Plus: Penne alla Vodka, Reviving A Starter, Dinner from Bar Ama, and Smashburgers Live.
Welcome to my new Substack newsletter. If you subscribed to my old newsletter, everything should basically be the same with a few exceptions: 1. You can now view my entire newsletter archive here; 2. You can leave comments and start conversations with other newsletter readers; and 3. There may be some bonus content coming down the pike, so stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, let me tell you about crackers. I had beautiful ricotta cheese from Bellwether farms and wanted to make Dorie Greenspan’s Ricotta Spoonable but didn’t have any crackers to serve it with. So I decided to make some from scratch, using this recipe from King Arthur flour.
Who knew homemade crackers could be so good or so easy? The process is basically like making a pie dough: you blitz butter and flour and Parmesan together in a food processor, bring it together with some milk, roll it out, and cut it into little squares. You top them with whatever you want: I did Maldon sea salt, red chili flakes, and oregano.
They were soooooo good and so fast; way better than anything from a box. Give ‘em a try.
On Friday, I cooked up a big vat of Penne alla Vodka because it was a rough week (see: our government under siege).
I riffed on this recipe from Serious Eats, sort of eyeballing everything. You basically cook onions and garlic in butter, add a whole tube of tomato paste (seemed like a lot but makes a big impact), then canned tomatoes, and, finally, cream. Instead of blending in a blender, I used a hand blender. Then added lots of Parmesan at the end. It was a delight.
In other carb news, I took my neglected starter out of the fridge last week (warning: may be disturbing to young children).
If I hadn’t talked to Ed Kimber on my Instagram Live, I might’ve thrown the whole thing out, but he assured me I could just pour off the black stuff, which is basically alcohol, stir everything back up, pour out most of it, and revive it with flour and water just like I fed the starter in the past.
And guess what? It seems to have worked. I’m about to make a loaf of bread today, so follow along on Instagram to see how that goes.
Speaking of Instagram, last night I enlisted Craig to film me making Smashburgers. The resulting video is kind of a hoot, with Craig adding color commentary as I smash burgers in my cast iron skillet. You can watch the whole thing here:
On Saturday, we treated ourselves to dinner from Bar Ama here in L.A. and it was incredible. The enchiladas may have been the best enchiladas of my life.
Now here’s what caught my attention on the web this week:
Maangchi makes homemade rice syrup;
Speaking of Edd Kimber, David Lebovitz makes his peanut butter brownie bars;
One of my favorite gay bars here in L.A., Oil Can Harry’s, just closed permanently… spent a very memorable New Year’s there once. I’ll miss that place;
Stealing some ideas from Melissa Clark’s bean soup;
Ben Mims lays down the law on recipe writing.
Recently I started using Goodreads to write about the books I’ve been reading. You can check out of my review of The Friend and follow me on there to keep up with my reading lifestyle (also wrote about Don Quixote).
Okay, folks, that’s all for this week!
Until next time….
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)
Oh no! My daughter gave me her starter because she was tired of making bread and well I never made bread either. That starter looked like the one in your photo and my husband made me toss it because it grossed him out every time he opened the fridge. Which admittedly isn't that often since he doesn't cook. Sigh.
Love that we can now leave comments!!