Laurie Woolever on Lunch Therapy
Plus: Halloween Antics, Braised Chicken with Oranges and Olives, and New Canisters.
Hope you enjoyed your first post-vaccine Halloween! We really made the most of it. On Friday night, I finally worked up the courage to watch The Descent, which actually didn’t disturb me as much as I thought it would — but it was way intense (and I woke up yelling from a nightmare, so maybe I was lying to myself about how scared I was?). On Saturday night, we had our friends Raef and Jimmy over. I served them swordfish with rice and mango salsa from a new project I’m working on…
And then we all transformed into our Halloween costumes for a friend’s party in Echo Park. I went as David Hockney (most people thought I was Andy Warhol or Waldo or a combination of the two) and Craig went as Armond from The White Lotus.
Turns out, Craig wasn’t the only Armond at the party.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Raef transformed into Barb and Star (from Vista Del Mar).
But this is a food newsletter, so enough about costumes. Let’s talk about pizza.
Yes, we made Winston wear his annual pizza costume which he hates at first and then sort of enjoys. All of the kids in the neighborhood were calling him “Pizza Dog!” So it was worth it.
Now for today’s headline:
Laurie Woolever spent the past decade as Anthony Bourdain’s assistant and now has two bestselling books out. The first, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, she co-wrote with Bourdain before his passing. The second, Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, is a NYT bestseller and tracks Bourdain’s whole life, from his early years as a chef to his final days, including his relationship with Asia Argento.
In today’s Lunch Therapy session, Laurie opens up about her experiences writing the book, why she left herself out of the oral history (but how she’s present anyway), and her thoughts on Bourdain’s final days… including her take on his relationship with Argento. We also talk about Laurie herself: her journey to culinary school, her time working with Mario Batali pre-scandal (including slicing prosciutto in the Babbo kitchen), and what she wants to do next. It’s a great talk: listen on Apple podcasts or here on Spotify.
Now for some cooking stuff.
On Tuesday last week, we had my cookbook collaborator, Gideon Glick, and our friend Augie over for dinner.
I decided to make a truly autumnal dinner, even though it was 80+ degrees out that day. (It got cooler at night.)
So I made a braised chicken dish from Melissa Clark’s Cooking in French. The gist is that you marinate chicken thighs for a few hours with salt, pepper, orange zest, garlic, coriander seeds, and pepper; then you sear them until they’re golden brown and make a braise with leeks, white wine, tomatoes, fresh thyme, and orange juice.
I shook things up a little and cut up a whole orange and seared it along with the leeks so there’d be pieces of orange in there too (I liked the idea of that).
After it braises for a while, you add olives, then remove the chicken and reduce the sauce.
I served this over polenta and it was so, so good. My favorite kind of cool weather cooking.
What else have I been making?
On Wednesday last week, I wasn’t feeling so good tummy-wise, so I made a simple dinner of pasta with butter, Parmesan, and nutmeg.
It’s as simple as this: boil 1/2 pound of pasta in salted water until al dente. Save a cup of that pasta water, then drain the pasta. In that same pot (why dirty more pans?), melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then add the pasta water. Bring to a boil and reduce a little, then add the pasta back, stir all around on high heat, until the pasta absorbs the butter and pasta water. Then, off the heat, stir in as much grated Parmesan as you’d like (at least half a cup), plus some freshly grated nutmeg. Perfect every time.
In the breakfast department, I made good use of my freezer this weekend. On Saturday, I pulled out buttermilk waffles from the last time I made waffles and warmed them up in the oven. Meanwhile, I cooked bacon in the microwave by putting it on paper towels, covering with more paper towels, and nuking for a few minutes at a time until crispy. The eggs are scrambled with smoked gouda (a new favorite).
Then, on Sunday, I pulled out some frozen biscuits from the last time I made Scott Peacock’s biscuits. I froze them raw and to cook them I preheated the oven to 500 and put the frozen biscuits in a cast iron skillet.
Then into the oven they went and in just twenty minutes or so, they came out looking beautiful.
Freezing raw biscuit dough is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself, in my opinion.
Hey, check out my new canisters!
I bought them on Etsy after I got my microwave because I moved my KitchenAid mixer to the area next to the refrigerator and put the microwave where the mixer used to be on a butcher block. I wanted an attractive way to store my flour and sugar and after lots of searching (one of my favorite pastimes is searching vintage kitchenware on Etsy) I found the perfect vessels. Now I love my kitchen even more than I did before.
I didn’t bookmark too many links this week, but here are the ones that caught my eye:
A really thoughtful review of Laurie Woolever’s Bourdain biography (Eater);
The best loaf cake recipes (also on Eater);
Nigel Slater’s apple and sultana recipes (The Guardian);
Speaking of sultanas and vintage canisters, kind of obsessed with this one (Etsy)
Okay, that’s all for this week folks!
In case you missed it, my Thursday paid subscribers only e-mail was all about pruning my cookbook collection. Find out how I did it and which ones remain on the shelf. If you’re not a paid subscriber and you’d like to get the Thursday e-mail, plus access to my whole archives, here’s a discount code that makes it laughably cheap:
Until next time…