what's cooking in the studio?

Uh - not this, but it was lovely with coffee (a flat white) when we stopped on the way to Kew Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit. I must say the exhibit was underwhelming, but the gardens were lovely. I was in London for the week to visit my dear friend Marlene and her husband David, whom I have not seen in several years. These are friends that might as well be family. They don't need to entertain me; we can just be. It was heaven.

We did our share of eating out, but I won't bore you with the Instagram-worthy (or not) photos of food. The meals were all good but the pièce de résistance was our meal at the famous Ottolenghi. This table of lovely food greets you when you walk in. Everything is labeled so you have a visual idea of some things on the menu. I expect that the selections change frequently.

It's a tiny, very modern place that does vegetables fabulously and the food is unlike any I've every had. Sublime.

The other sublime item I had was in Marlene's grocery bag -- an eggplant salad from the deli that is not available in the U.S. I arrived home on Saturday night and hot-footed it to the grocery store to buy, amongst other things, eggplants. One was for making baba ganouj and the other, to attempt recreating the taste of that eggplant salad in London.

There is only one problem: I have not got a working stove IN MY HOUSE. The motherboard blew a couple of weeks ago and I will not have another one to replace it until sometime in September. It is a long story. Fortunately, I have another apartment: my studio, which has a somewhat basic (putting it politely) kitchen with an electric range.

So I have been cooking in my studio and eating either here, if I feel like working late -- or I take the food home with me.

Eggplant, garlic, onion, tomato puree, salt, sugar were the ingredients on the package. No quantities. I am leaving out the sugar because a) I don't add sugar to food and b) I used tomato paste, which is sweeter than puree.

That's what's cooking in the studio. I will take the roasted eggplant home with me to make baba ganouj, a staple of my Israeli breakfast, along with labneh, hummus, Israeli salad (diced cucumber and tomato with lemon juice and salt). Oh, and a half pita. Labneh is salted yogurt that has been strained overnight to become like a soft cheese. It is lovely with a little olive oil and za'atar sprinkled on it.

In fact, za'atar is great to sprinkle on vegetables and meats. There are lots of recipes for it, but here is one I just found that looks authentic. Haven't tried it yet but I will when I get home.

ZA'ATAR Recipe

1 T dried thyme, crushed (or substitute oregano)

1 T ground cumin

1T ground coriander

1 T toasted sesame seeds

1 T sumac

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp chili flakes (optional)

That's enough cooking for today. I may eventually get back to sewing. Tomorrow.

 all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019