slow-cooker beef (ropa vieja)

I continue to get Woman’s Day magazine (long story, they won’t stop sending it here and I do not pay for it), which sometimes has recipes that are the germ of something interesting. Always they are reduced down to their simplest, most easily accessible ingredients and the most inoffensive flavor profile, but often there’s the germ of a decent quick meal in there.

Recently there was a recipe for slow cooker Cuban-style beef and peppers. I rarely like slow cooker recipes because they come out bland, but this one seemed like it had a shot, being both suitable to a watery cooking method and chock-a-block with flavorful ingredients.

I wound up modifying and winging it, but I did use this Saveur recipe as a guide. Mine had red pepper, cubanelle pepper, onion, lots of beef, dry vermouth, capers, cumin, and oregano, and made the house smell nice after 6 hours in the cooker. I drained off the liquid and boiled it down and thickened it a bit with arrowroot and amped it up with more salt and spices and vinegar. I topped mine with chopped olives but didn’t add them to the pot since tallasiandude is actively not into olives.


omg shakshuka. We learned of it from our friends A & C when they served it to us for brunch. Ever since then, I’ve been making it over and over, because it is so unbelievably delicious. And easy. And healthy. I keep meaning to make a big batch so I can have enough to freeze, but frankly I just keep eating it up till it’s gone. Hopefully this time I will save some out to the freezer, since I have so many other cooking projects on the go this week as well. Mmmmmm… eggs in spicy tomatoey sauce, mopped up with toast.

I use David Lebovitz’s recipe, and just kinda eyeball quantities and timing. Always good. You’re welcome.