Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brown Sugar Rosemary Shortbread: Team Christmas

In case it hasn't been mentioned before, I am a big sucker for the Christmas.

Even amidst my loud protestations that it was absolutely, completely unacceptable that 103.5 KOST FM started playing holiday music before Thanksgiving this year, I would be lying if I said I wasn't the slightest bit excited to hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" while it was still 80 degrees in Los Angeles. Nor was I all that appalled when my local CVS started peddling red & green M&Ms on November 1st. (They really are the best kind.)

This, the false protestations and lack of appallation*, may or may not have something to do with my not-so-secret desire to fast-forward through the whole Thanksgiving business that's clearly just a dress rehearsal for the main event. Cookies and peppermint hot chocolate and more cookies > brown-colored foods and dry birds and pie that is made from something that came in a can.

And that's before we even bring "Love Actually" and dead trees and glitter into consideration.

Not that I am one to complain about anything that necessitates a four-day weekend nor a reason to spend time with my family and a case of wine. It's just that deep down, underneath the two helpings of pumpkin bread pudding I consumed in far too rapid succession on Thanksgiving, I am team Christmas and everything it represents and inspires.

The true meaning, that is.

And all the jazz that comes along with it.

You will not be surprised to learn that as I'm typing this, perhaps a glass (or two) into a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that has been hibernating in my fridge for the better part of three months, I have a batch of cookies in the oven and the Michael Bublé Christmas CD playing on my Spotify.

I will probably eat them before they've even cooled and maybe burn my mouth a little and not even care because… Christmas.

The best excuse to love each other a little bit more than usual, and to eat far more cookies than are acceptable any other time of year… starting with these buttery brown sugar rosemary shortbread wedges.

*A new word according to me. 

Brown Sugar Rosemary Shortbread

Adapted from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cook Book
Makes 8 wedges

Notes: This recipe, courtesy of the Alice Waters, originally ran in the NY Times in 1986, which horrified me until I realized I was born in 1983 and obviously this recipe is still a spring chicken. I made a few adaptations - cutting the recipe in half to fit my single person needs, doubling the salt, adding in fresh rosemary for kicks, and finishing the whole thing off with turbinado sugar prior to popping in the oven. I also opted to bake this in a pie tin as opposed to free-flowing on a baking sheet, so do with that what you will. Perhaps take it as an analogy that this shortbread is easy as pie to make on a Wednesday night when you have nothing better to do but bake and listen to Michael Bublé's "White Christmas" on repeat.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted, unblanched almonds, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie dish.

Using an electric hand mixer (my method this evening) or a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. (Approximately 4 minutes or so.) 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk together with a fork to "lighten" the texture. Gingerly stir into the butter/brown sugar mixture with a spoon rather than electric means. Once incorporated, knead in the almonds and rosemary, and form into a flat, round disk (complementary with the shape of the pie dish). Let chill out in the fridge for a bit if it feels a bit sticky. Think 15-30 minutes - nothing like an hour or so, unless you are feeling really patient.

Gently press the shortbread dough into the 8'' round pie tin. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Using a knife or a pizza cutter like me, deeply score the disk into 8 wedges.

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Or not. You might be inclined to eat it straight from the pan.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sound Bites: I kinda don't hate sorbet now edition

Because there's not always time for a full meal…

1.) Where I'm eating - Smoke.Oil.Salt. Somewhere between sucking the meat out of the langoustine-sized prawns, butchering the aromatic whole sea bass with the tongs of my fork, and spearing vinegary florets of wood-oven roasted cauliflower, I realized I was missing something. And it wasn't because of anything lacking in the dishes spread before me at Chef Perfecto Rocher's mid-city tribute to authentic Valencian cuisine. It was because I could see it. Coming out of the oven every two minutes, purposefully charred into caramelization before receiving a baptismal blanket of crushed tomatoes and their jus.

