Good morning! Welcome to Week 14 of Pantry, Project, Purpose. Our section of New York hit Phase 2 of re-opening last week, and it was so heartening to see restaurants set up outdoor dining in the street. (Leave it to today’s Daily, though, to scare me all the way back to March.) We spent as much time as possible outdoors this past weekend, visiting my parents, walking with friends (masked, six-feet, etc), and working in the garden. My 16-year-old pretended there was a junior prom and got all dolled up for photographs. (Definitely a prom to remember.) Also, FYI: My book deadline is rapidly approaching, which means I’m in crunch time, which means I might not be keeping up my 4x week schedule here — I will do my best, I promise, but if you don’t see a post from me, it doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned anyone, OK??? OK! Here’s what’s happening in the DALS kitchen…
Project: Picnic Chicken
Sometimes you have to go back to the classics, like the above Picnic Chicken that I first wrote about in 2014 (and then again in my last book) and that we ate last week. It’s a joint-effort recipe from two kitchen staffers at Blue Hill Stone Barns: Pedro Cajilima, a longtime prep cook who has since left, and Adam Kaye, the kitchen director and the chicken sits in a smoky paprika-citrusy-soy marinade for 24 hours, resulting in the juiciest, most flavorful meat. This time of year we always grill it, and we always make twice as we need because it’s so so so good the next day eaten cold, standing up in front of the refrigerator.
Pantry: Pesto Pizza
I have such a complicated relationship with pesto. I love it so much, but I’ve never loved making it — not only because it’s kind of fussy (especially if you blanch and shock the basil first) but because after buying the pricey pine nuts and grating a good chunk of real Parm ($$$) it feels like it’s actually just as expensive (if not more) to make it at home as it would be to just pick up a small tub at the fancy gourmet shop. Anyway, last week, I bit the bullet and overpaid for a 6.5 ounce tub of super fresh Gotham Greens basil pesto…and was pleasantly surprised to see that it really felt as though it was worth the price tag. I used a few scoops on top of the beans and burrata last week; I tossed it into a caprese salad, and then, when I was sure we had nothing left for dinner, I dolloped the last few spoonfuls on to pizza dough before topping with more cheese. I realize I’m not going to win any James Beard Awards for this idea, but that’s what we ate for dinner on Thursday night, so there you have it. Related: A Five-Ingredient Pesto Pizza with Corn and Arugula over on Cup of Jo.
Purpose: Read of the Week
Carvell Wallace on “Parenting My Black Teenagers Through Protest and Pandemic.” I kept cutting and pasting huge sections to give you an idea of how beautiful this essay is, and finally settled on this:
This is the world I let be created. Under my watch. They know this. They blame me for it. They are right. It hurts my heart. Also, would you like dinner? What movie should we watch? Tell me about your day. Parenting, like life, is heartbreak followed by reality, followed by love, followed by loneliness, followed by despair, followed by jokes, followed by exhaustion. If this is what you are experiencing, you are doing it right. If you are returning over and over again to watch the simple miracle of growth, you are doing it right.
Please read the whole story. (Note: It’s in The New York Times, which only allows a certain number of free reads a month.)
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have made pesto hundreds of times over four decades and have never blanched my basil. Usually it goes straight from the garden into the Cuisinart without even a rinse. While I often use pine nuts because I love their unique flavor, walnuts are a fine and cheaper alternative. It does make a difference to dry roast them in a pan on the stovetop first. Because I harvest a lot of basil at once, I often fill a half-dozen jelly jars in one processing. They freeze beautifully and we’re just now finishing up last summer’s crop…right on schedule. We pull them out for pasta, potatoes, rice, and pizza all year long.
That was my question too!! I rinse the basil from the garden then straight into the food processor – I had never blanched it (but the Google machine revealed this is pretty common). Basil seems to be the only thing I can reliably grow that the squirrels won’t eat, so summer time is pesto time!
