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 Return of The Amateur Gourmet


Hi Friends,

I’ve had a very restful (and eventful) two weeks. That’s me, above, eating a Dungeness Crab on Eliza Island in the Pacific Northwest (one of the best meals of my life, but more on that next week). After a week there kayaking, playing cards and, of course, crabbing, I journeyed with Craig to Cape Cod where we enjoyed high-speed boat tubing (I chickened out), merciless games of Mafia and fantastic meals of ribs, corn, and clam chowder. I returned with 130 pictures on my camera and crashed my computer yesterday trying to edit them all at once in Photoshop (I’m pretty dumb.)

Was I really able to turn my back on my site for two weeks, without monitoring or reading your comments or worrying about how the next day’s post would fare? As my web guy Justin will tell you (adamantly, I’d guess): NO!!!!

I tried, I really did. But I love this blog and I loved the guest posts! Didn’t you? Allow me to pause for a second and thank thank thank all my guest posters: I’m so honored to have had such talented writers writing on my blog. Thank you thank you thank you for your fantastic posts which I read, secretly, on my iPhone while surrounded by glorious nature. What does nature have on Phoebe Damrosch? Or The Science of Fressing? Nothing, I tell you, nothing!

Now that I’m back, my life’s about to change dramatically. The big news (and only the most fervent of you must have discovered it) is that I will no longer be hosting the FN Dish (here’s my farewell video) ; instead, I’m working on a brand new project for Food Network online. What is it? When will it launch? Who else is working on it? I’m sorry, but these are secrets that I can’t yet reveal, but I will say that the new show is much, much, much more in the spirit of this blog–it’s funny, slightly edgy, and food-obsessed. I think you’re going to love it.

I’m going to miss working with my FN Dish team: especially Matthew and Rachael, who I traveled the country with (to Vegas and beyond) and really enjoyed knowing as friends. But we’ll stay in touch (maybe Matthew will do us another guest post?) and I encourage everyone to keep watching The FN Dish, especially since my replacement, Bruce Seidel, is a really awesome guy.

So what else is in store for The Amateur Gourmet? My book comes out in paperback on September 30th. Check out the nifty new paperback cover:


I’ll be doing a reading (and a cooking demonstration! Yikes!) at the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of the month so more on that soon. And my trip to Baltimore fits in perfectly with this month’s banner theme (clear your cache and re-load the site): crabs! Having had Dungeness crabs at the start of the month in the Pacific Northwest, I’ll be able to compare them to blue crabs in Baltimore at the end of the month (though crab season might be over….) Will I finally settle the Great Crab Debate? Stay tuned… (and Baltimorites: where’s the best place to get crab in Baltimore?)

Hope you all had very restful and rejuvenating Labor Day weekends and that your last days of summer are happy ones. Thanks for your patience while I was gone… can’t wait to get blogging again.

Until next week…..

Forever yours,

The Amateur Gourmet

Two Things

(1) If you want a free sushi set, you have a very good chance of winning one by taking a picture of yourself doing an Iron Chef Chairman impression and e-mailing it to If you have a Mac, just open up the Photo Booth app, look seriously at the camera, snap a pic and send it in. [Contest is part of this week’s episode.]

(2) I am doing something VERY sketchy this weekend. I’m the “celebrity” guest at sketch comedy troupe Slightly Known People’s weekly show tomorrow (Saturday) night, at 10:30, at The Green Room, 45 Bleecker Street. The cover is $12 and my participation involves an Iron Chef-style cocktail-making contest with guest judges Mary Greenwalt from “I Survived A Japanese Game Show” and Serious Eats’s own Erin Zimmer. Hope to see you there!

The Chairman Song

In honor of his holiness The Chairman, ruler of Kitchen Stadium on “Iron Chef America,” I present to you an original composition, words and music and screechy singing by yours truly. Allez “The Chairman Song!”

If you love this and want to embed it on your blog, go here. If you’d like to sing along with the lyrics, click ahead…

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Anne Burrell

This week’s FN Dish takes me into the kitchen of Anne Burrell who you may recognize as Mario Batali’s sous chef on Iron Chef America. She’s also the chef at Centro Vinoteca (pronounce it “CHENtro” or she’ll correct you!) and the host of the brand new Food Network show “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.” For those of you who, like me, bemoan the loss of “Molto Mario” and other authentic cooking shows on Food Network, this is a show to watch and support.

Leave a comment on the video page with your best cooking secret and enter to win a Chrome-Plated Al Dente Pasta Machine by VillaWare. Then click here to watch my Next Food Network Star viewing party with Sunny Anderson.

I Party With Paula

While my colleagues are covering the folderol that is the James Beard Awards, I’m keeping my head high and covering a party of a different sort: Paula’s Party. Yes, I attended one of Paula’s parties–she was dressed as a stick of butter–and I conversed with the likes of Richard Simmons and Ana Gasteyer. You can see it all here:

[If you want to embed it on your site, click here.]

And for those of you who watched last night’s “Next Food Network Star,” click here to hear what Sunny Anderson and I had to say; to see my exit interview with the eliminated contestant, click here.