Archive for August, 2012

same as it ever was

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

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Also?

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I went to the dermatologist. Not for anything in particular, just because my mom has been really prone to skin cancer and my skin is starting to look more and more like hers. I have freckles and age spots and all kinds of stuff, so I had someone look.

His basic answer was ‘everything looks fine, but watch this thing and this thing and also wear more sunscreen’.

I think they’re legally obliged to say that.

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The artwork on the wall was nice.

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Also, we went to the opening of a new brewery in Louisville! I love breweries. And Louisville.

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Sadly, I did not particularly love any of these beers.

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The mini mugs sort of made up for it though.

I love me a good mini mug.

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The space is pretty cool too. And there were a lot of people who were very excited.

Maybe they liked the beer more than I did.

 

lobstah

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

OH.

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So THIS is why people like lobster.

Crockett and I met up for a quick happy hour yesterday after work, and noticed that lobster rolls were on the specials menu. Having recently dissed lobster, I decided I should probably try a lobster roll. Right?

Oh my god right.

Crockett and I shared this one, and in retrospect that was a freaking terrible idea. Just god awful.

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My half was not enough.

Seriously, lobster lovers. I get it now. Ok? Ok.

Also, I had the drink that Lexi (bartender/owner) was slinging – she called it the Mexican Word. It was Herradura Reposado (I think – definitely Herradura somethin’), Chartreuse, Luxardo (maraschino liqueur), and lime juice.

It was fantastic. I mean, it was no lobster roll, but it was fantastic.

Everything else I ate yesterday was stupid in comparison.

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Don’t my fruits and veggies and tiny container of peanut butter look cute in my new lil lunchbox thing? It’s a ‘Box Appetite’ from a company called Black and Blum. They have it on Amazon, but I got a better deal on Fab.com. (That sale is way over now). There’s another triangular container that fits into this one that’s holding my chickpea salad here, but I didn’t use it yesterday.

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I also got their Bento Box, in orange. Yesterday thats where I put my chickpea salad.

I made a lot of chickpea salad.

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There was also peach crumble. It was fine. Whatever.

I want another lobster roll.

 

the night of the parentheses

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

I would like to issue a formal apology for the typos that made it into the last post. I usually read it at least once, ya know? Apparently not yesterday. (Would it help to say I was drunk? I wasn’t, but you never know, you know?) (Did that last question try to imply that you could be drunk without knowing it? Wow, I am off to a stellar start tonight, aren’t I.)

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I suspect that mini bananas are laced with some delicious drug.

The kind of delicious drug that makes you want more mini bananas and less proofreading, I guess.

They’re very thin skinned (although that could have had something  to do with how ripe this one was, I guess?) and very sweet. I don’t understand the difference – for all I know they’re lab grown (although I couldn’t find anything that indicated that was true in a very short chat with my buddy in the internet).

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Oh, speaking of the internet! (Terrible segueway in three… two… one…) Guess what the internet totally forgot about? The rainforest. Do you remember when everyone cared a super lot about the rainforest? I do. I was in a group called the Rainforest Action Group when I was in sixth grade. We rapped. For real – there was a video of me rapping. I said ‘my name is Emma and I’m here to say, I care for the rainforest in a major way’.

That did really happen. As far as I know the video no longer exists. It’s too bad, because I think I was wearing a Hypercolor tee shirt and I would really like to see that shirt again.

(OH did you see my sparkly cool thumbnail with the messy edges? The gems are from these stickers I got at King Soopers for $4.99.) (Very sparkly.) (Very cool.)

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I’m so glad I ordered harissa. This is chickpea and harissa and chicken and celery and yogurt salad, and I love it. I didn’t stir it very well, though, so some bites are all WOW HELLO HARISSA.

(Do you remember Clarissa Explains it All? I feel like Clarissa would have appreciated my rainforest rap.)

Last night, Crockett had a bad night. You know those nights when you’re just irritated? You stub your toe and your girlfriend’s dog pukes on your carpet and … you know, bad nights.

