kitchen inspirations

Lately I’ve had two pretty terrific sources of cooking inspiration.

One is this truly fantastic whole grain cinnamon swirl bread from Smitten Kitchen. Yeah, chew on that.

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Let me count the ways:

– It’s 100% whole grain

– The dough is astonishingly cooperative transforming from a sticky bundle to a perfectly pliant and supple loaf with minimal input

– It looks fancy but is easy

– It takes like dessert but is healthy

– It makes two loaves; one to chuck in the freezer and one to eat immediately

– It can be made into a versatile plain loaf with no cinnamon stuff

– It tastes like absolute heaven with cream cheese and jelly. DSC04656

My aunt Dena would always make me cinnamon swirl toast with cream cheese and jelly for breakfast when I’d go to her house as a kid. My 8-year-old self might be slightly suspicious of the hippified version I made, with lower-fat Neufchatel cheese and organic low sugar strawberry jam.

But damn it is good.

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Cinnamon raisin money shot.

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I am particularly inspiring, to toot my own horn, to be cooking up a storm the way I did given that until quite recently the back of my stove/oven looked like this.

Way to give me confidence in my safety from electrocution, shady apartment management company. Kudos.

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Anyway that got fixed. I housed all that bread on the breakfast front. As for the dinner front, I was all about this bad boy:

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I am totally a Madhur Jaffrey groupie. I think she is a genius. All of her recipes are so perfectly concise. They don’t have anything extraneous, and thus are simple to make. And at the same time, every ingredient contributes, creating perfection. Perfection!

I had some pals over for an extremely casual dinner party. I made Tunisian-style lentils that involved lots of olive oil, turmeric, chili powder, and cumin. Everyone loved them; including my vegetarian guest and two carnivorey boys.

I also made Persian-style carrots with dried apricots. The ingredients looked vair pretty all chopped up together.

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I also made something I discovered more or less by accident:

Take some romaine lettuce, either from the heart or the outer leaves is fine. Wash, and let it stay a little damp. Toss it with olive oil (a good amount), salt, and garlic powder. Put into a hot oven, like you’d use for kale chips.

The thin edges of the leaves get crispy and faux-fried like kale chips. The thick center of the leaves taste LIKE BRAISED ENDIVE!

My relatives who read the blog can, I know, recount the amazingness my grandmother would create with Belgian endive. She was able to shop at the commissary (my grandfather was an army officer) and could get affordable, beautiful produce, including endive. I have no such luck at my own local grocery store (shocking), but was absolutely ecstatic to learn I could approximate it with the much more common and cheap Romaine.

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Also made some coconut rice so the boys would have some nice filling starch.

Mmm this was a meal. I know it’s not that impressive looking, but it’s a lot of simple deliciousness.

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I’d rescued some bruised apples from work and turned them into a crisp. It was good as a vanilla ice cream vehicle (obviously) but a little dull on its own. I’d just gotten it from a random website via a Google search. Goes to show you you should get your recipe inspiration from credible sources 🙂

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