Saturday, March 28, 2009

Being spoiled is...

  • recieving Molly's new book and reading it within three days (I had to go to work in between. Otherwise I'd have devoured it much faster)
  • having dinner with friends who reveals they're getting married, and squealing with delight at the thought
  • having breakfast in bed at 10.30 am - scrambled eggs, whole grain bread, cream cheese and Bayonne ham
  • making bread form scratch on a weekly basis
  • not knowing which of the recipes to attack first in your new Ottolenghi Cookbook because you want to do them all - especially the eggplant ones
  • spending Saturday night with your best friend, her husband and little girl and big slabs of beef
  • buying 2 pounds of vanilla beans and constantly swooning away from their heady scent

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Probably The Prettiest Salad on the Planet: Fattoush

Doesn't that look like spring? Just a tiny bit? And don't we NEED a little spring? I know I do. The weather has been absolutely pretty around here the last couple of days, I've dropped off my big bulky winter jacket at the cleaners (so it'll be ready for next winter) and am cautiously stepping out of the ever present jeans and yesterday, I thin pantyhose and a skirt. A SKIRT. Next up, I'm getting seeds ready for the balcony. It IS spring, yay!

The great thing about the salad up there - besides being almost girlish-ly adorable in it's colors - is that you can actually make this in the depth of winter. No, the tomatoes won't be as fantastic, but then leave them out and up the amount of sweet, musky melon (and I know, they're not really in season either, but at least they're worth paying for, as opposed to the greenhouse tomatoes from Holland that are all texture, no taste) The REAL time to make this is probably late summer, but I simply cannot wait. I want my dose of spring NOW!

Fattoush - Middle Eastern Bread Salad - a Camilla Plum inspiration
Another fantastic thing about this salad is that you can cut everything up well in advance, then toss it with the dressing just before serving.

You need:
6 medium ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1 yellow and/or 1 red bell pepper
1 small bunch of radishes
1 small red onion
4 handfuls of mixed, crispy salad - I often use spinach, a bit of romaine, maybe some mizuna...
The seeds of half a pomegranate (but why not use the entire thing while you're at it?)
Half a small melon (I like honeydew melons, but cantaloup or Galias are just as fine. Definitely use watermelons when they're in season) and you're always welcome to do a mix, of course
Large bunch of flat-leaf parsley
Fresh mint
2 pita pockets

Cut everything into chunky - not too small - bite-sized pieces. I try to make sure I have some thing in slices (like the radishes) and some things in quarters (tomatoes) and other things just roughly cut (bell peppers, cucumbers). Tear the salad leaves up a bit, scatter the parsley and mint over. Toast the pitas until a tad more crispy than you'd do if you were stuffing them, then tear them up over the salad. Toss everything together with:

The dressing:
75 ml. nice olive oil
1 tablespoon elderflower vinegar (or other light vinegar)
2 cloves of garlic
maybe the juice of half a lemon (i usually don't think it needs it, but you be the judge)
salt and pepper
- whisk everything together. Start by using half, then add more to the salad if needed. Toss, toss, toss, then sprinkle everything with a pinch or three of sumac - it has a slightly tangy, citrussy kick that pulls everything together.