Smoked Salmon with Apple Yogurt and Chive

When we were getting ready to leave for our Texas trip, Eric and I joked that we should pack stretchy pants. Looking back, we probably should have. If you've been following any of our travels throughout Austin on Twitter or Instagram or his Tumblr site, you may have seen some pictures of what we've deemed our "foodcation". We're pretty proud of ourselves... we've managed to hit all of the places on our list (and some food trucks along the way). Go us! But, yeah, we're getting back into a serious gym routine when we return.

There's a lot more planned these next four days as we head off to Dallas. There are some distilleries we want to check on our drive up and a few restaurants to stop at along the way. There's talk of going to the State Fair, where you can get just about anything deep fried (hamburgers, Oreos, butter... or so I've heard).  And we might just go to a shooting range on our last day. Seems like the thing to do in Texas.

Before we left, I whipped up this little appetizer, which won raves from the husband.  As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I've been trying out recipes that I'd like to serve. Thinking this one might make it on the menu.


Smoked Salmon with Apple Yogurt and Chive

Yield 4 servings

Tools Small mason jars or bowls

Ingredients 1/2 lb hot smoked salmon fillet, cut into four pieces (alternatively, you can use sliced smoked salmon) 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced into paste Kosher salt Black pepper, coarsely ground 1 honeycrisp apple, cored and cut into 1/4 inch pieces 1 tablespoon, chopped chives


1. In a bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, dill, and ginger.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. 2. Spoon 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt mixture into each jar or bowl. Sprinkle chopped apple on top. 3. Add the smoked salmon and sprinkle chopped chive over it.  Season with coarsely ground black pepper.


Creamy Tomatillo Dip

It's funny that just a few days ago, as we prepared for our trip to Texas, our CSA sent us a bag of tomatillo just to get us in the mood. I have a lot of love for these little guys. First off, aren't those husks just so cool? And then there's the flavor. Ever since I first cooked with them, I've been struck by their tartness. Where most dishes need acid to give it a boost, tomatillos have enough that additional lemon or lime juice is unnecessary.

The last time I played around with tomatillos, I turned them into a pesto and tossed them with pasta. Of course, my mind went in a similar direction this time, but to spruce things up, I made a creamy (and spicy) dip. Roasting allows them to blister, adding a bit of smokiness to the dip.

I may or may not post next week (who the heck knows?!?!) as we'll be touring (aka eating and drinking) our way through Austin and Dallas.  We're super excited to spend some time with friends and family. I'm ready for a taco and a margarita! That's what they eat there, right?

Creamy Tomatillo Dip

Tools Baking pan Immersion blender (or a regular blender)

Ingredients 8 oz tomatillos, husks removed 2 serrano peppers, seeds removed 3 garlic cloves, peeled 2 tablespoons olive oil Kosher salt 1/4 cup fresh cilantro 4 oz goat cheese

Tortilla chips, crackers or pretzels, for dipping


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.

2. Toss tomatillos, peppers, and garlic cloves in olive oil and 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt.  Transfer tomatillos and peppers to the prepared baking pan. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the skin of the tomatillos and peppers become blistered. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.

3. Transfer these ingredients to a large bowl (or use the large measuring cup that comes with most immersion blenders) and puree with an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can use a regular blender to do this.  Add cilantro and goat cheese and blend to incorporate.

4. Check for seasoning and, if necessary, add additional salt.  Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Marinated Eggplant with Mint and Capers


At the beginning of the year, when I sat down to think about the direction I wanted to take this site, I decided on a few things.  One, I didn't want to stress about it anymore. I've cut back on the number of posts.  I think this will allow me to focus on creating quality content rather than trying to bang out material for the sake of putting it up here.  And I think it will allow me to focus on the other things in my life, like relationships and exercise (still working on that one) and getting out a bit more to enjoy all the culture this city has to offer.

The second thing I decided was that I wanted to get back to the roots of why I started A Thought For Food.  As a home cook, I created this site as a way to share recipes that I have come to love... and to hopefully inspire a few people along the way to try dishes they wouldn't have normally made.  I always want these recipes, whether my own creations or from the vast collection coming from my always growing magazine collection, to be accessible to the masses. For me, there's nothing better than a meal that's not only flavorful, but uncomplicated.

This marinated eggplant is one of those dishes that I can't get enough of.  I've been making it for years, which is why I'm kind of surprised it's taken me this long to put it up.  I recently prepared it for our annual winter BBQ, where we served up lamb kabobs and falafel, along with an assortment of middle-eastern inspired sides. The briny capers help to balance the richness of the eggplant, and the mint adds a brightness that almost makes you forget about the snow laden streets.


Marinated Eggplant with Mint and Capers

Slightly adapted from Gourmet Magazine via Epicurious

Yields: 8 appetizer portions


2 pounds thin Italian or Asian eggplants, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/2 cup chopped mint

4 tablespoons small capers, rinsed


1. Preheat broiler.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Arrange eggplant in a single layer.

3. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Broil about 4 inches from the heat, turning once, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes total.

