Simple Pasta with Smoked Scamorza and Tomatoes

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Frequent topics of conversation these days include what city we want to go to next, as based on a mini obsession with the show Street Food Around the World (despite its relentlessly annoying host), and Coffee.

Daniel recently purchased an AeroPress, which, he’ll be the first to tell you, has Changed His Life. Gone are the days of multiple daily visits to our local coffee shop, here to stay are the sink-full of coffee mugs and multiple bags of not-quite-enough-for-a-coffee-but-too-much-to-throw-away beans. I love the eagerness with which I am offered a cup in the morning (or in the afternoon, during dinner, right before bed, immediately after I get out of a shower…).

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As a barista, I am around coffee more than I care to admit. The longer I’ve worked around coffee the less appealing it has become. (Less true the summer I worked at Cold Stone in high school.)  The less I drink it, the more my “good coffee” guard slips down–I appreciate a bottomless diner mug as much as our fancy, single source, perfectly calibrated brew. Although I’ve always loved the smell and taste, coffee has held less joy for me. Until Now. Until Aeropress. I’m fancy again.

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And nothing says “I do love a good cup of coffee!” like smoked cheese, amiright?! One of our favorite post-rehearsal habits is the long walk to Chelsea Market. I’m pretty good at battling the tourists and beelining to my favorite haunts, which right now means Buon Italia. Their dried pasta section elicited girlish giggles (from both of us) and the cheese section kept me enraptured for a good ten minutes (we also have them to thank for these fregola cuties). Although I couldn’t find the soft smoked ricotta I recently tried at BK Winery and have not stopped thinking about, the smoked scamorza was a dang good choice.

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So! In summary: pasta, good; (smoked) cheese, good; coffee, also good. Keep it simple, let the ingredients Be The Best They Can Be.

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Me: Look! I actually took a nice picture of all the lovely-ly arranged ingredients! Daniel: Wait, isn’t there supposed to be cheese in this? Isn’t that the POINT? Me: You’re concentrating on the wrong thing! And, uh, shit.

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I’ve located the cheese… can’t miss it now! (please appreciate my newby photo editing skills)

Simple Pasta with Smoked Scamorza and Tomatoes

sorta adapted from Bon Appetit 

¾ lb. pasta, more or less (12oz or so) (we used radiatore/organetti but any fun curvy shape would be good here)
4T olive oil
½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes (11 oz), halved (or quartered if larger)
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ c vermouth (or white wine!)
¾ c fresh basil leaves, sliced, plus extra for garnish
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried parsley (we used a “Tuscan herb blend” because we were out)
scant ½ c kalamata olives, chopped
7 mini balls smoked scamorza or smoked mozzarella (or use fresh, non-smoked!), sliced (about ½ c once sliced)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, erring on the side of al dente. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large ovenproof saute pan. Add onion and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown. Add cherry tomatoes; cook for 3 minutes. Next add garlic; cook for two more minutes.

Add vermouth and give everything a good stir. Scrape up any browned onions or tomatoey bits. Next, add basil, oregano, parsley, and olives and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste sauce; season with s&p. Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir to coat evenly. Add half the scamorza and mix to incorporate. Top pasta with other half of scamorza and place in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese gets melty.

Top with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and crack of black pepper.

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Spicy Lemon Fregola with Artichokes and Caramelized Onions

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A February defined by performance, something a bit rare these days. A month full of those moments–when an audience member is excited with you, sad with you, surprised by you. When you feel your intentions and delivery and energy hit their mark and transform.

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This past month I’ve given a handful of performances of Amelia and Her Paper Tigers, a theatre for young audiences production I co-created about Amelia Earhart. It’s moments like when the little girl in the front row turns 180 degrees around in her chair to follow a prop going into the audience and then gasps with delight, or when a seasoned older theater-goer sheds a tear as Amelia stilts offstage for the last time and we are all left to wonder about her final moments and her legacy, that keep the acting dream alive. It’s so exciting to breathe life into a story I find so compelling. (Read more here!)

