Lemony Chickpeas with Spinach • Mixed Greens with Oranges, Olives, and Almonds • Sesame Levain Rolls • Chai-Spiced Sugar Cookies
This week we pivot from traditional autumn flavors toward the Middle East and Mediterranean. I’ve made this soup multiple times, because many of you have told me it’s one of your favorites. It’s right up there on my mental “never stop making these or my customers will cry” list, which also includes sablée cookies, any of the “mess” desserts (Eton mess, citrus mess), and borscht. (If I was a fancier web-programmer-type person, I’d add a borscht countdown clock to my website. We’re ten weeks away from that delicious magenta soup, if you want to mark your calendar.)
This soup doesn’t have an extensive list of ingredients, but somehow the mixture of cumin and lemon, or the contrast of hearty chickeas and leafy spinach, makes this soup feel familiar and exciting at the same time. To garnish the soup, there’s a not-too-spicy harissa to stir in. This version of harissa has ancho chiles, roasted peppers, tomatoes, and lots of cumin and garlic.
Note: The lemony chickpeas recipe originally came from The Arabian Nights Cookbook by Habeeb Salloum. If you like reading cookbooks, or you’re looking for some new inspiration, it’s a good one, and the Marin County library has a copy.
The salad today has a traditional trio of Mediterranean ingredients: oranges, olives, and almonds. Here we are, in the middle of a wet, rainy, chilly week, but those three ingredients are an instant ticket to a hot, dry, sunny desert. If you want to continue the fantasy, make yourself a cup of mint tea to have after supper.
That mint tea would be a perfect companion to the dessert today, crispy sugar cookies sprinkled with spiced sugar. I’ve got a kids’ cooking workshop coming up in a couple of weeks, and spiced sugar is one of the edible gifts we’re going to be making. Recipe testing was the perfect excuse I needed to make these cookies. I love them—buttery and spicy, perfect eaten as is or dipped into a warm cup of tea. The chai-inspired spice mixture is complex, with ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom accompanied by smaller amounts of nutmeg, allspice, fennel, and star anise. Enjoy!