Monday, January 12, 2015

You know that place between sleep and awake?

lobster nachos
This will sound like a joke after the last few posts, but I’m writing a story about Disneyland and to that end Mark and I spent the weekend wandering around the happiest place on earth. Decidedly bizarre to be there without kids, but not un-fun. At first we resisted, but you’re sort of forced to roll with the silliness because there's absolutely nothing edifying or high-minded to do at Disneyland. Believe me, we looked. So Mark took his first-ever, last-ever roller coaster ride. We played arcade games at the ESPN Zone. Failed to get scared in the Haunted Mansion. Acquired hangovers from pathetically small quantities of alcohol. Ate fried biscuits, Matterhorn macaroons, cherry malts, lobster nachos, you get the idea. I'm bulging out of my clothes and my notebook is bulging with observations, but I need to save the anecdotes for the story, so I’m going to cut myself off for now. I'll just say this: If Disneyland figures in your near future, send me an email, tipsybaker@gmail.com. I have advice, mostly about what to eat, naturally.
sarsparilla manhattan: clever idea, but undrinkable
Matterhorn macaroon: as tasty as it is cute
Back to cookbooks.

When I failed to “get” the Yotam Ottolenghi phenomenon based on mixed results cooking from Plenty More late last year, some of you shared favorite Ottolenghi recipes. Thank you. I’ve been working down this great list for the past month. The Jerusalem hummus, which included the new-to-me addition of ice water, was excellent. Although I erred in the execution of the lemony leek meatballs, I could see how these would be superb if you didn’t puree the leeks to an army-green mush as I did. The lamb and cannellini bean soup: rich, hearty, delicious. A sweet-salty-leafy-crunchy-sticky baby spinach salad with almonds, dates, and pita made a welcome alternative to lettuce or kale. Another Jerusalem winner and I highly recommend.

I liked the milk pudding, also from Jerusalem, though sadly no one else shared my enthusiasm for this elegant, bone-white dessert. However, we all loved the caramelized garlic tart from Plenty and so will you if you have a taste for tangy, creamy goat cheese, mellow garlic, and buttery puff pastry.

But the standout dish so far has been the stir-fried brussels sprouts and tofu, also from Plenty. Love! Easy, healthy, spicy, lively, Chinese, delicious, cheap, perfect the first time out. I was so happy to discover this dish. My favorite recipe so far in 2015. 

The sprouts and tofu will be hard to beat, but there are a few more of your Ottolenghi recs to try before I move on to a new cookbook or cuisine. On my list today: Mail order freekeh. Buy a rack of lamb. Write Disneyland story.

34 comments:

  1. I think his recipe for hummus is great EXCEPT it's much better if you cut down (A LOT) on the tahini.

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    1. Really? I love tahini so much I usually add more than a recipe calls for.

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    2. I liked it as written, though I always put a little cumin in hummus.

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  2. I really like that lamb and cannellini bean soup. I've only had the brussel sprouts and tofu once - and Matt made it (!) - but perhaps it's time to try it again. What cookbook are you doing next? Are you going to write up Prune?

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    1. I plan to get back to Prune one of these days -- I just want to finish up with Ottolenghi. Did the brussels sprouts and tofu not quite work the first time you had it?

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  3. Will you post a link to your Disneyland story when it is published?

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  4. Man I love Disneyland. My dad was an IBM employee when I was a little kid, and they had an IBM night (during the winter, after the park had closed to the public, started at 8pm), and it was the most wonderful event of my year. I still remember when I suddenly realized that boys were more fascinating than Disneyland. Revelation. Every year I can, I take my daughter/s to Six Flags Magic Mountain on Superbowl Sunday (no crowds! Fantastic scary rides!), but one year Emily insisted on Disneyland instead, and it was terrific. It was a rainy day, so less crowded, and I will never forget that day. She ought out a caramel apple and ate it with gusto, we rode all the best rides many times, and we had just the best time.

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    1. We met some local people -- a couple in their 60s -- who have an annual pass and went to Disneyland 27x last year. Normal people, not wearing mouse ears or anything. They feel like they've escaped the real world when they walk through the gates and come for dinner and a glass of wine. Sometimes do rides. Very sweet.

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  5. That is an extremely smart written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

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  6. I just posted the brussels sprouts and tofu recipe to my vegan daughter. I'm imagining this as a Venn diagram with a brussles sprouts circle and a tofu circle. In our family, there is one person who fits in the overlap (daughter) and one person who doesn't fit in either circle (my husband).

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    1. I hadn't thought about how controversial both tofu and sprouts are. I definitely fit the overlap and I served this meal to an omnivorous friend. My husband doesn't love tofu and doesn't eat brussels sprouts, so I suppose I'll have to make it exclusively when he's out of town.

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  7. I've been to Disney World (There's some sort of law in Florida that if you have out-of-town guests, you have to take them at least to EPCOT. Though these days I think it would be cheaper just to start a good college fund for them.) I thought I was being my usual self until I got a glimpse of myself reflected in a window and there it was - The Disney Grin. I was horrified! I made a point when we got to the UK exhibit and they were doing "Scotland the Brave" of getting as close as possible to the "cast member" and singing a rather different version about "Scotland Depraved" featuring sheep and "old Aunt Mary" into his ear. It made me feel a little better. It's all just so shudderingly wholesome.

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    1. Ha! There's a Disney grin? I did not know that. I've never been to Disney World, but it was a dream destination as a child. Disneyland x 10, or that's how I imagined it. It sounds very different -- UK exhibit?

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  8. Just made the brussels sprouts and tofu for lunch. I subbed button mushrooms for the shiitake, used Sriacha instead of sweet chili paste, and cut the oil amounts by about half. Delicious! Thanks for suggesting it. The fried green tomato sandwich at The Hungry Bear in front of Splash Mountain is pretty tasty (if you ever have to go back to Disneyland). When my children were younger, their favorite thing at California Adventure were the warm tortillas that Mission gave away (across from Boudin's shop). Sadly, it is longer open.

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  9. I actually found that tofu and brussels sprouts dish in the comments section on your blog, and wow, is it delicious. Thanks! :)

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  10. I must admit those lobster nachos look delicious....I'm glad you didn't get the measles :)

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  11. I went to Disney World for the first time as an adult (well, at age 20 if that counts as adult) while on college spring break with a couple of my girlfriends. I remember thinking it was interesting but sort of a weird place with a fake version of everything. I wonder if you have to have gone there as a child to find the magic in it as an adult.

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  12. I made the Lemony Leek Meatballs last night and they were almost unbelievably good. Because of your warning, I eschewed the food processor and chopped the leeks by hand, which was easy enough. I substituted almond meal for the breadcrumbs (my go-to low-carb solution for meatballs.) And I had chicken stock sitting around (I always end up with more homemade chicken stock than I will ever use), eggs from my hens and lemons from my tree, so all I had to buy was the meat and the leeks. So simple and delicious.

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  13. Made the brussels sprouts and tofu tonite Jennifer-yum! Left the tofu a little larger and served the brussels sprouts and tofu on the side with basmati rice. Always appreciate vegetarian and vegan dishes.

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