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Also this month, Cuban salsa has strengthened its grasp on my heartstrings (and schedule). That infectious audience energy when we nail an up-in-the-air move, or perform a long turn pattern in complete synchronization, or break into an intricate group move is so necessary for a good performance. We recently came back from San Francisco, where we had the opportunity to perform for what felt for the entire Cuban Salsa world. Hundreds of people from all over the country, and Mexico, Cuba, Italy, etc. The energy of this event was pure electricity and camaraderie; everyone excited to learn, observe, meet people, and, of course, dance. In the past week I’ve taken ladies rumba styling, salsa with Afro, group rueda classes, advanced casino partnering, ladies suelta, and most recently a crash course on son from the masters, Yanek and Karelia. I’m excited by how far I’ve come (two years ago I would’ve thought that previous sentence was pure gibberish) and what my body can do–adapt to new rhythms, styles, extended positions. It’s powerful.

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As such, not much cooking has occurred. This simple artichoke and fregola dish from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More was definitely the tastiest thing (and perhaps only things more complicated than scrambled eggs and one misguided cooking-while-sick soup attempt) to come out of my kitchen in February. In his liner notes, Ottolenghi calls this dish unphotogenic, and no picture appears. Well, Internet, may I present to you the not-stunning but certainly not ugly deliciousness of fregola artichoke pilaf with a bold and powerful jalapeño lemon sauce (page 82).

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These are the first pictures taken with my new camera (Olympus E-PL5). for the site! Daniel has been instrumental in taking and editing photos up to this point; I’m hoping to begin taking on some of the responsibility from here on out. Any tips would be appreciated :)

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Spicy Lemon Fregola with Artichokes and Caramelized Onions

barely adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More

2 T olive oil
1 very large onion (or 2 small), cut into thin strips
1 T butter
about 11 ounces artichoke hearts (I used one and a half cans), liquid drained, each heart cut into sixths
9 oz fregola (about 1 ¼ cups) (you can substitute Israeli couscous or mograbiah)
2 ½ c veggie stock
1 ½ T red wine vinegar
¼ c kalamata olives, pitted and halved
¼ c toasted pine nuts (or almonds if you aren’t me)
chopped parsley to garnish
s&p

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add onions and ¾ t salt and cook for at least 10 minutes (more like 13-14), stirring occasionally, until caramelized. While onions cook, place stock in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.

When onions are done, add butter. Stir until butter melts. Next, add the boiling veggie stock, artichoke hearts, fregola, and 3 good grinds of black pepper. Give everything a good stir, then cover and cook over low heat for 18 minutes without stirring. (Apparently stirring leads to gumminess and starch build up.) At 18 minutes, liquid should be mostly absorbed (you can give a tiny peek). Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 more minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the red wine vinegar, olives, and pine nuts, and stir everything together gently. Serve with a big dollop of Lemon-Jalapeno Sauce (recipe below) and extra chopped parsley to garnish.

Lemon-Jalapeno Sauce

3 jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 c parsley, coarsely chopped
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 T olive oil
1 preserved lemon, (or use my cheat: cut lemon (skin and all!) into thin slices and sautee with olive oil over medium low heat for 5 minutes; then add 1 t sugar and 1 t salt. Add water if sticks. Voila!)

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth!

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Mango Mezcal Margarita

Mango Mezcal Margarita

Last night, preparing for #JUNO2015 (aka the Snowpocalypse to end all snowpocali), I got home from work early, excited to spend the night in. I envisioned an entire night and next day of baking projects, board games, (backyard!!) snow angels, and wearing oversized clothing.

As I got off the train, I got a series of texts from Daniel:
“I’m at the coffee shop, wanna join?”
“The guys are going to the bar, let’s go there after”
“I think John and I are going to go take pictures at the bridge”

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Excuse me, what? Who makes PLANS on a snowday? Not this lady, whose mother refused to drive her to friends’ houses in elementary school and would be forced to play board games and watch old family movies and play in the backyard with her sister (ya…tough life, I know). We glared at each other for about 10 minutes, me inching towards the couch, him trying out his new flash in anticipation of the photo excursion.

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We ended up finding a happy middle: trying out Cook’s Illustrated’s crispiest potato recipe (ps did someone send me this?? It just appeared in the mail…) (it was only meh), watching a street photography documentary that’s been on the agenda for a while, and eventually getting inspired and going on a late night walk in our neighborhood. All while imbibing responsibly. These mezcal mango margaritas could totally make you forget the false blizzard fuss, or could inspire you to wander into the quiet, snowy beauty of abandoned Brooklyn. I stood for a full minute at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush. Come on, real blizzard or not, pretty cool. Fueled by margaritas or not, pretty cool.

Mango Mezcal MargaritaMango Mezcal Margarita

adapted from Geeks with Drinks
makes 2 full drinks, with half-sized refills (aka 3 but who needs 3 drinks?!)

