Mayonnaise Is a Goddamn Miracle

spoonful of goddamn miracle

What Is Mayonnaise?

You know what mayonnaise is? Mayonnaise is a goddamn miracle.

BuT i DoN’t LiKe MaYoNnAiSe

Some of you don’t like mayonnaise, and that’s fine. You’re entitled to your extremely wrong opinion.

Mayonnaise is an oil that’s basically solid at room temperature. Think about that. Think of the implications! What can you do with a solid oil? Or, really, what can’t you do?, since that’s probably the shorter list.

two good mayonnaises

What Do With Mayonnaise?!

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite things to do with mayonnaise:

  • Mix it with ~flavor ingredient*~ and put it on top of salmon, or whatever similar fish. Bake that at 425º for 6 minutes, then broil until nice and golden and bubbly. Perfect salmon. (Use store-bought mayo! This does not work nearly as well with homemade mayo!)
  • Use it instead of butter on the outside of your grilled cheese, since nobody ever has soft butter for that, and melting butter in the pan ISN’T THE SAME.
  • Use it to lube up your steaks (cooked sous vide, or raw) before grilling, and avoid dripping-oil flare-ups.
  • Deviled. Frickin’. Eggs.
  • Put it on bread to keep wet sandwich ingredients from sogging up your bread.
  • It is a valid dip for fries, and a good base for other dips like tartar sauce and “aïoli”.
  • This is not a joke, in college we used to mix Tabasco Mayonnaise (TM) and canned tuna and pasta, and it was delicious and cheap.
  • Here are some more ideas.

* – ~flavor ingredients~ may include, but are not limited to, one or a combination of the following: hot sauce, pesto, salsa verde, dijon mustard, microplaned garlic, lemon or lime zest and juice, ground spices, hoisin, gochujang, minced charred jalapeño, etc.

You can’t do any of that with liquid oil.

Mayonnaise is a goddamn miracle.

step one
step two
step three: profit

Homemade vs. Store Bought???!??!1

I don’t care. I literally do not care. Some people absolutely lose their minds over homemade mayonnaise, but I honestly don’t find it that much different.

I will make my own mayo if I’m cooking something for a client that requires a specific flavor profile; like say I’m serving fried calamari with “lemon aïoli”. (I KNOW IT’S NOT “REAL” AIOLI, COME FOLLOW ME ON THIS JOURNEY.) I’ll make Kenji’s 2-Minute Mayonnaise, add a few extra garlic cloves, extra lemon juice, and a boatload of lemon zest. Pow, “lemon aïoli”. I’ll even whisk in extra lemon juice or oil if it needs to be thinner. Custom!

Also, Kenji’s 2-Minute Mayonnaise? A goddamn miracle. The trick is to (1) use an immersion blender, and (2) use the container that came with your immersion blender. If you do that, it is perfect every time. Don’t use olive oil, it will taste bitter and nasty, because science. Whisk in extra olive oil by hand if you have to.

goddamn miracle

BuT i’M vEgAn

Kenji also has a simple vegan mayonnaise recipe, there you go bb. I’ve never made it, but it looks fine, and come on, it’s Kenji. We love Kenji. Kenji is a goddamn miracle.

just look at it

What Is The Best Mayonnaise To Buy, Because I Have To Spend All My Time Figuring Out What Is The Best Of Everything And Also I Need Gatekeepers To Tell Me What I Should Like?

People have Strong Opinions about mayonnaise brands. It’s really down to whatever you grew up with, I think.

I used to keep Hellmann’s around, but that was before I could reliably get Duke’s. Duke’s has a cult following, and I do think it’s better than Hellmann’s, but in the same way that I think that 65 Lb cardstock is better than 60 Lb cardstock. The preference is slight, but it’s there. Duke’s tastes a little brighter to me. My husband prefers Hellmann’s. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Kewpie is another cult mayo, but let’s talk about where it was made! US made Kewpie has sugar. Japan made Kewpie has MSG. Both are made with egg yolk only, and so they’re very eggy. I’ve only had the Japanese Kewpie, and it’s a fine quality mayo. Any excuse to go to H Mart, though, really.

Miracle Whip is not mayonnaise. Go home.

Blue Plate is very good. Sir Kensington’s is very eggy (yolks only again, like Kewpie). Whole Foods’ 365 brand is very gross and only to be used as a last resort.

