return to each
this is how water
- nayyirah waheed
And what then are we attempting to do, when we sit down with books splayed and cold coffee rings, pens tucked behind our ears? I think there is an earnestness that the cooler months bring to all activities, which for me results in mild forms of nesting. Rearranging the living room furniture, searching high and low for any and all new ceramic ware that I must have, and thinking of more and more excuses to be at home with a few candles lit. Sometimes I am productive, but mostly our apartment just becomes scattered with evidence of projects which may have been started, but will likely not be finished. Currently, I am on the hunt for both a new rain jacket and potentially a new dining room table—suggestions welcome!
I know it has been far too long, so please forgive my rather long synopsis of the latter half of 2016. Summer wrapped up with an unusual flair, rife with trips and pleasant surprises. A long weekend in San Francisco left Lindsey and I feeling refreshed and ready to explore our own home with new eyes. Can you believe I had never been before? We ate a most spectacular meal at Liholiho Yacht Club that I have not been able to stop thinking of: a tender roasted octopus salad with curried sultanas, misoyaki tuna belly so umami rich you’d mistake it for pork, crisp-fried broccoli that would turn any vegetable hater, and a pistachio pavlova with Thai basil cream. Thai basil cream. I would go back again and again if only to watch the open kitchen ebb and flow. If you’re in the city, do go. Later, I somehow managed to get out of the Ferry Terminal Market with only an olivewood spoon in hand and I am wholly willing to say that is a success. I also nabbed some vanilla bean salt and Cherrywood smoked honey during our trip that I incorporated into everything for the rest of the summer, including the last of the good heirloom tomatoes.
Then suddenly, at the beginning of fall, a new person popped into my life with such warmth and resilience that I couldn’t look away. Adam and I spent much of the early summer together, but something inside of me was trying to resist his charm—we had clicked too loudly, made too much sense. I was wary. So I asked to take more time for myself and when we reconnected again in late September, it was dramatically different and yet exactly the same as it was in the beginning: late night conversations, endless glasses of wine, and every excuse to continue talking. As Teitur has been signing to me since high school, we were, “..searching for what more to say, to say what we really want.” I couldn’t resist anymore and I am still surprised with how he knows my needs before I even voice them. It’s a remarkable thing, really; and I keep finding myself going back to this post from the spring where I remind myself that I am here for love to leave me ragged, that it is in our softness that we truly live, and that it is by being vulnerable again that great things can happen in my life. Sometimes, it’s the leaning in that matters the most.
October was a whirlwind, but I took a fantastic food photography workshop at The Pantry with the wonderful Ashley from Not Without Salt and her husband, Gabe. I appreciated how affirming the whole class was, as if I somehow needed the permission to explore with my camera--or at least for someone to remind me that struggling through is how you learn. I got some shots that I am quite pleased with and proud of.
Lindsey and I hosted Thanksgiving again this year, a veritable revolving door of individuals wanting to say hello and to down a quick bite before heading off to other commitments. I admit, I didn’t feel as prepared as I normally might, but the meals were a success and I think everyone left warm and happy. It has become a tradition that I feel is defining for me—the way I get to flutter about the kitchen, give quick hugs in between stirring pots, and to just provide. It is rare these days that I feel so wonderfully productive, needed, and useful—honestly, meals like this are the reason I feel the need for a more accommodating dining room table. If I am going to make elaborate meals, we need to make sure everyone can fit around the table to enjoy them.
Later, as the holidays progressed, Adam and I celebrated Christmas with a truly remarkable meal at Tarsan I Jane. It was an experience utterly unlike anything I have had in Seattle. Nine beautiful courses with wine pairings encapsulating the love and experiences of a chef and his partner. I was smitten through and through, as we gawked and giggled at our plates. A smooth and bright carrot guacamole, tender smoked lamb dusted with roasted beet ash, an electric sunchoke ice cream with Szechuan pepper that made my tongue dance. It was a splurge, but a splurge that felt necessary and important, as though marking some great milestone we will one day look back at. We left the restaurant three hours later and I felt whole and so, so loved.
The winter trudges on and I have been drawn to warm, carbohydrate comfort foods from the get-go. I leave you with a simple potato pizza, adapted from Deb Perelman. It’s a an easy weeknight meal that feels indulgent. Eat it with a lightly dressed arugula salad to cut any guilt or go all out and sip a buttery Chardonnay as it bakes. Either way, you’ll be pleased.
Potato Pizza with Rosemary and Romano
Makes roughly two eight inch rounds or one sheet pan pizza
1lb pizza dough (you can make your own, but I prefer the ease of just picking up pre-made dough from the grocery store. Your favorite local pizza place will sell dough to you as well!)
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 t. dried oregano
¼ t. red chili flake
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1-2 anchovy filets, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat oven as high as it will go, usually 550 degrees. If using a pizza stone, leave it in there as the oven heats.
Clean your potatoes and then slice as thinly as you can (no need to peel them). I prefer to use a mandolin for this task, but the slicing blade on your food processor will work or you can slice by hand. Add potatoes to a large bowl of warm, heavily salted water and set aside.
In a small sauce pan, add olive oil, oregano, chili flake, garlic, a good sprinkling of salt, and anchovy filets. Place over low heat and leave it there until garlic begins to sizzle, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir—your anchovy filets should dissolve completely. Set aside.
Stretch your dough, either on a greased sheet pan or on a peel. If the dough resists, just set it aside and let it rest for a few minutes. It will eventually give in. Using a pastry brush, cover your dough with the infused olive oil.
Remove your potatoes from the water and dry them as well as you can. Shingle your potatoes over the top of the pizza in a thin layer, making sure not to let them overlap too much. Sprinkle rosemary and mozzarella over the pizza.
Place in the oven and bake until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling—this time will vary depending on how you’re cooking the pizza. It will take about 8 minutes if making rounds on a pizza stone and closter to 12 if baking on a sheet pan.
Remove from the oven and immediately cover with a generous dusting of freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Cut and serve!