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Mango-cucumber salad with sambal shrimp

As I’m writing this, Michael is at the airport, headed to San Antonio for trip number two of three he’s taking this month for work, so I’ve been busy figuring out my meal plan for when he’s gone. This is going to be the longest trip of the three, thankfully, but of course now we have this potential storm to contend with I’m both hopeful for a snow day or two but not necessarily looking forward to riding it out by myself. (The only relief, to be honest, is that with his car at the airport I can park in the garage during the worst of it, but I still plan on doing some shoveling if only to make life easier later on.) So this week will entail a potentially snowy sabor de soledad, and I’m actually quite excited about the menu I’ve planned. Read More

Confetti cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Confetti cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Happy 2017, my friends! My year started off inauspiciously with my phone suddenly not working, so I have to send it to LG to see if it’s salvageable. (At least my old Razr smartphone is functional so I’m not completely without a phone right now. Here’s hoping it can hang on until August when my upgrade is finally available.) The weather hasn’t helped much in that it’s been dreary and rainy for the past few days, and while I know we need the rain, it doesn’t help with the whole getting back in the swing of things all that much. Read More

Lucky Peach's Shrimp and Chive Dumplings

Lucky Peach’s Shrimp and Chive Dumplings

During a trip to Philadelphia a few months ago we were staying at a hotel in Chinatown that was right by the convention center, giving us access to some pretty awesome food (including the Reading Terminal Market) and karaoke. Not two blocks away was a dim-sum spot that I had heard nothing but raves over, and so the morning following a fun night at a fairly famous drag show I took Michael over there for some delicious brunch before we were to head off to the Art Museum. It worked out kind of perfectly because we were a.) hungry, and b.) needed fuel to power us through all of the walking we’d end up doing that day.

We ended up getting lots of different dishes, from cucumber salad to scallion pancakes (SO GOOD), but my absolute favorite were the trays of Shanghai-style soup dumplings. Having only been introduced to them a few months prior at a place near my office, I was eager to show Michael the delights of them and he was in full agreement that they were pretty damn delicious. My only regret of the meal was not ordering more of them, but by then we were stuffed and ready to get on with our day. Read More

Shrimp and Spicy Chorizo with Garlic

When I was planning the menu for our big party a few weeks ago, I had it in my head that I would save a few of the dishes to make while people were there, if only to provide a bit of spectacle and give me a chance to retreat from everyone so I could focus on cooking. The problem with this idea is that inevitably everyone likes to gather in and around the kitchen, whether it’s open or not, and so that doesn’t leave for a ton of space in which you can maneuver. Fortunately it turned out that we had way more food than we bargained for and didn’t need either of these dishes, which worked out well for yours truly because I could never decide on a good time to prep them and as a result, I didn’t waste any food from either dish. Score! 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

Bacon-wrapped shrimp: Ron Swanson’s favorite food wrapped around his third-favorite food.

(Ed: I’m going to write about Parks and Recreation and make some references to events that unfolded in this most recent season, but there are are no spoilers about the actual finale here as I wrote this prior to it being aired.)

To thoroughly transpose a line from Shakespeare, I come not to bury Parks and Recreation, but to praise it. After all, It was truly the little sitcom that could–much like its spiritual predecessor, it started out with a shaky and short first season and then quickly found its footing with its second–but for whatever reason it never was able to break out to a huge audience despite being one of the smartest and funniest comedies on TV. To be an ardent fan meant knowing the show was constantly on the brink of cancellation year after year (with few exceptions), so while I’m annoyed that NBC has decided to burn off this final season by airing episodes back-to-back for seven weeks, I’m grateful that the series was able to make it to 125 episodes in the first place.

There are so many things to love about this show, but I think what may stay with me the most is that no other show, certainly in recent memory, used food to comedic effect better than Parks.* (30 Rock came close with its night cheese and a dogs taking steaks and Cheesy Blasters, though.) Whether it was grandiose set pieces like the Snake-Juice-fueled disaster from “The Fight” to the simple act of Tom Haverford singing “this is how you eat it” before diving into a hot pepper, food so often served as a springboard for fantastic comedic moments but also showed that it could forge bonds between even the most unlikeliest of people. In a recent interview Michael Schur noted that food (and specifically breakfast food) was a way for Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson specifically to come to an accord despite deeply different political viewpoints:

They are such different people, and we independently arrived at Leslie + waffles and Ron + bacon, so suddenly it seemed like a point of overlap. I always thought of it as hopeful. There is an old trick of diplomacy, where if you have two warring factions who agree to sit down at a table, you first choose something very simple and uncontroversial that they can agree on. You say, “What does everyone want to drink, water or motor oil?” When they all say water, you have begun the session with a point of mutual agreement. For Leslie and Ron, a 19th-century libertarian and a 21st-century progressive, that thing is breakfast food.

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Charred Lemon Gin Sparklers with Shrimp Fritters

So Thanksgiving happened, it’s now December, we’re moving very soon, and I may be feeling a wee bit stressed about it. The movers come next week, and I’ll be home on the packing day working while they box up all of our stuff. In the meantime we’re trying to get all of our things organized as best we can and cleaning everything as much as possible. We’re at the point where I’m simply anxious to be there so I can do things like quickly register my car and get a parking pass for the neighborhood as well as the more fun tasks of organizing all of our stuff and getting a few new pieces, but we still have a bit of a ways to go before we get to that stage.

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