The book in my bag this week is Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte. It's the kind of book you don't want to finish off in a hurry. So, just like the dark chocolate in my kitchen cupboard, I treat myself to a little bit of the book every day. It's about good food, and family, and friends. In New York.
In my mind, New York is intrinsically linked with family, and with food. We landed in JFK not with a Lonely Planet, but a scrap of paper with a list of all the places we wanted to eat in. That's how we discovered New York. We ate through its length.
Nothing detered us. There we were, D and I, hauling a buggy and a baby, up and down the stairs of subway stations, traveling from a breakfast to a lunch to a dinner. There is not single photograph of us anywhere near Ellis Island.
But we know the Upper West Side, because that's where Zabar's is; and Sarabeth's. We explored Midtown, one Vendy-winning-cart at a time. We walked through the rain for Balthazar. We tracked down John's of Bleecker Street. Queued for the best arepas in East Village. And my brother and sister-in-law, who live in the Upper East Side, provided yet another list of local recomendations, along with their babysitting services.
We ate New York.
And Amanda Hesser brought it all back for me, with Cooking for Mr. Latte. Midway through a chapter, I decided to take one of her recipes into the kitchen. I made the Linguine with Meyer Lemon Zest, Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Cheese. It was as beautiful as I thought it would. Simple, and so full of summer flavour.
But I'd made too much of it, so I was stuck with leftover linguine, which is far from exciting. The next day, the leftover linguine met some fresh fish. And they got along like a house on fire.
I called it my Hesser Messer Pie. All you do is mess up all the ingredients in one big bowl, top it all with cheese, and send it to the oven. The lemon-zesty pasta paired beautifully with the fish. And what started out as an attempt to save leftover linguine, became quite a dinner.
Amanda Hesser's wonderful recipe for Linguine with Meyer Lemon Zest, Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Cheese can be found in Cooking for Mr. Latte (page 197).
The Hesser Messer Pie is just my attempt to save the life of a good linguine.
My Hesser Messer Pie
3 cups of leftover linguine, from the Amanda Hesser recipe
2 fillets of cod, cut into cubes
1 cup prawns, peeled
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1 tsp crushed blackpepper
A bunch of grapes
Pre-heat over, 160 C.
Mix the three cheeses in one bowl, and divide into two equal portions.
In a big bowl, mix together the linguine, cod, prawns, peas, milk, pepper and one portion of the cheese mix.
Once it's all tossed up, transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese mix on top.
Bake in the oven at 160 C for 25 minutes.
Serve hot, with some grapes on the side.