The Catalan Tomato Toast, or "Pa Amb Tomaca" as it reads on the menu, is exactly what you want to be eating the moment you sit down at the bar at Smoke.Oil.Salt. They'll ask if you want three or four pieces in your order, and you'll say, "Four" without hesitation. Even if it's just you. Even if you plan to order the smoked octopus, the wood-fired grilled quail, and fried potatoes. And you'll swear you won't finish the whole thing, but you will, and then immediately contemplate returning the next day to order just that alongside a glass of Tzakolina Rose. 7274 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, (323) 930-7900,

2.) Current edible obsession - Talenti Alphonso Mango sorbet. I usually think horrible things about people who eat sorbet instead of ice cream, especially when I'm with a friend at an ice cream shop, and I'm like, "Hi, I'll have a scoop of the salted caramel AND double fudge chocolate," and she's like, "Excuse me, is it possible to get a child's size of the melon sorbet even if I'm a grown woman and not a child?" This sort of business will usually end the friendship right then and there.

Of course then I tried Talenti's Alphonso Mango sorbet and it basically ruined this whole anti-sorbet stance in one fell scoop (can't help myself). Intensely mango-flavored and supremely creamy in a way that's almost a little suspect (Seinfeld frozen yogurt episode anyone?), this sorbet seems like it was designed for the two-scoop ice cream set. Aka me. Aka you. Aka everybody who is not an adult woman posturing as a child.

3.) What I'm watching - A to Z. So this has nothing to do with food, unless you count the aforementioned sorbet that I may possibly sometimes eat while watching it, but everyone needs extracurricular activities and this is mine for the fall. If you watch Parenthood, set your DVR for half an hour earlier (that would be Thursday, 9:30 p.m.) to catch this adorable new comedy on NBC starring the mother from How I Met Your Mother and the guardian angel from Drop Dead Diva. (Stop judging me.)

To summarize the voiceover from Katey Segal (who is basically Allison Janney's voiceover doppelgänger), the show tells the entire story of Andrew (Ben Feldman) and Zelda's (Cristin Millioti) seven-month, two-week, two-day and one-hour relationship - "from A to Z." Get it? A to Z? And also their names? Andrew and Zelda? Too cute, right? Maybe for people without souls because it may or may not be cancelled after its 13-episode order. Which means you have seven episodes left to get on this train before it may or may not leave the station.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Miso Me? Tofu, Green Beans and Other Things

So naturally, after making a big fuss about spouting more on real life in this space, I went ahead and did none of the sort for two months.

Can I use the excuse that real life (har har) got in the way?  That I was too preoccupied with getting older (31!!!), "cutting a rug" (according to my dad) at my brother and stunning new sister-in-law's wedding in Santa Ynez, and planning my outfit for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Malibu?

Because obviously the latter (or lattest?) took me a whole two months of INTENSE contemplation. Or, you know, five minutes of standing in my closet looking for the dress with the fewest food stains on it.

The truth is, of course, far less interesting. Yes, preoccupied (you'll notice I did not use the word "busy"), but also, uninspired. By recipes. By the cookbooks that I keep buying and pouring over with grand ambitions and sticky tabs to bookmark all the things I fully intend to make some day, but not that day, because I really just want to eat braised kale and chickpeas topped with a fried egg. Again.

I suppose if I'm going to be completely honest about it, I've actually mostly felt uninspired by myself. There hasn't been something I've wanted to write about, and in the moments where I've felt the inklings of something that I might possibly want to construct a few sentences about, I haven't been able to get the words out of my head and into this text box.

I'm not sure how that happened. How I went from being the girl who could fill 20 pages for history term papers on the coffee trade in Brazil to someone who can't even eke out a measly 750 words on anything that has happened in her life since September 2nd. I say this fully knowing that most of the things that have happened are really not that interesting -- even to me. Do I really need to inform the universe that I've been on another bad date that felt more like a job interview? Or that my stupid heart always wants what it shouldn't want as evidenced by exhibit A, exhibit B and exhibit C? (This may also be a reference to, errr, chocolate.)

