, sabor de soledad
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.
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.
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