The Night That Chelsea Peretti, Jordan Peele, and Jordan's Mom Came for Dinner
Plus: Two Friends Have Birthdays, Lunch at Salazar, and Cole Escola on Lunch Therapy.
Well a crazy thing happened this weekend! One of the funniest comedians on TV and one of the most important filmmakers working today came over for dinner? Yes, there’s a question mark there because I still can’t believe that it happened.
But happen, it did, mostly because Chelsea Peretti (the previously mentioned comedian, who you may know from Brooklyn 99 or her hilarious stand-up special on Netflix) started following me on Instagram a year ago and commenting on my stuff and we struck up an online friendship and planned a dinner party that got delayed because of Covid.
But now we’re all vaccinated so on Saturday, Chelsea came over with her husband, Jordan Peele, director of Get Out and Us and star of Key and Peele and his mother, Lucinda Williams (no, not that Lucinda Williams) who was visiting from New York.
For some reason, I wasn’t that nervous because I knew Chelsea was a fan of my cooking and I decided to just stick to my guns and make the stuff that I know and love. It started with a trip to Cookbook in Echo Park.
Shopping at Cookbook makes hosting a dinner party easy. I bought cherries, I bought sugarsnap peas, I bought Cala Lillies, and a few other things and then came home and started cooking.
Or, rather, I started by putting things into pretty bowls. I made a white bean dip with lots of herbs that’ll be featured in the Broadway cookbook that I’m working on with my friend Gideon (you’ll never guess the pun). I put it on a platter with the sugarsnaps (I removed the strings first) and some pretty radishes.
For the entree, I went to that #1 staple in our home, Craig’s favorite dish that I make: Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans.
My dinner party strategy is to put the sliced garlic and sliced sun-dried tomatoes in the pot with the olive oil before the guests arrive and then, when it’s pasta time, all I have to do is crank up the heat, add the pasta to boiling water (I have that pot of water already hot and salted and ready to go), and add some chili flakes to the sizzling garlic and have the beans ready to go, plus chopped parsley and lots of grated Parmesan to add at the end.
For dessert, I made Ina’s lemon cake with buttermilk because Chelsea said that Jordan doesn’t normally eat dessert, but he sometimes likes “light lemony things.” This is such a great recipe because it looks like a humble, little lemon cake on a cake stand… but it’s packed with lemon flavor from lemon syrup that gets drizzled in (Ina doesn’t say to do this, but I poke some holes in the cake before adding the syrup so it travels all the way through) and THEN a lemony glaze.
I made it a tad fancier by adding whipped cream (whipped in my KitchenAid mixer with just a little sugar, because the cake was so sweet) and a few blueberries.
So how did the dinner go? It was a big success! Craig, who’s a filmmaker himself, was over-the-moon to get to talk to Jordan about filmmaking, Chelsea and I bonded over our love for cooking, and Lucinda revealed that she’s a book collector so I showed her some of my favorite vintage cookbooks, including my Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Cookbook, which gave everyone a laugh.
So how do I follow that?
Well, two of my closest friends had birthdays last week, and we celebrated in style. First, I took my friend Diana to All Day Baby for her celebration, where we chowed down on fried sandwiches — hers, fried chicken on a biscuit:
Mine, a fried fish sandwich that I forgot to take a picture of before biting into it.
And for dessert, we shared a key lime pie.
Everything was most excellent.
Then, for my friend Jonathan’s birthday, I had him pick a menu and then proceeded to make Pasta alla Norma (his fave) with eggplant that I roasted in the oven, plus a springy salad with sugarsnaps (I’m obsessed) and radishes.
For dessert, the birthday boy picked strawberry shortcake, so, once again, I turned to Ina. Her country cake never lets me down.
Somewhere in all of this chaos, Craig and I found time to grab lunch at Salazar in Frogtown, one of our favorite places.
We shared guacamole and chips.
Ceviche on a tostada.
And a bunch of tacos on house-made flour tortillas.
We burned off some calories by walking Winston along the bike path afterwards, which was super pretty and weird.
So that was my epic cooking week! I didn’t even mention the recipe testing that I did, but I wrote about that on Thursday (see: “On Recipe Testing.”)
Hey, guess who’s on Lunch Therapy this week? The one and only Cole Escola!
We talk Oprah and soda cans, protein powders, latkes at my latke party, Alicia Silverstone, broccoli stems, and an Amy Sedaris story involving popcorn. Click HERE to listen!
And now for some links that caught my attention recently:
The Abbey has a bakery? I think I knew that. But apparently it’s good? (Eater LA)
Loved this article about Cindy Wolf, a seasoned chef, who’s been at the helm of the same Baltimore restaurant for 24 years (NYT);
Drug dealer’s love of Stilton leads to his arrest (The Guardian);
The Case for Bad Coffee (Serious Eats);
I don’t think I want an espresso machine (I’m a drip coffee kind of guy), but this round-up has me rethinking (Serious Eats);
Lots of challah recipes on the internet. This article talks all about them (Taste).
Okay, folks, that’s all for this week!
As a reminder, Monday newsletters are now totally free and Thursday newsletters are for paid subscribers only. Click here for a discount so you don’t miss this Thursday’s:
Until next time!
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)