Franny’s Toasted Almond Gelato

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Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in making ice cream. I didn’t lose interest in ice cream, just making it. So if I were to have a dinner party, I might make brownies and hot fudge sauce for brownie sundaes (as I did for an upcoming episode of The Clean Plate Club), but I’d buy the ice cream at the store and that was that. I was happy. I’d been there and done that with ice cream. But then a cookbook showed up from one of my favorite restaurants in all of New York (maybe in all the land), Franny’s, and there at the back was a recipe for one of the best ice cream/gelato concoctions I’ve ever tasted: their toasted almond gelato.

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Almond Cake with Plums

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“Take a risk or play it safe?” That was the question I asked myself the day before Besha Rodell and Rachel Shukert came over for dinner last week. Rachel I wasn’t nervous about. Even though I’d never met her before, I knew we’d click because we’re both musical theater geeks. The food would be secondary. I also knew I’d click with Besha, who I had met before (at Proof Bakery last year) but that’s not what made me nervous. What made me nervous is that Besha is a food critic. A food critic! Can you imagine cooking for a food critic? I was kind of freaking out.

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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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Zucchini with Almonds

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What’s that expression about teachers learning from their students? Is there an expression like that? There really should be.

You may recall that for my cookbook I have an intern named Tyla working with me. Tyla herself has a food blog called “Learning To Live Without A Microwave” and on her blog last week I saw an excellent recipe for “Zucchini Saute with Toasted Almonds.” Now Tyla got the recipe from my friend Deb of Smitten Kitchen who titled the post “My Favorite Side Dish”; Deb, in turn, got it from The Red Cat restaurant. (Another game of recipe telephone.) But the point is that I discovered it from Tyla and it’s such a killer recipe it’s time you discovered it from me; it takes just a few minutes and it’s a “wow-er.”

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Green Almonds

On the cover of the Zuni Cafe Cookbook you will see three nectarines, several slices of prosciutto, and there, at 9 o’clock on the plate, a handful of green almonds, two of them split open, their kernels separated on to the black plate. This image, to me, has always evoked a precious, inaccessible other world–a world where a person might harvest green almonds as easily as one might buy peanut M&Ms from one of those machines you crank in diners or movie theaters. It’s a world I thought I’d never know and, frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know: I kind of liked my almonds aged and musty in their plastic containers from Key Food. When would I ever get to experience a green almond? Probably never. That is, until, last week when I stumbled upon them at Fairway in Red Hook.

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