July 20 – July 26, 2020
Monday: Moljete (Mexican Grilled Cheese – herbed black beans fried in a tortilla and then broiled with Monterey Jack cheese and served with tomato salsa, avocado, and cucumber and citrus salad – wow, is this addictive. Only make one per person, because you will eat any left over and develop un vientre gordo.
Tuesday: Steaks and Klondikes at Duffy and Dana’s – Rick’s Birthday Party
Wednesday: Pasta e Fagioli with Charred Eggplant and Scallions
Thursday: Frozen Pea Soup
Friday: Mediocre Take-out Pizza with extraordinary Golfing Crew (Ambrose and John)
Saturday: Roasted Salmon Niçoise
Sunday: Pulled Pork with Grilled Corn Salad. Appetizer of Watermelon with Ricotta Salata and Balsamic Vinegar/Cheese and Crackers
(Yes, I know that this post is late and should be sub-titled, “What We Cooked the Week Before Last” But, hey, we had houseguests this weekend and, one thing led to another, as it always does, and, frankly, it’s amazing we got this off today.)
Years ago, my friend Jimmy, for no apparent reason (his bookshelves were full?), gave me Samin Nosrat’s unique cookbook: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Samin’s book does contain recipe ideas, but she focuses on teaching the reasoning behind those ideas. The practical effect is that you can take her recipe sketches in a number of directions and actually feel like you are creating your own.
I took to the book immediately but didn’t really have any sense of the author other than that she had a strange name – a name which, if you had inherited it, you might consider changing. So it was that searching for my favorite podcast – Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street – I noticed Samin’s exotic name on the logo of a podcast (Home Cooking) which popped up in the little square of 4 podcasts that my app always gives me – the podcast I actually asked for and three podcasts that some bot considers in the same ballpark. Instead of clicking on Milk Street, I clicked on Home Cooking, one of the many serendipitous actions that has defined my life (like meeting Barbara at the Hanna’s Fourth of July party, walking through Frick Park to join the 14th Ward little league, joining the debate team when Coach Apostolico told me that 76 pounds was too small for the Central Catholic football team, grilling lamb for that life-changing dinner party forty years ago, meeting lifelong friends at the aggressively-named Camp Rosary, etc.)
Suddenly, the author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat came into focus through her own spoken words: Samin has a great laugh and a wonderfully plummy voice (think a younger, looser Lynn Rosetto Kasper) and hosts one of the great podcasts of all time with her friend, Hrishi Hurway. Do yourself a favor and listen to this podcast. It is as funny as Somebody Feed Phil, and is immensely helpful to anyone who cooks, especially during the pandemic.
There are recipes strewn throughout the podcast and you can find those described in greater detail by going to the ‘Home Cooking’ website. But what you get only in the podcast is Hrishi’s unique humor and Samin’s world-class laugh. Hrishi is a master of word-play and is prone to ask, in the midst of Samin’s advice about the correct temperature at which chicken becomes safe to eat: “That’s very useful, Samin, for people who cook chicken and want to avoid salmonella, but what can you tell people who are cooking salmon and are worried about contracting chickenella?”
Well – I’m making Hrishi sound even stranger than he is – so just listen to the podcast yourself, and stop pestering me to describe it. And do cook some of the recipes, like the one we’ve written out below.
FROZEN PEA SOUP
(suggested by Samin Nosrat on the podcast Home Cooking)
In Samin-fashion, we took her suggestion for frozen pea soup (during the pandemic she finds herself with a lack of ingredients from time to time), modified it based on what we had in our own kitchen and made a really tasty meal last Wednesday. Good enough to cook again and good enough to share with you as our home-cooking recipe of the week.
Even if you don’t enjoy cooking, you should cook this soup – it is as simple as a soup gets. And, unless you don’t like laughter and good conversation, let me reiterate that you should listen to the Home Cooking podcast.
Here is Samin’s describing this soup: Heat frozen peas (like, the whole bag) with chicken or vegetable stock. Puree with tahini. (Be careful when pureeing hot things – do only a small amount at a time or you will spend the rest of your quarantine cleaning pea soup off the ceiling.) Add herbs to taste, like cilantro or dill. You can make a drizzle for the top from tahini, chili flakes, garlic and cumin.
You can do that – but here’s a version we created with the addition of potatoes and some roasted prosciutto, minus the garlic and some parsley and basil, instead of cilantro or dill. We seasoned it with some red-pepper flakes, and served it with some nicely crisped crostini with Parmigiano-Regianno broiled onto it.
Serves – depends on your frozen pea quantity – We had a half-bag of frozen peas and our version would serve 2 or 3
Note: Double these quantities if you have a whole bag of frozen peas
Enough Broth in which to cook the peas and maybe another ¼ to ½ Cup to handle the parboiled potatoes – use salted water, if you don’t have broth
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled cut into pieces and parboiled until tender. (Note: skip the potatoes, if you don’t have them)
2 thin slices of prosciutto roasted in oven at 400 F for about 3 minutes, then broken into shards
2-3 tablespoons of tahini
8 good-sized basil leaves
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley (one for cooking, one for garnish)
Sour Cream or Créme Fraîche for garnish (optional)
Red Pepper Flakes
Parboil the potatoes (15 minutes?) until tender
Follow the directions on your package of frozen peas – usually, just boil in a certain amount of liquid (you can use water instead of broth) and then toss in the frozen peas and cook for the suggested number of minutes.
Toss in the potatoes for the last two minutes of cooking.
When the peas are cooked, add the tahini, the basil and a tablespoon of parsley and purèe the whole mash-up with an immersion blender, or in a conventional blender, or just mash them up with a potato masher and whisk a bit to incorporate the tahini. Thin with water or broth, if you wish to. We like this particular soup thick, like a porridge. Season with pepper and salt.
You can eat the soup right away or let it sit to develop the flavors a bit. Just reheat and serve with the prosciutto, a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche and with red pepper flakes if you wish.