3 oz mezcal
1 oz tequila
1 fresh mango, cut into cubes (about 1 cup if you want to use frozen)
2 oz jalapeno simple syrup (recipe below)
2 oz Triple Sec, or other orange-flavored liquor
1.5 cups crushed ice

BLEND all ingredients together except ice until smooth. Add ice and continue blending for about a minute, or until you reach desired smoothie-y consistency.

Jalapeño Syrup

Bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil in a small pot. Stir until sugar melts. Add one jalapeño, sliced lengthwise. Simmer for 12 minutes. Take off heat and cover for 10 minutes. Strain. Let cool until room temperature. Keep in the fridge for a spicy kick to any cocktail!

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The Ice Blocks

Daniel’s “neat ice” kit. It theoretically makes a perfect cube on one side and a crushable cube on the other. This is why we cannot put vegetables in our freezer.

Butternut-Tahini Mash

Butternut Tahini Mash Dip Paste Butternut Tahini Mash Dip Paste

Some recent favorites:

  • Rokia Traore, an incredible Malian musician, on Spotify while cleaning the kitchen. It’s love.
  • The (surprisingly!) flavorful veggie Ramen at Tabata II (and the fact that it exists on 8th Ave and 35th St…)
  • Heattech layers from Uniqlo. I think I’ve worn my “warmest shirt ever” every day since purchasing it last month.
  • AirBNB, because it led us to this YURT(!!!) as a destination for our upcoming California trip!
  • The amazing Instagram feed The_Pho_Project for its never-ending use of “pho” wordplay and punnery
  • and this dip. Or, more exactly, this excuse to eat tahini-drenched, smoked paprika-covered smashed roasted squash on everything!

This was my favorite take away from the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse. A simple but amazingly tasty dip/mash/spread/puree to enhance any and all foodstuffs. The cleanse called for you to eat with roast chicken, which I’m sure was delectable. I substituted fried tofu cubes which was equally tasty (but if we’re being technical a bit too much of the same texture). I snacked on it for days with pita, celery sticks, carrots, or even a quick stolen as-is spoonful. Treat it like hummus and you’ll find dip elation phoever and ever.

Butternut Tahini Mash Dip Paste

Butternut-Tahini Mash

From Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse

1 butternut squash, cut in half length-wise
3 big garlic cloves, unpeeled
olive oil
¼ cup well-stirred tahini paste
¼ t smoked paprika
½ t ground cumin
2 T lemon juice
s&p
zaatar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 T olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on squash halves and then place onto baking sheet, cut side down. Add garlic cloves to baking sheet. Cook for about 45-50 minutes, or until squash is very tender.

Let cool for about 5 minutes. Then, spoon squash flesh into a big bowl (discard skin). Peel garlic cloves and add them, along with tahini, cumin, paprika, and lemon juice. Mash everything together roughly with a fork. Add s&p to taste. Sprinkle with zaatar to serve.

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Bengali Egg Curry (Dimer Jhol)

wpid598-DimurJhol-21.jpgwpid594-DimurJhol-19.jpgThis meal came about, as some of the best ones do, by a neutral reminiscence about an ex. Unfortunately for Daniel, my vegetarian Jewish New England upbringing does not hold a candle cuisine-wise to a particular carnivorous Bengali, shall we say, companion of the past.

But tradition, schtradition, I say (or, as my fiddling ancestors say, tradition, TRADITION!)! This lady can make dimer jhol as well as the next Brooklyn transplant!

And away we went!

wpid558-DimurJhol-1.jpgwpid562-DimurJhol-3.jpgIt turned out…good. Delicious, even! Sneak-out-of-the-fridge before breakfast delicious! Tasty enough to share with you, vast blog readership, and to implore you to attempt!

wpid566-DimurJhol-5.jpgwpid588-DimurJhol-16.jpgwpid582-DimurJhol-13.jpgBut, alas, it wasn’t the egg curry of his past. Wrong consistency, slightly different flavors, not as spicy. I’ll blame the peppers but I won’t be defeated! To a future of delicious and inauthentic egg curries! Hurrah!

