Drinking before you cook has its benefits. For starters, it loosens you up; makes you less anxious about whether the salmon will sear perfectly or the Étouffée will be an Étoufail. On the flip side, drunk cooking might lead to cooking accidents and/or a viral web series.
On weekends, I like to enjoy a good cocktail before heading into the kitchen. My favorite, these days, is a White Negroni: equal parts Gin, Cocchi Americano, and this orange-flavored Amaro we get here in L.A. called Amaro Angeleno. It was after imbibing an especially potent version of this favorite drink that I decided to do something truly wild: I decided to stuff vegetables with random things that I had in my fridge and then to bake them in tomato sauce.
Here’s the thing: now that I’m making recipes printable, I feel a new responsibility. I used to just write little essays about how I added a pinch of this and a drop of that and I’m realizing now how useless that was: the people want printable recipes! And I get that because when I first started cooking, I followed recipes to the letter. You want to replicate the image you see in the picture and you want to know exactly how it’s done.
So let me explain the dinner you see before you: I had chicken breasts. I had corn, peppers, onions, scallions, and lots of other vegetables from a recent (terrifying) trip to the grocery store. A few weeks ago, I made an incredible corn dish involving bacon and all of the same vegetables (see here on Instagram). Knowing I had skin-on chicken breasts, I thought: what if I sear the chicken breasts and then cook the corn in the same skillet, working up the brown bits for that same meaty effect?
Now, on this new-ish iteration of the blog (where my m.o. is to be much more casual about the whole thing), I find myself repeatedly talking about Cookbook in Echo Park. It’s where I do most of my grocery shopping and it’s pretty much the best food store I’ve ever been to anywhere. Look what I saw when I walked in there yesterday…
Yesterday I went food shopping with my friend Diana. We went to Lassen’s and the produce looked fine, not great, so I grabbed two cauliflowers (cauliflower?) even though it’s the height of summer and I should be buying corn and tomatoes. Then we went across the street to the butcher (McCall’s) and despite the vast array of meat and fish options — short ribs, head-on shrimp — I chose two skin-on chicken breasts because I was just feeling very basic yesterday.
Sometimes, though, the most basic, bland, white ingredients (chicken breasts and cauliflower!) can be canvasses for the creative mind. To quote George Seurat in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George: “White / a blank chicken breast or cauliflower / the challenge? Bring order to the whole.”
The other day I bought a package of Hickory Smoked Sausage (at Cookbook, I told you I’d be talking about that place a lot) and it came with four sausages that I stretched out over two dinners, both of which — if I do say so myself — were pretty terrific.
The first involved serving the sausage as its own thing, which almost made me do it as a separate post since the corn salad that I served along with it was really the star. Let me tell you how I made it.
Hi, so we’re going to Provincetown next week and I’ll be off the grid and I wanted to leave you with one more post before I go. Here’s one about two lasagnas.
Our friend and neighbor Kyle had a birthday last week and I offered to cook him a dinner. I could tell he was excited about the idea of a meat lasagna, but one of the guests didn’t eat pork, so I had two options: 1. Disappoint Kyle and make a big vegetarian lasagna (no meat!); or 2. Make TWO lasagnas, one meat, one vegetarian. I’m thinking, by the title of this post, you’ve already figured out which path I chose…
Sometimes people ask me if I barbecue and I say “no” and when they ask “why not?” I say: “Because I don’t really like my backyard.” And it’s true: we share one with our neighbors in our fourplex, and they’re all very nice, but it’s not very private and it also kind of looks out on to a gas station. So the idea of being back there for a long time with a pair of tongs and a brewski doesn’t really excited me much, even in summertime.
But that didn’t stop me last night from “grilling up” some steak. (“Grilling up” in quotes because, ya know, I wasn’t really grilling.) This dinner really was a triumph, if I do say so myself; I was welcoming Craig back from the Palm Springs Shorts Festival, where he spoke on a few panels. He was already glad to come home (Palm Springs is 105 degrees right now), but with this dinner he was even gladder. Let me tell you how I made it.