This is the second installment of the “tiny cookbook” Blake Royer
(from The Paupered Chef
) is producing for us. If you’re just joining us: The idea was born over drinks at a tucked-away Chicago bar with the idea that, in addition to knowing how to dress, a man should master a couple of go-to recipes. We’re preparing one for each meal of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert—and styling Blake in the process. The recipes will be constrained by situation
(e.g. lunch while working from home), budget
(e.g. $5, or maybe what you’ve got in the fridge) and time
(e.g. you’ve got 10 minutes to throw an elegant breakfast together before heading to work.)
On Blake in the home office: Oxford shirt purchased in Buenos Aires for 75 pesos (joke’s on them, because that’s $25 US) by Felix; belt by Cause and Effect; khaki chinos ($20 sale) by Levi’s; mocassins by Quoddy.
You’re a hard worker. Unfortunately for you, that means you don’t always give lunch its due. That, or you order something “fast” a little too often, a one-way track to needing bigger pants in a couple of years.
We get it; it’s tempting. You’ve got a good workflow going, and no time to waste on a leisurely lunch out of the office. But you need a bit of fuel to be doing your best work. But in the interests of adequate fuel (and your waistband) you should really think about whipping up something at home.
Here, then, is a dish that’s quick to prepare and easy on the pocketbook. This is one that will take a slight amount of foresight—which is fine, because a man should know how to plan ahead.
A few thoughts from Blake about his lunch philosophy:I’ve worked enough days in my life, from my desk at home to mind-numbing office temp gigs, to have developed some theories on lunch. To me, the working lunch is a series of balances: it should be fast, yet not fast-food; it should be a break from work, but not so indulgent you can’t get moving again; it should be fulfilling, but not a cause of sluggishness. Lunch should work for you, but so often it’s the other way around.Here’s the idea: Work ahead, do a little bit of planning, and go vegetarian. And above all keep in mind: Healthy doesn’t have to mean it tastes like cardboard.Start with a hearty grain, ideally with a high protein content—like farro, brown rice, or quinoa—and pair it with a vegetable, a touch of olive oil for slickness, and some kind of dressing. Sometimes just lemon juice works. Other times I rely on my stash of homemade vinaigrette that keeps for weeks in the fridge (speaking of, you should never buy salad dressing again after learning that recipe). But I’m most proud of my secret two-punch you see here: soft goat cheese and homemade pesto. It will blow your mind.A few tips that make this a breeze:
- Cook all the grain at once on Sunday, and stock up your fridge with a bunch of vegetables for the week. This recipe uses zucchini, but anything will work. Whatever you choose, it can be sauteed or roasted with salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Make tons of pesto ahead of time and freeze it in ice cube trays. It’ll keep for at least a few months and be on hand whenever you need to whip it out (for tossing with hot pasta, for stirring into a soup, or spreading on some toast for a snack).
- Have goat cheese in the fridge. It stays fresh for a while.
Delicious, nutritious lunch is never more than ten minutes away. Now get back to work.
Farro with Pesto and Goat Cheese
- 1/4 pound farro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 zucchini
- 1 ounce fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons pesto (recipe follows)
Makes: One serving
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus 30 minutes or so the Sunday before)
- In a pot large enough to comfortably hold it, cover the farro (or other grain) with cold water. Bring to a boil and season the water with salt; it should be pleasantly briny but not overly salty. Cook until tender but still chewy, 20-30 minutes. Drain well.
- While the farro is cooking, halve the zucchini lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Cut into half-moons.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet until it shimmers. Add the zucchini pieces and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until the garlic is golden and the zucchini is tender but not mushy, 3-5 minutes.
- In a bowl, combine the hot farro, pesto, half the goat cheese, and the zucchini. Toss to combine—the heat of the farro should gently melt the goat cheese. Top with the remaining goat cheese and eat.
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
A heaping handful of fresh basil
Olive oil as needed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup grated hard cheese (such as Parmesan or Pecorino)
Combine one of the garlic cloves with the salt in a mortar and pestle. Mash the garlic into a paste with the salt. Roughly chop the basil leaves and add them to the mixture, pounding them into a smooth-ish paste, then pound in the olive oil a little at a time to bring everything together into a sauce. Continue with the pine nuts and cheese and pound until smooth. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
NOTES ON PESTO: Alternatively, you could do this whole process in a small food processor, or quadruple the recipe and do it in a blender. But if you do that much (which we recommend), leave out the pine nuts and cheese before freezing in small quantities. When the time comes, defrost and mix in the cheese and pine nuts fresh.
Some have their “uniform.” You know, the usual. The chinos and button down. The suit and tie. The green apron and black polo. The scrubs. The chef pants and clean white tee. You get the picture. Work or play, some of us just have a “usual.”
