The Joy of Pesto

When I first made pesto my husband was skeptical.  He asked what I planned to do with  it.  I told him I was going to boil some pasta and grill some chicken breasts.  I planned to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with the pesto and the pasta. 

Doesn’t that sound good?  He wrinkled his nose and declared “I don’t think that will be good.”  When I started mentioning the peanut butter available for this consumption, he quietly left the kitchen.

Of course, you can probably see where this tale is going: he loved it.  It was, I must admit, even better than I imagined it would be. 

I wish I made it more often, actually.  It’s so easy.  The big problem is that when not in season, the price of basil approaches the gold standard.  Then there is the whole cleaning the basil, which can be a bit of pain.  But still, if you have a food processor you can whip up a good pesto in 10 minutes.

The recipe I like best is from the Joy of Cooking, a book I highly recommend owning.  I happened to be working at Simon & Schuster when the new version came out in 1997 (The predictable marketing line: “It’s a whole new Joy.”), so I got mine the way all good publishing slaves do: by requisitioning myself a copy. 

Still, it’s worth buying.  It’s my go-to book when I think, “I’m in the mood for chili.”  When you want a classic recipe with no BS, you want Joy.  The recipes are easy to follow and I’ve never had one fail.  Unlike a certain domestic doyenne who’s published recipes seem to flop more often than succeed.

Yes, Martha, I’m talking about you.

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Lobstah Chowdah

When shopping for a husband, I recommend looking for one that cooks.  Mine does and it comes in handy.

One of his signature dishes is Lobster and Corn Chowder from Jasper White’s Lobster at Home.  It’s really, really, really good. 

But, then, how could it not be?

Lobster.  Yum.  Bacon.  Yum, yum.  Cream, potatoes, corn.  Yum, yum and yum.

This dish is not for the faint of heart, though.  First, it involves cooking live lobsters.  I know it makes me a complete hypcrite, but that falls into the category of Things I Will Not Do.  Again, those husbands can come in handy.

Okay, so once you get past that part, you gotta strip the lobster carcass, not an easy job, and then make the lobster stock.  After that, the whole thing gets a lot easier.  On the good news side, it can be made ahead.  This actually makes it an ideal dinner party dish, particularly if you feel like lavishing your very best friends.  Plus, it’s so over-the-top that you can serve it will a simple salad and a hunk of bread and you are done.

For all the work (most of it done, admittedly, by aforementioned hubby), it is completely worth it.  It’s a homage to our New Englad roots and a taste of summer all in one glorious bowl.

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Yeah, it is that good

Last weekend my husband decided he had a hankering for corned beef.  We’ve been to 2nd Avenue Deli many times and in Queens we like Ben’s Best.  But a woman my husband works with declared that Katz’s Deli is the best. 

Katz’s was made famous as the place where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally.  The famous line, of course, was the woman sitting at the next table who declares, "I’ll having what she’s having."

I’m guessing she was having the pastrami.

Oh. my. god. 

Despite my Irish-Italian-Portugese origins, I come by pastrami naturally.  My family hails from Dorchester, Massachusetts — a working class neighborhood that, at one time, featured a mix of ethnicities including Irish, Italian and Jewish.  In any event, my mother used to make "hot pastrami" for my sister and I all the time.  We loved it.

Anyway, back to Katz’s.  I don’t know, what to say about pastrami?  If you like it, go there: you’ll love it.  The corned beef was also orgasm-worthy.  So maybe she was having that.

Either way, I’ll have more, please.

Side dishes are good, too.  Pickles were delicious.  Latkes are good, but, frankly, not as good as mine.

So, go already.  Eat.  They made this food for you, the least you can do is eat.

Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston Street at Ludlow Street


(212) 254-2246


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