Do you have a bottle of mirin in the back of your fridge or cupboard? Do you remember what you bought it for? I used to forget about my mirin until a recipe like Heidi’s Black Sesame Otsu came along, and then afterward I’d let it get pushed back into the shadows all over again. Thank goodness it takes a very long time to go bad. But over the past year I’ve been reaching for it a bit more frequently and experimenting with it in some less obvious ways.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the grocery store. Not shopping, but standing there behind a little sample table, proselytizing my Made by Lukas veggie burgers. I walk into the store and press play on the soundbite that’s tattooed into my brain—”Care to try a fresh vegetable veggie burger? Here, have a taste! These are Made-by-Lukas fresh-vegetable-veggie-burgers! The orange one is Carrot-Parsnip, the red one is beet. Yes, absolutely please do try both! Eighty percent fresh, locally sourced vegetables—our kitchen is up in the Hudson Valley—and quinoa, seeds, millet, and spices make up the rest! No soy! No wheat! Right over there in the cold case next to the tofu!” Repeat a thousand times.
And when I walk out, it takes about an hour before I can turn it off. Don’t get me wrong. I like—I love—these veggie burgers, and I’m proud of the product and even the spiel. It’s incredibly exciting to introduce them to the eaters who are going to get them and love them as I do, and gratifying when that happens. And while it’s occasionally exhausting, it’s mostly amusing when I step back to assess: So this is where my life has taken me. How interesting.
Last week at R&D Foods in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, I got a quesadilla that was just perfection. These types of assembled lunch meals can seem so simple—R&D has a creative, flavor-forward menu and is very mindful about ingredient sourcing, but the set-up is loosely based on the same model as a sandwich shop or deli, where all the sauces and fillings are prepped and pre-made, so that sandwiches only need to be assembled and heated up to order—but it’s so easy for things to go wrong.
When the ingredients are fresh, flavorful, and used in balance; when the sandwich (or in this case, quesadilla) is heated properly to create all the right crisp and gooey textures and isn’t flecked with the burnt bits of fifteen other meals that were cooked on the same sandwich press; and when it hasn’t been sitting in a paper bag for very long, so that when it’s unwrapped from the parchment and eaten out of hand on a park bench, in a patch of some of the last of the hot, early-afternoon sun for the year . . . In other words, when every little detail is exactly right, it can make a person pretty happy to be alive. Such was my Friday afternoon.
That’s right: More! Salad! I eat at least one salad a day. I love an elaborate, unusual one like Crack Salad or a Salad Treat, but most often it’s something simple, just some greens topped with whatever vegetables, nuts, and crumbles or shavings of cheese I’ve got lying around. Thus it was a pretty obvious subject when I started organizing the next issue of my digital magazine, Feast by Lukas. “Season’s Salads” has a melon salad spiked with ginger and fresh chilies, a smashed cucumber salad with a nubby sesame dressing, a pear and greens salad topped with savory granola, a torn tortilla salad with tomatoes, avocados, and a chili-lime vinaigrette, and several more.
This is the 4th issue of Feast by Lukas, which completes the first volume! It’s been so much fun and I feel like it’s starting to click. I hope you’ll check out Season’s Salads issue—the app is free to download in the iTunes store, and within it subscriptions and individual issues are available for purchase ($3.99/issue, or $13.99 for a yearly subscription). And if you’ve read it and like it (or don’t like it, that’s fine and fair), would you…. I hate asking for this, but…. give it a rating and/or review in the iTunes store?
Here’s another project that’s been brewing for a little while, one that I’m very excited and proud to share with you: I’ve partnered with 29th Street Publishing to launch my own new digital quarterly magazine for iOS devices, Feast by Lukas! The magazine’s first issue, Holiday, is now available in the iTunes app store. It’s free to download, and full access to the full first issue is just $3.99. An annual subscription, which includes four issues timed to coincide with seasonal feasts, is $13.99.
One thing I know about the internet is that it’s bursting at the seams with Content, and I’ve felt ambivalent about sending more of it out there—which one reason that posts are so sporadic here. As an avid consumer of that content myself, I found myself wishing for something more substantial—more curated, more tactile, and with a stronger first-person voice. The internet often leaves me wanting to engage with food writers in the same way that I engage with my favorite cookbooks: in the kitchen, yes, but also from my sofa and my bedside table just before I go to sleep. Continue reading
In weather like this—here in New York we had a scorcher of a Forth of July weekend—I’ll find my way to the beach the way birds migrate south, the way flowers turn towards the sun, the way sleepeaters get to the fridge. The body knows it needs the sea breeze and saltwater plunge before the mind does.
Food is usually an afterthought. I’ll toss odds and ends—carrots and radishes, a bunch of grapes, leftover salads, bread, cheese, crackers, whatever—into the cooler with a few ice packs and/or frozen water bottles. But planning ahead has its rewards, and this “beach linguini” has been a hit two years in a row. Last summer I made a batch for my friend Lesley’s and my annual Fire Island day trip. Then this past weekend, it functioned as leftovers. I served the cold linguini for dinner on Saturday night, then took the rest out to the beach.