Tabasco Mayonnaise is a national treasure. It DOES NOT taste the same to mix it yourself at home.

Last thoughts?

Mayonnaise is a goddamn miracle.

amazing miracle

Green Sauce with Arugula & Parsley

green sauce with arugula & parsley

Not sure what it is, or why, but I can never seem to get enough green in my food.

I go through phases with ingredients (or entire cuisines) where I can’t come out of a grocery store without a certain thing.  I’ve been through avocado, poblano, blueberry, mushroom, kale, cauliflower.  There was the year or so I couldn’t stop cooking Indian-type flavors.

But the one thing I’m starting to think I’ll never grow out of is my yen — my need — for green things.

Red flavors?  Meh.  You can have your roasted red peppers, your cooked carrots, your marinara.  It’s all too sweet.  Gimme that green.  Talmbout parsley, arugula, asparagus, chard, broccoli, scallion.  If it’s got chlorophyll, I’m probably into it.

I spotted this beast of a sandwich on the delightful Lady and Pups, and I was super into it, even though I’d never peg myself for being into a Dagwood-type sandwich.  But come on: avocado, green sauce, sage pork?  It looks awesome, right?

We happened to be heading to a friend’s house for some cooking and Good Times (yay wine), and this looked promising.  A little deconstruction to make it gluten-free-friendly, and we were set.

green sauce with arugula & parsley

Overall, I was pleased, but that sauce!  Man, that sauce is a keeper.  It’s green from here to next week, but it’s also got enough anchovy in it to keep things interesting (yes it has a fair amount of anchovy and no you should not decrease it).

I made the sauce again a few days later, and tossed it with some roasted eggplant and sliced scallions.  Served it over quinoa, because protein.  The second time, I forgot to get capers, and please know that the capers are not optional.  It needs ’em.

green sauce with arugula & parsley


Green Sauce with Arugula & Parsley

Yield: about 3/4 cup

Green Sauce with Arugula & Parsley

Adapted from Lady and Pups

This stuff is spicy, green, and deep. Don't muck about with the recipe too much. Yes, your herbs must all be fresh. Don't bring any of that dried stuff to the party.

No one's gonna tell on you if you don't weigh your ingredients, but how are you cooking without a gram scale?


  • 30 grams parsley leaves (about 1 cup)
  • 30 grams baby arugula (about 1 cup)
  • 5 grams mint leaves (about 1/4 cup)
  • 5 grams oregano leaves (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 5 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped green chili of choice (I used Serrano)
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained (no need to rinse)
  • A few healthy grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • A 4-second pour of nice extra virgin olive oil, more or less


1. Pick the parsley, mint, and oregano from their stems (which are bitter and will only make you sad).

2. Cram all the herbs and the arugula into a li'l food processor (your big one is too big for this job, and will only make you sad).

3. Add the remaining ingredients, and give it all a whazz.

4. Scrape the sides as needed, and taste when it's all gotten pretty well mixed together. Does it need salt or maybe a squeeze of lemon? Add that. Want a thinner sauce? Add more olive oil.

5. Enjoy on darn near anything.

The Trick to Awesome Lentils; or, Two Reasons I Keep Cooked Lentils in the Fridge and You Should Too

awesome lentils

Y’all all need to start keeping cooked lentils in the fridge.  Why?  Two reasons:

1. Dinner

2. Fast

I’m referring to firm lentils, like beluga or du Puy.  Brown lentils are too mushy for this, and red lentils are right out.  Save those for soup.

Lentils aren’t really a thing people get excited about, so I know you’re dismissing my advice right about now.  It’s okay.  I mean, if that’s how you want to live your life.

But lentils are kitchen heroes.  They can be a side dish.  They can be the main event.  Hell, put ’em in a food processor with a can of chickpeas and some tahini (and whatever else).  Lentil hummus!  You can have that idea.  That one’s free.

awesome lentils
they’re under there

Aside from being cheap, lentils are ridiculously easy to make.  Can you make pasta?  You can make lentils.  Same process, but about 18-25 minutes cook time, depending on how fresh they are.  Make a big ol’ batch.  It’ll take about 10 active minutes of your life, including the washing up.

