Way back when Sally was about six months old, my editor Viki and I were joking about Baby Brain. She told me it was actually a whole phase, and that she couldn't predict when it would lift, but that it would. Around eight or nine months, probably. Suddenly, she said, I would be able to THINK ! again.
It didn't occur to me until today, but I think it's finally started happening. Most recently, the fog has lifted off the kitchen.
I haven't felt this inspired to cook in a long time. I have been focused on getting food on the table—literally, putting something out there for the three of us to eat. I have not slipped in health or quality—if anything, I've gotten better about those things—but there has been a noticeable lack of inspired cooking. When I get creative, I like to have hours. Ha! That's come to an end. I've been sticking to what's easy, what I know. We have eaten Krispy Kale and Easy Little Bread over and over and over again.
But then, last week, my mom brought over a cookbook called Jerusalem. Have you seen it? It's by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, both from the city originally and now very successful restauranteurs in London. The book is full of beautiful pictures and totally inspired recipes. Some of the ingredients are unusual, but most are things like butternut squash and arugula and yogurt and eggs. My mom got it from her friend Julie as a gift, I ordered it online the very next day, and I have already made six recipes. In short, it is a godsend.
I'm sharing the meatballs with shallots and figs in this week's Banner, but here, I want to share a salad recipe. We still have so ! much ! arugula ! and I knew I wanted to make the arugula, artichoke & herb salad the moment I saw it. You toss fresh greens with cilantro and mint, then layer on artichoke hearts and grated pecorino. The whole thing gets drizzled with lemon juice and top quality olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and that's it. It tastes very much like spring. And it's a new way to eat arugula in a house that is, for the first time ever, starting to tire of that all-American green. You know it's bad when you're excited that the arugula is bolting.
At any rate, I think we'll be talking about this book a lot in the next few weeks. I want to tell you about the puréed beets with yogurt & za'atar, and the shakshuka we had for breakfast, and the amazing mutabbaq made with ricotta and goat cheese and pastry and honey. What I really wish is that we all could sit down together and feast. But in lieu of that, I'll see you back here. Same time, same place, next week.
ARUGULA, ARTICHOKE, & HERB SALAD
All the flavors in this salad are just right. The arugula is spicy and bitter, the mint and cilantro taste clean, the lemon's tart, the cheese and the oil are rich, and the artichoke hearts are a bit sweet. If you grow your own artichokes, they'd be great here!
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup torn mint
1/2 cup torn cilantro leaves
1 ounce pecorino or romano cheese, shaved into ribbons
1 can artichoke hearts
4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Toss the arugula, mint, and cilantro together in a salad bowl. Layer on the cheese and artichoke hearts, then drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Finally, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.