It’s the season of no recipes needed. In winter, we might pore over splatter-pocked cookbooks, braising a stew or simmering a ragu just the right way. In the summer, things get a lot more loosey-goosey: we unsheathe the barbecue, dig into dirt, invent salads from overflowing refrigerator crispers and lounge around barefoot catching seafood, perhaps. All this fun and the peak quality of seasonal ingredients leads to a quick and effortless cooking session, if you can even call it that.
This week marks the publication of my friend Chitra‘s cookbook, Vibrant India. If you’ve been reading this blog a while—or if you just like home cooking as much as I do—you may have found that cheap, healthful, and seasonal are some essential beacons to guide everyday recipes. And Chitra’s home cooking—and, hence, her cookbook—have these traits in spades.
Sometimes you just need that combination of cool refreshment and savory satisfaction. I think that’s when chicken salad comes in handy. It’s a casual summer treat, but it usually only comes about once you’ve had your fill of both types of extremes—too many cold, vegetable-based meals one day, and a whip-cracking, bulldozing heavy meal with meats or poultry another. I guess what I’m saying is that leftover, roasted chicken salad with crisp vegetables in a sandwich is that perfect yin-yang of summertime eating.
What a chilly, rainy start to 2015 in New York. Yesterday found me stomping through the city in a sleeping bag-esque coat that collected flurries, hail, and splatters of freezing rain like moths around a flame. Alright, I guess the precipitation hit everyone else on the streets, too. But my fate seemed sealed toward making tomato soup when I got home–perhaps with toast, or grilled cheese.
Do you ever edit yourself, after something’s been said and done? After you’ve cleaned off a meal that you enjoyed to its fullest, then start believing that it wasn’t all that it could be? I have this compulsive habit sometimes, and right now I’m really wishing that I’d scattered crisp red onion across this dish, like slivers of orchid petals. And maybe pinched speckles of Maldon sea salt and black pepper on top of those tomatoes and lettuces, and–eh… it … Read More
Do you have a lot of curious condiments lurking in the fridge? Like a strange bedfellow that you had a one-night stand with, but for whatever reason, life moved on, and you don’t feel the need to connect? Maybe it’s that Thai green curry paste that you thought was exciting and adventurous, but has since dried up and gone stale. Maybe it’s a bottle of salad dressing that you once genuinely loved, for a time, which is now squarely in … Read More
It’s more filling than a mere tomato sauce, but just as easy to make. I like to make versatile dishes in the winter; things that can keep well in the fridge, and keep on playing new roles well, too, albeit of a similar character. It’s not the Meryl Streep of foods, I guess: this bean and pancetta-studded tomato sauce wouldn’t exactly make a drastic turn in, say, Vietnamese cuisine. But it does wear many hats quite deliciously keeping within a … Read More
One great misconception about Asian food is that there isn’t much use of tomatoes. In everyday Chinese cooking, for example, there are tomatoes: in scrambled eggs (which is exactly the way it sounds), in eggdrop soup (as soft, vibrant wedges), and as a base for sauces (like a stir-fry of shrimp). Well, I can think of one space where tomatoes don’t factor in too much in Asian food: noodles. And that happens to be where we encounter tomatoes in Western, … Read More
Too many tomatoes. That’s something I didn’t think I’d ever be saying earlier on in the summer, or, least of all, during the colder months we’re heading into now. But currently, in the Northeast, it’s tomato mayhem. For the last several weeks, I’ve gotten more and more reinforcements of tomatoes from my CSA. I had my volunteer shift last week, and was given the task of sorting tomatoes. There were far too many for the (many of them vacationing) members … Read More
Serving punch in watermelon bowls, clam chowder in bread loaf bowls, grilled beef in lettuce cups — who doesn’t love edible vessels? They can elevate humble-looking dishes to eye-catching hors d’oeuvres, but they’re not always the most practical, no-fuss solutions. Here, it just made sense: I was making a chunky, whole grain salad, and instead of chopping tomatoes to toss in it, I stuffed the ripe fruits to the brim.