Ask Digestivo: Two Beautiful Questions Stand Before Us
Some recipes for you and your defeatist attitude
Welcome back to Ask Digestivo, our bi-weekly chance to tell you what to do (to be fair, you asked). As we coast toward the second anniversary of this new normal, we all seem to find ourselves falling somewhere along the spectrum of “re-discovering the classics” to “never wanting to look at an egg again.” This week, our advice is of the everyday sort: what to make, what to watch, and who to root for when you’re just about ready to pack your knives and go. Write in with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe it’s the ongoing vibe shift or the oncoming subvariant (Omicron 2: 2 Fast 2 Furious), but I just don’t really feel like fucking around in the kitchen these days! Do you have any semi-homemade secrets to share with us? What do you cook when you don’t really feel like cooking?
– I Came to the Kitchen Eager To Cook. I Found Self-Loathing Instead.
Sweet reader, you’ve come to the right place. While we often outwardly project an Ina-like ease when it comes to whipping up soufflés and sabzis (how easy is that?), the truth is we’re only human, and cannot deny the convenience of a semi-homemade moment. (BTW, what’s the right tablescape for when your ex is a victim of cancel culture?)
I (SB) recently rediscovered the joys of a good rotisserie chicken while walking by some irresistible looking birds during lunch time at Lincoln Market. A recent rôti really stretched far: I used it first to top a kale salad (Sweetgreen harvest bowl cosplay), accent a jambalaya, and make a garlicky chicken salad (enjoyed on these seed crackers I’m obsessed with.) With the rest, I made “emergency pho,” courtesy of my pantry hoarding problem (JS: I am deeply intrigued by the Viet style chicken salad in that Tiktok and may just pick up a poulet myself to give it a test run). Aside from my co-editor’s excellent soup or salad recs, I’d (JS) be remiss not to mention a couple casseroles ripe for rotisserie remixing: skillet chicken pot pie can be easily adapted for whatever vegetables you have on hand, and a sheet of puffed pastry makes an easy swap for homemade crust when you’re short on time; stacked enchiladas are another favorite, especially if you can get your hands on some real New Mexican chile (IYKYK).
On the topic of low effort, high reward, I (SB) eat a lot of cold salads – mostly homemade, but really, when you’re buying smoked fish, who’s counting? Think whitefish, smashed 7-minute eggs and mayo, smoked trout with veganaise, smoked sable with little mustard, tuna how you like it (JS: it’s giving Upper West Side appetizing) – all on those crackers, with some sprouts, pickled onions, or pea shoots if feeling inspired. While I’m no stranger to mayo-forward meals, my (JS) preferred fridge salad these days is more of a pickle-y chopped situation – lord knows this newsletter loves our Nancy Silverton signature chop, and unless you’re curing your own salami at home, I suppose that’s technically a semi-homemade affair. The red wine vinegar and oregano dressing is a must, but you can play around with the lettuces or omit them entirely, instead leaning into the legumes and salumi for a real protein pack. Alternatively, you could take things in the Kitty’s chopped supreme direction, tossing your preferred crunchy veg in a quick kimchi vinaigrette. Make a big batch and use it as a base for bowls of all sorts – it would be a lovely compliment for rotisserie chicken and a little brown rice, perhaps finished with a little chili oil as they do up in Hudson (Lao Gan Ma >>>).
Since purchasing a toaster oven with air-fryer setting on Facebook Marketplace in the late fall, I (SB) have also become something of an evangelist. I air fry a lot of things, including: frozen dumplings, cubed pressed tofu, paneer, and various cruciferous vegetables. Salt, pepper, and a little acid is usually quite enough, but we also rely heavily on a coterie of sauces. We’ve got a deep dive into our condiment collection tentatively slated for next month, but a enjoy little taste in the meantime with these recs: Brooklyn Delhi’s roasted garlic achaar; Primal Kitchen’s vegan buffalo sauce; Trader Joe’s ~Italian Bomba~ (mama mia); Fan Sao Guang’s preserved pickled mustard; Fly By Jing’s Zhong Sauce.
Even when neither of us want to cook, either Willis or I can usually get it together to make spaghetti with a red sauce (usually a riff on the Marcella sauce with less butter or subbing in olive oil or a version of Alison R*man’s caramelized shallot pasta / slow-roasted tomato anchovy bucatini.) Long time readers are familiar with my (JS) pasta panic, but my go-to remains a freewheeling riff on Deb’s skillet baked pasta with five cheeses. In an effort to clean out my fridge, I’ll usually end up with something more like three cheeses, plus some form of cultured dairy (yogurt, sour cream), and maybe some ‘nduja or sausage to bulk things up – the scallion finish is essential, however. For a slightly lighter fix, I’d suggest hot and sour noodles, perhaps with a little leftover rotisserie chicken.
Are you both watching Season 19 of Top Chef? Thoughts? Favorites? Enemies?
-To learn more about the housewives, go to BravoTV.com
We sure are.
Let’s start with the bad: “I just wanted to do a simple meat and potatoes dish!” explained Stephanie, winning no friends on THIS newsletter. Nothing like Top Chef to really make me (SB) say things like “white mediocrity at work again!” and this season seems to be no different. In addition to Miss North Dakota, we coastal elites were also unimpressed by Jason “Can’t Find the Pork Chop” Kalb and Luke “forgot to plate the food” Kolpin. You’d think that a former Noma chef would better understand the intricacies of time management. As you can see, the topic makes us a little vicious.
As for our favorites, I (SB) personally think that Buddha’s got it in the bag after his beef pudding performance. Ever skeptical of spotted dick, I’m (JS) hitching my wagon to Sam Kang, the Eleven Madison Park alum with palpable K-Pop energy (swoop and all). And our shared love for all things kitfo had us kvelling for Ashleigh. All things considered, we’re glad to have (another!) weekly excuse to spend time with our elegant Substack colleague, Padma Lakshmi, from the comfort of our own little judge’s table (couch).
A friend recently remarked that everyone they know is somewhere between “unwell” and “unhinged” right now. This is a little unhinged; it’s giving freedom fries and we all know how that turned out.
Allegedly, New York City could get half a foot of snow this weekend? If you think astrology’s fake, wait til you hear about weather. We hate it here.
Having previously waded rather deep into the waters of hot girl yoga, we’re quite enjoying the latest “would I fall victim to a cult” discourse on Twitter and humbly ask – what’s your cult adjacent behavior?