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Bengali Egg Curry (Dimer Jhol)

from Foodolicious Pictured

canola oil
4 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
2 medium potatoes, cut into big chunks
½ an eggplant, cut into big chunks (an unnecessary but delicious and addition)
1 onion, sliced
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 green cardamom pods
¼ t whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 inches cinnamon stick
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tomatoes, food processed to a paste
1 t chili powder
½ t cumin powder
¼ t turmeric powder
cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat ½-inch of canola oil in a medium pot. Fry potatoes for about 15 minutes, until beginning to turn golden but not totally cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon or a spider onto paper towels. Add eggplant to oil and fry for about 6 minutes. Remove to paper towels. Cut slits on hard boiled eggs and fry for 5ish minutes, until blistered all over and turning colors. Remove to paper towels.

Meanwhile, saute onion in a big pot for 7-8 minutes on medium low heat. When slightly browned, take off heat. Put in food processor with garlic and ginger. Process until it forms a smooth paste.

Then, heat 2 t oil in that same big pot over medium high heat and add cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick. Toast for about 30 seconds. When fragrant, add the chopped jalapeno and onion/garlic/ginger paste from blender. Cook for about a minute, then add tomato puree. Cook for 3 minutes, or until oil starts to separate.

Next, add chili powder, cumin, and turmeric. Stir to coat. Add 1 cup of water, a healthy sprinkle of salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add eggs, eggplant, potatoes, and garam masala. Turn heat to low, and cook for 10-12 minutes more. Top with cilantro and serve with rice (this recipe was amazing!).

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On Cooking Resolutions and the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse

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The past week and a half has been a major departure for me, “a ridiculous attempt to outwit our human limits.” (Quote from, uh, me, in the Amelia Earhart play I co-wrote and am preparing for a children’s theater festival in February!)

I’m following, to a certain degree, the Bon Appetit “Food Lover’s Cleanse”. I’m not sure if I’d totally call this a “cleanse”–that word for me conjures images of green juice, hungry bedtimes, and a plethora of quinoa. What this experience has been is a challenge–a personal challenge to cook three meals a day, do the dishes after each one, and constantly rearrange tupperware in our tiny fridge to maximize shelf space. Also a challenge to eat whole, real foods–lots of veggies and lean proteins and seeds and chia (which is delicious in coconut milk). It’s also been a way to develop good habits: making something for dinner and using the leftovers in tomorrow’s lunch salad, or buying a jar of kimchi and then using it in three different ways. Hopefully I can take these habits into the upcoming year. You will soon cease to exist, half full jars of harissa and tamarind paste and rose jam that we’ve accumulated. Life is too short; the fridge is just too dang small.

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Daniel has also, on his accord, joined me in this endeavor, so at least we have each other to lean on. We’ve taken certain liberties to make things pescatarian-friendly and also not induce a tree-nut-related allergy episode. (And we also had challah and cheese and chips at a pot luck last night and then said blast it, let’s just get nachos…) SO, we’ve strayed a bit, but now we’re back, baby! My favorite breakfast this morning (steel cut oatmeals with dried figs and cocoa nibs) and I’m looking forward to tonight’s swordfish and fennel.

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These are a photographical highlighted summary. All recipes available at on the Bon Appetit website.  I highly recommend that oatmeal, the brussel sprout and tofu stir fry, and that unassuming “bistro salad”. I’m glad to have discovered gojuchang.  And um, I Love smoked paprika. #smokedpaprika4lyfe

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Hot Honey Pizza with Roasted Broccoli and Red Onion

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A damn good pizza idea:

Besides the usual dough, sauce, and cheese galore, add broccoli and red onions prepared as you would for roasting them (coated in olive oil, plus s&p). Broccoli florets should be quite small, and onions quite thin, to allow for a short cooking time.

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THEN, make the best pizza topping in the world (discovery thanks to Paulie Gee’s…aka the debatable best pizza in NYC): HOT HONEY. You can be all fancy and buy the official version (which we did at the recent Greenpointers Holiday Market, but, as per my rules, we Cannot Touch until Christmakkuh is celebrated…) OR make your own. Simply combine 3 parts honey to 2 parts hot sauce (unless your hot sauce is ridiculously hot) and mix well. Drizzle over pizza before popping into your oven (at the hottest possible temp).

Pizza is done when cheese melts sufficiently, broccoli is charred but still crunchy, and the edges begin to brown, about 12 minutes.

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We strayed a bit from this basic model by trashing our pizzas up with black olives, yellow peppers, leftover mushrooms (me), prosciutto (him), and of course fresh basil post-oven. None of this was at all necessary, though, and I recommend giving the broccoli-red onion-hot honey combo a chance before letting your fridge leftovers make the rules.

