Hello from Atlanta, where school started a month ago and we are deep into packing lunches, working hard and trying to ignore the recent courthouse shenanigans that seem to keep Georgia on everybody’s mind.
We are also still mourning our terrible peach season. By some estimates, nearly 95 percent of the crop was lost largely because of a hard and untimely freeze.
I get into peach beefs all the time with friends from New Jersey and California and Colorado, all parts of the country where I have either lived or visited family on a regular basis. Your peaches are terrific, sure. But we Georgians have 40 commercial varieties, all of them ripening to a deep sugary tang under the hot Southern sun. They fill my counter every summer. Usually.
I cherished the few peaches I did get, even though they were crazy expensive and weren’t as sweet or as ripe as usual. The brilliant Ligaya Mishan, a columnist for The New York Times Magazine, came to my rescue with a recipe to grill them (above). A little olive oil and some heat transforms the flesh into a soft, sugary base for a drift of cream, a few blueberries and dukkah, the spicy, seedy secret weapon you should always keep in your kitchen.
My pal Eric Kim explains that the reason vodka works so well in pasta sauce is in part because it helps fat disperse more evenly. That makes everything glossy like only a good emulsion can. Share that fact like a professor when you serve this dish of beans and greens alla vodka, which punches way above its weight. Also, it gets better in the refrigerator and thus solves the school lunch problem for Thursday.
You’ve made it to the end of another week. Mazel tov! Mia Leimkuhler, the agile editor of this newsletter, suggests we call it étouffriday and offer readers this really smart vegan mushroom étouffée from Jenné Claiborne, who included it in her 2018 cookbook “Sweet Potato Soul.” Mushrooms stand in for the seafood, and a shake of dulce or some other dried seaweed gives it an umami kick. If you like a thicker gravy, hold back a touch on the liquid.
We’ve got thousands more where these came from on New York Times Cooking. By now, our dear community of readers know we put in a lot of staff hours gathering, testing and writing these recipes. To paraphrase Elizabeth Taylor in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” that costs money! Will you consider subscribing today? Thanks.
This was fun. Sam has made his way back to the grid with many tales to tell. And I’ve got to get back to reporting all the food news that’s fit to print.
Remember the good times we had and never change. Until the next time someone goes on vacation. …