Catharsis: tears fall, a dam breaks. Time is not your enemy, yet it nudges you along its path, regardless of your mistakes or your self-doubt — whether you’re ready for it or not. Fall with your tears, fall into the river time has made in your kitchen. This is the art of bread baking, and it’s why I came to the mountains of North Carolina earlier this month for a three-day intensive, wood-fired baking workshop with the inimitable Tara Jensen of Smoke Signals Bakery. I came for an awakening.
Dear world, I’m sorry for my radio silence. It’s been an exciting and overwhelming few weeks over here, including an amazing, spiritual bread-making experience in North Carolina that I’m dying to tell you about. But I got caught in the Delta mess on my way home, then came back to a weekend of love that was showered upon me by the most incredible friends and family a girl could ever ask for, and it’s go time on prep for this wedding thing and for once I decided to cut myself some slack — no guilt this time — and take a break from blogging for a hot minute. In truth, I had this recipe for caprese pasta salad ready for you before I left for Asheville, intending to have the post up when I got to our Airbnb, but just didn’t get around to it. But this is one of my back-pocket recipes, so simple, so easy to make, and such a perfect way to celebrate a harvest of tomatoes, especially on a hot day, that I can’t wait any longer to share it with you. Continue reading →
If you were to ask me what my number one, go-to, last-minute pasta dish is, I wouldn’t hesitate to say spaghetti aglio e olio. If you were to ask me what my number one, go-to, ridiculously-easy, don’t-feel-like-standing-in-front-of-the-stove pasta dish is, I would say this: Marcella Hazan’s four-ingredient tomato sauce. Continue reading →
The cherry blossoms are blooming in Central Park. The magnolias are bursting in front yards all over Astoria. Daffodils are everywhere, and so are the people. Spring has finally sprung in New York, and nothing says spring, especially after an active day outside shaking off the last of winter’s hijinks, like a crunchy, herby salad filled with chicken, tomatoes, feta, and pasta.
It’s the perfect segue: ingredients that are available all year round, ready to be consumed the first day of the year you truly really want to put effort into making a savory meal that tastes like a warm, sunny day. And because it’s a salad, you can throw as much of this, as little of that as you’d like and it will be amazing every single time. That’s sort of the way I learned this one. I was visiting my friend Erin in Boston, probably a good ten years ago, when she suggested we make this for dinner. It hails from a possibly ancient issue of Cooking Light magazine, but we never measured anything. A handful of basil and parsley, a bunch of scallions, a bag of lettuce. And, okay, fine, a little too much penne that one day. I think once it was cooked it barely fit in the pot. I swear, it wasn’t me — but of course it was so very me. She just knows me so well. Needless to say, I have been hooked since that day, and this salad is a staple in my warm weather dinner arsenal. Continue reading →
Years ago my aunt gave me a recipe for roasted tomato soup that called for beefsteak tomatoes, which, truly, are only available in good form in the summer. I made it several times, because, who are we kidding? I can eat soup on a hot day. Especially if it’s tomato soup. It’s a weird thing I picked up from my mentor at an internship eons ago: great soup (say, with a bagel) was filling – and cheap. It became a ritual. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit.
After I left that organization I needed to recreate the soups that got me through the simultaneous reaffirming and heartbreaking work (and gave me super human rights powers?), and this recipe, which I did only make in the summers, was spot-on. But the heat from the oven, and then the stovetop, was generally intolerable, so after a while that hand-written recipe left the rotation, relegated to the inner folds of my recipe binder, several pages down from two different summer-y panzanellas and nestled between two decidedly wintry soups.
If a long distance runner tells you part of the reason she runs isn’t so she can stuff her face with pasta, she’s lying to you. True, most of it is the challenge, the endorphins, the yearning to be better than you were yesterday. But for many of us, we run so we can eat. And when you’re training for a marathon, you’re hungry. All. the. time. It took me a while to be okay with eating a second lunch – which follows brunch, which follows a very long run, which follows breakfast. I swear, though, not everything I eat is a pastry or a muffin or a biscuit – I also eat fruit and salads and proteins and potatoes rich with vitamin C. These are the things I crave after a 20-mile run. But before? Give me bowls of pasta. Lemon. Garlic. Tomatoes. Peppers. Whatever. As long as it envelops that perfect pod of a simple carb, it’s what I want to fuel me through those grueling miles.
We all grow up eating the stuff, though for many kids, like yours truly, many moons ago, we want it with butter. Or cheese – from a little blue box. We were the pain-in-the-ass kids who only knew tomatoes if they were in the form of basically orange, tangy water with little o’s swimming around. But once we learned how beautiful that fruit was? Forget it. I watched my mom make a bolognese hundreds of times growing up, but never made a basic sauce until I was 20, kind of poor, and living with an Italian-American roommate in Paris. On our first night in our apartment together, she made her grandmother’s recipe: slow cooked, fresh tomatoes, with garlic, onion, and raisins, to cut the acidity and add sweetness. My life would never be the same.