But the thing is, at age 31 (!!!), I feel like I've finally started to be slightly less hard on myself. Enough so that I don't care if no one cares that I haven't cared to write anything here as of late. And I'm okay with saying the things that are popping into my head as I sit here, legs mummified in a chunky knit mustard blanket, listening to the wind rustle the blinds. Not because I feel like they are all that particularly earth shattering, but because I finally have the motivation and clear head to say them.

The motivation partly came from reading Molly Wizenberg's second book, Delancey, which I finished earlier this week. Once again I was struck by her fearlessness in sharing the matters of her heart both big and small in a way that's so genuine and relatable that even if you can't personally relate you still kind of can because it's all so… human. I was equally struck by her presentation of the recipes that book-ended each chapter - less recipes and more descriptions of ingredients and processes that the reader might consider for a lazy Saturday or weeknight when the task of cooking feels as insurmountable as writing 750 words.

In a funny way, the "take me as I am" attitude that Molly projects throughout the book took the pressure off. Made me realize that it doesn't always have to be fireworks and giant vibrant rainbows or even a perfectly calibrated and choreographed recipe. So, here I am, sharing a dish that I made countless times over the summer because it's about damn time I stopped waiting for the perfect way to frame and present it.

It's a mishmash of ideas, but a good mishmash. The kind of thing I can enjoy in its simplest form of sauced up green beans and tofu, or embellished with whatever I can conjure up at the farmers' market - a few slices of raw radishes, maybe pickled red onions if I'm feeling particularly ambitious. Sometimes I serve it over just plain brown rice (Kokuho Rose is my favorite), or a combination of both rice and quinoa.

The only thing that's absolutely essential is using a liberal amount of fresh ginger. And the green beans, I suppose, since they are the namesake of the original recipe that spawned this whole thing to begin with. Though if they are already beginning to vacate your market, Brussels sprouts are a perfectly fine, possibly even superior, substitute. 

Green Beans and Ginger-Marinated Tofu with Walnut-Miso Sauce
Mashed together from Real Food Daily's Tofu via The Delicious Life (hi!) & Mark Bittman's Green Beans
Serves 4

Ginger Marinated Tofu (
10 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (I use my microplane to grate it)
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (I use my microplane again)

Arrange tofu in the base of an airtight container.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Pour over the tofu. Seal the container and shake until the marinade coats the tofu. Refrigerate and let marinade for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. (I've found increasing it far beyond that will render it a bit salty, so would recommend using light soy sauce if you are planning to marinate over night).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain the tofu of most of the marinade, then arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once, halfway through, or until the tofu is nicely browned. Remove from the oven.  (Note: You can combine this step with the roasting of the green beans below to simplify the process.)

Green Beans with Walnut-Miso Sauce (also adapted)
12 ounces green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 inch-long piece ginger, grated with a microplane into ginger pulp
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or to taste depending on your spice tolerance)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread green beans and red onions out onto the parchment paper and roast until tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). This is not a mistake - I do like to dry roast my veggies from time to time.

While beans are roasting, in a small bowl combine the ginger, miso, walnut oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Stir until smooth.

For Assembly:
Raw radishes, sliced thin
Toasted and chopped walnuts
Brown rice/quinoa

Toss tofu and green beans with walnut-miso sauce, Stir in walnuts and radishes. Divide brown rice/quinoa between bowls. Top with green beans & tofu.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Fig is Up


I've been playing it safe here the past few months. You know, actually writing about food like a proper food blogger as opposed to life, love (or lack thereof) and the new mint green blouse I just got on sale at Anthropologie.

It's been fine, I guess. Though if I'm going to be completely honest (major revelation coming!), writing about food in and of itself isn't necessarily all that interesting to me. At least not without the context of a restaurant experience or some sort of personal anecdote about, say, how this caramelized onion galette was something I ate every summer growing up, so now I make it every August as a nostalgic tribute to my childhood and those bygone days of yore.

Except it totally isn't, and then I'm left with, "I made this galette on a Saturday afternoon because I was bored and wanted to eat a caramelized onion galette for lunch so I could post a photo of it on Instagram."

