Category Archives: Recipe

Eggplant Curry

Last Saturday was not a Hemingway in Paris type of Fall day. It was cool and sunny, and I rode my bike along the Hudson river without sentiment (although there was plenty of red sediment in the river itself from flooding upstate). I wore a sweater and a scarf and fingerless gloves which came off (the gloves, not the sweater, or the scarf for that matter) soon after we reached the market at Union Square.

There is a lady at the market who sells Mexican food from a small wire shopping cart–the kind you see old ladies pulling into Fairway, the kind with plastic wheels that fall off if you don’t know the exact angle at which to push around a corner. She always has a circle of people around her, peering over her shoulder into red coolers full of sauces and fillings. This week we tried gorditas. They were spicy. Good and spicy. My tongue tickled from the burn, but I couldn’t stop. And then I wanted another one.

The market wasn’t crowded this week, so we were done our shopping and back on our bikes by 9am. We would have been home napping by 9:45 if it weren’t for the motorcycles. My front tire had just touched the Henry Hudson when a police officer in an SUV blocking the crosswalk waved me back. Behind him, a parade of motorcycles came rumbling up the highway. A long parade.

People began to crowd at the crosswalk. I wanted to join the two kids shielding their ears from biker thunder. I exchanged a smile of commiseration with a woman in a gray suit. We waited and waited, and the bikers kept coming and coming. Cars waiting to turn on the highway honked with nowhere to go, adding to the cacophony. A runner stopped next to me, yelled “fuck!”, and decided to cross anyway, weaving through the motorcycles as if she were on the streets of Hanoi.

We were delayed again by the wind. Riding north on the river path, the wind was in my face. Each curve in the path brought another gust, and the entire way home felt like an uphill struggle. The wind is my enemy. I even started swearing at it. I was swearing at the wind.

All of this brings me to eggplant curry. When we got home, we were cold and tired. Curry fixes both of those things. Plus, eggplants are related to tobacco. 20lbs of eggplant = the same amount of nicotine as 1 cigarette.

Eggplant Curry

1. Cube 1 lb eggplant and put in a bowl. Sprinkle eggplant cubes with some ground turmeric and salt. Set aside.

2. Cut 2 small onions in half (the long way) and slice lengthwise (not across).

3. Slice 4 chilies lengthwise.

4. Heat oil in a large pan. I used a cast iron pan, but a wok would work as well. Add the eggplant and fry until soft and light brown. Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil and takes a while to cook, so add more oil if necessary. It will take about 5-10 minutes, but eventually the eggplant will begin to release some of the oil. When the eggplant is done, remove from pan and set aside.

5. Add more oil to pan if necessary and fry the onion until soft. Mix in 1 tbs curry powder and the green chilies. Add 1 cup coconut milk and salt to taste. Boil until coconut milk begins to thicken. Stir in eggplant and cook until sauce becomes the consistency of gravy.

6. In a small pan heat a very small amount of oil and add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, 4 dried curry leaves. Cook until fragrant and the seeds begin to pop. This is the tempering oil. Remove the curry leaves and pour over the eggplant mixture.

7. Squeeze at least 2 tsp of lime juice into curry, but add more if the dish needs more acid.

8. Serve over brown rice.


Comme Vous Voulez Hummus with Pita

I love hummus, as long as the chickpeas aren’t lost in tahini. I love lemons. Don’t be surprised if I enjoy the lemon garnish more than I enjoy the cocktail. And I love garlic but can’t eat it raw, or someone will have to hold my hair from my face as I kneel over the toilet bowl in predawn light. Sadness, I know.

So this is my hummus–selfish and as I want.

Taste as you go and adjust.

Comme vous voulez hummus

2 cups chickpeas, canned or cooked
Tahini to taste
1/4 cup of olive oil, more or less
Garlic, if you like
Lemon juice (1/2 a lemon, a whole lemon, 2 lemons?)
Salt and pepper
Paprika, or cumin, or za’atar, or sansho, or shichimi

1. Combine all chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Start with a small amount of all auxiliary ingredients and add more if needed. How do you know if you need more tahini? Taste it. Lemon juice? Taste it. Salt, pepper, garlic? Taste it. Obvious: If you like the flavor, the hummus is good.

