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This is not going to be a normal post with a pithy (ha!) little story about this particular meal, because I have been staring at this photo of ceviche for a few weeks now and still can’t come up with something about Labor Day that isn’t completely banal. I mean, I could go all “bla bla bla, no grilling here because we were craving something light” or some crap, but I can only imagine how boring it would be to read it given how dull I found every various narrative bent.

So I am going to ask for your forbearance while I write about some of the various stream-of-conscious thoughts that have been running through my head. Read More

Pollo al pimentos

I’ve never liked the lamentations that often accompany Labor Day, all bemoaning the end of the summer. First of all, summer is not over; September 20th marks the beginning of fall.  And it’s not as if the weather immediately resets itself to autumn mode, either–the mere act of going into my closet Sunday morning to contemplate sweaters was causing me to break out in a sweat. Just because coffee shops are champing at the bit to push their pumpkin pie spice lattes doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the sandals. You can try to pry those off my feet, but I don’t think you’d be successful.

Besides: this is the best time of year to enjoy the best of what summer has to offer. Making your way down to the Union Square Greenmarket via subway comes with the best reward: the overwhelming aroma of peak-time tomatoes and herbs enveloping your senses as you emerge from the subway station. Even if you can’t make it to that particular market, you are afforded a similar sensation as you shop for tomatoes in your local supermarket, because if they don’t smell amazing now, they likely never will.

(I realize with the previous statement that I am showing my proximity-to-Jersey-tomatoes-privilege, but they are seriously the best tomatoes ever so I apologize for nothing.) Read More

Remember this from a year ago?

Spain winning the 2010 World Cup, July 11 2010

Oh, I still do. I can still remember the emotions when I watched that game a year ago (when this posts): I can still feel how I was wracked with anxiety, willing the Spaniards to overcome that whole “no team has ever won a World Cup when they lost their first group game” statistic and win against the Netherlands. And then Andres Iniesta scored and it was amazing and wonderful and Iker Casillas started to cry in happiness.

And then this happened yesterday:

The USA triumphs over aversity. (click picture for source)

This was a quarterfinal game, yet it was treated like a semi-final or a final: the number-one-ranked team in the world versus the number-one-ranked player in the world (that would be Marta), and it was rife with controversy thanks to some really bad calls from the ref and some childish behavior from the Brazilians during the extra time in order to run out the clock. But then a (literally) last-minute goal thanks to the combined powers of Megan Rapione and Abby Wambach tied up the game at 120 minutes of play, and  then the team dominated the penalty kicks. It was an American triumph at its cheesy-80s-sports-movie-best, and dammit, it was amazing. That it fell on the 12th anniversary of the women’s team WC win in 1999 in Pasadena was the icing on the cake.

That we made some delicious food seems almost secondary, but it’s the last home-cooked food I’ll have until Thursday (as I’m off to Chicago) so we reached, we shot, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Read More

Quasi-Bouillabaisse with Copper River King Salmon, Pacific Cod and Littleneck Clams with Rouille-Sathered Croutons)

People used to stare at fires. Now they watch TV. We need to see moving images, especially after dinner.

–Francois Truffaut, Day for Night.

Day for Night (click through for source)

Day for Night, simply put, is an amazing film. It’s joyous, hilarious, sad, and absurd. It’s a triumph of love and dedication and personal expression, and true to its tagline,  it really is a film for people who love films. The narcissism of the actors, the bullshit propelling the crew–it’s so incredibly timeless that you can easily ignore the fact that it was filmed in the 70s and therefore looks immediately dated. But it was also one of those films that I hadn’t thought about in a while until I shoved a random CD into my car’s player (yes, I have a zillion mix CDs in my ’04 Jetta, shut up) and its wondrous theme by Georges Delarue filled my car as I was making my way to the Westport train station, and suddenly I was craving to see it again, preferably after eating a big bowl of bouillabaisse.

This thought struck me in early May. I wasn’t able to actually give in to the craving until Saturday, and it ended up being an apt pairing of food and film, what with the reminder of the importance of rolling with the punches. Read More

Tortilla de Vegetales

I have a confession to make, but I’m not sure how you’ll take it, so I’ll provide a little back story. It started on a Friday night and the conundrum of what to do for food for the week when we were traveling Saturday through Sunday morning (really, we were in Pennsylvania for less than 24 hours) and so Friday we I spent the evening poring through cookbooks and logging some ingredients into our Fresh Direct order.

As I read the list of ingredients from The Book of Tapas, Michael surmised that we were making “a more complicated version of a Western omelette.” Suddenly warning bells sounded in my ear, urging me to proceed with caution. I took solace in the fact that the tortilla we were making was only one of two dishes, and the second was a longtime favorite: Catalan meatball soup.

