Beginning next week, I’ll be taking a pretty extensive cookbook research break that will keep me away from this site well into June, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to post one more time. In what might be the most boring premise for a reality television show ever – leading up to any trip, I stop buying food and try to only use what I have on hand. That left me with a few links of chorizo bought for garbanzos, an extra 2 pounds of malanga that never became fritters, and a half bunch of parsley because – well there’s just always parsley.
I was very late to try it, but this week I finally made Jim Lahey’s now famous no-knead bread recipe. I’m not sure how it came to mind, but around 6 o-clock one evening, I decided that I absolutely could not go another minute without digging it out from a stack must trys I’d had going for a couple of years. After looking at the online video Mark Bittman created with Lahey, I bundled up and headed out for the ingredients. By 7, I was mixing up the dough and setting it in the oven for the initial long slow rise. The next day, after a few turns and second rise, it was in the oven pre-heated to scorching hot. I was cautiously optimistic. Read more
Lately, in my heat-addled mind, the most satisfying meals can be summed up in two words – cold and simple. Though gazpacho meets both criteria, I’d yet to make it this summer. Looking for a new variation, I tried this popular recipe for gazpacho al estilo de Patricia by Spanish chef José Andrés. Having experimented with pale ajo blanco, deep pink gazpacho with strawberry and fennel, and classic red with tropezones, it was time to go green. Read more
Just back from Miami where I spent the last week running for a great cause that was covered here and here, I’m still playing catch up. Fueled by countless cortaditos, I took advantage of my time there to start research on an upcoming project I’m really excited about, see friends, laugh with my family, and well eat…a lot. Heading to the gate, I had the disorienting feeling that I was leaving home to go home that always comes over me after a long visit. So while I get my bearings, I wanted to keep it simple with this repost of arroz blanco, including the plaintive email in the comments from my sister who inspired it.
Brought to the table in perfectly rounded mounds with an order of black beans, served in heavy chafing dishes on buffet tables, or ladled out of giant cookers from the kitchen counter, white rice hides in plain sight. Though a staple throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, white rice specifically anchors every Cuban meal. Its primacy partly due to large waves of Chinese immigration, I can’t imagine a better blank slate for beans, shredded beef stews, picadillos and plantains. I probably end almost every post with the words “serve over fluffy white rice” but had yet to include a recipe. When my sister texted me to find out how to make it. Rushed and reluctant to text back, I wondered why she didn’t just look it up here, then I checked and realized it wasn’t on my site. Oops. Read more
My oven and I have been locked in a battle of wills – and I’m losing. It will work just fine for a couple of days, do whatever I ask of it, then for no particular reason refuse to heat up at all. Its left me with unroasted tomatoes, ungratined cheese, unbaked cakes and generally frustrated. Getting anything fixed in my apartment is an ordeal and I’ve had no fewer than three visits from the building’s supers where they stand in the kitchen, look over the oven, agree that “yes, it’s not working”, then leave. While I appreciate their sympathy, the nodding isn’t getting me any closer to 350 degrees. Read more
Tucked next to French beans, Shishito peppers, and curly Chicory, Padrón peppers have made their late summer appearance. A product of Galicia, they’re a popular tapa lightly fried with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. I hadn’t heard of them until I read José Pizarro’s Seasonal Spanish Food and recognized them as the compact and deep green peppers everyone crowds around during the short weeks they’re available at the market. With my current Spanish preoccupation, I thought it was time to try them. Read more
Normally, I jump around the globe but virtual travel can be exhausting and with our seasons aligning I wanted to linger in Spain awhile longer. I rescued the eggplants I’d bought from last week’s pisto manchego partly to try this Andalusian recipe for eggplant fritters drizzled with honey from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain and partly because my sister said they looked like little witches lined up in a row. Either way, they were ripe to stand on their own. Read more
If I’ve been hard-selling farmer’s markets in the last couple of months it’s because I can’t remember a summer where I’ve taken this much advantage of them. It’s partly my dog’s fault. Orfeo Perro gets very fast walks during the week so Sunday mornings we go the long way around Carroll Park to the small market that sets up there. This should be a happy time for both of us but rarely is. The smell of sizzling turkey sausage goes to his head and I have to watch him so he doesn’t gobble up the samples (toothpicks included) that fall to the sidewalk or, even worse, get gobbled up by the much bigger dogs for whom he is a delicious turkey sausage. To make matters worse, he thinks nothing of snatching at animal crackers, cheerios and anything else that sticks out of a passing stroller. I work my way through the market in a series of tugs and apologies but that’s my dog – marking his territory and taking candy from babies. Read more
When I was little and knew I was going on a trip, the first thing I did was pack my bags. It could be days, weeks or even months away, but getting ready made me feel like I was already on the plane. Sadly, I’ve completely lost my pro-active packing impulses. Almost from the moment the itinerary hits my inbox, I start running through the list of things I need to do here before I’m allowed to go there. This weekend, after booking my Easter trip to Puerto Rico and facing dementor-like winter temperatures outside – the kind that make you feel like you’ll never be cheerful again – I felt a little of the old packing impulse when I decided to make this stew of habichuelas blancas. Read more
I love the holidays but so much joy can be exhausting. The things I normally love doing – seeing friends, decking the halls, shopping, traveling – become stressful when done for 31+ consecutive days. I miss my kitchen and get in a panic about getting home too early to sleep and too late to cook. Faced with the prospect of nighttime pop tarts (organic maybe but still) and cold bowls of cereal, I opted for tortilla de papas instead. Read more