Lamb Burgers and Tomato Salad

One of the reasons that I stopped blogging for as long as I did was that I felt like I was starting to repeat myself. How many times could I tell you about making cavatappi with sun-dried tomatoes? Or how I roast a chicken?

Now, on this new-ish iteration of the blog (where my m.o. is to be much more casual about the whole thing), I find myself repeatedly talking about Cookbook in Echo Park. It’s where I do most of my grocery shopping and it’s pretty much the best food store I’ve ever been to anywhere. Look what I saw when I walked in there yesterday…

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Fancy Weeknight Chicken and Cauliflower

Yesterday I went food shopping with my friend Diana. We went to Lassen’s and the produce looked fine, not great, so I grabbed two cauliflowers (cauliflower?) even though it’s the height of summer and I should be buying corn and tomatoes. Then we went across the street to the butcher (McCall’s) and despite the vast array of meat and fish options — short ribs, head-on shrimp — I chose two skin-on chicken breasts because I was just feeling very basic yesterday.

Sometimes, though, the most basic, bland, white ingredients (chicken breasts and cauliflower!) can be canvasses for the creative mind. To quote George Seurat in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George: “White / a blank chicken breast or cauliflower / the challenge? Bring order to the whole.”

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Lunch Therapy

Super excited to share with you loyal blog readers my brand new podcast, LUNCH THERAPY, which just launched today on iTunes. The concept is a riff on that old Brillat-Savarin quote from Iron Chef: “Tell me what you eat: I will tell you who you are.” Only here, it’s “tell me what you eat for lunch.”

My first guest is superstar RYAN O’CONNELL, whose new Netflix show Special just earned FOUR Emmy nominations (including one for best actor). We go deep on his Sweetgreen salad, tracing it back to childhood traumas involving room temperature Taco Bell.

I’ve got lots of amazing guests in store, so SUBSCRIBE and, if you enjoy what you hear, please give it a nice rating in iTunes. Here’s to an exciting new therapeutic adventure!

Tomato Salad Shakshuka

The greatest sin you can commit at any dinner party, as far as I’m concerned, is to not have enough food. ALWAYS, ALWAYS make too much. There are two reasons for this: 1. No one ever leaves a dinner party saying, “My oh my, there were far too many delicious things to eat!” and 2. Whatever doesn’t get eaten, you can use the next day.

And sometimes — not always, but sometimes — the thing that you make the next day is even better than the thing you made for the dinner party. Case in point: this tomato salad shakshuka which, hyperbole police alert, may be the single best thing that I’ve cooked this year.

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Instant Pesto

We’re all obsessed with instant things, these days– Instant Pots, Instagram — that the idea of doing anything NOT instant can be pretty unappealing. Which is why I’m here to tell you that pesto — which, for many, seems like a tedious, labor-intensive process — can be made instantly and deliciously if you have a food processor, a bag of arugula, and a few pantry staples.

In fact, I single-handedly guarantee that you — yes YOU — can have bright green, intensely flavorful pesto on the table in FIVE MINUTES. That’s right FIVE MINUTES.

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Doctoring The Bagel

Writing this post on a hot Tuesday afternoon feels wrong: this is definitely a Sunday morning post. It’s what we did this past Sunday morning and what you should do this upcoming Sunday morning. So file this one away for the weekend, okay?

Here’s what we’re talking about: how to turn a bagel that you don’t make yourself (though you certainly can) into something special. You’ll need: two bagels and two packets of cream cheese. Then take a trip to the farmer’s market and come back with…

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Hail Mary Pizza

Have you ever had the experience of eating at a restaurant, one that you sort of took for granted, and as you’re chewing mid-meal you realize that this isn’t just a good restaurant, it’s a great restaurant, and the whole world should know about it only you don’t want them to because that’d make it harder to get a reservation, even though this restaurant doesn’t take reservations?

That’s what happened to me last night at Hail Mary Pizza in L.A.’s Atwater Village (the village in which I live). In the space that once housed the beloved restaurant Canele, something exciting is happening. I knew it when I tasted the tomato salad, but I also knew it when the pizzas hit the table. Actually, I knew it when I stood at the counter ordering.

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Sausage with Corn, Sausage with Clams

The other day I bought a package of Hickory Smoked Sausage (at Cookbook, I told you I’d be talking about that place a lot) and it came with four sausages that I stretched out over two dinners, both of which — if I do say so myself — were pretty terrific.

The first involved serving the sausage as its own thing, which almost made me do it as a separate post since the corn salad that I served along with it was really the star. Let me tell you how I made it.

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