Garlic Bread Chilaquiles (ish)

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Ah, the hungry, tipsy grocery store trip. Living in Brooklyn makes this too easy, as there’s a walkable grocery store on every corner, and at least 4 bars in between. A grocery shopping pub crawl is all too easy to accidentally happen. 

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What are the things you buy when not in sound judgment? This particular day in recent history, my overloaded basket contained:

  • These seedy everything crackers that I could eat for every meal. (Ignoring the fact that we currently have at least 4 open things of crackers. Oh well, book club is approaching, crackers will be eaten. If they make it til then.)
  • Fancy granola. I’m always happier making my granola, but I apparently do get pleasure from staring at the giant wall of prepackaged varieties and choosing one. This grocery shop was over a week ago and have I opened the granola? No. Do I know where it is? Uh, no. Can you return granola?
  • the Expensive Cheddar. I literally always buy cheese at the grocery store, but usually I opt for a sensible one, one that will complement the other misshapen blocks and wedges taking up significant fridge space. This time, we already had at least 3 kinds of cheddar. WHY, self, WHY MORE CHEDDAR?
  • Frozen Garlic Bread. Oy, this is just the least me-y ingredient. First of all, it’s frozen and weird, and second of all, I KNOW I can make garlic bread from stuff I already have at home. And it would’ve been great. But on this day, I just had to have the frozen variety. Daniel didn’t even realize you could buy frozen garlic bread, which I hope opens a world of opportunities for him on ski trips in the future. 
  • (speaking of Daniel, he bought a bag of pork rinds. Packaged fried pork rinds. Did you know that’s a thing you could buy from a grocery store?! They are still unopened and forgotten in the pantry. 🤢)

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Okay so, we got home, we made Alison Roman’s trendy caramelized shallot pasta, a big salad, and baked off this random loaf of garlic bread. Then both of us ate a giant bowl of pasta (yum), a giant bowl of salad (delish), and … one little piece of garlic bread (meh). Leftover pasta makes a great work lunch. Leftover salad doesn’t exist. Leftover garlic bread, the giant pile of it, from the entire loaf, because we are only two people and you can’t not bake the whole loaf and because it’s really not that good, took over the fridge.

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Leftovers are the mother of invention. Since that night, I’ve used them as croutons in my favorite kale caesar salad. I’ve melted cheese and tomato on them and sprinkled them with chaat masala a la Priya in her book Indian-ish. And I made this for breakfast!

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Chilaquiles is usually made with old tortillas, which are cut into strips, fried, and coated in a spicy salsa before being covered with eggs, cheese, herbs, etc. You get to eat a pile of chips for breakfast, basically breakfast nachos, so obviously it’s one of my favorite things ever. This version does not have chips or salsa or anything particularly Mexican, but it does use up a carb I had lying around. Inspiration, not authenticity! This came out way better than it had any right to. So, if you too have leftover garlic bread as the result of an ill-advised shopping trip, join me on the inauthentic dark side.  

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Ah, our first hand view of the construction process, starting every morning promptly at 7am

Some notes – you don’t need garlic bread for this, you could easily use any other bread you need to use up. It just adds extra flavor! This version isn’t particularly saucy, but you could continue cooking the tomatoes until they burst if you prefer it that way. Alternatively, if you too made the NYTimes’ shallot pasta, adding some leftover caramelized shallot paste would add extra sauciness and umami-ness, never bad things.

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last year: kale, sumac, and crispy rice salad
roughly three years ago: black eyed pea stew
roughly five years ago: butternut tahini mash

Leftover Garlic Bread “Chilaquiles” for One 

a Swanky original

glugs and drizzles of olive oil
1 very large garlic clove
big handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
glug of balsamic vinegar
day old garlic bread, cut into bite sized pieces (I dunno, 4, 5ish slices? Really, however much you want to eat for breakfast)
1 egg
small handful shredded mozzarella cheese
lots of chopped fresh parsley
s+p

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Smash and peel your garlic clove, and add to the pan. When it smells good but hopefully before it starts to brown,  add cherry tomatoes and turn heat up a bit. Add a glug of balsamic vinegar, and shower with salt and pepper. Cook til charred, stirring frequently. This will only take a couple minutes. Remove to a small bowl.

Return skillet to heat, add a bit more olive oil, and toast your garlic bread til beginning to crisp. 

Return tomatoes to pan; stir to combine. (This would be when I’d add the shallot paste.) Make a well in the center and crack an egg into it. Sprinkle s+p on egg, and sprinkle mozzarella cheese all over the pan. Cover (I used the top of a dutch oven) and cook for a couple minutes, or until egg is at your desired doneness and cheese has melted. Remove from heat and sprinkle liberally with parsley. Eat with fork and knife and get your butt to work. 

 

Hermits a la Grandma

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Shall we talk about something generic like how long January felt? Or how frustrating your commute was today? Or the raging primary and how Klobuchar beat(?) Elizabeth Warren? Or about how I haven’t updated this blog since November? 

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Oooh! Or we could talk about TV. That’s fun, people like talking about TV. We’re watching Schitt’s Creek, which is only getting funnier as it develops. And Killing Eve, that’s a good show too. Daniel’s getting me to watch Old Star Trek so I can appreciate New Star Trek. And the Oscars, they happened too! White male rage, amiright? Thank goodness for Parasite. 

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When someone asks “how are ya”, like a barista or a coworker, these are all very good things to bring up. But they don’t really answer how I AM. They talk about how the world is. They’re so much easier than looking the person in the eyes and talking about fear and grief. Of being vulnerable and open and sharing stories. 

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So, because many of us are internet strangers, and strangers don’t do sadness so well, I give you this recipe without much story. We ate them at my grandma’s house growing up, and I miss them. Endish of story.

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I used her recipe and, though they’re close, they’re not perfectly right. But they are delicious and easy and perfectly seasonal. And perhaps when you try them, you too will hear the sound of the harp in the background, and wrinkle your nose about needing to finish dinner before dessert. Or you’ll eat them and think — I know what’s missing, a bowl of strawberries with sugar on top! And tiny vases of fresh cut flowers all over my kitchen. And maybe you’ll hear a creaky old rocking horse in the basement and smell fresh laundry drying in the breeze. I don’t know how to be honest about feelings, but I do know taste memory is real. These bars transport me and comfort me, and I’m glad they’ll live forever on this site. 

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Now, read any good books lately?

one year ago: sicilian stuffed eggplant roll-ups
two years ago: gochujang roasted squash pasta salad
three years ago: miso ginger kale salad
four years ago: kasha bowl with roasted tomatoes
five years ago: bengali egg curry approximation

Hermits a la Grandma

Makes enough for two people to snack on all week, easily double it for more

6 tablespoons butter, at room temp
½ cup sugar, plus extra for topping
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
½ cup raisins (if old, rehydrate in hot water for 10 minutes before using)

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Pour in roughly half of your beaten egg (toss the other half or reserve for tomorrow’s scrambled eggs) and the molasses. Mix on medium speed until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.

In a separate medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add to wet mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in raisins. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wet your hands. Scoop up half the cookie batter and form into a long rope, one inch thick, on the baking sheet. Flatten the dough just a bit. Sprinkle with extra sugar. Repeat with other half of dough. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until sides are starting to brown but centers remain pliable. Slice on a diagonal when cool. They keep for a very long while in a covered container at room temp. 

 

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This is the recipe my mom found and attributes to my grandma. It’s her handwriting at the bottom! A quick google revealed zero hermit recipes from Ruth Reichl, so… who knows the origin of this one.

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