I’ve never blanched my basil for pesto, either. I’d never heard of doing that!
I should explain! I never blanched my basil either, but then a few years ago I read that the technique has a 100% success rate when it comes to preserving the bright green color. I had previously found that half the time I made pesto it ended up turning brown, which isn’t the WORST thing to happen, but still. Anyway, I feel certain that you’ll all give me a million easier ways to ensure it stays green and I’m all ears. I told you my relationship with pesto was complicated!
hi Jenny! The top layer of my pesto turns brown, but if I put saran wrap adhered to the surface, the rest of it’s green and then when I blend in the thin layer at the top that’s brown, it’s all green.
Just gonna put this out there, because I am usually a snob about such things, but I love Kirkland Pesto. It’s my favorite of all the store brands I have tried & I recommend it. And it being Costco, it’s reasonably priced. I don’t make it from scratch anymore.
Thank you for these posts. I just love your writing and am so rejuvenated by reading regular posts here again. I saw the note at the bottom of the post about ideas for more PPP posts. I would love to know what your daughters are reading these days- like the old “guest posts” they’d do! My daughters are slightly younger than yours and I’ve gotten so many wonderful book suggestions here over the years.
I would love for them to write those guest posts, too! Apparently they have other things to do, even in the time of corona. (LOL) Right at the moment, Abby is reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson — she was sick of the rest of the house talking about it but now she understands why. Phoebe just finished A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. Not exactly light summer reading, but we didn’t see her for two days, which is how long it took her to devour all 720 pages. She couldn’t put it down. I’ll try to keep you posted going forward, but you get the idea: they are reading what we’re reading now.
I was going to suggest Kirkland Pesto. It’s so good!
Yes!! Costco pesto for the win!! I feel like any recipe that calls for pine nuts is a “page turner” for me. Do i look like Mrs. Astor? (channeling my mother here).
I cannot wait for your new book. I love all of your books, but especially the O.G. Dinner a Love Story. My copy is so well loved that some of the most used pages: Spicy Oven Fries, Lazy Bolognese and Spicy Shrimp with Yogurt are no longer attached to the binding (which I love). That cookbook has been a part of nearly every bridal shower gift I have given since it was published. Thank you for your hard work and dedication your website is a true bright spot on the internet.
JENNY – thank you for posting this article. It moved me so much – I’ve rarely read a more beautiful piece of writing.
Good luck with your book and thanks again for this series. It’s been nice to have this to look forward to each week and I’ve found a few new recipes for our family. I’m making Picnic Chicken this week, for sure!
Jenny – the parenting essay was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it, it was a total highlight of my Tuesday evening. I’m reading from Canberra, Australia. This series has brought me so much comfort, inspiration and joy since you started it. Cheering you on as you work on your book edits!
Picnic chicken is a favorite in our house, and makes an appearance at most large gathering/parties held at our house that aren’t farmed out to a caterer.
Every summer I look forward to July when my basil plants are full with enough bright green leaves to fill the bowl of my food processor. I rinse the leaves and dry in the salad spinner, no blanching. I keep a jar to use and freeze the rest in ice cube trays – all covered by a thin layer of olive oil to keep the green color. When frozen, I store the cubes in freezer bags and have pesto to last through the winter.
I have been making your picnic chicken for years – it’s practically the only way we cook chicken legs. We actually make a big batch of the marinade in a quart container and parcel it out to marinade chicken in throughout the weeks.
I made the Picnic Chicken last night. Though the marinade was delicious, it didn’t seem to penetrate the meat. I roasted it and found that flavor was concentrated in the skin, which I do not enjoy eating (though I always cook with it on). If I marinated for 48 hours would the marinade penetrate to the meat, or is this chicken best eaten with skin? Thank you!
Carvell also read his piece for the Sunday podcast in the Daily feed. So beautiful. And since I used to listen to his podcast, I loved hearing his voice again. So another way to experience it that I would heartily recommend.