There’s a certain type of cooking that I excel at and it’s called “I just got back from a trip and what do I have in my fridge?” cooking. Usually, when I get back from somewhere, I’m too fatootsed to go food shopping, so I either (a) give in and order take-out from Pine and Crane, our favorite take-out spot; or (b) take a culinary swing with what whatever I have around. Last night after getting back from Santa Barbara, I went for option B.
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.
Calling a cookbook “essential” is a bit cliché, but that’s not the case with Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee, this year’s James Beard Award winner for Best American cookbook. We’re in a state of reckoning right now in America, a necessary reckoning that’s had reverberations in the food world (see: Bon Appetit) and has forced many of us to question our own blindness when it comes to racial inequality.
For me, that blindness is made manifest on my cookbook shelf. I have hundreds of cookbooks — five Inas, for crying out loud — and yet so few of my cookbooks are by people of color. It’s an embarrassing state of affairs, one that I’m in the process of remedying; after interviewing Samin Nosrat on Instagram Live, I immediately bought some of her new favorite cookbooks, including Maangi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking and Dishoom by Shamil Thakrar.
Is there any dish with more rules attached to it than risotto? Watch any episode of Top Chef where someone tries to make it, and you’re bound to see someone packing their knives and going home. There are rules about the kind of rice you use (Arborio vs. Carnaroli), what kind of stock you use (dark stock, light stock) and the consistency it should have when it’s done (toothsome? pliant? mushy?). These rules matter if you’re cooking on television, but at home these rules go out the window: I’m here to tell you that risotto is a cinch to make–you can even make it with water! (something I learned watching Lidia Bastianich)–and, best of all, you can make a really good one, with bacon and egg and cheese, for breakfast.
The smartest food bloggers rave about the recipes they post in the first paragraph so you’re positively dying to click ahead and read the rest. Me? I kind of do that, but I also can’t help being a truth-teller. So yesterday, I was honest when I said that I loved the Franny’s Toasted Almond Gelato recipe I made, but I also said it tasted–just very slightly–like snot. Now I’m here to tell you about a rice salad that I made from Staffmeals (quickly becoming one of my most-used cookbooks) that I enjoyed, but not fully, mostly because of how I cooked the rice.
My newsletter readers (you do know I have a newsletter, right? Another one’s going out later today: sign up here!) went nuts last week when I shared a picture of my friend Brian’s red beans and rice and didn’t offer up a recipe. “Can you get the recipe?” one replied. “Where’s the recipe?” wrote another. “You owe $15,000 in back taxes,” wrote the U.S. government. I e-mailed Brian and he said he couldn’t help with the taxes but he’d gladly write up a recipe.
Along with my chickpea curry disaster, I’d made some white rice in my rice cooker that looked like it was going to go to waste. I could have made rice pudding but Craig hates rice pudding so I put the leftover rice in the refrigerator and forgot about it.
When I declared my pescatarianism last week, I was mostly being tongue-in-cheek because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t stick. I’m still not sure it’ll stick. But so far, it’s stuck, and at the same dinner party when I made that spring pea puree, I needed a vegetarian entree that would impress in a way that didn’t make anyone think: “Vegetarian entree.” Rifling through a recent Food & Wine, I found a recipe for David Kinch’s Eggplant Dirty Rice and thought: “Ooooh.” Once I made it, that “oooh” transformed into a “whoah.” This is powerful stuff, one of the best vegetarian dinners I’ve had in a long time.