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I asked him what would make him feel better, and he said beet salad from Lucky Pie. Since he got a salad, I didn’t feel like I could get a pizza, because then I would have eaten it all up, so I got a strawberry salad.

With salted Marcona almonds. And goat cheese.

Could a woman live off almonds and goat cheese?

I suspect a woman could.

(If that woman were me.)

(Parenthetical.)

 

what weekend? and peach bars!

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

One particular thing that I forgot about working in a office.

“How was your weekend?”

It’s not that I mind people asking. Even semi-faux interest is a nice gesture when you’re spending serious quality cubicle time with people. It’s more that I immediately lose track of what happened over the weekend the second I walk back into the building. Weekend me disappears and week me, who is a lot like weekend me except without the fun part, gets all up in my frontal lobe.

I did have a good weekend, though!

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The girls and I had some weird moments where they enthusiastically sniffed at a fence (that’s in front of another fence) so hard that Maida started snapping at Cloey because she was hogging the sniffing.

Why weird? Because I stuck my nose near the fence too. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t smell anything, but there’s a pretty good chance that I sucked something gross into my nose all the same.

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Crockett and I looked at our freezer and realized that some of our favorite tamales from Costco that we don’t eat anymore because one day we accidentally looked at the nutritional information (TERRIBLE IDEA, PEOPLE) were still hiding in there, so steamed ‘em up. There’s taking care of your health, and there’s wasting food. I prefer to do the first and avoid the second, but sometimes the two collide, and you have to have tamales for dinner.

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Mine fell apart on it’s way out of the steamer, but it was still so delicious that I swooned. Swooned, I tell you. There’s nothing like a hearty mixture of lard and masa to really bring a Saturday night home.

Also, I made peach-thyme cornmeal crumb bars.

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Because my peaches were being stupid and my thyme plant was being awesome. The recipe is at the bottom but I have a LOT of words today ok? Ok.

Sunday was basically more of the same, except with some cooking for the upcoming week and some laundry doing and oh right also less recovering from multiple texas slushes.

Did I mention that Friday night was a big night?

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Sunday morning I snacked on some fruit and then ran to the store to get half and half, which I’d forgotten on my big Saturday shopping trip. My local Albertson’s, which is a workhorse of a grocery store that can totally fill in for half and half when needed but isn’t really my go-to for … well, anything fresh, had a small basket of hierloom tomatoes. I don’t know where they came from, and I don’t care. They looked wonderful. (I can no longer accept the regular ones now that I know their color is ruining their flavor! They look pretty and then blerg. I’m over it.) I bought two and three avocados and when I got home I pulled Crockett away from his tree trimming for brunch BLATs.

That was a really long story just to have it end with BLAT, when you could clearly see there was a BLAT right there.

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The tomato was so good that I ate it with the leftover aioli (ha – light mayo with additional lemon juice and powdered garlic).

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Then, to continue our produce-centric meals, I made a pizza with tomatoes (Pomi), tomatoes (yellow cherry), mozzarella (left over from book club), goat cheese, and two kinds of basil.

It was super tasty.

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Cloey really really wanted a bite, but I was too focused on Hell On Wheels to give her more than many minute of doting attention.

Look at her face.

Seriously.

She didn’t get any, though, because her tummy is still upset and also pizza isn’t for dogs!

Peach Thyme Crumb Bars
Based on Smitten Kitchen Blueberry Crumb Bars

1 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into slices
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream (light is fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced thyme
4 cups sliced peaches (I did not bother peeling them)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat your oven to 375. Grease a 9 x 13 or 10 x 10 inch pan. (Crockett got me this square nonstick Williams Sonoma cake pan that I worship and I literally bake everything I can in it. I didn’t even grease it.)

Stir together the first four ingredients and the thyme. Scatter the butter over the top and cut it in using either a pastry cutter or the tips of your fingers. When the butter is mostly flat and small, add the egg and the sour cream. Smoosh it together until it’s holding together in small clumps, and pat slightly more than half into the bottom of your pan. You don’t need to  press very hard, just make a flat surface.

