Cooking for the fun of it
Spicy tofu, smashed potatoes, and so much pasta
I cooked a lot this week—in a way that actually felt fun. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused it—I had some good groceries and I had some free evenings and I was in the mood to make something. I tried a bunch of new to me recipes and really enjoyed the results. I’ve talked a lot about cooking ruts and have certainly been in many, especially during the early pandemic, when getting groceries was such a challenge. However, it’s equally important to celebrate the moments of flow, the moments of joy in the kitchen where doing the dishes is not a chore, but an excuse to listen to the 10 minute version of All Too Well another time. I’m grateful for the past week of cooking and hope I can reflect on it next time I’m in a rut.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
Oset and Kelsey hosted a disco dinner party with decorations from Feste. Kelsey made an absolutely gorgeous lasagna with charred vegetable ragu as the sauce. It was so meaty and savory tasting, thanks to two kinds of mushrooms, and I definitely want to make it in my kitchen.
I bought a bag of little baby potatoes a few weeks ago and decided to smash them one night. I followed this method and made a little sriracha mayo for dipping purposes (I recently got Kewpie mayo which is delightful). I used the leftovers in a few ways: in a salad with arugula, avocado, and pumpkin seeds and for breakfast, reheated with some Tuscan kale and served alongside cheesy scrambled eggs. Ketchup is optional (but I always use it).
I had work early on Saturday morning so I needed a quiet Friday in. I made use of some very ripe bananas to try Grossy Pelosi’s new banana bread, which was really good. I didn’t have the ingredients for the frosting, but I want to try it next time.
For actual dinner, I wound up watching Abbott Elementary (so good, especially as a part time teacher and former Philly resident) and making this sesame gochujang tofu with some rice (I used these chili flakes instead of gochujaru because I didn’t have it). The sauce thickened so nicely and I will definitely make this again.
Last night, I wanted to make a somewhat special dinner that would have leftovers for the week and I settled on vodka sauce, with coconut milk instead of cream (it’s already a favorite of the year). I saved some of the pasta water for reheating and am excited to have this for lunch with a side salad.
Something to order:
Dale and I started the week strong with the grandma pie from Williamsburg Pizza. We get it half pepperoni for him and both add red pepper flakes and hot honey (you can use code ABIGAIL20 for 20% any Red Clay products).
Sarah and I went thrifting at Beacon’s Closet in Park Slope and found some great stuff (they are a thrifting pro and we’ll be sharing all the tips soon on Instagram and in Thursday’s newsletter). Afterwards, we got lunch at Bricolage, where I had a really good eggplant bahn mi and they got pho (it’s definitely pho weather). I’ve been wearing my new pieces all week and learned so much.
Julia and I went to Tuffet for its 11th birthday party! I’ve hosted several events there and am so happy to see local businesses survive and thrive. They have a great heated backyard if you’re looking for an outdoor drink.
Alicia and I got pedicures on Friday and we parted ways in search of Friday afternoon treats, namely fancy coffee drinks. I happily spent $6 on an oat maple latte from Variety. I’ve also been very into Variety’s Los Arroyos coffee from Guatemala (I always buy Guatemalan coffee when I see it).
Saturday was a tiring workday so Dale and I got an early dinner at Montesacro, home of some excellent cacio e pepe. I love their back dining room. We had our Virgo birthday dinner here over the summer and it was a parent favorite. Dale recommends the steak too.
We finally made a Wegman’s run and I was thrilled to see crates of sumo citrus, one of the bright spots of winter. I got a big box and have been savoring them. You can use this to find them near you.
Leah and I met for a pre dinner drink at Reclamation Bar, which makes a great cocktail. I got a mezcal margarita and she got a peach vodka concoction. We took a selfie to send to our mom.
Something to read:
I share five additional links (including podcast episodes) in Thursday’s newsletter for paid subscribers.
I’m contributing an essay (about being insulted in the New York Times about Hamantaschen) to Serving Up: Essays on Food, Identity, and Culture. The book is crowdfunded and we’re hoping to meet 50% of our goal this month. Use code TNHS15 for 15% off your copy!
