Very quick lunch suggestion

Drain a can of chickpeas; add one cup of chicken broth (or half a bouillon cube—MY LAST ONE, hallelujah—and a cup of water). Simmer. Add dried basil, dried rosemary, a squirt of lemon juice, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and… A PARMESAN RIND. Mine was frozen. Now it’s melting, sending cheesy strings into the broth.

It smells unbelievably wonderful.

It will go over rice (mine’s been in the fridge for a few days, which is why I wanted my chickpeas to be brothy) and be eaten for lunch. (I’m getting only two servings out of this, but I’ve been very hungry lately.)

This photo is cooking-instructional only and is not intended as art.

For no particular reason, here is a photograph I took of a wall of graffiti in East Harlem.

Good night.


Marcella’s tomato sauce

Last week was a week of healthy Indian food, low on carbs, and tons of kickboxing. I was kind of hungry and salt-deprived all week and was generally feeling weird and dizzy and light-headed, so I decided I should return to my food roots this week and just have tons of pasta. This is the way my body is used to functioning, and things turn weird when I don’t eat enough pasta/carbs. (I am actually serious about this. I think it’s my metabolism. I can’t get full unless I have a lot of carbs.)

So I wanted to find a way to make pasta interesting, since usually I just put some things on it and that’s it. I am planning to do Swiss chard, chickpeas, and cheese (gruyere and/or mozzarella), in the vein of that one thing I made a while ago and took horrible cell-phone pictures of, but then I thought I would do a real tomato sauce. I have made tomato sauce before, but always just by throwing things into a pot of simmering crushed tomatoes—I wanted, this time, to do a big, real one. So I’m doing the one Marcella Hazan describes as “the most concentrated and the most strongly flavored”: Tomato Sauce I. I’m using canned tomatoes because it is April and there are no good tomatoes anywhere (and also because even when it is tomato season all the tomatoes I can ever find are nasty).

This recipe involves a full half-cup of olive oil. Ew. I am sautéeing 1/3 c onions in it now, and will soon add carrots and celery, finely diced. (That’s what I meant about a real tomato sauce—so many small bits in it.)

There are very few pictures for this post, and all of them are very bad.

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Boom. Fucking nailed it.

OK. I got home from kickboxing at 8. I started sauteing two large spoonfuls of pre-minced garlic (I know…) in olive oil in a small saucepan. I threw in the frozen contents of two tupperwares: chickpeas and whole canned tomatoes. I put a lid on it. I showered.

When I came back, everything was bubbling and thawed and warm. I stirred and then began making biscuits.

I made self-rising flour by combining all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. I added more salt as per the biscuit recipe. I created a well in the center and poured in about 3/4 c of previously frozen plain yogurt. (Basically the entire point of these biscuits was to use the yogurt, which I bought a while ago by accident.) I stirred and determined there was not enough yogurt. Unfortunately I didn’t have any more—well, I did, but I smelled it and then put it in the garbage—so I added some leftover cream of borderline still-tastiness. I did the whole stirring thing. Dumped it out onto my clean, floured counter. Sprinkled a bit more flour on top. Folded, kneaded, patted into a 1/2-inch-thick circle. Cut out biscuits using the kickass beer mugs I got from my grandpa.

iPhoto sort of surrealized this photo. I really like it. It didn’t look like that in real life.

The chickpeas were still simmering in the tomatoes. (They were very liquidy, in case it just sounded like there were some tomatoes and chickpeas sitting in a pot together.)

I put the biscuits onto a buttered cookie sheet—oh, I forgot, this was the best part. In order to melt the butter onto the cookie sheet, I put some lumps of cold butter on the cookie sheet, then put the cookie sheet on top of the simmering chickpeas. The butter melted and I swished it around with the back of a spoon. I was very pleased.

Anyway, long story short, the biscuits went into the oven, I tasted and revised the chickpeas (salt + pepper + just a few red pepper flakes), and I ate, like fourteen minutes later.

EVERYTHING WAS REALLY GOOD. IT WAS A FOOD MIRACLE. And on a kickboxing night, no less.

No recipe for the chickpeas—just do whatever you want. I think it was so good because I simmered it for about half an hour.