Toss the sliced peaches with the cornstarch, and lay them out in a roughly even layer. Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the top, as close to even as you can get.

Bake for 45 minutes. You want the top to be lightly brown and the fruit to be bubbling where it’s visible.

Munch munch munch.

many many responsibilities

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I started my new job on June 4th – this Monday will mark the beginning of my twelfth week.

I’m kind of used to it now – to going to work in the morning and coming home in the afternoon and usually packing a lunch. This week, though, i started messing with my schedule – instead of running in the morning, I’ve been running at lunchtime. It’s nice because I get to sleep in a little, but I’m usually not hungry right after I run, so my lunch ends up just being nibbles of whatever I brought all afternoon.

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On Thursday I just had lots of snacky stuff. Tofu, a pretty good peach, peach pie, nuts, and the scalloped tomatoes with croutons.

I actually ate everything but the tofu – I just didn’t really feel like it. And then I was starving when I got home. Serves me right.

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I had some cheese and some naan and some wine when I got home.

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Then Crockett heated me up some semi-vindaloo and I ate it while we watched the last episode of the first season of The Walking Dead.

My favorite part of that show is when the lead character forgets to use his American accent.

(I’m calling the semi-vindaloo semi because it’s just pork simmered with onions in vindaloo spices and coconut milk. I think real vindaloo has a lot more going on.)

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Yesterday for lunch, my whole team (14 people!) went to Carino’s Italian Grill. It was seriously terrible. First of all, there is no such thing as a good restaurant experience when 14 people order at the same time – at least not somewhere with one server per section and a lunchtime rush. One guy ordered the unlimited soup, salad, and breadstick lunch, and got his second bowl of soup almost twenty minutes after he requested it. Another guy ordered a glass of wine – and it came with the check.

The bread on my meatball sandwich was good, but the meatballs were… odd. There was something GREEN in them. Pepperoncini, maybe? The fries were covered with parmesan cheese, which was the only good thing about them. At all.

Plus the whole thing literally took like two hours.

My night was a much better experience. It was the last Louisville Street Faire, so Crockett and I met up with some friends and my mom and took in some tunes and some drinks and generally painted the town red. We got home at after 1, which is SO LATE.

I got up at 11 today.

It’s like I’m in my twenties or something up in here y’all.

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Is it weird that I took a picture of my mom and myself in the bathroom of a restaurant? No? Thanks, I didn’t think so either.

How was your Friday night?

TOMATOES

Friday, August 17th, 2012

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So I’m sure you don’t know that tomatoes are awesome right now. Because of how you don’t go to any stores or look at the internet at all.

These are some heirloom babies that Crockett and I picked up at Whole Foods. Yes, they were $4 a pound. Yes, I find that entirely reasonable. I wanted to use them for BLATs, but then I forgot, and then they’d been on the counter for several days….

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And then they (and a buttload of my purple basil) were this.

Isn’t buttload a charming word to use when referring to food?

Other things that happened yesterday:

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More Fresca (consumed while everyone else was eating lunch and I just got back from the gym).

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A tiny chunk of super tasty Murray’s fromager d’affinois (it’s sort of like brie and sort of like butter and sort of completely awesome).

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Some of the Whole Foods sweet chili tofu that I definitely should have already eaten…

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and a peach – not pictured, peach pie.

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These bowls of rice and cottage cheese are not for me. As shocking as that may sound. My Cloey has been having some digestive issues lately, and on the vets instructions she’s on bland foods for a couple of days. The bowl on the right is for Maida – she gets a little rice and cottage cheese with her dog food so she doesn’t feel left out.

I’m not actually sure if she’s capable of feeling left out, but I would feel like she’s left out, and that’s close enough.

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Also? I intentionally drank red wine for the first time since May. That was a weird choice.

spazmodic eating

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

On Monday night I made something I was SUPER excited to eat.

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Pretty, right?

It’s spicy shrimp and apple salad from Serious Eats. We’ve had it before, twice, and both times I loved it so much I could barely contain myself.

On Monday I forgot the nuts AND the basil (which I was going to sub in for the mint). And I used a shallot that was a little past it’s prime, which maintained a level of spiciness that was a little overwhelming even after I soaked it in water.

