Appetizers, French, Recipes, Vegetarian

Provencal Chickpea Dip

When you’re gearing up for the launch of your first cookbook, and trying to work on two blogs while planning a book launch party, weekdays can get a bit hectic. Sit-down lunches start becoming a luxury. Heck, lunch becomes a luxury. Or at least, lunch that doesn’t involve grabbing a slice of pizza on the go.

Last week, after lecturing to myself that I really did need something healthier, I decided to whip up a batch of Provencal chickpea dip  that could last for several days. And pair it with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and pita bread, everything that could be picked up quickly from the neighborhood market. This super easy recipe comes from Anne Willan’s wonderful and beautifully photographed The Country Cooking of FrancePoischichade is a Provencal version of hummus and baba ganoush, and has an intense smoky flavor from the roasted red peppers and ground cumin.

Appetizers, Recipes

Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce

You know how everyone has a few dishes in their repertoire that they have made the same way for as long as they can remember? Those dishes that you learned once, thought they tasted pretty good, and so you never wavered from the familiar way you were taught?

For me one of those dishes in potato salad. That old summertime picnic and barbecue standby. Since high school or college, I’ve made it in the exact same manner, tossing boiled potatoes with a mayo and dill dressing, maybe accented with a bit of lemon juice. Classic, comfortable, but not terribly mind-blowing, like that black sheath dress you wear to the office.

Well, I think I’ve found the smoking hot, slinky red dress equivalent of the potato salad. And it involves thickly cut bacon and tangy barbecue sauce.

Appetizers, Recipes, Salads, Vegetarian

Greek Kale Salad

July is the time of year when I go in for my yearly physical. This year, the results came back fine and dandy as usual, except for one tiny thing — I have a slight iron deficiency. Of course, that's very minor in the spectrum of problems a doctor can phone you about, but it's also a little crushing to not get the same  "everything looks great! keep doing what you're doing!" remark from years past.

"Eat more lean red meat," I was told. "Or more dark leafy greens."

It's great to have a legitimate excuse to go find out and find a nice juicy steak or burger, stat! But really, I definitely would not be able to keep doing that every day to meet my iron requirement. This is where the kale comes in.

Appetizers, French, Recipes, Vegetarian

Tomatoes Provencales

January, the unofficial month in America for diets and cleanses and general low-fat eating, might seem like an odd time to cook a bunch of recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Especially if you’re someone who, for example, ate an average of 6 to 8 cookies at day for the last two weeks. (But who’s keeping exact count?)

Contrary to some beliefs, not ever recipe in MTAOFC involves tons of butter, heavy cream, or fatty meats. You just have to dig a bit to find the recipes from Provence, where olive oil is used more profusely. Soup au pistou, one of the quintessential Provençal soup, is pretty much all vegetables and beans. Ratatouille is another all-vegetarian dish using olive oil, and you can really use half the oil that Julia Child calls for. Or salade niçoise, or bouillabaisse, or saffron-scented garlic soup.