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Summer Salad Season! Black-eyed Pea Salad!

I made this for a brunch I hosted a few months back that had both a Southern American theme (not South American) and was completely vegan. I promised my friend Shelly I would send her the recipe and I am finally getting around to posting it!


Feel free to use canned or dried black-eyed peas here, if you like, but I’ve found the frozen variety to be the easiest in terms of prep (no soaking!) and the best in terms of texture (never mushy or mealy). As with all of my recipes, this one will inevitably benefit from your own customizations.

Prepare, according to package instructions:
2 bags of frozen black-eyed peas

Meanwhile, dice:
1 medium or 1/2 a large red onion
Try to make the dice as close to the size of the peas as you can. Place the onion in a fine mesh sieve and pour over 1 kettleful of boiling water; this will cut the rawness out of the onion, which otherwise overpowers the dish (in my humble opinion).

Onions after being rinsed with boiling water

Onions after being rinsed with boiling water

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add:
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved (ideally a mix of red and yellow)
A handful of coarsely chopped parsley (flat or curly)
Leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Once the peas are ready, rinse them thoroughly with cold water and drain completely, then mix together with the other ingredients in the bowl. To dress, you can use your favorite Italian dressing to taste, or go even simpler with salt, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar to your liking. Ideally, you’ll let this sit for a few hours before serving, but it’s all good if you can’t – with good quality ingredients, it will taste great either way!

Shelly and Me!

Shelly and Me!


“Baby” Food!

Labor Day weekend brought a number of culinary highs (the most delicious cherry tomatoes from Leaning Shed Farm) and lows (an epic fail in attempting to fry chicken without a crust – the skin just stuck to the bottom of the pan), but overall, it was pretty great. One thing love about the specialty market in my neighborhood is that, much like the outdoor farmer’s markets, they offer whatever is available seasonally (on top of what they always offer). This weekend, I found this beautiful baby kale:

Kale – Baby and Adult Versions

It seemed to make sense to see it in reference to fully mature kale, so I took a side-by-side photo. Initially, I tried to eat it raw in a salad. It was good, but had a little too much bite to use as the only green – I think it would better mixed with some softer leaves of butter lettuce or arugula. Because I bought a healthy amount of it, I ended up dropping it into a big pot of ham and bean soup and it was perfect. I basically just mixed in the kale after the beans finished cooking and I took the pot off the heat – I didn’t want it to lose the vibrant green color. I love kale in soups, and this baby kale is perfect – it stays intact (unlike spinach), but isn’t cumbersome to eat (like mature kale can be).

Incidentally, on the same trip to the market, I found this gigantic shallot!


Orange-Fashioned Cocktail

Orange-Fashioned Cocktail

In honor of the Academy Awards, I’ve decided to post a cocktail recipe. Instead of choosing a glam cocktail in some pretty glass, served up, or even a champagne-based cocktail, I went with a revamping of an old-school cocktail: the Old-Fashioned. This is inspired by the 2012 nominees for best actor. Each one seems to be proving that the days of the Hollywood gentleman are not dead, and that gentlemanly behavior is worth pursuing. Obviously, a gentleman deserves a gentleman’s drink and I can’t think of a cocktail that qualifies as such more than the Old-Fashioned.

Given the super mild winter we’ve had this year, I thought that a brightening up of the Old-Fashioned would be in order – nodding both to the winter with the bourbon, but then also looking ahead to spring somehow. I bought some Orange Blossom Liqueur that’s made locally (, so I decided to use that as the sugar component. For the most part, nothing else changes, except that I think ice and an orange peel are mandatory.

Pour over ice in a rocks glass:
2 1/2 parts bourbon (I used Four Roses)
1 part Orange Blossom Liqueur
Few dashes of Angostura bitters
Orange peel, squeezed over the top and added to the drink.

I test drove this out on my friend Mark (a bourbon enthusiast) and he seemed pleased; he asked for another round. I advise you to sit back, turn on the red carpet show, and sip slowly. Enjoy.

Happy Oscars.