Bucatini con pesto trapanese/Bucatini with Trapanese pesto
It was with very mixed emotion I said goodbye to Michael a few Saturdays ago—I was off to Pennsylvania for some early-birthday celebrations with my family, while he was getting ready to head to England for a near-week-long trip. This wasn’t the longest he’s ever been away, but it is the furthest, and not having him handy when I was cooking, even remotely, meant that I was really on my own when it came to meal planning that week. And unlike the last time he was away for a long stretch, I wouldn’t have nearly enough time as I have in the past to plan my meals; after all, there was a Clásico to watch, and a barbell to lift, and groceries to buy on Sunday once I returned home from the Stamford train station. Fortunately, I was wise enough to ask for Made in Sicily for my birthday from my family, so I had a quiet ride on the Keystone to flip through its sizable pages.
It’s a pretty exhaustive tome on all things Sicilian that’s heavy on the vegetable, pasta, and seafood dishes, and it made me wish a few times at least that my birthday was a little earlier on the calendar so I’d have more time to take advantage of the many delicious tomato dishes on display. Other recipes definitely intrigued me until I realized the called for bottarga or uni (i.e. sea urchin roe), two ingredients that aren’t exactly cheap here in the U.S., but perhaps if I’m feeling particularly adventurous (and flush with cash), there may come a time to treat myself if only to try it in the future. I settled on a recipe that I had seen before, but never made from this book: a pesto trapanese that was exactly what I wanted: a fresh sauce made thicker by the inclusion of almonds and more refreshing with a healthy addition of mint. It may not need the processing I put it through via the blender, but I prefer a blended pesto over a very rustic one, and I loved how it coated every strand of the bucatini. Read More
Chickpeas and Chorizo Picante
Long commutes have always been a part of my working life since I graduated from college. At first it was a sort of cost-saving mechanism because I lived at home for a year and a half and didn’t want to saddle myself with a lease I really didn’t want nor want to pay for on my own. Once I moved to New Haven it was because said city isn’t exactly ideal for someone who doesn’t work in academia or for the Knights of Columbus*, so I logged plenty of hours on I-95 and the Metro North. Now I do the reverse commute because I didn’t want to leave a job I liked so abruptly after starting it and since then I’ve been able to gather some really good experience, so every day I delude myself into thinking that my commute is only an hour and a half when in reality it’s closer to two most days, especially when buses are nowhere to be found or there are issues with the train or both.
While it’s not the worst commute for someone who lives in the city (and it’s important to note that we don’t even have kids), it’s a long enough day that, if it’s a fluke (like Michael having some event to go to) the siren song of Panino Sportivo can be really difficult to ignore. And while there’s nothing wrong with doing that from time to time, it is one of those things that goes from being a treat to a crutch to a trap that somehow renders you incapable of doing anything more than either going to a deli or picking up a phone and a takeout menu.
That has brought us to the heart of this sabor de soledad experiment: making a variety of fresh food quickly that would still allot time for me to workout and do other things I enjoy doing on weekday evenings. These are not ambitious dinners that take a good hour to make; instead I consulted an older article by Mark Bittman that listed out 101 easy summer dinner options that should take 10 minutes or less to complete. When poring over the recipes I noted many of them were heavily reliant on pasta (something I didn’t want to do) but it was the spirit in which the recipes were presented–unpretentious and only needing a few, good ingredients–that got the creative juices flowing.
Garlic Chicken Thighs with Israeli Couscous Casserole
After the escapades of my first foray into adventurous cooking on my own, I resolved to do better; specifically, I resolved to manage my time so that I wouldn’t be eating dinner at 8 once again. So I kept my time out of the apartment to a minimum and got my chicken into its marinade in the middle of the afternoon, because I was really excited about what I was making on Sunday and I really didn’t want to muck it up. This is a recipe that I had in my head for well over a week, and was one of the main impetuses to go to Despana the day before: it called for a cazuela and I love nothing more than a great excuse to hit up my favorite specialty shop in the city.
In any case, this fixation came about because I happened to pay attention to an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef a few weeks ago. She was making this garlicky chicken over an Israeli couscous concoction and it sounded pretty good to me, especially because it called for several vegetables–thereby making it not nearly as “guilty” an indulgence as, say, aglio e olio.
(I know I keep coming back to that particular pasta dish, but really–it is the easiest dish I know how to make and the temptation to break down and make it in the face of more complicated fare was always present in the back of my mind. I even bought a box of angel hair to keep in the pantry for emergencies.) Read More
Canelons de la Festa
If you’ve watched 30 Rock with any regularity in the last few years you’ve likely seen Liz Lemon snack on something called Sabor de Soledad, an off-brand cheese snack from Mexico that translates from Spanish to mean “flavor of loneliness” an initially-hilarious and now not-quite-as-funny reminder for the audience that Liz is a single workaholic who has a predilection for highly-processed foods (see also: “Season 4″ and Cheesy Blasters) and for settling with Beeper Kings, if only for short bouts at a time. Read More