Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love collards! I’ve never treated them quite like this, but I thought it was delicious. Collards have a textural assertiveness that went perfectly with the bright sharp flavors of capers and olives. This was very simple to put together. If you added some beans to the dish (white would be nice!) and served it with rice or pasta, you’d have a quick meal.
So when I made this Moroccan-spiced chickpea stew, Isaac refused to try it, because that’s what he does. Then I gave him a chickpea. He ate that, and helped himself to more. I gave him an olive. He ate that, and spooned a few more onto his plate. By the time the rest of us had left the table, I looked out the window and saw that he’d pulled the whole serving plate toward him, and was eating everything together, hungrily. So we’ll take Isaac swimming, and Malcolm will curl up on the couch with a good book.
The stew was really tasty, and it’s a good way to use up all your tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers, if you’re sick and tired of ratatouille. It’s not authentically Moroccan-spiced, of course. It’s just that it’s a pleasing mixture of savory spices and herbs, and “sweet” spices and herbs. And the bread! Well, I’d been reading fascinating accounts of Moroccan flatbread, that generally contain semolina, and are folded into all sorts of beautiful fashions. I decided to play around with these ideas, but in one big loaf. It turned out very nice! With a lovely texture and flavor – crumbly, chewy, and satisfying. If you don’t feel like doing all the crazy folding, you could just shape it into a nice round, and leave it at that.
Here’s Peter Tosh’s beautiful I Am that I Am.
In keeping with the practicality of this post, we will give you two recipes at once, and both will be for practical things – bread and potatoes. This bread is the best bread that I have ever made! All the other loaves have been preparation for this bread. It is crispy, it has a big open grain – it has holes! It’s chewy, and tasty. I nearly killed my food processor making it!! I’ve been experimenting with wetter and wetter dough, these last few months – to the point that it became very messy to knead with my hands. I was thrilled to get my food processor, because I thought I could use it to knead the dough. It worked, but at some point it seized up! There was a bad smell of burning. The dough was stuck in the food processor, the blade wouldn’t move, the container would not be budged! I scraped all the dough out into a bowl, and everything worked out in the end. I must have left it too long. The other recipe is for a medley of different types of potatoes (from our CSA!) We have red-skinned, white fleshed, golden fleshed. We scrubbed them, cut them in half, boiled them briefly, combined them with olive oil, oregano, capers, olives and lemon juice, and broiled them. Perhaps the most delightful and unexpected part of this recipe is that the capers (or flavor dynamites, as my sons call them) got crispy. Crispy! They’re delicious.
So – we got some onions from the farm. It might seem odd, but this has been one of my biggest veg challenges to date. I like shallots, chives, scallions… I just don’t love actual onions. They’re too much! I don’t like the smell of them clinging to walls and clothes like some bad dream from a Tom Waits song. But I tried caramelizing them, and I think they’re quite nice. I followed Deborah Madison’s recipe to the letter (except that I halved it). If ever I were to follow a recipe, it would certainly be hers. She’s my hero! And I decided to put them on a big, pizza-like tart. With brie, capers, and artichoke hearts, and fresh sage and fresh thyme. Because I had all those things, and they told me they’d be good together! And they were! This was very easy, and very tasty. I used a buttery pate brisée crust, but you could use pizza dough instead, if you were in the mood.
I’ll make something more special tonight, but in the meantime, here’s a dish that reminds me of a special meal we had on vacation long ago. We used to go to upstate New York every autumn, and we’d eat at a restaurant called The 1819 House. It was just our kind of place. They served something they called vegetarian paella, and we’ve been having different versions of it ever since. Here’s one version, which I call…vegetarian paella. And this new version has kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and olives, in a sweet/salty broth made with white wine, orange juice and tarragon. All of the flavors blend nicely, so you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. As David said, you don’t really taste the orange, you just taste a sunny, summery flavor.
And I do love the idea of taking a day to remember. Time is running and passing like a caravan freighter, and I love to think that, as a nation, we stop everything for one day, to remember. And to be grateful. And to celebrate being with our friends and our family. And, yes, of course I love the idea that the way we celebrate is by making a meal together, because, as far as I can tell, after the parade, that’s what memorial day is all about.
So, if you happen to be grilling anything this weekend, think about this almond aioli as an accompaniment! We don’t eat mayonnaise in my family. David had a supermarket deli job as a teenager, and that gave him a healthy aversion to mayonnaise from which he will never recover. I like it, but I don’t need to eat it. I’m okay without it. I make it, from time to time, and that’s nice, but I eat it all by myself. Well…I had the bright idea to make it with almonds instead of eggs. I think it turned out very nice!! It’s intensely flavorful, with dijon, capers, and roasted garlic. So you just need a bit. I’ve been putting it on everything!! Roasted veg, beans & greens stews, french fries. I think it would be lovely with grilled vegetables. It didn’t get quite as smooth as mayonnaise, but I made it in my blender. I wonder if you had a good food processor if it would get more creamy? It’s good, anyway, with a bit of texture.
Here’s Bob Dylan’s Two Soldiers. So sad and beautiful.
The sky is flat, dark, slate grey, gathering over the roofs and trees to the southwest. The sky is bright on the other side of the horizon, but the rooms of our house are becoming dusky-dark. The bright green leaves are showing their pale undersides, and a spattering rain is edging over the house. The wind smells remarkable – cool and green and sharp, after a day of damp and heavy air. A storm is coming! I’m a little phobic about storms. It’s tedious for my family. I won’t leave the house if a storm is predicted. Well – that’s not quite true any more, because they predict storms every day from May to September in this day and age, and I do leave the house in every once in a while during those months. The truth is, though, that I love a good storm, if all of my people are safe and sheltered. Storms seem to capture so many seasons and hours of the day in their cycle of anticipation and relief. The heavy stillness that precedes them, which you can feel weighing you down; the drama of the storm itself; the clearness of the world when it’s all over. And storms are creatures of the summertime, of course. Warm and ripe and bursting – like summer tomatoes. We don’t have any summer tomatoes, yet, but we do have lots of basil! And half a ciabatta baguette to use up! So I made these tomato basil toasts. This could probably be called bruscetta, actually. And it’s one of those things that’s so simple, you feel silly posting a recipe. But it’s perfectly delicious. I add capers and roasted garlic, to the trinity of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. The juice of the tomatoes mingles with a bit of olive oil and balsamic to create a lovely juicy sauce to dip your bread in. And that’s about it!