Friday, May 29, 2009

tea for two

We walked down to the Mediterranean Foods Market near our house to marvel at the whole lamb ($99), selection of pita, jarred vegetable spreads and spices. Partially inspired by our friend Alex, we walked away with some new tiny tea glasses, which are the perfect size for a sweet glass of mint tea.

For some reason, there is not really a tea culture in the United States (unless you count sweet tea for Southerners-I don't). In Britain, you get Earl Grey, with lemon or sugar. In many countries, heavily spiced black tea with copious amounts of sugar and milk is ubiquitous. Here, we have a lot of choices, but no national cup per se.

Green tea is good, especially for health-minded people entranced by its potential antioxidant-related benefits. Heavily sweetened, minty green tea is better, especially for people in it mostly for taste. Taken with the morning paper and a Digestive, it's pretty close to heaven.

mint tea

2 c filtered water
2 green tea bags
1 bunch of mint
2 tbsp sugar

Bring water just to a boil. Pour over tea bags, mint, and sugar; let steep for two minutes. Remove tea bags, but leave mint. Stir well and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

roasted chickpeas, or, the perfect supper

Often the clock has struck ten by the time I return home from work, smelling like a million-dollar meal but with an empty stomach. There's never time to cook up a true dinner; nor do I want one at this hour. If there's nothing waiting on me (husband, what?), I sometimes reheat leftovers. More often, however, I treat myself to what seems to me to be the most perfect supper one could ask for. Little nibbles that go perfectly with a late-night newspaper, an Orhan Pamuk masterpiece, or a slow-moving art house movie.
My balanced meal consists of toasted nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds), a hunk of some mild sheep's milk cheese, crackers (if I'm lucky, this kind), a gin y tonic prepared รก la fuego negro, and some roasted chickpeas. Nothing I ever put in my mouth past nine p.m. really makes me happier. Except when I'm in Europe and most of what I eat goes in after nine. I hope you have little meals of pleasure like this. I also hope you've had roasted chickpeas, because they're much different than their raw cousins. If not, here you go.

roasted chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, drained (or dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and simmered until tender)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne

Combine all ingredients. Roast in 400 degree oven until crunchy, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.