2011 Highlights

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It’s not every year that you finish a cookbook, move to a new city and find a used DVD of Doug Henning’s “The Magic Show” at Amoeba Music. But that’s what 2011 delivered, along with trips to Portland, Oregon, California (where I ate with many food bloggers), Atlanta and–a personal favorite–New Orleans, Louisiana. (We fell in love with it.) Come along with me, then, as we explore the year’s highlights before we tumble into 2012.

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Banana Nut Waffles

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Greetings from Seattle! I’m at a coffee shop staring at Molly Orangette’s back (this is true: after seeing her yesterday, I randomly ran into her again today). I’m here, though, for a very important reason. I’m here to tell you about these banana nut waffles that will be perfect for a holiday breakfast this weekend. Some of you may be celebrating Christmas; and if, after unpacking your stockings, you load up on these before tearing into the presents? You’re bound to be happy even if your significant other gifts you with a poodle sweater.

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Spontaneous Holiday Singalong

Hey everyone… it’s a stressful time of year (I just got back from holiday shopping and I almost pulled all my hair out!) but you know what’s fun? Sitting around the piano and singing some holiday classics. So join me in 20 minutes (that’d be 4:15 P.S.T.) for a spontaneous holiday concert here at my piano. I’ll take requests in the chat room; you can enter it by clicking here. I promise not to play the 12 Days of Christmas.

UPDATE: Concert’s over but you can watch the first half above and the 2nd half below!

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Raw Kale Salad with Walnuts, Pecorino and Lemon

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Say “raw kale salad” before serving dinner and you may not get the round of applause you were hoping for. That’s unfortunate, though, because raw kale–which, I should say here, is incredibly good for you–is so easy to dress up. I’ve had raw kale salads before, mostly at hip Italian joints like Franny’s in New York, but I’d never made one. Then last week I had some leftover kale (Tuscan kale, in fact) from a lentil soup that I love from my cookbook (just 8 more months ’til you can buy it!). I decided that, along with the leftover lentil soup, I’d serve up a raw kale salad that I would improvise on the spot.

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The Apple Pan, Gjelina Take Away & The Lazy Ox Canteen

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I’m terrible at geography (please don’t ask me to find Iowa on a map) but I’m wonderful at food geography, especially when I know a city really well. In New York, friends would call me on a regular basis with queries like: “I’m going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and need a place for an afternoon snack before going to a 5 PM chamber music concert at The Frick.” (Answer: Cafe Sabarsky.) Here in L.A., though, I’m on shaky ground (earthquakes notwithstanding). I’m new here and when a food geography issue arises, I’m not as quick on my feet. But I’m getting better.

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Check Me Out in Food & Wine

I’m so excited to finally share with you images from the latest issue of Food & Wine in which I have an article called “Real Heroes Don’t Tweet.” The article’s about following my food heroes on Twitter and how it’s changed my perception of them from untouchable gods and goddesses to just ordinary, everyday people. What’s funny is that Twitter played a prominent role in this article happening in the first place: Dana Cowin (editor-in-chief of Food and Wine) ReTweeted something I wrote, I thanked her and we made a date to meet for lunch. It was at lunch (at a place called Junoon) that I started talking about what I liked and what I didn’t like about Twitter and that’s when Dana suggested I write this article. So get thee to a grocery store to buy a copy and let me know what you think! Oh, and as far as that most memorable New Year’s Eve dinner that Molly made? You can read about that here.

Mann Ziti

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Aimee Mann is one of my favorite musicians of all time. On the way to her Christmas concert at the Wiltern, Craig asked me why I liked her so much. “Because she’s unsentimental yet emotional, cold but vulnerable at the same time; plus, she’s funny.” She writes lyrics like, “And I’m the only one who knows / that Disneyland’s about to close.” And: “Finals blew I barely knew my graduation speech / with college out of reach / if I don’t find a job it’s down to dad and Myrtle Beach.” With little time to spare before the concert, I decided to whip up a pasta dish without a recipe. And it turns out that this pasta–which I’m calling Mann Ziti in Aimee Mann’s honor–has a lot in common with the music: it lives on the edge of darkness.

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