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sabor de soledad

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

Escargots à la Bordelaise in the style of Galatoire’s

Back in November I did a very silly thing. I had this Amazon gift card that had been sitting on my desk for months, and for the life of me I couldn’t decide what to get with it. This was mainly due to the fact that I felt very uncomfortable about the circumstances in which it came to be in m possession, so I could never figure out what exactly should I get. I immediately dismissed all things practical because that’s no fun, and so I was toying with adding a couple of books to my cookbook collection or maybe getting a heavier kettlebell.

Instead, I ended up getting a used copy of Galatoire’s cookbook that was in very good condition and a cast iron snail pan.

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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

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.

amy-17

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