I don’t know about you, but my head started to crack a bit like an egg last night thirty minutes into the debate. And instead of throwing that egg into a skillet by continuing to watch (“this is your brain on Trump”), I decided to turn off the TV and crack a few eggs for real.
Making cookies is self-care in 2020. True, cookies are self-care at most times, but that’s especially true now. These cookies — chunky oatmeal raisins, maybe the best I’ve ever made — are from Arezou Appel, the founder and baker of Zooies Cookies (the recipe was published this week in The LA Times), a cookie shop in a gas station in Cheviot Hills.
You don’t often think about turning on your oven to make a salad, but that’s exactly what I did after flipping through Suzannne Goin’s AOC Cookbook during the build-up to lunch on Saturday. My usual salads are normally quick affairs of tearing up some lettuce, drizzling on some good olive oil (lately it’s Séka Hills), and my beloved white Balsamic.
Chef Goin has you toast walnuts in the oven for her chopped salad (which this isn’t), but I liked the idea. As I was getting ready to do that, I remembered Nicole Rucker’s trick of cooking bacon on a cookie sheet at 375 (see: my most excellent BLT). So I popped some bacon in there along with the walnuts and suddenly this salad was seeming very promising.
Sometimes I do Q&As on Instagram and lots of people have been asking me lately how I shop for the week.
The answer: I do a Supermarket Sweep every Monday at Cookbook in Echo Park. It’s a SuperMarket Sweep because you get the store to yourself, but you only get ten minutes, so you have to go as fast as you can. Here’s my strategy: dry goods first (Rancho Gordo beans, pastas, ancient grains like freekeh (more on that in a sec)), fruits and vegetables next (I load up on as many as I can; I feel like you can’t buy too many fruits and vegetables during Covid, they can go into salads, side dishes, desserts), and, finally, I buy three proteins to dole out over the week. One of those proteins is almost alway sausage because sausages work in soups, pastas, or you can cook them whole in tomato sauce and serve over polenta.
And though I sound like a broken record talking about trying to cook all of the summer things before it stops being summer (an unlikely prospect here in L.A.), I do have to make some time for corn here. I already told you about my skillet chicken breasts with peppers, corn, and scallions, and that’s basically how I’ve been doing corn all summer: cut straight off the cob (see that post for the technique involving a bowl inside a bowl) and cooking it in a skillet with aromatics and some kind of fat (butter, olive oil, bacon fat, or in that post, chicken fat).
Romeo asked, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”
The same can be said of ice cream flavors. If we didn’t call Cookies & Cream “Cookies & Cream,” would it still taste like Cookies & Cream? Ice cream is an arena where names seem to matter. We love a Jeni’s flavor called “Brambleberry Crisp” but would we love it as much if she had called it “Soggy Blackberry Mixture with Oats?” I don’t think so. Which is why, for this post, about ice cream made with the ripest, end-of-summer peaches, I’m sticking to the simple and direct: this is a post about Peach Ice Cream, plain and simple.
Okay, we have a week left of summer and I’m milking it for everything it’s worth. Right now I have peaches ripening in my fruit bowl and I’m going to make peach ice cream, probably the last ice cream I’ll make for a while. It’s not that summer truly ends here in L.A. — if anything it keeps going and going and going — but at some point, as a seasonally-focused home cook, you’ve gotta embrace the calendar. So right now it’s tomato salads galore; next week it’ll be pumpkin bread.
And a great transitional dish? Caponata. “What’s caponata?” you ask. Think ratatouille with the dial turned up to eleven. Instead of a bunch of stewed summer vegetables, you have deeply browned eggplant, earthy celery, briny capers, and then red wine vinegar, sugar (yes, there’s sugar), and white wine. It’s sort of like an eggplant pickle but also an eggplant salad and also an eggplant condiment.
If I teach you anything, anything at all, during our time together let it be how to turn one meal into three. Case in point: this chicken dinner I made on Wednesday night, which turned into Thursday’s lunch, and then turned into Thursday night’s pasta. How did I get all of that out of one little bird? Allow me to astound you!
Every family has its own way with potatoes. Growing up, my mom would buy frozen potato latkes, heat them up in the toaster, and serve them with Mott’s apple sauce (you can hear all about it on my mom’s episode of Lunch Therapy). Most families, I’d venture, are mashed potato families. Some do it from a box, others from scratch.
Here at Chez Amateur Gourmet, we’re a roasted potato family. Specficially: pee-wee potatoes roasted with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes with spices thrown in (smoked paprika, cumin seeds, crushed coriander seeds).