Fresh Springtime Pasta with Farmer’s Market Asparagus and Fava Beans

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After hauling home fresh asparagus and fava beans from the farmer’s market, I stood on a chair and made a loud declaration: “I will not adulterate these beacons of springtime with a convoluted recipe that obfuscates their natural glory!” Getting down from the chair, I thought about my declaration and realized that to live up to my word, I would need to cook the asparagus and fava beans as simply as possible, and serve them up with something special-enough to be memorable but not so special as to shadow the star ingredients: which is how I came up with making fresh pasta.

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Announcing The 2012 Foodie Photo Scavenger Hunt! (Now World-Wide; with over $3500 in prizes from The Culinary Institute of America)

Readers, are you ready for something outrageous? Something unbelievable? Something so over-the-top that you might pinch yourself and wonder if it’s April 1st?

Well have I got news for you! The Culinary Institute of America—the world’s premier culinary college—has agreed to sponsor my first-ever WORLD WIDE Foodie Photo Scavenger Hunt. They’re offering up to the 1st place winning team a FOUR DAY Culinary Boot Camp worth over $3500 (not to mention books and DVDs for the 2nd and 3rd place winners).

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Ways To Follow

Some of you may not realize that, during the day, I’m not just updating my blog. Oh no! I’m also updating my Twitter feed @amateurgourmet with things like this fun gay pirate music video and pictures of what I had for breakfast (a pink orange); then there’s my Facebook Page which has a brand new banner designed by Lindy Groening—click here to check it out and LIKE it to get regular updates of all the interesting things I’m linking to, like this article about shrimp worker abuse and this video of Mario Batali’s home kitchen. Not to overwhelm you, but there’s also my newsletter–subscribe here–that goes out every Monday with all kinds of original content (click here to read the last one). And of course my Pinterest page with all of my recipes laid out quite nicely. Geesh: I sure keep myself busy online! Don’t miss out.

Stop It With The Small Plates! (Except Where They Work)

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Dear Restaurant Owners,

The jig is up! Do you think I’m a chump? Do you think I don’t see through you and your small plate menus?

You’re trying to get me to spend more money than I want to! Instead of offering up an individual-sized appetizer for $12 to $15 and an entree in the $20 to $30 range, you’re asking me and my tablemates to each order several $12 to $15 dishes—at several restaurants, recently, we were instructed to order “six to seven” of these small plates per person. It’s been years since I got a 1 on my A.P. Calculus exam, but I’m pretty sure that adds up to at least $80 a pop before drinks, dessert, tax and tip. Why don’t you just put a pistol to our heads and demand that we empty our wallets on the table before allowing us to see a menu?

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Marinated Roasted Cauliflower Salad

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about sponges. Well: not actual sponges, but sponge-like behavior. Specifically the sponge-like behavior that occurs when you cook something–pasta, beans, vegetables–and then add them to an incredibly flavorful, incredibly potent mixture (a sauce, a dressing) allowing all that flavor to get sucked up inside.

This is why it’s always best to take your pasta out of the water a minute before its done and finish it in the sauce; it’s also why it’s best to toss boiled potatoes in a dressing for potato salad right out of the water–you went those pores to be open, to sponge up all that fatty goodness. And sucking up fatty goodness is precisely what I wanted the cauliflower to do when I set about making a marinated cauliflower salad.

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Lynn’s Paradise Biscuits

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Once upon a time, my friend Patty told me that the best biscuits she’d ever had in her life were at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky. “They were huge,” I remember her saying, “and buttery and fluffy and AMAZING.”

When Patty told me this (back in 2009), I was working on a project that required me to research all different kinds of biscuit recipes. And so, after hearing this, I reached out to Lynn’s Paradise Cafe to see if they would share their biscuit recipe. I strongly suspected that they would say “no.” Instead, a very nice woman–also named Patty–sent along the recipe and said, “I hope that you enjoy them.”

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If You Have A Grill, You Should Be Grilling Pizza

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Our friends Mark and Diana, who live up the street from us, have made a terrible mistake. The mistake is this: they fed us grilled pizza and now we’ll be demanding it on a regular basis.

How did I not know this? I mean, I knew this–I’ve watched Ina Garten throw a grilled pizza party on T.V.–but I didn’t know how good it was. Do you know? Here’s what happens: because of the high heat of the grill, the pizza gets charry and crisp on the bottom (like what happens in the high-temperature oven at a fancy pizza restaurant) and then you top it with whatever you want to top it with, you close the lid, and moments later you have totally excellent pizza. And if you shape your pizza dough into a large oval, you can feed a big group of people quite happily, as Mark and Diana did last night for us and our visiting friends Patty and Lauren.

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Waiting For The Dough To Rise (A Passover Meditation)

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On Passover Saturday, I Tweeted that I was making Everything Bagel Bombs from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and moments later I received this text from my mom: “Do you not know bagels are taboo on Passover or are you just stirring the pot? Most bagel stores in New York are closed.” I called my mom to talk it out—she wasn’t mad, but thought I’d offended my Twitter followers (I didn’t)—and then I set about making the dough and watching it rise.

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