Five Things We’re Into Right Now


Thought it was about time
for a little what-we’re-excited-about dispatch from DALS headquarters, starting with what you’re looking at above. Ever since we’ve decided to cut back on the meat in our house, I’ve made sure to stock up on ingredients that feel like they might be good things to build a meal around. That means tofu, eggs, and lots and lots of avocados. (It’s a literal emergency in my house now when we are out of avocados.) Recently, I’ve added something new to the list…

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…1. Halloumi! It’s cheese, so it’s not exactly good for you, but if you cut it into cubes, then fry it for a few seconds in a cast-iron pan (or a very lightly greased skillet) it’s just enough of a substantive hit that upgrades in a regular old salad (above, paired with butternut squash, almonds, an herby-yogurt dressing I’m completely blanking on) or a dutifully green Buddha bowl. (Recipe for that one coming soon.) Look for halloumi in better supermarkets near the feta and cotija.

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2. Cauliflower, Reimagined 
Dan Barber blew everyone’s mind a few years ago when he reinterpreted a head of cauliflower as a “steak” and served it over cauliflower puree. Perhaps that’s why it seems like everywhere I look these days, clever types are now seeing the cruciferous vegetable as something it decidedly isn’t, i.e meat (Cauliflower Bolognese, above); or chicken ( Cauliflower Parm); or pasta (Cauliflower and Cheese). I do like where this is headed. Photo of “Bolognese” for Bon Appetit by Chelsea Kyle.

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3. Our Oxo Pour-Over Kettle
Phoebe is right in the thick of junior year (ACTs and college visits in addition to the usual intense homework load) and though she hasn’t said as much to me, I can tell she’s finding comfort in her morning rituals: walking to school while listening to music or her podcasts, and, as of this January, making her own pour-over using the Oxo kettle we gave her as a Christmas gift. She’s officially a coffee addict, and I’m not sure why, but get a little heart-swell every time I come downstairs at 7:15 am and see my fetishistic barista-in-training patiently drizzling the sleek spout (it’s all about the spout) over whatever coffee grounds she’s feeling into that day. The kettle gets room-temperature water to 200 degrees (the exact temperature needed for optimum pour-over conditions) in under 60 seconds, helpful when you’re in high school and can’t be late for physics. (Oof, physics.)

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4. Bob’s Red Mill Muesli
Ever since Andy returned from a business trip in Germany three years ago, he’s been on a search to replicate the muesli he ate every morning in his hotel lobby. If we are to believe him, there’s nothing close to it Stateside. When he makes declarations like this, of course my first instinct is to prove him wrong. To that end, I’ve picked up bags of it everywhere from Ikea to little boutique food shops in the Hudson Valley with no success. I even tried a homemade version for Valentine’s Day one year, tying up the Mason jar with a red ribbon. He was polite about it, but that jar sat on the counter for months, virtually untouched, before I finally tossed the concoction and accepted defeat. Then just last week, I grabbed a pouch of the gluten-free muesli from the Bob’s Red Mill display at a local supermarket. (There’s no specific reason why I picked gluten-free over the other options.) While I was traveling over the weekend, he texted me a photo of his breakfast. “I’ve had it twice this weekend. So good!” #smallvictories #marriage #problemsolved #niceproblems #HiBean!

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5. Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk Chicken
. Anyone who’s already watched Nosrat’s Netflix series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, knows about her instant-icon chicken, which requires precisely three ingredients: A 3-4 lb. whole chicken, 2 cups of buttermilk, and salt. “If you’ve never roasted a chicken, this is the perfect place to start,” Nosrat says. The buttermilk provides the acid and the fat,  tenderizes the meat, and offers the most “delicious kind of insurance” if you cook it five or ten minutes too long. We made the magical chicken within days of watching her prepare it and I urge you to do the same — it couldn’t be easier or tastier.

