I can only remember a few people with food that are loved by both my adult friends and my teenage children …
And it’s at the top of that short list Molly Baz, author Cook this book. Baz won over fans with her bold cooking style and bold … just ….style. She is always dressed in one of her aprons for primary colors, shortening every other word (smoothies are “smoos”; Caesar salad, her signature is “Cae Sal”); and its tuna dachshund (“Toonz”) often appears on all of its platforms. Most importantly, as my 17-year-old said after watching a video last year of Molly making “adult Mac and cheese,” “She knows everyone wants to eat food that is like baby food a thousand times over.”
I know exactly what she means. Molly’s book is full of the kind of dishes you’d be ready for – simple and compliant, elevated and unpretentious. Consider one of these sets in front of you: Shellfish toast with bacon and Old Bay Mayo, overripe tomato soup with crispy garlic bread soup, cheeky all’Amatriciana eggs or blueberry chips. You should have seen how difficult it was to pick just one recipe as an example, but this simple, compliant, Orzo al Limone, which conveys the taste, tells the whole story.
Barley with lemon
From Molly: Spaghetti al limone – a classic and extremely simple Italian pasta dish made up of lemon juice, butter and parmesan – gets fresh food and contains orzo instead of spaghetti, resulting in a dish that is somewhere between risotto and macaroni and cheese, and I think it is quite special. The name of the game here is to avoid overcooking orza; leave it a little al dente so it doesn’t turn into a large bowl of porridge.
1 medium yellow onion
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
Grated parmesan, about 3/4 cup, plus more to serve
1 cup orzo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for dipping
Prepare your aromas: Finely chop 1 yellow onion. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 3 (3 inches long) strips of lemon zest from 1 lemon; put the lemon aside.
Start the orzo: In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until melted and frothy. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened but not yet browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1 cup of orza, 3 strips of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of black pepper and toast while stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and simmer over medium heat. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally so that the orzo does not stick to the bottom of the pot until most of the water is absorbed (to the bottom of the pan), for 6 to 8 minutes. Taste orzo; it should be al dente but not crunchy.
Finish the orzo: Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 2½ ounces of grated parmesan (¾ cup). Finely grate the remaining lemon zest into the pot. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice of both halves into the orzo. Taste and add more salt as needed. If necessary, add a few more tablespoons of water until it becomes very creamy and loose.
Serve: Drizzle Orzo with olive oil and season with black pepper and grated Parmesan
PS Malty “Forever” cakes ia a few more exciting cookbooks.
(Photos PEDEN + MUNK.)