Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or, to put it another way, I lost my round of The Piglet. Granted, there was no way I could ever have triumphed over Naomi Duguid’s brilliant Burma. She totally deserved her win.

But I have to confess, I took great comfort the next day when Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem joined me on the loser’s bench. It helped me realize how arbitrary this all was. Jerusalem was a clear front-runner for Cookbook of the Year; but Marco Canora, who judged this round (and, incidentally, is one of the chefs featured in my book!), found Jerusalem wanting. Funny enough, he singled out a dish I had made a few days earlier to great fanfare and called it “not particularly exciting.” Again, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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Rustic Vegetable Ragu


Cooking without a recipe. How do you do it?

You start with ingredients. My favorite way to do that is to open my refrigerator to see what’s there: on Friday night (when Craig was working late and his parents were flying in from Seattle) I saw carrots, I saw celery, I saw onions. I decided to cut them all up into big chunky pieces.

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Hummus For Dinner


Hummus is many things: a party snack, a sandwich filler, a way to use up leftover chickpeas. But dinner? Hummus for dinner? Preposterous!

Hey: I understand where you’re coming from. Hummus is a glorified dip and who eats dip for dinner? But ever since I left New York, I’ve been missing my lunches at Hummus Place in the West Village. So last Monday, for dinner, I decided to recreate my regular lunchtime Hummus Place meal, only this time it would be for dinner.

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The Ultimate Eggplant Parmesan


Mario Batali’s recipe for Eggplant Parmesan–which I consider, in my humble opinion, to be the Ultimate Eggplant Parmesan–does something most Eggplant Parmesan recipes don’t: it honors the eggplant.

Instead of coating slices of eggplant in egg and breadcrumbs, frying them in a skillet, and piling them up with tomato sauce and cheese until you have a gloppy mess, here you roast the eggplant slices first–concentrating their natural flavor–and you pile those pieces up in a baking dish with tomato sauce and cheese, but because they’re not pan-fried, you don’t get a greasy, muddy cacophony; you get a harmonious whole topped with a gentle layer of breadcrumbs that crisps up in the oven. Again: The Ultimate Eggplant Parmesan.

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Caramelized Cauliflower with Oranges, Olives and Saffroned Cous Cous


Cauliflower makes me comfortable. If I see it a grocery store, I heave a sigh of relief: “I know what I can do with this,” I say to myself. The store manager eyes me warily.

Last time cauliflower made an appearance on the blog, I cooked it like a steak for a bunch of vegans. Well the leftover cauliflower florets from that dinner were sitting in a bowl in my fridge last week and inspiration struck again. Here’s what I did.

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Don’t-Miss-The-Meat Vegetarian Chili


I love chili, but ever since reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and watching “Food Inc.” I have a hard time making it with ground beef. Of course, on special occasions, I make Michael Symon’s recipe with slab bacon and pork shoulder, but last Wednesday wasn’t a special occasion. No: it was just a weeknight and as I found myself wandering the aisles of Gourmet Garage, I wondered: “What if I just get a bunch of vegetables and beans and cook them the way I cook Michael Symon’s chili? Ya know: with beer and chilis in adobo and freshly ground coriander and cumin seeds?” The results, as you can see above, were so good even Craig agreed: “I don’t miss the meat!”

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How To Host A Vegetarian Dinner Party (Answer: Mushroom Bourguignon)


My friend Lisa was there at the very beginning of this blog. Six years ago, she and I would have debates about the worthiness of olives, we’d sing songs about pumpkin cake, and often we’d cook together. Then I moved far away to a country called Brooklyn and even though Lisa and I still saw each other socially, we’d rarely cook together. Three years passed. In that time, my cooking improved immeasurably and Lisa got engaged. Life is funny that way. And now that I’m back in Manhattan and Lisa still has an appetite I decided to invite Lisa, her fiance Eric, our friend Ricky and his new boyfriend David over for a sumptuous feast. Only problem: Lisa still is (and always has been) a vegetarian. What would I make for dinner?

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We Go Together Like Beets And Carrots


Let’s play the Kevin Bacon game with beets and carrots.

Beets are in Borscht; Borscht comes from Russia; Russia was part of the original U.S.S.R.; “Back in the U.S.S.R.” is a song by The Beatles; The Beatles have a song called “Glass Onion”; onions are part of what the French call Mirepoix; carrots are in Mirepoix too.

Therefore: beets and carrots are separated by six degrees. You can bring them together with the logic above or use this Epicurious recipe from Suzanne Goin for Roasted Beets and Carrots with Cumin Vinagrette, Chickpea Puree, and Flatbread. (Diana and I skipped the chickpea puree and flatbread and instead bought sourdough and cheese from the farmer’s market where we also bought the carrots.) It’s a bright colorful preparation and a fun unexpected pairing. Like linking Kevin Bacon and Shirley MacLaine…

(Kevin Bacon was in “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson who was in “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley MacLaine. Guess that wasn’t so hard to link.)

(Note: the above photo was edited by James Felder of Snapshot Artifact. Thanks James!)