Anyway, here is how I spent my past week week.
THE FEED BAG
Pesto potato salad: I like potato salad, even if it does seem like a good way to poison fourth cousins at a pista-family picnic in some one-softball field town like Kellogg, Minn.
In fact, I had a conversation about potato salad with Chuck that I could have predicted verbatim.
Me: Do you like potato salad.
[Pause. I know what he's thinking right now. He's thinking of sun scorched mayonnaise, and the only crapper is a blue plastic rent-a-biff. The kind where, when you're done, you use the complimentary hand-sanitizer on more than just your hands. Then you spend the rest of the day tossing bean bags, both literally and figuratively. That's a Pavlovian response to old-school potato salad. Me? I'll eat my own gum right off a sidewalk.]
Chuck: But can you use Vegannaise?
Me: What if I used pesto instead of any kind of -aise?
He simply applauded.
I got this one from Smitten Kitchen, and it was fantastic. I halved the recipe, and it was still waaaaay too much, though. And of course, her photos are better. She could make a worm and shittake sandwich look awesome. Mine was more like half-mashed potato pesto. But damn it was good.
Risotto with Intricately Layered Hearts: [from the book I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti]. Is there any cheese weirder than Taleggio? My God. It's absolutely disgustingly good. One of those cheeses you try to get from the plate to your mouth without touching so your hands don't taste smell like you just excavated crumbs from your belly button.
I've never made a risotto before, nor have I eaten it, so this was definitely an experiment. Sauteed onions, add a cup of arborio rice and a shot of white wine, begin ladeling hot chick broth, stirring until it's absorbed, continue for like 25 minutes. Top with artichokes and add the Taleggio cheese cubes. [A little goes a long way.]
This is a bit like a gourmet mac and cheese. And the flavor is whoa. We had it as an entree, which was a mistake. It is obviously a side.
Warning: I'll be making a lot of foods from this book in the upcoming weeks.
Chickpea Stew: I've made this one before, and in fact, for the sake of ease, I'm reusing the same photo. It is chickpeas, butternut squash soup, red pepper, onion and a carrot served over couscous. It tastes trickier than it is, and it is a great leftover.
Summerhouse Tuna Salad: [by Melucci] This mix takes Tuna salad to an exciting new level. Seriously. Tuna, red onions, capers, tomatoes, olive oil and basil. So fresh and summery.
You know what Basil is? Basil is mandatory. Basil is your friend who gets along with everyone, makes them feel good, and breathes life into a party.
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci: Typically when I read a book, I dog-ear pages with great sentences or ideas I like. With Giulia Melucci’s unfortunately-titled food memoir I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, these notations were never about a turn of phrase — they were about a turn of the proverbial spatula. There are at least a dozen recipes in this book that I plan to test.
This easy-reader — six hours, cover to cover — is about Melucci’s relationship history, and what she was whipping up for the series of gents who have come and gone. Mostly pasta, sometimes fish. A bit of meatloaf. Blueberry muffins, Yorkshire Pudding, and Risotto. Fresh vegetables, red pepper flakes, slivers of fresh Parmesan cheese.
With an Italian background, Melucci’s knows her way around red sauces and mozzarella. She also adapts recipes from Epicurious, Bon Appetit, and friends, and comes up with cute autobiographical names for her meals: No Nookie Gnocchi, Ineffectual Eggplant Parmigiana ( which didn’t save her relationship with Marcus), Fuck-You Cakes, Real Estate Roast Chicken (celebrating the purchase of a condo), and Welcome Back to the Big Apple Apple Muffins, when her Scottish boyfriend returns from Europe.
See full review here.
Prague: A Novel by Arthur Phillips: I deserve a big, fat, chocolate-covered "I told you so." Arthur Phillips' "Prague" is, interesting-wise, the exact inverse of his most-recent novel "The Song is You," interesting-wise.
Damn if I didn't fall hard in the early chapters, which find a handful of 20-something ex-pats in Budapest in 1990: John, the laid back, love-lorn accidental journalist has followed his brother Scott, a formerly obese exercise-hound who's desire to shed pounds equals his desire to shed his past, Emily, a plain-old Nebraska good girl who cannot tell a lie, and Charles, the flesh-pressing leader of the troupe and the Canadian, Mark, who is on the surface, compulsively studying nostalgia, while quietly going insane.
Part I hyper-exposes them as cliches of the 20-something world travelers in a way that made me swoon and giggle and love each of them despite their know-it-all, on-top-of-the-world bravado. Part II shifts focus to the elderly Imre Horvath's past in relation to Hungary's past, and the publishing house his forefathers built. Good God. The whole thing reminded me of that awful semester in college where I ended up slogging toward a C in a history class I hated. Unfortunately, Imre Horvath's chapters are crucial to the next two sections of the book, business relationships and more history, nearly impossible to focus on, given the circumference of my permanent yawn.
Full review will be here.
True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series): Wow. This is either the best or the worst show I've ever seen. Speaking of Taleggio cheese. It's a lot like that. Lots of gluttonous stink. Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in Louisiana who falls for a vampire, during the vampire rights movement. Meanwhile, people are dying all over town. She's got a slutty brother, an alcoholic best friend, and a boss who likes to sniff things.
So hokey. So good. So bad. The scenes are way too long, and it is the final five seconds of each episode that carry you into the next boring episode, which ends with five fantastic seconds. This goes on and on and on.
FRIDAY NIGHT SHITTY MOVIES
Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason This is the one where BJ goes from cute and quirky to pathetic. Why couldn't Bridget Jones and Hugh Grant's character just be friends? Getting romantic has never gone well. Just friends. Think about it. Also, if that "Like a Virgin" scene in the Thai prison isn't the worst thing ever.