Posts Tagged ‘pastas’

Year of the: Chengdu ZaJiang Noodles

Chengdu ZaJiang Noodles (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

While having lunch with a dear friend back home over the holidays, we were talking about New Year’s resolutions and life plans, dreams both big and small, when she told me about how she’d given 2015 a theme. It had been an excellent year, she said, the year of getting back to basics. Somehow, having that overarching theme had helped give structure to plans that may otherwise have felt scattered or piecemeal. It had been motivation and goal. So when 2016 rolled around, she figured the year didn’t need a theme – after 2015, things were already on the right track. And, well, we all know how 2016 turned out.

Now, I’m not saying my friend is to blame for all of 2016. But maybe if she’d just given the year a theme, it wouldn’t have been such a heroic mess. So to help salvage 2017, I’m doing my part to bring some focus to the year ahead.

Sichuan peppercorns (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Chilies in oil (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

My theme for this year is balance. For me, what that mostly means is working less and living more. I have a tendency to feel like I’ll never get enough done, and so as soon as I wake up, I answer emails, tackle some items on the list. Then I go to work, I come home, I keep working, I binge a few episodes of TV, I sleep, I wake up, I do it again. Soon enough, even my social life starts to revolve around meetings. It makes me a miser of my free time, which I hoard like a pot of precious jewels, and wonder why I end up feeling starved for human interaction.

Ingredients for making noodles (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This year, there will be a strict moratorium on work. My morning routine has become elaborate, expansive. I do yoga and go to the gym, I take my time getting ready and investing in throwing on more than leggings and a lumpy sweater. » Continue reading this post…

Eternal Musings on Weather: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter

Sweet potato gnocchi (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

When I first stepped outside this morning on my way to the gym, I said, “Wow. What a beautiful day.” And then I paused. There was no sunshine, and a heavy, gray mist was starting to roll in from the south. The air smelled threateningly of rain and a brisk wind rustled right through my thick fleece jacket. And yet, comparatively, it was a beautiful day. The wind wasn’t bone-chilling, the mist had a lightness, an almost sepia-colored tone to it you might mistake for daylight. In this city, there have been three sun sightings in the last month, and the fall weather I love so much was a tease, a dream dangled before my eyes and whisked away faster than the leaves had time to drop.

Roast sweet potatoes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Growing up, some of my favorite movies were the BBC film versions of the Chronicles of Narnia. There’s a scene in The Silver Chair, where the witch, all snakey and draped in green, casts her magic spell upon the children, Prince Rillian, and Puddleglum the grumpy Marshwiggle. “There is no sun. There never was a sun,” she hisses as the candlelit orb casts shadows in the underground chamber. These days, I often feel like I’m trapped in her world, her scintillating syntax in my ear, “There is no sun. There never was a sun.” And I believe it.

It’s amazing what you’ll get used to, what baseline you’ll use to define new norms. Good weather is a gentle drizzle. Bad weather is a noon downpour where the sky is the color of a Secret Service entourage and the wind as unflinching.

Sweet potato mash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Making sweet potato gnocchi (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I know. It’s so incredibly boring to talk about the weather all the time. I feel that I’ve turned into an aged alter ego of myself whose conversations all start out the same way. » Continue reading this post…

Things I’ve Never Done: Spaghetti Carbonara

pasta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I don’t think of myself as a particularly brave person. I don’t have stories about skydiving in New Zealand or bungee-jumping off bridges. I’ve never lived in a third-world village or gone on a solo trip through some really high mountains in a country whose language I do not speak.

I was having dinner with a friend a while ago, and he asked me, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”

I said, “I… don’t know.”

And I honestly couldn’t think of anything, with the exception of a few stupid stunts I’d pulled in college. And those were stories which, though funny then, would make me seem like that person now. So – no.

My life is lame, I thought. I should pack up my bags and go to Nepal or live with the Massai for a year or go ice fishing with the Inuits. And learn Yupik. Probably I should learn Yupik. Or something.

