Sunday, July 29, 2012

double grilled pizza

Being on campus over the summer is weird. I expect it to have a kind of empty, hushed, library-late-at-night quality... but it doesn't. Sure, not everyone is here. But a lot of people are, and it's kind of bizarre to run into people in the hallways, or listen to tours breeze by, or stand and wait for the library elevator.

Grad school is funny that way-- like college (few responsibilities, learning) but also... not (revising a paper as soon as a draft is in, having an office, showing up at that office in July). So I'm reminding myself that it's summer by grilling pizza.

I just inherited my grill, so I need to make an active attempt to use it. So after making pizza last week, a lightbulb went off. Grill + pizza = grilled pizza. I have been prosthelytizing for everyone who has a BBQ to make this for years, so I decided to just do it. The days have been, somehow, packed-- reading and writing, biking here and there, errands, so by the time I was actually standing in front of the grill assembling the pizza, it was nighttime. Even without that sunshine-feel-good-beer-in-hand grilling thing, this pizza was a delight.


+an eggplant
+pizza dough (make or buy)
+tomato sauce (optional)
+cheese (also kind of optional, but delicious) (I used mozzarella and cheddar) (but seriously, a minty goaty cheesey version of this pizza would probably also rule).

1. Cut a big ole globe eggplant into wide flat slices, like for eggplant parmesan. Meaty! I may have "way crazy oversalted" my eggplant. Salt your eggplant if you have the skills to do with without making the inside of your mouth taste like the bottom of the ocean when you are done. By that I mean cover the eggplant with salt and set it in a strainer to firm up, if you dare. After about half an hour, rinse the eggplant and press firmly between paper towels.

2. Or just go ahead and marinate your eggplant slabs in olive oil and some hot red pepper flakes and maybe Italian-y herbs (oregano, thyme). Or maybe mint, garlic, and lemon for aforementioned babaganoush goat cheesey pizza? Somebody do this and tell me if it's awesome.

3. Hopefully your timing is better than mine and it is daytime. Fire up the grill. Bonus points if you are wearing some kind of apron. Double bonus points for beer in hand. Quadruple bonus points for pizza BBQ party (the two best kinds in one!) and echoes of laughter and the Beach Boys.

4. Grill the eggplant, about 5 minutes on each side. While you have a second, get that mise en place all ready to go. For example, uh, wipe yr hands and unscrew your sauce lid and make sure the cheese is already grated and all that.

5. Stretch the dough and lay it across the grates. Grill about 2 minutes on the first side, until it's bubbly.

6. Flip and assemble! Go go quick! Sauce, cheese, eggplant, cook until the crust looks golden brown and awesome. Carefully remove from the grill, pat yourself on the back for making such a festive weeknight dinner, rejoice: it's summer!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

to pasta, with love

I have always defined living well as a kind of European sensibility-- fresh bread daily, runny cheese, scarves. Whenever I see women wearing blousy shirts and chunky silver rings, I dream about growing into one of those effortlessly chic women who decides to eat dinner and then there is delicious pasta on the table made up of strange pantry delights (uh, basically just my friend Alex). 

Breadcrumbs in pasta. There's the answer. I have long read recipes that call for breadcrumbs and I have always been like, why do that when you can add cheese? Because it's delicious and cheap, that's why. I made this pasta, then I googled the ingredients to see if I could have done one better (is that nuts? do other people do that?) and learned that Zuni Cafe in SF has basically the same pasta but with fennel seeds, too. Validation! Also, I want to go to the Zuni Cafe, or at least cook beautiful honest Berkeley-food without knowing it. I'm getting there. 


+ a few anchovies (the other secret to effortless elegance, according to Nigel Slater, anyway, is anchovies. Anchovies for all!)
+ a few cloves of garlic
+ capers (a tablespoon? two?)
+chile pepper flakes (a few shakes? to taste?)
+ olive oil. A lot of it.
+ a head of broccoli or cauliflower
+ half a pound of pasta
+ 1/2 - 2/3 cup breadcrumbs

-- Boil your pasta water and then add the pasta. Let it cook al dente and drain. Duh.
-- Meanwhile, lay your breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and toast at 425 for about 10 minutes, checking FREQUENTLY. 
-- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil. Smoosh in the anchovies until they make a paste and add the hot pepper flakes. If you need more oil, add more. 
-- Now add the broccoli and saute. Don't be afraid to walk away and let it get a little scorchy-- that's the good stuff. Add the capers towards the end, in enough oil so that they get crispy crunchy.
-- OK! Pasta into the sauce. Did you forget about the breadcrumbs in the oven? Don't! When you're ready to serve, sprinkle them on top. And there you have it. With a cold beer in your stickyhot-but-seriously-I-love-my-eat-in-kitchen? Maybe more Brooklyn than Paris, but not bad, at all.

are you there?

At some point, last fall, I fell into a hole: I was writing about food all day, the fluorescent light in my kitchen made me never want to be in there, I bought a tub of pretzels at Costco and ate them through the 9 consecutive months of rehearsals. So I laid the blog to rest-- but now, with the midsummer light and a new EATINKITCHEN and open days and a new determination to make weekly meal plans, it's back.

It's lonely writing papers about food, struggling to hammer out some grand unifying theory of food and performance. I'd rather be cooking, and writing about it for you, dear reader. (see how Dear Sugar I got there? In the last few months I have been reading plenty of precious internet prose).

SO. yeah. Hello again.