Why the worry, you ask? I’ll be frank: I don’t like omelets. Read More

Braised Lamb with Tomatoes and Peppers with Toasted Fideos

I saw the first flecks of snow while in Stamford, waiting for the 6:57 clutching a box of penne alla puttanesca and a little bottle of Cabernet Sauvingnon, all the while cold and thankful for the real pashmina that my best friend had gifted her bridesmaids back in July. Though winter is still officially eight days away, the weather would have us believe that it is here now, and just in time for Christmas festivities. These past years, though, haven’t felt quite so festive–and so they continue to be. While we’re OK (for now, at least) it doesn’t mean that we can’t empathize with what others must endure, what we endured in the past.

Snow usually makes me feel elated, especially when I’m in the city:  it sparkles against the streetlights and twists about in the artificial wind tunnels that skyscrapers create. Last night it merely made me feel cold and desperate for a taxi. Giving a dollar to the guy who was running out in traffic to secure a yellow cab for me feel almost good in a way, because he was doing something absolutely crazy and I could show my appreciation in a tangible way. Read More

Stracciatella of Tarragon, Semolina Flour and Pecorino Cheese

I have to say that I kind of love the habit of coming home after a weekend trip to Pennsylvania and indulging in a soup and an eggy dish. We did it back in August with gazpacho and our ugly-but-delicious tortilla, and after Thanksgiving we toasted to our uneventful Amtrak ride with lovely stracciatella and a simple fritatta. As we worked together to make the meal, both Michael and I started to channel Nigella Lawson a bit because both of these dishes seemed like ones you might see on one of her many BBC programs: fast, loaded with vegetables but all with a heavy does of indulgence. There may have been some bad British-accented commentary going on as we cooked, but I won’t say for certain. All I will confirm is that dinner came together in very short order that night–and that’s something, I think, we could all use in this otherwise hectic time of year. Read More

Sobrasada Tapa

I had it in my head to make brunch on Saturday. We never eat brunch–I eat breakfast when I get to work, and Michael tends to only have oatmeal on hand, and fighting the crowds on Broadway to enjoy overpriced eggs and bacon holds little appeal for us. Sometimes, though, we’ll make it when friends are staying with us and that’s always fun, but it’s also a lot of work. So the idea of making a few small tapas for brunch had immediate appeal for me: filling but not overwhelmingly so. Michael tends to just eat a few hard-boiled eggs on weekend mornings to get him through until dinnertime, so using that as a base for ideas, I flipped through The Book of Tapas, made a shopping list, and on Saturday morning got to work.

The sobrasada tapa pictured above was by far my favorite–and that includes the tapa that I made with smoked salmon, for crying out loud! It was by far the easiest of the three to make, though, and when it comes to making a brunch spread at home, that’s really important.  Read More

Gazpacho y una tortilla de patatas

This meal started out with the best of intentions: we were going to be arriving home from Pennsylvania earlier that day, we had a delivery coming from Fresh Direct with most of the week’s groceries and all I had to worry about was the impending drive to work the following morning. A quick perusal on Serious Eats Thursday morning had put me face-to-face with a delectable-looking tortilla, so I had decided then and there that we would enjoy the Spanish staple Monday night thinking it would simple, fun and a break from all of the heavy food we had over the weekend. Ensuring that we had all of the ingredients readily available, save perhaps having to run downstairs to pick up some extra eggs I thought I’d make gazpacho, we’d have a little wine and perhaps some cheese and we would toast to making it to and from Pennsylvania by car (our first major car trip in the last year) no worse for the wear.

Did that happen? Well…sort of. Read More

Peruvian Steak Salad

Another installment in our OMG IT’S TOO HOT TO COOK series. Today, a seemingly simple salad that’s about as far beyond steak on lettuce as pit tickets are from camera phone concert footage uploaded to youtube. This is from the Barcelona Cookbook once more, which has been a constant source of culinary strength during this particularly trying summer.  I thought for sure the wife would have a problem with the dressing of this salad: a departure from the traditional vinaigrette in that it contains no oil or other fat [Ed.--Olive oil does come into play at the very end, in all fairness.].  It’s little more than a blend of vinegar with soy sauce, honey, red pepper flakes and black pepper that leaves you with more of a pickling liquid for your veggies than a proper dressing. And yet, it works. Oh, does it work. It covers romaine, cucumber, poblano, red pepper, and red onion (I think jicama was also called for, but I didn’t have any, oh well. I imagine chayote would be nice as well). Read More

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