San Francisco, At Last
Nancy Silverton's Roast Potatoes, Onions, Fennel and Bay Leaves

David Tanis's Saffron Carrots

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Of course this is how it goes. I get sick and tired of all my archived recipes in my "to try" folders. The newspapers stop printing recipes that look appealing to me. I find myself getting in the car and driving to Flushing to eat incendiary noodles (this book makes it damn near impossible to do anything else) rather than going to the grocery store and getting dinner on the table myself.

Then, in the span of seven short days, just as I'm about to leave for the West coast, boom! The newspapers go nuts. Recipes galore! Suddenly I want to cook everything. Tea-smoked salmon! Meatballs! Coconut cookies! A tomato soup that looks so complicated it exhausts me just thinking about it! Readers, Murphy's Law is a pain in the neck.

But, to be totally honest, there's something in the air, too. A little chill, an agreeable little dip in temperature. Something that makes it okay to stop eating sliced tomatoes for dinner and that has us looking forward to an afternoon spent in the company of a bubbling pot on the stove. We're not entirely there yet. But the anticipation is an unexpected gift.

Thank you so much for your suggestions and tips for my upcoming trip to San Francisco. You've all made me quite hungry, for Californian dim sum and interesting ice cream flavors and oysters by the ocean. I can't wait to be there, even if leaving New York in September, well...if you know what I'm talking about, you know what it's like.

I'm not sure yet if I'll make it to Chez Panisse, but I've been hoarding recipes of David Tanis's like they're going out of style, when in fact they've been published in a book so that crazy people like me can stop clipping feverishly and actually buy an object that binds these slips of paper together quite nicely.

I made his saffron carrots tonight - a bright little dish that has you throw a bunch of things in a pan and gives you a glowy, glazed result in return. It's quite lovely. Since I'm easing back into this cooking thing at a glacial pace, I found it thrilling that the whole transaction took less then fifteen minutes. Are these carrots going to change your world? No, not really. But you'll find them eminently edible. And rather charming. Carrot coins, I know. But they've got a little sass from the minced garlic and a little sophistication from those darling red saffron curlicues adorning them and in the end, yes, I was charmed.

What can I say? I'm easily pleased these days.

Saffron Carrots
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of saffron, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet fitted with a lid, melt the butter over medium heat. When hot, add the saffron, garlic, lemon zest and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the carrots in the butter to coat. Add ½ cup of water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

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