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”

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”

Chocolate, cherry, and hazelnut fougasse

A little over a year ago, a dear friend (and fellow graduate student) and I had an idea: to cook our way through an entire cookbook. Think Julie & Julia, but with more camaraderie and a tighter budget. We settled on David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen because it boasted solid reviews, stunning photos, and stories about Paris that delighted us with their enthusiasm and their sarcasm. (Sorry, France, I love you, but you do bring it on yourself sometimes.)

And so, every Sunday night for a year, my friend and I convened in her kitchen or mine to chop, sauté, braise, boil, and bake. She is impatient with processes—why does hot cheese take so long to cool?—and hates buttering baking dishes. I am far too cavalier about touching hot pans and foods. We came to refer to David Lebovitz as “Daveed” and talked about him as if he were in the kitchen. (“Daveed didn’t explain what milkshake-like consistency meant!”) But we shopped, chopped, cooked, ate, counseled, and laughed together, proving that the very best thing about food is how it brings people together. (And that is saying a lot coming from someone who can rhapsodize about eggs simmered in tomato sauce.) Continue reading “Chocolate, cherry, and hazelnut fougasse”