You may have noticed that things have been very sugary in the Lindsay Cooks kitchen of late. Between the little pieces of Peppermint Caramels I nabbed here and there to the Espresso-Chocolate cookies, I have been in need of a something healthy and filling.
Similarly to the Kale, Mushroom, and Radicchio salad and the Butternut Squash Soup, this salad came together from what I had in my pantry and a little inspiration from a salad fromBklyn Larder.
They make an Israeli couscous salad that is flecked with parlsey, sherry-soaked golden raisins, and chopped almonds. I loved the surprising crunch of the almonds hidden inside the fluffy grains.
Although I wouldn’t say no to a bowl of their version, I like that mine is an entire meal in a bowl. The cabbage gives it heft, and the pumpkin seeds and nuts give a boost of protein.
Make your own! (Serves 2)
Bring 1 1/4 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. When the water is boiling, add 1 cup ofIsraeli couscous and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, keep covered and set aside.
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until it shimmers. Add 2 cups chopped cabbage, (about 1/2 of a large cabbage head,) and cook until tender but still has some crunch. Combine the cabbage with the couscous, 2 tablespoonsdried cranberries, 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, and 2 tablespoons roughly choppedalmonds. Drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
It didn’t take long after moving to Park Slope, Brooklyn, before I noticed the pervasive neighborhood trends. You may have heard about the overbearing mommies or that the locavore movement is standard fare. Though I am grateful for the latter, it is two trends I least expected for which I am the most thankful.
I appreciate the seasonal decorations on almost every stoop. As a holiday lover, and a decoration addict, October surprised me with pumpkins in front of every brownstone. Now, I feel like a kid again with all the houses in December-holiday mode. A nighttime stroll reveals cozy interiors with bedecked halls and a lit tree, or a menorah on the livingroom window sill.
The quirkier Park Slope proclivity is the furniture, books, knickknacks and what-have-you that is left up for grabs. Although the temptation arises to nab what is there for the taking, I have always resisted. But I guess you can only stay on the outside of the group for so long…
Recently, my neighbor left a stack of food magazines outside. Even though Drew and I were headed out on a walk, I couldn’t resist a stack of old Saveur and Food & Wine magazines. I flipped through a few and saw that their previous owner did not have my habit of tearing out pages of interest. I quickly carted the stack back down the block, unlocked the gate, and stashed them inside.
Our walk resumed, and throughout, the memory of my magazine windfall popped into my thoughts a few times. Each time, my heart jumped as I anticipated finding delights within. Although I read these publications’ websites, for me, the experience of flipping through the pages of the magazine and seeing glossy, full-page food photography is unparalleled.
My bonanza totaled 12 issues, and I am still reading my way through the stack. On a recent night I fell for a photo of peppermint caramels in the 2009 Christmas issue from Saveur Magazine, and knew I had to make the tantalizing recipe pictured. The polkagriskola, as these peppermint-topped caramels are known in Sweden, looked delectable.
As a confection-making novice, and someone with an unspoken fear of caramel in general, I was not drawn to the peppermint caramels because I was confident in my skills, or because I knew how to go about it. I simply loved the photograph. I am a sucker for beautiful food styling and food photography. I love natural light, I am drawn to sweets, and I like the food to look as though I’d want to take a bite, if only I could taste the page!
It proves that a little styling and good lighting can go a long way, especially if you’ve gone through the work to make such a gorgeous dish. Check the original photo out here. Even low-budget photographers like me can benefit from advice that an experienced photographer or food stylist uses. Get outside and use natural light. Think about what would make you want to eat the dish. The best way to learn is just practice, practice, practice. If I feel uninspired, I might even try to mimic the shot, to see how those results were achieved.
I’m not likely to leave a tray of these peppermint caramels outside my apartment – the squirrels would scarf them down before any lucky passerby. However, I did turn this batch of polkagriskola into four gifts. Using some old tea tins, I packaged up four portions of these holiday candies and included the recipe on the back of each card. (And don’t worry, I saved some for myself!)
Yesterday, I overcooked the most beautiful head of cabbage from the farmers’ market. As I considered the pan’s contents, turning the mushy cabbage into a silky soup appeared to be the best option. But I thought, “Purple Soup? That couldn’t be delicious!” Weird-colored food makes me cringe.
On the Fourth of July at sleep-away camp, the kitchen tainted the milk blue and red with food dye. Although intended to be fun, in my mind, they might as well have put poison into my milk. Blue milk? No way!
Then, after college orientation camping trips, my first meal was cold, green-colored scrambled eggs with ham and a side of green milk! Designed to delight new freshman, I felt nauseated and hardly stomached three bites.
Thinking back on those meals, I realized they were all artificially tinted. This soup at least, would be naturally purple.
I tried a bite of the cabbage again and it was clear: the only way to salvage this was with soup. I carefully transferred the magenta mess into my blender, added some vegetable broth, blended for a few minutes, and voila! A healthy, creamy, delicious soup was born.
Chop one head purple cabbage into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the cabbage and toss to coat in the oil. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to distribute the cabbage. Transfer the cabbage to a blender and purée until smooth. Add 3 cups vegetable broth and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and garnish with greek yogurt or sour cream.