Archive for the ‘Cooking for One’ Category

A Da(y)te with Myself

Loot from Winterfeldt Markt (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The apartment’s lights are turned low and only the candles’ soft, intimate glow falls across the table. Tonight’s dinner is wild mushroom gnocchi with pancetta, sage, and king oyster mushrooms sautéed in salted butter and garlic. The gnocchi are perfectly soft, creamy almost under the crunch of crisped sage, their richness tempered by peppery arugula salad freshened just with lemon and salt. The wine is a chilled pinot gris, purchased this morning from a Frenchman wearing a tailored gray suit in a small shop down the street. It’s a Saturday night, and the only person in the apartment is me. All this is just for me.

I woke up alone this morning, confused at first by the empty bed before remembering that David is in Munich for a conference, and that all week, I’ll be waking up early to the sun in our windows without his grumbly morning snores. It’s strange, when you live together with someone, to spend time in your shared apartment alone. I work from home two days each week, so during the daytime, I’m used to having the run of it and fully inhabiting our space – but not the nights or the mornings. It’s strange.

Blue and yellow flowers (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

A bundle of carrots (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

But it’s still my first day alone, and it’s still novel. Too often, we’re afraid of spending time alone, afraid that it means we’re friendless, that we don’t have anything better to do. But I love keeping my own company. No pressure, just an easy pleasure in the smallest things – a new pop playlist, a room of dusted baseboards, time to write.

Slippers (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This morning, I skipped around the house in slippered feet. I put a podcast on to play and ate a slow breakfast: hot coffee freshly French-pressed and granola with berries and amaranth. And while Friday night partiers were just slinking into bed, I left the apartment for the Winterfeldt Markt. » Continue reading this post…

Show Me the Green: Wilted Kale with Feta and Fried Egg

Wilted kale with fried egg and feta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Apparently I have a reputation for really liking kale. I don’t know where it came from or what I’ve done to start it, but my love is apparently well known. I’m not ashamed. I do love kale. I’m hitting the talking-about-kale bandwagon a bit late. According to the internet, kale’s trending days have come and gone – it’s so last year’s green. (Although The Guardian seems to think that kale popsicles are going to be big in 2014…) But I don’t love food because it’s trendy; I love it because it’s delicious. I love the way crisp and chewy kale plays off shaved parmesan, chopped dates and lemon dressing in a raw salad, the way the curled leaves trap salty pancetta bits, the way a kale chip crunches apart in your mouth, or the way a bitter wilted leaf is the perfect foil for chili flakes and a soft, rich egg.

Kale, shallot, pancetta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Frying pancetta and shallot (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

That’s what I want to talk to you about right now. The perfect combination of flavors: The heat of chili, the bite of briny feta, the warmth of a fried egg and the all-things-are-better-with-bacon quality of bacon supported by a base of hearty green. Kale makes all this possible.

Chili flakes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Cooking kale (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I first discovered this magical combination (or at least the basics of it) back in 2009, when this blog was in its infancy and I was just starting to shop and cook regularly for myself. Of course I wrote about my discovery back then, and of course I didn’t have the consideration to write down the recipe. (The gall. The gall.) So I’m making up for the error of my ways now, and sharing a dish that’s seen me through a lot of tight budget days and a lot of lazy lunches. Cheap, tasty, and quick. Gimme those greens. » Continue reading this post…

Slaw That

spitzkraut dissected (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Speak to me wonders, oh cabbage slaw. Your rings, wound and crenellated round a core. Sliceable, screaming of spring. Fit for kings, yet cheap enough to make poor men sing. Cabbage, cabbage, speak to me divine things.

As we tentatively dive into spring, I find myself increasingly drawn to greener things and (clearly also) 18th century romantic poetry which inspires me to write extravagant and rather ode-ish sentences to cabbage.

Nothing wrong with that. Cabbage is great.

Cabbage gets a bad rep for being cheap and one-dimensional, but I would like to do a little salvaging on behalf of the image. Cabbage is versatile. Main ingredient in stir-frys and slaws, stew-filler, a hull for ground beef and spices. A pinch of crispness in a rice salad or the vinegary tang topping a pulled pork sandwich. And the types of cabbage – there’s red cabbage, green cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Savoy, Napa, bok choy – and here in Germany, I’ve discovered yet another lovely variety called Sptizkraut.

cabbage (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

cabbage about to become a slaw (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It’s a spitzkraut I’m working with today, a baby one about the size of a kitten with smooth, light green skin. It squeaks apart as I cut it into perfect rings with my knife.

The fresh, green foods I crave in spring mean my meals all take a healthy bent – not a bad thing, considering my cooking habits in Germany have inclined towards excessive use of butter and heavy whipping cream during this past winter. But as usual, I haven’t been grocery shopping in a while, and all I have in the fridge is this cabbage and some chiles, some slim pickings of condiments.

