Here’s an idea for your weekend, and really there’s not much to it. While you’re sitting around on Sunday, reading the paper or doing a marathon of Orange is the New Black, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Drop in half an onion (leave the skin on), a carrot, a piece of celery and a whole head of garlic. Then pour in a big bag of dried chickpeas. If you’re bold, add a pinch of salt (though some say this changes the texture; I haven’t found that to be true). Lower to a simmer and cook for 20 to 40 minutes, tasting after 20 to see how far they have to go. Keep ’em going until they’re incredibly creamy on the inside (it’s tempting to stop when they’re merely edible, but creamy is what you’re going for), adding more salt as they chug along to help ensure that they get seasoned all the way to the center. When they’re seasoned and creamy, take the pot off the heat and allow it to come to room temperature. Then pop it in the fridge. What now?
Imagine a glass case in the part of your brain that houses recipes: inside that glass case? There should be a frittata and a little sign that says, “Break in case of emergency.”
A frittata is a terrific thing to know how to make because, on a weeknight where you have nothing in the house–nothing to cook at all–except eggs, a stray onion, and some butter, you can still make dinner. Throw in some chickpeas and smoked paprika, and you actually have a dinner that looks pretty good.
We all need a good baked ziti recipe, don’t we? Well here it is. I was looking for something like this to serve up for Episode #3 of The Clean Plate Club. Pasta being my favorite food, I wanted to serve pasta without having to be in the kitchen the whole time, boiling, straining, stirring, etc. Baked ziti is the perfect solution. You make your pasta earlier in the day, cook it al dente, toss it with a flavorful sauce (more on that in a sec) then layer it in a baking dish with lots and lots of cheese. Boom: you’re done. All you have to do is pop it in the oven.
You’re not going to believe me, but I’m telling you the truth: the dinner you see above? It’s cheap and easy.
Don’t balk! I kid you not. Last Monday, I made this dinner for less than $20 and it was one of the best things that I’ve made in a long time. I didn’t even use a recipe, I just whipped it up based on an idea I had. The idea went something like this: what if I buy chicken thighs and braise them in white wine vinegar with onions, garlic, olives, capers, and cherry tomatoes and serve it all on plain couscous? It seemed like a foolproof plan for deliciousness.
Confession: if I lead a post with an image that isn’t the finished dish, that’s because the finished dish isn’t very pretty. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t very good. In this case, the dish comes from a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time, a book that my publisher published around the same time my book came out: Burma by Naomi Duguid. As much as I felt like I went on an adventure with my book, this book is The Amazing Race to my Double Dare. What’s so remarkable about Duguid’s work here is how immersive it is: the book isn’t just a cluster of recipes, it’s a beautifully assembled collection of stories, pictures and anecdotes about life in Burma.
Growing up, when mom and dad would get dressed up on a Friday night, they’d leave us behind with a babysitter, a box of fusilli and a jar of Prego. I couldn’t have been happier because, as most of you know by now, pasta is my favorite food (next to dessert). Chicken or the egg-wise, it is possible that it is my favorite food because I grew up eating it; if mom had left us behind with a can of Spam and a pair of pliers, maybe I’d be gorging on canned meat to pep myself up. As it stands, though, when I’m down in the dumps, nothing puts a smile on my face like a big bowl of fusilli with a meaty tomato sauce. Here’s one I whipped up this weekend using some smoky bacon I had leftover.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, a musical can be built around the poetry of Ezra Pound.
Wait, that was a ridiculous line from last week’s Smash (as recapped, hilariously, by Rachel Shukert here). What I meant to say was: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it’s worth knowing how to make a curry. I’ve done it with chickpeas, I’ve done it with cauliflower, and today I’ll show you how to do it with a sweet potato.
One of the great joys of living in America is that, at any moment, no matter where you are, you can order a pizza. This was a fact well-known to me when I was in high school and college. “Let’s order a pizza,” is a phrase most of us are quite comfortable saying and it wasn’t until very recently that I realized I hadn’t uttered those words in a really long time. But hanging out with my friend John at his new house in Glendale, recently, we were talking about where to go to dinner and suddenly I found myself saying those magic words. Before we knew it, there was a knock on the door and our pizza had arrived.