Cathy Erway has long been an advocate of what many New Yorkers
would find insane: not eating out in New York. In fact, she has a
fantastic blog dedicated to just that, Not Eating Out in New York.
It’s a scary thought for many, but eating in for a week isn’t as
serious as it sounds. It can take getting used to, and the supermarket
music might not be that great, but even the most stalwart restaurant
foodie might impress him or herself with a week’s experimentation.
Where to start? Last week, Michael Pollan spoke on the radio about what
to buy to eat. He advised, “Simply don’t buy food that has been
advertised,” a sign that it’s been over-processed. As a strict adherent
of all that Pollan says (“Eat food. Not too much. And mostly plants”),
I decided to stick with this theme throughout. Of course, you don’t
have to be as dorky as I am on this. But another benefit to eating at
home is all the money you’ll save — and homemade bread tastes
much better to boot.
Day 1: Sunday
Let’s start with Sunday. After sleeping in, food shopping before
brunchtime will build up your afternoon appetite. Buy some beets, a
bunch with the greens attached, ramps (since they’re in season) eggs, a
box of pasta, crème fraiche and, if you trust your market, a
pound of clams. Pick up a bottle of white wine, seltzer and OJ. Once
home, flip the oven up to 400 degrees. Lop the beet roots off their
stems. Wash and wrap each in foil, and toss into the oven on a baking
Beat an egg and a cup each of flour and seltzer with a fork. Chop
your ramps down to half-pencil logs and add to the batter, with salt.
Ladle them into a pan of sizzling olive oil one scoop at a time, until
you’ve got a stack of silver dollar rampcakes.
Meanwhile, bring a small
pot of water to a boil with a splash of vinegar. Drop in an egg, turn
off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Once the egg is poached,
transfer to a few cakes dolloped with crème fraiche. Tear some
fresh parsley from your plant (it’s a sin to purchase bunches of herbs
that go bad when you can just as easily grow them on your windowsill)
over your breakfast, and break into that yolk-as-pancake syrup
immediately. Make a faux-mosa to celebrate, with white wine, seltzer
and a splash of juice. Now you can enjoy the tail end of Wait, Wait,
Don’t Tell Me.
At some point in the day, measure about three cups of flour and two
teaspoons of dry active yeast and salt each. Mix with water until the
dough just comes together; cover bowl and hide in a warm corner for the
next 16 hours or so. Also, remove your roasted beets from the oven and
refrigerate in their foilpacks.
By dinnertime, you’ll have scrubbed and soaked your clams in cold
water. Cook some pasta, al dente, and get a pan going with garlic,
ramps and chopped beet greens from the bunch. Add some white wine and,
when it boils, toss the clams in all at once and cover. Five minutes
later, peek inside. If the clams have all opened up, you’re in good
shape. Pour the pasta with some of its starchy cooking water in, a
scoop of crème fraiche, and toss the dish with parsley,
seasonings and a few glugs of olive oil. Dinner’s served.
Day 2: Monday
Have leftover rampcakes for lunch, but instead of the same way, fry
an egg over-easy to top it along with a splash of soy sauce. Take out
the dough and roll it around on a floured surface. Form into a ball,
cover with a towel, and let it sit for a few hours. Since you’re in the
kitchen anyway, pour a couple cupfuls of dried black beans into a pot
and cover with cold water.