A Thought For Food » where ideas are brought to simmer

Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For Food

Last Wednesday was a glorious day. The temperature reached close to 60 degrees, allowing for the enormous piles of snow to start melting. I took Maki for a longer walk than we’ve been doing these last few months. I spent most of the walk looking up at the sky and just breathing in the warm air. My spirits were immediately lifted. The world felt brighter, full of so many possibilities. And the normal stresses of the day didn’t seem to bother me as much.

Of course, as I write this, we’re clearing out more snow. Boston has officially broken its record for the most snowfall. Clap. Clap. Clap. Ok, now are we done with this winter weather? It’s time to move on to spring.

The fact that I was craving salad at all was a sign that warmer days are approaching; days when we won’t resort to bowls of soup and stew for our weeknight meal but, rather, something refreshing and healthy. A couple weeks back, I chowed down on a Burmese avocado salad at a local Chinatown restaurant. It was creamy but light and totally satisfying. I took inspiration from those characteristics as I developed this recipe, which is at once sweet, spicy, and savory. I went back and forth as to whether I should pickle the kumquats and, in the end, decided it wasn’t necessary. Those thin slices bring the dish to life, the citrus notes cutting through the bite of the watercress.

This salad hits all the right notes. As I sat in our dining room on that beautiful day, the plate before me and a fork in my hand, the dog sunbathing outside on our porch, I was just totally happy. I look forward to more days like that; ideally with the windows open, allowing a breeze scented with blooming trees to pass through the house. That will be nice. Soon. Soon.

Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodCucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodCucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodCucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodView full post »

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  • TieghanMarch 16, 2015 - 9:22 am

    60 sounds so nice, but yeah, I feel ya on the snow. We are getting more too. UGH. Love this fresh salad. Perfect to lift the sprits!ReplyCancel

  • Nutmeg NannyMarch 16, 2015 - 9:31 am

    I’m going crazy over this cold weather. All I want is salad, open windows and lighter food. I love the addition of delicious kumquats and refreshing cucumbers in this salad.ReplyCancel

  • Holly N @ Spend With PenniesMarch 16, 2015 - 10:18 am

    Gorgeous! I love this salad… and I love kumquats but I never know what to do with them! Pinned for later!!ReplyCancel

  • AustinMarch 16, 2015 - 11:02 am

    I’m with you on this! I have been making a ton of salad the past two weeks because i’m just, well…R E A D Y for spring. Cucumbers and avocados with black sesame seeds looks great!ReplyCancel

  • DeborahMarch 16, 2015 - 1:05 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a kumquat, but I’m clearly missing out because this is beautiful!!ReplyCancel

  • Amy @ A Healthy Life For MeMarch 16, 2015 - 1:56 pm

    Gorgeous salad, perfect to jump start spring eating. I think this will make a great addition to my easter menu!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie @ Pickles + PalmtreesMarch 16, 2015 - 10:54 pm

    Beautiful salad! I’ve been on a kumquat kick lately. I’ve been eating them plain. Avocado would be the perfect compliment to the tart and sweet fruit. Love your site!



  • EileenMarch 17, 2015 - 2:26 pm

    That has to be one of the prettiest salads ever. Love the dark sesame seeds against all that green.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesMarch 18, 2015 - 10:12 am

    All. That. Snow. !!!! What a great salad to celebrate the broken record. And then to move on!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie | Gourmande in the KitchenMarch 18, 2015 - 9:50 pm

    Here’s to more warmth and sunshine very soon!ReplyCancel

  • JoanneMarch 19, 2015 - 7:17 am

    No offense, but I have never been so grateful to not live in Boston! At least it seems like the warm weather is settling in…and if that means more fresh and tasty salads like that, then I am more than happy to say goodbye to winter!ReplyCancel

  • ElizabethMarch 19, 2015 - 10:33 am

    Those warm days were glorious, weren’t they? And when the weather fails, it’s good know you can have some springtime in the plate. Here’s to a vibrant, snow-free spring and lovely, beautiful salads for days.ReplyCancel

  • The Sunday DishMarch 22, 2015 - 8:06 pm

    […] out this Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad by Brian.  Looks so fresh and tasty!  Yesterday, I made a quick salad with mixed greens, roasted […]ReplyCancel

  • cristinaMarch 23, 2015 - 9:07 pm

    Brian – luv the combination of ingredients and flavors you’ve used in this salad, it’s fresh! Your presentation is beautiful. :)ReplyCancel

  • LirenMarch 24, 2015 - 1:51 pm

    I can sense you just willing spring to hurry up – this salad is sure to do the trick. I feel for all the winter you have had to endure!! That beautiful day must have felt just as good to Maki, too. This salad is beautiful, and I especially love the kumquats – what a bright and tangy surprise!ReplyCancel

  • MarlyMarch 31, 2015 - 1:34 pm

    This recipe makes me want to run to the store, buy some kumquats, prepare this salad, and sit on the patio and eat it. That would make for a perfect day! :)ReplyCancel

Sweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For Food

Cocktails aren’t traditionally served at a Passover Seder. Often, there is wine. But because any grain or corn-based spirits are kitniyot (the hebrew word for the category of foods that are not allowed to be consumed during Passover), mixed drinks aren’t typically served.  In looking ahead to the holiday, I thought a libation using fortified wines, such as sherry and vermouth, would be nice for those wanting to mix up a little after-work drink.

