Intimidation (or Tabouli for Chefs)

by Anne Maxfield on August 14, 2017

Accidental Locavore Tabouli for ChefsIt’s surprising when people say they’re intimidated to cook for me.

I guess it’s because I’m around food all the time.

What they don’t understand is that a night of not having to think about “what’s for dinner” is generally a good night.

I never much worry about cooking for other people. If they’re friends and something turns out less-than-stellar, there’s always take-out and they’ll forgive me.

This all came to me in the middle of making some tabouli. Chopping the first tomatoes from the farm, it hit me. This batch of tabbouleh was for a meeting of Slow Food Hudson Valley.

There would be chefs there.

Chef-instructors from the Culinary Institute of America.

Accidental Locavore Chef KowalskiFunnily, I wasn’t particularly worried about what they would think of my tabbouleh. It’s not authentic, nor does it want to be. It’s just the way I make it. If you want to join the social media, food-shaming route that says Nigella Lawson’s carbonara isn’t authentic because there is (gasp) cream in it, be my guest.

My tabouli has lots of mint, little, often no parsley. There’s a lot more bulgur than herbs and a big toss of allspice. It’s the way I like it.

Funnily, what I was worried about was the potential scrutiny of my cuts. My knife skills.

Were my tomatoes and onions properly diced? Parsley and mint evenly chopped? No pits from the lemons (my husband’s pet peeve)?

In the midst of thinking about intimidation, what I forgot was the key ingredient.


Confidence that it would taste great and no one would care about anything else.

And then I tasted it.


Accidental Locavore Parsley for TabouliRemembered why I seldom put parsley in it.  Whether you believe it or not, parsley has a distinctive taste. This parsley was straight from the farm where I had picked it an hour earlier. Boy, did it have a taste and it wasn’t good.

Because you can overlook improperly chiffonaded mint, but a bad flavor profile is a whole other thing.

Fast fix…more lemon, more tomato, a little more olive oil and some salt seemed to get it to a better level.

The verdict from the chefs?

“What we really care about is the flavor profile,” and that was fine (if not my best).

So the next time you might be intimidated cooking for someone, remember it’s all about the flavor.



Chicken Shawarma

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2015

Accidental Locavore Chicken Shawarma With RiceBoth the Accidental Locavore and Frank saw this on the NY Times website and thought it looked great, so it wasn’t long before it became dinner. While you probably want to start it marinating ahead of time, the actual cooking process is pretty quick and easy. Serves 4:

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus about a tablespoon for greasing the pan
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Make a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425°. Grease a rimmed sheet pan with the olive oil. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade and place on the pan in a single layer.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice across the grain. Garnish with parsley and serve with your choice of sauces—white, hot etc. and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled Chicken ShawarmaMy verdict (and Frank’s): Great! Now that it’s warmer out, we’ll probably do this on the grill, but it worked fine in the oven. I served it with brown basmati rice (which took about as long as the chicken) and with both white sauce and harissa. For the white sauce, I used about 3/4 cup yogurt (actually labneh since I had some in the fridge), 1/3 cup mayo, juice of half a small lemon, and a garlic clove run through a garlic press. Check the taste and adjust as needed.

I made a small salad to mix up with the shawarma, of shredded lettuce, tomato and feta, so you could eat it on the side or add it to the chicken. Feel free to mix and match what you like to make this a great (and easy) meal!

Update: We did it again and grilled it this time. It was really good, but possibly a bit over-cooked. This time we served it with tabouli and asparagus grilled in a bit of the white sauce. Either way it’s a winner and how you cook it will just depend on whether you want to heat up your kitchen.







