Burrata with salsa verde and weeds

With all of the traveling we’ve been doing in the last few weeks (two weekends ago we were in Philadelphia, and then this past weekend we were in Chicago), opportunities to cook fun stuff at home have not come as readily as they normally do for us. Since I had a half-day on Friday and could work from home for it, we decided that it would be the perfect day to make dinner at home rather than go out as is our usual wont and so I went about looking for something special to make. My cookbook flipping took me to Mexico From the Inside Out, and while I came up with a fun menu for that evening, what initially drew me in was a dish I had to make for myself for a decadent lunch: burrata with salsa verde and “weeds.” (More on that in a bit.) As soon as I hit the official office closing time I shut my laptop and headed out to take the commuter boat over the harbor to hit up both Whole Foods and a local Mexican grocery store called Cinco de Mayo to get the necessary supplies. The latter was perfect for getting tomatillos and blue corn tortillas and limes in bulk, while the latter had my burrata and a few other things I needed (like a ludicrous amount of cereal to bring to work). Read More

Tomato Salad with Chili, Black Pepper, and Cardamom

Recently The Kitchen Witch posted about how she likes to seduce late spring/early summer tomatoes by making punchy vinaigrettes, and her Kalamata olive one would be pretty fabulous if I liked olives more. But it reminded me of a recipe I had earmarked in the most recent issue of Cherry Bombe magazine in which you make a spicy oil to drizzle over tomatoes along with some lemon juice, cilantro, and sesame seeds and so a couple of weekends ago I decided I had to make it in the name of trying something that was new to me. Read More

Quasi-mushroom piadina with an Aperol spritz.

Years ago I found this recipe for piadina in an issue of Food and Wine magazine, and despite the presence of ricotta cheese I actually was able to convince Michael to make it fairly often. This was before I started making my own pizza dough so we’d use the stuff from the store, and then once I started making my own dough I think we became too preoccupied with making pizza to try making these again. Once we did use the ingredients on a full-fledged pizza, but I think it might have been too much ricotta for Michael to handle so we haven’t done it since. Read More

Cacio e pepe

Michael was in the UK for most of this past week, and so for the first time in a while I had a few days to myself to make whatever I wanted. Obviously, the first thing I did was buy a boatload of cheeses.

The next thing I did after running some errands on Sunday was to sequester myself in the kitchen to do all kinds of things: make a nice fancy brunch was first on the list and then I did some much-needed meal prep for the week. My friend D at The Kitchen Witch recently posted an intriguing recipe for a warm tomato vinaigrette, and I had bookmarked it thinking it would go really well with chicken thighs. I slow-roasted the tomatoes and whipped up a batch fairly easily, tripling the recipe she provided to use up all of the tomato passata that you make, and boy howdy is it tasty. I even made enough for Michael to have some for lunch when he got home from the airport because I’m nice like that. Read More

Open-Face Croque Monsieur from Pastis

Despite the fact that it’s been years since we’ve been there and it’s been well over a year since it closed, every once in a while I still get a craving to go to Pastis. In spite of all of the irritations about the place–the crowds, the rather ridiculous prices, the cramped banquettes and tiny tables–every visit there would still be a pretty fantastic food experience, and I’ve even taken their lead on a few dishes and incorporated them into our normal recipe rotation.

Plus, it was arguably the prettiest of Keith McNally’s very pretty restaurant empire: lots of dark wood and penny subway tile, but not as dark as Balthazar nor as intentionally run-down as Lucky Strike. (I have yet to visit his newer places so I can’t speak to them, but I imagine they are also very, very pretty but probably not as aesthetically pleasing to me as Pastis.) While it helped that there always seemed to be a preponderance of European tourists eating there at all times of the day, you really did feel like you were being swept into a bustling bistro in a hip Parisian neighborhood and the only thing missing was being able to light up a cigarette or two while you lingered over French 75s and omelettes. Read More

Tomato-Peach-Basil Salad with Burrata

Despite it being his birthday month, Michael hates the month of August. He’s also not that much of a fan of his birthday, come to think of it—the last few years we’ve gone down to Keen’s in Midtown so he could avail himself of a giant steak, but even that isn’t appealing to his senses this year. I have plans to take him to Momofuku this year, as we’ve never been but we are completely obsessed with Momofuku. I want to make sure it’s fully in the spirit of Treat Yo Self Day and we spend the day frequenting as many of his favorite places as possible.

It needs to be a good one, too, as this particular August had an..interesting beginning but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bright spots here and there. We were able to celebrate a friend’s milestone birthday down at his new home in Maryland and had a mini-reunion of sorts with so many of our friends from the New Haven years which was a real treat. I also haven’t been south of Delaware for years, so it was a lot of fun to see places like Baltimore for the first time in so long—the last reason that brought me to that particular area was when I was scoping out colleges and Loyola was on my shortlist.

Hawksmoor at Home’s simple tomato-cucumber salad

The other bright spot, as silly as it sounds, has been the fact that heirloom tomatoes have been on sale at Fairway all month. Organic heirloom tomatoes, I should add. Every week I’ve ventured over to the organic section to pick up a few for weekend salads, and every purchase has yielded delicious results. Whether it’s the tomato-cucumber salad from Hawksmoor at Home or a lunchtime arrangement with peaches, basil, and burrata, I haven’ had to fret much over eating enough lycopene. Taking a cue from Ina Garten I also made a fresh pasta sauce by marinating some chopped heirloom tomatoes in olive oil, mint, and garlic and then stirred it into fedelini with some fresh mozzarella. The leftovers I had the following week were excellent, as each day it smelled like a margherita pizza was cooking in the work microwave.

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Shrimp and Orange Salad with Arugula and Fennel

It’s not even August and apparently stores are stocking their shelves for Hallow-freaking-ween. I’m very much aware that holiday creep is a huge thing in retail (back-to-school seems to go back on the shelves around the Fourth) but especially after the winter so many of us had to endure this year, well, cheering on the arrival of the season of inevitable misery seems abominably cruel. It’s not like this summer has been particularly arduous here in the Northeast—we’ve had some periods of hot and/or humid weather, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far: a day or two of intense humidity have beckoned a cold front blowing through almost immediately thereafter, and otherwise we’ve had pretty pleasant weather. There have been many a weekend afternoon spent on the local beaches, and even an evening or two listening to the rain while we sit on our balcony.

In short, I’m doing everything I can to appreciate the summer while it’s here, and I will be loath to give it up because gauzy clothes and cool drinks are superior to woolly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More

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