Just kidding.


Granted, I do try to be somewhat more eloquent than that without resorting to words like, "delicious" and "yummy" and "moist." Because really that's the goal of any food-related post, isn't it? To get through without saying "delicious," and to presumably inspire the person reading said post ("Hi, Mom!") to want to make or eat it too?

Except that never really was the main priority for me. Sure, I like food (minor understatement), but what I really really like is the act of writing as a vehicle for self-expression - finding exactly the right words to convey the crazy things spinning around in my head in a way that someone else might find relatable. I'd secretly rather get a "Me too!!!" response than a pin on Pinterest or whatever that Stumble Upon thing is. (No clue.)

Lately, I've been caught in this struggle - thinking that I aught to keep all that deep ooey gooey stuff buried beneath a sea of pretty pictures and censored proclamations, while secretly wanting to tell you about the guy who I went on seven whole dates with this spring and how I knew it was over the second I had enough faith in it to mention it to MY BROTHER. Because isn't that how it always goes? You give it no credence until you, well, do and then it comes crashing down around you because you dared to say it out loud.

Even if it was just a whisper after too many glasses just the right amount of wine.

I've wanted to tell you other things too.

Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it weird, and some of it just plain and ordinary - the little brush strokes that have colored my spring and summer into a full and vibrant picture. Instead, there's been chia pudding and farro salad and white beans and a recap of my trip to New York that said nothing of how scared I was to go on a trip by myself and how empowered I felt during and after it. 

Because the thing is, even though a picture supposedly is worth a thousand words, there's always more to the story than what the retouched, styled photo reveals. It shows the neat and shiny version of life - not the dirty dishes that are stacked up in the sink nor the countertops that are strewn with bread crumbs and something… sticky. You know, "the good stuff," at least according to Robin Williams' character in Good Will Hunting. (Seriously, best movie and scene EVER.)

So maybe, there's more of this to come. More dirt. More mess.  

More real life.

Juxtaposed against the glossy image of a delicious chia yogurt pudding, topped with moist figs and yummy slivered almonds.  

Vanilla Chia Pudding with Figs and Almonds
Serves 1

Notes: Make this now - before the last gasp of summer steals all those fresh figs away. The below features quantities appropriate for a "hearty" breakfast, which suits me well since I'm typically ravenous after my early morning workouts. If you are more of a "dainty" breakfast eater, adjust as you see fit. 

1 6-ounce container of vanilla Greek yogurt (I prefer Fage fruyo)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 - 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 fresh figs, chopped
1-2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (I usually use closer to 2)

Combine yogurt, chia seeds and almond milk. Stir until well-combined, then store, in an air-tight container, or bowl covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge overnight (if planning to eat for breakfast that is - I imagine just a couple hours of fridge time is fine if you eating this as a snack or dessert).

The next morning, remove the pudding from the fridge, adding additional almond milk to thin, as needed. Top with chopped figs and slivered almonds. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Savory Caramelized Onion Galette

There are certain things that are ill-advised activities to do during the summer. Things like going for a run at noon in an unshaded area, planning a vacation to Phoenix (oops?), and turning on the oven to spend an afternoon making a caramelized onion galette.

Normal people don't endeavor such absurdities. They go to the pool. An air-conditioned theater to watch other people cook food. Or give up hope of any functionality at all and eat a quart of ice cream. (I very much like these people.)

As much as I appreciate these very reasonable activities, at some juncture my logical side always surrenders to my compulsive side, and I decide that rather than scoop my way to sweet relief via a carton of Madagascar Vanilla, I have to make some seasonally inappropriate dish in my air-conditionless kitchen instead.

This insanity would be far more excusable if I were using some precious summer ingredient that is only available for a few weeks of time rather than onions, which are pretty much available always - even during the final half hour of a farmer's market when it's been scavenged down to one hard lemon and a wilted bunch of kale. As stray bags float down the center of the deserted aisle like tumbleweeds, there will still be a heap of onions piled up, regardless of the month. The same could not be said of heirloom tomatoes, corn or peaches.

