These days, I rarely eat at my desk while I’m working because it’s often an impenetrable mess, covered with magazines and half-finished poster designs and four-day old coffee cups and little scraps of paper and crumb traces of ancient snacks past. Even though I secretly love clutter, I know it really grosses my partner out, so occasionally I force myself to clear away a space long enough to eat a plate of food and move on with my day.
[A note on the couscous: I am ashamed of this couscous, so much so that I was a little afraid to post these photos. Have you ever had a dish that you were so good at making that you bragged about it to everyone you knew, only to one day inexplicably lose your mojo and discover you can no longer make it, not even a little bit? Before I moved in with my partner, I boasted endlessly about how I made the perfect, fluffiest couscous you could imagine. Then one day, I couldn’t make it anymore. Even in my strongest attempts to get my groove back, my couscous rebels against me and ends up dry, pebbly, and deeply embarrassing. The perfectionist in me is deeply mortified by stuff like this. Has this happened to anyone else?!]
Paprika + thyme pan-fried potatoes // Chickpea, shallot, carrot + broccoli stir-fry with garam masala, black pepper, garlic + curry powder.
Morning coppa // honeydew melon // cantaloupe // maple syrup
Braised lamb shank // boiled purple potatoes + fleur de sel // haricot verts + lemon zest // seared endives + bacon
Cannellini bean + kale + red pepper flakes + Pecorino + lemon + penne
Himalayan red rice + lentil ‘fried rice’ // diced green beans + potatoes + parsley + lime + soy sauce + fish sauce + garlic + rice vinegar (a splash) + sesame oil (even less)
Cheese // cheese // cheese // cheese
Lentil fried rice // merguez, seared // pan-fried potoates + parsley + butter
Spring pasta // rigatoni + shrimp + asparagus + peas + lemon + white wine + cream + salt
SPRING! My partner is going to Italy this month. What should I ask him to bring back for me??
Easter Sunday leftovers. Still amazing.
So deeply, irrepressibly excited for the oncoming onslaught of spring vegetables. So much so that even the slightest glance at a bundle of peas, asparagus, or butter lettuce — no matter how wizened, unripe, or generally suspicious looking — results in the vegetables ending up in my hands, and coming home with me. It’s not quite time yet, but it will be, soon. And I’ll be ready.
1. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I had so much fun playing around with puntarelle, a bitter Roman vegetable similar to chicory. If you can find it, peel and trim its stalks, grate, and toss with an anchovy-garlic-lemon-oil dressing. It’s magnificent, full of bitterness, salt and crunch. Don’t forget the Pecorino.
2. A spring vegetable salad that turned into something slightly more wicked with the addition of shaved truffles, sunny-side up eggs, and smoked duck “bacon”. Decadence aside, I couldn’t ignore the nubile firmness of the freshly shucked peas, the tender crunch of the Boston lettuce, and the cool cucumber crescents. I garnished this with deep fried sage and a classically French lemon shallot-scallion vinaigrette.
3. Even my standard breakfast of eggs and toast gets livelier when paired with quick oven-roasted baby asparagus, sprinkled with minced garlic and covered with a squirt of lemon. (I draped a few slices of coppa over the stalks, too.) We couldn’t stop exclaiming about what a perfect breakfast it was, so simple and pure and good.
AND DINNER (AND WINE)
More often than not, my daily eating pattern goes something like this: Toast for breakfast (Russian bread, smeared with local chevre and halved cherry tomatoes), soup for lunch (cannellini bean, kale, shaved golden beets, and leftover roast chicken in broth), and lots of meat and wine for dinner. I rarely get bored of this advancement of my day. I finally tackled the Lee Bros’ famous grits recipe, and served it with a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, and a cabbage, plum and bacon compote. We cut the leftovers into slender wedges the next morning, reheated in the oven until extra crispy. Big pat of butter and a snip of chives on top is essential, though the grits are admittedly quite rich and delicious on their own.
More pasta. I came back from Portland, Maine, feeling bloated and gross, and swore that I would go on a diet to reclaim some sense of self-worth (penance for all of the buttery croissants and sticky buns). For the most part, I’ve been drinking lots of tea, and eating piles of kale, poached eggs, and farro. It’s all very simple and good.
But maybe this “light” meal gives you some kind of idea of how loosely I conceive of the word “diet,” or how silly I find the term to begin with. Eating a big bowl of pasta drenched in pesto is somehow acceptable “diet food” in my mind, although it’s clearly not. Not that I have ever successfully been on a diet, I’ve never been interested in restricting what I eat. So right now I see it more as a “simplified eating pattern,” in direct reaction to the overconsumption of baked goods in the last 10 days. I need a break. I need a detox.
So, I cracked open the final jar of summer pesto, and tossed a tablespoon with whole wheat penne, hothouse zucchini, chickpeas, and basil — and no butter in sight. That counts as something, right? [Also: I was so inspired by Jennifer’s gorgeous Los Angeles garden pasta primavera — I can’t wait until we start getting favas and fresh peas!]
[Baked ziti with swiss chard, chickpeas, tomatoes, basil, red onion, and pesto. The trick is to really undercook the pasta initially, so you can bake the ziti extra long, longer than you think you need, and the pasta edges get crispy without the interior pasta getting mushy. I have no idea if what I said made any sense at all.]
Back in Montreal. Feels so good to cook again. Even after only a week away, I feel the urge to cook cook cook. I get so tired of restaurants so fast, all I can think about is the food and meals that I make for myself. It’s almost always satisfying and delicious in a way that restaurants rarely achieve. Plus, leftovers!