Happy New Year, New Decade!
This year is ending for me in a way that I liken to driving into a hairpin curve: you apply your brakes just enough to maintain some speed and momentum without driving off a cliff. So making New Year resolutions hasn't been on my mind. Besides, every year I always end up making the same vows -- read more, exercise more, cook more.
As we finish 2009 I can't help but think it fitting to have this troubled decade, one in which we lurched from bubble to bubble (internet, real estate, credit markets), come to a close with balloon boy. Maybe because some of our problems are just so huge, we can't resist getting distracted by such shiny objects as Twitter-Sarah-Tea Parties-Jon-Kate-Tiger.
But I remain an optimist and believe that good can sometimes come from bad. Each of us may not be able to do much about war or recession, but at least we have control over our kitchens and what we choose to eat. So it is heartening to see that we are ending this decade with an improved food supply, over-subscribed urban CSAs (community supported agriculture), crowded city farmers' markets, an organic vegetable garden at the White House, Julia Child again a bestselling author, cookbooks that we can actually cook from, city rooftop gardens and beehives, and some of our local elected officials, notably Manhattan's Borough President Scott Stringer, trying to do something meaningful about urban hunger and food policy.
I also end 2009 grateful for having had another year of The City Cook and for receiving notes and ideas from so many of you. Each week I write this letter and send it out, not knowing how it will land. But I often get answers and I'm inspired by your feedback, especially when you tell me what you're cooking. Home cooking is a personal choice -- what we cook, how we cook it -- but sometimes we need a little inspiration and I hope I do some of that for you. I know you do it for me.
Tonight is New Year's Eve and my husband and I will be having a quiet evening. New York is party central for New Year's but that's all the more reason that we stay off the streets and instead choose to have a special and festive meal at home.
My menu will include a new-to-me pasta recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Lynne Rossetto Kasper's brilliant The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food. The recipe is Tagliatelle with Prosciutto di Parma, which is egg pasta (I'm using store-bought dried egg tagliatelle) tossed with a reduction of caramelized diced onion, prosciutto, butter and white wine. I'll also roast a whole fish stuffed with slices of lemon and fresh herbs. And instead of a mixed salad I plan to slice a romaine lettuce heart in half, top to bottom, brush it lightly with a little olive oil and grill it stove-top in my cast iron grill pan. While it's still warm -- slightly charred on its edges but still crisp at its center -- I'll add a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette.
For dessert I'm making a Grand Marnier Soufflé. This recipe has been here at The City Cook for a while but it merits a spotlight. It is so easy to make -- don't be afraid, just take it step by step -- and it has such a perfect flavor that is faintly orange, sweet but not cloying, and its fragrance is as much of its pleasure as its taste. Plus it's one of my husband's favorites and isn't that so much of why we cook for others? To please those we love.
So to each of you I send my thanks for letting me come to your in-box every week. You give me a gift of welcome as I do my best to be helpful, encouraging and personal in this wonderful journey of home cooking in the city.
I wish you a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2010. With no bubbles in sight except in tonight's glass of Champagne!