Basically it blew. My fault, not the recipe’s fault. So sad.

Then yesterday I just put oddly timed and chosen foods in my mouth all day until I didn’t feel like eating them anymore.

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I started the morning with a smashed chickpea salad – basically I smooshed chickpeas and then stirred in a little mayo, some salt, some celery, and a big squeeze of harissa.

It was good. And spicy.

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I followed with about half of this package of Popchips.

I love Popchips. They’re so crunchy that if people who want to talk to me have to go away when I’m eating them and come back later.

They’re not usually breakfast food, but wev.

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I figured out how to get Fresca out of the soda machine! (Turns out there is no row F. Spoiler: the Fresca was in row E the whole time.)

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Then, later, for… lunch? Who can say with meals like this. It was about 2 pm, I think… I had a piece of an almond peach galette I made on Monday night after dinner to rebound from the shrimp salad fiasco. It’s a basic half whole wheat all butter pie dough, layered with about a cup of frangipane from my freezer, topped with three sliced fresh peaches, and baked for about forty five minutes.

It’s way better than the messed up shrimp salad.

I got hungry towards the end of the day, but I held out because three of my darling friends were coming over at 6:45 for book club, and they were all bringing food. I chilled a bottle of dry riesling (what? are you implying I knew they didn’t like riesling and I’d have leftover wine? of course not!) and made a spinach artichoke dip (ingredients from Alton Brown, quantities unmeasured, lightened, and based on what I had in my fridge and then topped with more parm and broiled for five minutes), and we chatted about Wither and life and basically got our girl on.

There may have been a dance party when Cruel To Be Kind came on the stereo.

Other good spontaneous dance party songs? They must exist!

We had three kinds of hummus, sliced veggies, bread, crackers, almonds, cheese, chocolate covered pretzels, and my dip. I have a picture somewhere… but I’m tired and my camera is alllll the way over there. Anyway, hopefully your Tuesday was fab!

cuppy cakes!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Despite my solemn promise of a cuppy cake recipe yesterday, I totally did not share a cuppy cake recipe.

Why am I saying cuppy cake? Because I’m currently super adorable, I guess?

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See?

Oh, that’s not adorable.

That’s the kind of thing that happens at a 5 year old’s birthday party.

(Crockett’s nephew turned five. Wearing that mask is one thing I did yesterday that was not publishing a cupcake recipe.)

(Apparently seeing myself in a Spiderman mask was enough to knock me out of that ‘cuppy cake’ nonsense.)

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We also helped my mom move a couch into her garage. It’s a nice leather couch. It’s for sale on Craigslist – let me know if you’re interested (and not halfway across the country)! It’s from Scandinavian Designs but was the only piece of furniture in her guest room and does not make much of a guest room bed.

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We went grocery shopping and brought home whatever we felt like for lunch. Crockett apparently felt like a tiger roll.

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I, less sensibly, felt like a big sweet chili tofu steak.

We shared, because he did not begrudge me my odd choice.

Now, without further ado… Cupcakes!

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(What? I told you I forgot to take pictures of them!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here’s what you need to know about these cupcakes. They have been gradually and professionally optimized by me to consistently bake up gorgeous at 5000 feet, give or take. In other words, this is a high altitude recipe. It will probably be fine at sea level, but if your’e up in the air with me know that this does not need any alterations, mmkay?

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 30 cupcakes – can easily be halved or two-thirded (two thirded? really?)

15.5 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 salt 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup water
3 eggs

Heat your oven to 350. Line your cupcake tins with papers.

Note: remember what I said last week about making buttermilk with milk and vinegar? That’s not ideal here – buttermilk is actually the flavor of red velvet, so use the real stuff if you can. If you really think you’ll never use it again and want to buy just half a pint, make up the extra 1/4 cup with 2% milk.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar with the oil until combined and then add the remaining ingredients and whisk until uniform. Add half to the dry ingredients and stir until they’re all moistened, then add the rest and beat the crap out of it by hand for about two minutes or by machine for about twenty seconds. You don’t usually do that with cake batter, but the amount of acid in the batter means it’s going to stay tender and this will help give you a light texture by putting a bunch of air in the batter.

