Friday, January 28, 2005


Pistachio Spread

The rain here in Los Angeles must be making me sentimental, because I started to think this morning about a night a few years ago when I showed up at a birthday party long after the first three or four pitchers of margaritas had been consumed. I was getting comfortable at the Siberian end of the table just as another woman showed up, breathless and blaming traffic for her tardiness. (A particularly L.A. trait, if you are keeping score -- not blaming traffic...being late.) Since she was the only other sober person present, we started to chat. And chat, and chat some more. Turns out she was working as a freelance producer for the Food Network and had recently spent the day at a flavor extract plant, learning all about the mysterious world of artificial flavorings. I was by turns fascinated and appalled (the appalled part came when she explained that some flavors are derived from paint. As in the stuff you put on the walls, paint.) but most of all was super excited to be talking to someone who was so into food! Needless to say, she – Julia - is still one of my dearest friends, and I love hearing about her exploits at places like the gumball factory, the used car showroom/restaurant and with Dan the Topping Man. She encourages me and can always wax poetic on meals I made years ago making me blush like mad. In return I try to cook for her as often as possible and cherish her friendship and hopefully encourage her right back. This recipe is for her because she once said she liked it...

1 cup plain (Greek) yogurt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small thai bird chile, seeds and ribs removed
2 cups fresh cilantro, stems removed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus zest of one lime
1 cup shelled natural pistachios, toasted and chopped fine

Pour the yogurt into a fine mesh strainer and drain it for about an hour. Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, over high heat, toast the cumin and coriander until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and the pan immediately. (The spices will continue to cook if you leave them in the pan). In a blender or a food processor, add the drained yogurt, olive oil, chile, spices and cilantro and pulse to blend. Stir in lime juice and zest, pistachios. Season to taste and serve.
Serve with toast points or melba rounds.


I may not be healthy or wealthy or wise;
I may not have dreamy, mysterious eyes;
I may not wear clothes from a French fashion book;
But I'm never lonely, for boy, I can cook!

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