If you have cooked lentils in the fridge (or freezer), you’re never at a loss for a fast, healthy meal.  They’re not leftovers.  They’re an ingredient.  They’re an ingredient you were smart enough to make in advance.  Look at you being all smart.

That’s nice.  But y’all just want the trick to Awesome Lentils.

awesome lentils

The trick to Awesome Lentils is to toss them with some sort of dressing while they’re still hot.  They soak it up like sponges.  They turn awesome.  A basic dressing would involve a clove of garlic microplaned into a big bowl, a healthy pour of olive oil, and half a lemon squeezed in.  Salt and pepper.  Add hot lentils.  Stir.  Profit.

If you want to get fancy (you do), add a ground spice.  Cumin goes with damn near anything.  Mustard is zesty.  Allspice is okay if you’re serving the lentils with pork, but probably no other time.  Don’t be afraid to get intense with the flavors; lentils can handle it.

That’s the basic plan.  From there, you are only limited by however boring your imagination is.

awesome lentils

If you’re serving them as a side dish, you can add some sautéed onion and chopped parsley.  If you want to practice your knife skills, cut some mirepoix into fine dice, sauté it in butter, and toss some lentils in at the last minute.  Serve next to your favorite roasted chicken part, or whatever.

If you’re serving them as an entrée, make it a salad.  Add chopped vegetables and a ton of herbs, maybe some cheese, maybe some chopped-up meat.  Serve over quinoa or rice, or don’t.

Put a fried egg on ’em.

Here, I’ve served one of my all-time favorite salads on top of some Awesome Lentils: Molly Wizenberg’s Roasted Radicchio with Anchovy Vinaigrette and Preserved Lemon.  It’s like a really sophisticated warm Caesar salad.  That vinaigrette is ridiculous (and was used to make those particular Awesome Lentils).

awesome lentils
awesome lentils topped by awesome roasted radicchio salad

The other dish pictured is a house specialty called Leftover Surprise.  It’s all the compatible leftovers heated up in a pan together.  This one involved Awesome Lentils, brown rice, couscous, celery, green onions, parsley, and a quick tahini-lemon sauce (meaning I poured some tahini in the pan and squeezed some lemon juice in).

awesome lentils
awesome lentils with a bunch of other stuff

Okay guys if I’m honest, I don’t always have cooked lentils in my fridge.  I should.  When I don’t, come dinner time, I often find myself standing in front of the fridge wondering what the hell I can cobble together out of whatever’s in there.  This is never the case when Awesome Lentils are on the scene.  You’ve been advised.

Awesome Lentils

1 pound of lentils is about 2 cups, and will make 4-6 main servings, or maybe 8 side dish servings. This, of course, all depends on what you do with them. This recipe will work no matter how many lentils you have.

When making lentils, I don't measure anything, mostly because I get lentils from the bulk bins at a Certain Upscale Grocery Store (it is Whole Foods). Sometimes I get fancy and add some chicken stock to the cooking liquid. I always add a bay leaf or two, but it's not mandatory.

The dressing is important, but it doesn't particularly matter what goes in it. The simplest thing is plain ol' olive oil and lemon juice (emulsification is not necessary). Microplaned or pressed garlic cloves are excellent here. Get fancy, or keep it simple. Please do not use a purchased salad dressing, unless you think it is the most incredible salad dressing you've ever had and probably god made it and also it cures cancer.


  • Firm lentils (such as beluga or du Puy)
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional: bay leaf, chicken or vegetable stock
  • Flavorful dressing of choice (involving some sort of fat and some sort of acid, like olive oil and lemon juice)


1. Rinse the lentils, and check for any stones. It can happen!

2. Put the lentils in a pot, and add enough water to cover by two inches. Add salt, about 1 teaspoon for every cup of lentils, and bay leaf, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. When the liquid boils, set a timer for 18 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, or however low it takes to maintain a brisk simmer.

4. While the lentils cook, get out a large bowl. Make the dressing in this bowl.

5. When the timer goes off, taste to see how done the lentils are. If they need more time, give them 3 to 5 more minutes.

6. Remove the cooked lentils from the heat. Drain well, and immediately dump them into the bowl with the dressing. Toss, and let stand for a few minutes to soak up all the lovely dressing. Eat as is, or jazz them up in one of a million different ways. Awesome!

