a {round} table gathering of friends with homemade hummus, fresh cut vegetables, and other such goodies

home made hummus with tahini and heirloom tomatoes

last night we had another book(food) club gathering (#almostatherapysession).  it was a good-good night. we had home made hummus with tahini and lots of citrus topped with chopped heirloom tomatoes served with fresh cut vegetables, a simple arugula salad, minty taboulé (latest obsession), olives, grilled tomatoes, goat cheese stuffed little red peppers,  (ohsogood) feta cheese with honey and walnuts, poirs au sirop (fancy way of saying pears in syrup-recipe to follow soon), and ice cream. there was a big basket of fresh breads (yes, we were bad). come to think of it, there aren’t many things more satisfying than sitting around (a round) table with good friends, enjoying freshly made simple food and (just a few) drinks (or more) while sharing stories and exchanging ideas. It is truly therapeutic and necessary for the soul. all of it: the company of true friends. laughter. (good)food. lots of it. new ideas. old stories. new ones too. more laughter. encouragement. support. a warm slice of bread dipped into a deliciously balanced homemade hummus. a sip or two of rosé. every few minutes. warm chatter. dirty dishes. leftovers. hugs and kisses. another good night come and gone. good memories remain. and leftovers.

poirs au sirop

cooking minhummus with tahini photo

grlled tomatoes and spring onions

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a totally scrumptious salad: green beans with dukkah roasted chickpeas & pesto dressing

dukkah roasted chickpeas in salad

i was so lucky to find myself standing in Yotam Ottolenghi’s wonderful deli in Nottingham this past summer with my Sahar {cousin-love-sister} trying to narrow down (the hardest part) what to order for a quick lunch. we ended up with way more ahhhmazinngly fresh and tasty food than we could possibly consume (and we can certainly consume a good bit) wrapped in beautiful crisp white boxes to go (the only table of 10 in the back was full of people eating happily with no intentions to leave).Ottolenghi deli Notting Hill we sat on a little wall just outside devouring spiced roasted cauliflowers, grilled aubergine with cucumbers and red peppercorns, mixed beans with dill and coriander seeds, and crushed beetroots with labne and grains of paradise. does it sound as simply delicious, uncomplicated yet sophisticated as it was? i haven’t even started on the desserts yet. maybe it’s best i leave it to your imagination. let me just say i have never seen meringue as large, tasty and beautiful. when we were paying for the food my cousin picked up a jar labeled Dukkah *(see below for more on this Egyptian spice blend) and asked if I’d ever cooked with it. i had not. Ottolenghi deli Notting Hillsaid jar was promptly paid for and tossed in my bag. “i’m sure my cousi will find a great way to use it” she said. well, i finally got around to using the Dukkah in a green bean and roasted chickpea (garbanzo) salad inspired by the genius food we’d shared that glorious sunny day in London. it was such a successful dish: pure and simple, filling, good for you, slightly spicy, crunchy, and really full of flavor. it’s been added to the list of favorites. i’m thinking a fresh jar of Dukkah might be just the excuse for another trip to London. i wish. :-)dukkah roasted garbanzo beans

ingredients for 4-6 servings of salad:

  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (see roasted garbanzo bean recipe here-add Dukkah to the beans prior to roasting)-for roasting the beans you will need extra virgin olive oil, spices such as dukkah or cumin and cayenne pepper  for spiciness, sea salt, & pepper (to taste)
  • 2-3 cups cleaned haricots verts (or green beans), cooked for just a few minutes in lightly salted rapidly boiling water (until just tender) and then cooled down in ice bath to retain color and crispness
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (julienned)
  • 1 cup sliced (cubed) ripe tomatoes
  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tbs home made walnut-parsley easto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 of a small lemon or a lime, freshly juiced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup or lightly more crumbled french feta cheese

for the walnut-parsley pesto blend together in a blender with a steel blade:

green bean salad with pesto dressing


  • 1 large bunch (1 cup) fresh organic flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh organic basil (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 10-12 raw walnuts
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a few tsp of water may be needed to add to the blender to soften the pesto

build the salad in a shallow bowl starting with the cold (cooked) beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, chives or scallions, and crumbled cheese. top with slightly cooled but still crisp roasted garbanzo beans. dress with pesto dressing and mix just prior to serving. for the dressing combine 4-5 tbs of the pesto with lemon/lime juice and a few more tsp of olive oil if needed, mix well. taste and adjust seasoning. drizzle over the salad just before serving.

*Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture often served (marinated in olive oil) with pita bread. to make your own you will need:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

toast the sesame seeds and hazelnuts in the oven (separately), then combine all ingredients and grind in food processor for 3-4 minutes.



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chicken curry with cauliflower, carrots, & mushrooms

on sundays we tend to eat a rather large (often persian) late lunch/early dinner if we’re at home. usually i walk over to the farmer’s market and pick up some seasonal produce that looks good, and plan the meal from there. i can literally see the sunday farmer’s market from my window, but this morning there were no umbrellas, no trucks, no farmers-there was no one in sight. it’s easter sunday (happy easter), and the market is closed…so, on to plan b. i don’t like to go grocery shopping on sundays, there’s usually too many people, and often the produce looks a bit tired. i look in my refrigerator hoping for inspiration (and for ingredients that can add up to a decent meal). mushrooms, celery, carrots(the dutiful constant), onions (as well), pretty fresh looking organic cilantro, kale (obviously), lettuce, cauliflower, and two rather shriveled up bell peppers. ok. not great, but not too bad. look in the freezer, and find some organic chicken breasts. for some reason, i decide against the celery and kale. back in the drawer. should i make a curry? my daughter won’t be too excited, but i’m kind of craving it…so i look in the pantry for coconut milk, check. that’s what it’ll be, then-chicken curry with cauliflower, mushrooms & carrots (although frankly, i much prefer my carrots raw).



  • 2-3 organic chicken breasts ( or omit for vegetarian)
  • mushrooms, about 20
  • 1 yellow organic onion*
  • 1/2 of a medium cauliflower
  • 4-5 medium organic carrots*
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a sliver of fresh ginger **
  • 1/4-1/2 of a green chili pepper (or jalapeno)
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbs good quality curry powder +
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp organic refined coconut oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 small bunch fresh organic cilantro*
  • 1 medium or 2 small ripe tomatoes
  • chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • sea salt


finely mince the garlic, chili pepper, and ginger, and sautee (on medium) in 1/2 of your coconut oil for a minute before adding the  cut up chicken, cubed onions,  turmeric, curry powder, cumin, and salt. sautee until the chicken looks golden-about 3 minutes or so, remove from pan.
add the rest of the oil to the pot, and sautee the vegetables (all cut up in about the same size for even cooking). after the vegetable are softened (about 3-4 minutes), add the chicken back to the pan, combine with vegetables, add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of coconut milk, a handful of chopped cilantro, and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium.


add the garbanzo beans and tomatoes (cubed) and let the pot simmer for another 5-8 minutes.
taste for salt and add/adjust if needed. whisk together about 1 tbsp flour (or chick pea flour) and 1/4 cup coconut milk, and pour over the curry, mixing softly together. this will thicken the sauce lightly. allow the pot to simmer for just another 3 minutes or so. top with fresh cilantro. the curry can be served over brown basmati rice, steamed quinoa, or jasmine rice.



* i recommend using organic chicken & vegetables-here’s a good quick guide re organic versus non:
http://www.alivemedicine.com/news/article/featured/2012/01/25/100235/organic-foods-why-should-you-buy ( also, see my post 7 things that should never cross your lips).** i use a lot of fresh ginger in my food-besides the fabulous flavor, here’s why:
http://annetterozen.hubpages.com/hub/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Ginger+ i use Morton & Bassett curry powder.

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