S'More Soft Serve
Plus, veggie burgers & meatballs and two upcoming hangs
Welcome back to This Needs Hot Sauce. I have two exciting events to share with you and one of them can be accessed from anywhere!
This coming Sunday, February 23rd at 7:30 p.m. EST, Julianne from How to Be Broke in New York and I are cooking dinner together on IG Live. We’ll talk you through what we’re making and answer questions about cooking and dining out on a budget! Tune in on Julianne’s feed!
And we have a few spots left for our yoga + brunch at Win Son on February 29th. Sign up here to reserve your spot (this covers the cost of yoga and you’ll pay for brunch that day). Yoga starts at 9:30 and we’ll go straight to brunch after in our leggings because why not.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
Last night, we had a family dinner with Beth, Geoff, and Sammy. My mom made two types of meatballs, including these quinoa meatballs, which are very good and hold their shape well in tomato sauce.
For dessert, my mom made these very fancy sables with cacao nibs. She used a heart-shaped cookie cutter and called the recipe, “a lot of work.” However, they are extremely tasty.
Julia texted me on Monday evening that she was in the mood to make stew. I picked up the remaining ingredients on the way home and we had a lovely dinner. This also freezes well and we’ve substituted the chili for jalapeños twice.
Frida and I went to Rachel’s housewarming party and she nailed the spread. They set things up on colorful cutting boards and had excellent crudites (colorful carrots, endive, bell peppers), the dip, chili wings, and marinated cucumbers, bread, anchovies, natural wine. It was truly everything (and note the cat jumping off the couch).
Something to order:
If you live in New York and eat oysters, you have to do oyster happy hour at Union Square Cafe. It goes from 3 to 6 on weekdays and is truly an incredible deal. Julia and I went for bivalventine’s day and had the best time. They offer dollar oysters, $9 wine, FREE bread with butter and olives, and a few other discounted snacks. Plus, service is included, which keeps the total shockingly low. The service is excellent and the space feels so special and elegant (aka great people watching).
Dale and I celebrated Valentine’s Day at Sunday in Brooklyn. He picked our spot last year so it was my turn. The space is very cute, kind of like a log cabin but in Williamsburg, and the food was really good, especially the pasta and crispy smashed potatoes with green sauce. We also got dessert and the smores soft serve is a must. It captures the flavors perfectly—a marshmallow exterior and a salty, cinnamony, chocolate soft serve undernearth. It’s a pricey spot, but fun for a special occasion.
I wrote about Leo before the full-service restaurant opened so was excited to check it out with Leah and Lizzi. The pizza is really good (no surprise), especially the hill pie, with greens, mushrooms, and taleggio. Unlike Ops, they have wines on tap plus a self serve wine fridge with lots of fun options. I would call it a weekday version of Ops. It’s counter service, the room is a bit sterile and bright, and right now it’s still easy to get a table.
Melissa and I tried Lekka Burger in Tribeca and I was very impressed. It’s Amanda Cohen’s new veggie burger spot and the burgers are good, made from beans, mushrooms, and other secret ingredients. They have lots of good sauces, including a hatch chili one for fries and a very strong soft-serve selection. Everything is vegan and they also do a happy hour if you work nearby.
Something to read:
A helpful guide for when you mess up a recipe
I’m moving in May to an apartment with an electric stove. I’m reading up on why they’re used in preparation for some cooking challenges.
A scientific and personal investigation of the Asian glow
I love Maggie Hoffman’s tips for switching up some classic cocktails
Two DC chefs fall in love over pizza, that’s amore.
For my Penn people, FroGro is closing. I’m shocked it lasted this long.
Such a great travel story about cooking for strangers in a hostel.
Why can’t we have great neighborhood wine bars in the US? (The rent is too damn high)
Sweetgreen is selling kelp in the most Sweetgreen way: with David Chang and chicken. Why?
Now, let’s talk about your fears in the kitchen and some possible solutions.
Hilary is always looking to grow: My biggest fear in the realm of the kitchen is stagnating, which could take several forms: not continuing to expand my repertoire of recipes and flavour profiles or losing my keen tongue and sense of taste, which goes without saying is not only invaluable to cooking but also to developing recipes, feeling confident about cooking exquisitely for others, and finding delight in great (even simple) food.
I think this is a totally valid fear because inspiration can come and go so suddenly. For me, I try to remember everything ebbs and flows and also try to get out of my comfort zone if I’m stuck. This could be traveling, eating out somewhere inspiring, going to a new grocery store, or browsing a cookbook. It usually helps.
Julianne has the pressure for cooking for an excellent cook: I'm scared of messing up. Ian is a meticulous, skillful, and talented cook who loves nothing more than when I cook for him his favorite foods. I always get nervous that I'm not going make the food as delicious as he does (because I don't have as much time to practice right now) and get stressed when cooking in front of him, which doesn't happen when I cook alone! He always says my food comes out great and he's never just standing around judging me (lol) but I still feel extra pressure to produce food at his level of excellence. Not sure if anyone else ever feels this way, especially if they are proficient in the kitchen the rest of the time!
It’s definitely harder to perform with an audience! If you can do some of the prep while Ian’s not home, that might help you get in the groove. Or you can even put in headphones and get lost in music while you cook to block out distractions. If you’re the pilot of the meal, you can ask him questions and also trust yourself. It’s also worth remembering, we are our own worst critics! Anytime someone cooks for me, I’m grateful. Don’t apologize for any “mistakes” you made and focus on enjoying the meal together.
Lily is chicken about cooking chicken: I am SO afraid of cooking chicken!!!!! I have no problem cooking turkey and fish but if the chicken hasn't been cooked to the point where it is inedibly dry, I am afraid to eat it. To steal a line from food and travel show host Phil Rosenthal, "in our house, meat was a punishment." My mom cooked (and still cooks–I love you mom I'm sorry lol) chicken to its second death where there is no juiciness left. Growing up that way, it's become my barometer for whether or not chicken is DONE. I don't want to poison myself or others !!! But I also want to tackle this ridiculous fear and make better chicken.
In this case, I think you should buy a meat thermometer! It will eliminate the question of safety and give you real proof that the meat is done before it’s tough. Over time, you probably won’t need it as much cause you’ll get more used to it. Braises with bone-in chicken pieces are also going to keep the chicken more juicy than grilling or stirfries, so give some of those a try. They’re also cozy in the winter.
This week, let’s talk about cooking on a budget. Julianne and I will be discussing this next week so I’d love to know how you make cooking affordable by shopping in bulk, freezing things, or any other tips. Please also ask questions about budget cooking and shopping—we’d love to answer them!
I hope you tune in on Julianne’s feed and I hope you can come to brunch.
Happy eating and thanks for reading.