Always in the Mood for Pasta

Italian food, a giveaway, and my current favorite lunch

Hi friends,

It’s somehow mid-September and Monday newsletters are back and here to stay. I hope you had a sweet New Year and a relaxing Labor Day (this is a pro union/pro labor newsletter).

To welcome us back, I’m excited to announce a giveaway! Thanks to a generous donation from Silver Milk Productions, I’m giving away four paid subscriptions to This Needs Hot Sauce. Paid subscribers get bonus newsletters, exclusive recipes, discounts to cooking classes, and personalized recommendations within 24 hours. If you’d like a subscription but it’s not in your budget, reply to this email to claim one of the spots. Thank you again to Silver Milk!

If you’re curious about how I started This Needs Hot Sauce and how newsletters work behind the scenes, I’m recording a podcast with Foster, an online writers group. I’ll share the episode once it’s out and you can sign up to attend the live recording on Zoom, which will include a Q&A.

Now, let’s dive in.

Something to cook:

I did a lot of cooking around Rosh Hashanah including Grandma Bessie’s apple cake for a class and a favorite challah. (Here’s more of the menu). We’re hopefully on track for a sweet year.

My new favorite quick lunch is Trader Joe’s Thai Vegetable Gyoza crisped up with frozen spinach or kale, edamame, and chili crisp. Heat up a little bit of oil, add the dumplings and let them crisp before adding the veggies. Add a small amount of water and cover to let everything cook. Uncover and add the chili crisp (as much as you want). It’s such a great combination and perks up the frozen ingredients.

Julia and I cooked more Omsom to pair with Bachelor in Paradise (that link will save you $5). I think the Lemongrass BBQ is my favorite, with tofu, rice, cucumbers, broccoli, cilantro, and chili crisp. It comes together so fast.

For Rosh, my parents made this green tahini dip as a starter (we served it with blanched broccoli, sliced cucumbers, and carrot sticks, pita chips would also be good) and it was such a winner. If you grow herbs like my mom does, it’s a perfect use for them but as Ina always says, storebought is fine. The recipe is from Sababa and not online, but it’s the basic tahini sauce blended with herbs (about a cup).

I also tested some recipes for September’s meal prep class, which is this Sunday! Grab your spot here to get the grocery list and recipes and we can’t wait to cook with you. You can also watch Erica remix last month’s meal prep here (I make a few cameos).

I tried this granola, which Jill sent for my birthday, and it’s so good! Simple ingredients and the pumpkin seeds are a very nice touch.

Something to order:

Way back in August, we had a family dinner at Montesacro for the Virgos in the family. I love their cacio e pepe and we had two really good salads, one with peaches and another with baby gem lettuce.

Dale and I kicked off Labor Day weekend at Mesa Coyoacan, with grapefruit margaritas and the mushroom huitlacoche tacos I will never get sick of. They have so much outdoor seating and I love it there.

I’ve always heard good things about Faro in Bushwick but had never been. Dale went with a friend and was eager to return with me. It was so delicious and special. The space is centered around a wood fired oven, the service was excellent and the food was out of this world. We got the heirloom tomatoes and sesame focaccia to start (the bread was perfect for catching the dressing). My pasta, an angolotti with broccoli, lemon zest, and crispy garlic breadcrumbs was incredible. We’ll definitely be back. They offer indoor dining for vaccinated guests (no outdoor seating).

Summer called for one more trip to the Rockaways, which included Rippers (get the cheese fries with the cheese on the side, it’s a gamechanger). They were running a soft serve special and the chocolate was so good.

It’s a little embarrassing how many times I went out for pasta in the last two weeks (I even had a penne alla vodka pizza slice last night at Lissette’s birthday), but I am living my truth. Julianne, Julia and I tried Baci & Abbracci on Friday and loved it. There’s a large backyard and it’s popular with groups. Get the paccheri with burrata and eggplant and the linguine alla vongole (so garlicky and good).

Julianne, Julia, Amy, Hillary and I had a fancy afternoon at the Westlight, the rooftop bar at the William Vale hotel. It’s a really special place for celebration and you definitely need a reservation (they’re strict about the 90 minute limit for each table so get there on time). The cocktails are really good and you can go one flight up from the main bar for a less crowded picture taking spot.

