If you have been reading my blog for awhile you may notice that I hate cookbooks and love magazines (i.e. Food and Wine, Gourmet and Bon Appetit). Cookbooks are so permanent- if I buy a cookbook, I better be in love it, because I'll feel too guilty to throw it out- and with our dearth of bookshelf space in our apartment, I hate to have books around that I don't use. They just mound up and make me feel like a terrible person. Magazines, on the other hand, are wonderful because they have an expiration date. If I haven't cooked all of the interesting recipes out of a certain issue of Bon Appetit- I lose interest anyway when the next issue comes in the mail. And then you recycle your old cooking magazines and feel good about yourself.
I hope this will change soon (the notion about cookbooks, not the feeling good about myself) with the purchase of Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries. His seasonal approach to cooking is really pronounced when you read about his eating habits over the course of one year (the man is addicted to lamb, chickpeas and curry, but the produce changes with the seasons) and his philosophy is so different and much easier than how I approach cooking. He improvs, gets rid of stuff in his fridge, and stretches the rules of what constitutes a meal- yet he is always satisfying his hunger to eat and cook with simple, local food (except for the curries, most recipes do not contain more than 10 ingredients) and I would guess he wastes little. (sigh) If we could all approach food like this.
I think about the last recipe I made- it was simple, but far from seasonal and local. Though it did drag out over a few meals, so I feel good about that. I've already made it twice because it is so easy and super delicious. Click on, if you would like to read about it...
Muhammara-Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
-from the April '07 Food and Wine
makes 2 cups
3 medium red bell peppers
3/4 c. walnuts
1/4 c. crushed whole wheat crackers ( stale wheat bread works in a pinch)
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (regular molasses is just fine)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (I used an 1/8, but I'm kind of wimpy like that)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil for drizzling (optional)
1 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
Veggies to dip- they recommend fennel which is great, and really anything will work- I really enjoy endive
Roast red bell peppers. You can either do this over a gas grill or if you have an electric stove like me, use your broiler. I never can tell how long this will take- it's a function of how big the peppers are and how close they are to the coils of your broiler. The second time I made the dip, I lit the peppers on fire (oops) but they were no worse for the wear and still tasted great. Though my apartment still smells like roasted peppers, and the cleaners were just here. Oh well. Once the pepper are black all over (you'll have to turn them every so often under the broiler), put them in a paper bag for 10 minutes. This will loosen the skins. Then peel off the skins, chuck the seeds, and chops the peppers:
Drop these into a food processor with the next six ingredients. Process until smooth. Then with machine running, drizzle in 1 tbsp olive oil and run until creamy. Garnish with extra olive oil and parsley if desired. Serve with veggies.
The recipe says that this dip can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to two days before serving, but I had it in there for around five, and it was still delicious!
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