[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] There are roughly 10,000 wineries in the US that together employ around one million people and generate about $220 billion annually. With that much on the line, winemakers both large and small have a plan for most contingencies—and an insurance plan for…
[Photographs: Shutterstock] Drive-thru windows are as American as apple pie and insider trading. And right now, the behaviors they facilitate—impatiently over-ordering, seeking instant gratification in a warm bag of fresh food, not having to get out of the car or change out of pajamas—are more…
It’s tempting to claim that this recipe for clam sauce, made with canned clams, is a product of coronavirus.
It would be easy to frame it as a nimble pivot on the part of our recipe team—particularly a specific, man-of-the-people recipe team member (me)—to address the needs of a readership that finds itself increasingly relying on dried pasta and canned products to provide sustenance in variety during this time of isolation. Yes, past Serious Eats pasta recipes may have struck the reader as being needlessly prescriptive and haughtily proscriptive, oozing with condescension for those who prefer their noodles to actually be cooked rather than briefly warmed and wet in the manner Italians call “al dente”—the horror—and to frequently raise the question: “Why the fuss? Isn’t it just pasta?” But with the advent of the crisis, the framing would go, in a time of desperately needed understanding and accommodation, Serious Eats chose the enlightened path and decided to unburden itself of silly Italianate pretension about noodles, which the Chinese do better anyway.
Alas, I can’t frame it that way. While the Chinese indeed do noodles better, our plan to publish this recipe was hatched many, many months ago, when I was looking through our pasta recipe archive and realized we didn’t have a recipe for clam sauce made from canned clams. When we decided to do a whole month of dried-pasta related work, I made the case for this humble recipe, which, I argued, the people, our readers, would love, just as I love it, and for the same reasons: It is clammy—and I love clams; it is easy—and I love easy; it is fast—who doesn’t love fast?
Is it better than spaghetti alle vongole in bianco? No, no one could possibly say that, as a freshly steamed clam is a thing of beauty beyond compare, its meat plump and slippery, both soft and chewy at the same time, its juices clear and bracingly saline, the epitomic taste of the cold, clean sea. But is it pretty tasty and clammy and fast? Yes. And it’s perfect for when you need a little clam fix but there are no fresh clams to be had for miles and miles around.
This recipe is pretty close to the way I have made this dish for about 20 years, since I was in high school. In the spirit of allowing pretty much anything—the same generous spirit that Daniel and Sasha appear to have adopted in allowing this recipe to be published—know that adding a few chopped anchovies or a couple slices of bacon cut into tiny strips at the beginning will change the dish in favorable ways, if you like those flavors, but the only things I’ve found necessary over the years are the amount of butter, the garlic, celery and its leaves, the fresh parsley, and a splash of soy sauce for a more rounded savory flavor, courtesy of the glutamates.
Oh, and a big squeeze of lemon and fresh ground black pepper at the end really never hurt.
[Photograph: Tara Austen Weaver] Remember three weeks ago, when we didn’t have to stay six feet away from everyone? I can’t remember another time in my life when I wanted so badly to connect with other people. I miss the barista at my Brooklyn coffee…
It’s hard to improve on the beautiful simplicity of Kenji’s three-ingredient stovetop macaroni and cheese, known in some circles as the “6-6-6 mac,” but if there’s one ingredient that can easily meld into the mac mix, it’s our favorite Calabrian sausage, ‘nduja.
‘Nduja’s high fat content allows it to quickly and easily emulsify into a creamy sauce with the evaporated milk and melty cheese in this four-ingredient recipe (well, technically six ingredients if you want to be like that, counting water to cook the pasta and a tiny pinch of salt to season it). All of the ingredients, including the ‘nduja, have long shelf lives, making this a perfect pantry-friendly comfort food recipe for these uncertain times.
[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] It’s hard to improve on the beautiful simplicity of Kenji’s three-ingredient stovetop macaroni and cheese, known in some circles as the “6-6-6 mac,” but if there’s one ingredient that can easily meld into the mac mix, it’s our favorite Calabrian sausage, ‘nduja.…
[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt] If you’ve been on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook at any point in the last two weeks, you’ve seen a friend or long lost relative making a loaf of bread. You’ve scrolled past batch upon batch of cookies. You can’t…
I’ve been using my AeroGarden for 531 days. I know this because it says so right on the tiny dashboard. (It’s smart enough to alert me when it needs nutrients and water but not smart enough to listen to my conversations, which is just how I like it.) Right now, while we’re trying to minimize our time at grocery stores, and market shelves are pretty bare anyway, I have a pint container stuffed with chives and an actual explosion of cherry tomatoes. At times like these, having an AeroGarden is pretty valuable. So valuable that our editor-in-chief, Niki, asked me to write a story about it.
