Moses had the burning bush which talked to him and told him to free the Jews from slavery and to lead them out of Egypt; I had a burning piece of matzoh. My burning piece of matzoh didn’t talk to me or tell me to do anything, but it did fill my apartment with so much smoke I had to open all of the windows during a rainstorm. If I were superstitious, I might wonder if this burning matzoh was punishment for my non-seder at Five Guys Burgers the night before where, instead of dipping bitter herbs into salted water, I dipped French fries into ketchup. Regardless, this was my first attempt at making matzoh and it all happened because of a mysterious package that arrived earlier in the day.
Once, long ago, I found the following statement on someone else’s food blog: “I’m sick of The Amateur Gourmet, all he cooks is pasta.”
I usually let such cutting criticism roll off me, but this–like a piece of wet spaghetti thrown at the refrigerator–stuck. I haven’t stopped cooking pasta (not by any means: it’s my favorite thing to cook) but I’ve blogged about it less. What was the last pasta recipe I posted? Exactly: it’s been ages. (Actually, it was my Heaven & Hell Cauliflower Pasta two months ago, but let’s ignore that.)
At least once a month, I get the same e-mail. It’s an e-mail I like getting because it addresses one of my favorite subjects yet, often, the e-mail sits in my inbox for a few weeks before I can answer it. Then, when I do answer it, I shoot out a scrambled, sputtery response that may or may not be very useful.
The question usually goes something like this: “Hey Adam, I’m coming to New York for a few days: where should I eat?” There’s usually something else thrown in—“I’m on a budget,” “I’m a vegetarian,” “I don’t like food that begins with the letter ‘p’”—but, for the most part, it’s the same question. And since that very question sits in my inbox right now from a reader named Angeline I thought I’d answer it here on the blog once and for all; so, without too much fanfare, here it is—The Amateur Gourmet’s Guide to Where To Eat in New York—broken up into various useful categories.
The original title of this post was going to be: “How To Turn Leftover Collard Greens Into Soup.” It was going to be a joke–you’ll see why in a moment–with only two words in the body of the post itself. But then I realized that many of you don’t have leftover collard greens sitting around in your refrigerator because many of you don’t know how to cook them. Which is a shame because collard greens aren’t only strangely delicious–deep, dark, almost musky–but they’re good for you too. They’re also prevalent, cheap, and versatile. Which is why you should be cooking collard greens more often!
Growing up, I hated mayonnaise and I hated cheese. Strange for a kid, yes, but the cheese-hatred had some basis: my dad hated it, so we never had it in the house. And I became so conditioned to hating cheese, it took me years (and a cheese-loving boyfriend) to get over it. As for the mayo, that was entirely my own thing: nothing repulsed me more. The gummy, gooey whiteness mortified me; nothing could ruin a sandwich faster than spreading mayo on it first. I could abide it in coleslaw and tuna salad because I didn’t see it go in, but a turkey sandwich with gloppy mayo on top? To this day, I’d say “no.” So imagine how repulsed I’d be if, as a wee lass, you’d presented me with a Southern delicacy known as “pimento cheese”–cheddar cheese mixed with mayo and chopped up pimentos. I might’ve, to use an elegant verb from my childhood, hurled.
I have the good fortune to be friends with a guy named Dan Fortune, a DJ with an incredible knack for hunting down obscure tracks–mostly show tune oriented–performed by unexpected artists (Stevie Wonder singing “Hello Young Lovers” from “The King & I,” Nina Simone singing a medley of songs from “Hair,” James Brown singing “September Song.”) Dan’s talent for weaving these songs together into a cogent stream of music has won him a large New York following; and because of that following, Dan often gets asked to DJ celebrity events. And, being his friend, he’s now invited me to two: one was Chris March’s book party (remember Chris March from “Project Runway”?) and the other, more recent event was Michael Musto’s party celebrating 25 years at The Village Voice.
Here’s our latest video from Food2, featuring beloved Italian chef Cesare Casella (of Salumeria Rosi). Chef Casella (who’s also the dean of Italian studies at the French Culinary Institute) teaches us a technique so effective, I’ll never make risotto any other way again:
For those of you who can’t watch the video, here’s the recipe (after the jump)…
Inspiration strikes at the strangest moments. Like Newton under the apple tree, you might be daydreaming about “The Golden Girls” episode where Dorothy’s friend has a lesbian crush on Rose and BOOM–you’ve invented gravity!
Such was the case for me, last week, while grading student work in my Gotham Food Writing class: I had the sudden, inexplicable urge to stick a banana in a hot dog bun, schmear it with peanut butter, drizzle on honey and call it “The Elvis Dog.” This was a great moment in human history.