broiled zucchini roll-ups with herbs and cheese, tomatoes with green goddess dressing

I attended a cocktail party recently. The party was my first cocktail party to date—well, the first that had been named as such. Admittedly, I know very little about cocktails (though I am determined to learn soon!). So I arrived with a bottle of wine in one hand and two small dishes in the other, recipes courtesy of Krieger’s The Food You Crave.

The first dish: broiled zucchini roll-ups with herbs and goat cheese. Krieger calls for grilling the zucchini before rolling them up with the ingredients; but, as I have no grill, I broiled them instead. I probably should have kept the zucchini slices under the broiler for a tad longer, but these zucchini bites were still little morsels of goodness.

The second dish: tomatoes with green goddess dressing. Usually (or rather, almost always), I keep salad dressings really, really simple—as in, “olive oil and vinegar” simple. Yet, Krieger’s green goddess dressing recipe is really quite nice. The buttermilk adds a nice bite that balances the avocado. All of the ingredients (largely, avocado, buttermilk, and vinegar) are blended together until they make a thick, pale green dressing.

These two recipes represent my 47th, 48th, and 49th (the green goddess dressing strangely counts separately) completed recipes from Krieger’s book. Percentage complete: 23.44%

white gazpacho with grapes and toasted almonds

Here is one more soup for you: a white gazpacho with grapes and toasted almonds. This recipe, too, is from Krieger’s The Food You Crave. I served it in a shot glass. And yes, I realize that in the photo below, it appears as if I consumed wine and soup in equal measures. But, I swear that I ate more soup . . . much more.

There is something sophisticated about this soup The cucumber base, the toasted almonds, and the halved grapes combine so well together. And the raw ingredients, I think, look particularly pretty.

I will, however, try it again soon. Krieger calls for white bread to be processed with the cucumber. I had only whole wheat. As the photos show, the finished soup is a bit darker than it should be. And calling this a “white” gazpacho, then, is perhaps something of a misdemeanor. But ah well — it was a small blunder, I think. I now have completed 46 recipes from Krieger’s The Food You Crave. Percentage complete:  22.01%

summer corn and vegetable soup

In every departure, there is, I think, a return—a return to something that was known once before. And I believe that we cling to this notion of return in the midst of life’s ruptures, both large and small.

Today, I made a soup, a summer corn and vegetable soup.

The recipe is from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. I have made not a single dish from this book since 2008. I then was an undergraduate student, studying English and human biology.

Earlier today, I bought a tiny food chopper for $10. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. It will hold me over until I can buy a real food processor. I had one of these back in 2008, too.

The soup is a good soup—colorful, plentiful. It’s simple, yet solid. The combination of ingredients is classic: corn, bell pepper, zucchini, tomato, basil. Blending some of the corn kernels with milk lends a chowder-like feel. This soup brings us the best of summer just as summer is about to slip away.

But summer will arrive again, we know. Like this Ellie Krieger cookbook. Back into my life. Just like that.

I now have completed 45 recipes from this book. Percentage complete: 21.53%

octopus with escarole and mint

The octopus, I previously had thought, was going to be one of the last dishes that I would make from Batali’s Molto Italiano. Yet surprisingly, it was the first recipe I completed (with some help!) after moving into my new apartment. I certainly would not have chosen this dish alone; sometimes, it pays to have adventurous friends. Cooking octopus, I suppose, is one way to break in a new kitchen:

We sort of made up our cooking procedure as we went along, following Batali’s suggestions when we could; we had no grill, so our octopus was not exactly “barbecued” as the recipe suggests. We boiled it for about 40 minutes, and then finished it off in a saute pan.

I must admit that it took me some time to get used to those little suckers. And the octopus was a bit tougher than I would have liked, but I blame that on my poor cooking techniques. Has anyone else had practice cooking octopus? What do you think?

I now have completed 68 of Batali’s 327 recipes. Percentage complete: 20.8%