But she didn’t always find it so alluring.
I’ve been wanting to write about my AeroGarden for 525 days, ever since I saw the first tiny green leaf sprout up from the soil pod and felt the newfound pride of a plant-mom. But the editorial team wasn’t sold on it, which is understandable. For one, it’s an expensive purchase, definitely not a necessity—one that would take ages to pay for itself. Plus, with our guide to storing fresh herbs, it makes a whole lot more sense to just go to the store and get a big bunch.
I’ve caught my fair share of flak—I’m the only person in the office who unabashedly likes Goop, who leads our ladies-only slack channel conversations about the best skin care, and who might own a sequin blazer. It’s not that I am irresponsible with money. But I enjoy nice things, and a little machine that grows herbs without any effort is right up my alley. So the eye roll I received when I asked to put the AeroGarden in our holiday gift guide didn’t exactly take me by surprise.
But fresh herbs are scarce now, and the team is getting wise that my grower-that-could might actually be a good idea. So now, atop my herb-filled soapbox, let me tell you a little bit about my splurge that paid off.
I own the AeroGarden Harvest. It’s about the size of a small houseplant or large cat, 11 x 8 inches. It sits nicely on my windowsill, but you can keep it anywhere, regardless of natural light. My unit holds up to six seed pods, which are essentially tiny plastic grow baskets with pre-seeded sponges. To get the whole unit up and running, all you need to do is place the pods into the water chamber and add water.
Depending on what you’re planting, the machine will set an automatic timer for its built-in lights. Herbs require 17 hours of light daily, for example, and you’ll get an alert whenever it needs additional water or nutrients. Soon enough—most seeds germinate between five and 15 days—you’ll start to see some sprouts. (Doesn’t that sound like an amazing gift? Perfect for a gift guide, perhaps?)
Just to warn you, the 20-watt LED light is very bright. I’m on the fourth floor of my apartment building, and you can see it clearly from the street. I like to think of it as a shining beacon of herbal prosperity, but I bet it would be very annoying in a studio.
I’ve grown all sorts of herbs with the AeroGarden but some do better than others. Mint is the playground bully, growing so tall and so thick that it steals all the light from everything else. Chives, on the other hand, are my star pupil. They shoot straight up. You can snip to order, and they’ll miraculously go right back up in a few days. Since the light is adjustable, they can grow pretty tall. Mine have gotten to be about eight inches and seem a lot heartier than what you find at the grocery store. As you can imagine, everything I make is covered in chives now.
Genovese and Thai basil also grow extremely well but require more frequent pruning. If you can keep up with the pruning, you can have yourself a solid bunch of basil every week. That’s enough to make and keep a batch of pesto on hand for whenever you need it.
I’ve been growing cherry tomatoes since April, and while they take longer to harvest—I waited about two months before I saw any fruit—they’ve provided me with the most excitement. Who wouldn’t love picking a generous handful of your own adorable tomatoes every few days? Who, I ask! Only a monster. And the Serious Eats editorial team.
The AeroGarden website says that the lifespan of the herbs is about four months and the tomatoes have nine. My current garden has long surpassed its expected lifespan and I don’t see it slowing down. Maybe it’s because I’ve been its greatest advocate. Maybe it’s because it’s been waiting for its time to shine on Serious Eats. Call me a plant stage mom, but…no, it’s okay, call me a plant stage mom.
If you’re looking to pick up an in-home growing system, you should know that not all are created equal. Miracle-Gro, the maker of the AeroGarden, has many different versions of this machine, some that aren’t worth the price tag. I had a Miracle-Gro Twelve for a few months and found that it really couldn’t live up to its promise of bountiful lettuces and herbs. Instead, it produced a hive of fruit flies and really murky brown water that was impossible to clean. Ultimately, I decided to get rid of the machine because it simply wasn’t worth the space when every square inch of this small apartment needs to be working real hard.
But my AeroGarden contributes well beyond its square inch-age. Above practical reasons, it has contributed to my sanity over the past few weeks of self-isolation. It’s nice to know that if I take care of it, it will take care of me. It’s a constant that I appreciate in these uncertain times. When that little light turns on automatically with a click, it reassures me that, at least, I’ll have what I can grow.
*Hops off soapbox. Dons sequin blazer. Goes to pick more tomatoes.*
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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt] Editor’s note: The Coronavirus story is unfolding at a breakneck pace. That means that something said that was true at the time may no longer be so. On this episode please note that Lola, the Tom Douglas restaurant in the Hotel…