Like clockwork every summer, I decide that the only thing I want to eat, maybe forever because when it's warm out I completely forget winter is coming (I'm sorry, I had to), are variations on tomato-cucumber salad. We did a world tour of these last year ...

 

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hummus heaped with tomatoes and cucumbers

Like clockwork every summer, I decide that the only thing I want to eat, maybe forever because when it’s warm out I completely forget winter is coming (I’m sorry, I had to), are variations on tomato-cucumber salad. We did a world tour of these last year and it might take me another decade of Smitten Kitchen-ing but I will get to them all. Left to our own devices, my husband and I probably would probably eat do exactly this for dinner at least a couple nights a week but when feeding kids, I always feel the need — I mean, what are they, growing rapidly and we’re supposed to fuel them with balanced meals or something? — to provide a little more than a bowl of cucumbers and tomatoes for dinner. You know, protein and stuff.

swirl of hummus with olive oil, za'atar

In the U.S., we generally think of hummus (which simply means “chickpea” in Arabic) as a cold snack, a dip you buy in the fridge case to help distract you from, say, cool ranch potato chip dip or something. But throughout the Middle East, there are hummusiots/hummsias, places that serve hummus warm and freshly made, often a little softer than what we get here, usually heaped with other things. Yes, as a meal; a heavenly one. Toppings might include additional tahini or chickpeas, cooked fava beans (ful), sautéed mushrooms, roasted beets, hard-boiled eggs, falafel, spicy ground beef, chopped tomato-onion-cucumber salads, pickles, and/or green olives plus always a stack of freshly baked puffy pitas. In some areas, hummus is a breakfast food, accompanied with labneh and mint. And it is from daydreaming about all of this — with a reminder from this oh-so-tempting Ina Garten photo from last week — that I realized that the easiest way to turn my tomato-cucumber salad obsession in to a meal was to serve it hummusiot-style.

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confetti party cake

There comes a time in every parent’s life when love must be expressed through buttercream, food dye, and sprinkles; I just didn’t know it would be so soon this time. For my daughter’s second birthday, I planned, as I had as had on her first and her brother’s 7 birthdays to date,* to do my best to heed the siren call of sugar and red dye 40 and then, you know, translate that into something that’s both tasty but not fully plastic. (This is all of parenting, by the way.) My plan had been to make a party-sized Swedish Princess Cake because have you had this buttery cake with custard, jam, whipped cream and a marzipan dome with a single pink rose in the middle? Nothing could be more fitting for our curly-haired wildling. But then Elmo happened.

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MY NEW BOOK IS COMING! MY NEW BOOK IS COMING!
COMING 10/24: Smitten Kitchen Every Day!

grilled pizza

Before we snuck a grill onto our balcony one glorious day last May, I would regularly show up at friends-with-grills homes with prepared pizza dough and a few toppings in the summer; I love grilled pizza so much that I’d feed a crowd just to get my fix. It was one of the first things I made when we bought our own. The benefits of cooking pizza outside are manifold. With heat circulating all around the pizza and the dough resting on open grates instead of a flat tray, I find that you can get more texture — crisp on the outside but staying stretchy within — and flavor — charred spots that will immediately remind you of your favorite brick-oven pizzeria, without heating up your apartment, pretty much the last thing any of us want to do in the summer. Plus, it’s really quick. Once your dough is purchased or prepared, you could be eating your pizza in 10 minutes; not bad for a homemade dinner after a long day.

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MY NEW BOOK IS COMING! MY NEW BOOK IS COMING!
COMING 10/24: Smitten Kitchen Every Day!

best hot fudge sauce

There are a lot of good reasons to put two small jars of homemade hot fudge sauce in your fridge in approximately 10 minutes and possibly forever:
• Hot fudge sauce is the easiest thing on earth to make, and absolutely nothing from a squeeze bottle compares. Not even the stuff at local ice cream parlors, even the kinds that boast about ingredient origins and write their menus on chalkboard walls, are the same. I’m still grumpy about the time I was a gazillion months pregnant ordered hot fudge sauce and someone poured chocolate syrup over my ice cream. I resisted, however, waddling back there and showing them how to make it correctly. I’m sorry I do not behave as well with you.

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MY NEW BOOK IS COMING! MY NEW BOOK IS COMING!
COMING 10/24: Smitten Kitchen Every Day!

zucchini grilled cheese

A highly recommended way to be very unpopular with the people you share meals with is to tell them you’re making zucchini grilled cheese for dinner.

“Like, zucchini as the bread?”
“Zucchini instead of cheese?”
“But I don’t like zucchini!”
KEENY.”

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MY NEW BOOK IS COMING! MY NEW BOOK IS COMING!
COMING 10/24: Smitten Kitchen Every Day!

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MY NEW BOOK IS COMING! MY NEW BOOK IS COMING!
COMING 10/24: Smitten Kitchen Every Day!

   
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