Archive for October, 2012

Sunday hurricane reading | 28.10.2012

28 October 2012

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As New York shuts down completely bracing for an ominous storm with the weirdly frivolous name of a John Travolta love interest from the 1970s, there will be plenty of time for reading, cooking, and baking. Provided the kitchen is well stocked and electricity lasts.

As it turns out I haven’t gone shopping in three days but there are at least four pounds of butter in the fridge, and about as much sugar in the pantry. So to start, tonight I will begin making these, hoping the roof stays over our heads long enough to bake them in the morning. The gorgeous buns from this consistently beautiful blog looked very tempting when I first saw them six months ago. They are irresistible today.

But now I wish I had bought pork shoulder rather than steaks the other day because I’m in the mood for slow cooking, flavors melding, dark, and comforting, and the gathering clouds seem to be the perfect backdrop, if there ever was one, for stew.

To be honest I wasn’t craving a recipe for Cheez-its, and I’m still not sure whether I am planning to make these crackers, but they are so incredibly sweet looking, in a delicious not-really-scary-Halloween sort of way. I may brave the storm to buy some cheddar, just in case.

And once all the real baking and wishful cooking is done, I will re-read this essay by Michael Chabon. It’s worth it.

Later I may pick up a book. Stay safe.

Eating out | With an Italian at Parm

25 October 2012

I tricked my very good very Italian (but longtime New Yorker) friend into going to Parm. I misused his optimistic trust in my restaurant tastes and lured him, this Italian food purist, to a ‘by-definition’ suspicious Italian-American place.

It is a few months ago already, but the evening is such a good memory that I’ve been wanting to write about it. So much about the enjoyment of a restaurant is about the circumstances. No bad restaurant will ever be good, but in the large realm of good restaurants, food wise, the evening will be great if the particular place suits the particular mood.

That evening we’d met at the New Museum Triennial late on a Thursday, and despite, I admit, some initial skepticism, as we strolled around the galleries and took a closer look I discovered some intriguing and a few striking pieces. An exhibition is the perfect start to an evening — it needn’t take as long as a movie or a play and in the evening galleries are often lulled by a more leisurely pace. Upon leaving the museum we were busy discussing the art and I took advantage of the diversion to head in the direction of Mulberry Street.

The atmosphere at Parm was bustling and joyful when we arrived. We waited at the end of the bar for a stool at the counter, just enough time to enjoy a beer before sitting down. Looking at the menu I could sense some skepticism on the part of my dining companion, but he was playing along.

It was late so we were there for a bite rather than a full dinner, which was perfect for the occasion. I wrote down what we ordered: garlic bread deluxe with ricotta, cauliflower, chickpeas, spicy rabe, eggplant parm, and zeppole to finish. If I recall correctly, the beers and wines on offer were all, fittingly, American.

I don’t remember the details of each dish but I know that everything was genuinely delicious with clear bright flavors, which is not necessarily what one might expect of an Italian-American joint, but what I had hoped from the highly praised restaurant. (Parm is more casual and just next door to Torrisi Italian Specialties. Both are owned by Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone.)

I’d venture to say that Simone liked it too. He had to agree that the dishes were very good, of course, and even conceded that the flavors were familiar, distantly but clearly reminiscent of home.

It was, that night, the perfect place.

***

Parm

248 Mulberry Street
New York, New York 10012

212 993 7189

Open Mon–Sun 11am–11pm (Thurs-Sat until 12am)
Bar Menu from 4-6pm

www.parmnyc.com

Fettucini with immediate tomato sauce

4 October 2012

The last of the summer’s ripe tomatoes may be a little soft, a little blemished, they may not warrant much attention as heads will be turned by the arrival of bright yellow squash and orange pumpkins. What these tomatoes want is this sauce exactly. It is so quick, so easy that it will barely distract from the anticipation of slow roasts and apple pies. It is so good that those blemished tomatoes may soon be missed, as the creeping cold leaves heaps of unripened green tomatoes in its wake, with no better prospect but to be transfigured into chutney.

The sauce sort of made itself one night, and I was taken aback by how easy it was to create such a good sauce in so little time. I’d always supposed that good tomato sauce needs to simmer gently and reduce patiently. On that evening there was no time and, temptingly, in the kitchen, some good fettucini and a few roma tomatoes.

All I did was cut the tomatoes lengthwise in sixths, slice a few garlic cloves, heat some olive oil in a large skillet, throw in the garlic for barely a minute, add the tomatoes, and wait until most of the juice had evaporated and the tomatoes hinged on golden and in some places brown. It took perhaps 10 minutes, just about the time to boil the pasta.

***

For two

5 roma tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

Good olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

200 g good fettucini

Really good olive oil

Parmigiano-reggiano

Few basil leaves

*

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil for the pasta.

Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise then in half in thirds. Peel and thinly slice the garlic.

Carefully slide in the fettucini. Cook in a heavy boil.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large heavy skillet. **The skillet should be large enough so the tomatoes are in one layer only.** Cook the garlic for barely a minute over medium to high heat, until translucent, then add the tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook the tomatoes over high heat until a lot of the juice has evaporated and they start turning brown.

Start checking the pasta regularly after about 8 minutes (by carefully taking one out and eating it). Drain quickly in a colander as soon as the pasta is just al dente (or to desired consistency) and return immediately to the pot used for boiling the pasta (one could use another pot but it’s much simpler this way). **It is important not to overdrain the pasta. If it is too dry it will become sticky.** Quickly drizzle generously with good olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick.

Transfer the pasta to individual bowls. Spoon over the tomatoes, add a drizzle of very good olive oil, tear up a few leaves of basil on each bowl, and grate some parmigiano to finish.


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