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Ingredients:
Sauce, dough, cheese, broccoli, red onion, olive oil, honey&hot sauce, s&p

Method:
Use your brain, silly! (Or, follow my first pizza post for more specifics!)

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Recipe inspired by Serious Eats and veggie-fying the Hellboy.
Snowflakes by us, proudly :)

Mushroom, Olive, and Farro Stuffed Acorn Squash

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This was one of those nights that Daniel decided he didn’t feel like eating vegetarian and would make himself a side of meat from the Homesick Texan cookbook he (aptly) received for his birthday. He chose something that sounded delicious and we ventured out to our two local grocery places (one better for fresh produce, the other better for (ridiculously overpriced) happy meats and fancy cheeses…) around 7:30, and came home and got to work. A slight misunderstanding of the recipe meant that the carnitas actually had to simmer for three hours, a bit of a formidable cooking time when my proposed squash would take under an hour.

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But, stubborn and dedicated as he was, we ended up making both and eating around, oh say, 11:30. (I wish I could say that was rare.)

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This squash was out-of-control good! All my favorite flavors in the filling, which is perfect for lunch the next day. (Double the filling recipe! You won’t regret it!) And acorn squash is just the cutest little squash there is. A ridiculously tasty, cute squash. Also out of our kitchen that night: aforementioned carnitas (which smelled pretty darn good) with a tomatillo-avocado salsa (delicious with just a spoon!) and Dorie Greenspan’s perfect lemon poppyseed muffins. Recipes available upon request :) Happy cooking!

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Mushroom, Olive, and Farro Stuffed Acorn Squash

adapted from What’s Cooking, Good Looking

serves 2

1/2 cup farro
1.5 cups water
pinch of salt
1 acorn squash
olive oil
s&p
1T olive oil
½ a large white onion, chopped small
1 big clove garlic, minced
2 T pine nuts
4 big button mushrooms, chopped small
1 t soy sauce
3 T chopped kalamata olives
2 T parsley, finely minced
¼ cup crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine farro, water, and salt in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. At this point, water should be absorbed. (If not, drain excess water once farro is sufficiently chewy.) Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut acorn squash in half horizontally. Scoop out the seeds. Trim off the very top and very bottom using a very sharp knife so the squash halves can sit upright on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 25- 30 min, or until a knife cuts through easily.

While squash bakes, heat olive oil in a largeish pan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until onions are beginning to brown. Add pine nuts and toast for 3 minutes, or until they start to brown as well. Next, add mushrooms and soy sauce and cook for 3 minutes, or until the liquid evaporates. Take off the heat and add olives, parsley, feta, and farro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff farro/mushroom mixture into scooped out squash halves and consume!

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Buttermints

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Candy-making! An ideal Sunday evening post-salsa-rehearsal, post-Ramen-consumption, pre-Arrested-Development-and-popcorn-binge activity. We meant to send some to Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law, who just had a baby (CONGRATS!), but then we sorta ate them. Oops.

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This was a bit of a messy process (UNDERSTATEMENT), as the powdered sugar literally coated every surface of the apartment at the first beater rotation. Next time I would start with softer butter and add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. (And oh my, I just looked at their website and this is exactly what they suggest on their “Cookbook Corrections” page. I’m probably a candy genius.) But the messiness is worth it! These things are just an excuse to eat minty frosting cubes. I’ll let the pictures now speak for themselves.

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Buttermints

from The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
4 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar, plus extra to coat
2-3 T milk
½ t peppermint extract
food dye (optional)

In a large bowl, combine butter cubes and powdered sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until no more butter chunks remain. Pause frequently to scrape down bowl and replace fly-away butter chunks. BIG NOTE: This is freaking messy! We got powdered sugar literally over the entire table AND floor AND under the table AND on the adjoining shelf. Cover mixing bowl with a towel. You can easily use a stand mixer for this part, unless you live in NYC and have a ridiculously small kitchen and nowhere to store one. (Next time, for a hand mixer, I would start with softer butter and add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time…)

Add 2 T milk and peppermint extract and continue mixing on medium-high speed until big clumps form. (If necessary, add 3rd T of milk, but keep in mind it will take longer for mints to dry this way!) Keep mixing; mixture should soon form a loose dough. You can use your hands to help along this process.