Park Sammiches

park sammiches

It’s still Summer!  I don’t know why, but this year, I’ve been expecting the balmy weather to give out aaaaaany minute now.

But enough about that.  I made sandwiches, designed especially for eating in a park.

park sammiches
a park

The main ingredients: some quality meat, some bitchin’ mustard, and arugula.

Left the bread untoasted, because good crusty bread is difficult enough in a sandwich without turning the crust into jagged shards that destroy the roof of your mouth.

park sammiches

I happened to be out of mayonnaise, so I used butter instead.  It’s a British thing.  Still feels kinda weird.

park sammiches
YES you need a fat-based moisture barrier and NO i don’t care if you hate mayonnaise or butter

The order of things in a sandwich is crucial to me.  Vegetables never go under meat.  Meat is the anchor.  Cheese goes in between.

park sammiches
anchor cappocolla

However, in the case of this arugula, I had to put one layer of meat on top to hold it onto the sandwich.  This almost killed me.

park sammiches

park sammiches
no no no no NO NO NO

At picnics, the squished-to-death sandwich at the bottom is always the best.  Wrap your sandwiches well, and press them.  Let them rest under a heavy cutting board for a bit.  Squeeze them.  Step on them.  Whatever it takes.

park sammiches

Remember that quality bread (like this) will resist being squished.  Less-ideal bread will give up the ghost almost immediately.

park sammiches

In a perfect world, I would’ve also put a li’l olive salad on this sandwich, ersatz muffaletta style.  It is not a perfect world, and it was getting dark.

Still, it was just right.

park sammiches


Park Sammiches

Yield: Sandwich

Oh my god, do you really think I'm giving you a recipe for sandwiches? You do not need a recipe for sandwiches.


  • Bread
  • Sandwich filling


1. Put the sandwich filling on the bread.

2. Sandwich!

Campari + Sweet Vermouth + Booze = Love

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Name two under-appreciated spirits in the American home bar.  Did you say Campari and sweet vermouth?  You get a gold star.

Sure, everyone’s got the sweet vermouth banging around somewhere, because we all need a Manhattan now and then.  But chances are it gathers cobwebs while you’re off drinking other things.  Enter Campari.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Let’s talk about Campari for a hot minute.

To the unaccustomed palate, it tastes primarily of cough syrup and ire.  But after acclimation, the subtleties creep up.  Bitterness and complexity.  Orange.  Grapefruit.  Herbal notes.  Suggestions of berries and stone fruit.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Once you develop a taste for it, you’ll never be without a bottle.  You’ll be surprised how often you reach for it, too.  As a digestif, there’s nothing like a Campari and soda to set you right.

[Edit: YES I know Campari is technically an aperitif and technically so are Campari-based cocktails but y’all it’s just a drink and I like it very much as a digestif.]

Lately, I’ve been mixing one of these two drinks almost exclusively: the Negroni and the Boulevardier.  They’re pretty much the same thing, with one difference:

Campari + sweet vermouth + gin = Negroni

Campari + sweet vermouth + Bourbon = Boulevardier

They are, naturally, rather similar in taste.  The Negroni is more crisp and cool.  The Boulevardier is warmer and richer.  Both are sophisticated and well-balanced when made well.  It tastes like being an adult.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

You can use rye instead of Bourbon in the Boulevardier, which is also nice.  It makes the drink a touch less sweet.  (N.B.: Lest you think all this talk of “sweet” things implicates that it is a saccharine drink here, remember that Campari is as bitter as my cold, dead heart.  These are never a sweet drink.)

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love
i started with these li’l glasses which are cute but were never going to work

If you are actually insane and not a fan of gin, Bourbon, or rye, feel free to mix either of the unfortunately-named variations: Agavoni (with tequila) or Negronski (with vodka).  I have never tried these and have no plans to.  Proceed at your own risk.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love
much better

Classically, the Negroni is mixed with equal parts of everything.  But so is the Martini, and only sadists make them that way.  I prefer a more booze-forward approach here: 1 part Campari + 1 part sweet vermouth + 2 parts gin (or 1.5 parts, depending on mood).

