Monthly Archives: January 2013

FAIL SAFE

Whenever I feel totally uninspired by cooking and the contents of my refrigerator, I reach for a few fail-safe tricks. Like: Boiling a pot of beans with an onion and some bay. Simmering a quick tomato sauce and adding dried pasta. A scoop of miso dissolved in some vegetable broth.

One of my all-time, fool-proof favorites: Roasting whatever I have around in the oven at high heat until dark, caramelized, and fragrant. I like to cut everything into similar sized pieces — here, I used a head of broccoli, a few wilting brussels sprouts, and a few cloves of peeled garlic — and coat with olive oil, lemon zest, aleppo pepper, and lemon juice. Simple. Twenty minutes later, fresh out of the oven, charred and crispy, I deglazed the pan with a little white wine and some starchy pasta water, just enough to make a light sauce. If none of that inspires you? Delivery pizza is totally a legit alternative.

SEEKING SPANISH TITLES

I love Spanish food, but I just don’t cook its cuisine at home very often. So I was extra excited to help organize a Spanish-themed potluck — I contributed David Tanis’ hearty and elegant Spanish tortilla, pan con tomate, and patatas bravas (all the starchy, carb-y offerings, haha!) — because everyone seriously turned on their A-game. There was aged chorizo made from scratch and fried with apple cider vinegar… a wide pan brimming with a seafood paella… a vegetal black chickpea stew… and Spanish cheeses, nuts, and fruits from Seville. It was a feast! But now I’m left adrift: what now? I realized I have no cookbooks devoted to the region, and I have a feeling I have so much left to learn. Can anyone suggest a good place to start? Any suggestions would be awesome!

RETURNING, AND SOME MUSSELS

When I first started working at Lawrence, I thought for sure that I would be able to make time for both work and writing. That between the long days making anglaise, puff pastry, bread, custards, and caramel, I would still feel stoked to write in this blog (or anywhere else!). Six months later, I’ve accepted the struggles that I’ve encountered when searching for energy and inspiration to ever visit this space, especially when the one thing that I blog about the most — cooking! — I simply don’t do much anymore. (I mean really: you don’t want to hear about endless breakfasts of avocado toast, lentil mush, and late-night popcorn). So one of the things that I thought about over the holidays was how to make this space feel engaging and special to me again. Because I’d really like it to be! And already: relaxing in this space again feels comforting and cozy.

These photos aren’t that recent, but hopefully still worth sharing. I’ve written about the beauty of steamed mussels before (my recipe can be found here). They’re one of my favorite dishes to make for friends because they’re awesomely cheap, easy, and healthy. And right now, they’re in season. I also added an obscene amount of chopped herbs (I used a mix of fresh dill, fennel fronds, parsley, basil, mint, and tarragon), pastis, and my secret ingredient — a tiny dice of raw celery. The steam relaxes the celery slightly and gives the dish a miraculous lift and lightness. We ate big bowls of brothy mussels with crisp duck fat-fried potatoes, a shaved fennel salad, and golden garlic toasts — made with my own bread! (A smuggled-home stump of Lawrence sourdough).

So here’s to more parties… and garlic toast… and brothy healthfulness… and finding time to spend in spaces that you love…. even if all you make six days of the week is avocado toast and lentil mush.