4. Stir together vinegar, mint, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and remaining oil and toss with warm eggplant. Marinate at least 20 minutes.

*Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Burnt Eggplant with Lemon, Garlic and Pomegranate Seeds

Here's the truth: I don't like using cookbooks.  This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy reading them (I definitely do) or look at the pictures (I study each one for an inordinate amount of time) or that I'm not inspired by them.  I just don't like cooking from them.  The first problem is that I'm TERRIBLE at following directions.  I have the worst memory in the world when it comes to measurements, so I have to go back to read the ingredient list at least four times before I get it straight.  And then I have to follow the directions... yeah right. That's not going to happen.  By the point that I realize that maybe I should go peek at the instructions, I've already chopped and mixed everything... and sometimes it's already made it's way into the oven or onto the table.

So, when I decided that I was actually going to make something from my newly acquired copy of Jerusalem (which, I can not emphasize enough... you. must. buy. it. now. You won't regret it), I made my greatest effort to follow every direction carefully.  Between you and me, I failed at that... but it didn't matter, this is one of those recipes that's hard to screw up.

I must admit that I got some strange looks.  Pomegranate and eggplant?  Together?  Really?  That's... ummmm... unique.  But, believe me, it works.  Just be prepared for some surprised faces when they bite into their first seed.  It's priceless.


Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds

(adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

serves 4 as an appetizer


4 large eggplants

3 cloves garlic, minced

grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp chopped mint

seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate

1 tsp smoked paprika

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Line a large baking pan (or two, if necessary) with aluminum foil.

2. Using a sharp pairing knife, make deep gashes throughout the eggplant.  Place the eggplants on the baking pans.

3. Roast in the oven for an hour (rotating every 20 minutes) or until the eggplant skin has burnt evenly throughout.

4. Remove the eggplant and let cool.  Once it is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and, using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, transporting to a mixing bowl.

5. Place eggplant into a colander and let sit for at least an hour, or until it has drained most of its liquid.  Once this is done, transfer back to the mixing bowl.

6. Mash the eggplant with a fork.  Mix in the garlic, lemon zest and juice.  Stir in the olive oil and tahini.  Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes to let it develop its flavor.

7. Remove from the refrigerator.  Mix in 3/4 of the parsley, 3/4 of the mint, and 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds.  Season with smoked paprika, salt and freshly ground pepper.

8. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds, mint, parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with pita bread.




Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts

I do my best not to stress out... I really do.  I plan ahead, tell myself to keep calm... I'll even sip on some wine to take my mind off of things.  But hosting a party, no matter how small, makes me freak a little.

It doesn't help that this is the season for holding and attending parties... actually, it's out of control how many we have.  There was "Friendsgiving," followed by Thanksgiving... then a Day After Thanksgiving brunch, and a "Leftoversgiving" party (I'm so thankful I don't eat meat because I'd be really tired of turkey at this point).  Now we're gearing up for Chanukah and Christmas parties... which will bring us to New Year's.  I'm exhausted thinking about it.

In preparing for this busy holiday season, it's important to have a list of recipes that are easy to make for a party.  Since whipping up these sweet and spicy candied nuts a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you.  It really doesn't get much easier than this and people go nuts over them (oh dear.. I can't believe I just typed that.)



Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts


3 cups unsalted nuts, a combination of pecans, walnuts, and/or cashews

1 large egg white

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt 


1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg white and a splash of water until it is foamy.

3. Add nuts, sugar, spices and salt to the bowl and toss to combine with egg.

4. Pour mixture onto the lined baking pan and, using a spoon, evenly spread out.

5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and toss to break up nuts.  If they are still wet, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until dry.

7. Take the pan out and let cool before serving.

Tags: AppetizersGluten-free


Leek Fritters and a Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Giveaway

May 2009. It's a month before our wedding and I'm struggling to figure out what to serve to our vegan guests.  The current menu is full of decadent carnivorous dishes: lobster and clams, bacon wrapped scallops and miniature crab cakes.  A platter of grilled veggies for our vegan friends feels like a cop out... so I gather every resource I have (cookbooks, magazines, blogs) and scour each for ideas.  After hours of searching, I come up empty.

Desperate, I send an e-mail to a blogger whose site I've been reading for a while.  Her recipes have always been delightful and I think, "Heck, maybe she has some ideas".  Within an hour, a response flutters into my mailbox... and it's loaded with suggestions. We go back and forth a bit, and, soon, she has guided me to a recipe for bulgar salad stuffed peppers (which, ultimately, gets raves from our guests).  If I hadn't felt a bond to her already, this sure solidified things.

I'm not sure if Deb remembers this interaction (I have no doubt that she gets a number of inquiries each day), but it's one that I will never forget.  I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in July at the Big Summer Potluck and we got to have some nice little chats over the course of the weekend.

