I can think of few personalities loved by both my adult friends and my teenage children.
And at the top of that short list is Molly Baz, author of Cook This Book. Baz won over fans with her bold cooking style and bold … just … style. She is always dressed in one of her primary colored crossback aprons and shortens every other word (smoothies are “smoos”; Caesar salad, her signature is “Cae Sal”); and their Dachshund Tuna (“Toonz”) plays frequently and adorable on all of their decks. Most importantly, as my 17-year-old said after watching a video of Molly making “Mac and Cheese for Adults” last year, “She knows everyone wants to eat food that’s a thousand times like children’s food.”
I know exactly what she means. Molly’s book contains the kind of dishes you’d like to eat – simple and indulgent, exalted and unpretentious. Think of one of these sets in front of you: mussels on toast with bacon and Old Bay Mayo, overripe tomato soup with bread soup with crispy garlic, Saucy Eggs all’Amatriciana or Blueberry Cornflake Crisp. You should have seen how difficult it was to pick just one recipe as an example, but this simple, indulgent, flavorful Orzo al Limone tells the whole story.
Barley with lemon
From Molly: Spaghetti al Limone – a classic and extremely simple Italian pasta dish made from lemon juice, butter, and parmesan – gets a fresh touch with orzo instead of the spaghetti, resulting in a dish that is somewhere between risotto, macaroni and cheese and I think it’s pretty special. The name of the game here is to avoid boiling over the orzo; Let it slightly al dente so it doesn’t turn into a large pot of porridge.
1 medium yellow onion
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2½ ounces of grated parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup) plus more for serving
1 cup of orzo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Prepare your flavors: finely chop 1 yellow onion. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 3 strips of lemon peel from 1 lemon. Set the lemon aside.
Start the orzo: In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until melted and frothy. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft but not yet browned. Add 1 cup of orzo, the 3 strips of lemon peel, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until most of the water is absorbed (there should be some liquid left over the bottom of the pot) , 6 to 8 minutes. Try the orzo; it should be al dente but not crispy.
Finish the orzo: take the pot off the stove. Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2½ ounces of grated parmesan cheese (¾ cup). Finely grate the rest of the lemon zest into the saucepan. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into the orzo. Try and add more salt as needed. If necessary, add a few more tablespoons of water until it is very creamy and fluffy.
Serving: Drizzle the orzo with olive oil and season with black pepper and grated Parmesan
PS Malted “Forever” Brownies and a few other exciting cookbooks.
(Photos by PEDEN + MUNK.)