Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)
Yes, that’s a whole mess of Spanish and Català up there in the post title. No, I make no apologies.
This meal was a bit ambitious for us, even for a Sunday night: in the mood for some delicious José Andrés-style tapas after hearing about Michael’s visit to Zaytinya during his recent trip to DC. Picking four dishes (the three listed here, along with a variation of this salad), I made a plan to get some of the work done early in the afternoon, after my workout but before I went down the street to see the Chilean movie No at the local non-profit movie theater. I really thought that I had it all in hand: I made the sofrito for the rossejat after we got back from the store, and everything else was pretty much self-explanatory. Or so I thought. Read More
Arugula salad with citrus, burrata, and prosciutto
Michael has been spending the bulk of the week in Virginia on business, and so I’m on my own when it comes to dinner from Tuesday through yesterday. In my ongoing efforts to avoid defaulting to pasta, I queued up a few recipes that have sat on the bench that is my recipe board on Pinterest, and so instead of eating all of the pasta this week, I am eating all of the cheese. It’s still healthy if it’s part of a salad, right? (I kid. Of course I know the answer to that question. It’s yes.) Read More
Moules à la grecque, from The Les Halles Cookbook
This one’s a nice departure from the summer-style mussel recipes so far, a dish more suited to fall or winter, or post-Labor Day New England. You know, fluffy sweaters and shorts, tourists all gone…that crisp, cool, Cape Cod light. Okay, I don’t live that way either. But it sounds good, right?
Anthony Bourdain, The Les Halles Cookbook
There are days in August especially when all I want is a nice, rich bowl of pasta; fortunately for me, I can make us a pan of Amatriciana sauce with fresh tomatoes and still count it as seasonally-appropriate cooking. It’s much more difficult to find an analogous dish in the wintertime, one that is made with seasonal produce but won’t weigh you down in its density.
Shellfish dishes have been filling this need fairly well so far this season, but moules à la grecque is quite possibly the ne plus ultra of the bunch. Relatively fast to make, easy to cook, and riddled with fennel, this is everything that Bourdain promises above: a wintertime alternative to the bright, summery dishes that beg for freshly-trimmed herbs and fresh tomatoes from the garden. If you can get it made by 5PM in late February, you can also enjoy it in the crisp, cool New England light, though shorts would only be recommended if dining indoors with good central heating. Read More
Grilled Quail with Pomegranate, Valencia Orange, Romaine and Almond Salad
One of the great things about the rise in awareness (and subsequent popularity) of CrossFit is how it has made weightlifting pretty cool for a growing subset of women. Don’t get me wrong: it’s very clear that the prevailing advice that encourages eschewing heavy weights for lots of cardio is still the loudest voice in the room, but every so often I’ll learn that one of my colleagues or acquaintances lifts and it’s kind of fantastic. That said, I find some aspects of CrossFit to be rather problematic, and those issues I think can be summed up in two bullets:
- This nonsense that airs during reruns of the CrossFit games* drives me up a wall, because of course the ONLY reason why women would be remotely interested in lifting weights or doing other tough exercises is to become a “ten” rather than a “seven.” Never mind the actual benefits of exercise–it’s just so we look hot when we hit up the bars after the gym, amirite ladies? (Insert a GIF of Liz Lemon rolling her eyes.) UGH THIS MAKES ME SO ANGRY I END UP OVERUSING ITALICS AND CAPS LOCK.
- Their endorsement of and adherence to the Paleo diet, which I instantly give the side-eye to given that it doesn’t allow any grains or dairy.
There are other things about it I find troubling, but these are the two that grind my gears the absolute most. Read More
Basque-style mussels and white bean stew.
I know the first post in this series was for an agua fresca, but I should make it clear that juicing is not something we do at all, but every once in a while I’ll crave something sweet and light and that fresh drink mix does the trick nicely. But then I see things like this interview and I’m kind of boggled by anyone being satiated by only drinking a few juices during the day and waiting until the evening to eat a meal of solid food. Then again, there’s no way I could do what I want to do powered simply by juice, because you can’t lift heavy or lift in volume on what appears to be a very limited amount of calories, particularly in the protein realm.
