I was upstairs in my home office, working away, dealing with a bit of brain fog due to lack of sleep from the night before. A few moments later, I was startled by a loud thud, followed by a knock at my front door. I ran downstairs, jumped off the landing (nearly falling, as I’ve done in the past) and opened the door to a rather small man (I’m 5’8″ and guess he was about 5’4″) holding a rather big box. I smiled because I knew exactly what this parcel was.
I was a bit too excited and left the man hanging with this large, heavy box in his arms while I looked at it for what seemed like a good minute.
“Oh, sorry. Come in, come in! Set it down there. I know what this is!” I told him, getting a do-not-care-what’s-in-your-package vibe from his face.
I almost lunged to hug him – and I’m not being hyperbolic.
And just like that, the rather small man delivering the rather big box left. Alone again (naturally), I lugged the box to my kitchen table, put on some music, grabbed my scissors and sliced that sturdy clear tape to release the flaps.
What was in the rather big box? It was the author copies of my very first, very real cookbook. 10 fresh, inky, hardcover copies of Whole Bowls. Is this how parents feel when they deliver a baby? Happy. No, ecstatic. With a side of uncertainty, awkwardness and a dose of “Oh boy, I hope I didn’t – and don’t – F this up.”
I immediately put one copy of Whole Bowls with my other cookbooks. I sat her (yes, let’s give the book a gender) next to Jamie and Ina and Smitten and Nigella and River Cottage and Ottolenghi and my dozens of others, getting a feel for where she would fit in. While not comparable to these greats, it was wonderful to see my cookbook, her, feel right at home, showcasing her sunshine-yellow spine.
“Cool!” I (actually) said out loud to myself.
Everyone starts somewhere and this felt like my start. Is it perfect? No. I began the cookbook proposal two years ago and it’s been a highly dynamic process. However, as I take the time to read through, look at the recipes and photos (my style has changed quite a bit in both respects) and stories, I’m glowing with pride. Each recipe is a journal entry from my time writing. I’ve shared family and friend stories and recipes, travel tales, hidden television and movie references (nerd alert), pouring myself into each and every morsel. This shit is personal.
Two nights ago, I got a text from my dad, whom I delivered a copy to this week, reading, “I wanted to be the FIRST person to make a recipe from your cookbook!”
This text was followed by a photo of his completed bowl, the recipe on page 165. Pretty cute, huh?
Today, I’m celebrating the oh-my-gosh-we’re-so-close release of Whole Bowls (officially April 5, 2016) with a brand new bowl. It’s a bonus bowl to get you guys primed and ready for the cookbook to arrive in your mail. Today’s recipe is inspired by Ottolenghi, one of my favourite cookbook authors, with roasted sweet potato hummus, marinated and grilled tofu, cucumber, seasonal asparagus and brown rice to round it all out.
Bowls at the ready, readers. It’s almost go-time.
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 clove garlic
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup water, plus addition to thin as needed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend; find in the international aisle or online)
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 1 (350 gram, 12-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into ½-inch slabs crosswise
- 2 cups cooked short grain brown rice (warm or chilled)
- 1 pound grilled or steamed asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (warm or chilled)
- 1 english cucumber, chopped or shaved into ribbons
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sesame seeds
- Make the Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wrap sweet potato in foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast for 1–1½ hours, until tender when pierced with a knife. Cool, discard peel (or eat it), and mash. Measure out ½ cup.
- In a food processor, pulse garlic until minced. Add tahini, lemon juice, water, cumin, salt, and pepper. Puree until smooth and whipped. Add chickpeas and puree until smooth for 1–2 minutes. Add additional water if a thinner hummus is desired. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Meanwhile, marinate tofu.
- For the Grilled Za'atar Tofu: On a plate or shallow bowl, combine all ingredients except tofu. Add tofu to marinade and flip around until evenly saturated. Let sit for 5–10 minutes, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
- (If grilling asparagus, grill it at the same time as the tofu.) Preheat grill pan or grill to medium, grill tofu for 3–4 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and tofu is heated through. Slice diagonally to make triangles (optional).
- To Serve: To bowls, add asparagus, rice (1/2 cup per bowl), cucumber, grilled tofu, and a scoop of hummus. Season with lemon, olive oil, and sesame seeds. Serve warm or chilled.