Housecleaning, or Three Recipes
Bluestem's Torchie with Oyster Mushrooms, Braised Chicken and Tomatoes

Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies


Nineteen boxes are packed, seven paintings are bubble-wrapped, and it still looks like I've got at least four more days of work ahead of me. In the meantime, is there anything worse than going to bed in a room with bare walls and boxes lining the bedside? I put a few things back on my bedroom walls and shoved some boxes out to the living room, making the middle-of-the-night bathroom run somewhat of a dangerous slalom exercise, but at least I don't wake up in the morning to a room resembling a mental health ward.

Speaking of mental health, I have some advice for the change-averse and move-phobic. First of all, on your last weekend in Manhattan, make some friends have you over for an unexpectedly raucous dinner party, where you find yourself belting out Tom Petty lyrics at the top of your lungs along with seven other inebriated souls at two o'clock in the morning, convincing you that this dinner party is by far the best dinner party you've ever been to, which then, instead of leading you to wallow in self-pity about the fact that you will no longer be able to walk home from dinner parties such as this one, leads you to start brainstorming ways in which your Queens apartment can be soundproofed for the next drunken singalong.

Second of all, invite a group of single men and your boyfriend over for a "clean-out-the-fridge barbecue" in which all the frozen beef and half-empty bottles of ketchup and mustard are turned into juicy, drippy burgers and the conversation degenerates so quickly that before you know it, you've been dispatched out of your own backyard into your living room, where you find yourself a secretly contented packer as the boys stay up late talking about slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails. Oh, and picking up chicks, natch.

Thirdly, have your boyfriend recoil in horror at the world's largest millipede, positioned conveniently in the corner of your bedroom and over your shoulder, then have him chase the millipede with a rolled-up Sunday Styles section around your room (that your boyfriend is 6 foot 5 and the room is 10 by 11 and littered with boxes only adds to the tragicomedy) until the millipede ends up on the end of the newspaper roll along with dust bunnies you didn't know you had, leaving you so disgusted that you think the movers can't come soon enough.

At this point, you'll be champing at the bit, I promise.


In other news, I thought you might like to know that we finished all the coarse-ground cornmeal in the cupboards this weekend - it was exactly enough to make a nicely creamy mound of polenta alongside some ratatouille and a broiled chicken breast for our last Sunday lunch in Chelsea. Throwing out that crinkled plastic bag was immensely satisfying. Not as satisfying, though, as finishing the last corner of Parmigiano (grated into the zucchini risotto at dinner yesterday) and definitely not nearly as satisfying as using up all the butter, eggs and brown sugar in a pan of brownies tonight.

Mmmmm. Brownies. Mmmmm-yessss.

Well, wait a minute. I don't mean to be an ingrate - after all, I've got fresh brownie smell wafting through my apartment - but these exalted brownies are cakier than I was hoping for and frankly, need. After all, moving week requires something darker and fudgier, something practically clay-like. No? Wouldn't you agree? There's a time for cakey brownies and a time for fudgy ones, and this just happens to be one of those fudgy times.


(Fourthly, consider how nice it will be, once you live in Queens, to be able to run upstairs to your friends' apartment and make them eat the other half of the brownie pan in return for a cuddle with their baby. Maybe moving ain't so bad after all.)

Supernatural Brownies
Yields 15 large or 24 small brownies

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2  cup chopped walnuts or  3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional 

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.