One of the things I’ve been fiddling around with last year is the idea of making bruschetta without, you know, bread. I shared a Thanksgiving-inspired version last November, but was itching for a late summer spin on it when I created this. I’m the kind of person who would happily eat appetizers for dinner any day — I’m pretty sure if I had nobody else to feed, I’d have subsisted on nothing but pan con tomate, blistered padrons, pink wine and Gossip Girl season one reruns the entire month of August — but it doesn’t really cut it with a family of three.
Everyone’s got their superheroes; I’m sure when I was younger they were things like Super Grover and later, Jem but these days, they’re decidedly more humble: I admire the hell out of people who manage to put homemade meals on the table everyday, as this has never been my strong suit. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve spent the last year or so developing recipes for very specific things — a side dish, a salad, a tart — that don’t exactly add up to be a dinner, and that NYC makes it quite easy to order in whatever parts of your meal you haven’t made at home. I’m a terrible multitasker — really, no fan of it at all — and when I’m making brioche, I’m making brioche, and not brioche with a side of a pot of beans with something braising in the oven, no matter how much I wish I were.
Crisp flatbread. Fruity olive oil. Nutty cheese. Warm honey. Faintly crunchy sea salt. Fresh thyme. I can probably skip the rest of the post, as what else is there to know? You might like all of these things separately but together: welcome to my latest addiction.
A few years ago, I made ricotta for the first time. I suspect a good lot of you just read that — the part where I made cheese/played cheesemaker/fiddled with curds and whey in my shoebox kitchen, not because I maybe forgot about a carton of milk for a few weeks in the back of the fridge and conducted an unintentional science project, but just for a good time — inched your cursor to the little X of your browser tab and navigated away. Clearly, this wasn’t the act of a sane person, though that does seem to be the theme this week. The thing is, a good amount of cheese that we eat — mozzarella, goat cheese, paneer, cottage cheese — come down to milk plus acid. What you do from there is your art. Except my first ricotta wasn’t particularly artful. It was a little dry and coarse. We spread it on pizza with jammy caramelized red onions and ate it happily, but it wasn’t the kind of ricotta you dream of. I moved on.
I get in a lot of cooking ruts. Except, “ruts” sounds like the bad kind of monotony, but I’m not sure that it is. There have been pasta phases, in which I was certain that any vegetable, chopped, lightly cooked plus parmesan plus penne made a perfect dinner. I was on a homemade pizza bender for a year or maybe five. There was a galette fixation, that still rears its head once or twice a year. And currently, I’m struggling to find a single food that doesn’t taste better when it lands on toasts.
I am busted. Someone figured out that I made this over a week ago and have been holding out on you and called me out on it. Guilty as charged. I know nobody will believe me, but I swear, sometimes I just come up blank. I keep trying to figure out how I can convince you that you should make this now, right now, but I’m having a hard time. It’s January, after all, the month of absolving (oneself of having eaten a lot bacon) and resolving (to stop eating so much bacon), and I suspect that the last thing people want to be taunted with is a homemade pizza, creamy tangy base, lightly caramelized onions and thick crunchy salty smoky-sweet — that’s right — bacon lardons. Plus, we think this goes best with a generous glass of crisp white wine.
Welcome to the single time each calendar year I cook something that began its life in the ocean. I suspect right now that you’re in one of a few camps. You’re either thinking “You know, I never noticed it before but Deb, you really don’t have any fish recipes on the site!” Or you’re thinking, “What kind of person doesn’t eat fish?” or you’re thinking, “Lady, I just arrived here yesterday because I heard there were some cookies around and I couldn’t care less about your food hangups.” Welcome, all of you.