Thursday, March 12, 2020

just a salad

Four ingredients: sliced peaches, arugula, pecans (toasted, still slightly warm), goat cheese. 
A dressing: quarter cup olive oil, two tablespoons balsamic vinegar, two teaspoons mustard, whisked vigorously with olive oil. No time or energy to do the whole "pour a thin stream of olive oil slowly, emulsify" — no. But I promise the vigorous whisk does the trick, at least for this. Eat on the floor, preferably in the sunshine. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Pasta Primavera, in the summer

Things in life, I have learned, come back to you. Whether it's people or smells or a line you highlighted in a book, the past has an uncanny ability to ricochet into the future even for a moment, like a playful wink. Such was the case with this Pasta Primavera with Asparagus and Peas by Melissa Clark featured in the NYT's Five Weeknight Dishes roundup (which is my favorite part of The Internet these days.) Many many years ago in college when I lived in my first apartment outside of campus and was just beginning to discover the unparalleled sweetness of having guests over for dinner, on my roommate's little glass coffee table with cushions on the floor, a friend and I made a meal of Deb Perelman's Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta that, it would not be an overstatement to say, revolutionized our young lives. I did not know the reverie of stirring a soft cheese into a still-warm pot of al dente noodles with a splash of cooking water, the zing of lemon zest and juice cutting into the creaminess, and finally the magic that is tarragon, an herb that feels as fresh and pine-y as rosemary but more grown-up because it doesn't remind me of Christmas. This was a great meal, we realized, and we still talk about it today ("I made the pasta!" one of us will chirp every now and again.) 

For this reason, it was an exciting development to encounter NYT's Pasta Primavera, which brings together the key players of the recipe I knew and loved as in a high school reunion where everyone is still elegant and youthful: a dairy sauce base (they suggest yogurt or crème fraîche, I used Greek yogurt), trimmed asparagus, tarragon. However, it adds the delightful company of sugar snap peas, which are the crunchiest, coolest kids on the block, as well as a near-cup of English peas. There is, however, no mention of lemons (edit: I did Ctr+F and the comments section includes, to this posting, four results for "lemon," all probably by know-it-alls like me!)

To make a long story short, I made the pasta to the NYT's specifications, but I added the juice and zest of an entire lemon. I also cheated in many ways because it's Monday night and I cannot spend hours scouring for fresh vegetables, as lovely as that sounds: I used frozen snap peas and canned English peas. It was so delicious I did not need to grate cheese on top, and if anyone who knows me is reading this, you can appreciate exactly how good something needs to be for me to not add cheese. The tarragon was perfect as usual, and the addition of parsley was nice, but if you only have money to splurge on one I would just skip it and double the tarragon. Or triple it even. Depends on how much you like the taste of a forest, really. 

I love this recipe, which reminds me of my first days of cooking with and for friends. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"it me"

Jill Mulleady, Boeuf, 2017, oil on canvas, 44 x 41 x 2 cm
(image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin. Photo: Stefan Korte)

my new obsession, girl crush, it-girl, whatever it's called. the Uruguayan-American Jill Mulleady has a great many paintings of fish and some extremely suggestive portraits of unabashed oysters (note: I will not touch an oyster with a ten foot pole, for reference see this post and my general feelings about mollusks, but I do think they're very pretty and shiny.) You know how shrimp cocktail is kind of gross but also slick and sexy and slightly saucy? That's how Jill's paintings are. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nicolas Party @ Karma

“I like Italian food: you just need some pasta and tomato sauce. But, as every Italian will tell you, it’s actually very difficult to find a place where you can eat a good bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. A portrait or a picture of a tree is the same: it’s easy to make a bad one.” 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

gazpacho in october, slow-roasted salmon, and other curveballs

Is this cold avocado soup gazpacho? The Internet can't decide. Apparently chopped vegetables have to be involved and it's got to have a kick for it to earn the appellation. For the record, this did have hot sauce (Valentina instead of tabasco like the recipe suggests), and there were at some point chopped zucchinis (rather than cucumbers; again, improvising here), but you wouldn't know it. Infinitely more variations are possible. Opting for Greek yogurt instead of the coconut milk I used would make this a more significant appetizer, and with a generous, slightly charcoaled piece of flatbread it could even make a main course.

The real question, of course, is why I'm having gazpacho or cold soup in the middle of autumn. Is the increasingly unpredictable nature of the weather changing the way we eat? Hannah brought over a bottle of white Friday night, and despite my initial protestations—"it's peak cozy red wine season!"—I have to admit that it didn't feel entirely inapropos. (By the way, and in a complete non sequitur, Hannah just wrote a wonderful fiction for the New Inquiry, here, well worth the paywall.) Unseasonable as avocado gazpacho two weeks before Halloween might be, I like the thought that roller coaster weather calls for good transition dishes—plates that help us get from watermelon salads to cast-iron bolognese, the culinary equivalent of cashmere. Sprinkle your gazpacho with toasted pepitas and you have enough of a pumpkin reference to placate your perplexed dinner guests until mid-December (but after that, they'll start asking questions.)

After the soup comes the afterparty, in the form of this slow-roasted salmon. I hadn't slow-cooked a fish in a long time. My guilty pleasure is super salty, shriveled up, skin-on fish, so crispy you can barely believe it used to be a living organism, which I understand is not the most adult way to eat anything. Letting this salmon warm up slowly in a 275 degree oven on a bed of sliced Meyer lemons and blood oranges, chili peppers, and fennel, was an experiment in patience, and well worth it. In a world where suffocating in a subway car is preferable to waiting 30 seconds for the next train, take your time with your fish, you know? Slow burn.

Receipes: soup is from Green Kitchen Stories, my new favorite food blog, with the aforementioned zucchini/hot sauce substitutes. And the slow-roasted salmon is from Bon Appetit—personally I would use more chili than what was suggested here, or one whole chili and then just the seeds from another, if you can handle it.

In case you're curious, the potatoes are purple Amarosa fingerlings, and the trick to the perfectly crisped skin is less olive oil. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

the dabney, D.C.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

pepita pesto (alliteration!)

Pour over roasted carrots for bliss, pictured above; but I also plan on slathering it on roasted salmon and tossing with fresh kale for lunch tomorrow. And I could also imagine eating a bowl of it with a spoon.

In a food processor, or however else you work your pesto magic:

1 cup pepitas, toasted and cooled
1 1/2 cup kale
1 clove garlic
Rind and juice of a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt

(taken with respect and admiration from Naturally Ella)

© valentina citadina Maira Gall.