Archive for the ‘Minimal Ingredients’ Category

Toasted Israeli Couscous with Broiled Vegetables

August 10, 2010

I’ll start with a minor confession, which may or may not be relevant by the time this post is over. I spent the vast majority of my youth really hating couscous.  I think it’s because in the sixth grade my science teacher made us each eat a handful of couscous grain by grain in order to demonstrate what it’s like to be a baleen whale trying to sustain itself on plankton. Maybe I was feeling sensitive–I had a solid wiring of braces at the time, and the resemblance I bore to a baleen whale was at its most striking (especially considering all the junk that got caught up in there. Tween years, I don’t miss you).  Beyond that, I wasn’t totally wowed by its grainy texture.  I didn’t start eating couscous of my own volition until I moved to New York after college. I was grocery shopping with a friend, who pointed out that there was a huge sale on couscous and immediately started filling up her basket. What the hell, I figured, and followed suit. It was super cheap and easy to make–which, let’s be honest, are two incredibly persuasive criteria for recent college grads.

I bring up the questionable relevance of this anecdote because this post isn’t really about couscous the way most of us know couscous. If you haven’t tried Israeli couscous, get ready to fall in love. Israeli couscous is totally different from the grainy stuff we ate in our whale simulation–it’s more like a pearl-shaped pasta.  It takes a little more time to prepare than the stuff you find in a box, but the results are far more spectacular–it has a chewy, satisfying bite that seems otherwise elusive in the Moroccan variety with which most people seem to be familiar.

(more…)

Cabrito’s Rajas con Crema

April 17, 2010

Last week, Jason and I played a great game called “Let’s Try to Find a Restaurant on a Saturday Night at 8 with No Reservations and No Wait.”  We walked from his place in the East Village through the Lower East Side and across Soho, peeking into restaurants, wanting to be fed immediately, and finding hour long waits almost everywhere. So much for last minute date night.  Then, while walking down Bleecker, I remembered Cabrito, which is on Carmine Street in the West Village. As if our visit were totally meant to be, there was exactly one open table for two in the restaurant with nobody else to claim it.

I have to admit that my ordering habits in Mexican restaurants tend to be pretty predictable. Nine times out of ten I will go for guacamole and then any kind of dish with carnitas. The last time I had been to Cabrito, though, I was with my friend Marissa, who told me that I had to try their rajas con crema–roasted poblanos in cream, served with tortillas. I became a convert that day. This time around, when Jason and I ordered the rajas, he told me I should try to make it at home. To my delight, Cabrito actually posted their rajas con crema recipe in the Village Voice last  year, so I made this last night for a couple of friends who stopped over for dinner.  Here’s my adapted version.

(more…)

Things You can Make with Very Few Ingredients: Zucchini with Parmesan

August 11, 2009

IMG_2350

Sometimes you just want to be able to look inside your fridge, pull out just a couple of ingredients, and whip up something that is fast and delicious that doesn’t also come in a box containing the words “mac” and “Yellow Number 5.”  And sometimes you are lucky enough to have made a trip to the local greenmarket just before such a feeling strikes.

Year-round, but especially during the summer when it is at its most abundant, zucchini makes its way into my kitchen.  The possibilities for it are endless–you can grill it and put it on a sandwich; you can make really delicious bread or muffins out of it; put it in soups or chili (yes, chili!), make ratatouille, etc etc etc. But if you’re feeling less than ambitious (ie, hungry and lazy), you can also prepare it really simply with just some lemon, parmesan, and salt and pepper. It’s great as a side dish for a grilled piece of meat or fish, but I’m not sorry to admit that sometimes I’ll make a heaping plate of it and enjoy it on its own. It’s so easy I feel bad calling it a recipe!

(more…)