Yogurt Biscuits
From Southern Biscuits, recipe courtesy of Serious Eats

2 c self-rising flour (or 2 c AP flour + 1 tbsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt)
1 tsp salt (or less if you make your own self-rising flour; my biscuits are rather salty)
3/4–1 c plain yogurt
Some butter

Preheat the oven to 450•. I know how to make a bullet point, but not a degree symbol. ° Ooh sweet.

Whisk together the flour and salt. Create a well in the center and pour in 3/4 c of yogurt. Mix briskly (don’t overmix like I did! It toughens your biscuits) until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more yogurt if there is leftover flour on the bottom (I added the cream at this point—there was really no cohesive dough.)

Pour onto a lightly floured surface. Flour the surface of the dough. Fold the dough in half and pat into a circle, about half an inch thick. Repeat once or twice more.

Use a biscuit cutter or cup/mug to cut out biscuit rounds. It’s best to make as many as possible out of the original dough circle; re-rolling will toughen the biscuits.

Put on a buttered cookie sheet (for biscuits with a crisper exterior; for a soft exterior, use a cake pan and crowd the biscuits together). Bake at 450° for 10-14 minutes on the top rack, turning the pan around midway through baking.

Also, brief note: These aren’t really like butter biscuits—they’re still flaky but sort of in a different way. I think generally I like butter biscuits better, but they are a giant pain in the ass to make because the involve that whole cutting the butter into the dough thing, which is my least favorite cooking thing of all time.

Chickpeas and carrots

I’m going a little bit insane from something I can’t discuss on a public forum, so I’m going to write a completely insane blog entry about Chickpeas And Carrots. WOOO. Oh my God.

Anyway, so shortly after Christmas I was at home having a friend over for dinner. I wanted something vegetable-y, because I had been eating a lot of meat, and easy, because I was tired. I settled on whole-wheat cous cous (sssss, Jacqui) with carrots and chickpeas. I more or less made up the recipe, but I suppose it was inspired by this excellent stew. I basically just put on chickpeas to cook (from dry; I sort of knew they would never properly tenderize, but decided to go for it anyway), and then began to saute onions, garlic, carrots. Probably. I’m trying to analyze the bowl in front of me—which was in the freezer for a while, don’t worry—and can’t really remember what was in it.

Really all I remember is two things:

1. My friend was like, “How can I help?” And I was like, “Meh, it’s fine.” And he was like, “Did you remember to take pictures for your blog?” and I was like “AAAAHHH!”

Oh, it actually looks pretty good here.

2. I burned the whole thing horribly because we were playing What Did You Get For Hanukkah, and I got distracted.

Anyway, I added a lot of spices: cinnamon (feeling inspired by my dad’s and my Indian cooking during Christmas), cumin, red pepper flakes (of course; and too many), and possibly others. Who knows.

Basically, it ended up too spicy, and I did not look forward to leftovers. (However, aforementioned friend said it was good, which was nice of him.)

As you can see, it wasn’t. But there was beer.

Then, in later iterations during Austerity, I realized I could just put a lot of tomato sauce and parmesan cheese on it. So I did. This made it pretty good. I don’t know why. The moral is that if you add cheese to it, it will probably taste good.

(This is what I did to my parsnip soup, actually, in case you were wondering/looking for the promised update, and it definitely improved things.)


Chickpeas and Carrots with Cous Cous
I do believe this would be good if done properly; I like carrots and chickpeas together. I just don’t really know the proper spices to include.

I’m not going to lie by making up proportions for this recipe; just eyeball it.

If you cook chickpeas from dry, do so in advance; it will take several hours to get them fully cooked. I only cooked mine for about an hour; half are tender, half are unpleasantly crunchy. Obviously, this is bad. I KNOW. Shut up.

Saute garlic and onions in the usual manner; add spices of your choosing, and stir until fragrant. (I stole this language from every recipe ever. I didn’t even do it.) Add carrots, chopped as you wish, ideally in cute circles. Saute until tender; it might be a good idea to add some water, cover the skillet, and steam a bit, to hasten cooking.

When they are mostly tender, add chickpeas (if canned, drain the liquid!). Stir, taste, etc.

Add to cous cous, which takes three seconds to cook.

There are SO many semicolons in this post.