Discover more from Colu Cooks
A Late August Newsletter
And, a recipe for Larb
Good Wednesday, friends.
We are empty nesters for the first time all summer and I’m trying to find my rhythm. The crickets have arrived along with their nightly, prayerful songs, which gestures late summer, but I’m not quite ready to let go just yet. In some ways, it feels like summer never really started. I’m not trying to be a pessimist, we were blessed with rich visits from dear friends and good meals, but with the finicky weather (the woman at the wine store said she was surprised we hadn’t all turned to mold, ha!), the construction zone that is currently our home and looming deadlines (hello, book #3), I suppose it's fair to say it hasn’t been footloose and fancy free. Or perhaps I’ll forever be searching for one that reminds me of childhood?
That said, I’m going to do my best to enjoy these late August and almost September days, which paradoxically always make me feel melancholy. It’s complicated. How are you all feeling?
🎧 Listening to: Wilder - a podcast. My friend and wildly talented author, co-hosts this amazing series with her friend, another incredible author Glynnis MacNicol, which deep dives on the Little House books and Laura Ingalls Wilder's life. I am a die hard fan of this series and still reread at least one book a year. If you are too, this podcast is for you. Although, I will say, my husband who is not a fan of any of the above is also finding it incredibly enjoyable. It’s not all bonnets and maple snow candy, the show offers an insightful and questioning look at the many facets of Laura and her family’s life. It was a tough time to be alive!
📺 Watching: Painkiller on Netflix. A six-part mini-series starring Matthew Broderick, Uzo Aduba and Taylor Kitsch, which chronicles America’s opioid crisis and specifically the Sackler’s creation of OxyContin. I’m enjoying it and the actors’ work tremendously, but it’s not an easy watch.
📕 Reading: Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. I picked up this collection of short stories at a bookstore at Euston station in London this past spring.my most trusted literary source, saw it on my coffee table when she was here and said I was in for a treat, and boy, was she (as always) right! I don't know what took me so long, but I’m in deep! I was also informed that Mary lives in Catskill right across the river from Hudson. In case you’re not familiar, the movie Secretary is based on a short story she also wrote.
Colu Cooks is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Week of August 14
Monday: Larb. Chris took over dinner duty (I love when that happens!) and made us an amazing larb, which he served with steamed rice, a cucumber salad and a handful of cherry tomatoes. I love this Thai dish so much, I included a version in my last book (recipe below). I call for ground pork, but you could also use ground turkey or even finely chopped mushrooms.
Tuesday: Eggplant Parm. Wysmykal Farm right up the road delivers once a week - it’s been a game changer this summer. They had eggplant last week and the weather was cool enough where I didn't mind frying one bit, so I made my version of eggplant Parmesan for dinner, this time in a cast iron skillet. Served with a salad of radicchio tossed with homemade Caesar dressing and garlic bread.
Wednesday: Reverse seared rib-eye with smashed new potatoes. I also made aioli - I can’t stop this summer - and, served it alongside the potatoes. In addition, a cucumber, sungold tomato and shallot salad with chili crisp dressing. For the dressing, I whisked together some soy sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and Laoganma chili crisp with a pinch of sugar and tossed it all gently together and topped it with cilantro and sesame seeds.
Friday: I finally caved and made a version of Stanley Tucci’s favorite, now viral Spaghetti alla Nerano alongside a chicken recipe I was recipe testing for the new book. It was good, but I don’t understand frying the zucchini in neutral oil. Yes, it has a higher smoking point, but you’re in Italy, use olive oil and shallow fry? If there is a next time, I will.
Also, my neighbor John gifted me a ginormous zucchini, so I’m developing an Olive Oil Snacking Cake with Zucchini and Ricotta - it’s not quite there yet, but when it is, you’ll be the first to know.
Colu Cooks is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Pork Larb with Crispy Shallots
I have a real Thai food addiction and it’s hard to find in Hudson, so this recipe is my attempt to satiate my needs, and it works well in a pinch. Ground pork is pan-cooked and then stirred together with a combination of fish sauce, hot chili flakes, shallots, and lime juice, then tossed with green onions and lots of fresh herbs. I also fry up some of the shallots for crunch. If you don’t eat pork, ground chicken or turkey (dark meat, please) will work fine in its place. Serve with sticky rice and a cold beer.
3 tablespoons jasmine rice
2 large shallots, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup (60 ml) lime juice (from about 2 limes), plus
more for serving
1/2. teaspoon light brown sugar
1 bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
3 green onions (both white and green parts), thinly sliced
½ cup (25 g) torn fresh mint leaves
½ cup (20 g) roughly chopped loosely packed fresh
cilantro (both leaves and tender stems)
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
1 pound (455 g) ground pork
Lime, for serving
In a 12-inch (30.5 cm) skillet, toast the rice over medium-high heat until it becomes fragrant and begins to turn golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and pound or pulse until the rice becomes powder-like (should yield about 1 tablespoon). Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together half the shallots, the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, bird’s eye chili, and red pepper flakes along with half the green onions, half the mint, and half the cilantro until the sugar dissolves and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet and heat the grapeseed oil over high heat. Once it shimmers, add the remaining shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Place on a paper towel–lined plate and sprinkle with flaky salt. Wipe out the skillet and heat over medium heat.
Add the ground pork, breaking it apart with the back of a spoon, and fry until it is cooked through and no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt.With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to the herb mixture in the large bowl, along with the rice powder, and stir together until well combined.Season to taste with salt.
Top with the remaining green onions. Finish with the crispy shallots and a good squeeze of lime.
This recipe comes together quickly and it’s so satisfying. I hope you make it. Have a great rest of your week! Paid subscribers, I’ll see you Sunday!