Home Cooking with Laurie Colwin: Baked Mustard Chicken and Herb Biscuits

A Pinch of This | Laurie Colwin's Baked Mustard Chicken and Herb Biscuits

Back in mid-May, I made what very well may be the last meal I cook in my home of 16 years. My parents are selling our house. Just like baking chocolate or revenge, it’s bittersweet. After living in five different states all while under the age of 10, we finally landed in New Jersey, where I did most of my growing up and where I learned how great bagels really are. In that house, we’ve said goodbye to dear pets and we’ve welcomed new ones. On our street, I learned how to drive in a car that was recently, after 17 years, traded in for a pick-up truck. (I’m still laughing about how my dad parks his new truck behind his cream-colored Mini-Cooper with racing stripes.) Through the years, I’ve left our pretty, grey house for multiple adventures to Europe and across the U.S. Over almost two years in Brooklyn, I’ve gone back often to spend quiet weekends in the suburbs with my parents and my pets. And, in our home’s kitchen, I’ve learned how to cook.

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Classic Tzatziki

Classic Tzatziki

I love being a grown up. Sure, some aspects are the worst, like taxes. But the freedom of choice you have as an adult is fantastic. I particularly enjoy deciding what I want to cook and when. If I want to fry pumpkin doughnuts the day after eating an undisclosed number of chicken nuggets, I can. If I want to wake up hungover to make homemade “breakfast handpies” (read: pop tarts), I can. And if I want to make certain dishes that my mother tells me to for Easter weekend, I can do that too.

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A Pinch of Leftovers: Bacon, Brussels, & Pea Quiche

Bacon, Brussels, & Pea Quiche

This right here is a perfect leftover dish. You can use almost any leftovers you have in a quiche, and quiche itself makes for great, no-fuss leftovers. I went so far as to use a leftover store-bought, pre-made pie crust (we’re not getting super fancy here – we’re cooking with what we have on a weeknight). Or, at least, I tried to use a leftover pre-made crust. It was from a year and a half ago (from that French week of cooking that I somehow keep talking about) and when I unrolled it, it crumbled everywhere. UGH. What I had hoped would be an easy evening was, like the pie crust, crumbling around me.

Let me begin at the beginning.

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Pasta Alla Carbonara

Pasta Alla Carbonara

What feels like a month ago forever ago, I took a cooking class with my dad, good ole Chris, at the Brooklyn Kitchen (otherwise known as that place that takes all my money every time I go in). I took him there as a Christmas present, so the class choice was all his to make. Brooklyn Kitchen has so many different classes to choose from and they’re constantly changing. Some stay the same due to popularity, like the Roberta’s pizza making class. Chris didn’t feel the need to attend that one because the recipe is online and he’s already mastered it, so he doesn’t need anyone to teach it to him. (I’ll back him up – my dad makes mad good pizzas, y’all.) If you’ve ever met him, you’ll probably know that he loves Rome from that one time he visited. And you’ll probably also know that on that visit, he had the best pasta alla carbonara ever at this small, hole-in-the-wall, local place. So when we saw there was a February Taste of Rome class in which we would make carbonara (as well as amatriciana* and cacio e pepe), my dad was sold. We were going.

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Warm Bread Salad with Peas and Bacon

Warm Bread Salad with Peas and Bacon

What kind of food do you make when you want to appear virtuous and wholesome after a rather hedonistic start to the weekend? You make panzanella. “What is panzanella?” some of you may be asking. It’s bread salad. A salad…based around bread. Um, YOU’RE WELCOME, EVERYONE.

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Arugula & Pistachio Pesto

Arugula & Pistachio Pesto

I love pesto. I think it belongs on everything. It’s a spread, a sauce, a dip, a dressing. Pesto is an essential condiment in my book, and something I think everyone should have in their freezer, ready to be defrosted at a moment’s notice. It’ll save you in a pinch, whether you have last minute dinner guests or you just get a massive craving for pesto pasta, pesto chicken, or pesto on a darn Wheat Thin. If you have pesto in your freezer, you’re set.

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