sabor de soledad

Gambas Flambées with Pastis

If the galettes were a foray into the unknown, the following week was a retreat into the familiar and easy. Initially my plan was to have dinner planned for three nights, but Michael’s schedule changed and I ended up only needing plans for two, so one of my favorite meals alone–ricotta dumplings with arugula–had to wait until lunchtime on Friday. Oh well.

Still, I ate very well: Tuesday I made Rachel Khoo’s delicious fig and liver salad. I wrote about this salad last year when I first read about it and felt compelled to make it, but Fairway didn’t have any fresh figs at the times so I subbed in some Italian plums instead. Thanks to Whole Foods I was able to make it as written, and I even splurged and bought some organic chicken livers. I’m not one to get up on soap boxes to sing the praises of organic foods, but I’ll make an exception for chicken livers. Since they are organs that filter things, the fact that they come from chickens fed an all-vegetarian diet means that they definitely taste way better than the super-cheap ones I’d find at the grocery store. They still don’t break the bank (a pound of them cost me $4) but the difference is extremely notable. Read More

Galettes bretonnes with prosciutto, burrata, garlic, and thyme

Michael was traveling quite a bit over the past two weeks, going to such varied places as Bangor, Maine, and the suburbs of Toronto. (He didn’t even get a stamp in his new passport for the latter!) It’s the first time he’s had to travel for work since we moved, so it was subsequently my first opportunity to have a few sessions of sabor de soledad. Over the years of cooking for myself I’ve tried to strike a balance between trying new things and indulging in dishes and ingredients that I like but Michael doesn’t. Cheese often plays a big part–but not always–and sometimes I’ll even content myself with a big salad.

This time around, I had some fun with French food, from making my first galettes to flambeeing shrimp for the first time on my own. I’m not sure what exactly sparked this sudden desire for French food–perhaps it was the abundance of crisp French roses and whites we enjoyed this summer–but I found myself flipping through both Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen and Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France with greater frequency, mentally noting dishes that I wanted to make as soon as possible. Read More

Lorraine Pascale’s pan-seared mascarpone gnocchi | The Manhattan [food] Project

For years, my normal weekend morning ritual has been parking myself on the couch and watching cooking shows while I figured out what we were making that night for dinner. There were shows I loved, those I tolerated, and others I would either tune out or treat as open season for my snarking. As the Food Network specifically has moved further and further away from its traditional dump-and-stir shows, the ratio of shows I actually love and derive inspiration from to those I mock has tipped wildly towards the latter category so when Cooking Channel was once again made available through my cable provider I was thrilled. Not only would regular reruns of Good Eats be back on our TV, but I was excited to see what new shows have come on since we last had the channel three years ago.

Admittedly, anything I’ve seen that’s been produced by the channel hasn’t blown me away, but two hosts from the BBC have left me delighted: Lorraine Pascale (currently of Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food and Rachel Khoo (Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London and Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo). Unlike certain cooking hosts out there, both Rachel and Lorraine primarily cook food from scratch without being overly fussy or precious about it, and the recipes they present are actually interesting. My one complaint is that not every recipe is readily available online (Lorraine’s are a little easier to track down) so if something intrigues me I’ll sit with my notebook and furiously write down the ingredients and instructions, but it’s also refreshing to be engaged with a cooking show again so I’m not really complaining.

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Spinach Salad with Prosciutto and Valdeón

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, Prosciutto, and Valdeón

It’s been a while since I’ve recounted a week sabor de soledad, even though Michael has had several trips taking him all over the place in the last year or so. Two weeks ago he was in the fabulous city of Tokyo on a last-minute trip, and I have to say that I was pleased with the dishes I turned out while he was away. It’s funny—I’ve become more of a salad person over the last few years, but I’m never so prolific in making them until I’m on my own. I can only account the follow reasons as why I’m so Team Salad:

  • Easy to scale down to one person.
  • Cheese is often involved, especially the cheeses I love but only rarely indulge in.
  • They are relatively fast dishes to prepare.
  • Oh, I guess they are allegedly healthy too.

I feel like such a traitor to both Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson, but unlike fictional characters, eating vegetables on a regular basis is an unfortunate necessity.



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Arugula salad with citrus, burrata, and prosciutto

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

Bucatini con pesto trapanese/Bucatini with Trapanese pesto

It was with very mixed emotions 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.

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