Dinner with Cara and Dara at La Vara


One time in grad school for dramatic writing, a teacher tore into me and called the play I was working on “sophomoric” and “juvenile.” Classmates called me afterwards to console me, and though I’m pretty much over it, sometimes I look back at that moment and wonder if she was right. In all of my efforts to be taken seriously, perhaps I was at my best when I made the Janet Jackson Breast Cupcake? Or Condoleeza Rice Pudding with Berries of Mass Destruction?

Take, for example, the dinner I had last week with friends in Brooklyn. I couldn’t get over the fact that two of the friends I was eating with were named Cara and Dara and we were eating at a restaurant called La Vara. Cara and Dara at La Vara. I told everyone I knew; I Tweeted about it. I told the waitress and the chef. At a certain point, you’d think I would’ve gotten over it, but no sirree. I find the title of this post endlessly amusing. In fact, I could just end it here but then you wouldn’t get to see the absolutely amazing food that we ate.

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Emily Wallendjack’s Pistachio Pudding (at Cookshop)


Meet my friend Cara (screen-left, pink top). On October 9th, she’s getting married.

A few weeks ago, at her wedding shower, we were chatting and I was asking her about her wedding cake.

“We’re not having a wedding cake,” she said. “I’d rather have a dessert I really like,” she explained. But when it came to choosing that dessert she said, “The one dessert I most want is this pistachio pudding with chocolate cookies and salted whipped cream I once had at Cookshop. But I don’t think they’ll give me the recipe.”

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Pfeffernussen, Orange Sables & The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie of Your Dreams


The Baking Bug isn’t a ladybug, it’s a wasp: once it stings you, you’ve been stung.

Such has been the case with my friend Josh Hume, director of my show on Food2 and a recent convert to the world of baking. He loves it. He calls himself Man Martha because of his love for Martha Stewart’s recipes and, most recently, he represented me at a Bon Appetit Magazine blogger bake-off. (Check out his bouche!) It’s no surprise, then, that Josh approached holiday baking this year with a fervor; not only did he bake cakes for several friends’ birthday parties (big, elaborate cakes) but he planned an enormous Christmas cookie exchange and assigned each person a different cookie to bring. My assignment? Pfeffernussen.

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