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Did you know that, according to the Southern Rockland Co. Center for Wheatberry Studies, 99.99% of all Americans are not getting their recommended daily allowance of wheatberries? And according to the Wheatberry Institute at the State University of New York at Pulldata Myasse, just one serving of wheatberries a day can lead to higher levels of energy, youthful high-spiritedness and increased sexytude? Not to mention their effect on bowel regularity. So, as part of my work for the National Association for the Advancement of Wheatberry Consumption, I am dedicating the following blog post to the delicious fruit of the wheat tree, the wheatberry.

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Marinated Grilled Eggplant

Grill eggplant. Add balsamic vinaigrette. Save $9.00.

Oh, sure you do.  You’ve probably just only had them boiled, and maybe covered in Cheez Whiz because your mom was trying to trick you into forgetting that they’re vegetables.  (Not that melted Cheez Whiz doesn’t have its place.)

The thing with vegetables is that just about all of them can be vastly improved with a toss of olive oil, some basic seasonings, and a roast at a high temperature until caramelized.  If there are any vegetables you think you don’t like, I encourage you to give them another whirl with this technique.  Even if they are tiny Belgian cabbages.

I prefer to start with small sprouts, as they tend to be younger and less bitter.  The diameter of this average representative is about one and three-quarters inches (that translates to “not very large” for our metric system friends).

Sprouts 1

Quarter them all.  Nobody escapes my mighty 8″ Wüsthof!  Then, toss them in a large bowl with a glug apiece of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a hefty pinch apiece of kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Read the rest of this entry »

I am afraid of fish. It’s true. I get that it isn’t logical, that is why it is a phobia. Anyway, for some reason, people put fish into tapanade and it doesn’t need to be there at all. My boyfriend knows of my fear and though I tell him tapanade is really easy to make, he insisted on buying it twice this weekend and both times it was just not good, but didn’t  involve fish products. So, since he spent his holiday weekend helping me garden and generally being a prince, I made some for lunch today. We had it with baguette and manchego and lemonade with added rose water (lovely) out on the deck. He’s now convinced.

Tapanade
-Equal parts black olives and kalamata olives (approximately equal is fine)
-One clove of garlic (or more if you are using more than the equivalent of one can of black olives)
-one sprig of rosemary

Put the clove of garlic and rosemary leaves into a food processer and go at it until they are finely chopped. Add the olives and pluse until the olives are chopped but not too finely. Let it sit at room temp. for a couple hours before serving.

For a “fancy” appetizer, toast baguette slices and then spread a small amount of fig paste (or something like apricot  jam would also work), a nice heap of tapanade and a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese. Swooning ensues.

I had my first taste of hummus when I lived in England. Sainsbury’s brand,  usually, or Safeway’s or a tub from the little supermarket down the street, and they all tasted pretty much the same, that is, *delicious*. We would buy a tub of hummus and a tub of taramasalata pretty much once a week, and eat them on toast or raw veggies or rice cakes  whatever was handy. The only time I was ever disappointed with my hummus was this one time when I was at a vegetarian restaurant. This was back in a time in England when any trip to a cafe or restaurant was a very risky proposal. There was seemingly only about a 30% chance that the people running the restaurant would have the slightest idea about what constituted an acceptable meal, and outside London, the odds went down further. This was a cafe in some little country town like Bicester or Tunbridge Wells, so I should have known better. I ordered some sort of veggies and hummus plate and as soon as I took a bite, my heart sank. Canned hummus. Hummus, out of a can. I know. It doesn’t bear thinking.

So after 13 delirious, hummus-and-tarama filled years in the UK, I moved back to the US and I was pleased to see that in my absence, hummus had been discovered by the Americans and was readily available in all the major supermarkets and minor local delis. My pleasure was short lived, however, after I bought a tub of Sheik or Two Tribes or somesuch crap from the local Shop-Rite, and I was instantly transported back that cafe in Tunbridge Wells and a little part of me died all over again. I tried a couple more brands, and Sabra comes out tops, but nothing like the real thing. So at some point you just have to admit defeat, buy yourself a jar of tahini and get the food processor out. Read the rest of this entry »

As this is the first post to this blog, I think it is only fitting that we start with the basics. A basic, anyway. This is something I think everyone should be able to do, and something that goes on my table nearly every night.  It is easy, it is quick, it is endlessly adaptable and it will save you from ever having to lower yourself to buy a bottle of salad dressing ever again. Without further ado, I bring you

The One True Salad Dressing

The only tool you will need for this recipe that you may not already have is a mortar and pestle.

Mortar and Pestle

If you don’t already have one, get one. Every kitchen should have one. Read the rest of this entry »