Vanilla Bean Pudding

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Let’s talk pudding.

It doesn’t sound sexy like “panna cotta” or sophisticated like “pot de crem.” It sounds like the kind of thing you eat out of a plastic container with an aluminum peel on top which, for many people who grew up with Billy Cosby shilling for it on TV, it very much is. Which is unfortunate because good pudding–the kind of pudding you make at home with whole milk, sugar, corn starch, and any flavor combination you want–can be a cozier and more comforting dessert than those fancier, European concoctions.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

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If you’ve ever seen “Fiddler On The Roof,” you probably know the term “yenta.” A yenta, in Yiddish, is a busybody, a meddler; in “Fiddler,” though, she’s a specific person, a matchmaker.

My whole life, I’ve always been something of a yenta. I love to get involved with people’s life decisions, telling people where to work, where to live, who to date. I’m kind of annoying that way. Which is why, over the years, I’ve pulled back a bit and let people lead the lives they want to lead, not getting too involved. And as far as matchmaking, occasionally I’ll set people up–I have some successes under my belt, some disasters too–though now I think I’m better off applying my skills to food: which is why I decided to pair pineapple upside-down cake with homemade toasted coconut ice cream.

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

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Here’s how you know I’m the real deal: whereas most food publications will cram an upcoming holiday down your throat in hopes that you’ll link to their page as you plan your holiday meal, I’m not so clever or strategic. I wait until the holiday’s over, when the post will no longer be relevant, and then I blog about it. This means: (1) I’m not very smart; and (2) I’m pretty authentic. And so it is that I share with you now a cake that would’ve been very nice to bring to a St. Paddy’s Day Dinner this past weekend (as I did) but which you will probably not make anymore because the holiday’s over.

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Lindsey Shere’s Legendary Almond Tart

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I suppose I must really like a challenge because, on the night that I made the bouillabaisse, I also attempted a famously difficult dessert: Lindsey Shere’s Almond Tart.

Lindsey Shere, in case you don’t know, helped open Chez Panisse in 1971 and stayed there as pastry chef until 1998. I first heard about her famous almond tart on my trip to San Francisco in 2007; I think it was at a place called Jojo in Oakland, with my friends Derrick and Melissa, that I first heard tell about it. The word “legendary” might’ve been applied.

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Apple Pie Cookies By The Seat Of My Pants

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It’s considered a hard and true fact in the food world that baking is a precise discipline and that cooking–sauteing, roasting, salad-making–is looser, freer, more of a vehicle for personal expression.

Why does that always have to be the case? Isn’t it possible that, if you know a thing or two in the kitchen, you can whip up a batch of cookies with as much freedom and joie-de-vivre as you might employ while making am omelet? I decided to challenge the status quo yesterday by making a batch of cookies without following a recipe.

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Hummingbird Cake

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Sometimes it’s nice to choose a theme for a dinner party. It makes it easier to pick an appetizer, a side dish, an entree and a dessert. At last week’s dinner party, the theme was The South (we had three Southerners in attendance) and I served up Rachel Wharton’s Pimento Cheese as an appetizer, the fried chicken from yesterday’s post, a homemade coleslaw on the side and then, for dessert, this here Hummingbird Cake.

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Melissa Clark’s Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

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You may be wondering about a post that was on my blog on Friday wherein I made Melissa Clark’s Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread live on webcam (using LiveStream) and then interviewed Melissa Clark on my cellphone afterwards. Many of you attended, though you missed the ending when the cake came out of the oven because LiveStream cut out. Not only that, but LiveStream didn’t archive the video (even though I hit “record”) so I had to take the post down because there was nothing left to see. Luckily, though, there’s this picture of the finished product and my profound ability to capture its essence in words.

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