A few times a year, I go on a Dinner Intervention, which might sound a little more gentle than it is. It sounds like a “Honey, I was thinking I’ll do something different with dinner this week” but in reality it is more of a “Gah, I am so sick of take-out and fobbed together meals! I’ve had enough!” wherein I throw down the proverbial spatula and demand we do better.
I feel like I have been sitting on this leek bread pudding recipe forever, though it has technically only been six months — the New York Times ran this recipe from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home last October, when [updated: ahem, I had thought] leeks were decidedly out of season and apparently, I’m really becoming someone who really digs her heels in about these sorts of things. I imagine how much better something will taste in season, how much better it will look, how much more excited I’ll be when I “score” the thing I’ve been longing six months for and say “aargh, fine! I’ll wait.” And wait I did. (Jacob, too, was patient but mostly because he was just a little lump back then.)
My fridge is a mess. I like to fancy myself a focused shopper; I know what I want to cook, I carefully make lists of the ingredients I don’t have yet and I don’t come home until every item is crossed off.
I have been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about what it means to cook when you’re pressed for time. I’ve always had the luxury of time. Even when I juggled a full-time job and a site, the sum of my evening tasks were still only to make whatever I felt like making for dinner, and if dinner was done at 10 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., we just shrugged it off.
After a winter in which I was so sick of heavy winter vegetables, I went on strike against them (and pretty much everything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Raisin Bran, if we’re being honest here), I have been having so much fun the last couple weeks hitting the markets, especially now that they’re hitting their stride. In our new neighborhood, we’re not only so much closer to the Union Square Greenmarket, but have the added bonus of a couple mini-markets that conveniently run on Union Square’s off days, and I have to confess: the tinier ones are my favorite, due to my aversion to being elbowed when I’m sifting through my produce. Call me crazy.
A couple weeks ago, I had a fantastic warm asparagus salad at a nearby restaurant, one I immediately swore I’d make at home. It had segments of white and green asparagus tossed with goat cheese and a tarragon and lemony mint vinaigrette and it was piled on a bed of red endive, my favorite. It was stunning. It was delicious. Alas, this is not it. What a tease I am, right?
Given that I can say, without pausing or so much as batting an eyelash, that artichokes are my favorite food on earth, it’s kind of a bummer that they’re so woefully underrepresented here. Sure, there are Artichoke Ravioli, a quick Potato and Artichoke Tortilla, a a scooped heart filled with fresh cranberry beans, a gratin and some crostini in which they play a supporting role, but when you love them as much as I do, this is not enough. Nothing ever is.