Something about entering the heart of winter has affected my ability to recognize what is share-worthy. I shrunk into myself just a little more and have felt somewhat unmoored, perhaps because I never really took a break. This weekend though, I am ramping up to go ice fishing with my brother upstate on a lake. I’m aching to breathe in the cold air in a wide open space and sit quietly to have that time I’ve been craving. I will revisit the still parts of myself. Somehow I have forgotten a little bit that I am in love with all things culinary and how they connect me to the very people and places I long for.
My last post seemed to resonate with people and I really took personally all of your warm responses letting me know that you do indeed want to see what’s going on in my kitchen and that, oh yes, this is something to be celebrated! The elevated dishes, the everyday concoctions, they all tell a story. No need to pass judgment or edit out the ugly meals. It really brought back the joy and excitement for me in making something new. All week I’ve returned to old classics and new experiments and remembered what I love so much about the kitchen. I returned to one of my biggest sources of joy from last year, the Jerusalem cookbook and made a really easy soup from it and, as promised, I’m sharing these wonderful herb butter escargot that showed up at my regular market over the holidays. They were delicious! I’ve combined the two for a meal since both are so simple to make.
When it’s a rushed night and I’m tired and hungry you reminded me that it still serves my purpose to share the mundane vignettes from my life and show what I actually eat as life gets in the way. When I’m working late on a case at the firm that won’t let me go, basking in the white light of the computer screen, when I’ve crushed it at the gym and have an incredible appetite that won’t wait longer than the time it takes to boil water, when I sleep in on the weekend and just barely make it from the bed to the couch or when I’m up before the sun running around to visit family and friends. These are the meals I turn to and I will share them with you. Nothing wrong with indulging and nothing wrong with the haphazard throwing together of things. Life is what you make of it.
So without further ado, check out these awesome snails. So easy, so quick, bright and acidic. You just need to find a place that sells them and some fresh herbs and butter, the salt seems to take care of itself and you’re good to go in 15 minutes. Serve with this wonderfully comforting, spicy North African inspired soup imbued with the spices from afar and where the chickpeas take center stage among the fresh watercress and spinach. So easy and so restorative. This is the kind of meal that reminds me of why I cook, why I eat and why I share. It makes me so grateful for all the people who do the same.
Herb Butter Escargot
- 1 pound escargot, in shell
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Rinse the escargot under warm water, pat shells dry with a paper towel, then set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, shallots, garlic, parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Mix all ingredients well with a small spoon. Lightly season butter with salt and pepper, until desired taste is achieved.
When butter is at desired flavor, begin to scoop a small amount of herb butter in each shell of escargot.
Put the stuffed shells into the fridge and allow to sit for about 20 minutes, giving the butter enough time to solidify in shells. While the shells are in the fridge, set the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the butter is solid in the shells, remove from fridge and transfer shells into an oven-safe pan butter side up so the butter stays in the shells. If possible, avoid placing shells on a sheet tray, as we want the snails to cook in the butter as much as possible. Cook snails for 15 minutes, max.
Serve snails, in shells, on top of toasted pieces of baguette, or in a fresh tomato-based sauce.
“Jerusalem” Watercress Soup
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s watercress and chickpea soup with rosewater and ras el hanout recipe.
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch piecees
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ tbsp ras el hanout
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (dried or canned)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 head of watercress
- 1 cup spinach leaves, washed
- 2 tsp confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp rose water (optional)
- Greek yogurt, to serve
Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the carrot with a tablespoon of the oil, the ras el hanout, cinnamon and some salt, and spread flat in a roasting tin.Place in the oven, roast for 15 minutes, then add half the chickpeas, stir well and and cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot is soft but still has some bite.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and ginger in the remaining oil for about 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the remaining chickpeas, stock, watercress, spinach, sugar and some salt, stir and bring to a boil. Cook for a minute or two, until the leaves wilt, then blitz in a food processor or with a handheld blender until smooth. Stir in the rose water, taste and add salt or more rose water as required.
To serve, divide the soup into four bowls and top with the hot carrot and chickpea mix, and about two teaspoons of yogurt per portion.