Because that’s the thing about doing things like barbell deadlifts and squats: for me, I need to feel like I have some serious fuel in the tank to get over the mental hurdle that is pulling a series of heavy triples in a row, or doing a circuit that calls for ten to twelve rounds of pressing sixty pounds over my head and squatting it on my back, all the while feeling confident that every time I do so I’m completely in control of the barbell in my hands. Fueling those pre-workout dinners with something that’s both filling but not stuffing can prove to be a challenge, but I find a nice balance with seafood, especially when I pair it with beans or quinoa. Read More
Roasted Grape and Goat Cheese Bruschette
As a rule, I try not to be too precious about my cookbooks. They’re meant to be practical, after all, and the best ones should bear the stains of cooking: the pages a little warped from sauce splatters, little smudges here and there on the edges, even pages escaping the binding after years and years of use. When I pull a book from the shelf and sit down on the couch to browse it, those little signs of wear and tear remind me of successful (and even the less-than-successful) meals.
My practical outlook was almost turned upside down when I unwrapped a copy of Polpo on Christmas Day, because in my hands was quite possibly the most aesthetically pleasing cookbook I ever had the pleasure of owning. I instantly loved everything about it: the typeface, the photography, the paper used for the pages. But the absolute neatest visual aspect about this book is the spine::
How cool is that? And then I found this fantastic article from The Paris Review a few days later on the evolution of the bookshelf and that back in the days when books were primarily found in monasteries they would be placed with the front edges out, all ornately illustrated. But I digress.
Hawksmoor Roast Chicken
Back when Michael was in England, he was able to spend some time in London with our fabulous London friends, and during our subsequent cell phone and Google Hangout conversations he told me about this cookbook they had that from their favorite steakhouse Hawksmoor. Simply perusing the book made him feel inspired to buy it, and when I saw that it was under $30, I jumped and ordered a copy. To say that it’s a meat-lover’s cookbook is to be cliche; in fact, this cookbook is a diatribe on great English food and drink, albeit with a very heavy focus on meat. If a roast chicken recipe is an adequate barometer of the worth of a cookbook, well, the recipe here makes this one a good book to at least consider.
It may be a bit hasty to declare this when you’ve only tried one recipe, but when they get the roast chicken recipe so well, it’s only natural to assume the rest is remarkable. Especially when one is called “Beef Shin and Macaroni.” I’m looking forward to making that when it gets significantly colder. Read More
Vieiras con romesco/Scallops with roasted Catalan sauce
Ever since we got back from Spain, the number of grey, rainy, and unseasonably cold days we’ve had at home has been significantly higher than we usually get this time of year. I think it temporarily stymied all of that wonderful inspiration that accompanied me home from Barcelona and Caldetes because last Tuesday I mulling over what I wanted to make for dinner that night and had absolutely no ideas whatsoever. Remembering that I now had the first season of Made in Spain on DVD, I immediately went to the website to see if any of the recipes posted would provide a bit of inspiration.
And then I found this recipe and resolved to pop a DVD in while I made dinner and waited for Michael to get home. Suddenly, my grey and chilly Tuesday looked so much brighter. Read More
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
Outside Taller de Tapas, L’Argenteria, en El Born
Ever since I started seriously reading through Andrew Coleman’s Catalan Cuisine a few years ago with its gentle rejection of the tapas culture found elsewhere in Spain, the quasi-misnomer of Barcelona Wine Bar here in CT (and now Atlanta!) has kind of bugged me. If tapas aren’t a big thing in Catalunya, then why name a tapas place after its capital city? Fortunately, Andy and Sasha answer that question within the first pages of their cookbook:
We chose the name Barcelona because, while we planned to offer an authentic tapas experience, we wanted to feature a wide-ranging selection of Mediterranean food and wine. Spain’s Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, pan-European city that reflects this outlook.
It’s true: you do see a very wide variety of options in the city of Barcelona, but it’s very easy to get the tapas experience if that’s what you happen to be craving. And frankly, when it’s in the mid-80s and it’s humid and you’re definitely a little parched because there aren’t enough 1.5L bottles of agua sin gas to properly hydrate anyone, tapas are really the best alternative. And if you’re going to go for tapas, why not follow the advice from the best place to get them on the East Coast? Read More