Pav bhaji

Pav bhaji

Before I moved to America I had never encountered people who didn’t like vegetables. Granted, I grew up in a vegetarian household in a country where that is the norm rather than a passing fad. And, sure, there were veggies I wasn’t too keen on (such as this). But, still, the notion that vegetables could only constitute a side dish boggled my mind. I mean: what else are we supposed to eat? (I’m writing this after a trip to Barcelona where this would be considered a silly question with an obvious answer: jamon!)

Pasta machine

I’ve been thinking of buying a pasta machine for some time now. But after watching this, er,  documentary I think I might save myself a lot of trouble and just buy a spagetti plant!

Celery, leek and potato soup

Celery, leek and potato soup

It has been an extremely soggy winter here in England, apparently the wettest since records began nearly a hundred years ago. But if there was a silver lining to the unremitting cold and damp weather it is that dishes such as today’s soup taste, if that were possible, even better. Don’t let the simplicity of this soup, taken from Martha Shulman’s Recipes for Health column, fool you. It is filling and deeply flavorful, and made even more so by the leeks.

Korean seasoned bean sprouts (kongnamul muchim)

Kongnamul muchim

There are lots of things I miss about New York but surely top of the list is eating in Koreatown. More specifically, it is the banchan at Korean restaurants that I truly long for. These are the small, food-laden plates that instantly and magically appear as soon as you sit down. Meant to be nibbled on as appetizers while you wait for the main course, or eaten as side dishes with rice, a few of these–like Spanish tapas–could easily make for a complete meal. And a balanced one, too,  given that a good banchan includes something from just about every food group!

Pasta with cabbage and smoked prosciutto

Pasta with cabbage and smoked prosciutto

For something with such an unglamorous reputation cabbage is surprisingly tasty and versatile. Just think of kimchi. Or my cabbage fried rice with asafetida recipe. And highly nutritious, too. The Italians seem to have a particular genius for using this humble vegetable, marrying it to anchovies or cheese to make delectable dishes. Thus, searching through Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals in search of inspiration, I was immediately drawn to a pasta recipe involving cabbage and speck (smoked prosciutto). As is typical of Italian–and more generally Mediterranean–cuisine, you need just, er, a speck of meat. But it adds tremendous flavor to the dish, especially welcome at this time of year when fresh produce is in scarce supply. Incidentally, check out this post by Martha Shulman on the health benefits of cabbage and some fantastic recipes.