Reader Mail: How To Entertain?

Here’s a question from a reader that I thought might be best answered on the blog. (Note: I edited the letter for brevity’s sake.)

Dear Adam,

I’ve been reading your blog now for six or seven years, though I’ve never commented. I really enjoy your humor and down to earth advice about cooking. I started reading your blog when I was in grad school and loved it as an escape from reading research articles.

One thing I’ve always loved about your blog is when you write about entertaining your friends at your home. You seem like such a natural, warm and welcoming host. Your dinner parties look like the kind I always hope to be invited to or put on myself. Plus, the food always looks delicious.

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A Really Good Radicchio Salad

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Look, let’s be honest, I make a really good radicchio salad. That may not mean much to most people because radicchio isn’t one of those vegetables that gets anyone excited. It’s bitter. It’s red. It’s red and bitter. What’s the big deal? Well: I like to serve it before a big, heavy dinner to wake up the palate–sort of like a vegetable Negroni. Only my vegetable Negroni has anchovies and garlic in it. So, actually, let’s forget that Negroni bit and focus on how I make it.

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Planning A Dinner Menu

Good morning! Like my bed-head? That’s me at this very moment trying to plan tonight’s dinner menu. I’m having a few friends over this evening and I’m in Phase One of the process: figuring out what I’m going to make. Usually I keep this process to myself but today I’ve decided to share it with you in the hopes that maybe you’ll get something out of it. By the end of this post, I’ll have my menu set.

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How To Cook Fish For A Crowd

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Our friend Emily (who also happens to be Craig’s awesome manager; she’s in the apron on the right) had us over for dinner the other night and she pulled off something I would never be brave enough to attempt at a dinner party: she cooked us fish.

Fish is so tricky and temperamental, I’m nervous just to cook it for myself, let alone a crowd of people. I’ve seared fish in a pan, I’ve broiled fish in the oven. These techniques work fine for one or two, but for four? Five? Six? What do you do? Emily had the perfect solution. And it was such a smart solution, I plan to steal this idea for my own fish dinner parties in the future. Not only that: the results were so good I may use her technique for cooking fish just for Craig and myself. And that technique is…

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Let’s Bring Back The “Thank You” Note

The worst moment of my 13 year-old life was when my mom pointed to a stack of cardboard cards featuring my name written in glitter and told me that I had to write “thank you” notes for all of my Bar Mitzvah gifts. This was weeks after having been hospitalized for dehydration (my Bar Mitzvah was very stressful; all those “CH” sounds) and I couldn’t imagine a universe where anyone, in their right mind, would voluntarily write a “thank you” note. “Thank you” notes are strictly for those whose parents are making them write them.

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How To Prep A Dinner Party A Day Ahead

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When I first started cooking, I resented the idea of making food ahead for a dinner party. I wanted my food to be fresh! Cooked in the moment! Assembled minutes before the guests arrive!

It’s only recently, though, that I’ve started to see the virtue in prepping the food ahead. One: if you’re making a soup or a stew or a chili, that’ll only taste better after spending a night in the fridge. And two: you’ll be way less harried when your guests arrive. So here’s how to prep a dinner party a day ahead (with two dinner party examples).

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Cook Along With Me (Porchetta Dinner Party)

I got a kick out of it last week cooking live on camera for all of you nice people out there. So right now, at this very moment, I’m prepping dinner for tonight–a big feast involving a homemade porchetta. If you want to follow along, you can just watch me above or join me in the chatroom by clicking here.

UPDATE: The live video show is over but you can watch a recording above. Enjoy! (Especially the part where I do the dishes.)

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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