In: vodka sauce | Out: being hard on yourself
January thoughts, New Year's Eve cheese, and reads to get this year started
Welcome back to This Needs Hot Sauce and welcome to 2022! I hope you had some time to rest, even if resting is hard these days. I kept things lowkey in Brooklyn with lots of TV (I started Insecure from the beginning since I fell off after season 3 and it’s so good), some reading, and long walks accompanied by the Taylor Swift City of Lover concert recordings. I’m not one for resolutions as I’ve only made two successful ones, but this year I am focusing on my career and trying to build a healthier relationship with rest, money, and social media. I’m also hoping my step count continues to trend upwards after the low of 2020. If you make resolutions, I believe they should only be additive and not punitive. Life is hard enough. Resolutions are goals you make for yourself based on an arbitrary measure of time. If you don’t achieve them or change your mind about what you want to do, don’t lose sleep or beat yourself up. If this time of year gives you the motivation to make a change or try something new, that’s great too.
I took an impromptu cooking break as I was under the weather (thankfully not Covid) and am excited to get back in the swing of things with a meal prep class this Sunday. You can join us just once or grab the four class pack. Erica and I have been testing the menu over the past month and it’s so good and perfect for this season (we are making garlic bread and I can’t wait).
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
Once Julia was free from Covid isolation, she came over for dinner. I made Grossy Pelosi’s vodka sauce, with coconut milk instead of heavy cream (I still used butter and cheese). It worked wonderfully and was such a good dinner with a side salad and some warm bread. Read the recipe all the way through before you start as you have to whisk for about 20 minutes to thicken the sauce. It’s worth it.
We rang in the new year with Insecure, Austrian pet nat, and spinach ravioli from Savino’s. For starters, I made a cheese board with some delicious Jasper Hill cheeses from the Meat Hook, plus olives, jam, and some almonds.
I made a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough and froze a bunch of it for cookies anytime (or frozen cookie dough to eat anytime).
Fried rice is one of my go to clean out the fridge meals and I used leftover string beans from our Christmas takeout as the base for a big skillet. Top with chili crisp and enjoy.
Something to order:
Dale and I spent Christmas Eve with his aunt in Westchester. We picked up Jamaican food at Cravin Jamaican in White Plains and it was really good (Dale said the jerk wings are better than the regular jerk chicken) and I really liked the spinach patty, the mac and cheese, and the sorrel.
On Christmas, we went to MSG to cheer on the Knicks. It was a really fun game and I love the atmosphere of live basketball. I got Paulie Gee’s pizza which was pretty good and we got drinks in souvenir cups. They have a big promotion with Chase right now so you can get $5 off your food by using a Chase card.
For Christmas dinner, we followed Jewish traditions and picked up food from Kings County Imperial. I love their cold sesame noodles and the long beans with tofu and Dale loves their version of General Tso’s chicken with broccoli.
I was gifted a bottle of Ghia, a non alcoholic aperitif and their canned Ghia ginger (the aperitif mixed with ginger beer) and Ghia sodas (mixed with seltzer). It’s got a complex, slightly bitter flavor and is nice to have on hand if you or a guest is not drinking (I enjoyed it especially when I was under the weather and wanted something besides water).
Once I was feeling better, Dale and I went out for a date night at Mesa Coyoacan. We sat at the bar and enjoyed palomas and mushroom quesadillas and then got a nightcap at Reclamation Bar, which is spacious and makes a great cocktail.
Yesterday, I caught up with Julianne in the backyard of Tuffet, which is still my favorite place for outdoor drinks. They’ve got heaters, blankets and hot water bottles and several warm cocktails, like hot cider.
Something to read:
Now, I’m sharing more of your favorite meals of 2021! Read the first part (and my list) here.
Lizzi’s favorites show that the people at the table matter most: 2021 taught me that the best meals of the year are the ones you get to share with the people you love in places you love and that almost all my favorite meals are in NYC (hehe) Some highlights include:
Metro Taco at your parents house Memorial Day weekend with our families and Sarah (and lots of happy tears)
Oysters for days - at Lighthouse, at the Ten Bells (with you<3 ), at Pinkerton, at Maracuja, at my house in Berkeley, on Cape Cod
roasted veggies and fish at my parent's house with my grandmother, uncle, boyfriend, and family
Pizza and a fabulous caesar salad (and an accidental liter of wine) at Leo with Leah for her birthday and then with Jake when he flew in to visit
Ottolenghi rice salad on Thanksgiving in Berkeley
Jen’s favorite meal was a summer special (I love summer): It's been six months and I'm still thinking longingly of this feature pizza from my favourite local place: the base was a pickled garlic purée, and the toppings were spinach, charred scallions, basil mayo, mozzarella, and parmesan. I hope they make it again next summer!
Julia’s list and mine have heavy overlap: Some more meals of 2021 I cherish, most of which coincidentally/obviously involve you:
Towering plates of pasta with red sauce, eggplant rolatini, and the biggest slice of cheesecake I've ever seen at Bamonte's (enjoyed while being called gorgeous by several old Italian waiters and feeling the hottest we've ever felt).
The spicy tomato chickpea soup we made during your first ever virtual cooking class. I still make it all the time and nearly always have some in my freezer.
The Spindrifts we got at a bodega by Fort Greene Park when we were headed there for Delia's bday and decided we would simply PERISH if we did not procure Spindrift tallbois (the inciting incident that led to me drinking more Spindrifts than I can count in 2021).
Negronis and a hot pretzel at Tuffet, many times, but particularly the day you came over to help me unpack my new apartment and then after a while we were like fuck it let's go get drinks.
Julianne's pickle and coleslaw "birthday cake" surprise at Astro Diner.
Okay fine, and a few non-Abigail ones:
The incredible roast chicken Amber made for dinner with me at her apartment, my first time inside with someone outside the pod after getting vaccinated.
Passover and Thanksgiving with family again. :')
Solo dinners sitting at the bar, a thing I missed so much (and am pausing until COVID rates decrease again). A burger and negroni with a good book is unmatched.
So many good dumplings, thanks to reporting on two trials at courthouses located a convenient walk to Chinatown.
Lots of bowls of cereal. Got big into cereal this year. But not enough to cross the Kellogg's picket line!!!!!
My first ever Taco Bell crunchwrap supreme!!!! (And my second, and my third).
This week, I’d love to hear about your favorite baked items of the moment (tis the damn season, right). This could include sweets or something savory like baked pasta, shepherd’s pie, enchiladas, etc. Reply to this email with your favorites and I’ll share the responses next week.
I’ll be back Thursday with a paid subscriber edition focused on winter (it’s getting really cold in New York this week) and I’ll see some of you in class on Sunday! Thank you for supporting This Needs Hot Sauce for 4 years and counting! And hang in there during this overwhelming week. You’re doing great.