These well-loved selvedge jeans and navy gingham are going to be my fall uniform. It’s what you’ll see me trotting around Wicker Park in on a Sunday afternoon after brunch. It’s what you’ll see me wearing as I run/stumble to catch a cab in Lincoln Park. It’s what you’ll see me throw on when I roll outta bed with 30 minutes ’til I need to be at work. It’s that, it’s my go-to, the usual, the uniform.
THE VARSITY JACKET: It’s one of my favorite thrifted finds of all time. It’s so hard to find a naked varsity jacket. Makes you wonder who had it before and why they wimped out to never letter. Speaking of wimps, guess who lettered in varsity athletics in high school? This guy did. Swimming and track and field. Psh, you think I would actually play football? What other sport would a tall skinny white boy excel in who avoided any sort of physical contact? Except the occasional hurdle.
THE “KC” HAT:
The navy blue with white felt lettering “KC” hat was the perfect gift one of my coworkers from Kansas City could give me upon departing for the big Windy City. I’m still amazed by the compliments I get and the acquaintances I’ve met while walking around the city with this cap on. Fitted and in a traditional cut. I love this hat. You can meet Daniel
by picking it up at the Baldwin Denim Men’s Store
in KC or order one online
if you don’t have the time to visit.
THE “SEVEN” NAVY GINGHAM SHIRT
: A button-down with sleeves long enough for my lanky arms? You’ve got my attention, folks. I’m looking forward to carrying this winter-weight gingham into fall considering most of my ginghams are summer-weight. You can’t beat a good navy check shirt; it’s practically a neutral. The fit is comfortable as well, not too snug and not too relaxed, even for a toothpick like me. You can snatch one up at Wharf
in blue or a variety of colors
Also, Happy Anniversary to my Baldwin “Henley’s.” One year with no wash and one crotch repair. This is a menswear right of passage into adult
What’s your fall uniform? Chambray, chinos, desert boots, tweed jacket, etc. Let us know.
We’re excited to bring you the first installment in our four-part series on style and food. A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Blake Royer,
who runs a site called The Paupered Chef.
Over drinks at our regular spot off Fullerton Avenue, we philosophized that a man should master a few recipes—ready to call upon in any situation.
Starting today, Blake will produce a tiny cookbook of sorts for us. One recipe for each meal of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. They’ll be constrained by situation (e.g. lunch while working from home), budget (e.g. $5, or maybe what you’ve got in the fridge) and time (e.g. you’ve got 10 minutes to throw an elegant breakfast together before heading to work.)
Our inaugural post would have been impossible without the help of Hannah Lea, another new Chicagoan whose elegance and poise is already catching eyes all over town. She’s got a site of her own that you should run—not walk—to check out. Hannah indulged us by agreeing to be part of the story, and it would have been a failure without her.
First up: Breakfast.
Last night was nuts. Between the dancing
, the toasting and the unexpected requests to sing your famous rendition
of that hit from the ’60s, you’re pretty sure your suit needs to be dry-cleaned. If you remember correctly, someone ended up in a fountain. But the time is now. You’re wide awake, and after a quick glance at the beautiful woman beside you, you realize. You had planned to spend a leisurely day together. But that meeting—the one with the big client—is this morning.
This, of course, makes you seem like an asshole. This is the classic dash. But in this case, it’s no excuse; it’s the way it is. Missing this one isn’t an option. How do you explain yourself? With breakfast in bed. You slip out from beneath the covers and heat the pan.
Introducing your new go-to: the French omelette.
The French have this concept of “to taste.” Just enough to get the flavor of the thing. It’s the opposite of the American way. It’s to savor, not to be full. And if she doesn’t like breakfast—if she doesn’t like eggs—she shouldn’t be in your home in the first place.
A few words from Blake about the art of the omelette:
The French omelette, unlike our American counterpart, isn’t about the filling. In its pure state, there’s nothing but eggs, salt and pepper. Done right, it’s tender, elegant, understated, charming…everything you wish you were as a conversationalist. Making one requires technique. A bunch of gooey cheese and ham won’t be there to help matters, so you just have to cook it well. No pressure.
It may sound counterintuitive, but cook yours first. Not only will it ensure hers is hot when you serve them, it will season the pan. Like pancakes, the second one is always better.
The technique I’ve settled on is to add a teaspoon of water for each egg, which hits the hot pan and immediately evaporates to lift the eggs and make the omelette fluffy. This is an exercise in timing. But judging from what it took to get you here, you’re already a master of that. Unlike scrambled eggs—which are all about patience and coaxing—the omelette is a 30-second, high-heat affair. You can’t hesitate. Pour in the eggs, never stop shaking the pan and have the coffee already made.
The French Omelette
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 grinds of fresh pepper
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (optional)
Time: 2–3 minutes (prep), less than 60 seconds to cook.
Budget: $1–2. These are ingredients you should have on hand always.
(Serves one. Repeat, but don’t double, for two. Omelettes are cooked one at a time.)