2. Add more water if your hummus is too thick–just a little at a time until you have a puree the right consistency for dipping.

3. Scrape hummus into a bowl, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of one (or more) of the mentioned spices.

Pita Bread

1. More food processor fun: Add 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp instant yeast, 2 tsp coarse kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp sugar to food processor. Cover and add 1 cup of water through the feed tube while mixing. blend for 30 seconds until dough comes together to form a slightly sticky ball. As usual, add more water if needed.

2. Pull the dough from the food processor and form into a neat ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise about 1 – 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.

3. After rising, divide dough into 6 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball. Put the dough balls on a floured surface (a cutting board works well), dust with more flour, and cover with a dish towel. Let rise for 20 minutes.

4. On lightly floured surface, roll each ball out to a flat round less than 1/4″ thick. Be sure to cover each round when you have finished rolling. While rounds rest for 20 minutes, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. A pizza stone works best, but if you don’t have one, place rounds onto a lightly oiled baking sheet (you may have to work in batches). Bake until browned on one side and then flip over to brown other side. Takes between 5-10 minutes, so pay attention!

5. When done, brush with melted butter, cut into triangles, and dip in hummus.

Fickle Mint

A red plastic fish taught me the meaning of fickle.

It was summer vacation on Cape Cod. It was also the early nineties–things like mood rings and peace signs charmed a near 10-year-old girl. We filled our days with all sorts of Cape Cod-y family reunion type activities: hours on the beach, giant clam bakes, clam chowder lunches, and hermit crab collecting with the cousins.  But it was the Brewster General Store that evoked the most excitement from my sister and me.

The store is a large former church with white siding, arched windows, and a country porch out front. Inside you’ll hear the sound of squeaking floor boards and the smell of old wood. In those days, my parents would head for the coffee, donuts, and newspapers while Gaelen and I paced the aisles of penny candy. When our brown paper bags were full, we moved to the toy section. The toys here were not the kind you would find at Toys ‘R Us or a store in the mall. To us, they were old school. Paddle ball instead of Nintendo. Marbles instead of Barbie. Jacob’s Ladder, Jacks, Kazoos, Bouncing Balls, almost nothing with batteries. We touched everything. Dipped our hands in the marbles and tried to play Jacks. Watched Jacob’s Ladder fall and bounced every ball in the room. Before our parents finished their coffee, we each picked one shiny object to take home with us. That year, I chose the Fortune Teller Miracle Fish.

image from zymetrical

The fortune telling fish was really just a piece of thin red plastic resembling an enlarged Swedish fish. But for me, it was the key to my future. I pulled the fish out of its plastic wrapper and placed it on my open palm. It writhed and curled as I hoped for “In Love” or at least “Indifference.” The sides of my fish curled together, and I checked the answer key. Curling sides = Fickle. Fickle? What the hell does that mean?

I asked my dad. So I change my mind a lot? I’m capricious? I’m inconstant? “I’d say so,” he answered. Now, whenever I hear the word fickle, I think of that day.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I have a fickle love for mint chocolate chip. Most often I’m indifferent. But this summer has been constant–mint chocolate chip ice cream is wonderful. With no ice cream maker, I had to use condensed milk for the base which makes the ice cream very sweet, but I think that you’ll like it.

1/2 bunch of mint leaves
2 cups of heavy cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 bag of chocolate chips

1. Heat cream and mint leaves in a small pan over medium heat until cream begins to simmer. Pour into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cold.

2. Once cool, you will have mint infused cream. It’s just like steeping tea. Strain the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl and discard the mint leaves. Beat the cream until whipped using stand mixer, hand mixer, or a strong arm and a whisk.

3. Fold in the condensed milk and chocolate chips.

4. Cover and freeze. While freezing, I stirred my ice cream every hour or so in the beginning to make sure that all the chocolate chips didn’t sink to the bottom.