I sipped my first cobbler just a few weeks ago at one of our favorite bars and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The idea is simple: muddled citrus (typically orange), some sugar, liquor and garnished with seasonal fruit (citrus and berries) and mint. Sherry and vermouth are often a bit thicker in consistency and so a bit of soda water will help cut it.

After describing this drink to my mom, she pointed out that sometimes people include orange on their Seder plates. I had never heard of this before. Why orange? What symbolism does that have?

Here’s what I learned from a quick search online: In the 1980s, Dr. Susannah Heschel, a Jewish feminist scholar, was visiting Oberlin College. It was there that she witnessed students adding bread crust to their Seder plates as a way of showing their support of feminists and gays and lesbians, who they felt were excluded from Judaism. Heschel suggested that because bread is kitniyot, that they replace it with an orange slice (“I chose an orange because it suggests the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life.”). The tradition has continued, but now is used to represent any groups that may feel marginalized.

Sometimes a recipe isn’t just a recipe. Sometimes there’s something symbolic about an ingredient or dish that resonates with people. I certainly wasn’t expecting this cobbler to have such significance, but it’s nice to think there’s more to it than just a way to get people a little intoxicated.

Sweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodView full post »

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Shiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba Noodles

Decorating our little house has been a bit of a process. It had a lot of charm to start, but we knew that there were a few changes we’d want to make. Mainly, the wallpaper throughout. It had to go. It wasn’t offensive in any way. In fact, it was all very sweet, including the pineapples covering our entryway and hallway. Cute… but it had to go.

When we first moved in, we had the living room and dining room painted. The living room paper turned out to be a bit of a challenge. When the painter tried to remove chunks of the wallpaper, the plaster started to come down with it. In the end, we had to have quarter inch wallboard put up throughout the room.

We were expecting the hallway to pose a similar challenge, but, thankfully, it was smooth sailing. As soon as I walked through the front door, I was elated. It didn’t feel like we were coming into someone else’s home. It was our home. Of course, there’s still work to do. We have to decorate these newly painted walls. The process never seems to end.

While we had this work done, Eric and I spent a few days at my in-laws’ house. I had some time to do a little cooking and came up with a few dishes to share here. The beet dip was one… these soba noodles was the other. We always have a few packages in our cabinet and they make for a wonderful weeknight meal. I find broccoli, especially when charred a bit, to have a wonderful sweetness to it. Mixed with the shiitakes and the bright dressing, there are a lot of bold flavors going on in this bowl.

Shiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesShiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesShiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesShiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesShiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesShiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesShiitake Mushroom + Broccoli Soba NoodlesView full post »

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  • Tori@Gringalicious.comMarch 2, 2015 - 6:35 am

    This looks fantastic! I love the simplicity of it and your photos are making me so hungry!ReplyCancel

  • TieghanMarch 2, 2015 - 9:15 am

    I don’t know, pineapples on the walls sound pretty fun! :) ha!!

    Loving these noodles, totally my kind of meal!ReplyCancel

  • Cookin CanuckMarch 2, 2015 - 10:45 am

    There is something to be said for a good coat of paint to make a house feel fresh and new…and like your own! These soba noodles are something I could happily eat everyday, particularly with a good dose of those shiitake mushrooms.ReplyCancel

  • NaomiMarch 2, 2015 - 11:01 am

    This dish- so my kind of meal!

    And the house, I’m sure is coming along. The process is the best part-all the little joys when something is accomplished is the best feeling.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn @ A Toast to the Good LifeMarch 2, 2015 - 11:05 am

    This looks amazing! I am always eager to try soba noodles – but for some reason never do – but this recipes so good and easy! I’ll give it a whirl!ReplyCancel

  • GringaliciousMarch 2, 2015 - 11:34 am

    This looks fantastic! I love the simplicity of it and your photos are making me so hungry!ReplyCancel

  • Matt RobinsonMarch 2, 2015 - 12:16 pm

    Nothing better than making your house your own, lots of hard work but so fun. Especially if you can finish the day with a bowl of this. So good!ReplyCancel

  • Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceMarch 2, 2015 - 1:49 pm

    “In fact, it was all very sweet, including the pineapples covering our entryway and hallway. Cute… but it had to go.” HA!!! Somehow, I know that feeling. Glad to hear you guys are settling in well. This noodle dish looks super tasty! We recently made a variation of your miso-roasted vegetables, and they were awesome! Paired them with brown rice, soft-boiled eggs, and a spicy-tart dipping sauce.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesMarch 2, 2015 - 8:51 pm

    This looks so simply wonderful. I think I need to be making this soon! Happy decorating (and de-wallpapering…oh, what a chore!)ReplyCancel

  • Aida@TheCraftingFoodieMarch 3, 2015 - 12:49 am

    This looks absolutely delicious, and your photos are just gorgeous! I love stir-fry and soba noodles :)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & BitsMarch 3, 2015 - 1:51 am

    It’s funny to think that there was a time when pineapple wallpaper was in vogue!

    I always keep at least one or two packages of soba noodles around the house for a quick and easy meal too!ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie | Gourmande in the KitchenMarch 3, 2015 - 10:05 pm

    Decorating your home is an ongoing project for sure, we’ve been in our place for years and we are still slowly improving things. Enjoy the process!ReplyCancel

  • Joshua HamptonMarch 4, 2015 - 9:53 am

    I don’t think the process of turning a house into a home ever ends. For myself, I don’t really mind because it’s a process I enjoy. The recipe, by the way, is gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey | Kitchen SerendipityMarch 6, 2015 - 11:45 am

    This sounds delish Brian – I always have soba noodles on hand but never seem to make them. I am so making this. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey @ Snacking SquirrelMarch 6, 2015 - 2:28 pm

    such a healthy meal. would go great with a cup of green tea :)ReplyCancel

Beet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For Food

There was a palpable energy on Friday night as we headed into the city for dinner. I suspect it’s because most people, like Eric and I, have been stuck inside for the last month. It was cold… brutally cold. So cold that it was dangerous to be outside for more than ten minutes. But that didn’t stop folks from going out. Boston businesses have been suffering, so seeing packed bars and restaurants was a nice sight.

This was a very social weekend for the two of us. There was dinner and drinks on Friday. On Saturday, we were invited over to our neighbors for “‘ninis and ‘tinis” (that’s panini and martinis). I got inspired to make some potato chips for the occasion, along with a bowl of cucumber salad. Six hours later and more than a few martinis in and we were all feeling pretty good.

Sunday was equally enjoyable (and, thankfully, warmer than it’s been recently).  We prepared brunch for some friends and then had more over to watch the Academy Awards. I put together a spread of baked brie, beet dip, and a large pot of wild rice and mushroom soup. We sat and ate and drank and laughed and said snarky things during the show. Is there anything better?

Going back to this beet dip. It’s an Ottolenghi creation and, therefore, it’s perfect. I first had it at a holiday party a few years back and have been anxious to make it ever since. And, so, now I have. Twice. In two days. It was that good. Minor adjustments have been made because, well, I’m not sure how many folks have za’atar in their spice cabinet. Of course, you can play around with this recipe as much as you’d like. The pepper certainly gives it some nice kick, but a little more couldn’t hurt. I also can’t get enough of the color. It’s striking and really brightens up a table. Just be aware that it’ll stain anything it touches, so keep it away from carpets and couches… and small children who might be likely to get it all over the place.

Beet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For FoodBeet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For FoodBeet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For FoodBeet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For FoodBeet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For FoodBeet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese // A Thought For FoodView full post »

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  • Cooking With ErinFebruary 24, 2015 - 5:17 am

    Sending warm thoughts! This dip looks amazing and I have all the ingredients in the house right now – even za’atar. 😉 I could eat beets every day – why not in a party dip??ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarFebruary 24, 2015 - 7:52 am

    I just love the bright colour of this dip. Gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • amanda @ fake gingerFebruary 24, 2015 - 8:45 am

    This is stunning!ReplyCancel

  • TieghanFebruary 24, 2015 - 9:06 am

    You just cannot beat the color of this, so pretty!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & BitsFebruary 24, 2015 - 9:46 am

    Ottolenghi recipes are always some of my favorites. I’m loving all the red beet hummus recipes I’m seeing lately. It adds such beautiful color to every dish!ReplyCancel

  • Millie | Add A LittleFebruary 24, 2015 - 11:29 am

    I love the colours and textures here – so delicious! The deep beetroot contrasting with the bright white goats cheese and crunchy hazelnuts!ReplyCancel

  • Anna | ANNAdventureFebruary 24, 2015 - 11:37 am

    Yum! This dip sounds awesome! I would never have thought to use beets but it makes total sense :)ReplyCancel

  • Christie Palmatier DaruwallaFebruary 24, 2015 - 1:46 pm

    I cannot wait to make this dip. We adore beets, plus it is an absolutely gorgeous color.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesFebruary 25, 2015 - 2:55 pm

    This is so pretty! I just love beets, must try this. Hope you’re staying warm out there!ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ The Lemon BowlFebruary 25, 2015 - 3:11 pm

    Ninis and Tinis = yes please! This dip looks to die for. I just made hazelnut granola yesterday and I’m wishing I had saved some for this dip!!ReplyCancel

  • Christina @ The Beautiful BalanceFebruary 25, 2015 - 9:47 pm

    Everything about this works. And I love your addition of honey. Cold winter or not this is perfect to have!ReplyCancel

  • JoanneFebruary 26, 2015 - 7:38 am

    That pretty-in-pink color, though. Totally red carpet worthy!!ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne Horak-DruiffFebruary 26, 2015 - 12:55 pm

    Hah – I so agree – if it’s an Ottolenghi recipe, it will be PERFECT! :) Love the look and sound of this – can’t waot for hubby’s beetroot harvest this year!ReplyCancel

  • Abbe @ This is How I CookFebruary 27, 2015 - 11:04 am

    I’ve made this also and totally love it! I prefer to wear a black shirt when I eat it. Just sayin’!ReplyCancel

  • […] Make this beautiful beet dip with goat cheese and hazelnuts the next time you entertain. (A Thought for Food.) […]ReplyCancel

  • Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It IsFebruary 28, 2015 - 7:34 am

    […] beet dip with hazelnuts and goat cheese. seriously […]ReplyCancel

  • […] beet dip with hazelnuts and goat cheese. seriously […]ReplyCancel

  • FrancescaMarch 1, 2015 - 10:11 am

    Big giant yum.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Nelson MakechnieMarch 1, 2015 - 12:36 pm

    Gorgeous – and so awesomely healthy. Thanks for this.ReplyCancel

  • […] house. I had some time to do a little cooking and came up with a few dishes to share here. The beet dip was one… these soba noodles was the other. We always have a few packages in our cabinet and they […]ReplyCancel

  • Fahmida MiahMarch 2, 2015 - 7:18 am

    I absolutely love your beetroot recipe. I am addicted to beetroots at the moment, from an eating and photography point of view. They are so wonderful to capture on camera. Don’t you just think nature’s colours are so gorgeous?.. look at that pretty pink-red.. I do prefer natural, fresh ingredients over anything processed any day! I will be making this soon! Thanks for the recipe http://www.intomytummy.comReplyCancel

  • A Taste Of MadnessMarch 2, 2015 - 11:05 am

    This is genius! I love beets! Also, the color is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Friday Favorites | A Tasty LifeMarch 6, 2015 - 7:58 am

    […] “Appy” Hour:  Beet Dip with Hazelnuts + Goat Cheese.  Not only is the color of this dip gorgeous but the flavor combination sounds too good to be true. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Beet and Quinoa Tabbouleh Shaved Fennel, Apple and Quinoa Salad Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad Beet Dip with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese Pesto-Coated Carrots and Parsnip […]ReplyCancel

Seafood Stew // A Thought For Food

Another fifteen inches of snow fell on our neighborhood over the weekend. We spent most of Saturday preparing for this latest storm, clearing out the driveway as much as possible so that we’d have a place to shovel the new pile. Thankfully, it didn’t start until later in the evening. But by the time we awoke on Sunday, the mounds surrounding our house had grown. After some breakfast and a few hours of reading newspapers, Eric suited up for some shoveling. I offered to help, but he said he was ok with taking care of it. As this was the first Sunday I wasn’t working in over a month, I didn’t argue with him.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t helpful. I did what I could, getting some laundry and cooking done. Eric had talked about making a goat stew, the task of which soon became mine to take on. I’ve never cooked goat, but I had a feeling it needed a couple of hours of simmering time. As someone who doesn’t consume much meat and prepares it even less frequently, I feel a great deal of pride when a dish comes out tasting the way it’s supposed to. And as good as it tasted, it smelled equally delightful. How wonderful it’ll be when he walks through the door and can take in these wonderful aromas. 

As for my dinner, I had already planned on putting together a batch of seafood stew. Before the weekend, I’d stocked up on an assortment of fish and other sea creatures. This is my new obsession. Getting a little of a number of ingredients and throwing them into a pot. This time it was a combination of squid, shrimp, littleneck clams, bay scallops and salmon.  After a long day of shoveling, I poured us a glass of wine and ladled our his and his stews into our respective bowls. We threw a couple blankets on top of our laps and curled up on the couch. It wasn’t an official Valentine’s Day celebration, but it certainly was a nice reminder of the life we’ve built for ourselves and the little (and not so little things) we do for one another.

Seafood Stew // A Thought For FoodSeafood Stew // A Thought For FoodView full post »

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