A few years ago, when I was doing my final tests of this recipe—one of my favorites from Bowl—it was peak August. My poorly ventilated apartment was very much a sweat lodge, and the last thing I wanted to do was bring a pot of liquid to simmer. But I had no choice. I was on deadline. I’d learned in my research about the principle—popular throughout many East Asian cuisines—of battling hot food with hot weather, but as I sat over this bowl of steaming “summer” ramen, my hair, face, and clothes matted with sweat, I didn’t buy it.
Then I took a taste. It was so good! So clear with summeriness, such a glorious, fresh way to show off those juicy, late-summer gems. Did it help to make the heat more bearable? Perhaps. At the very least I was temporarily distracted from it. Nonetheless, I was excited to make it this year, and I’ll look forward to it next, too. Continue reading
Cabbage is a vegetable that puts up with a lot. You can project onto it. You can say, “You’re a sweet and crunchy, refreshing condiment,” and it says, “That’s me!” Or you can say, “You are a spicy, funky, perfect example of what lactic fermentation is good for,” and it says, “Exactly.” Or you can appreciate it for being a nuanced, velvety decadence, say to it, “Gosh, you’re an classy brassica,” and it responds, “I’m yours.” Maybe cabbage is a little too tolerating.
[Quick interruption: There’s still time to preorder Bowl—which was recently picked as one of the most exciting new spring cookbooks by Epicurious!—and win a set of excellent, handmade Jono Pandolfi bowls.]
As a classy brassica, cabbage is one of those vegetables that responds well to near-overcooking. Braised cabbage is just delicious. It turns silky and sweet, and is so good topped with lots of black pepper and flaky finishing salt. The Molly Steven’s recipe is one that I return to periodically, especially in the winter when it’s slim pickings at the farmer’s market. I’ve adapted that recipe a bit here, giving it some gingery, garlicky fragrance and extra richness in the form of coconut milk. Continue reading
Two things, and I’ll try make them quick. First off, that, above, is a magazine that I’m incredibly excited to share. Ever since I read Jessica Pressler’s hilarious send-up of the (straight) male foodie, which she calls a “doodie,” I wondered about what might make gay men’s approach to food unique. It seemed like a good idea for a magazine, and I left it on the back burner of my brain until I met Alex Kristofcak, and then Steve Viksjo, and we decided to go ahead and make it happen. What would it look like? What kinds of articles would it contain? We didn’t really know, but we wanted to see it, and we wanted to read them.
So it’s with great, great pride and joy to share Jarry, Issue 1, with you. In 128 pages, we explore the issue’s theme, “What Is Jarry?“: Jarry is James Beard Award-winning writer John Birdsall’s investigation into why there aren’t more publicly out chefs in restaurant kitchens. It’s artist Levi Hasting’s short comic about the peculiar relationship he has with his mother-in-law, via the kitchen. It’s recipes by popular writers and photographers Nik Sharma, Beau Ciolino, Adrian Harris, and Jonathan Melendez, as well as a night spent with Diego Moya, Miguel de Leon, and Zach Ligas of Brooklyn’s Cure Supper Club. It’s a long interview with Anjelica Huston’s personal chef, cover guy Blake Bashoff, as well as an A+ recipe for his fruit galette. It’s cabaret artist-turned-private chef Daniel Isengart and his longtime friend, international icon Joey Arias, spending an afternoon in the kitchen. And so much more. In short, what it is, is super exciting. Check out the website for article previews and more information, and to order or subscribe.
I love entertaining, even if I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be. I’m always a little too ambitious, where my guests find me sweating over a few simmering pots and an open oven when they arrive; too adventurous, excited to try out a brainy, untested dish over a failsafe standby; and I hate this but I sometimes I just choke in those crucial last minutes, sending rookie mistakes like under-seasoned or cold dishes out to the table. One reason I like to entertain is that it’s a muscle, and you can develop it, but more than that, hanging out at a dining table with new and old friends is one of my favorite things to do, and if I could do it every night I would.
So last weekend, after a very long dinner party hiatus, I had some friends over. I’d been rereading my Diana Kennedy books and was discovering Rick Bayless ones, so I decided a few Mexican-inspired dishes would be nice on a balmy July day. I made:
- A batch of creamy poblano rajas from More Mexican Everyday, to which I added a sheet pan’s worth of mixed roasted mushrooms; this was taco filling and I’ll write up the recipe sometime soon.
- This corn salad: a hit.
- From a pound of Rancho Gordo Bayo Chocolate Beans—one of the fruits of their partnership with Xoxoc—some vaguely refried beans. I cooked them with bay leaf and onion until creamy, then fried them in a bit of olive oil and garlic and mashed them with some of the bean-cooking liquid until creamy, but still a little chunky. Very good, and great with breakfast the next day.
- And because I’d bitten off more than I could chew, I enlisted the help of two of my guests for the rest of the menu: genius guacamole, from Kristin Miglore’s wonderful book Genius Recipes
- . . . and a platter of ceviche, served cold and heady with grapefruit zest, serrano and fresno chilies, and lots of herbs.
It was quite a feast. There was even a galette for dessert. I should have taken pictures, but—too much to do. Continue reading
Martha Rose Shulman, the prolific author of some of my very favorite, whole foods-oriented, weeknight friendly, never boring recipes, has written a few times about her habit of using up the lingering odds and ends of her dry goods—beans, pulses, grains—before the end of the year. This makes for a clean slate in January, and prevents any of those items from going bad while hidden up in the corner of a top shelf for a few years. It’s always seemed like a good idea to me, but I’ve never really made a point of doing it. But this December, we’re on. I began with this perfect, post-Thanksgiving meal.
This recipe is really more of an idea. I thought about going the soup route with my lingering black beans and farro, but instead I landed on something like “dry soup,” or a “black bean and farro soup bowl,” or—bingo—”deconstructed soup.” The idea is to take the elements of the soup I might have made, strip it of its broth, and amp up the garnishes. Furthermore, when I combine beans and grains in a soup, one or the other often turns to waterlogged mush as the leftovers sit, and this method eliminates that.
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.
It’s almost over. 2013 has been good to me, with exciting developments and lots of change, but with all the fluster and the bluster, with all the new types of stress and the unrelenting, unfamiliar feeling (for me) of not quite being able to maintain the grip on things in the way that I would like to, I know that I’ll be just fine when 2013 is a speck in the rearview mirror. Maybe it always feels this way, with the rush that November and December always are. And maybe the fluster and bluster is just a sign of activity. Whatever. Next.
My grandmother had the tradition every New Year’s Eve of setting outside a coffee mug that contains a quarter, nickel, dime, and penny. The coins should be shiny, and the mug should go out where it’ll get lots of air circulation. This was thought to promise prosperity, and I’ve never missed a year, never deviated from it or questioned it. The only thing is that living in New York, my access to the outdoors is a fire escape, so I’ve never been sure if that’s enough air circulation or not. Maybe you’ll want to give this a try. Continue reading