Using a half cup measure or a half cup ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake paper. If you’re making all thirty and using regular tins with space for twelve cupcakes, leave the center two empty in each. If you’re baking them in batches, which I suggest, beat the batter for a second before filling the liners each time.

Bake for between 13 and 17 minutes – I would tap the top at 13 and if the dent sticks, give it two more minutes. If it still feels a smidge squishy, give it one more. No more than that. Seriously, don’t do it. You’re asking for dried out cupcakes. Turn out of the pans to cool and frost or wrap well and freeze.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese (three packages)
1 pound butter (four sticks)
1 – 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar (it comes in one or two pound bags)
2 tsp vanilla

Bring all the ingredients to room temperature. Seriously. This is the most important part. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART.

Blend the cream cheese and butter together until TOTALLY combined. It will seem ok to have little lumps but it is NOT OK. If you see a lump and you think it’s the last lump, it is not the last lump. Keep mixing.

Sift over about 1/2 pound of your powdered sugar and carefully beat. (This will be messy. It’s worth it.) Do it again, mix in the vanilla, and taste. If you want it sweeter, which I usually don’t, gradually add what you have left, tasting as you go. It’s easy to over power the cream cheese tang, so proceed carefully.

Use to frost your cupcakes. You’ll have a tiny bit left over, so you should probably just eat that.

 

HARISSA FINALLY

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

 

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So I’ve been looking for harissa everywhere. I assumed it would not be that hard to find – it’s not like Boulder county is a culinary wasteland. I checked at two different Whole Foods, a few grocery stores, and Super Target, and had no luck whatsoever. (A WF worker did helpfully inform me that they had something that had harisa in it – some kind of meal in a box, maybe? It was definitely not what I was looking for.)

Crockett and I went to Pacific Ocean Market, even, which is this absolutely INSANE Asian market a couple of towns over. We spent several minutes sniffing durian packages (not smelly until opened, apparently), many many minutes in the ramen aisle, and quite a significant amount of time discussing cocktails made with palm sugar, since there were several brands. We did not find harissa. Honestly, I knew it was a stretch, because harissa is from Tunisia which ain’t exactly Asian, but whatever.

I ordered it from Amazon.

While we were waiting for the harissa to come, I did make some tasty food.

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Pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes, pesto from our ridiculously prolific basil plant, and goat cheese. Served with roasted green beans because this was actually last Sunday and last Sunday I had this weird idea that we were going to eat a vegetable with every meal.

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Red velvet cupcakes as a special request from a dear friend for her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend who totally ruined the surprise by buying himself two red velvet bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes the day before.

(I forgot to take pictures of them frosted, obviously, but I’ll give you the recipe tomorrow. It’s pretty good. I’ve worked pretty hard on it. And my cream cheese frosting is fucking amazing. Totally true.)

BUT then the harissa came!

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Harissa Chickpeas and Greens with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Not Without Salt

1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 ounce can)
1 tablespoon harissa paste
3/4 tsp kosher salt
6 cups mixed greens, preferably the baby version of toughish varieties (spinach, kale) or spicy ones (arugula) – we used a whole prewashed box of mixed spinach and arugula
2 ounces goat cheese

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is pale gold in color.

Stir in the harissa and dump in the chickpeas. Stir gently until they’re mostly covered with the paste, and then occasionally until you start to see golden spots on the chickpeas. You’re not just trying to heat them up, you’re actually trying to fry the outside just a little. (I was using a non-stick pan – use your judgement. If they start to stick, you can be done.)

Add the greens by the handful, stirring until they wilt. Divide into two dishes and top with crumbled goat cheese. (Feel free to serve over rice, if you like. I didn’t find it necessary but Crockett did.)

Serves two people who like heat. The harissa is spicy, but tasty.

 

take it! I want you to have it!

Friday, August 10th, 2012

My book is free today!