I strongly suggest measuring carefully.  Proportions are important.  Mix the drink with too much Campari once, and you’ll never try it again.  I happen to own a lovely little shot glass with handy jigger-based measurements on the side.  I love this shot glass.  Making cocktails is so easy with it.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

I reckon you’re supposed to make drinks like this in a shaker, then strain out the half-melted ice.  But I never do that.  If you stir everything up in the glass you drink it from, that’s one less thing to clean.  I’m looking out for you.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Besides, I like the half-melted ice.  It makes a satisfying noise in the glass.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

I’ve taken to adding a splash of sparkling water at the end, just before drinking.  It lightens the drink and opens the flavors.  Makes things not so boozy.

As for garnish, I usually skip it.  One is supposed to add an orange twist, but I never keep oranges around.  A lemon twist is weird and unnecessary in this instance.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

One word to the wise: cap your bottles when you’re done pouring.  Cap.  Your.  Bottles.  About five seconds after taking the above picture, my living room rug was being soaked in a waterfall of sweet vermouth, Campari, gin, and Bourbon (the Woodford, too!) after the backdrop I was using knocked them all over.  Lamentations were wailed.

Good thing there was a drink already made.

campari + sweet vermouth + booze = love

Negroni, My Way (and Boulevardier Variant)

Yield: 1 cocktail

Negroni, My Way (and Boulevardier Variant)

The type of glass is important here, as it usually is with cocktails. This is a no-bullshit cocktail, and it requires a no-bullshit glass. The ideal glass is something with a thin lip and a heavy bottom. Wide and short is better than tall and thin. Something solid and masculine.

Unless you have some darling little coupes, and then you should use those.


  • 2 parts gin (1 jigger, or 1.5 ounces)
  • 1 part sweet vermouth (1/2 jigger, or 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 part Campari (1/2 jigger, or 3/4 ounce)
  • Ice
  • Sparkling water


1. Pour the gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari into a heavy-bottomed glass.

2. Add a handful of ice, enough to almost fill the glass, but not crowd the booze or stick up above it.

3. Stir for at least 30 seconds. Count it out or watch the clock. Patience is a virtue. The ice should mostly melt.

4. Top off the drink with a quick pour of sparkling water.

5. Drink slowly over the course of an hour or so, ideally after dinner.


Boulevardier Variant:

Use Bourbon or rye whiskey instead of the gin. Proceed as directed.

Herb It Up, Herbface

herb it up, herbface

Have you been made to feel guilty about your lack of freshly-planted, home-grown herbs yet?

Please.  Allow me.

Look at my beautiful herbs.  Just look at them.

spicy globe basil
spicy globe basil

These herbs are why I am better than you.  This is why my food will be better than yours all summer long.  I’ll be writing recipes on this very site that use these four weird herbs, and yooooou won’t be able to cook them exactly as written.  You’re going to have to make substituuuutions.

Real talk: I think everyone who gives half a damn about cooking well should grow their own herbs.  It’ll take an hour of your time to plant them, probably much less if you have a pot ready to go or a nice little spot in a garden.

If I’m honest, it took me a few years to get on the “grow your own” bus.  But after I realized that you can buy all sorts of really unusual varietals — stuff you’ll never find in a grocery store — I jumped onboard faster than you can say “Siam Queen Thai basil”.

siam queen thai basil
siam queen thai basil

If you have all the yard space in the world, I agree that you should grow as many different types as possible.  But if you’re like me, with only as much soil to grow in as number of pots you have, you should pick a few oddballs.  Why spend the effort growing common mint when you can just buy it whenever you want?  Grow something weird.  Chocolate mint is incredible, and surprisingly versatile.

chocolate mint
chocolate mint

These odd varietals are one more reason to support your favorite local plant store, rather than the big box home supply store that happens to also sell herbs (right behind where the washing machines are, just past the light bulbs and the paint).  You’re almost guaranteed to find something you’ve never heard of before.  The local store might be pricier, but I guarantee it’s money well spent when you’re reveling in a wealth of lemon thyme that didn’t die after two weeks.

lemon thyme
lemon thyme

Sure, you can grow from seeds.  But I much prefer the instant gratification of buying actual plants.  Also, for some reason, the seedlings I grow tend to mature into scraggly, anemic plants that just look sad until they die.  I have much more success with plants that have a head start under the watchful eye of real plant experts.

or under the watchful eye of heckle

…and jeckle

So you’re convinced?  You’re going to plant some herbs this weekend?  Lovely!  Just don’t come to me for growing tips.  I’m as lost as you.

red shoes help
red shoes help i think it makes the plant cheerful

Foie Gras au Torchon: Actually Not That Hard

foie gras au torchon

Real talk.