If this were a galette involving any of those things, it could all be forgiven. I would be completely exonerated for cranking up the oven and dusting down my counter tops, my hair tied up in a sticky, frenzied mess with sweat beading at my temples.

Naturally, I had considered an alternative filling for this savory tart. I briefly marinated over the possibility of oven-roasted tomatoes and paper-thin zucchini slivers only to quickly dismiss them in favor of what I actually wanted. A sticky, frenzied mess of caramelized onions clinging to an indecently buttery crust that is the opposite of what one should be eating during "bikini season."

As for those far more appropriate heirloom tomatoes?  They found their place on the side, served up in thick colorful slabs without considerable embellishment. Exactly as and where they should be.

Savory Caramelized Onion Galette
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 brown or yellow onions, sliced into thin rings
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 disk of galette dough (recipe below)

Galette Dough
From White on Rice Couple
Makes 2 disks

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (very cold) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg
1/4 cup (very cold) water
Heavy cream or melted butter for brushing the crush

For the onions:
Heat large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and push around with a spoon to make sure all the rings are separated and lightly coated with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally to ensure they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and the sugar, and continue cooking, stirring every now and again to ensure even browning. Keep cooking at least 30 minutes or so, or until deeply caramelized. Turn off the heat, add the balsamic vinegar to de-glaze the pan, scraping up any bits that have adhered to the base of the pan. Set aside to cool.

For the dough:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Set in the fridge to keep cold. Add the butter cubes to the flour/salt mixture and use your hands to work the butter into the flour, until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Add the egg/water mixture and use your hands to gently knead the batter together into a dough. Divide into two flat disks and wrap with saran wrap or other non-stick wrap. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

For the galette assembly:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly dust flour over a flat surface (whether a clean countertop or cutting board). Use a rolling pin to roll one of the galettes into a 10-inch diameter circle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread onion mixture evenly in the center, leaving an inch or so of dough around the edges uncovered. Fold edges over the filling. Glaze the crust with heavy cream or melted butter, then bake approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool 5 minutes before slicing, then serve in wedges with seasoned heirloom tomatoes on the side. (You can also try topping the galette with dollops of goat cheese - I highly recommend this trying.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chocolate & Cherry Chia Pudding: Breakfast of ch-ch-ch-chiampions

I've been having a fierce debate in my head about how to tell you this. Do I pretend like it's nothing? Just come out with it without even addressing the elephant in the room that may or may not double as a decorative planter?  Or admit straight-out that this is weird and now I'm weird, but then again I always was weird, so it's really not that shocking that I've become...

a chia seed-eater.

And, guys, it's not even because I'm an ignorant hipster who also happens to order her decaf cappuccinos with almond milk, or because I am fixated on how it's going to make my skin all glowy or tighten things up so I look better in my new denim shorts (50% off, bitches!).

It's because I actually like them.

Chia seeds!

The things that grow the ch-ch-ch-chia pets that my brothers and I used to mock and threaten to give each other for Christmas whenever the commercial came on the TV while we watched "Saved by the Bell" and "Full House" re-runs.

It wasn't an immediate like, of course. There were some failed attempts, some sad bowls of gelatinous fruit-topped goop that were consumed with the same level of enthusiasm I reserve for dentist appointments. I ate these experimental breakfasts hoping, but not really hoping, that I would begin to understand "the fuss."  The why behind the #chiaseed #superfood #omgyum Instagram photos that have been clogging my feed.

And while we're on the subject, kind of looked like feed.

So naturally I was shocked when I inadvertently stumbled upon a way to make them - the ch-ch-ch-chia seeds - not only palatable, but enjoyable! The breakfast that has been propelling me through my early morning workouts for the past three days as a genuinely perceived "reward" for my effort.

