The first time I ever had charred shishito peppers was at Umi Sake House in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, and it blew my mind. A friend had ordered it to share, and when it arrived, I definitely looked at the small pile of peppers with a great deal of skepticism.
Peppers? As an appetizer? Wouldn’t that, you know, hurt to eat? But you guys, it… well, it does hurt. Sometimes. I wouldn’t lie to you. This is a place of honesty and trust, after all. But mostly, the peppers are an insanely addictive combination of sweet and bitter, with just a small dose of heat. Except for sometimes, like I mentioned, when it is a large dose of heat. But they always seem to be the minority, and in any case I think it just heightens the experience when you have no idea if you’ll come across a “surprise pepper” that lays on the napalm inside your mouth. Does that not sound great to you?
No? Just me?
This is hardly a recipe, but I do love a good sardine sandwich. Sardines?!, you say, barely able to disguise the look of utter revulsion on your face. The oily fish that comes in a tin, complete with spines???
Yes, sardines! I respond. And don’t you dare say a single thing against tinned fish, you mook! Then we breakdance battle, and after I completely wreck you with my triple-headspin-windmill combo and you weep a little, I’ll invite you over for a sardine sandwich so that you will truly understand just how wrong you were to ever doubt the majesty of the humble tinned fish.
Happy 2017, everyone! Welcome to a new year, a symbolic time that promises many things but that in reality probably won’t differ much from December 31st of this past weekend, aside from the fact that we’ll all be scratching out the inevitable “2016”s on our rent checks to hastily scrawl in “2017” instead. Turning an accidental 6 into a deliberate 7 will be messy, but by god we’ll do it.
But despite the unceasing and apathetic forward march of time, let’s all embrace the wise words of Bill and Ted and be excellent to ourselves and to each other. Imagine me embracing you in a hug right now— and imagine it being very awkward for added realism, if you will.
No, I don’t mean baking hobbits. I mean a bake inspired by the merry little Halflings. If you know me at all (or in the very least, follow my silly little posts on Instagram), you know that I read Lord of the Rings every year. And every time I read it, I’m tickled anew by Samwise Gamgee’s fixation on procuring a good ale and some hearty fare. I mean, he even whips up some lean rabbit stew out in the middle of a field after growing weary of their monotonous diet of lembas bread. A hobbit after my own heart, that Sam.
So I got to thinking, what would Sam make if he did have the provisions? Probably something a lot like this dish: assorted vegetables and sausage tossed with fresh and dried herbs, a bit of butter, and all roasted until golden brown and fragrant. And seeing as how Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday is later this week (September 22nd!), it seemed as good a time as any to make it.
I don’t fry things very often because for whatever reason I am completely inept at it. But once in a while, I’ll come across a recipe for something fried that sounds so appealing that I’ll shove aside my fry-aversion and just go for it. These zucchini patties — zucchini fritters, really — called for me to do just that.
These are like potato latkes, but made with zucchini and onion instead. How could I resist? Potato latkes? Delicious. Zucchini? Also delicious. This is an obvious win.
I am into corn in a big way. I eat little Del Monte cans of whole kernel sweet corn straight from the tin with a spoon. If I weren’t so keenly aware that it’d be very weird, I would even offer it to guests as a dessert. (“Annnnd to cleanse your palate, a can of corn with a spoon in it! Wait, where are you going?”)
Luckily, there are more socially acceptable ways of feeding your guests (and yourself) corn instead of just eating it from a can like some kind of animal that has access to a can opener.
What better time to partake in corn than in the summer, when sweet corn is at its golden peak and ahem, really, really cheap?
I sometimes become incredibly homesick. I don’t know if it’s so much that I miss Texas, but rather that I just miss all the things that were a given back home. I knew where to go to get my favorite broccoli pasta, where to go to get a good banh mi, where to go to get the perfect fajitas, and so on. All the things I miss are decidedly food-related; even the people I miss have some kind of food memory attached to them — Niko Niko’s with Jessica, sushi with Meredith, dim sum with my siblings, and you get the idea.
The ultimate food memories, of course, are linked to my mom. I was one of those lucky kids who always had a homecooked dinner every night, something I definitely did not appreciate enough back then. That’s a major perk to having restauranteurs as parents, I tell you what.
Turnips. No one gets excited about them. Whenever someone says they’re bringing turnips to the company potluck, no one shouts “AWESOME!”, and approximately zero spontaneous rounds of high-fives break out. Turnips just don’t elicit the kind of yearning that vegetables like potatoes do. Turnips don’t even grace pre-packaged vegetable platters like carrots and celery, nor are they used as ornamental garnishes in fancy salads like radishes. Poor turnips.
But why? Why is it neglected and so often overlooked? Turnips, after all, are packed with vitamins, are entirely edible from bulb to leafy greens, and may I say, they’re even a little bit sexy.
So shapely, oh myyyyy.
But most importantly, they are tasty. That is, as long as you stick with wee, tender little bebbeh turnips.
I don’t know why, but I get Bon Appetit in my mail every month. I’m guessing it must have been some kind of promotion when I spent too much money at Williams-Sonoma, but it’s also possible that I subscribed late at night whilst tipsy, like how I woke up once after a night out to find that I had drunkenly signed up for Amazon Prime. I mean, out of all the things one could do while inebriated and on the internet, these things are certainly not the worst.
Also, it is very clear that I lead an incredibly exciting life. Be jealous.
Most of the time, none of the recipes in BA really interest me because I’m not cooking for 4+ people or willing to spend time and money on special harissa ground by nuns or whatever. But I came across a recipe for a wild rice salad in the summer 2014 issue, and it cried out: “Hey! Make me!”
This isn’t so much a recipe as it is just basic instructions. But aren’t those the best “recipes”? When something is so easy to do that you can just rely on your own intuition to make something delicious? Even when your intuition sometimes leads to disastrous results, like when it was all “You should totally ask that guy out!” when in reality, no, you should have never asked that guy out, never.
I love spring onions. The first time I ever had them was at a friend’s lake house where her boyfriend threw some onto the grill and served them up wonderfully charred but otherwise unadorned. I still think about those from time to time (you also have fond food memories, don’t lie to yourself) — who knew that little onion bulbs could make such a big impression?
One of the vendors at the farmer’s market last weekend had a beautiful basket of spring onions, so of course I brought some home. I don’t have a grill, but figured roasting them along with some leftover carrots and potatoes would be just as good. And it is.