Though to make a springtime lunch, that’s all you need. Dijon mustard and farmer’s cheese spread thickly on freshly toasted bread, topped with a simple slaw of cabbage, red onions, and chiles – the dressing no more than rice wine vinegar, grainy mustard, lemon juice, sriracha, mirin, honey, salt, black pepper, and garlic. » Continue reading this post…

Sometimes We Eat Our Disney Friends: Lemon & Garlic Baked Flounder

Lemon and garlic baked flounder (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The cook book (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

My evening commenced on the couch with a copy of the New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne and the smell of lemon and garlic emanating from the oven. I’ve been craving fish recently and I wouldn’t wonder if I’m overdoing it – snacking on fresh French bread with butter and sardines this afternoon and this flounder for dinner and baccalau soaking in the fridge for tomorrow. It’s just so good. So clean and comforting when outside is so cold and mean. This recipe is incidentally not from the Times cookbook; I made it up out of my own little head. I just feel like cookbook reading and cooking are the perfect components to perfect evenings, and so I mention my couching as a prelude to this delightful fish. » Continue reading this post…

Even the Novelists Must Eat: Sunchokes in Cream & Greens with Cheese & Egg

Prepping (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I may have mentioned that I’m writing a novel. I thought I’d challenge myself and participate in the November national write a novel in a month thing. It’s painstaking. So far I have seventeen pages of what will undoubtedly be the next great American novel, and each paragraph is a tortuous crawl towards some enlightened end – that has as of yet not been revealed to me. I decided today that someone’s going to die, definitely. But maybe not until, like, page ninety. Which means I only have seventy more pages to fill with something that resembles plot. Even a goal of three pages a day is killing me. (And, do the math,  seventeen pages on November 9th equals clearly failing.)

When I write, I writhe. I sit in my desk chair with my sweatshirt hood pulled over my head and moan. I write a sentence, I delete it, I change the POV ten times, I do a series of gymnastic exercises in an effort to find a position in which I can write something I actually like. After every paragraph, I mumble, “Novels are haaaaaard,” and slump further in my chair before I can start another sentence.

I had to laugh today at the grocery store as I bought lunch for myself: two $1 frozen Celeste personal cheese pizza and a cherry Pepsi. I was still wearing my yoga pants, hoodie with the hood up, puff vest, and moccasins. I looked like a total dirty bum, and definitely not like the person who was writing what would (undoubtedly) be the next great American novel.

So I wrote and writhed and ate pizza and finished up seven (!) whole pages. When I was done, when I’d picked the person who was going to die and felt like there might be a story, I realized I was hungry. » Continue reading this post…

Summer Lunch: Thai Chicken Sandwich

Thai chicken sandwich (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Partly because it’s unbearably hot everywhere in New York and partly because I’ve been ridiculously busy, I haven’t really been cooking much, writing much, or even eating much. I’ve made pilgrimages to my favorites, Roberta’s and the Tortilleria, tried out new places like Taïm for falafels and the Shake Shack (more on that lovely experience later) for burgers and concretes, but for the most part, I’m living on ice pops, toast, and cold beer.

But since it’s only 88 today in Brooklyn and because I want to celebrate the lease I just signed, I decided to make a sandwich. A sandwich is very rarely inappropriate. There are sandwiches bursting with lettuce and avocados for summer or fresh paninis with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. For winter, there are concoctions of melted cheese and sweet onions. Olives, feta, roast beef, eggplant, actually anything can find a home between two slices of bread. Bread like a blanket. Bread like your mother’s arms or puppies or unexpected gifts. Bread the panacea.

Palette (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Peanutty Thai slaw (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I find a nub of cabbage in the fridge. I think it’s over a month old, but with the outer layer cut off, it’s still crisp and fresh inside. Cabbage, hardworking and versatile, resilient, maligned as famine food, but good in times of plenty, also. I dress it with tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime, drape it over two slices of toast and top with slivers of chicken breast. I wish I had better bread, but a sandwich is still good on Arnold’s whole wheat pre-sliced loaf, especially when the dressing is nutty, sweet, spicy, salty, and when there is cabbage to promise that under summer’s lethargy and sweat is something fresh and full of potential waiting to be revealed.

Summer Thai chicken sandwich (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Thai Chicken Sandwich

1/4 of a  green cabbage, slivered
1/2 carrot, ribboned
1 green onion, diced
Generous splash of rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. » Continue reading this post…

That’s When I Gave Up My Writing Career to Make Tacos

Tacos (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Here’s something I’ve gotten really good at, as the title implies: making tacos. I’m not really sure what inspired these beauties, but I have a feeling a conversation with a coworker of mine started the whole thing. I was raving about my first trip to La Isla, a tiny storefront on Flushing where you can get a half chicken, rice, and beans for $5.25. Whoa, right? Enough chicken, rice, and beans to last for four meals anyway. I was talking about maybe making tacos when she mentioned this Honduran crema she makes for her family – sour cream mixed with heavy whipping cream and a little bit of salt to taste. Yes, please.

The whole delightful combination on a corn tortilla: diced tomatoes, slivers of jalapeño, shaved cabbage, a bit of melted cheddar, and cilantro on rich, salty rice and black beans mashed with juicy chunks of roasted chicken and topped with crema.

So it’s not traditional or authentic – but if it’s good, does it have to be?

Taco fever (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…