You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for a meal. Especially not in the summer, when it’s often hot and humid enough to make the stove a scary place. I seem to wind up with so many heads of lettuce in the summer, too—from my CSA or farmers markets or friends—that I have to play a version of pin the tail on the donkey with them that involves lettuce heads, not donkey tails.
Growing up, pretty much any time I ate fish it was prepared in one of two ways: steamed whole, then drenched with julienned ginger, scallions and soy sauce. Or, pan-fried whole, then drenched with spicy, garlicky bean sauce. Later on, I would grow to love dipping fried fish sticks into ketchup and savoring every juicy bite of a Cajun-seasoned catfish fillet. But at the beginning, it was all about whole. Head, tail, cheeks, eyes, fins—the whole shebang.
Let’s start off a year of fewer regrets. It’s 2018, a good time to start getting things done! It’s about time to do things that have long been neglected and put off, like a laundry list of—well, laundry is one of them. And for some reason, I have never made New England-style clam chowder before. Let’s knock this one off and keep on going strong.
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.
Over the winter, I had fun making long-simmered pots of chicken paprika and goulash, Eastern European dishes that pull at my childhood memories. You see, my next-door neighbors growing up, an elderly couple from Poland the Kieslowskis, would often make these in their home and it filled my backyard with delicious scents as I scurried about in the yard, sometimes playing tetherball with my brother, sometimes helping my parents with yard chores like weeding, or sometimes wandering into the Kieslowskis’ own backyard … Read More
So, it’s my birthday this week. I’ve officially passed the threshold of being in one’s “early” thirties—but so what, right? There is infinite time to live and learn, make and do things, all of them incredibly new and infinitely, excitingly and fresh and different. I cooked octopus for the first time last month. It wasn’t exactly the first, if you count helping other cooks over their shoulder and doing-by-seeing, but it was a first for my own kitchen. Chefs of any … Read More
Breaded, frozen fish sticks were a fairly staple kids’ food in my time. (Are they still now?) Bland and inoffensive logs of cod, the ads for them always promised they’d be crispy, with an ethereal, ear-chattering canned crunch sound so elusive from any food, let alone fish. Short of this satisfaction, they always needed something — they needed some help — but I can recall only dipping the finger-shaped nuggets in ketchup as a kid. This does not sound very appetizing, I … Read More
Spring has been really snoozing on the job. Rather than bursting with cherry blossoms, the new season has only brought soggy, sort-of snow and below-freezing nights. This might be our latest bitch and moan as we bundle up in scarves on the subway each morning, but it’s actual, literal bad news for local orchards. Seems that peaches in Upstate New York may not make an appearance this summer, unless these small-scale farmers have the time and resources to bundle their trees … Read More
I was craving Korean food the other night, so I made something that could approximate it. Haunts of stuff that one might get while on a group outing to Koreatown with friends, that sort of thing. It’s not difficult to pull off a hardscrabble version of such dining-out memories, as long as we aren’t talking some Escoffier-esque French gastronomy classics. These cravings can overwhelm, but if you’ve perhaps tried your hand at cooking similar things before, or just have especially … Read More