Big Girls Global Kitchens

Smoky Red Lentil Burgers

Posted by on Monday Apr 8th, 2013

Have you ever kept a dinner journal? Even though this blog is technically an account of what we’ve eaten, I don’t capture all of our humble everyday meals here–that’d be a repetitious and poorly lit project. But I love the idea of writing down what we’ve had for dinner. Not because I’m some insanely sentimental type. Nor do I want to obsess over every last morsel I’ve ingested. It’s that I develop amnesia about recent dinner triumphs at exactly the moment when I’m trying to figure out what we should eat on a given night.

There’s always pasta. There are bowl dinners. Recently, we’ve been making soups and eating them with salads (my choice) or sandwiches (his). Neither of us is all that picky, and one of us is a food blogger. But still, the dinner idea well runs dry. When it does, we rack our brains.

“We had something last week that we liked, right?” he’ll say.

“What did we used to eat?” I’ll ask.

When we rack our brains especially hard, we’ll often happen upon one answer: bean burgers. We do like bean burgers, I’ll remember. They use cheap pantry ingredients and no meat and are particularly amenable to incorporating whatever ingredients are on hand–canned beans, already cooked dry beans, or quick-cooking red lentils.

And that single limp scallion in the vegetable drawer.

Have you developed a system for remembering favorite meals on nights when you don’t know what to cook?

I’ve been cooking a lot of lentils recently, as I explore the food of the Middle East, and that’s where I turned last week when we decided to make bean burgers for dinner.

This post begins and ends with muhammara. Muhammara is a Middle Eastern dip that’s rich, sweet, spicy, and tangy. I’m always looking for unusual dips, preferably one whose ingredients come from the pantry, and muhammara fits the bill.

Looking to other cultures is one of my tried-and-true ways of branching out in the kitchen. For dips, one of the most fertile culinary traditions has got to come from the Middle East.

Like: picture a mezze table, loaded with hummus, baba ganoush, oils, cheeses, herbs and try not to salivate.

Most of the ingredients in muhammara are everyday items: nuts, chile flakes, tomato paste, olive oil. But one – pomegranate molasses – is a little harder to find. I’ve seen it at some Whole Foods, but I traversed Atlantic Avenue and made a stop at Sahadi’s, a quintessential Brooklyn shopping experience. The pomegranate molasses lends the dip its signature sweetness as well as its tang. I can imagine using the rest of my bottle of pomegranate molasses in dressings and marinades.

My Peruvian Feasts

Posted by on Thursday Jan 12th, 2012

Two glorious weeks in Peru bridging 2011 and 2012 brought Alex and me into close contact with (in alphabetical order): alpaca meat, Arequipa, Cusco, Jenga, juice, La Mar, Machu Picchu, markets, not ordering cuy, overnight buses, pan con huevo y mantequilla, pollo a la brasa, potatoes galore, soup, steak, and trekking. We had adventures in about five different places, met nice Peruvians and adventurous backpackers, saw cities and small towns, hiked at high altitude, endured strong sun, pounding rain, and snow, and woke up more than once at the very crack of dawn.

Starting in Cusco, we took …

I never realized that my tendency to overbuy at the farmers’ market was a hereditary condition. If you open my mother’s refrigerator at any given time, you’ll probably find a bunch of chard, just waiting to be turned into a green soup. But just one bunch. Not three. It wasn’t until I visited my aunt and uncle in Los Angeles that I saw my own habits reflected in someone else’s refrigerator, and on their countertops.

Back in October, after Steph and Rodrigo’s Santa Barbara wedding, I decided to milk my West Coast trip for all it was worth, …

Chicken Tikka Masala

Posted by on Wednesday Oct 12th, 2011

OTHER INDIAN SPECIALTIES: Chana Bateta; Free-Form Samosas; Potato-Pea Masala with Cilantro-Mint Chutney

In high school, we had a few restaurant eating traditions. If we ventured below 14th Street, it was for pad thai at Republic or dragon bowls at Angelica’s Kitchen. If we went east, it was probably for an Americano Panini at Via Quadrono, before or after a visit to the Met. On the Upper West Side, a.k.a. my hood, the regular spots were more numerous, but if it was a big group of girls, we almost always ended up at Mughlai.

The Indian food at …

Gluten-free living is short on quick, portable lunches. It’s not like the corner deli can offer to put your sandwich filling inside an arepa. Luckily, in New York, for every corner deli, there is also a freakishly fragrant halal truck sitting right outside its door. As I mentioned in my guide to eating out gluten-free, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines are great go-to’s. It might not be quite as portable without the requisite pita pocket, but you can still easily pick up a plate of schwarma or halal with rice and condiments on a whim in Manhattan.

Falafel …

OTHER BGSK MOROCCAN FAVORITES: Merguez and Chard Tagine; Moroccan Chickpeas; Fish Tagine with Chermoula, Preserved Lemon and Mint

I have a bit of an obsession with Taim, a little hole-in-the-wall falafel place in the West Village. Their falafel might be the best in the whole city. They are also gluten-free, which is a huge win.

You can consider this a two-part ode to Taim. Next week, I’ll share a recipe for gluten-free spicy red falafel inspired by their kitchen. But today we’re focusing on my favorite category of food: condiments. And Taim happens to have condiments …