Until about a month ago, my experience in the kitchen has had a gap.  Not a huge gap, or one that had ever come up until earlier this year.  Most of my clients would never know, but I was exposed.  And I’m not one to let a chance for self-improvement slip away.

I’d never actually prepared foie gras before.  I’d had no exposure to it whatsoever, aside from on the end of a fork.  Turns out Baking and Pastry students don’t get much training in offal.

foie gras au torchon

Clearly, my career demanded an attempt.  So the next time I was at the restaurant supply store, I picked up one of the football-sized livers.  I got the smallest one, and it was still a pound and a half.

After seeing Michael Ruhlman’s expert and extremely-detailed method, I decided to make my first attempt a foie gras au torchon.  This translates to “fat liver inna towel”.  Mmmm.

foie gras au torchon
hanging in the fridge

Once you devein the liver — which is somehow easier and harder than it sounds — it’s just soak, wrap, poach, wrap, hang, slice, nom.  Easy peasy.  No searing, no smoke, no “oh my god I just burned and/or melted fifty dollars worth of foie gras”.

Which is nice.

I served this very simply, with just a sprinkle of fleur de sel, and tiny pools of balsamic vinegar.  Bread, of course.  Halfway through eating it, I remembered the Boat Street Pickled Figs in the fridge, and oh my god you should always serve foie gras with figs.  That, or the Mango Butter from Trader Joe’s.

foie gras au torchon

Oh, and yes I know one is supposed to trim away the dark edges and make things all perfectly round and pristine.  But let’s be honest, I was going to eat the scraps anyway.  I figured I’d do it with class, instead of licking them off the round cutter.

Foie Gras au Torchon

Seriously, if you feel confident in a kitchen, you can do this with no problem. Yes, it's harder than making toast. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it takes several days. But you will be rewarded with so much freakin' foie gras au torchon you might have to give it away.

FYI: I made this at what ended up being a very busy time. So my foie ended up marinating in the fridge for 5 to 6 days before I ever got around to poaching it. It was still lovely.


Your Favorite Posts of 2012

onions: from
this picture has nothing to do with anything. i just really like this picture.

Hey, how about a top-ten list of the most-viewed posts from last year?  Yes?  Okay, here we go!

In reverse order, for maximum suspense:

10. Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

9. Strawberry, Watermelon, & Arugula Salad with Cardamom-Candied Pistachios

8. Five Minute Photo Shoot: Winter Breakfast

7. Roasted Delicata Squash with Avocado Sauce

6. Roasted Eggplant Soup

5. Salsa Verde

4. Country Ham Pizza with Pickled Figs and Blueberries

3. Deviled Avocado Pasta

2. An Introduction

1. Five Minute Photo Shoot: Quinoa Sushi



Man, that was a cop-out of a post.

How about I show you the three most popular posts of all time, too?

3. Corn Cookies, à la Momofuku Milk Bar

2. Almond Milk Panna Cotta; Or, Vegan Dessert Win

1. Spice Rack

Y’all sure do like that spice rack.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cooking Chickpeas

Part of the reason I never cook beans is because I lack foresight.  I never think about soaking them overnight, partly because I never want beans hard enough.  Overnight pizza crust, I can do; but then, I kinda love bread.

Also, you’re somewhat tied to the kitchen when you have a pot of beans on.  Sure, you can do other things around the house, but you really can’t leave.  What if they need more water?  When will they be done (and you know they always take longer than expected)?

So why the hell did I decide to bring home a pound of dried chickpeas the other day, instead of just buying a can or two?  *shrug*

I left them sitting on my counter to remind me to cook the stupid things, instead of shoving them into the pantry and promptly forgetting about them.  So with a tiny mountain of chickpeas eyeballing me balefully, Google and I got on that stick.  And I was reminded of a trick I’ve recently heard.  It’s two words, and it will change your bean-cookin’ life:

Baking soda.

Oh yes.  One teaspoon of baking soda will not only soften one pound of beans to perfection — no hard, gritty centers here — but it also eliminates the need to soak overnight.  And they cook faster than usual.  I’m dead serious.