After fancy drinks, Hillary, Julia and I got happy hour nachos at Allswell. They were so good (and large for $7), with beans, jalapeños, radishes, and more. No chip was undertopped.

Oset, Erica, Michael, Quentin, Dale and I got dinner at King’s County Imperial, another great group restaurant (you’ll went to share everything). I love the long beans (they sub smoked tofu for pork), the cold sesame noodles, and the mushroom noodles.

Something to read:

Salad tragedies

Love to see Maintenance Phase in the NYT (their recent episode on protein blew my mind)

Anela of Feed the Malik shares the behind the scenes work of food blogging (it’s a lot and she is so good at it)

I’ve never been to Austin but if I go, Veracruz All Natural will be one of my first stops.

A New Yorker’s journey to retrace her Gullah roots

Angela Davis of the Kitchenista on moving to a Patreon

New types of female friendship

Cambodian clam digging in the rivers of Arizona

This take from the Sweetgreen CEO is trash

As a raw red onion lover, I feel seen by this defense of raw onions

The cultish language of wellness mommy bloggers

A Pilgrimage with Isaac Fitzgerald

In the Kitchen with Dan “Grossy” Pelosi

Love the spotlight on Queens in this Mexican food round up

The delight of white rice and eggs

As someone who earnestly read Lean In in college, I will read all the articles about the demise of the girlboss

Food insecurity, anti-blackness, and fatphobia: What food access advocates need to understand

What does sustainability mean in the Bronx?

Listen to my friend Maiah on the Swirl Suite podcast (and check out her fall wine recommendations here)

How Bullying and Spying on Muslims After 9/11 Spawned a Justice-Seeking Generation

So cool to see Andrea’s recipe on Food52’s YouTube! Need to try soon.

Gabrielle Union shares the hard truth behind her surrogacy journey. I recently read her first book and loved it! Can’t wait for this one.

Big Night is a new dinner party essential shop in Greenpoint. Such a fun shop for gifts for others or yourself.

Rich people kitchens are on a different level

I read this Colson Whitehead essay every year around 9/11

What we talk about when we talk about gentrification (segregation is a far greater problem)

Ways to make vaxxed hangouts safer in the Delta era


Now, I’m excited to share your hosting tips for safe and fun gatherings!

Nandini’s cookbook gatherings sound like so much fun: I only discovered the joy of cookbooks, and more importantly, actually following the recipes from cookbooks over the pandemic, and have been inviting small groups of people over to try out new recipes that I'm excited about. Even though the idea is to share the fun of experiencing a new recipe with my food loving friends, I have found it hugely helpful to make at least one thing I've made before as a back-up. In line with being present, I also try to pick recipes that I can mostly do the night before and just finish the last step or two the day of, or recipes that will reheat well. Lots of recipes from Indian-ish or Cook This Book meet these criteria! I also try to pick recipes that need different appliances for the reheating or day of steps. I've made the mistake of making stuff that all needs to be reheated/finished on the stove, and it is VERY annoying if you don't have enough burners or appropriately sized pots and have to do dishes while your guests are over and want to hang out with you. Last tip is that my friends always ask what they can bring, and I generally outsource dessert, non-wine beverages or disposable plates etc. to them. I find it helps to be specific about what you actually need (whatever that is!), instead of giving a vague answer, because they end up bringing something no matter what I say, and it works best when they bring something that takes something off my list. I used to hate to do this until I got a good talking to from my friends after one particularly involved dinner party where I insisted on doing everything myself and basically talked to nobody all night, and can attest that all my parties since then have been much smoother, and also helped me much more present with these people I love and want to spend time with! 

Erica is a great host, can confirm: My main hosting tip: make an effort to introduce your guests to one another! Pay close attention to who does/doesn't know each other when you're planning the guest list and think about who might get along ahead of time. Do this one or two times over the course of the evening and the introductions will continue naturally on their own from there.


Next week’s newsletter will arrive at the start of fall, so let’s get into it! What fall foods are you excited to eat? I’m ready to make pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins and some butternut squash pasta. Reply to this email with your fall favorites and I’ll share next week.

Have an easy fast if you’re observing Yom Kippur and take care!

xo, Abigail