Latest 'Grams

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing and a 7-Minute Egg

In the last few years, I’ve fallen more and more in love with Middle Eastern food. I’m obsessed with tahini and za’atar. 

That’s how I started writing this post. Then I stopped, and started over, because I caught myself doing something that makes me cringe when I see others doing it.  

Saying “Middle Eastern food” can be like saying “American food” or “Asian food.” It's not wrong, per se, but it's not really right, either. It’s lumping together so many cuisines under one umbrella, and not taking into account, understanding, or celebrating the differences of each region, or culture, or community. We do it when we go out to eat, or when we (bloggers) post new recipes, or when we talk about "ethnic" cuisine. I have fallen in love with “Middle Eastern food," but what does that even mean? I admittedly, and embarrassingly, know so little about that part of the world, of cultures that shouldn't be defined by one popular ingredient. 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t appreciate and enjoy foods from other cultures, I really do love tahini and za’atar, and plan to continue making new recipes with them. I’m not saying we shouldn’t post about different cuisines on our blogs, or use techniques, ingredients, and ideas to make new dishes. Every time we eat falafel doesn’t need to be a lesson in cultural appropriation. But I do think it’s important to try to understand who the people are who brought these dishes or ingredients to the US (curiosity, by the way, is a good first step to empathy! A lesson that could do one unfortunate presidential candidate a lot of good). It’s important to talk about, to think about, and to be aware of. Especially when we see so much hate being directed at certain populations, by people with a disproportionate amount of power.  

And especially for a food blogger or writer, with a public platform. This little site is a minuscule speck of sand in the grand world of food blogs--I know that I’m not influencing tons and tons of people on a daily basis. But we’re all, no matter how small our reach, contributing to a narrative about food and culture, and it’s important to realize that sometimes the recipes we post or the way we talk about food from cultures other than our own can be misleading, wrong, hurtful, and sometimes damaging. We should all try harder, and be more aware. 

So, let me start over. Today I’m making a salad with za’atar, tahini, chickpeas, sumac, parsley--flavors I just can’t get enough of lately, thanks to an introduction from my Ottolenghi cookbooks, as well as food bloggers like Molly Yeh and Danielle Oron, who both know a lot about Israeli food, and restaurants that I can’t stop dreaming about like Mamnoon. While these ingredients are popular in that broad swath of “Middle Eastern cuisine," this salad is a random mish-mash of things I think taste good. Remember those sweet potato tacos I wrote about? And how I said I always make extra roasted sweet potatoes to eat throughout the week? Well, this quick salad is something that came about thanks to those extra sweet potatoes. We’re adding them to a bowl full of za’atar spiced chickpeas, a lemony, garlicky, sumac-dusted tahini dressing, and lots of parsley. I also added almonds for crunch, and a 7-minute egg, because it has the most perfect custardy yolk ever!


I was inspired to make the 7-minute egg by one of my favorite online food friends (just kidding, we’re not friends, but I pretend we are), Cara Nicoletti. She’s a blogger, author, butcher, badass. And she has the best Instagram captions that I wish I had thought of. My all-time favorite: she posted a food photo with the caption “Mike Will Made it. Just kidding, I did.” I want to steal that line every day. And she posted a pic of a glorious soft cooked egg, with the caption “7 minutes in heaven.” I’m still LOLing over that one. I sound like I’m stalking her don’t I? Maaaaybe let’s not tell Cara about this, ok? 

Anyway, now I’ve been making 6.5-7 minutes eggs like a madwoman, and doing something so godawful I always swore I’d never be one of those people… you know, the ones who microwave a smelly egg at work! Some nerve, right? Orangette taught me that you can reheat a soft boiled egg in the shell, for about 20 seconds, and it works like a charm. Which means this salad is perfect for a workday lunch!

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing and a 7-Minute Egg
Add as much arugula, etc as you desire. 

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 heaping teaspoon za’atar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Arugula 
Roasted Sweet Potatoes (recipe here)
Sliced avocado
Feta
7 minute egg (below) 
Chopped almonds
Tahini dressing (below)

Dry drained chickpeas (and peal them if you want them to be crispier), and toss with za’atar. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add chickpeas. Cook for about five minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. 

