24 March 2022

7th Avenue at 23rd Street

(Note: if you are here for the recipe it is at the bottom of this post)

24 March 2022

Thursday. 11:30am. Starbucks on Delaware.

Sitting in the same seat I often did while studying for a BA a few years ago. It feels oddly satisfying.

Returned from NYC yesterday via Amtrak. It felt good to be in the city again—its energy is palpable—and also on a train. It was a very short trip and had only a day-and-a-half of free time which I used mostly by walking, and of course stopping to eat and drink. Photos, too.

If I were younger I’d probably move there. But when I was younger I was in a different place, had a different mindset (in my head and heart). Then, I wouldn’t have thought it obtainable. But now I know everything is obtainable if one puts their mind, heart, and soul into it. And at the time, also, I would have moved there for different reasons than today. Now—at this point in life—I am content with my physical location but also with who I am as a person. It feels good to be back in my beloved Allentown (Buffalo). Nonetheless there’s a part of me that will always contain a bit of NYC.

Two evenings ago as I squatted on the pavement near the intersection of 7th and 23rd in Chelsea and waiting for the shutter to close from a long exposure I wrote these following words, first in my head then on my phone while sitting in a dive bar on 23rd:

New York I’ve missed you

It’s been a minute

A New York minute

Since I’ve experienced you

And you’ve changed

If not just a little

But so have I

We all have

We’re all

A little wounded

Aren’t we

But we’re healing

New York I’ve missed you

When I return home tomorrow

A little bit of you

Will go with me

Last evening after arriving home I was famished, and after eating in restaurants for two days (though I love it) was tired of restaurant food, so made dinner for myself. I love cooking for myself in my tiny and disheveled—if not a bit dirty—home kitchen. I made a small pot of marinara sauce which I tossed with fusilli pasta, and also side dishes of diced and sauteed salmon, and fresh kale sauteed with hot pepper and lots of garlic. It was incredibly delicious and could have eaten more, of course, but am trying to curb the paunch I’ve grown in recent years (ha ha).

It’s interesting, as with many things, when I don’t cook for a while I miss it.

Then last evening before going out for beers I made a preferment (starter) with chickpeas and their cooking water, and also an autolyse (unleavened starter). When I arrived home I mixed the dough, then after it rising while I mindlessly watched a show, cut and shaped it into two loaves and let it ferment and rise overnight.

I woke to the slight smell of yeast wafting through the house so knew it was ready. While I made coffee and fed the two old (and ailing) pugs I preheated an oven, then baked the loaves while drinking coffee. Now, at the coffee shop for more coffee, it is cooling as I write these words.

And it is interesting, also, how after a lifetime of working as a cook, I am often thinking of my next meal before it is prepared. This afternoon, for example, I plan to make salmon-kale salad out of leftovers from last night’s meal and eat it on the just baked bread. And thinking of previous restaurant days (which seems like a gazillion years ago) this would be a pricey but popular sandwich, which was made with leftovers.

Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil, Chickpeas (and just a little turmeric)

Makes 2 loaves

1 (15oz) can chickpeas

4 cups water

1 cup cooking water (from the chickpeas)

½ cup bread flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon yeast

2 cups cooking water (from the chickpeas)

2 cups bread flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Drain the chickpeas and place them in a pot with 4 cups water. Simmer the chickpeas for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Allow them to cool to room temperature in the cooking water. Once cooled, drain the chickpeas and reserve the cooking liquid.

Combine the softened chickpeas in a bowl with 1 cup of cooking liquid, ½ cup bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 tablespoon yeast. Stir to combine and set aside for 1 hour or longer.

In a separate bowl combine 2 cups cooking water (if there is not enough add water) with 2 cups bread flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and one teaspoon turmeric. Stir to combine and set aside for 1 hour or longer.

Combine the contents of both bowls together in the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add ½ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon yeast, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Run the mixer first on low then medium to form a dough. If it is too wet add flour, if it is too dry add water. Knead the dough on medium for about 10 minutes, then cover and allow to ferment and rise for 1 or two hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl, cut it into 2 pieces, shape into loaves, and transfer to oiled loaf pans. Cover them and allow to ferment and rise for 1 or 2 hours.

Bake the bread in a preheated 400f oven for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped (rotate the loaves at least once while baking. Remove the loaves from their pans and allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Salmon and Kale Salad

Makes about 1 cup

½ cup cooked salmon, flaked apart

½ cup cooked kale (previously cooked with olive oil and garlic), minced

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 small plum tomato, diced small

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Combine all of the ingredient in a small bowl and gently mix together.