Kale Pesto Pitza

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When I went to college at Emory 3,000 years ago, there used to be a spot in Emory Village called Cedar Tree that sold “pitzas.” It was basically a piece of toasted pita bread topped with pizza-like toppings and the surprising thing was that it was really, really good. A dinner at Cedar Tree was always a treat and when I listen to the Indigo Girls–who, incidentally or maybe not so incidentally went to Emory–their song “Cedar Tree” always makes me think about how good a piece of toasted pita bread with pizza-like toppings can be. Yet, weirdly I’d never attempted it at home until I hit upon a technique that makes so much sense for transforming plain-old-pita bread into something that resembles a pizza crust.

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A Response To Ms. Thorisson

[Yesterday, Mimi Thorisson of the beautiful food blog Manger took issue with my Piglet review of her cookbook A Kitchen in France. You can read her full take here. And now for my reply.]

Dear Ms. Thorisson,

Two years ago, my cookbook Secrets of The Best Chefs lost its Piglet battle because–according to the judge–the pages were too white. Too white? I practically turned white when I read those words. So I know how it feels to have something that you worked so hard on (three years in my case, I’m sure a similar amount of time in yours) criticized in a public forum. You took issue with my review, calling my approach “shallow.” But my approach–a comic book format–allowed me to illustrate, quite literally, the elements of both books that both won me over and turned me off. Cookbooks are very much a visual experience; so the image of a spoon with a lighter underneath it in Brooks Headley’s cookbook is as much worth exploring as the image of you in rubber boots and a white apron holding an armful of artichokes. Both convey a message and the comic book format allowed me to underscore my response to those messages. You found my response sexist, but I disagree: if a male cookbook author posed for similar pictures in his cookbook, I’d have the same reaction. Something about those images felt a little false and stagey to me, which is why I took issue with them. Does that make them objectively bad? Absolutely not; I was asked to judge this round of the Piglet and that was my honest reaction. If Anna Wintour had judged this round, she would have championed your good taste and high style and you would be flying to New York to accept your trophy right now. Which is all to say, I offered up my most authentic reaction to what was put before me; and I was being sincere when I said that the food in your book looked fabulous. It truly does, as does the food on your blog. I wish you all the best and may take you up on your offer to come visit your restaurant in Medoc if you promise not to poison my food.

Sincerely,
Adam

Eating New York in Sub-Zero Weather (Estela, Prune, Del Posto & Russ & Daughters Cafe)

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Here’s how cold it was in New York: on our last morning there, I left a pair of gloves behind for the person I borrowed them from and rode the elevator down to the street with Craig to catch a cab to the airport. Craig had gone to the trouble to get me a cappuccino from our favorite New York coffee shop, Joe, which he handed to me as we stepped outside. The temperature that day, with wind-chill, was close to negative 10 degrees. NEGATIVE TEN. And no cabs were stopping, so there I was with my bare hand holding on to this warm coffee drink and the feeling was so awful–the cold was searing my hand so fiercely–I had to toss the full cup of coffee into a trash bin so I could shove my hand into my pocket. That’s the coldest I’ve ever been.

And yet, before you call me an L.A. traitor, even in the most miserable weather, New York is still my boo. I actually hadn’t been back in over a year, not because I didn’t want to, but because in the whirlwind of Skeleton Twins stuff, it just didn’t happen. Then, for Christmas, Craig presented me with tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch (one of my favorite musicals) on Broadway starring the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell the day after my birthday in February. “February?” I asked incredulously. “It’ll be fine!” he promised.

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Chickened Vegetable Soup

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Let us all acknowledge the truth about roast chicken: it’s not about the chicken, it’s about the vegetables. That truth dawned on me long ago when I used to line a roasting pan with red potatoes sliced in half, all surrounding a well-seasoned chicken; the rendered chicken fat would coat the potatoes, they’d get all crispy, and when it was time to eat, the actual roast chicken was an afterthought. It only got better when I discovered Thomas Keller’s roast chicken: in with the potatoes went leeks, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, and suddenly next to that pretty little bird would be vegetables as beautiful as the crown jewels. Now imagine turning those salty, schmaltzy vegetables into soup, a soup that takes about 5 minutes.

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