In large bowls, layer in arugula, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and avocado. Drizzle with dressing, and top with halved 7 minute eggs, chopped nuts, and feta. 

7-Minute Egg
Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover eggs. Bring to a boil. Gently lower eggs (using a slotted spoon) into water, and set timer for exactly 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, remove from heat, and drain water immediately. Run cold water into pot, over eggs until they come to room temperature (several minutes), or place immediately into an ice bath. For a runnier yolk, try 6.5 minutes. 

Tahini Dressing
½ cup water
¼ cup tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from ½ a large lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sumac
Pinch aleppo pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together.
******

Further Reading:
A quick run down about cultural appropriation of food.

One of my favorite articles ever, by the guy with the best bao ever (also, did I tell you about the time I ate at Baohaus and the place was empty other than Eddie Huang and his friends hanging out… I died. But was too shy to say hi.)

This: “Americans are increasingly interested in where food is sourced. Surely, that interest should extend to a meal’s cultural roots as well as its biological origins.”

And this: “When the “experts” of our food are people from outside our communities, that is a form of appropriation.”

And also, this: “The issue at hand isn’t complicated. Simply put, why label a dish as being a cultural element when it’s not?”

Also, my sister has a Masters in Cultural Studies, and recommended the following:
The Tourist Gaze - John Urry
Orientalism - Edward Said
The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power - Stuart Hall
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Monday, January 18, 2016

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Things I did over the weekend include: bake a bundt cake, drink champagne, cohost my sister's bridal shower, drink champagne, cry over the Seahawks loss, drink more champagne, make batch number two thousand and sixty of these sweet potato tacos, so that I could photograph them for the blog... even though the sun was going down and the light was terrible and the photos aren't great and I used parsley to look like cilantro because I was out and didn't plan ahead (#reallife), I needed to share this recipe with you! You can now make this one recipe for the rest of your lives and never have to plan dinner again. You’re welcome... I'm gonna go drink some champagne now. 

These tacos are nothing fancy, and maybe you’re like, eh, whatever, there are a zillion sweet potato tacos online, grow up. BUT YOU GUYS, these tacos have made up about 80% of my diet since November. I seriously can’t stop, won’t stop with sweet potato tacos right now. I’ve made these tacos a few times a week for a few months, and when I do, I try to roast extra sweet potatoes, which I then eat for lunch every day. Seriously, I eat them probably 4 days a week. Is that good for you? I have no clue… I’m afraid to look it up. If you are what you eat, I’m definitely turning into a sweet potato. Hopefully one of those long skinny svelte ones, not one of the big round plump ones.

Aside from my daily sweet potato habit, I’m obsessed with these tacos for a few reasons: first, they’re super easy even on a weeknight, even on a weeknight when you go to the gym and don’t start making dinner until 8PM. B: I typically have most of the ingredients on hand, but maybe that’s because I know I’m gonna make them every chance I get. Third: I love the flavor combo of sweet, spiced sweet potatoes with savory black beans, citrusy guac, and salty feta cheese. And finally: this is the one meatless dinner that I’ve been able to get Evan on board with!

If you make these tacos, be sure to roast an extra sweet potato, because I have another recipe coming up soon that uses the leftovers! Hint: It’s January appropriate for all you resolutioners. Hint hint: It’s a salad. But today: tacos!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Makes approx. 8 tacos

Corn tortillas
Black Beans (see below)
Sweet potatoes (see below)
Guacamole (with lime or lemon juice!!)
Feta
Cilantro
Sour Cream (if desired)

Warm corn tortillas in a hot skillet or in the oven. Fill with ingredients in order listed.

For the roasted sweet potatoes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed into dice-sized chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, syrup, cumin, chili powder, salt, and a crack of fresh black pepper. Drizzle over sweet potatoes, and toss to coat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, flipping once, until tender. Check on them for the last 5 or so minutes to be sure they’re not burning.