I don’t remember exactly where I first heard about this trick, but let’s just say it was Harold McGee.  Him, or Cook’s Illustrated; it’s got to be one of them, right?

It’s the perfect lazy-man’s method.  I didn’t even bother rinsing the chickpeas.  I literally just dumped it all together in a pot.  And for extra flavor, I tied up some leeks and pork bones in a sachet (to make removal super-easy) so that it made its own quick stock while it simmered away.

When things are too simple and easy like this, I tend to assume that it’s not going to taste good.  And I was never happier to be wrong.

Because man cannot live on chickpeas alone, I paired some with mustard greens, onion, and garlic.  On top is a little fromage blanc, which looks a bit like a poached egg.  (That would also be amazing.)  Nothing fancy, but it was very, very good.

I might have to start cooking beans more often.

Chickpeas and Mustard Greens

Yield: A million chickpeas; the greens will serve 4

Chickpeas and Mustard Greens

Forget everything you've ever heard about cooking beans. Add salt at the beginning. Don't soak overnight. Just use a little baking soda. Perfect.

My chickpeas were well done at the 2 hour mark, even a little softer than I'd intended. Depending on how old yours are, you might need to let them cook longer. I like leeks in the sachet, but if you'd rather, a quartered onion will do just as well.

I specify mustard greens, but clearly you can use whatever greens you prefer. I used mustard greens so that I didn't have to remove the ribs, because my god is that a pain sometimes.


    For the Chickpeas:
  • 1 pound dried chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound bones (chicken, pig, or cow)
  • 2 big leeks, washed well, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig thyme
  • For the Greens:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked chickpeas, plus cooking liquid
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, cut crossways into 1-inch ribbons
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Chickpeas:

1. Put the chickpeas in a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover by about 3 inches, and add the salt and baking powder. Bring to a boil over high heat (covering the pot will make the process go faster).

2. Meanwhile, tie the bones, leeks, bay leaves, and thyme up in a piece of cheesecloth so that you have a nice little sachet. Put the sachet in the pot with the chickpeas.

3. When the pot comes to a boil, reduce the temperature to low or medium-low, to maintain a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 2 to 3 hours, or until chickpeas are soft. Remove sachet (so easy!), and enjoy a wealth of chickpeas. (They will freeze beautifully.)

For the Greens:

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Stir in the onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook until just translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute, or until fragrant.

3. Stir in the chickpeas and cooking liquid, and pile the mustard greens on top. Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, at least 15 minutes.

4. Taste, and correct the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Serve with a lovely drizzle of olive oil for good measure.

Stupidly Simple Salad

You know the old trope, “write what you know”.  And most of the time, the things closest to you are too close to notice.  There are those things that you do and see every day, and you’re too familiar with them to even notice what they are anymore, let alone that they might be special or interesting outside of your narrow view of them.

So it is with this salad.

It’s so stupidly simple, I’m almost embarrassed to tell you about it.  But I eat it nearly every day with dinner, I adore it, and I thought I should probably mention it sometime.

It’s three ingredients: arugula, olive oil, salt.  And, as is the case with such simple food, the quality of each of those is important.  But don’t let that hold you back.

I’ve made this salad with some seriously on-the-way-out arugula, all fainting and half-yellow, and the cheapo olive oil I cook with.  It was fine.  Was it better with the aquaponically-grown hyper-local arugula, and the Very Special and Very Pricey olive oil in the tiny bottle?  Of course.  But y’all, it’s just salad.  Let’s not overthink things.

We’re all using Kosher salt, yes?  Lovely.  Do you happen to have some sort of fancy-pants special salt, from some exotic provenance?  Maybe something flavored?  Even better.  I’d avoid table salt, though; it tastes a little… dirty, somehow.

There is no vinegar in this salad.  You can add some if you feel awkward eating an acid-less salad, but I prefer it without.  Stupid.  Simple.  It’s my favorite.

top view, in case you needed another look

Stupidly Simple Arugula Salad

Yield: some salad

Do you really need a recipe? Here.


  • Arugula
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt


1. Get a bowl.

2. Put the arugula in the bowl.

3. Put some olive oil on the arugula.

4. Put a pinch of salt on top.

5. Eat that salad.