When A Frenchman Cooks You Dinner

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For a while, our friend Cris has wanted to cook us dinner. The fact that we didn’t make it happen immediately won’t seem like a big deal until I tell you that Cris is French. Yes, we had the opportunity to have dinner cooked for us by a French person and we didn’t take him up on it until last week when he and his boyfriend Harry had us over to their Echo Park apartment.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Hacks

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Controversial statement: all chocolate chip cookie recipes are basically the same.

Sure, some are better than others (The New York Times recipe is probably the best one out there) but they’re all different ratios of butter, brown sugar, regular sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate. And though different ratios will yield slightly different results, in my experience what matters much more than the recipe are the specific techniques you use to make your cookies. For internet purposes, let’s call them hacks and I’ve got six of ’em that’ll work with any chocolate chip cookie recipe and produce consistently good cookies every time.

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OK, I Lied: It Sucks To Cook After Work

Remember that time that I was a full-time food blogger? And I had the nerve to say things like: “You can cook after work! It’s easy.” Well I’d like to take that person, pin him against a wall, and say: “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Because now that I have a full-time job, I come home happily exhausted (I love where I’m working) and the idea of making a big mess in the kitchen at 6:45 PM (when I get home) and then cleaning it up holds very little appeal to me on a weekday night. So the picture you see above is my saving grace: Dune Falafel is on the other side of Atwater Village from me, so my new favorite thing is to come home, give the cat some treats, and to go for a 20 minute walk along GlenFeliz Blvd to procure the hummus plate you see above (it really is the most dazzling hummus plate I’ve ever experienced). And then, every so often, I do manage to make a dinner.

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We Got Married (The Wedding Post)

I was never a wedding person. Growing up, I’d watch the wedding scene in The Sound of Music and fantasize about writing a great musical someday. The idea of walking down an aisle held very little appeal for me (even if there’d be nuns singing a slowed-down version of “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”) So when Craig and I got engaged almost two years ago at Rustic Canyon, I imagined us having a simple wedding at a nice restaurant somewhere. Maybe just our families and a few close friends at Blue Hill Stone Barns or The French Laundry; 12 to 15 people max. The only problem? My betrothed had a very different idea of what our wedding would be. “I want a big party,” he informed me soon after we told our families that we were getting married. “A big party with lots and lots of people!”

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My New Career: T.V. Writer

Ok, it’s time to spill the beans: starting next month, I’m going to be a staff writer on the new ABC Dan Savage-inspired sitcom “The Real O’Neals,” starring Martha Plimpton! To say that I’m excited would be a profound understatement. The show, based loosely on Dan Savage’s life, is one of only three new comedies that ABC is debuting this year and based on what I know so far, it’s going to be a great one. I hope you’ll all watch.

Of course, this probably leaves you wondering: “What’s going to happen to the blog?” The answer is: “I’m not sure, yet!” In the meantime, the best way to connect with me is via Instagram (@amateurgourmet): I update that more than anything else (though there’s also Twitter and Facebook). Thanks for being so patient during this crazy career shift and I promise, no matter what, I’ll continue entertaining you—either here on your computer or over there on your T.V. screen. Here goes nothing!

Quick Queso with Chorizo (and Other Tex-Mex Delights)

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Sometimes it’s nice to cook for friends who favor a particular cuisine because it steers you in a new direction. Normally, I default to European/Mediterranean things like pastas and chicken with couscous and preserved lemon and stuff like that. My friends Jim and Todd (you know them!) are Tex-Mex fans and so, when I cooked for them last week, I decided to pull The Homesick Texan Cookbook off the shelf to delight them with food that they love. Turns out, I love it too and now I have some new dishes up my sleeve to pull out at dinner parties. The one I’m most excited about? Queso with Chorizo (it’s in the title of the post, duh.)

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Let’s Go To A Chinese Supermarket!

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Recently I became friends with an Amateur Gourmet reader named Peggy who works in T.V. out here in L.A. and who comes from a Taiwanese family. Over the course of our first lunch at Pizzeria Mozza, she casually mentioned that her family frequents the San Gabriel Valley (home of some of America’s best and most authentic Chinese restaurants) and that she’d be happy to show me around there the next time we met up. “We can even go to a Chinese supermarket!” she added and that was like the moment when you pull the handle of a slot machine and all the bells and alarms go off and coins start pouring out. As you all know, I love visiting unfamiliar supermarkets.

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