Related: Five Bright Ideas

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28 Comments

Robin

Your story about Phoebe’s kettle is playing out in our house as well! We have a freshman in high school who decided to use Christmas gift cards to buy an electric kettle, tea cups, spoons and tea. I joke that she’s prepping for college dorm life someday!

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Alec

I’m interested in muesli as a breakfast option but it just seems so…plain. What do you DO to it to make it more palatable?

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Jenny

Do you usually buy muesli with dried fruit in it? this one has dried cranberries, dried apples, coconut, and a bunch of nuts and seeds. I don’t find it bland, but like Emily said below, it’s not for everybody.

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Jess

Bircher Muesli! I used to live in Switzerland and often replicate the bircher muesli I had there using bob’s red mill muesli — grate an apple into 2 cups or so of muesli, squeeze in some lemon juice, add whatever dried fruits you like or that come with the muesli, mix with 1 c of milk + 1 c of yogurt and squeeze in the juice of about half of a lemon, depending on how tart you like things. Let sit overnight and eat cold the next morning, preferably topped with fresh berries. It is just the loveliest.

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Cece

This is one of the rare moments that I get to feel smug about British cuisine. Halloumi is pretty much a corner shop staple here thanks to our Cypriot population, so halloumi has been rescuing bleak dinner situations since I was an undergraduate.

But more importantly – cauliflower cheese! It mayseem like an innovative take on Mac and cheese in the States but in the UK it’s been a kids dinner/roast dinner side dish for many a decade. In fact it was one of the foods I listed as totally unacceptable on my plate in any form as a small kid. Something about the gloop? And the way the cauliflower was hard to distinguish from the sauce? Either way I’ve gotten over it in adulthood 🙂

I love to hear it’s now a novel restaurant-y food, because cauliflower + cheese? Clearly an excellent pairing! Now I wonder if I can convince my Italian-American husband to go for Cauliflower Bolognese…

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DianeD

Cauliflower cheese was my favorite part of the Sunday lunch meal when visiting my in-laws in England. Years later I asked my mother-in-law for her recipe, and was mortified when she pulled out a canister of powdered cheese.

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Sarah

Cece! As a fellow Brit I thought exactly the same about cauliflower-cheese and halloumi .

I also laughed out loud at the thought of ‘tea kettles’ as a novel item! I can’t even imagine a home or workplace in the UK without one and its certainly not an item that teenagers get excited about. Nice to feel like British food culture is ahead of the curve for once 🙂

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Cece

Haha Sarah yes! My brother in law in DC asked for an electric kettle from us for Christmas – and I was like ‘really?! That’s your gift of choice?’ But yep. To be fair we asked for new steak knives so both brothers clearly love themselves some kitchen time.

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Alix Davis

An Aussie chiming in – haloumi is everywhere here! I always have it in my fridge – best thing ever. Electric kettle? Used multiple times daily. Cauliflower cheese – yes and yes. Muesli for breakfast – standard operating procedure in Australia! An interesting reminder of how different the food in the US is to ours sometimes!

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Ellen W

Um, I also asked for and received an electric kettle for Christmas – a pretty floral Pioneer Woman brand kettle. I’ve used stove tea kettle for years but decided an electric one would be more efficient. I make 2-3 pitchers of iced tea a week.

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Emily R Hylden

I understand Andy 150%. I first had museli in Switzerland as a teenager, and have spent the ensuing decades desperate to recreate the magic of those simple hotel-buffet tureens. Alpen has been “good enough” for me, and sometimes I’ll mix in yogurt (a concoction my husband calls “wallpaper paste”) but I’ve sort of given up on anything so good as they make over there!

(Alec, if you don’t think it’s palatable, like my husband, I’d just search out other bfast options! Museli is not for everyone 🙂 )

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awads

Dang! i just roasted a chicken sunday AND happened to have buttermilk on-hand. wish i had marinated it. Next time for sure, especially since buttermilk has become a staple for my son’s pancake habit.

