Our trip to New York was unforgettable. We took a red-eye flight and left for the airport right after Ryan’s choir concert on Sunday night. The musical event took place in a historic church in Los Angeles, home to the second largest pipe organ in the world, and known for its dramatic architecture and colorful stained-glass windows. The harmonies were lush, the songs were moving, and a portion of the after-show snacks were provided by none other than yours truly! The night before, in between packing our bags, we somehow found time to make over two hundred triple chocolate fudge brownies (our most-requested recipe!) and one hundred fifty 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies (replacing the caramelized banana with sprinkle of flaky sea salt), and the multiple trays of baked goods barely fit in the car with all our luggage.
Adam: I used to hate cooking. I didn’t like making a mess, I didn’t like having to clean up dishes, and I was never good at following instructions (not to mention my patience would expire after being in the kitchen for more than ten minutes). Before I met Ryan, if I was making pasta, I would buy a jar of pre-made sauce, a box of spaghetti, and nothing more—anything else would mean more time, more work, and of course more dishes. So I learned some handy tricks along the way. To save washing an extra pan, I wouldn’t even heat the sauce. Instead, I would just pour it over the hot noodles and let them warm it up. And to avoid washing a bowl, I would eat the pasta straight from the pan! Following this savvy method, the only things that needed to be cleaned were one pot and one fork! But things have changed: now I find washing dishes to be relaxing, and cleaning satisfies my obsessive-compulsive ways. Well, this easy 4-ingredient tomato sauce we are sharing today would have been completely acceptable if I had discovered it during my bachelor days, and it would have tasted much better than those fifteen-cent-packages-of-instant-ramen-filled dinners spent alone before meeting Ryan. This delicious sauce requires no effort, little cleaning, and is an ideal dinner for busy work days, yet elegant enough for a relaxing date night in.
We love throwing dinner parties. Sometimes we’ll prepare an entire evening based around a particular place in the world. Ryan grew up eating Cuban food, and we have often chosen that theme since we have so many wonderful family recipes. A typical dinner party menu would include black beans and rice, our 20-clove garlicky yuca, a side of crispy tostones, a pitcher of sangria, and the silkiest flan for dessert—a simple classic recipe that Ryan’s abuelita and mother would make when he was growing up. One night a few years ago, we were fortunate to be invited to a dinner party where our friend Sarosh cooked a feast of delicious Pakistani dishes from her childhood. Everything she prepared was so incredibly flavorful that we asked for a few of the recipes and have been enjoying them ever since. These cooler fall breezes inspired us to make this traditional spicy daal the other night and we realized that it had to be shared with the world. So with the permission of our dear friend, we invite you to try this authentic masoor daal, a simple South Asian delicacy here to welcome September with its spicy, warm, and comforting flavors and beautifully appropriate fall color.
I (Adam) remember the day we brought home the new 1977 Cadillac Seville. With a stylish light tan exterior and a dark brown top, it had more space for the family, the beige leather seats were soft and comfortable, it boasted automatic locks and windows, it was our first car with air conditioning, and best of all it had a fancy 8-track cassette deck. I still clearly remember the music collection that my parents kept in that car: there was a bright blue Barry Manilow Live cassette that I would obsessively sing along with until I lost my voice or until my parents couldn’t take it anymore and asked me to stop. My mom worked in real estate, and this was the new luxury car for showing clients around town, an impressive replacement for the dark blue ’65 Volkswagen bug that she had been driving since her 16th birthday. Despite its classy appearance, the Cadillac ended up having lots of problems over the years. When I was fourteen, it caught fire one night as we were driving home through Topanga Canyon. The engine started to make an awful sound, and when I looked out the window, flames were shooting out from the sides of the car. We immediately pulled over, and ran as far away as we could. There we stood, helpless, on the side of the road in the middle of the dark canyon, waiting for the car to explode.
At Thanksgiving, we gather around the table with close friends and family to acknowledge everything we have to be grateful for. And every year somebody mentions that it should become a daily tradition, but somehow it never happens, just like those impractical New Year’s resolutions that slowly fade in the first few weeks of January. The healthy diet goals and daily trips to the gym you envision for yourself in those cold, hopeful, wintry months have now become treating yourself to that extra slice of cake and sipping on bourbon chocolate milkshakes by the pool. But you know what? That’s okay! We are not meant to set up these impossibly strict constraints for ourselves, holding our souls prisoner and preventing us from enjoying the beautiful and sweet things that life has to offer. Balance is the secret, and to approach everything with moderation is key. Of course, there are certain times when this is more difficult than others—and some people handle it better than others. For those of you that have trouble with moderation, especially when it comes to fun and adorable mini-burgers, we have to warn you that reading this post will only tempt you and make you hungry because these fried zucchini sliders that we are sharing today from Jonathan Melendez’s new book The Slider Effect are incredibly delicious and dangerously addictive. Proceed with extreme caution.