I’m currently in a swarm of many behind-the-scenes things that I genuinely couldn’t be happier about even if it would also be okay if they didn’t all fall in the next few weeks (the deadline on the next cookbook, the launch at-last-so-overdue-hooray site redesign, a hopefully very cool new project or two, the first birthday of this fiesty love, all of the end of the year chaos that comes with a school-aged kid), that if there were a textbook definition of Bad Times To Take a Vacation, my June might be under it. Thank goodness I am not married to anyone burdened by such trivialities. Thus last weekend, when he surprised me with a birthday weekend away in Mexico City, a place I’ve been telling him I wanting to go to for the better part of a decade, but briefly expressed concern that this wasn’t the “best” time to get away, I was like “SHUT UP WHICH AIRPORT I ALREADY CALLED AN UBER.” The more dramatic the mess, the more dramatic the escape hatch required, right?
If you needed another reason to add to the list of why you’d probably never want to be cornered at a party with me, I should tell you I’m more than a normal level of fascinated by the intersection of tomatoes and cucumbers in salads around the world. And I want to talk about it.
Me and this salad go way back. In 2007 — you know, back in the days when I imagine that all of our conversations might have gone “What should we do today?” “Oh, I don’t know, anything we want.” — I had this salad at the then new-ish Spotted Pig in the West Village and attempted to recreate it. It didn’t go well and because I was as mature then as I am now, I had a tantrum and didn’t get back to it until 2009, at which point I made a roasted carrot dish with a bit of cumin and topped it with avocado slices that had been tossed with some lemon and everyone was happy. However, in 2011, Jean-Georges Vongerichten published a book of his homecooking favorites including this salad, which is also on the menu at ABC Kitchen and in 2012, April Bloomfield included the recipe in her first cookbook and I’ve thought it might be nice to circle back to these more complexly spiced and textured versions.
Does anyone really need a recipe for garlic bread? I mean, garlic + butter + bread = it’s impossible to imagine a bad outcome. And yet I do use one. I mean, prior to today it was in my head and did not include baguette weights because despite the impression this site might give you, I’m not that crazy upstairs. I use a recipe because like most people in the year 2016, I don’t take carb consumption lightly, and garlic bread is even more of a rare luxury. Because of this, if I’m going to make it I don’t want it to be almost right but could use a little more salt, or too much garlic and too little butter, and absolutely not pale and soggy or crouton-hard. I want each time I make it to be like the best time I ever had it, a beacon of bronzed edges, lightly drenched with garlic butter with a whiff of herbs and a kiss of salty heat.
I have been holding out way too long on giving one of the great Roman pizzas, pizza con potate e rosmarino (which, like most things, sounds much sexier in Italian than the thudful translation of “potato pizza with rosemary”) the adoration-driven revisit it deserves on this site. I first talked about potato pizza here in 2008, but I never felt that the recipe did it justice. Jim Lahey, who had recently blown up everything we knew about making bread with his brilliant no-knead boule, was preparing to open a pizza place and had shared his potato pizza recipe with Martha Stewart, but I’d had trouble with it — the proportions seemed off (not enough potato, a persnickety dough), it was low on details I needed (like how big it was supposed to be), and it had pesky steps (like soaking the potatoes in several changes of ice water, so not fun if one lacks one of those fancy fridges with icemakers). But it wasn’t until went to Rome in 2013 that I realized exactly how far off it was from the ideal. (Don’t worry, Lahey is going to come rescue us in a bit.)
In times of lots of worry and little sleep, like most of us, I return to my comforts and staples: avocado toast, a great pot of meatballs, and as many ways as I can find to intersect noodles and eggs. While I am fairly certain I could live off this fiery, crunchy spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs for the rest of my life, as bits of spring have been in the air, I am always ready for fresh takes on cold noodles.