Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta, Roasted Yellow Peppers, and Green Garlic

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So once you have your homemade ricotta, the next question is: what to do with it?

Me, I decided to be ultra-spontaneous. Well mostly spontaneous. On Saturday, I bought a nice loaf of bread, made the ricotta, left it overnight in the refrigerator to drain. Then, on Sunday, with dinner guests coming at 5:30, I opened up my CSA box in the morning to see what was in there. Whatever I found, I’d make up some kind of bruschetta. Lo and behold, I found…

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Lynn’s Paradise Biscuits

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Once upon a time, my friend Patty told me that the best biscuits she’d ever had in her life were at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky. “They were huge,” I remember her saying, “and buttery and fluffy and AMAZING.”

When Patty told me this (back in 2009), I was working on a project that required me to research all different kinds of biscuit recipes. And so, after hearing this, I reached out to Lynn’s Paradise Cafe to see if they would share their biscuit recipe. I strongly suspected that they would say “no.” Instead, a very nice woman–also named Patty–sent along the recipe and said, “I hope that you enjoy them.”

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The Iron Chef of Ditmas Park

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After the movers whisked my stuff away to California on Saturday, it occurred to me: “I won’t be able to cook for several weeks!”

That’s a problem for a food blogger. So while making plans with my friends Patty and Lauren, who live in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, they made mention of their C.S.A. box. (For those not in the know, C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You pay a set price and get a box of goodies from a farmer each week.) “I have an idea!” I said, suddenly excited. “What if I come over and cook you both dinner based on whatever’s in the box? It’ll be just like Iron Chef!” I’m sure pretty Patty and Lauren exchanged nervous glances at this point (this was over I.M.) but before I knew it, Patty wrote: “Sure.”

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The French 75

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When my friends Patty and Lauren came over for dinner last week, they brought the ingredients to make a cocktail. One of those ingredients–a simple syrup–spilled all over Patty’s bag in transit, but let’s not focus on that. Instead, let’s focus on the e-mail exchange that I had with Patty yesterday about the drink that she made.

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The Negroni

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At the bar of Michael Symons’s Lola in Cleveland, Ohio, I first encountered the Negroni.

Michael Ruhlman, who was there to participate in a segment we were shooting for Food Network online, ordered the drink and I asked him about it. “It has Campari,” he told me, “gin and sweet vermouth.” I ordered one too and when it came I assumed, because of the bright red color, that it would be sweet. I was very, very wrong.

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Saravanaa Bhavan & Joe’s Shanghai

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I have the good fortune to be friends with a guy named Dan Fortune, a DJ with an incredible knack for hunting down obscure tracks–mostly show tune oriented–performed by unexpected artists (Stevie Wonder singing “Hello Young Lovers” from “The King & I,” Nina Simone singing a medley of songs from “Hair,” James Brown singing “September Song.”) Dan’s talent for weaving these songs together into a cogent stream of music has won him a large New York following; and because of that following, Dan often gets asked to DJ celebrity events. And, being his friend, he’s now invited me to two: one was Chris March’s book party (remember Chris March from “Project Runway”?) and the other, more recent event was Michael Musto’s party celebrating 25 years at The Village Voice.

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Death by a Thousand Thai Chilies

[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today’s post is from one of my favorite people in the world, my friend Patty Jang. I just love Patty–she’s an incredibly talented playwright (see her website), but also just a great human being. And this post will have you whimpering in pain for poor, dear Patty. Oh Patty, poor Patty, take it away!]

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Don’t these peppers look so innocent? Dare I say, mild? Dried, empty husks, a pale imitation of their past glory? Let not their frail and papery appearance fool you as they fooled me, dear readers, for these chilies resulted in the most insanely painful cooking experience of my life.

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The Churros That Saved The Dinner Party

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Have you ever had a son or daughter who plays the piano like a real champ, such a champ that you invite all your friends over one night and set up a little concert–with fliers and cocktails and a video camera on a tripod–and when your son or daughter finally sits down to play they totally freeze up and won’t hit one note? That’s how I felt two weeks ago when I had friends over to eat not one but TWO dishes from a new favorite cookbook, David Tanis’s “A Platter of Figs.” My love for this book ran pretty deep for a variety of reasons: (a) it was a gift from Craig’s parents; (b) David Tanis is the chef at Chez Panisse, one of my favorite restaurants; and (c) the book is knock-you-out beautiful, with gorgeous pictures and recipes and writing that’s heartfelt and really, really smart. But when it came time to perform, I’m so sad to report that the two recipes I made from it–the Green Chile Stew & the Spicy Pickled Vegetables–were total duds.

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