We’re past peak asparagus season here in NY but we’re still eating it at our table. Asparagus is one of those vegetables that has a much longer season than it is usually given credit for: that springtime asparagus hype is always more about it being one of the first green things to pop out of the ground after a long, hard winter. But they remain delicious into August, and sliced thinly as they are in this recipe it’s easy enough to trick a certain set of twins in this household that they are just a kind of green bean, the only vegetable they reliably eat any given night.
I haven’t been entirely forthcoming with you, and I’ve been saving this post for very special reason. There is actually a kind-of-a-big-deal chef in our extended family and we just finished up a family reunion where we got to see her.
I spied this recipe for Spaghetti alla Nerano on Food52 a couple of weeks ago and was immediately intrigued. Once or twice a week we try to get the girls to try a new food. We’re also not above a little assistance to make that happen, and pretty much any dish that involves pasta gets us halfway home. Since like most parents we’re generally obsessed with getting them to eat green veggies, our goal for this meal was simple: eat the zucchini.
Summertime! The sprinklers in the parks are back on, Willa and Phoebe’s knees are all skinned and scabbed, and it’s time for rosé and BBQs. Unlike many renters in Brooklyn who are forced to drag their grills to Prospect Park to light one up, we’re extremely lucky to have backyard access. Granted it’s down two flights of stairs and a trek through a dungeon-like basement. And the yard itself is nothing to take pictures of, filled with weeds and mosquitos. But none of that really matters once the taste of grilled meat hits your tongue.
We ended our 4th of July weekend on a healthy note, after spying some delicious looking Sockeye Salmon on sale at our local market. Sockeye is usually only available through the summer and is a smaller cousin to the more readily available larger Atlantic and Pacific varieties, with a milder flavor and denser flesh. For anyone squeamish about the taste of salmon (hi Mom), try this the next time you see it—you won’t be disappointed.
And now a story of love and woe. First the love: this dish evolved from a Mark Bittman recipe, which we still often make in its unmodified version. We love all things Spanish in our household, especially after my wife and I had our food-tour style honeymoon there through Catalonia and parts of Basque country. While this dish isn’t classically Spanish it has enough elements to it that can transport us back to Spain with just one bite.
My favorite Thai restaurant recently got a new delivery guy, and I apparently did something very, very wrong to him in a previous life. Whenever I place a lunch order, 30 minutes later there is always a phone call: “I forgot my ID” [to get into the building], or “I’m downstairs” [when he is still five city blocks away]. And he’s just generally mean. Did you ever see Better Off Dead? He is the newspaper boy reincarnated as a Thai restaurant delivery man, except worse because I’ve prepaid his tip via Seamless.
I’ve had a copy of Roger Vergé’s Vegetables in the French Style sitting on my cookbook shelf for years, and to be honest it has rarely been opened. Published in the mid-90s, it’s one of those books that you leaf through and after a while feel as though you’re looking at pictures and recipes for food you might find in a stodgy old Upper East Side dinosaur of a restaurant, or a cruise ship. But history (and maybe cruise ships) can be fun, or at least enlightening. Chef Vergé passed away recently at the age of 85, so once again I opened his book, determined to cook something from it.
If you have young children and you’re like me, you dream of the day when your kids start eating shellfish. The first hurdle is allergies—you hope that they don’t bust out into hives or something far more nightmarish. There’s a little voice in the back of your head wondering if you are about to poison your child the first time you give them any foods that could cause these reactions. But once that hurdle is crossed, the usual first response is of a look of wonderment that quickly turns into “WHAT THE HELL AM I EATING?” and ends with a mushy bite regurgitated onto the plate or other nearby receptacle, probably your hand.
I’m still mostly proud of the fact that my first food service industry job was at Taco Bell. I loooooooved Taco Bell in high school, so much that I got a part-time job there my senior year and still went there a few times a week during lunch period. I became convinced TB was the healthiest fast food option, not so much because of what you ate but rather how they prepared it—that is to say remotely and with no grubby hands all over the food. Everything came in a bag already prepared: chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, even the beef came in a bag that you boiled to bring up to temperature before slicing it open and sliding it into a steam table. And using something exactly like a caulking gun to shoot guacamole and sour cream on those tacos and burritos is just plain fun.