Welcome to This Needs Hot Sauce! Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to be a guest on The Future of Food is You podcast from Cherry Bombe. Host Abena Anim-Somuah and I chatted about growing up in New York, getting into food writing, starting this newsletter and lots more. I even recorded a voicemail for myself in ten years (I’ll be almost forty) that got pretty emotional. You can listen to the episode here if you’d like. Thank you to Cherry Bombe for having me!
This past week was a busy one, on the work and social fronts. I’m feeling rundown today and planning to take it easier this week. That means channeling Gentle January by ordering seltzer with bitters at the bar (a classic), getting extra sleep, making tea, wearing cozy clothes, and starting a new book.
On Thursday, I’m sharing a favorite family recipe with paid subscribers: cheesy rice for fajitas (and a lot of other easy meals). I appreciate your support, always.
Now let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
Erica and I made yogurt flatbreads in the class we taught last weekend and I brought some dough to Julia’s for Bachelor night. We served the flatbreads with a cilantro garlic yogurt sauce, smashed chickpeas with pickled onions, and a little tomato salad. The flatbreads are such a great vehicle for almost anything: pizza, avocado toast, dips etc. The flatbread recipe is in Meal Prep Made Simple.
Sfoglini kindly sent me some brand new pasta shapes from the Sporkful and they’re so much fun (it’s the little things). I cooked the vesuvio, a cute spiral, with some pesto, chickpeas and broccoli, a riff on this recipe from last night.
I had leftover pesto and needed an easy yet special dinner for friends last night. I made more pasta, halved and salted some cherry tomatoes, roasted some white beans and broccoli and served it up with pesto and mini mozzarella balls. I kept some of the toppings on the side to accommodate dietary preferences and had parm, olive oil, and flakey salt ready for a finishing touch. Pasta never lets me down.
I had leftover celery from Super Bowl snacks and unfortunately didn’t have the time or energy to make anything more complicated than ants on a log. But, next time I have celery, I have lots of great ways to use it.
Something to order:
Dale and I had a sweet Valentine’s Day dinner at Esme in Greenpoint (we alternate who plans the day and it was my turn this year). The appetizers were the highlight and you should definitely get fries, which come with three dipping sauces.
Teal invited us to a movie event at the Crosby Street Hotel (the site of a pivotal scene in the Idea of You) and the snack selection was so thoughtful. They had mini veggie burgers, a candy bar and popcorn (popcorn and peanut m&ms are a powerful combo).
Lizzi was in town so we had family dinner at Top Quality in Long Island City. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to try it. The food and cocktails are so good and the vegetarian options are extensive. I love the halloumi and mushroom build your own tacos, the salsas and guacamole, the fig rice, and the carrots bravas. We got the potatoes with mole as a dessert (hey, mole does contain chocolate). There’s also a speakeasy downstairs if you want one more drink (it can get loud on the weekends).
A friend of a friend is a great person to meet. Clare introduced me to her friend Meghan and we met for drinks at the Esters in Greenpoint, the wine bar from the same owners as Tuffet. I love their pizzas and wine selection and the bar is just an inviting place to hang out.
Tilden, Maridelis and I got coffee at Little Roy before a vitamin D walk in Herbert Von King Park (gotta take advantage of the sunshine when you can get it). Then I met Kira at Fortunato Brothers for a mid afternoon sweet treat (gelato for me, a cannoli for her). Fortunato Brothers also makes great birthday cakes and their cheesecake is one of the few that I like (it’s not too sweet).
After seeing LT perform at Julliard, we all went downtown for dinner at Raku. I love their udon and it’s a very customizable meal (they have vegetarian broth) and so many delicious appetizers (Michelle and I split the agedashi tofu).
Isa and I caught the Hopper exhibit at the Whitney (highly recommend, get tickets in advance) and then got lunch at Coppelia, a Latin diner with wonderful vibes. We split tequeños and got sandwiches. It’s open 24 hours which is all too rare these days.
Something to read:
Want more to read? I share additional reads in Thursday’s newsletter.
How are we supposed to recognize “good” products? from
Vegan Chocolatier Lagusta Yearwood on running her business (her chocolates look so good)
Cheese is “healthier” than you thought. So what?
Proud to sign and support this letter to the New York Times about the unacceptable editorial bias in covering trans and nonbinary people and communities.
I need to make this broccoli pasta soon
I am very emotional about the Cup of Jo divorce.
‘Thanks to Trump, I’m a Baker Now.’
Human Composting Is Changing the Landscape of Death Care—and It May Soon Be Legal Near You
So You Quit Your Job and All You Want To Do Is Relax. Why’s It So GD Hard?
Konbi Was a National Instagram Sensation. So Why Did It Suddenly Close? Universal healthcare would not solve all of this country’s problems but it would be a huge start.
A barista drew a smiley face on my coffee last week and it truly made my day.
Now, let’s chat about potlucks!
Allison loves a theme (inspired): When I host a potluck I like to give it a theme. It makes it a bit more celebratory and (hopefully) gives people a starting point for deciding what to bring. Past themes have included Red, Family Recipes, Finger Foods, Layers.
Drea is an appetizer person (same): A homemade spinach dip or guacamole with chips. I think I’m very much an appetizer person.
This week, I’d love to hear about something small that recently made your day! Seriously, nothing is too small. You can reply to this email or leave a comment and I’ll share the responses next week.
This text from Hillary is my entry. Quesadillas and Red Clay hot sauce make me so happy.
Have a great week and thank you so much for being here!
For the second year now a friend and I have been attending Clinton St Baking Co's Pancake Month and I hope to keep this tradition! After we take down a stack of that day's specialty pancakes, we walk it off at a museum. This year we went to the Met and took one of the free tours offered for their Date Night programming. It was such a low key fun day and marked my first big (but also little) foray back into the world post-surgery 🙌
Something small that's made my day (week, really) has been the Zodiac Academy series, which my friend Becca recommended. It's a contemporary fantasy romance that feels like a college-esque Discovery of Witches set fully in a magical world. I will say that you can't judge the series by the first book because the character development is transformative over the series, and I can't stop thinking or talking about it (much to the annoyance of everyone around me).
Also, deleting social media apps from my phone for over a week helped appreciate the little things - watching my kids play together, the little designs my husband makes in my latte - that I used to just skim right over. Highly, highly recommend.