Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Not The Heat...

You know how that line goes - it's not the heat, it's the humidity. Well, that's bull. To me, it's the heat. When it gets really hot, or even when I know it's going to be getting hot, I get cranky. I mean, it's not even the end of April, and for the past 3 or 4 days, the temperature has been in the mid to upper 80's. Today is supposed to be a scorcher too.

So what's a home cook to do? I don't really like to cook when it's that hot out, because my kitchen isn't air conditioned and ummmm, I'm cranky. Yesterday, after not being able to sleep the previous night, I actually installed the window air conditioner in our bedroom. Let me say this - a middle-aged jewish man installing an air conditioner is not a pretty sight - I was pretty much thinking that the unit was gonna end up smashed on the ground below - 15 floors down and bam...but accidents didn't happen so last night Significant Eater and I slept in air conditioned bliss.

But back to cooking - and I had to cook, because we had friends come over both on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night I made a bit of a fancy meal, starting with some oysters on the half-shell, linguini with fresh clams for a primi (both shellfish procured at the greeen market that morning), a pork rib roast that had been rubbed with fennel pollen (thanks, Jude!), garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper), potatoes that were roasted in the oven underneath that lovely pork, broccoli raab, lemon custard tart and vanilla ice cream. There are, of course, no pix of that meal, because I didn't feel like playing with my camera in the hot kitchen...there's that heat again.

Saturday's dinner was much more hadn''t been planned at all, but I had made some tortillas earlier in the day and had all the fixings for tacos, so we invited our neighbors back to our place, and I threw together some salsa and guacamole, and heated up some pork and beans I had in the fridge. Along with maybe a few too many margaritas, we all had a good time...I know everyone was content, because both Significant Eater and our neighbor fell asleep on the couch while we were all watching a movie.

Last night, I wanted something simple and summery (remember, it's hot) for dinner, since we had gone out Sunday night, and we're trying to eat at home a bit more frequently. For a contorni, I decided to do something with this (the camera is back)...

The radicchio and ramps got sautéed in olive oil with a bunch of broccoli florets. Also in our fridge...

were two types of mozzarella (fresh and low moisture) along with Parmigiano-Reggiano, the king of cheeses. What better to make than penne al telefono, something I first had at one of Mario Batali's restaurants here in NYC. Simple and delicious, I combined half a can of whole tomatoes (crushed with my bare hands) with a sautéed onion, and when the pasta was al dente, it went into the pan with the cheeses and a big handful of chopped thyme and parsley, as I had no basil in the house. Here's what it looked like while getting tossed around...

And that's why it's called al telefono - the strands of cheese sort of look like telephone wires, don't they? (Go ahead, use your imagination). Topped with a heap of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, SE and I inhaled big bowlfuls on a hot night...with the air conditioner going full blast.


  1. Air conditioner? Buh! Plat it like us and lay around complaining about the heat and how it's impossible to turn the oven off. An 85 degree apartment makes me very cranky indeed. Where exactly was spring?

    Also, I want those ramps. I'm assuming you saved some for us?

  2. Oh. My. God. That sounds SO good right now.

  3. Ahhh, wearing a sweatshirt walking along the beach with the pups, another temerate, sunny day in SB. So sorry you hit 90 in April, maybe you should think of a trip to Canada to cool down.

  4. What the hell is low moisture mozzeralla? Is that a fancy name for old, dry and found in the back of the fridge?
    Glad you liked the fennel pollen. :--)