Backyard Drinks in Boston
Plus, the new Penn station, meal prep tips, and how to save day old bagels
You know what I’ve missed? Going over to my friends’ houses. There’s something so wonderful about seeing a friend’s space, filled with their favorite foods, books, and these days, their mask collections. As vaccinations continue, I hope to spend time in so many friends’ homes (I keep DMing people to invite myself over for dinner, I’ll bring wine or dessert).
We were lucky enough to visit Isa and Noah in Boston this weekend and it was a blast. I’m saving your excellent recommendations for my next visit because we spent most of the time walking around Cambridge, cooking, and having drinks in the backyard (longtime readers will remember our last visit with them in San Francisco in 2019). It was over 70 degrees on Saturday, a real gift. We were supposed to get outdoor drinks but the restaurant closed after someone on staff tested positive for Covid. Another highlight of the trip was visiting Moynihan Hall, the new Penn station. It’s spotless, even the bathrooms, and so pretty. The food options are very limited for now (just a Blue Bottle and a Starbucks), but a food hall and rooftop bar are opening this fall. The Amtrak was allegedly only 20% full, but it felt more crowded than that. This didn’t bother me, as I’m fully vaccinated and everyone wore masks, but keep that in mind if you’re planning a trip. Our train home arrived at the old Penn station, which was definitely a contrast.
These next few weeks will be busy. If you’re in the same boat, might I recommend the meal prep class I’m teaching with Erica on Sunday? When you sign up, you’ll get all the recipes, and a grocery and equipment list. We’ll also send you the class recording in case you miss anything! Use code SUNDAY for a discount. We’d love to see you there and you can learn more about Erica here! I’m also teaching a challah class next week if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make it!
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
I made some excellent quesadillas this week using all my usual canned bean tricks. Add some refried beans to your cart next time you go grocery shopping.
Isa and I met working on the food section of 34th Street magazine, and we wanted to cook something we had never made. We landed on saag paneer. We used Priya Krishna’s recipe, with paneer instead of feta, and it was delicious. There is an entire pound of spinach in the recipe (it wilts down) and it was so good over rice. Noah got some roti and naan from a nearby Indian restaurant to round out the meal. I’ll definitely make it again.
Dale and I brought bagels from Murray’s as a host gift and Noah turned them into breakfast sandwiches with eggs, Monterey jack, bacon for the bacon eaters, and a riff on Bui’s sauce (IYKYK). If you have day old or frozen bagels that need to be revived, Julianne’s method works every time!
We had a backyard happy hour on Saturday with aperol spritzes and a cheese plate. We got oysters from Whole Foods and Noah made a quick mignonette.
Something to order:
In anticipation of our trip/reemerging, I had a day of self maintenance: a facial, a haircut, and eyebrows. In between appointments, I picked up a vegetable tempura roll and a umeboshi onigiri at Dainobu, a Japanese market with excellent prepared food. I also got a refreshing Yuzu seltzer from Kimino.
In Boston, we got coffee at 1369 Coffee House (thrilled for iced beverage weather) and we had brunch with Isa (I have two friends named Isa who live in Cambridge, it’s confusing and they’re both wonderful) at Andala Coffee House, where the hummus was really good.
On Saturday night, we ordered a takeout smorgasbord: pizza and garlic knots from Area Four and tacos from Naco Taco (the spicy tofu taco was really good).
Last night ,we timed our Los Tacos delivery with our subway ride. Home is where the veggie tacos and mini nachos are.
Something to read:
Chinese cooking helps me connect with my mother—and helps me prepare to lose her (this essay from Nicole is so moving).
Have you seen that new pasta shape on Instagram? The pasta is content.
The new rules of wine pairing: it’s more about the mood than the food.
On perfecting a cookie recipe, and a lot more
Trying and failing to make New York bagels at home
Give your spaghetti the gift of chile crisp
Martha Lou Gadsden, Charleston Soul Food Legend, dies at 91
Dealing with social anxiety after Covid
The Triumph of Third-Culture Cooking from cookbook author Hetty McKinnon
Free donuts were never the problem, fatphobia is
Philly’s community fridge scene is booming
Do you peek into other shoppers’ carts? Chrissy wrote a great newsletter about getting naked at the grocery store
How the British Empire Built the Food System that Is Destroying the Planet
Diaspora Co.’s Fair-Trade Spices Will Enlighten More Than Your Cooking
This Terroir-Driven Gin Captures the Spirit of Vietnam
Why I’m currently trying to plan my next trip: anticipating a good time is half the fun.
Chefs and cooks in the disability community share recipes for accessibility (these Zoom classes sound incredible)
I’m the child of a hoarder—and I’m trying to do better for my own family
Melissa went inside the Reopening of Cubbyhole, One of Manhattan’s Last Remaining Lesbian Bars
Against “feel free to take some time if you need it.” When I got my first vaccine dose, I felt tired and had a bad headache. My first instinct was to dismiss the feeling, since I was tired from my busy week and a poor night’s sleep. I’ve heard so many friends do the same since and try to push through the exhaustion to work. Our work culture is unhealthy in this country, whether you work for yourself or a company. If you manage people, you can take real steps to make things better for your employees.
A hot new restaurant opened in Ridgewood. That made neighbors nervous. This is a great read on gentrification and the importance of affordable middle class neighborhoods in New York City. I’ve written about many of the businesses mentioned here and hope the next mayor and city council takes meaningful action around affordable housing.
Now, let’s talk about meal prep! You shared some great tips to get ready for the week.
Emily is all set with a pot of beans. They’re truly so versatile: Lately we've been trying to make a pot of beans in the pressure cooker at the end or beginning of each week. Currently on a Mayacoba bean kick and we make tacos and burritos all week long whenever the craving hits. I also like to make a container of hummus at the start of the week to add to things or have as a quick, healthy protein snack.
Julia is a meal prep pro, she always has something tasty in the freezer: meal prep tips! you know I've got them. I freeze EEEVERYTHING (as Abigail knows well, from previously sharing a freezer with me). I regularly cook in big batches and then freeze it all in individual portions, so on days when I'm too tired to cook or short on time, I have a meal all ready to go. Some of my go-tos: soups/stews (like this taco soup, this peanut stew, and this AMAZING tomato chickpea soup Abigail taught at her cooking class), meatballs (I've made these two and thrown them into salads for lunch), and various fish/meats (I pretty much also have fish frozen in a marinade that I can pop straight into the oven, and I recently made this gochujang chicken that reheated wonderfully). Baked goods also freeze like a dream, particularly muffins and cookie dough. The freezer: it's good!
Mike’s soup swap sounds incredible, you get a ton of variety: Every other Sunday I do what we call "Soup Swap" a group of 2-4 friends. We all make a big batch of soup—enough to feed each participant and their partner—and meet in a park to swap them. Just yesterday I brought Hawa Hassan's digaag qumbe (Sometimes we don't bring soup.) and got asparagus and roasted cauliflower soups in return. It's a great way to bring some variety to lunches, remove the pressure of thinking up what to make, and exposing yourself to new ideas. I wrote about it, and the first soup I brought to swap, here.
This week, I’d love to hear your current favorite cocktail (alcoholic or not). I usually go for a margarita or a negroni and am very ready for spritz season, which we kicked off this weekend.
Reply with your favorites and any at home bartending tips and I’ll share them next week.
Have a great week! Paid subscribers will get a bonus edition on Thursday and I can’t wait to cook with you on Sunday.