Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just the two of us

For a while this fall, Kol Ha-Isha, the organization that funds the kitchen, was having financial troubles. This meant cuts in the kitchen- both in terms of supplies and in terms of personnel. So for a few weeks it was just me and C in the kitchen. The first week it was the two of us, I was quite nervous. I thought it would be all chaos and pressure. But it wasn't. Not at all. It was a good, quiet day. If the kitchen was experiencing cuts, so were we. We did only what we needed to do. We cooked foods that were low-fuss. We prepared almost nothing for the next day. We went back to basics. So while I was glad when we returned to our three person team, I was also a little sad to say goodbye to our pared down kitchen. I liked just the two of us.

My sister, who is also my roommate, is in Russia for business this week and I'm missing dinners with her. (My little sister travels to foreign countries for work- how did that happen?) We don't eat dinner together every night, my sister and I, as our schedules differ quite a bit. But we do try to sit down together once or twice a week. Our meals aren't long, or complicated affairs. We eat pasta, shakshuka, fish, polenta, leftovers-whatever we can pull together from what we have at hand. I enjoy these meals. I like touching base with my sister, having just a moment to talk with her and share a beer. I like simple, everyday food.

I make this recipe- or some version of it-all the time. It's really the epitome of "holy-cow, I have nothing in my pantry/ I really don't want to fuss" cooking. All you need is some pasta, an egg or two, some Parmesan, maybe some herbs, maybe some zucchini. And there you have it, dinner. Good dinner.

And oh, yes. Happy birthday, sister of mine. Hope this year's a good one.

Mark Bittman's Spaghetti with Zucchini

Adapted from Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times

As with most things Bittman, this recipe is more of a guideline than a recipe. In fact, I almost never use zucchini, due to the fact that I often don't have it in the house when I'm making this. Sometimes, I'll add a bunch of frozen peas to the pasta water and use those instead of zucchini. Sometimes, I crispify a few sage leaves in olive oil and add those to the final version. Sometimes, it's just pasta, egg and Parmesan, green things be damned.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 small zucchinis, sliced
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup herbs (parsley, basil, mint, etc), roughly chopped

1. In a skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add salt and a bunch of black pepper.

2. Beat the eggs with about 1/2 of the cheese. Cook the pasta al-dente (or as you like. I try not to judge.). Drain and immediately combine with the egg-cheese mixture*. Toss until the egg appears cooked. Stir in the zucchini and the herb. Serve with remaining Parmesan.

*I quote Bittman's note: "The eggs will cook fully from the heat of the pasta. If this makes you nervous, however, do the final tossing of the eggs, cheese and pasta in the cooking pot, over the lowest heat possible" End quote.


  1. tiki, most of your recipes sound pretty interesting and something i would try. the pictures on your blog are fabulous, do you take them? if so you have "the eye".
    i will add that i am a little old fashioned in that i think there must be some perfectly suitable words in the english language that will do justice to the message you are conveying without resorting to the more "colorful" expressions. with so much pollution (of all kinds) in the world i feel like the kitchen and cooking (especially kosher) should remain clean, or is that an oxymoron? anyway i do enjoy reading your blogs since you have a nice style and i guess if you like you will take my comment with a grain of salt!

  2. Hi Perel,
    I am so glad you like the blog and photographs. I do take all the photographs myself. I guess I got a little bit of my grandmother's "eye".