For the black beans
olive oil
half an onion, diced
1 mild pepper (like poblano), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained
salt and pepper

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add onion and pepper, and cook until onion is just starting to brown. Add garlic, and cook another minute or two longer. Add beans, and cook for a minute, lightly smashing the beans with the back of a spatula. Salt and pepper to taste.


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Food for New Parents

One of my best friends just had a baby over the weekend, and I’m completely obsessed and in love with her new little guy. I have a handful of friends with babies, and of course Evan and I have a 3 and a half year old nephew that we’re crazy about, but this is first time I’ve been right there with a close close friend, and watched her transition from the girl I met the first day of college, to a hardworking professional business woman, a wife, a pregnant lady, and finally to a mom. It’s insane, and I have so much respect and love for her right now that I want to cry. Are sympathy hormones a thing?

I’ve been thinking of ways I can help her and her husband survive their first few weeks home with the babe, and obviously food is a big one. I think the standard go-to is to bring freezer meals, like casseroles (which I’m not knocking, because hello, cheesy deliciousness), but then I did a little research, and loved this idea and these ideas

I’m no expert (and I’m not a mom… and have very little baby experience... this new guy is the youngest baby I've ever held!), so obviously I can’t give the “this worked for me” stamp of approval, but how amazing does it sound to have a fridge full of fresh, healthy salad-y things that you can just grab a bite of with zero effort? I mean… I want to do this for myself! And my new parent friends. But also… for myself! 

Here a few things from the archives that I think would make great drop-off meals for new parents. And New Year’s resolutioners. And… me. 

Chocolate chip pumpkin muffins or golden flapjacks for a sweet breakfast
Baked tortilla huevos rancheros for a savory breakfast 
Sweet potato, pear, & wild rice salad… in a mason jar
Sesame soba noodle salad with tofu 
Tuna and white bean salad with tomatoes and kalamata olives
Wheat berry salad with avocados, strawberries, and caramelized shallots
Southwest quinoa burrito bowl salads
Pumpkin pulled pork burrito bowls
A taco box with homemade pork carnitas 
Roasted vegetables with harissa yogurt sauce 
And of course, new mom’s need dessert as much as the next gal (if not more!) so …cookies! Try these pretzel and M&M ones or these quinoa, chocolate, coconut ones

What do you think? Do you have other ideas for what to bring new parents or how to help them adjust to their new lives? I’d love to know! 
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy Twenty Sixteen

Twentysixteen! We made it! Happy New Year, friends. I’ve been a little MIA since early December. Truth be told, I barely turned on my computer over the holidays. It was a busy few weeks for me, with lots of parties, activities, a little bit of travel, and of course a full day of binging on Making a Murderer. 
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Slice and Bake Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

It’s cookie swap time!! Once again, I participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, an event hosted by the lovely gals of Love & Olive Oil and Little Kitchen, wherein food bloggers make cookies, send each other cookies, blog about the cookies, eat the cookies, and support Cookies for Kids Cancer, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, and did I say eat cookies?
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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spiced Apple Bourbon Sparklers

What are your favorite holiday cocktails? I love warm mulled wine and bourbon drinks. And I’m a big fan of champagne or sparkling wine during the holidays slash all year long. This year I whipped up a double batch of this eggnog, at my coworker’s insistence. It’s been aging for a few weeks, so we won’t know the outcome until we crack it open the week of Christmas. I’m pretty excited for it though! 
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Menu 2015

THANKSGIVING WEEEEEEEK (forget Oprah voice, we're singing that with Jean-Ralphio flush-with-cash voice)! I’m hosting for the first time, and I’m so excited! I usually help my ma out in the kitchen, and make one or two dishes, but I've never been in charge of the full meal, or the turkey. I'm stooooooooked to do the turkey! I'll probably post some updates on Instagram (is this what Snapchat is for? Ugh. I just feel too old for Snapchat... I mean... be real, it's just for d**k pics, right??), to let you know how it all turns out. If you need any last minute inspiration, here’s my menu!
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