Budget Archive

Monday, February 23, 2015

spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs

spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs

Several years ago, because we didn’t have a kid yet, didn’t know about things like school break schedules and figured midway through February was as good of a time to escape the snow as any, we decided to get away to someplace warm and winter-free during Presidents’ Day week. We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a beach resort that had to have easily been 75% children, and the kind that were at that time my worst nightmare of what kids could be [insert yours here, then multiply it as far as you can see] and we decided to both never have kids and never ever go away on Presidents’ Week again.

what you'll need, pecorino optional
pecorino, pangrattato, capers, parsley

Flash forward seven or so years and last week we went to probably one of the most kid-centric, kid-mobbed resorts* one can go to on the most kid-centric and kid-mobbed week of the year and it was the best thing, ever. Previous to last week, I wouldn’t say we’ve exactly mastered the art of family vacations. Sure, we always have fun together but it often either feels like we’re either someplace exciting for adults but less so for little kid, or someplace awesome for a little kid but it feels more like this for the adults. This may not be for everyone, but at least for now, the resolution turned out to be a place where us grownups could lay on the beach, reading books, napping, and being total slackers for most of the day while the kid attended a day camp with everything from pony rides to water slides, trapeze school and circus training and also a pirate-themed treasure hunt for … underwear which if you’ve ever been around 4 and 5 year-olds, know was the greatest. We’d retrieve our kid, sticky with ice cream, chocolate pastries and sugar cereals from his mid-afternoon goûter and then play on the beach or in the pool for a couple hours before dinner, stories, bed and everybody won. Everyone had an awesome vacation. Thank goodness we’re not doing anything in the coming months that would upset the chances of repeating this bliss next year!

spaghetti time

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Monday, February 9, 2015

oven-braised beef with tomatoes and garlic

oven-braised beef with tomato and garlic

I realize that if you’re scouring the internet this week looking for something romantic to cook for that little Hallmark holiday this weekend, the words “pot roast” probably didn’t cross your search threshold. It’s not sexy food; nobody is writing aphrodisiac cookbooks about bottom rounds and boneless chucks. But if you ask me, it’s something better, something cozy, warm, and classic, which neither steals the show nor keeps you from enjoying it. It’s for people who long ago stopped aspiring to entertain in multi-course and completely exhausting meals (for host and guest) and turned instead to comfort foods that surprise and delight on sleety winter nights. Sure, those individual gratins, galettes, microgreens and shooters of soup look elegant, but none of them have ever gotten the reaction that a massive batch of spaghetti and meatballs, from-scratch lasagne or great big short rib braise with a green salad did. No dessert, frosted, layered or crimped has ever had the delighted reception of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (dough prepared days before, shh), still on their baking sheet. Why are we pretending we have a team of line cooks at our disposal, anyway?

a quick chop of tomatoes
a head of garlic

My favorite meals can be prepped in advance, often taste even better the second day, require no trips to specialty stores and are hard to mess up. And I’m never, ever able to resist the siren call of a recipe that promises transcendence in less than five ingredients.

ready to braise

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

fried egg salad

fried egg salad

Did you fall in love with The Crispy Egg? Did you, too, find yourself obsessed with the crackly lacy edges, the potato-chip like crisp underneath, the souffled egg whites, and the high melodrama of all of that hissing and sputtering? Did you go on a Crispy Egg Bender? Come, sit down. You’re among friends.

what you'll need
any excuse to use my julienne peeler

This is the next chapter in the crispy egg saga. It was intended for the next day, but I mistakenly got distracted with chicken pot pies, chocolate babka and fall-toush salads instead — my priorities are whack, I know. It came into my life when I went on the hunt for something more interesting to do with egg salad. I mean, traditional egg salad is oh-kay (although I prefer my take on it, with coarse dijon and bits ‘o pickled celery) but given all of the magical, wonderful ways you can cook and consume eggs, don’t you think the category of egg salad really ought to contain more clever intrigues than, say, curry powder and jarred mayo (shudder)?

assembling the salad

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Monday, December 1, 2014

twice-baked potatoes with kale

twice-baked potatoes with kale

As I do every year, I woke up the morning after Thanksgiving with dueling urges to consume pie for breakfast as well as to repent with an endless sequence of brothy vegetable soups until I no longer dreamed of pumpkin cheesecake, cranberry caramel almond tarts and chocolate silk. I vowed make the wholesome side triumph this year, however, yet somewhere along my righteous path to eating kale salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I remembered that kale salad tastes absolutely nothing like pie and that was basically the end of that. By dinner that night, we were digging into terrifying heaps of spaghetti and meatballs at Carmine’s, followed by overstuffed chocolate cannolis. There wasn’t a ribbon of kale in sight.

three russets
i used chard, not kale, because it's what I had

By Sunday night, however, I’d found a happier medium between total submersion in butter, cream and chocolate and the kind of austerity measures that never quite cut it when it’s 33 degrees outside: the twice-baked potato, restuffed with not only the usual sour cream and cheese, but an entire bundle of greens. Greens make everything healthy, okay?

wilting the greens

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

the crispy egg

the crispy egg

I have spent most of my egg-eating life doing everything in my culinary power to avoid getting texture of any kind on my eggs. Even the smallest amount of a wire-like edge to a firm-cooked white made me want to run, so when I’d cook eggs, I’d opt for any method that didn’t involve a frying pan. Hard-boiled? Good. Scrambled? Better. Soft-boiled, peeled and smashed? Oh yes. Poached? Yeah we can.

crispy egg, dropped into piping hot skillet
crispy egg, blowing up in the pan

And then a month or so ago I started following Frank Prisinzano, a restaurateur in my neighborhood on Instagram, a man that is unwaveringly obsessed with both eating and writing about crispy eggs. “The eggs should almost explode in the hot oil, the white should soufflé around the yolk” he writes, “the bottom should form a crispy crust hard enough that you can remove the egg from a normal pan with just a little scraping and shimmying.” You should eat it immediately, “like a steak,” showered with sea salt, pepper flakes, herbs or spices of your choosing.

crispy egg, ta-da

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