A simple, healthy Thai shrimp salad with an authentic sour-savory-spicy-sweet combination of fresh lime juice, fish sauce and chili paste, showered with fresh herbs and crunchy roasted peanuts.
Summer is almost done but we are officially in the middle of a heat wave. You know those shots in movies of a long, empty road, heat lines shimmering up from the pavement? Maybe a tumbleweed blows by, lazy and misshapen? That’s our living room right now. In this case the “tumbleweed” is Arya, our rescue dog who, for a pup who lived her first year on the streets of West Virginia, is hilariously particular about the range of temperatures she finds acceptable. 70º – 75ºF is fine, but a few degrees in either direction and get ready for dramatic sighs and woeful glances.
If, like me, you get a lot of your culinary inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram (I admit it, I’m completely addicted to both), you might well think that pumpkin and squash were the only vegetables available from September through November. Not true!
Don’t get me wrong, I love squash and that high-pitched squeal you heard was probably me squee-ing with excitement when the first delicatas arrived at the farmer’s market but a girl’s gotta mix it up a little, right?
Thus, our Brussels Sprout Pizza with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese was born.
Revenge doesn’t have to be the only dish best served cold. We combine crispy baked tofu cubes with cold noodles in a spicy sesame – peanut sauce for a fantastic dinner or picnic recipe.
We’re adopting a new strategy to help us cope with the cold Northeast spring: we’re simply going to pretend that it’s summer. That’s right, readers: the tiki bar has been set out in the garden (which, incidentally, is BLOOMING), we’ve slathered on a healthy layer of SPF50, and we’re putting together all sorts of yummy goodies to take on our next picnic. Yes, it’s perfect weather to take a room-temperature noodle dish out on the deck or to our local park. Okay, all that may not be true, but this recipe is a perfect meal to make when you don’t need to serve up a hot dinner.
Crispy on the outside, pillowy and creamy in the middle, Arepas make the best sandwich ever, with easy BBQ Chicken, shredded Cheddar cheese, pickled Red Onions and Avocado.
In 1994, I had just graduated college and was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. During the day I worked my first job in the film industry. I was interning in the editing room of a film called Surviving the Game (starring Rutger Hauer, F. Murray Abraham, Gary Busey and Ice T. Yes, you read that list correctly.) At night and on the weekends, when I wasn’t bartending, I was attempting to make a living as a custom hand-bound book artist. This is the long way of saying I was ridiculously flat-out broke.
My friend, Adriana
My partner in book-binding, loft-living and cooking on a budget was my best friend from college, a beautiful and talented artist from Colombia named Adriana, who sadly passed away in 2004. She and I spent countless hours in her loft (a former fish-canning factory which, worryingly, always smelled a little like anchovies when it rained). We laughed at a million stupid jokes, bound hundreds of books, and watched many episodes of the X-Files. We also ate a gazillion Colombian-style arepas, slathered with butter and salt (or sharp cheese and guava paste, Adriana’s favorite).
Not to get too emo on you but looking back, I realize what a formative and precious time those years were. It taught me that I can make anything, including furniture. I learned that film editing is basically magic. And most importantly, I learned that when you cook with people, what you learn from them stays with you forever, so they’re with you forever.
Whenever I miss her I make arepas. I make arepas often.
Crispy tortillas filled with spicy chorizo and gooey cheese, these quesadillas are balanced by the fresh, unusual flavor of a radish and fennel salsa. It’s a sophisticated pairing that elevates a familiar comfort food.
There are days when you absolutely crave a quesadilla that is, in food-marketing parlance, “fully loaded.” But the more ingredients you put in your quesadilla, the more prep work and cooking you have to do, and some nights you just don’t have time for that. To keep this version under 20 minutes, we limited ourselves to two main ingredients in the tortilla itself, and paired it with a tart, crunchy chopped salsa that balances the richness of the quesadilla and elevates it from standard sports-TV fare. It may not be fully loaded with ingredients, but it’s definitely fully loaded with flavor.
A stellar, top notch brunch doesn’t need to take hours to prepare. These Tartines (toasts) with Herb Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon and Salmon Roe take only 15 minutes!
I’ve mentioned before that, though my mother is a fantastic cook, both my grandmothers were truly, ridiculously bad in the kitchen. Vegetables were boiled until they begged for mercy. Meats were blasted in the oven until they were unrecognizable. Even bread somehow managed to become disks of solid brick. (And I’m not talking about homemade bread. Store-bought. And this in the heyday of Wonder bread). It was grim.
So my brother and I always breathed a sigh of relief when our parents stopped at Zabar’s before the family trip to Queens (where we assumed every grandparent in America lived). Zabar’s, to those who are unfamiliar, is an Upper West Side institution. Open since 1934, it’s one of those places that’s almost impossible to describe. It’s a gourmet store but only because it sells things that are now considered “gourmet” but used to just be “food”, albeit for immigrants. Smoked fish, cheese, baked goods like bagels and babka. Items that turned my German-Austrian grandparents positively verklempt.
So we would pick up some smoked salmon, a little sable. Some whitefish salad. Pickled herring that no one ever seemed to touch. Along with cream cheese and a dozen bagels (from the dearly departed H&H, of course), off we drove to the outer boroughs where we’d set everything out on my Nana’s dining table and eat off of styrofoam plates. Even I, a known fish-hater and infamously grumpy child, would schmear a bagel with cheese and lay on a slice of nova.