1. In a mixing bowl or measuring jar, combine the eggs, salt, pepper, and water. Whisk vigorously to combine.
2. Heat a small skillet between 8 and 10 inches wide, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until drops of water dance on the surface. Add the butter, which will sputter and foam. When the foam subsides, and the butter just begins to color and smell nutty, add the egg mixture all at once.
3. Immediately, begin to shake the pan to distribute the eggs all over the surface and up the sides. Technique varies; some suggest pulling up the sides of the omelette and tilting the pan to let uncooked egg slide under, or using a spatula to gently break holes in the eggs to let uncooked egg run there. What’s important is to never stop shaking the pan. It helps prevent any browning, a sign that the eggs are tough and you’ve overcooked it. Remember, it will keep cooking off the heat. If desired, sprinkle the interior of the omelette with herbs or a little sharp cheese.
4. Using a spatula, fold one side of the omelette one-third of the way toward the opposite side, like the first fold of a letter. Tip the omelette out of the pan with the folded side towards the plate, then roll it onto the dish so both sides are folded under. Serve immediately with buttered toast.
On Hannah Lea: Your Gitman Vintage oxford button-down.
On you: Hanes ComfortSoft tagless v-neck. Three for $11.
When it comes to building a wardrobe, fall should be your favorite time of the sartorial year. You get to pile on layers upon layers: cardigans and scarves; knits, wovens and henleys on button downs on sweaters….I could go on.
Let’s talk jackets—the most important piece. Choices are endless, but in a pinch I’ll go ahead and say you only need one: a nice blazer in a charcoal color.
This is one of the most expensive pieces I first bit the bullet on after I graduated college. But that’s okay: There comes a time in a new man’s life when you gotta. This guy has been my lifesaver, my wool blend charcoal blazer by Billtornade.
|Above: Shrunken wool-blend blazer by Billtornade, baby blue oxford by American Apparel, thrifted striped tie, natural leather belt by Urban Outfitters, 14.5 selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin Denim.
A navy blazer is another solid option. A nice weight with a little sheen never hurt either.
|Above: Blue cotton blazer by Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, oxford button-down by American Apparel, wool tie by BDG, corduroy pants by rag & bone.
Or a camel blazer that looks sick with a nice pair of olive chinos, dark-wash denim and charcoal slacks.
|Above: Shrunken wool-blend blazer by Billtornade, thrifted camel feather suede blazer by Lanvin, cotton navy military jacket by J.Crew.
Or, throw a curveball:
A well-loved leather bomber, a nice wool coat or a cotton hunting jacket.
|Above: Thrifted brown leather bomber jacket, 14.5 selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin Denim, mustard suede derbys by 1901.
Whatever your pick, wear it. A third piece is always nice to have and surely ties the outfit together.
A man should know how to compliment a woman’s appearance. But ask the nearest lady, and she’ll tell you that when it does happen, it too often sounds like an oafish come-on. It shouldn’t need to be said—but we will anyway—that focusing all the attention on her sexuality is out of line. The art of the compliment is not a free pass to get suggestive; it’s an opportunity to make her feel great about herself. Here’s how:
Say it right away. This particular brand of admiration is appearance-based. So as soon as you see her, tell her how lovely she is. Wait too long, and it’ll seem like you’re searching for something to say.
Don’t use a 5-cent word. Avoid anything even remotely similar to hot, sexy, smoking, etc. Don’t make her feel like a piece of meat. At worst, it’s offensive; at best, it displays a glaring lack of creativity. Women are objectified enough as it is. Be the exception. And for God’s sake, don’t say she looks “nice.” It’s like telling a guy he’s “cute”—the most mediocre praise.
Don’t use a 50-cent word. Steer clear of words like ravishing. Beyond the term’s sometimes vulgar connotation, it’s also a measure of grandiloquence that’s probably best reserved for your poetic efforts. Instead, opt for something simple yet charming. Beautiful, lovely, glowing, wonderful, stunning, gorgeous, and terrific are all appropriate; pick one that feels natural.
Be specific. The essence is in the details. Mention what catches your eye. Then say why you noticed it. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe are brilliant examples.
Nicole, that belt looks terrific. The dog-head buckle is so unique; it reminds me of the labrador retrievers my family had.
Love your bag, Jena. It’s classy and low-profile, but you can see how well-made and detailed it is. How long have you had it?
Similar rules apply for the dudes: Make it sincere, and be specific. “That sweater/those wingtips/that tie looks great. I’ve been looking all over the place for something like that. Where did you get it?”
He feels affirmed; you now know where to pick up some new digs.
Mean it. Don’t flatter for flattery’s sake. Be sincere the first time, and you won’t have to repeat yourself to seem genuine. And if you find yourself not noticing things things, work on becoming the kind of guy who pays attention.
Immediate, clear and heartfelt. Then leave it at that.
Photos: Maureen O’Hara and Marlon Brando (used under the Creative Commons license) from Flickr user slightlyterrific. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe. Cam, Jeff and Seth by us.