But is that what it means for me to live an interesting life, a brave life? Is living bravery on a smaller scale still as brave? Is it relative?

People tell me I’m brave for having moved to New York, for then having moved to Berlin, without knowing (in various combinations for each place) whether I’d find a job, an apartment, friends… But I don’t think of these moves as being brave things. They were just things I had to do. So I did them.

If I don’t feel compelled to go skydiving, does that mean it’s cowardice not to go?

I’ve been thinking about these questions as my life in Berlin settles into place. I’m getting comfortable. Comfortable in my routine, in the way I understand myself and who I am here. But I’m happy. And the feeling I felt before I left New York, that anxious, twitching itch like a circus troupe stuck in my gut – I don’t feel that now. » Continue reading this post…

The Not All At Once Approach: Pasta with Tomatoes & Arugula

tortellini with arugula and tomato recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’m not good at change. Anyone who’s ever asked me to make a decision quickly knows this.

It takes me time to think things through. Not necessarily to weigh the pros and cons of a new course of action – but just to get used to the idea of something different.

As a human, I am a huge proponent of the not all at once approach.

Tell me something new, but don’t tell me all at once.

This is also the way I cook. I believe ingredients need time to understand themselves as they melt into a hot skillet – an onion doesn’t want an eggplant until it’s ready. And when they meet, they need time to get to know each other. To feel comfortable as a unit before tomato comes along.

Cooking like this takes longer. But it makes sense to me. One at a time, piece by piece until the composition of the pan has changed. Until it is a full pan, not an empty one.

tortellini with arugula and tomato (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

My Life Without an Appendix: Pasta with Fennel & Onions

Alone in the apartment (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It’s not so bad, really, to live without an appendix. It was nice, sometimes, to take walks with my appendix, to run errands with my appendix, even to have lunch with my appendix. But it wasn’t really until my appendix was gone, that I realized what it was to miss my appendix. I took walks, I ran errands, I ate lunch, and yet, I felt a hole, an appendix-shaped hole, right where my appendix used to be. It’s been a few months now, since my appendix was taken from me, and I feel a little solace, looking at the three small scars on my belly where at least something was given to me in exchange. I’ve grown to like those little scars, to like them almost more than I liked my appendix, since when I had it with me, I didn’t pay much attention to my appendix at all.

I’m alone in Berlin now. It’s strange how, when there were people in the apartment, all I wanted was to be alone and quiet and now, when I’m alone and it’s quiet, all I want is someone else.

This morning, I sent my mother off to the airport at six, and fell back into a cautious sleep. When I woke up, the apartment was already a different place. It was more silent, heavier; I was afraid of the sound of my voice. I’d never paid attention to my mother’s breath, but now that it wasn’t there, I knew what it was to miss her.

I am not comparing my mother to my appendix. How grotesque. I’m only saying that we often spend more time clacking after what we don’t have rather than listening for the presence of the things that are with us. Our lives are in a flux of having and not having and almost always, what we have we will at some point lose. » Continue reading this post…

Living Well on Yoga Stretches and a $5 Bill: Sweet Potato & Spinach Ravioli

Sweet potato and spinach ravioli (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

“Well,” I said, “I can sit and watch you eat.”

He looked at me as if to say, Really, Lyz?  Don’t be dumb.

So I said, “Or… we can make pasta?”

Sweet potato and spinach ravioli recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

And that’s how we ended up taking the train back to Bushwick, stopping at Associated to pick up spinach and beer, and carting our yoga’d out bodies into my apartment, where the temperature was miraculously above 50 degrees.

Egg and flour volcano (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’d been thinking about this pasta all day. I’d had a sweet potato for lunch and wanted to do something more interesting with it than just heat it up with butter and brown sugar. So I posted my dilemma on twitter, and just moments later received a lovely suggestion to make ravioli. I had a pasta roller I hadn’t used yet and a self-imposed rule to spend no more than $5 on food and now, a friend with which to eat: oh yes, the stars had aligned.

