pound for a brown.

What a strange summer it's being so far. Nothing feels perfectly normal. Kind of like these are the sentences I am writing.

Know what I mean? Everything's just a little off. Or maybe this is normal June limbo and I'm just usually too busy having beers in the sun to notice the subtle shifts toward summer shutdown.

As if to underscore the slight weirdness of things, we had D/K over at 3pm yesterday. Why then? Originally it was conceived as an afternoon on the roof, in the as-blazing-as-possible-in-Amsterdam sun, carelessly drinking bitter/fruity Pimm's cups, laughing gaily, and grilling an unfortunate victim or two. But then the weather turned against us and we were stuck inside with our fruity drinks and our summer food.

On the other hand: there are worse things. My Ethiopian Chicken Leg Experiment was let down by some flabby chicken, but I totally enjoyed chomping on our Emergency Appetizer and Mara's not-too-sweet brownies.


My originally-planned starter was called yeshimbra assa, a Lenten dish from Ethiopia made from chickpea fritters cut into fish shapes and covered in a thick berbere-based sauce (recipe 1, recipe 2). But when I grabbed the full-looking bag of chickpea flour this morning, I found it to be not very full at all, and Sunday is not the day to need chickpea flour.

The good news about a day of retracted ambition is that you don't even remotely panic about unplanned changes. OK, so we have no fish-shaped chickpea fritters. What can I has? Trying to keep things African, Moop and I sort of commandeered this Tunisian salad and bent it to our needs, slightly tweaked and served as crostini with a boost of sriracha mayo.

And then later I ate too many brownies. You would've done the same thing, believe me.


salade mechouia.

2 or 3 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, diced
2 or 3 medium onions, diced
4 tbsp light olive oil
1/4 cup capers
juice of a lemon
1 can of tuna, drained
2 eggs, hard-boiled
1 baguette, crostini-ized

Coat onions and peppers with oil and roast for one hour in a 175C oven, turning every 15 minutes or so, and reducing the heat to 150C if you're getting too much blackening. At some point, whip together a little sriracha mayo (2 tbsp mayo + 1-2 tsp sriracha, mixed). When peppers and onions are completely soft and a bit browned, remove from oven, cool, and add tuna, lemon juice, and capers.

To assemble: a quick slather of sriracha mayo, a tbsp or so of tuna/pepper/onion mix, then top with hardboiled egg and a chive if, like us, you're a sucker for The Chive Garnish.


cocoa brownies.

150 grams unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups raw/unrefined sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 170°C. Line the bottom and sides of a tart pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and rather hot but not bubbling. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks well-blended, add the flour and stir until thoroughly incorporated, then beat vigorously for another minute or so. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into fun shapes, or squares if that's how you're feeling.


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