073: Tired: Rights. Wired: Recipes.
Just kidding! Are you new here? Relatedly, hello to the Thing or Two Fam! How do we get Airsign (and their Homecoat army) to sponsor us?
(JS) Well… I got it! A couple weeks shy of this pandemic-borne newsletter’s second birthday, yours truly fell hard and fast with a good old case of Covid-19, hence our radio silence last week. Adding insult to injury, my sickness occurred mere days before boyfriend of the newsletter David and I were set to jet off to Porto for a mini vacation, and though we are still technically very much still in a pandemic, many once trusted travel partners have all but abandoned pandemic-related leniency around cancellations and changes. Is this relatable? To paint with a broad brush, things are getting worse, but at the very least my health is on the upswing. As our problematic fave once crooned: we have changed, but we’re still the same!
Needless to say, the last nine days have been pretty unremarkable on the food front, save for some extra cooling treats to soothe my throat (see above) – official friend of the newsletter in sickness and in health April was also down for the count, and together in isolation we ravenously consumed the first four seasons of Selling Sunset, in case you were wondering whether I lost my taste. Here are a few things I ate, all prior to infection:
As a devout stan of Nancy’s chopped salad, it will come as no surprise that I’m obsessed with Ali Slagle’s sheet pan Italian sub dinner (another tip from Kinga, who serves it with hot Italian sausage in lieu of salami)
(SB) Dear readers, we’re back after a rocky couple of weeks away from you. We figured you might not have noticed given the world’s ever worsening vibe. While I seem to have, at least temporarily, dodged the wave of covid infection that has afflicted almost everyone I know in New York City, I have been experiencing persistent and acute malaise. The cold and halting spring we’ve had feels really raw and petty after such a long winter. Work feels particularly difficult and unenjoyable, and I’ve been having a harder than usual time countenancing domineering patriarchal mediocrity. Unfortunately, you might be surprised at just how much of that most of us do on a daily basis…!
With the weather seemingly poised to give way to a little more lightness and the sun setting later than ever, I’m going to be working on easing up on some of my more toxic workaholism and guilt-about-leisure. In that effort, I have had a few fun meals to report back on:
Eva, Willis, and I strolled into the garden at Gottino Enoteca in the Village after an afternoon showing of the newly restored Mississippi Masala at IFC. Run, don’t walk to catch it while it’s still playing…!! We also pregamed with subs from Court Street Grocers; I am so in love with the olive/pecorino situation on the Italian Sub that I’ll surely be recreating.
Sweet April and I devoured breakfast burritos at Santa Fe BK a couple of weekends ago; they were sold out of many things and the storied backyard was yet to open, but I’ll tolerate a lot of Williamsburg Types for a hatch chile.
I lured Willis to Namkeen (or did he lure me to Williamsburg on a musical errand?) this past weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed both the masala fries and the chicken sandwich. I’m itching to try Rowdy Rooster next…!!!
USE A CONDIMENT: Red Pepper or Whatever Aioli
(JS) Have I told you lately how I’m obsessed with Spanish tortilla? The breakout star of my pandemic permanent recipe rotation is a dish best served room temp or even cold, IMHO – my personal favorite take these days is comes straight from the fridge, stuffed into a sandwich that’s been lubed up with a healthy smear of this red pepper aioli. Rich and velvety yet still packing a little punch, it’s an adaptable and relatively forgiving emulsion that comes together pretty quickly in an immersion blender and keeps for a bit in the fridge.*
Technically – and this is where I need to remind you that I took one very intensive semester of Catalan for Spanish speakers as a senior with very niche and unsullied academic ambitions – aioli in its OG form is merely an emulsion of garlic (ai or alli) and oil (olli). These days, most people will use it as a catch all term for flavored mayos (mayeaux?).
This Calabrian chile aioli from Jon and Vinny’s served as my general guide – the recipe makes a lot, but you can easily halve it (use just one egg, removing some of the white if you’re anxious/a Virgo). Add everything except the oil to a quart container and blend to combine with an immersion blender, then slowly add your neutral oil to emulsify. I find you can get away with less oil than the recipe calls for, depending on the precise consistency you’re looking for.
The Calabrian chile is merely a suggestion – feel free to sub in for your preferred flavoring agent, adjusting your quantity with pungency and your taste. I’ve used chopped chiles preserved in oil and Hungarian gulyaskrem with success. I suspect you could do something lovely with garlic confit or achaar, and would be curious to try it with some of my favorite little crying boy Sichuan pickles.
*There is more than likely some risk in keeping raw egg-based condiments in your fridge for too long – a cursory Google suggests tossing them after a week, but at the risk of going full Brad Leone, I’ll admit to enjoying mine for closer to two, with no obvious impact on my tender lil’ gut.