Like most home cooks, I've been anticipating the release of her book for quite some time (how long has it been? It feels like she announced it eons ago).  Well folks... The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is finally here and it is just as magnificent as you would expect from something created by Deb.  As soon as it arrived the other night, I marked the pages of every recipe I want to make (ok... maybe not every, because my copy would be full of Post It notes).  I am a sucker for rugelach, so I can't wait to dig into her Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach.  And the Vermouth Mussels with Oven Fries is totally calling my name.  I know Eric won't mind if I spend the next few months cooking all of these.  Right, Eric?

Since I have no patience, I immediately got to work and whipped up these leek fritters. They're served with a garlic and lemon sour cream sauce that is just magical.  After I took pictures, I promptly devoured them (making me feel slightly guilty).  They were wonderful and I'm planning on adding them to my Thanksgiving menu.

Ok... so, now that I've gone on and on, here's some fun news:  The publishers of the book have very generously provided a copy for me to giveaway!  Yup! That's right!  You could have your very own copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (you can also purchase it, of course, though I know it's always fun to win things). Oh, and since I'll hopefully be seeing Deb when she comes to Boston, I will try to get it signed too.

Unlike most giveaways I do here, I'm going to open this up to everyone (not just US/Canadian residents)! Woo hoo!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post

For additional entries: share on Pinterest, Twitter, and/or Facebook and leave a comment telling us you've done each one.

Official Rules: This is a worldwide giveaway.  No purchase necessary.   Giveaway will end on November 16th 2012 at 12:00 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected. 

Leek Fritters

(adapted from Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

yields approximately 10, 2 1/2 inch round fritters.

Ingredients for the Pancakes

4 large leeks, pale green and white parts only

2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

Pinch of cayenne

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying


Ingredients for the Lemon and Garlic Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch freshly grated lemon zest



1.  Fill a bowl with cold water.  Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and plunge them in the water, fanning the layers to get rid of any grit.  Once they are clean, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.

2.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the leeks for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are softened but not limp.  

3. While they are cooking, whisk together the flour, baking powder, a few grinds of black pepper, ginger, and cayenne.

4.  Drain the leeks and dry in a towel or cheesecloth.  Make sure to get rid of as much water as possible.

5.  Transfer the leeks to a large mixing bowl and add scallions.  Add the flour mixture to the leeks and toss to coat.  Add the egg and stir until it is incorporated with the mixture.

6.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place in the oven.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

7.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer.  Scoop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the skillet (I made 3 fritters at a time).  Using a spatula, gently flatten the fritter. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until it is golden brown.  If they are cooking too quickly, lower the heat.  Flip fritters and cook until the other side is golden.  Drain on paper towels and transfer to oven.

8. Repeat with remaining batter.

9. While they are in the oven, make the sour cream by whisking together all the ingredients and seasoning with a little salt.

10. Serve fritters immediately and top with a dollop of sour cream and a little additional lemon zest.


Moroccan Carrot Dip + Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

This has been an odd week. Each day seems to have merged into one big blob. Maybe it's due to the way it started off... with a storm that ravaged the state where I grew up and a city for which I hold much affection for.   My parents and sister and her family are safe, though they're stuck without electricity until next week (not to mention a very large tree that is leaning precariously towards their house).  But there are others who weren't as lucky... so many people lost their homes and possessions.  And there are neighborhoods that will need to be completely rebuilt.  It's devastating to watch.

One thing I realized I can do is reach out to you, my dear readers, and ask you to donate some money (even $5) to one of the amazing organizations out there who have been helping during this crisis.  The largest is the Red Cross and here is the direct link to donate to them, but there are plenty of other groups who need the money as well.  Again, even a small donation helps.  I also recommend reading this article from the Huffington Post on Tips for Donating Smartly as well as this page on the FEMA website.

Lastly, my friend Jenn Oliver at Jenn Cuisine is hosting a food blogger event to get the word out about donating.  Check out her post: Food Bloggers Support for Sandy

So... yeah, I haven't even talked about this Moroccan Carrot Dip.  My darling friend Mandy (who is also a fabulous cook) brought it to our Friendsgiving dinner last year and I was blown away by its brilliant flavors.  I felt like this was a good dish to make... the color alone will lift your spirits a bit.

Moroccan Carrot Dip

(adapted very slightly from the recipe by America's Test Kitchen via The New York Times)

Note: For the dip to have a brilliant orange color and clean flavor, it is important to avoid browning the carrots when cooking them in Step 1.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 pounds carrots (about 12), peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick Salt Pepper 2 garlic cloves, minced 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon chili powder 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/3 cup water 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or cilantro


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, coriander, cumin, ginger, chili powder and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Off the heat, mash the carrots with a potato masher, leaving a few coarse pieces for texture. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until the dip is chilled, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with the cilantro before serving. The dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Season with additional vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the cilantro before serving.

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups.