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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  • March 16, 2015 - 9:22 am

    Tieghan - 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

  • March 16, 2015 - 9:31 am

    Nutmeg Nanny - 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

  • March 16, 2015 - 10:18 am

    Holly N @ Spend With Pennies - Gorgeous! I love this salad… and I love kumquats but I never know what to do with them! Pinned for later!!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 11:02 am

    Austin - 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

  • March 16, 2015 - 1:05 pm

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

  • March 16, 2015 - 1:56 pm

    Amy @ A Healthy Life For Me - Gorgeous salad, perfect to jump start spring eating. I think this will make a great addition to my easter menu!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 10:54 pm

    Melanie @ Pickles + Palmtrees - 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!

    xo,

    Mel
    http://www.picklesandpalmtrees.comReplyCancel

  • March 17, 2015 - 2:26 pm

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

  • March 18, 2015 - 10:12 am

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - All. That. Snow. !!!! What a great salad to celebrate the broken record. And then to move on!! :)ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2015 - 9:50 pm

    Sylvie | Gourmande in the Kitchen - Here’s to more warmth and sunshine very soon!ReplyCancel

  • March 19, 2015 - 7:17 am

    Joanne - 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

  • March 19, 2015 - 10:33 am

    Elizabeth - 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

  • March 22, 2015 - 8:06 pm

    The Sunday Dish - […] 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

  • March 23, 2015 - 9:07 pm

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

  • March 24, 2015 - 1:51 pm

    Liren - 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

  • March 31, 2015 - 1:34 pm

    Marly - 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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  • March 2, 2015 - 6:35 am

    Tori@Gringalicious.com - This looks fantastic! I love the simplicity of it and your photos are making me so hungry!ReplyCancel

  • March 2, 2015 - 9:15 am

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

    Loving these noodles, totally my kind of meal!ReplyCancel

  • March 2, 2015 - 10:45 am

    Cookin Canuck - 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

  • March 2, 2015 - 11:01 am

    Naomi - 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

  • March 2, 2015 - 11:05 am

    Jenn @ A Toast to the Good Life - 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

  • March 2, 2015 - 11:34 am

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

  • March 2, 2015 - 12:16 pm

    Matt Robinson - 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

  • March 2, 2015 - 1:49 pm

    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence - “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

  • March 2, 2015 - 8:51 pm

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

  • March 3, 2015 - 12:49 am

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

  • March 3, 2015 - 1:51 am

    Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & Bits - 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

  • March 3, 2015 - 10:05 pm

    Sylvie | Gourmande in the Kitchen - 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

  • March 4, 2015 - 9:53 am

    Joshua Hampton - 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

  • March 6, 2015 - 11:45 am

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

  • March 6, 2015 - 2:28 pm

    Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel - such a healthy meal. would go great with a cup of green tea :)ReplyCancel