Kale salad with farro, parmesan, pine nuts, and dried fruit

I do two kinds of cooking.

One is cooking for the sheer fun of it. Sweet snacks! Brunch for friends! Ohmygod, I want chocolate!

But I realize that not everyone is as into that first kind of cooking as I am. I hear that.

The second kind of cooking, however, is the kind that needs to happen, week in and week out, to keep me fed, in a healthy-ish way, on relatively little money, often in a somewhat short amount of time. This is the type of cooking that everyone—young or old, in school or employed, with kids or without—needs to do. I don’t think there’s a way to eat healthy, relatively interesting food three times a day on a small budget without cooking for yourself.

For that second kind of cooking, I cannot go without recipes like this one. Continue reading “Kale salad with farro, parmesan, pine nuts, and dried fruit”

Anglo-Australian scones

For the first twenty or so years of my life, I did not like scones. I found them hard, dense, triangles that, though loaded with sugar and dried fruit and often coated in more sugar, somehow managed to taste like nothing. (Really, how is that possible? At that point, shouldn’t you just call it a day and bake some cookies?)  Presented with the option of scone or any other baked good, I would choose any other baked good. Bah humbug.

Then I moved to Sydney and encountered a different kind of scone. Pronounced “scawn,” Australian (really, British) scones are more like a sweet American biscuit than those dry, brick-like triangles that we call scones in America. They are light and bready. They are only slightly sweet (the idea being you pile sugar and clotted cream on top, rather than baking the sugar into the scone itself). And they are oh-so-nice with fruit for breakfast or with tea in the afternoon. Continue reading “Anglo-Australian scones”

Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons

Regular followers have probably noticed that I don’t cook much meat or poultry. In part, this is due to cost and environmental reasons.

But it’s also due to taste. I cook for leftovers, because I, like many of us, am too busy to cook multiple nights each week. And I often find meat leftovers…uninspiring. How do you reheat them without them drying out? (Does everyone know something about this that I don’t?) Plus, soups, grain salads, vegetarian stews, and so on all get better after a night in the fridge, rather than worse.

For me, the one exception to this rule is any meat or poultry that can be reheated in a sauce. The sauce helps keep the meat moist while it reheats.

That’s where this recipe comes in. Continue reading “Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons”

Raspberry-nut valentine cookies

I love chocolate. This is an unoriginal opinion, but it is nevertheless so, so true. So when I stumble upon cookies that aren’t chocolate–in the graduate students’ lounge of my department, at a friend’s house for dinner–I can’t say I feel mad, but I am certainly disappointed. A non-chocolate cookie is better than no cookie at all, but a great chocolate chip cookie always triumphs over all other options.

Except, once a year, on Valentine’s Day, ever since I was a little kiddo, I have preferred these raspberry-nut sandwich cookies. For one, they are beautiful: the raspberry jam shining through from the bottom layer, offset by the white powdered sugar on the top. Continue reading “Raspberry-nut valentine cookies”

Hot fudge banana pound cake

Sometimes I want my one-day-from-fruit-flies bananas to become a relatively healthy breakfast bread.

Most times, though, I want this. And how could I not? The flavor profile is perfect in its simplicity: just a dense, rich banana pound cake, swirled through with hot fudge sauce. You would be crazy not to serve it fresh out of the oven with vanilla ice cream that melts down into the nooks and crannies of the poundcake + more fudge sauce on top. What more could you ask for on a cold winter’s night? Leftover fudge sauce, you say? This does that, too, so stock up on ice cream.

Continue reading “Hot fudge banana pound cake”

The crispiest baked French fries

I love french fries. I will choose them any chance I get: with an inappropriate amount of ketchup at the dining hall in my college days, with a burger at In ‘n’ Out, at a McDonalds on a road trip, dipped in Dijon mustard and served with steak in Paris. They are my weakness. I can’t say no.

So it had always irritated me that I couldn’t make good, crispy fries in my own kitchen.

This recipe solved my problems. Continue reading “The crispiest baked French fries”

Moroccan-spiced roasted cauliflower and carrot salad with chickpeas and couscous

With about 95 percent accuracy, I can usually judge whether I will like a recipe from the ingredients list.

This was not one of those recipes.

I have been working my way through my most-used cookbook, Salad for Dinner, for years. And for years, I had skipped over this recipe. The ingredients sounded weird together. Would green olives really work with a dressing that was inflected with turmeric and cinnamon? Did cauliflower and carrots really need a starchy bed of couscous? Speaking of: was that really enough couscous for a couscous salad? And what about the chickpeas–where did they fit into this equation?

Continue reading “Moroccan-spiced roasted cauliflower and carrot salad with chickpeas and couscous”

Israeli couscous with preserved lemons, pistachios, and dried fruit

Though I grew up eating a lot of (delicious! Thanks, Mom!) meals that were protein + starch + vegetable, I don’t cook that way very often now. For one, I cook for leftovers, and I often find the texture of reheated meat unappealing. Two, I just so enjoy a heaping grain salad, a warm bowl of soup, or a big mess of curry or stew that a three-part meal never occurs to me. And three: cooking three things for one weeknight meal? Using three separate pots? That I then have to wash? Ugh.

As a result, I feel a bit out of my depth when I have to plan a meal that includes a separate meat, starch, and vegetable. The vegetable bit is okay. The meat, fine–I can do chicken under a brick or roast some lamb. But I find myself hitting a wall on the starch bit. Everything–roast potatoes, rice, and so on–just feels a bit, well, starchy and unexciting, like it’s just there in the name of “balance.”

Enter this couscous recipe. Continue reading “Israeli couscous with preserved lemons, pistachios, and dried fruit”

Bourke Street Bakery’s chocolate ganache tartlets

In Sydney, there exists the most magical place in the world: the Bourke Street Bakery. Located in my old neighborhood of Surry Hills, it is a tiny cupboard of a bakery whose baked goods—glorious, crusty breads ranging from soy-and-linseed sourdough to fig and walnut; flourless chocolate cakes; savory sausage rolls and pies; and oh-my-word tarts—create a queue that stretches out the door and down the block every morning.

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The day before I moved back to the States, I broke down and bought their (expensive, heavy, beautiful) cookbook. I have not regretted it. Continue reading “Bourke Street Bakery’s chocolate ganache tartlets”

Baked eggs with smoked salmon and kale

Have guests staying at your place for the holidays and need a make-ahead brunch? These baked eggs are the go. The combination of eggs and smoked salmon will always feel luscious and celebratory. Yet with the addition of kale and goat cheese (and the omission of hollandaise), this feels a bit more balanced than your typical salmon Benedict.

Plus, after 30-45 minutes of prep, these can sit in the fridge for a day or two before you are ready to bake them. (With plans to make these for a friend’s wedding brunch, I tested make-ahead time thoroughly on this recipe.) This relieves you of the need to cook guests brunch when you are also trying to cook dinner–or just enjoy time with visiting friends and family.

Continue reading “Baked eggs with smoked salmon and kale”