I forgot my phone at home on Saturday; I was rushing out the door at the butt-crack of dawn for a double-shoot at two restaurants in the East Village. As I sprinted to make the express train, I had a feeling it wasn’t in either of my bulging bags, but I just didn’t have time to launch a real search.
Friday night, I face-planted in bed around 10:00 pm, a Grandma-tastic record, even for me. Failing to perform my ritual bag check the night before an early call, my Saturday morning was a frenzied blur of notebook, key and wallet grabbing.
I got to the train station feeling under-caffeinated, ill-prepared for my video interviews, sweating and out of breath. But I couldn’t help but emit a little cackle of glee after searching my bags and confirming that my phone was at home, most likely under a groaning pile of other stuff I was supposed to bring that day. I was expecting calls from colleagues, family, friends and a real estate agent, but I couldn’t help but feel like I’d cashed in an 8-hour get out of jail free card. Freedom! The only people who could harass me were the ones who would be physically in front of me.
All of my colleagues on the shoots were equally ill-rested; two other producers, a camera guy and a sound guy and I loaded our gear into a cab and gunned it for Prince Street, only to find that the restaurant where we were supposed to hold the shoot wasn’t open. We finally found a subterranean entrance, and after picking our way through trash-strewn alleys, unlit hallways and a maze of concrete, we found a loud and clanging kitchen filled with more people hovering on the knife-edge of exhausted, hysterical delirium.
The shoots were inspiring; I’ve conducted hundreds of in-person, over the phone and email interviews over the years, but I’m just getting into the world of video interviews. Thankfully, the company I’m working for knows I’m green and they’re actually willing to spend time training me on how to light and frame shots, run a shoot from start to finish and wrap up shooting scripts, etc., until I’m up to speed, an increasingly rare occurrence in our hyper-fast-forward media world where if you ain’t got the skills right out of the gate, you’re never going to make it into the race.
The restaurateurs were amazing New York City and world citizens all around, but they also reminded me, yet again, of how easy it is to make tiny tweaks to my everyday life that have potentially global consequences. During our wide-ranging discussions about local food and community causes, they reminded me that shopping for cheap-o specials at the grocery store is fine (not everyone can afford to go to the greenmarket every day, least of all me) – as long as you do your research and leave the rabbit marked “Made in China” in the case, and put down the Mexican tomatoes in the middle of the summer. There are fresher, yummier ones from a small New Jersey farm, just a few feet down the aisle. Read the labels; it’s that simple.
After a phone-free work day on Saturday, Stephen and I spent a work and phone-free Sunday tooling around the kitchen. We made a delicious Tomato Tart, a whacky Pizza Pasta Salad and a truly toothsome Plum Cobbler. Dig in below!
Makes about 6 servings
For the dough:
- 1 ½ cups AP flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1 stick salted butter, cut into cubes (or use unsalted and add 1 tsp salt)
- 2 TBSP Parmesan, grated
- 1 egg
- 2-3 TBSP water
For the filling:
- 1-2 TBSP whole-grain mustard
- 4 on-the-vine tomatoes, sliced into rounds
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- Tarragon and chives, chopped fine (about 3 TBSP)
- 4 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, sliced into rounds
- 2 oz. Parmesan, grated
- 1-2 TBSP favorite honey
Method for Dough:
- Put flour, 2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese and butter in food processor. Pulse until small pea-sized pellets form. Whisk egg and 2 TBSP water in a small bowl and add to flour mixture. Process until mixed in. Add another TBSP or so of water if necessary until the dough really comes together.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Roll out dough for 9 or 10-inch tart pan. Place in tart and prick with a fork. (If you have leftover dough, just do little free form tarts or throw in mini tart pans).
- Spread the mustard on the tart (s). Add tomatoes, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, add rounds of goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add half of the fresh herbs.
- Pop in oven and cook until cheese is browned and dough is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Garnish with remaining herbs and an extra dash of salt and pepper, and more olive oil if you like, serve.
Nutritional Breakdown for Tomato Tart: This is basically a buttery pizza, so while it’s only 350 calories, there’s a whopping 29 grams of fat, much of it naughty.
Cost Breakdown for Tomato Tart: About $2.50 a serving if you go for organic produce and cheese.
Verdict / In the Future: The mustard and honey play off of the saltiness of the cheese and the Parmesan-y crust has just a kick of cheesy savoriness without tasting weird. Fresh lavender would be wonderful with the honey — I’m going to swap it out for the chives next time.
Pizza Pasta Salad
Makes 4 big servings
- 2 oz. provolone, cubed
- 2 oz. pepperoni, minced
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes (in oil), drained and sliced thin
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, chopped roughly
- 8 oz. cooked pasta
- 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
- ½ TBSP honey mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 TBSP olive oil, plus more to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parsley or other fresh herbs, cut thin (I used about ¼ cup)
- Toss mix-ins and pasta in a bowl.
- In a small bowl or a food processor, whisk or pulse the vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, pepper and oil. When emulsified, drizzle on the pasta. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
Nutritional Breakdown for Pizza Pasta Salad: About 575 calories and 28 grams of fat, most of it good for you, heart and skin-healthy fats.
Cost Breakdown for Pizza Pasta Salad: About $2 a serving.
Verdict / In the Future: This is a total no-brainer, perfect when you’re in a rush and want to use up leftovers. Add any mix of leftover proteins, fresh herbs and a bit of crunch + a zesty vinaigrette and you have a tasty lunch or dinner on the go in a snap.
Plum Delicious Cobbler
Makes 12 servings
From Food & Wine with just a few tweaks
- 3 ½ pounds plums of various sorts, sliced and diced
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 TBSP cornstarch
- 2 cups AP flour
- ½ cup fine cornmeal
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 TBSP candied orange peel, minced (candied ginger or lemon would be great too; or throw in some cinnamon and a bit of ginger powder)
- 1 TBSP baking powder
- 2 sticks salted butter, cubed (or use unsalted butter + ½ TBSP salt)
- ¾ cup milk or buttermilk
- Throw plums in a bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch and sugar and stir together. Let this sit while you make the batter.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the rest of the dry ingredients and the butter until little pea-sized bits of batter form. Add the milk and pulse until combined.
- Spoon fruit filling in 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spoon little piles of batter on top. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the fruit bubbles and the top is golden. Cool for about an hour and serve. Preferably with ice cream.
Nutritional breakdown for Plum Delicious Cobbler: About 370 calories and 15 grams of fat, mostly from butter so its saturated badness is in direct proportion to its yumminess. Great source of Vitamins C, K and A. Decent source of fiber, which somewhat ameliorates the high sugar and saturated fat content.
Cost Breakdown for Plum Delicious Cobbler: I got the plums on sale for $1 a pound, so this ended up being about $0.50 a serving.
Verdict / In the Future: “It’s cakey and biscuity at the same time,” which is a one-way street to delicious town in Stephen’s mind, though he would never use the phrase delicious town. “I’ve never had anything quite like it,” he added, usually a sign that he’s about to politely remove said item from his mouth and make a beeline for his emergency sandwich supplies, but in this case, a good thing.