Rolling pasta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Feeding pasta through the machine (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Homemade ravioli recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Sweet Potato and Spinach Ravioli

For pasta:
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

For filling:
1 yellow onion
1 large clove garlic
1 bunch of spinach
½ roasted sweet potato
¾ cups ricotta cheese
fresh grated nutmeg to taste
salt and pepper to taste

On a clean, dry surface, make a volcano-like mound of flour. In the crater, crack three eggs; add salt and olive oil. With a fork, scramble the eggs and blend with the flour. If the dough is dry, add a few drops of water until you find yourself kneading a smooth, elastic ball of dough. (Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add more flour.) Knead the dough for about ten minutes. Let the dough rest while you prepare your filling.

Finely chop onion and garlic and sauté in a healthy amount of olive oil until the onions are translucent. » Continue reading this post…

Dinner Stroll: Fettuccine with Chicken-Liver Sauce

Chinatown, New York (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Our apartment’s fire alarm is hyper-reactive, erupting into warning cries at just the intimation of heat. This means that when I cook, I spend almost as much time running back and forth between the two alarms with a long wooden stick and disengaging them with a well-aimed prod, as I do standing in front of the stove.

I do a lot of walking in New York in general, so the fire alarm situation is nothing out of the ordinary. The other night, I met a friend for dinner after work. We were meeting at 6:15 and I was done with work at 5 – so rather than wait around uptown, I walked the thirty or so blocks from SoHo to 6th and 20th. I like to walk casually but with purpose, separating myself from the throng on the city streets. Everyone is stressed in New York, even the tourists, who must somehow subconsciously feed off everyone else’s frantic energy. To set yourself apart from this and still be in it is an almost elevated feeling of peace, like every commercial where there’s that one guy standing there while the rest of the world blurs by like water.

Uptown, New York (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I like the introspection that comes along with walking – the mind’s mimesis of wandering feet.

And especially walking in New York, I have these moments where I thrill that I live here. It’s a very special moment, to know where you are going, to know that after you leave your bank on Broadway and 10th, you can wander generally South and left (I actually do all my directions this way; I’ve mastered North and South, but I find East and West a little elusive), and you can pick up a bottle of cheap wine at the Broadway Liquor Warehouse, check on a new milk frother at Sur la Table and finally end up at your favorite pasta shop on Grand and Mulberry for fresh egg fettuccine and next door, a slab of Sicilian black pepper cheese. » Continue reading this post…

Comfort Food and Pumpkin Things: Pasta with Tomato and Pumpkin

Pumpkin and tomato pasta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I haven’t written about comfort food in a while. Although this is probably entirely untrue, since I was once accused of describing all foods as comfort foods, after which point I decided that food, for me, is comfort.

I wasn’t even going to make dinner tonight and just settle for the baguette with brie and a cappuccino that I snacked on a while ago while writing an article. But I got some bad news today, and bad news always makes me crave tomatoes. And, oh, the news is so tedious and repetitive (let’s just say it involves creepy crawlies…) that I don’t want to talk about it. But I do want to talk about this brilliant little tomato and pumpkin pasta.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with pumpkins here on Starr St. I bought a misshapen monstrosity at the grocery store the other night and scooped out all the flesh and Anette carved a very Matisse-esque design in the shell which lasted one whole candle-lit evening before the morning evinced a crumpled pumpkin looking like nothing so much as the old woman without teeth who sits on the stoop down the street. I made a pumpkin curry and pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds, and I still have enough pumpkin to last through the winter. One pumpkin is a lot of pumpkin.

Pumpkin monster (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So tonight, I made a pasta sauce with pumpkin, whole peeled tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Served over angel hair pasta and topped with chunks of black peppercorn-encrusted creamy parmesan cheese.

Things are looking up already.

Pumpkin pasta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Pasta with Tomato and Pumpkin

1/2 package dried pasta
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 carrots, chopped
3/4 cup cooked fresh pumpkin
1/2 can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. » Continue reading this post…