Melissa Clark’s Chocolate Chip Pecan Loaf Cake


[A note on the above photo: that was taken by my friend & neighbor Rob Meyer who came over for cake and let me tinker with his SLR because I’m thinking of getting one. Has the time come? What kind should I get?]

The idea of a snack cake really appeals to me because, for most of my childhood, I’d come home from school and snack on cake. Only the cakes I’d snack on were the kind of cakes you find at a rest stop on the highway: Yoo-Hoos, Twinkies, Ring-Dings (my brother’s favorite) and Entenmann’s lemon coconut cake. My mom always kept plenty of these snacky cakes on hand and to this day, when it’s four in the afternoon and I’m feeling a bit sluggish, my favorite pick-me-up is a berry scone from Birdbath Bakery or, even better, a slice of some kind of cake that I made myself. This post is about one such cake.

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Big News: The Next Book!


A few weeks ago, something extraordinary happened.

To understand the extraordinariness of this extraordinary thing, we have to rewind a month or two. I’d been working with an excellent agent, Alison Fargis of The Stonesong Press (who I was introduced to by Matt & Renato of Baked) on a new book proposal. This was a different direction for me; my first book was a book of essays, this proposal was for a cookbook. After eight months of revisions and back-and-forth, the proposal was ready to go out. And a few weeks after it went out, Alison called me and asked if I was sitting down.

“Artisan wants to meet with you,” she said, the excitement obvious in her voice. “This is a really big deal!”

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Lunch with Lidia Bastianich (and my dad)


It’s my fault, really. My parents were in town and my mom asked me, early in the week, if I’d babysit my dad for lunch on Tuesday while she met some of her friends. I said, “Sure.” Then, the day before, I received a confirmation e-mail from Lidia Bastianich’s publicist reminding me of a lunch scheduled at Lidia’s restaurant Felidia the next day. I’d RSVPed for two (I was going to bring a more talented photographer friend (why? see picture above)) and so, after some clever thinking, I decided to take my dad.

“What is this again?” asked my dad when I told him about it. “Who is this person?”

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My Secret Cookbook Gems


After yesterday’s cookbook slaughter, I thought I’d steer the blog to sweeter waters and talk about a subject I’ve never addressed on the blog before: my secret cookbook gems.

No, I’m not talking about books that I actually cook from. Those would be my favorite cooking cookbooks and you can find those on the lower right hand corner of the page under the heading “The Amateur Gourmet Recommends.” These books, my secret cookbook gems, are the ones with the most sentimental value: the ones that I cherish the most, the ones I’d grab first if the apartment was on fire.

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The Great Cookbook Purge of 2009


Nobody likes moving. It’s a daunting process: first you have to find boxes, then you have to find packing tape, then you have to put all your stuff in the boxes and then you run out of packing tape and then you find you have more stuff and you need more boxes, etc, etc. It sucks.

Which is why, a few days ago, I found myself staring at my cookbook collection. I was on the couch and there it was, across the room. Six giant Ikea shelves of cookbooks, collected from five and a half years of food blogging. And like a bolt of lightning, a thought singed the inside of my brain: “Do I really need all of these cookbooks? How many do I really use, really?”

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Amanda Hesser’s. I’ve been cooking her recipes–from her vanilla bean loaves to her carrot fennel soup–for as long as I’ve been cooking, really. Which is why I’m so delighted that Amanda and her friend Merrill Stubbs have joined our ranks here on the world wide web. Check out their new site Food52: a fun, interactive recipe resource that allows you to submit recipes, vote for recipes and help shape an actual cookbook that’ll be published at the end of a year. I really love the videos of Amanda and Merrill cooking together (like this one of them cooking fish): it’s refreshing to discover that the authoritative voice behind the New York Times Magazine food section is just a normal person like you and me. With an incredibly nice kitchen.

The Books in the Bathroom at Momofuku Ko


Back in May, when Robyn Lee wrote on Serious Eats about the books in the bathroom at Momofuku Ko, the picture she shared showed just a stack of vintage cookbooks (“African Cooking,” “The Cooking of Italy,” “The Cooking of Japan”) and a few fancier books–Michael Bras’s “Essential Cuisine,” Roger Verge’s “Vegetables in the French Style” and Alain Ducasse’s “Grand Livre De Cuisine”–all displayed, rather simply, above the toilet. Now, as you can see from my picture above, the library has grown exponentially: there are three shelves worth of food-related books in there. Enough that you almost wish you’d get food poisoning so you could spend a long time in there, flipping through all of them. Instead, though, I took a few close up pictures so we can examine EXACTLY what’s on those shelves. Here’s what I found.

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