Obviously, it involves chocolate. And fruit - banana that's pureed and combined with the chia seeds to counterbalance the gelatinous texture, as well as cherries that are judiciously layered over the top. And lest we stop there, at a point where it's already far past the point of acceptability, toasted walnuts that bring further textural contrast into the picture.

So, basically, dessert. That you get to call a healthy breakfast. Maybe even the breakfast of ch-ch-ch-chiampions.

Chocolate & Cherry Chia Pudding
Serves 1

1 ripe banana
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghiradelli)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6-8 ripe cherries, pitted and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts

Using an immersion blender or blender, blend the banana with the almond milk until smooth. Transfer to a bowl or container that can be fitted and sealed tight with a cover. Stir in the chia seeds, the cocoa powder and vanilla. Seal and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning, remove the chia pudding from the fridge. Serve topped with the chopped cherries and toasted walnuts.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Charlie Bird's Farro: Reset, revisit

I've come to the conclusion that going on vacation is the worst possible thing that anyone can do ever. Particularly when it's someplace so far removed from your daily life that you forget that work and responsibility and laundry and things that are not pizza & ice cream even exist. They are the song you skip on Pandora, the garnish in your cocktail that you toss aside, the commercials you fast-forward through when catching up on "Mad Men" "The Bachelorette." 

Unnecessary interruptions to the life you actually want to be living.

So when you arrive home with a suitcase haphazardly stuffed with dirty clothes that you now have to unpack and wash, and are faced with things like the gym and your Outlook inbox after five days out of the office (!!!), returning to normal feels impossible. 

"You mean I can't just go eat doughnuts now?" You think when confronted with your first work crisis -- a mere hour into your Monday morning.

Because on vacation, there are no problems.

There are doughnuts.

I realize that doughnuts are not exclusive to one specific city or region, and, in fact, are perhaps more prevalent in Los Angeles than elsewhere, but "doughnuts" as an idea feels less accessible after a trip that revolved around what could be entangled on the tines of your fork.

By nature, that moment seems reserved for adding insult to the injury of your return -- a post-vacation "detox" whereby you are supposed to eat "clean" and "vegan" or whatever form of self-flagellation you're inclined to employ when hitting the reset button.

Perhaps it's a three-day juice cleanse. Maybe it's gulping down sparkling grapefruit Perrier instead of sparkling wine.

And maybe, it's a farro salad inspired by one of your favorite meals during your vacation. Wholesome without edging into the punishment territory, and a reminder of a brief period of time when you experienced a world without responsibility. 

Charlie Bird's Farro with Pistachios, Mint and Parmesan
Adapted from the NY Times
Serves 4

Notes: The original version of this salad contained fava beans, but as these are now a scarce commodity in Los Angeles, I opted for shelled edamame to no adverse effects. I also omitted the tomatoes (mostly because I am loathe to buy them at the grocery store and couldn't make it to the farmer's market that day), and added in some thinly sliced fennel for kicks rather than the arugula requested. (Yes, I do realize I get "kicks" from weird things.) Finally, I was a bit less liberal with the salt and application of olive oil, and a bit more liberal with the thinly sliced radishes, as this salad was meant to help me recalibrate after a trip filled with all the things you'll find documented here.

1 cup semi-pearled farro, rinsed well
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup roasted pistachio nut meats
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup mint leaves
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, cooked
Freshly ground pepper, salt, to taste

In a medium pot, bring the apple cider and 2 cups water to a boil. Add the farro, salt and bay leaves, and simmer, uncovered, until the farro is tender (approximately 30 minutes) and the liquid evaporates. I found that the liquid actually evaporated before the farro was tender, so I added a bit more water as it was cooking along.

While the farro is doing its thing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large salad bowl. Add the warm farro and then let cool to room temperature if serving immediately. If not, refrigerate until ready to use. (Just be sure to let it come back to room temperature prior to serving - it's best when not too cold or too warm. Like Goldilocks.)

Just before you're ready to serve, toss the farro with the herbs, radish, fennel, edamame, parmesan, and pistachios. Season with freshly ground pepper. Add additional salt if needed.