I’m stepping AWAY from that oxo pour-over kettle as we currently have 4 different coffee appliances. enough!

(hi, to bean from my boston, trixie!)

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Taylor

Do you think this would work with a turkey? We have an extra one in the freezer and this seems like a easy and delicious way to cook it. I don’t have a lot of experience cooking whole birds. Thanks.

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Kate

Yes! We cooked our christmas turkey using her buttermilk soaking method. We decided that will be the way we do it from now on.

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Rachel Short

When it gets warmer you have to grill the haloumi with pineapple! A great combo. In our house it’s called squeaky cheese, because of the distinctive squeak when you bite into it. Thanks for all the inspiration!

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Suzanne

Muesli! Aldi carries a German-made variety with dried fruit that he might agree to! (I studied abroad in Germany and it hits pretty close to what I remember from my time there.)

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Courtney Engel

The Müsli from IKEA is made completely in Germany, and it is equal to a typical German package. Perhaps a little more sweet, but not far. I made my own Müsli before moving to Germany. I’d just pour raw oats in a bowl with cinnamon, fresh or dried fruit and nuts, and a milk of choice. Closest I got to it. The more raw, the more genuine it tasted.

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Rebekka

Ha! Just seeing your musli made me so happy! I’m a German mom, reading your blog and books for years now and it somehow satisfies me to know something you genius don’t!:-) Makes me want to invite you to our home, as we have musli every day except Saturdays in my family with 2 little ones (4,2). Here’s the deal: Soak it in just a liiiittle bit of milk, add shredded apple, some slices of banana, almonds, walnuts (that’s the basis) and go crazy with whatever the season gives you (oranges, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, pomegranate seeds…) and finish with 3-4 tablespoons of yoghurt (preferably full fat greek). So good! And please come for breakfast if you’re in Germany next time! 🙂

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Jenny

Ha. I accept your invitation. I love that you’re shocked I don’t know everything about muesli. What I’ve always hoped to convey here is that I’m figuring it out as I go along, just like everyone else!! On another note, who knew there were so many muesli geniuses reading dinner a love story. 🙂

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Rebekka

Yes, who would have known! Also, there are SO many variations that people fight about. For example, I hate raisins and other dried fruit in mine, but others love it. Some soak it overnight (more Bircher-like), some like it crunchy. Anyway- I love your inspiration and love figuring out so many things together with you and the other readers, thanks for that!

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Georgia

My husband lived in Germany for a year and has a similar fixation on finding the perfect muesli, haha! We settled on Swedish Muesli brand (a big teen box that’s hard to miss when supermarkets sell it.) unfortunately I can’t remember where we found it when we lived in Westchester but it wasn’t too hard to find at

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Claire

Jenny, I”m a longtime fan of your blog, and love reading about your family and cooking your lovely recipes.

I also used to work in college admissions and as an English teacher, and love reading college essays and offering advice about how to make then more effective. If Phoebe ever wants another eye on her essays when she gets to that point, I’d love to help. (No charge or anything – I just do it for fun!)

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Jess.

Hi! My son is just a Sophomore now, but . . . can we make this a guest post? Pretty please? superXOX

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Margarita

Hi Jenny, just a comment on the Muesli – it´s a mixture for Bircher Müsli, a staple in our home (we live in Germany!) . I do this regularly for our Kids – you just soak oats and raisins overnight in Milk, and schred apple (and/or pears for extra sweetness) into it in the morning. add a squeeze of lemon and a splash of heavy cream and voila…
I love some toasted almond slices on top!

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Ttrockwood

I love that your family is enthusiastic about food in their own specific ways with the pour over coffee and museli! I’m a big fan of both myself, although i make my own museli and like it cold for breakfast in the summer.
I’ve been a big coffee lover since high school myself, my dad drinks coffee and there’s absolutely a soothing ritual to grinding the beans and their aroma through the finished mug. I’ve tried a lot of different preparations through the years and a good pourover is really hard to beat.

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