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.
My podcast is having an effect on me. I had Jenni Konner on my second episode and she talked all about letting people into her kitchen during a dinner party, giving people tasks, sharing responsibilities. That’s the total opposite of what I normally do; normally, I get everything done hours ahead then just warm everything up when everyone gets there. It’s a control thing. It’s also an anxiety thing. Basically, it’s a me thing.
Not too long ago, my friend Cary asked if he could cook with me and, with Jenni’s podcast on my mind, I said: “Sure.” I didn’t know what to expect. I went to the market in the morning and bought a bunch of tomatoes, green peppers, and a melon. He texted that he was picking up prune plums from his farmer’s market.
Sorry for the slow posting this week, folks; we had to take a California Driver’s Test yesterday and, based on everything we’d heard, we had to really study for it (a very smart friend, who shall remain nameless, failed the first time he took it). As we went into the written exam, Craig said: “Whoever does better will be the ultimate victor of our relationship forevermore!” Turns out, we each passed with only two wrong. We are both victors, which sounds like an Oscar Wilde play in the making. Needless to say, no time for big, thoughtful posts; but I did post those lamb burgers on Tuesday and here’s something fun you can do with the leftovers, should you make those burgers this weekend.
This summer, if I were the sort of person who named their summers, might be called “The Summer of Stone Fruit.” That’s because, for a good part of it, I’d bring home lots of stone fruit (mostly peaches, but also nectarines and plums) from the West Hollywood Farmer’s Market. I’d put these stone fruits into a bowl on our kitchen counter and, inevitably, the stone fruit would get eaten. It was only last week that I decided that I could do more with stone fruit besides just eat it. Which is when I had the idea to use stone fruit in a salad.
Oh commenters, you complete me. I did a post last week called Summer Food where I asked you, my readers, what foods really capture the summer season. The responses were great, but one stuck out in my head as I made my way to the grocery store this weekend. That was KatyBelle’s. She said, “Anything vaguely Mediteranian or involving Feta cheese basically” and went on to praise watermelon with Feta and a Greek pasta salad also with feta. Well look what I made this weekend:
That’s hummus on the left–you blitz chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the food processor (the recipe’s on Epicurious: the trick is to reserve the chickpea liquid and then to add it at the end until the hummus is smooth and creamy (which, come to think of it, was another tip from a reader from the last time I made hummus))–and, on the right, watermelon and feta salad. I just bought a watermelon already cut up and cut smaller it into nice squares. I tossed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, some slivers of onion and, of course, Feta. It tasted great and only now do I realize what it’s missing: mint. I made it with mint once before and that was over the top.
The next day I put the Feta to more good use (do you prefer it when I capitalize or leave uncapitalized “feta” ?) when I improvised this pasta salad:
It’s sort of based on a Mario Batali dish I made last year, only this time I used cherry tomatoes and I used penne. Essentially, you chop up some garlic and throw it in a bowl with lots of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, and pepper and, if you’d like, some red chile flakes. Then you take a carton of cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes) cut them in half and throw them in with everything else. I added a splash of red wine vinegar and I added even more later: do it to taste. You also add some chopped up some parsley but you could use basil or any other herb you enjoy. And that’s basically it. You cook the pasta until just al dente then drain and add to this bowl. And then, of course, you top it with Feta. A simple, easy, and terrific summer dinner. Thanks KatyBelle! You and Feta are my new best friends.