Some days I work from the coffee shop and some days I work from my bed in pajamas. It seems like I've been doing a lot of the working from bed lately, and I know this, because there are only a few dirty clothes in the hamper and no one has done laundry in weeks. Some days I wake up and it's so cold outside and my bed is so warm and comfy, and so close to the bathroom and the kitchen, and I don't have to ask anyone to watch my laptop and then worry that they are a horrible human being that really wants to steal my laptop. On the other hand, I do prefer the coffee shop because it lacks the big distractions that I have at home, the ones that occupy me for hours: washing the floor or reorganizing the spice cabinet. They have good coffee and someone who will make me a sandwich if I ask nice. There is no one at home that I can pay to make me a sandwich, besides Ody (my dog), who is horrible in the kitchen.
Today I stuffed my computer into a backpack, grabbed my debit card, put on some tights, brushed my hair and ventured out into the big bad world, and then immediately turned around because I forgot to brush my teeth. I arrived at Ada's and ordered a mint tea. I then spilt it on the table, ordered another and drank it with caution. I spent the next hour reading reddit while trying to ignore the nearby conversation on the merits of a juice cleanse. I then spent the hour after that trying really hard to concentrate with the smell of croissants baking in the oven. I failed. I left the coffee shop and headed to a cafe for lunch because all I could think about was eating everything. I tried to get back to writing but then got distracted by more internet trash. I ate. I then walked to another coffee shop but got distracted by this place. I returned home because I had failed to get any real work done. Tomorrow I may just stay home, because who are we kidding, pants are optional here.
I'm not sure if you've heard about my recent quest for harissa? It has been all-consuming. I finally got hold of some at a little Mediterranean shop down the street. From this shop, I also purchased a life-time worth of za'atar for $6. I have been adding both harissa and za'atar to most things like carrots, eggplant, bulgar, hummus, thanks to a heap of inspiration from this book.
I am trying to eat healthier, so there has definitely been a switch to a lot of vegetables, which are always delicious roasted and seasoned. I made a roasted eggplant with bulgar last week and it was one of the most delicious things that I have eaten since this. I appreciate the aromatic, tangy and lemony flavor of the za'atar. It's a wonderful blend of herbs: thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt, and I'm pretty excited to experiment with it in a variety of dishes including the Middle Eastern equivalent of pizza - man'ouche. Harissa is a beautiful bright red paste. It has the right amount of heat and spice that doesn't linger for hours. It's made using a variety of peppers and spices and can be added to dishes for a beautiful color and flavor.
The roasted carrots in this dish were inspired by one of my favorite restaurants. It was the first thing I made when I found the harissa. Once roasted, the carrots become a sweet and slightly better version of their raw self. The yogurt adds a cool mouth feel to counteract the heat, and the za'atar, lemon, and mint are flavors that compliment one another beautifully. It is a dish that you can serve as a series of mezzes, a pretty elegant snack, or a light meal. It is so undeniably delicious, either warm or cold.
HARISSA ROASTED CARROTS WITH YOGURT, LEMON, AND MINT
makes 2 servings
1 bunch (1 lb) carrots
1 tsp harissa
2 tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
1/2 tsp zaa'tar
1/2 tsp Maldon Sea Salt
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
7 mint leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Cut away the carrot tops and then scrub the carrots clean. Slice in half and place onto a baking sheet. In a small bowl mix the harissa and 2 tbsp olive oil. Spread onto the carrots and rub with your hands to coat. Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, tossing half way through.
In a small bowl add 1 - 2 tbsp of cold water to the Greek yogurt to thin it out. It should be slightly thinker than ranch dressing. Scoop the yogurt onto a plate and spread it around. Remove the carrots from the oven and place them on top of the yogurt. Season with the zaa'tar and salt. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and top with chopped mint. Serve warm or cold.