My only successful New Year's Resolutions
Plus, gnocchi, onion dip, and breakfast burritos to kick off 2021
Welcome back! It feels like a super Monday around here, but I’m excited to be back after a fairly restful break. New Year’s felt different this year, as did every other holiday. Returning to social media feels overwhelming, with people vacationing, starting diets, or otherwise pledging major changes. I want to remind you that none of that is necessary and you’re doing great. If a new Gregorian calendar year inspires you to do something you’ve wanted to do, go for it. If it feels like another week, that’s fine too.
I can only remember two New Year’s resolutions I’ve ever made. One, in college, was to stop drinking diet coke, which I had gotten in the habit of mixing with vodka in frat basements and then drinking plain in the library late at night. Giving up the soda was really about shifting my social life to things I enjoyed more and shifting my priorities in the process. The other one was in 2016 or 2017—I gave up reading the Refinery 29 Money Diaries, a column where millennial women share details of their daily finances. The comments were vicious (and part of the fun, tbh). Quitting the Money Diaries pushed me to stop hate reading and judging something in a cubicle under fluorescent lighting and actually do something to change my life (spoiler alert: it involved getting laid off and starting this newsletter). In both cases, adjusting a small daily habit led to bigger changes that I couldn’t fully articulate I needed.
This year, I don’t have anything as dramatic to eliminate, but I want to keep taking Sundays off from Instagram, reduce my food waste, cook more from my cookbooks, and find new ideas for breakfast. I want to keep learning and keep writing and I want to grow this community. If you have any food related resolutions, you can share them here!
If your resolution includes starting or growing a newsletter, I’m part of a panel this Friday with Nisha Chittal and Clara Parkes about getting out of a creative slump. It’s free for Substack writers (and it’s free to set up an account)!
Now, let’s dive in to 2021.
Something to cook:
I got into In Bibi’s Kitchen with a recipe for Mbowa, leafy greens in coconut sauce from Mozambique. It was easy and so delicious and I served it over rice. I used kale and spinach but any leafy greens will do. The recipe isn’t online but you can try a few recipes from the book here and I would recommend buying it!
After making lots of latkes, I had leftover sour cream and onions, which I turned into sour cream and onion dip, something you can easily make at home from scratch. Served with potato chips, it’s a real delight. Here’s how to make it:
2 small white onions or one large, thinly sliced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup greek yogurt (it’s fine if you don’t have this)
1 tablespoon lemon juice/juice from 1/2 a lemon
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste
Potato chips for serving
Cook the onions over medium low heat with a little bit of salt until caramelized. It will take at least 20 minutes. Stir often. Finely chop the cooked onions and combine with other ingredients, tasting for seasoning. Chill before serving.
I also made gnocchi from scratch for the first time, using the many potatoes I had on hand from latkes. I used this recipe and really enjoyed the process, which takes about 2 hours, including some hands off time while the potatoes boil. I used a box grater instead of a potato ricer and shaped the gnocchi with both a fork and the grater (this video was helpful). It obviously takes practice to make them pretty and uniform, but the texture was perfect! I served them simply with a sauce of butter, parmesan cheese, and black pepper and froze half of the uncooked pasta for a future quick dinner.
Longtime readers know I typically start the New Year with breakfast tacos. This year, I went for breakfast burritos cause I didn’t have any avocado. The trick is wrapping the burritos in foil and warming them in the oven for about 10 minutes to get the cheese all melty. The fillings are up to you: I use scrambled eggs, black beans mashed with sazón, shredded cheddar, and Valentina hot sauce. They beg to be eaten on the couch in pajamas.
I made another batch of veggie burgers, which I served with oven fries (the frozen kind). It was a fun dinner that felt a little summery and was easy to make with pantry ingredients.
Last night, I made miso soup as part of dinner, following the recipe on the back of my miso and adding tofu and kale. It was really good and simple, just what I was looking for.
On the sweets front, Dale and I made a batch of cookie dough on Christmas evening and had a lot of fun baking a few cookies each day until the dough ran out. This recipe is even better if you let the dough chill overnight.
Something to order:
Dale and I went into Manhattan just for Scarr’s (not unusual for us). We got a pie, the vegan caesar salad (it reminds me of the salad at El Rey from back in the day), and split a Sicilian slice (they only had one left). Scarr’s is really one of the best slices in the city.
Chinese food is a Jewish Christmas tradition. Julia and I got Birds of a Feather and watched The Holiday, which is really a Hanukkah/NYE movie. It was so good and I recommend the sesame noodles, the eggplant accordions and the spicy cucumbers.
I’ve done very limited outdoor dining because of the cold and Covid rates (though I must remind you that the vast majority of Covid cases come from indoor household gatherings, which we should not be having). We did have lunch with Nicholas in the backyard of Royale, where we were the only people. It’s known for its burgers and the veggie one was quite good. And get the hot cider to warm up.
Julia and I got drinks in the Tuffet backyard, which is really well spaced out and open. Sit by the wall to take advantage of the heaters! Get a negroni, a warm cocktail, or a glass of wine.
For New Year’s Eve, Dale and I picked up takeout from Le Fanfare, one of our favorite date spots in Greenpoint. We got cacio e pepe (with bucatini), trofie with pesto, a brussels sprout salad, and meatballs for him. We picked it up in person and were so bummed to hear that so far all of the reservations for that night had canceled or no showed. Be better to restaurant workers in 2021 challenge.
Lizzi has been off in California for law school and I missed her so much. She came home for the holidays and we did an outdoor hang after her quarantine. It was brisk outside, so we grabbed takeout from 12 Chairs (the Sabich sandwich is huge and easy to share in a contact free way) and warm beverages from Devoción and ate on opposite sides of a bench in McCarren park. It was lovely.
Something to read:
The great bucatini shortage! I found some at a random bodega after being unable to find it at 3 stores.
I don’t mention David Chang here because I’ve heard some bad things about him and his food is super meat heavy. This piece, tied to his widely praised memoir, discusses the trauma he caused his employees and the lack of responsibility he takes for it.
I missed this from early last year, very Heartburn esque. Eating for two: My husband cheated when I was 7 months pregnant
Kiano Moju’s Afri-Cali Christmas looks delicious, even though the holidays are over.
June’s budget Christmas video is over an hour and I loved watching it.
Recipe developer, Rick Martinez moved to Mazatlán, Mexico in spring 2020 and is now renovating a home there. I love following the process (the tile! the flowers! the beaches!) on Instagram (mostly in Stories).
I absolutely loved the first book I read this year (and many of you agreed). It came out in 2017 and feels very underrated.
This week, I’d love to hear about something you’re looking forward to continuing this year! It’s easy to think about the possibly distant future where we can go to parties and sit inside restaurants. But there are things we’ve cultivated in 2020 that are worth continuing. For me, it’s morning walks, putting milk in my coffee, elaborate snacks (why not buy the good olives?), and keeping up with faraway friends. Reply to this email with what you’re keeping and I’ll share the answers next week.
Paid subscribers will receive a round up my favorite breakfasts on Thursday. It feels right to focus on the first meal of the day on the first week of the year! As a paid subscriber, you’ll also have full access to the archives, including my favorite food Tiktok accounts (I need to do a part 2), my favorite lunches, and details on one of my favorite food shows.
And I hope to see some of you at Friday’s panel. Let me know if you’re joining!
Happy eating and thanks for reading.