Roast Eggplant with Mixed Rice and Yogurt

I know we’re teetering on the edge of eggplant’s departure from the market, but I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for a while, and I wanted to get it right before it landed here.

The non-aubergine portion was lifted from a French-Tunisian family friend, who made it for the Frenchman and me when she came to stay. (She served it with herb-rubbed, falling-off-the-bone chicken thighs. You can too.) It was a luxury to be cooked for, and to be taken care of so well through food. Pine nuts browned sumptuously in butter! The lemon-tinged warmth of sumac and za’atar! Cumin, harissa, and cinnamon, too. It’s actually a perfect inauguration to fall.

I asked for the recipe, and scribbled down the offhand recounting of a cook who has fashioned a dish so often, measurements are not longer consciously considered. I searched google for corroboration of spice quantities, and rice to meat ratios, but quickly realized no consensus: this dish is made, in various forms, across the Levant. Sometimes with lamb, or beef, or chicken. Often it includes peas and carrots, and other spices; almonds too. This rice and meat mixture–helpfully called “mixed rice”–is used judiciously in recipes across the region, frequently to stuff vegetables, wine or cabbage leaves.

What this recipe is not: the quintessential version of Ouzi, which anyway goes by other names and spelling variations. What it is: very tasty. A recipe filtered through this cook’s interpretation of a French-Tunisian-living-in-Cairo’s version of her Palestinian mother-in-law’s cooking, made with ingredients she found in my kitchen, in Jersey City, NJ. That sentence was exhausting, but the point is: make this for someone you care about.

(This dish is equally good, if not better, on the second or third day after cooking.)

garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin

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Melon-Mint Cooler

Melon-Mint Cooler Melon-Mint Cooler Melon-Mint CoolerMelon-Mint Cooler

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

–Mary Oliver

Melon-Mint Cooler Melon-Mint Cooler

Melon-Mint Cooler

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Fourth of July Cake in France

Forth of July Cake in France| The Roaming KitchenForth of July Cake in France| The Roaming Kitchen

DSC_5648 DSC_5651

For the past five years, this American has spent her Fourth of Julys in France. The Frenchman and I made our annual pilgrimage yesterday, a trip that aligns with three family birthdays. I write from the cool, sun dappled stone of the patio, under a new arbor, just half woven with fanning grape leaves. The boys are walloping a ball back and forth in the pool, their splashes and yells overlaying a backdrop of bird chirpings. Read more »

Strawberry-Negroni Popsicles

Strawberry-Negroni Popsicles | The Roaming Kitchen

Strawberry-Negroni Popsicles | The Roaming KitchenStrawberry-Negroni Popsicles | The Roaming Kitchen

Strawberry-Negroni Popsicles | The Roaming Kitchen

It’s popsicle week, Billy of Wit & Vinegar‘s annual internet pop party. Here is my bright and juicy contribution. I’m keeping it as simple as that for today: it’s hot, make all the popsicles.

This weekend, the Frenchman and I drove to my parents’ house for Father’s Day: I baked, and cooked and cooked and baked. On Friday, we fly to France for nearly two weeks with the Frenchman’s family.

I’m stressed and tired and harried, which is, in itself, uninteresting, and also not appropriate fodder for an internet blog post about flip-in-the-lake refreshing popsicles, so instead I present you with one of my favorite poems, written by my favorite poet. I’ve read it so many times it’s essentially memorized. I hope it brings you too pleasure on this June Monday. Read more »

Edge of Summer White Bean + Lentil Salad

parsley multi-colored cherry tomatoes

Edge of Summer White Bean + Lentil Salad

This salad comes together in ten minutes–so you can reasonably make it before or after work–and is really satisfying. I’ve eaten it every night this week. I often bring it to work for lunch; it’d be equally great for a picnic.

The order of ingredients allows what needs to marinate to marinate while you prep the next ingredient, so don’t feel as if you need to create a mise en place before you start this recipe. Prep, pour, and stir the ingredients in order; by the time everything is in the bowl, the salad will have melded.

Serve with fresh, crackling bread to mop up the vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl, or over rice. Use as a vegetarian/vegan taco filling. Or, make ahead and spoon onto crostini for an easy hors d’oeuvre.

Additions/Substitutions: You can add chopped nuts to this salad, like toasted walnuts or crushed pistachios. Or, pepitas. Add cheese: shaved pecorino, cubed mozzarella, diced-and-pan cooked halloumi, fresh goat cheese. Add extra protein in the form of poached chicken or tofu. If you’ve been gifted a fancy oil–I have walnut and butternut squash in my pantry currently–swap it for the olive oil. Read more »

Brown Sugar Sour Cream Softer-Serve from Ice Cream Adventures + A Giveaway

Brown Sugar Sour Cream Softer-Serve from Ice Cream Adventures Brown Sugar Sour Cream Softer-Serve from Ice Cream Adventures

Brown Sugar Sour Cream Softer-Serve from Ice Cream Adventures

I met Stef Ferrari at ice cream college. She sat one row ahead of me in the giant conference room that served as our lecture classroom. On the first day, she was eating candy for breakfast. At our mid-morning break, she joined me in line for an ice cream sundae. Her bright red hair made her easy to spot. At afternoon break, she told me how good the chocolate milk was.

As ridiculous as this sounds, I liken my experience in ice cream academy to a short stint in the military–the hours were long, the information was overwhelming in quantity and complexity, and it was January in Eastern Pennsylvania. These are conditions under which you bond rather quickly.

I soon learned that we both lived in Brooklyn, and by the spring, Stef would open her own ice cream shop in the neighborhood next to mine. The shop, named Hay Rosie for her mother, is now shuttered, but I spent that summer visiting more times than was reasonable or healthy. Read more »

Tequila-colada Cremoladas

Tequila-colada Cremolada Tequila-colada Cremolada

Tequila-colada Cremolada Tequila-colada Cremolada

Tequila-colada Cremolada

For those who don’t know–I didn’t until very recently–a cremolada is Peruvian; a sort of slush puppy made with tropical fruit, water, and sugar. The basic formula is: blend juice, sugar, and water; freeze the mixture in ice cube trays; when frozen, blend again. This is my twist on the classic. The tequila is optional, but recommended.

You can double or triple this recipe, as long as you have the ice cube trays to support it. This way, you can make individual drinks as desired, or continue to blend batches fresh throughout a party. Makes 5 cups. Serves 4. 
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Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee + A 30th Birthday/Housewarming Menu

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and CoffeeNigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and CoffeeNigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee

I turned thirty at the end of January. I meant to throw a birthday party/housewarming at our new place on the 23rd, but alas, Jonas! So, we rescheduled for the 30th.

I salvaged what I could from that first Saturday’s cooking–although we still have two-pounds of prosciutto in the fridge, God help us–and decided to cater bits and pieces to fill in the rest of the menu for the following weekend.

Below, a compilation of what I served, but also what I originally planned to serve, to aid in planning your next winter party, plus some tips and notes:

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