Hi Amateur Gourmet readers, I have a secret: I’ve been blogging behind your back. A few weeks ago, I started a blog using my own name: heyadamroberts.com. The idea is that I still write about food, just much more casually. Also, sometimes I write about not-food things. So far I’ve blogged some Chocolate Chip Cookie Hacks, a dinner that my French friend Cris cooked for us, a pretty killer recipe for Spaghetti with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon, and a dinner that we had at Orsa & Winston in downtown L.A. There’s also an essay about Penn & Teller’s “Fool Us,” a TV show that I very much enjoy. So come on by and say hello. It’s very low-key; no ads, nice fonts. It’ll be fun.
Remember that time that I was a full-time food blogger? And I had the nerve to say things like: “You can cook after work! It’s easy.” Well I’d like to take that person, pin him against a wall, and say: “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Because now that I have a full-time job, I come home happily exhausted (I love where I’m working) and the idea of making a big mess in the kitchen at 6:45 PM (when I get home) and then cleaning it up holds very little appeal to me on a weekday night. So the picture you see above is my saving grace: Dune Falafel is on the other side of Atwater Village from me, so my new favorite thing is to come home, give the cat some treats, and to go for a 20 minute walk along GlenFeliz Blvd to procure the hummus plate you see above (it really is the most dazzling hummus plate I’ve ever experienced). And then, every so often, I do manage to make a dinner.
I was never a wedding person. Growing up, I’d watch the wedding scene in The Sound of Music and fantasize about writing a great musical someday. The idea of walking down an aisle held very little appeal for me (even if there’d be nuns singing a slowed-down version of “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”) So when Craig and I got engaged almost two years ago at Rustic Canyon, I imagined us having a simple wedding at a nice restaurant somewhere. Maybe just our families and a few close friends at Blue Hill Stone Barns or The French Laundry; 12 to 15 people max. The only problem? My betrothed had a very different idea of what our wedding would be. “I want a big party,” he informed me soon after we told our families that we were getting married. “A big party with lots and lots of people!”
Ok, it’s time to spill the beans: starting next month, I’m going to be a staff writer on the new ABC Dan Savage-inspired sitcom “The Real O’Neals,” starring Martha Plimpton! To say that I’m excited would be a profound understatement. The show, based loosely on Dan Savage’s life, is one of only three new comedies that ABC is debuting this year and based on what I know so far, it’s going to be a great one. I hope you’ll all watch.
Of course, this probably leaves you wondering: “What’s going to happen to the blog?” The answer is: “I’m not sure, yet!” In the meantime, the best way to connect with me is via Instagram (@amateurgourmet): I update that more than anything else (though there’s also Twitter and Facebook). Thanks for being so patient during this crazy career shift and I promise, no matter what, I’ll continue entertaining you—either here on your computer or over there on your T.V. screen. Here goes nothing!
Sometimes it’s nice to cook for friends who favor a particular cuisine because it steers you in a new direction. Normally, I default to European/Mediterranean things like pastas and chicken with couscous and preserved lemon and stuff like that. My friends Jim and Todd (you know them!) are Tex-Mex fans and so, when I cooked for them last week, I decided to pull The Homesick Texan Cookbook off the shelf to delight them with food that they love. Turns out, I love it too and now I have some new dishes up my sleeve to pull out at dinner parties. The one I’m most excited about? Queso with Chorizo (it’s in the title of the post, duh.)
Recently I became friends with an Amateur Gourmet reader named Peggy who works in T.V. out here in L.A. and who comes from a Taiwanese family. Over the course of our first lunch at Pizzeria Mozza, she casually mentioned that her family frequents the San Gabriel Valley (home of some of America’s best and most authentic Chinese restaurants) and that she’d be happy to show me around there the next time we met up. “We can even go to a Chinese supermarket!” she added and that was like the moment when you pull the handle of a slot machine and all the bells and alarms go off and coins start pouring out. As you all know, I love visiting unfamiliar supermarkets.
Necessity is the mother of invention (its Baby Mama, if you will) and so it was that a few weeks ago I had carrots, onions, celery, and some Arborio rice on hand and because I didn’t feel like food shopping that evening, I set out to make a risotto with just water. I’ve told you about this before; it’s something I saw Lidia do on TV, so you know it’s legit. You just bring a big pot of water to a boil, add salt, and then make risotto like you’d normally make risotto, only using the salted water instead of chicken broth. The key is to finish it with some butter and lots of cheese. It’s good stuff.
But I’m not here to tell you about making risotto with water. I’m here to tell you about what you can do with the leftover risotto the next day.
You’ve heard of one-pot meals, but have you heard of one-cake desserts? That’s not a thing, but it should be. Here’s the idea: instead of an elaborate cake that you have to frost or decorate or slice in half, a one-cake dessert is one where a batter goes into a cake pan, the pan goes into the oven, and whatever comes out an hour later is what you serve for dessert (sprinkled, perhaps, with powdered sugar). In my years of dinner party-throwing, I’ve been a big champion of one-cake desserts: Al Di La’s pear and chocolate cake, for example. Or my favorite dinner party dessert of all time: Amanda Hesser’s almond cake. Now a new cake comes along to join the pantheon; this raspberry ricotta cake from last month’s Bon Appetit.
Ugh, artichokes. At some point, I espoused my philosophy–”Artichokes: Not Worth It”–and then slightly changed my tune when I stuffed them with breadcrumbs and cheese and baked them. That was in 2013. Now it’s 2015, and here I am in the kitchen with four artichokes that I bought at the West Hollywood Farmer’s market (sadly my CSA is taking a break) and I’m acting all cocky, like: “I can tackle these, no problem.” The goal is to trim them down so I can slice them and fry them in olive oil. I don’t know where I go wrong, but before I know it, my cutting board looks like this….
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