White Beans, Potatoes, and Cabbage

My sweet BFF gave us Heidi Swanson‘s new cookbook Super Natural Every Day for a wedding gift, and I have been dying to dig into it! I love Heidi’s blog and appreciate her one-pot dishes and creative use of beans and grains, which are very close to my heart.

The first recipe I tried was actually the one pictured on the cover, but I didn’t realize it until later. It seems fitting, though, for a start!

The basic change I made to the recipe was to cook the beans and vegetables over a lower heat for a longer period of time, so that it was smooth and creamy instead of browned, as it is in the original. Either way, it makes a lovely lunch!

And of course, I got to use some new tools for the first time, including our majestic pressure cooker (a Fagor Duo) and our amazing Wüsthof knives! Thank you thank you thank you, dear family and friends!

It would be really easy to make substitutions in this recipe, say, if there is another kind of bean that you prefer–white beans just happen to be my favorite!

White Beans, Potatoes, and Cabbage
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz. potatoes, cut into tiny cubes
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 c cooked white beans (You can either use canned or start with dried beans.  If using dried, you can cook 1 c beans in your pressure cooker on high for about 40 minutes, or you can simply soak the beans overnight and cook them in a pan over medium-high heat, for about an hour or until tender.)
3 c shredded green cabbage
Freshly grated Asiago cheese (parmesan would also be good)
Salt to taste

-Pour the olive oil into a large skillet on medium heat.
-Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until tender, making sure to deglaze the pan with water every 5 minutes or so, to keep the potatoes from sticking.
-Add the shallot and cabbage and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted.
-Add the beans and simmer for a minutes more.
-Add salt and pepper to taste, top with freshly grated Asiago cheese and enjoy!

 

Roasted Eggplant with Couscous and Feta

Sometimes you’ve got to throw dinner together with what you have on hand, and in those instances, it’s very good if you happen to have an eggplant and some feta. Very good indeed. This simple dinner has lots of flavor and is very quick and easy to prepare.

Part of the secret is to toss the eggplant in oil and vinegar. Eggplants are like little sponges, and they will soak up whatever you put them in. When those flavors are baked in, it adds a great richness to the humble (yet beloved!) eggplant.

The coriander and cumin seeds give the eggplant a nice smokiness too. Yum.

Roasted Eggplant with Couscous and Feta

Serves 2-3 as a main dish, 4-5 as a side dish (the recipe could easily be doubled, and, in fact, I think I will double it next time I make it!)

1 eggplant, about 1 3/4 lb, cut into 1″ cubes
4 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 1/2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Pine nuts (for topping)
1 c couscous

-Heat oven to 450°F.
-Cut eggplant into 1″cubes.
-Whisk together olive oil and red wine vinegar and toss eggplant cubes in it until soaked.
-Place eggplant cubes on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper, coriander and cumin seeds. (Don’t worry if there are clumps of coriander–the moisture of the couscous will soak it up.)
-Roast eggplant for 40 minutes at 450°F, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
-While eggplant is roasting, bring 2 c water to boil. When boiling, stir in the couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
-Chop 1 Tbsp fresh basil (or more if desired) and place in large bowl. Add crumbled feta, couscous, and roasted eggplant, and stir well.
-Sprinkle pine nuts over the top for some extra crunch. Voila!

 

 

Lemon Cinnamon Cake

I have been wanting to make this cake for such a long time! The idea struck me when I made this lemon cinnamon lentil dish several months ago. My BFF, who blogs here, had mentioned that she’d made it, and I begged her to blog it so I could try the recipe. My BFF is a woman of her word, and she dutifully shared the recipe, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cooking.  The highlight of the dish is the combination of lemon with a cinnamon stick, slow simmered. It was incredibly delicious, and the pairing so unexpectedly perfect that I was determined to try it out in a cake.

There is no tried and true recipe for a lemon cinnamon cake, at least that I could find, so I just came up with this one. It came out so wonderfully lemony, with an aromatic infusion of cinnamon. Part of the fun was that I got to use so many of our new kitchen toys: the new Bundt pan, cooling rack, and cake dome, to say nothing of the majestic Microplane grater! Thank you kindly, dear friends and family!

Lemon Cinnamon Cake

4 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
5 Tbsp lemon juice
Zest of three small lemons
1 tsp cinnamon (I used Penzeys Extra Fancy Vietnamese cinnamon, which is very strong, so you might use a bit more if you are using regular cinnamon)

-Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the inside of a Bundt pan.
-Zest and juice the lemons.
-Combine the eggs and sugar and beat in the butter gradually until the mixture is creamy.
-Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and milk, and beat to combine.
-Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and beat to combine.
-Pour into the Bundt pan and bake for approximately 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees F. (I started checking it around 40 minutes with a toothpick, but it still needed more time. When the toothpick comes out clean and the outer edges of the cake are pulling away slightly from the sides of the pan, it is ready.)
-Let cool for at least 30 minutes, and then loosen the edges with a  spatula before turning out onto a cooling rack or serving plate.
-I served the cake as it is, but you could also dust it with powdered sugar or add a simple lemon glaze (just lemon juice and powdered sugar). Enjoy!

365 Project

One of my favorite projects over the past few years has been the 365 project. The basic idea is that you take and post one picture every day for a year. It’a an incredible way to create visual memories, and I especially appreciate the fact that it makes me more aware of the beauty in the small things that make up our day-to-day life. (I’m a total sucker for the aestheticization of the quotidian, so you can see how this would be right up my alley!)

I got the idea from my awesome friend Melissa, who was inspired by this post on PhotoJojo to try the project. I loved seeing her gorgeous photographs and hearing about what caught her eye on a daily basis. Since we’ve never lived in the same place, it’s also a great way to keep in touch!

An added benefit is that the project gives you so much practice at photography and an ever-present opportunity to learn more about your camera. There is always more to learn, but I am grateful for all the things I’ve figured out along the way.

The image at the top of this post is a compilation of all of my pictures from the first year of the project. My sweet husband (then fiancé) downloaded all 365 of them, put them in one mosaic image, and printed it for me for Christmas last year. When a dear friend of mine saw the picture, she said that Eric is truly a wonder, and I have to agree!

I am now in my second year of the project, and I couldn’t really imagine my life without it. If you have any inclination to try it, I would really encourage you to give it a shot. And if you do, please send me the link! I’d love to see what your daily life looks like:)

 

 

Hot Hot Heat

It’s been so sweltering these past few days that every morning I am faced with the same challenge: what can I wear that will feel the most like nothing at all? Today I pulled on my favorite summer dress, which my sweet mom bought me for my birthday several years ago at Zara. I added this little vest for some shape and the red belt for a little pop of color. The vest was actually a sweater that I adapted–I just cut off the sleeves, added some darts, and voila!

It ended up being the perfect thing for a day spent even partly in the sun.  This afternoon Eric and I went to check out the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and he very kindly took these shots. A husband who will do this in such weather is pure gold.

I am always so inspired by people who manage to dress fashionably in the summer. It’s thrilling to be able to pull out the sundresses, for sure, but when the heat crosses the line into something that feels reminiscent of an oven, I lose all will to even wear jewelry. But at least lipstick comes to the rescue!

 

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