Sarita Choudhury on And Just Like That and the reaction it’s getting (I have my critiques and can’t stop watching)
What’s in a name? Andrea explores this beautifully
How Wordle went viral. Today’s was hard!
Has the pandemic changed how you dress? I loved this piece (featuring Alicia Kennedy and other stylish folks)
Cup of Jo comments never disappoint and this post is full of great tips
Delivery Workers Cheer Restroom Access and Tip Transparency Alongside AOC and Chuck Schumer. A big victory for Los Deliveristas (read more about them here)
HelloFresh Workers voted against unionizing despite dangerous working conditions (we are a pro union newsletter and unions are hard to create).
Natasha Picokwicz shared the concept of a soup mother and it’s poetic
Do’s and Don’t for dinner parties (I disagree with the no appetizer rule, appetizers are the best)
Remembering André Leon Talley with Sam Sanders
The Abbott Elementary cast is so good and I was so excited to see Tyler James Williams aka Chris from Everybody Hates Chris. Chessy from the Parent Trap is also in it!
It’s really no one’s business but your own why you do or don’t drink. Love this essay on the subject.
If you’re looking to buy Girl Scout cookies, Emily shared the link to buy from Troop 6000, made up of girls in NYC’s shelter system. Thank you, Emily!
Now, it’s time for our breakfast rankings (the options were pancakes, waffles, and French toast)! You all put a lot of thought into this, I would expect nothing less.
Rebecca’s a pancake fan: No need to change that order you wrote them in! Pancakes (the KING), Waffles, French Toast (aka soggy bread, aka still good though!)
Eden is here to defend waffles: As for breakfast food rankings, that's easy: waffles first, then pancakes, then french toast. Waffles are superior because of the texture, the crisp, the built in syrup buckets. I also have great memories of making waffle tacos with my friends using a waffle iron that is possibly from 1965 (it is the only waffle maker I've ever owned). Pancakes second because you rarely encounter a bad pancake - they're just generally reliable no matter what diner you end up in. Cornmeal-based pancakes are king though. French toast is last because I've had so much subpar french toast that isn't crispy and is soggy in the middle. America needs to get better at making french toast and then I'll reconsider my rankings.
Chrissy knows pancakes can be a pain to make: Oh, I love ranking things! I'm going to have to go with this order: 1. Waffles. (I like them crispy and warm from the waffle maker, and the little pockets are perfect for holding on to your toppings.) 2. French toast. (The most delicious way to use up slightly stale bread, so easy to make yet they feel so fancy.) 3. Pancakes. (I'll never turn them down, but it's kind of a pain to make a big batch.)
Kathleen is right that all of these are delicious when done well: The question of which is better: waffles, pancakes, and French toast is such a hot topic, especially for me and my boyfriend (who’s first job was a local Chicagoland breakfast spot). I think they can all be very easily messed up, so when there’s an incredible version of any of them I’m thrilled. I think my ranking goes pancakes, French toast, waffles. A diner pancake (or French toast) can satisfy any craving, but a good diner waffle I feel like are few and far between. And there are an endless amount of toppings and sides for pancakes and sometimes even French toast but I feel like less so for waffles.
Rachel is here to support challah French toast, which is so good: French toast first, because of childhood associations with French toast on Shabbat morning with leftover challah before my dad left for synagogue. When I was a kid, he made it for me. By the time I was bat mitzvah age, I made it for both of us - it was one of the first recipes I mastered. Second pancakes, third waffles. Pancakes over waffles because they don’t require another appliance, even though I do love a good waffle.
This week, because it’s still January, I’d love to hear what you would eat/drink/do if it were 80 degrees right now (I mean in a magical sense, not in an upsetting climate change sense). I’d grab an ice cream cone and have some oysters al fresco or I’d catch the next subway to Rockaway Beach for tacos and cheese fries. Let me know what you’d do and I’ll share the responses next week.
Thursday’s newsletter will be full of thrifting tips, the next installment of our Recommendation Station advice column, and some midweek reads & listens. Your subscriptions support this newsletter and make the free Monday edition possible!
Thanks for reading and have a great week!