If you know anything about me you know that I love two things more than anything else: (1) cooking and (2) Broadway musicals. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to become friends with one of my favorite Broadway actors, Gideon Glick (we met up at The Russian Tea Room), and over the pandemic we jokingly sent each other funny Broadway-themed dishes for a potential Broadway cookbook: Sunday in the Pork with George. Bundts on this Island. The Sound of Moussaka. At some point, I pitched this idea to my brilliant cookbook agent Alison Fargis at Stonesong and she loved it. Then we hit the jackpot and convinced renowned Broadway illustrator Justin “Squigs” Robertson to illustrate the book for us and guess what? We just sold the book to an incredible publisher: Countryman Press! So look out for GIVE MY SWISS CHARDS TO BROADWAY, coming Fall 2022. 🎩👯♀️📚🍴💫
Hey fans of Lunch Therapy! The podcast that you know and love is back.
When the pandemic started, I figured I couldn’t do the podcast anymore because I was interviewing everyone face-to-face. But a year later, I realized that I was an idiot: not only is Zoom a totally valid way to do these interviews, it’s an even better way because (a) I can interview anyone in the world!: and (b) I can record the video as well as the audio, so there’s two ways to experience Lunch Therapy.
So, if you’re someone who loves to listen to podcasts on your headphones or in the kitchen or in your car, listen to the new episodes of Lunch Therapy on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you’re more of a visual person, watch my recent Lunch Therapy sessions on my new YouTube Channel. (Be sure to subscribe.) Recent guests include the founder of Serious Eats, Ed Levine (see above); San Francisco Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho (no video there, for anonymity reasons); artist-in-residence at Joe’s Pub and author of Intimacy Idiot, Isaac Oliver; and comedian/TV/film star (Search Party, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) Kate Berlant. Be sure to leave some comments/reviews if you get a chance… it’ll help things along. Enjoy and don’t forget to eat lunch!
I’m a terrible dancer, though I enjoy dancing. In college, I was in a production of A Funny Thing Happened to the Way to the Forum (I played Hysterium; such typecasting) and learned the box step. That’s the extent of my dancing prowess. Give me a bouncy Sondheim score and a solid square of dance floor, and I’m there.
Pie-making is a bit like dancing for me. I’m enthusiastic, but often limited in my capabilities. There was that patched-together rhubarb pie from 2010; and that blueberry disaster from 2007. Things have gotten much better since then: the last pie I posted about, Nicole Rucker’s Nectarine Plum Pie with a Brown Sugar Crust, was a bonafide hit. And then there was this strawberry-rhubarb pie that I made for the Oscars. No longer was I a goofy Hysterium bouncing around a college theater; for one brief moment in time, I was Anna Pavlova… except instead of a dying swan, I was a soaring bird!
Back in my blogging bigshot days, publishers would send me free cookbooks. For me, that was better than having Ed McMahon show up at my door with a giant check. I love cookbooks. I have stacks and stacks of them in my kitchen right now because there’s not enough room left on my shelves. (“Maybe you should pull out the ones you don’t use and sell them?” says my well-meaning but delusional husband. “I USE ALL OF THEM!” I reply.)
So imagine my delight the other day when an advanced copy of Gregory Gourdet’s new cookbook, Everyone’s Table, showed up at my door. I’ve been a fan of Gregory’s since he first appeared on Top Chef, and I was really rooting for him when he came back for the All Stars season. Now he’s a judge — a much more comfortable role, I imagine — and it’s great to hear him thoughtfully and gently weigh in on everyone’s dishes.
Back in 2013, when I was still something of an innocent, I wrote a post called “Salad on the Same Plate as Dinner” in which I argued that hot food and cold food never belong together on the same plate. I was specifically reacting to a dinner that I had at Parm on the Lower East Side in which a chicken Parmesan was presented on the same plate as an Italian chopped salad. “[The] red sauce did not make the salad taste better. It was something hot and mushy underneath something cold and crunchy. Inversely, the salad didn’t do much for the Chicken Parmesan. The heat from the chicken wilted a few stray lettuce leaves which lay there sadly on my fork as I cut my way through the cheese and the breading. All in all, this dinner would’ve been better if the chicken had been served on a hot plate and the salad on a cold plate.”
Now I read that and think: “Wow, are you wrong!” Salad on the same plate as dinner is an excellent idea for many different reasons. 1. It provides a textural contrast; 2. It’s offers up some necessary roughage (great movie, by the way); 3. The acidity from the salad can often cut against the richness of your entree (especially if your entree is bucatini Cacio e Pepe, like in the picture above); and 4. It creates less dishes.
Hi, in case you’re wondering where I’ve been… I’ve been on Substack! Ever since I discovered how easy it is to shoot out a weekly dispatch on there, I’ve been putting all of my energy into my Monday newsletters: the last one had the quick salmon dinner you see above, my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, a link to a video of me making seared scallops and citrus risotto, and tons of links to the best food content on the web.
Paid subscribers get the newsletter every week and right now I’m offering a 20% discount for loyal Amateur Gourmet readers: CLICK HERE to redeem it and you’ll get this next Monday’s newsletter, which’ll have my apple pie secrets, plus all kinds of great links, stories, and pictures of Winston the dog. Offer ends on 2/10. See you over there!
Recently I interviewed Dorie Greenspan on my Instagram Live and she talked about how she’s been cooking so much lately from cookbooks. I confessed that I’d fallen into a rut where I just keep making the same things over and over again: roast chicken with root vegetables, pasta, pork chops, pasta, soup, pasta. Did I mention pasta?
She urged me to take more chances on recipes that I’d never made before and when we finished I looked at all of the cookbooks in my collection that I hadn’t been using. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m guilty of buying cookbooks on a whim (see: the piles of cookbooks everywhere in our apartment) and the first one that caught my eye was the Kachka cookbook, winner of the 2018 Piglet tournament of cookbooks. I’ve had Kachka for two years and never cooked from it. I flipped it open and immediately landed on the recipe I knew I had to make: short rib borsch.
Remember the end of The Goonies, when the Goonies reunite with their parents and they’re rattling off all of the things that happened to them on their adventure? And Data says, “The octopus was very scary,” even though there wasn’t an octopus, though technically there was an octopus, it was just cut from the movie?
That’s how it feels to tackle an epic recipe. And when it comes to epic recipes, the reigning queen on my bookshelf is Nancy Silverton. Her Frito Pie — which was a three day process — is still one of my proudest culinary moments. That recipe, like the one I’m about to tell you about, comes from her Mozza at Home, a cookbook that doesn’t get enough praise, possibly because it’s affiliated with a restaurant, even though it’s one of the best cookbooks on my shelf. (Put it on your list.)