Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back in the Saddle

After a month in New Hampshire, it was hard to come back to the city. Let's face it, it's noisy and dirty here, and there are no mountains. But... there is the small issue of food.

For instance, there is this middle eastern deli around the corner from my house, with creamy incredible feta. The store is sort of grungy, and sells things like cans of instant milk, and Brillo pads, and hookahs. It's a great store. Then there are farmers' markets that sell red carrots and purple kale and green-striped tomatoes. At my local supermarket, Fairway, there is an OLIVE OIL BAR. I can get extra virgin olive oil from Lebanon, Sicily, Spain, or France (and taste it before I buy it.) It's pretty hard to beat. My second day back in the city, I bought marinated sardines, daikon radish, a bulk pack of nori seaweed, fresh mozzarella, and organic, humanely raised deli turkey, thinly sliced. It was like... a miracle.

But the best thing about coming home was getting back into my own kitchen. After four weeks in my mother's kitchen, I thought I'd lost my mojo. Did I even still like to cook? I could barely remember why it was worth it. All that work, all that mess, just to what -- eat? But then Chris brought home a brilliantly green, fragrant bunch of arugula, and I figured I'd rouse myself to just make a little dressing. Turns out I'd just been missing my STUFF, which I use to make AMAZING FOOD. My knives, my mortar and pestle, my space.

I have made this salad dressing almost every night since I got back. It is worth the effort to do the pounding, but you have got to have a mortar and pestle. (Note: kids LOVE pounding.)

Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette

1 garlic clove
1 pinch coarse sea salt
1 tsp mustard
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Mash the garlic clove and the salt in the mortar until they are a smooth paste. Add the mustard and the lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes or so while you attend to something else. Come back to it, add the olive oil, and swirl rapidly with the pestle until a smooth mixture forms. Pour onto salad greens or grilled vegetables.

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