Divide dough into four parts. Cover each loosely with plastic wrap. If you’re going to use food coloring, now is the time. Take one dough segment and place it on a cutting board covered with powdered sugar. Coat your hands with the sugar as well. Add just 1 drop of dye to dough and knead it with your fingertips until the color is fully mixed in. Add more dye as necessary. Then, keeping hands coated with powdered sugar, gently roll the dough into a log 1/4-inch thick. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and place on a cookie tray covered with parchment paper. Repeat this process for all 4 dough segments.

Leave out to dry overnight, uncovered and unrefridgerated. Apparently these stay good for weeks. Keep in an airtight container, separated by layers of parchment paper, in a dry place (not the fridge!).

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Indian-Spiced Cabbage and Onions

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I have found the best ways to interact with neighbors all center around food.

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For example, when I was really little we lived on the bottom floor and my cousins lived right above us in a duplex. Apparently, as a robust three-year-old, I would eat dinner at home and then go upstairs for round two. Very convenient. Also good to know old habits die hard.

wpid460-IndianCabbage-2.jpgIn my last apartment, there was the surprise (shirtless) visitor from downstairs, who emphatically asked if we wanted a gallon of kombucha, since he had just made way too much, oh, and hey we also made some blackberry jam, want some? (Uh, yesplease.)

wpid462-IndianCabbage-3.jpgwpid464-IndianCabbage-4.jpgOh, and once, in a fit of panic, I went around and knocked on all 3 doors of my old building to see if anyone, legit, had a half cup of milk for a cake I was baking. The dingy downstairs boys indeed did, and, after enduring a brief jam session I was invited to witness, were rewarded with cake the next day.

wpid466-IndianCabbage-5.jpgIn my new place, the basement of a brownstone with a family living upstairs, surprise shirtless visitors will be few and far between (I hope) (unless its a toddler). BUT we do share a corridor with the family and at in impromptu hallway meetup the other morning, our new neighbor asked if we were cooking something incredible last night.

wpid474-IndianCabbage-9.jpgYes, yes we were. It was cabbage. And onions. And it smelled like you were transported to the homiest of loving homes in Delhi and sat down for a legitimate feast. Onions, cumin, ginger, and turmeric. The humblest of ingredients create the most irresistible wafting aromas.

wpid470-IndianCabbage-7.jpgOh! And! My old roommate found the cookbook this recipe came from on this side of the street and thought I’d like it. Full Circle.

Indian-Spiced Cabbage and Onions

adapted the smallest bit from Madhur Jaffrey: An Invitation to Indian Cooking

7 T canola oil, divided
½ t whole cumin seeds
½ t whole fennel seeds
½ t whole brown mustard seeds
2 onions, divided
½ a large red cabbage, sliced as thin as possible
2-3 large collard green leaves, sliced into ribbons (optional)
1 t chopped celery leaves (I used this as a sub for whole fenugreek seeds)
2 whole canned tomatoes and their juices
fresh ginger, about 1 inch by 1.5 inches, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ a jalapeno or ¼ a long hot pepper, some seeds removed, thinly sliced in rounds
½ t turmeric
1 T lemon juice
1 t salt
1 t garam masala
Greek yogurt, to serve
rice, to serve

Heat 4 T oil over high heat in a very large pan. Add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Stir frequently for about 30 seconds to a minute, until mustard seeds start to pop. Turn heat to medium and add one and a half onions, sliced (save the last half onion for later.) Cook for 5 minutes.

Next, add cabbage, collards leaves, and celery leaves. It will seem like there is WAY too much cabbage but stir lovingly and be patient, and cabbage will wilt astonishingly. Don’t be afraid to sacrfice a couple cabbage strands in the process. Cover, turn to low, and cook for 15 minutes. After this, take off the cover and cook for another half an hour.

Meanwhile, blend canned tomatoes + their juices, ginger, garlic, and the reserved half onion using an immersion blender (or a legit one).

Heat 3 T oil in a small skillet on high heat. Add blendered spice paste, spicy pepper slices, and turmeric. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and your neighbor texts to ask if they can come over for dinner.

Once cabbage has cooked for 30 minutes, add thickened spice paste, lemon juice, salt, and garam masala. Stir together well and cook for an additional five minutes to let flavors meld. Spoon over rice, add a dollop of yogurt, and enjoy! I added some quick pan-fried tofu just to make it more of a complete meal, but it was totally unnecessary. Leftovers were AMAZING.