TikTok “Tuna” Salad
(SB) Long time readers might recall that I have, over time, grown increasingly influenced by TikTok food trends. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t begun a life of combining creamer and diet coke (yet…!!) but, as an early adopter of TikTokTeknology (JS: aaaayo), I really have been struck by how compelling I find being slow-walked through a recipe personally delivered via a powerful (surveillant??) algorithm.
Anyway, the vegan “tuna salad” made of chickpeas taking the app by storm* has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Partially, I’ve been so captivated because the concept transported me to sad lunchtimes past, when I used to order a similar sandwich from the highly variable and often disappointing Connecticut institution, Blue State Coffee. As with most TokTrends, there are lots of iterations on the “classic” version of this crushed-chickpea formula-- including “southwestern”, “with tahini,” and “made by grade-A scammer Dr. Oz’s wife in a beautiful wooden bowl.” The video that won my heart was, unsurprisingly, this chaat-inspired version which I recreated to great success. The formula is easy: smash a can of chickpeas using a fork, then mix in finely chopped onions, cucumbers, tender herbs, salt, and chaat masala. Add a dollop of something creamy– mayo, Greek yogurt– and serve with a slice of tomato. It’s pretty adaptable: I skipped the tomatoes, added shallots, and used Veganaise with some grated garlic. Though part of this trend's virality almost surely lies in the ASMR of serving the chickpea salad on two perfectly toasted pieces of bread, I enjoyed wolfing mine down on my trusty seed crackers liberally covered with sriracha.
*Like many TikTokTrends, I feel like this kind of chickpea salad has been a staple, in some form, of vegans with depression (also in some form) for many years. All credit to them. You sulked so these Zoomers could infinite scroll.
GLD: TWO HALF-POUND CAKES
(JS) Arguably one of my favorite desserts – perhaps even my desert-island sweet treat – is fridge-cold pound cake. Perfect on its own, iconic with fresh whip and some berries, I’m not particularly loyal to one recipe, but I thought I’d give this one from Deb via Chanterelle a try in order to use up some cream cheese I had wallowing in the back of my fridge. Fresh off a week of eating more than my fair share of soups, rice cooker congee and ice cream, I was excited to finally get back to proper kitchen projects, and eagerly set my alarm for an early morning bake.
With only ¾ of a block of cream cheese at the ready and no obvious plans to see anyone for at least 5 days, I thought it made sense to halve the recipe. And so I set about creaming my butter and cream cheese, then adding in the sugar and some lemon zest, whipping til airy. I added three eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each. It was barely 8 am, I was ahead of schedule, and I was grooving to the new(ish) Omar Apollo album. I added my vanilla and almond extract and then – momentarily lost in a late-stage covid fog – dumped three full cups of of flour into my bowl, whisking til combined, almost per the directions. The batter seized up, and I sampled a lick – kinda flat, even accounting for my potentially botched taste buds. Suddenly it dawned on me: I’d just added a full recipe’s worth of flour to my otherwise halved pound cake batter.
After a little verbal self flagellation, I said fuck it and tried my best to course correct. With only 2 oz of Philadelphia left over, I decided to combine my cream cheese with some creme fraiche, which may have helped things marry with my substantially colder butter. In went the sugar, then the eggs, one by one, whipping again until airy. I folded this into my original batter, attempting to homogenize without overmixing, then split the batter between two not quite evenly sized loaf pans. The result was a little denser than I’d have liked, but with a delightfully crispy crust. I anticipate I’ll freeze one, and play around with the remainder – I’m keen to experiment with a soak, or possibly layering it into some sort of trifle. (SB: coconut tres leches for the people.)
PERMANENT ROTATION: This week we’ve turned to friend of the newsletter Margaret, whose personal weekly routine includes Deb’s roast chicken with schmaltzy cabbage; she uses the leftovers (thigh especially!) for a spin on Alison Roman’s chicken pot pie, often with a more traditional crust rather than puff pastry.
(JS) I want a laptop sleeve and maybe also a phone case. What are we using to protect our devices these days, girlies? Wrap it up!
(SB) God I want so many things. Maybe this stupid little avocado pit jar.
(JS & SB) Chances are, if you’re over the age of fetal viability, you’ve heard about the imminent repeal of Roe v. Wade. We’d like to remind you that abortions are still occurring, safely (if not legally) in all 50 states thanks to the tireless work of midwives, doulas, abortion providers, and abortion funds. If have the means, please donate to an abortion fund or contribute to an effort to build independent abortion clinics.
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