Saturday, January 29, 2011

white bean dip

I don't know which I am more excited about: a new influx of music thanks to the daytrotter sessions, a rush of phone calls from near and far, feeling an awesome sense of CA-community, working on creative projects full time, reading Greek and having it feel energizing and not laborious, a pending vacation to death valley, or this white bean dip. Seriously. I figured out my very own anti-hummus and now I am basically living the dream.


Throw 2 cups or so of white beans (if you cooked them yourself this will be better) into a food processor with plenty of salt and pepper, about a clove of garlic, and a glug of olive oil. Let it whizz around while you toast up some pita or make tortilla chips in the oven (400 for 15 minutes or so).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Marcella Hazan's pasta sauce

Just learned that Mark Bittman's NYT column, the Minimalist, has been cancelled. He'll be moving on to write about food policy... he was already moving in that direction. Frankly, I should probably move in that direction, too. Food is Serious Business and Agrobusiness is a Big Problem and we should all Inform Ourselves. But I just want to maintain that there is something PLAYFUL about food, something that is fun and easy and sincere. I think about authenticity a lot-- both in terms of our sarcastic generation & queer performance-- and as much as I sneer when idiots start talking about how much they love HONEST food, I get it. Mark Bittman cooked "real" food and taught me how to cook it and love it. From crackers to cake, something about the Minimalist just said: "you can do it. just cook it from scratch." And "from scratch", my friends, has been the most meaningful activity in my life for the past five or so years. So goodbye, the Minimalist, and thanks for everything.

If I haven't made you watch this yet, please do.

Anyway. Speaking of "from scratch", there is no reason to buy jarred pasta sauce when you can make one that is this amazing! AMAZING. And easy. And honest. Don't feel bad about using canned tomatoes, even NPR says its ok.

+ An onion, peeled and cut in half BUT NOT DICED.
+ 1 28 oz can of nice tomatoes (Trader Joe's, San Marzanos, whatever). I cut mine up a little first but you could crush them with a spoon while they're cooking so whatever. Just don't lose the seeds because they are MAD UMAMI.
+ Half a stick of butter (Yeah, I mean, duh. I said AMAZING right? Well. There you go.)

--Put the ingredients in a pan and let it simmer for as long as you can stand it. 45 minutes?

Discard the onion. Toss it in a blender, if you are like, only interested in foods that bear no resemblance to things that grow in the ground. Proud, Bittman? See? I am "politically engaged." True confession though, one time I pureed this sauce because I missed the corporate consistancy of fake pasta sauce. So. Anyway, that's it! You're done! Turns out all it takes to make "honest food" is butter and patience.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spicy Eggs

I was never a fan of hot sauce. Never saw the point. I always felt like those who liked hot sauce had some kind of cultural cache: I guess one time at some point I visited some grown-up in an office and was amazed, amused at a bottle of hot sauce stashed in the corner of a cubicle. Then when facebook was just a toddler and groups were introduced, one of the first to go viral at Columbia, "Hot Sauce Fixes Damn Near Any Food", made me feel the whole internet was at some party and I was in the corner.

No more. Something about replacing white pizza with burritos, the economy-sized tub of Franks Red Hot in the fridge, going out to the desert or cooking in a cast iron pan. Or maybe it was drinking less coffee. Maybe I am just feistier. But I can't get enough. Hat tip to Adam for inventing these and for feeding me so many breakfasts.


+ Heat up oil in a sturdy pan (or leftover sausage fat over a fire pit, if it is dawn and you are in the desert and life is as good as it gets)
+ Fry a lot of cayenne, or cayenne-lime mix. Add red pepper flakes. Add paprika. Add chili/e powder. Sizzle sizzle.
+ Turn the heat lower and scramble some eggs (you know, that you already beat with a fork in a bowl).
+ Avert your eyes while someone else adds a liberal amount of cheese.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

happy new year, tomato bread

"Recipes!" Rachel said. "Recipes!"

My life the last few months has been all ideas, all the time. Not even concrete ideas, dreamer-schemer ideas ("a talking doormat", someone at Burning Man replied. I guess "what's your big idea?" is kind of a trick question, especially when someone is on drugs). Nebulous ideas. International Klein Blue ideas.

Yesterday I sat with an old woman in her study and she was burning cedar wood and it was hot and dark and fragrant and she said: "here is what I have noticed about your work. You have a brilliant mind but you need to focus." I was struck by two things: she has read fifteen pages of my writing. I have heard this before... always from people that don't know me that well. What is it about my carriage or gestures or hair or teeth that says "nutty professor"? I guess I have been playing this part, in which genuine excitement and curiosity get acted out as fake spaciness, for so long that I have become genuinely scattered. Enter: recipes. It is good to cling to something simple and real like food without thinking too hard about it.

Anyway, Rachel, here is a recipe that is unexpected, delicious, and impossible to overthink.

(adios, Barcelona, it was great)

--Classy European bread, sliced (horizontally, if you have a baguette) and toasted almost to the point of charring
--A clove of garlic
--Olive oil
--A tomato

+ Rub the cut clove of garlic over the rough toasted bread (which is why you need a sturdy toast, and also a bread with a not-too-open crumb) until it gets worn down.

+ Cut the tomato in half and rub that over the bread too.

+ Drizzle some olive oil on top and salt, if you want.

+ Resolve to drink better coffee and eat better cheese (not really, but this bread + manchego cheese are the tapas of champions). Also to rewatch The Passenger.