Accidental Locavore Farm Box Week 8

For the past two weeks the Accidental Locavore’s farm boxes have been packed with goodies. Finally some great corn (sorry Maine, but the corn there was pretty ho-hum) the beginning of tomatoes and tiny fingerling potatoes. Those summer staples, eggplant, zucchini and summer squash, along with cucumbers and, this week a new addition, okra. Paul pointed out to me the lovely flowers the okra plants produce, a soft yellow with dark centers.Accidental Locavore Okra Flower

Because it’s been so hot, we’ve been making a lot of Salad Nicoise, especially now with the potatoes, beans and tomatoes being so great. My ongoing experiment, to recreate Bobby Flay’s amazing cauliflower gratin with goat cheese, is getting closer and the Locavore just used a beautiful head of cauliflower to make a gratin with goat cheese, crème fraiche, breadcrumbs and chevrè. Still not Bobby Flay level, but not bad.

The beautiful fingerling potatoes cried out for a French potato salad, with bacon and red onion. It’s easy and delicious. When I was looking for a recipe for cherry tomatoes, I came across a recipe for potato salad from the NY Times that has pepperoni in it, so this week’s potatoes and last week’s shallots will be the basis for that. Who (besides my mother) doesn’t like pepperoni?Accidental Locavore Fingerling Potates

Since the temperature has dropped a little and there were a lot of Japanese eggplant, last week the Locavore made Thai green curry chicken. Rather than just plopping the eggplant and green peppers into the curry and coconut milk mix, I grilled them. Frank and I are not big green pepper fans (sorry Paul) so in an attempt to make them more likable, grilling them and peeling them, like you would do for red peppers, worked to make them a more viable option.Accidental Locavore Thai Green Curry

In a burst of energy, the Locavore made the pepperoni potato salad, tabouli, cucumber yogurt soup, some pesto (waiting for a shot of Parmesan) and then collapsed in a heap on the couch with a bowl of the soup and a large iced tea. The soup was really good, but I learned a lesson, don’t use Kirby cucumbers! Too bitter. The potato salad with pepperoni was great and a definite keeper and the tabouli was terrific, one of my summer favorites.

For any of the recipes, just click on the links.



Accidental Locavore Farmbasket Week 8; Tomatoes!!!!

by Anne Maxfield on July 26, 2010

Accidental Locavore Peppers, Eggpland and Tomatoes

After a week where the Accidental Locavore’s farmer, Paul, was relaxing (well, sort of) at a Bluegrass Festival, the farm-basket is back and overflowing! Making their first appearance, so it must really be summer, tomatoes. Both big beefsteak, and mixed little yellow pear, and other cherry tomatoes. Patty pan squash, eggplants, peppers, yellow, green and lilac. Lovely arugula, basil, mesclun, radishes, and cucumbers, both regular and pickling size, and the best corn so far.

So what’s the plan? Since it was so hot Saturday night, on my way back from Connecticut behind the world’s slowest driver, I had plenty of time to think…eggplant parm was going to be too heavy (look for the recipe on Friday), but what would be good would be a little steak tartare, a nice ear of corn, and a cold glass of rose. While I was cutting onions, beautiful red ones from down the road, I realized that I had all the ingredients for tabouli, so I kept chopping. Here’s the recipe:

  • Rinse 1 cup of couscous in a good sized bowl
  • Add 1/4 cup of water and let stand for about 30 minutes until it’s light and fluffy (by the time you’re done with everything else it’s usually fine)
  • Chop into a small dice 1-2 ripe tomatoes (I used one big guy)
  • Chop into a small dice 1 small onion
  • Chop a big handful of parsley (I used flat leaf from the garden)
  • Chop a big handful of mint (also from my garden)
  • Add all the chopped ingredients to the couscous
  • Mix in the juice of 1-2 lemons (depending on size), about 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • Add 1 TSP each salt, pepper, and allspice
  • Taste and adjust to your liking. I personally like a lot of mint, allspice, and lemon. Other people like a lot more parsley.

You can serve at room temperature, or chilled. Toasted pita is a good accompaniment, but trust me, steak tartare, corn and a glass of rose, was pretty OK!