A few months back I had a lunch date with a wise friend of mine and we got to chatting about this recent cookbook project. She's the sort of friend I don't give general answers to - she asked how I was feeling about it and I immediately shared my insecurities. You see, people have expectations when they buy a cookbook and it is tough, absolutely impossible really, to meet all of them. We are all different cooks with different experience, definitions of easy, too healthy, not healthy, creative, complicated, difficult-to-find ingredients and such. As I told her about the recipes and my worries about how they'd be received, we realized they made sense with what was simultaneously happening in my own life. I was pregnant and moving into our first house and those big life events were affecting how I was cooking. Some recipes were coming up simpler to save time and I seemed to find whipped cream appropriate for each dessert which I blame on the tiny person I was growing in my belly. I became muddled in the trying to do it *right* for positive feedback and lost sight of it being mine. Her encouragement stuck with me and changed my perspective, and I see me, us, in each of these pages. The beautiful thing about blogs, and cookbooks that come from blogs, is that there is more we can know of the story than just instructions on how to make food. Perhaps you become invested in the narrative and the food becomes personal. I think that's pretty unique.
So, if I may direct your attention over to the side bar you will see the cover of our cookbook that comes out at the end of March. March! Three more months! Ah!
Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm stealing a paragraph from the overview:
The seed for this book was planted by an indirect compliment from my husband Hugh about my cooking. Knowing I was an enthusiastic home cook, someone had asked him what my “specialty” was. He and I both know I don’t necessarily have a favorite cuisine. Through trial, error and money wasted, I’m mediocre at cooking meat. I am too unconventional for perfect baking and err on the side of health nut for classical dishes. What I do well, is what I care most about, which is produce. I have an affinity for seasonal vegetables and whole foods with bold dressings or sauces. I crave healthful, colorful foods that taste good. My specialty, per se, is food in a bowl - combinations of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, big salads - texture and flavor that go together to make a simple, nutritious meal that makes sense composed in one vessel. “Bowl foods” was Hugh’s answer to the question. First I took offense, then I laughed about it, and after telling the story, I came to realize that this is the way a lot of whole foods focused eaters cook. A dish colorful enough to serve when friends are over for dinner, the kind of meal you can bring to the couch with nothing but a spoon or fork, or where leftovers can be packed up easily for the following day. One could argue that food in a bowl has an aesthetic gentleness to it that falls stark on a plate. Ingredients nestled within each other, tangled to make sense as a sum of their parts. I am using the bowl as a point of inspiration for the recipes shared here.
There are breakfast bowls and dips and salads and full meals with a whole grain, protein, vegetables and sauce (like you see on the cover) and a brief sweets chapter with a frequent appearance of whipping cream :) The recipe below is one of the side salads. To make it a full meal, we make these herby falafels to have with it. I made the salad here with pretty purple carrots and lentils where the one in the book uses vibrant orange carrots and chickpeas. I think it could be a holiday side if that's what you're looking for but it's also nice to have a bowl prepared in the fridge to keep you from the sweets when you need a nibble. Anyway, it is one of my favorites. Bowl + Spoon is different than our first book in a way I can't quite describe outside of it having a theme. All I know is that I'm super excited for you all to see. I will update the book page after the holidays once I have a hard copy and some more information on events and such. 'Til then, preorder is available at these booksellers:
MARRAKESH CARROT SALAD // Serves 6
This may be a good time for the grater blade on your food processor. It'll save you time. Go with a firmer lentil, like beluga or Puy, so they hold shape in the salad. Chickpeas are written in the original salad so use what you have or prefer. Though you could still make this without, I suggest the good feta cheese, one made with sheeps milk, not cow. It may be an extra dollar or two but it's worth it. Trader Joes sells an incredible one by Pastures of Eden in a yellow and green package.
- 4 cups grated carrots
- 3/4 cup cooked lentils, rinsed and drained
- 7 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 5 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup toasted pistachios
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- zest and juice of two limes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
In a large bowl, combine the carrots, lentils, dates, red onion, scallions and cilantro. Break up any bits of dates that are sticking together.
In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, zest and juice of the limes, cumin, nutmeg, tumeric, red pepper, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the carrot salad and toss to coat. Give the pistachios a rough chop and sprinkle on top along with the feta cheese. Serve as is or cover and chill in the fridge.