Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pears, Toasted Almonds, and Parmesan

There’s been some debate about whether or not you should serve salad at Thanksgiving.

My stance? A traditional salad — with wan lettuce leaves from a bag, dried cranberries (the most clichéd Thanksgiving salad ingredient), and toasted pecans — is a pretty depressing thing to see on the table, TBH. But, as I get older, my body does crave some kind of crunchy vegetable situation if I’m going to eat a lot of heavy food (turkey, stuffing, gravy, etc). So what’s a Thanksgiving chef to do? Enter the shaved Brussels sprout salad.

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Overnight Oats in a Mostly-Empty Yogurt Container

There used to a website called “Is It Iced Coffee Weather?” that would tell you whether you should drink hot coffee or iced coffee on a particular day.

I’d like to build a similar website for oats. For me, it’s either overnight oat weather or hot oatmeal weather. Right now, in L.A., we’re on the cusp. Yesterday, the weather was in the 80s; this morning, it was in the 50s. Usually I make my decision the night before: if it’s hot oatmeal, I put a cup of steel-cut oats in a pot, cover with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover so they’ll cook up in ten minutes the next morning. Last night, though, I opened my refrigerator and saw a mostly-empty yogurt container. That was the universe telling me it was time to overnight oat.

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The Only Grilled Cheese That Matters

Back in the before time, in November of 2018 to be exact, the chef Nancy Silverton hosted a grilled cheese night at Republique here in L.A. Republique — one of the best restaurants in L.A., if not the best (see here) — is the site of Nancy Silverton’s iconic restaurant of yore, Campanile. There, with her then-husband Mark Peel, Nancy would have a regular grilled cheese night which was especially popular because of the bread she used, from her own La Brea Bakery which was next door.

So this grilled cheese night harkened back to the original grilled cheese night and Nancy’s signature grilled cheese — The Nancy — was offered on the menu. I ate it and delighted at the combination of onions (which I remembered as being caramelized but now see were marinated), grainy mustard, and lots of Gruyère.

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Got Persimmons? Make Persimmon Bread

And so it was that I found myself at an AirBnb in Santa Barbara with persimmon trees. The trees were so beautiful — I’m mad at myself for not taking a picture of them (sorry!) — it felt like a crime to actually pull persimmons off of them. But pull persimmons off of them, I did, and when I got home with them, they were so very squishy, they almost seemed rotten. But I knew better.

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Delicata Squash and Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan and Saba

There’s a certain type of cooking that I excel at and it’s called “I just got back from a trip and what do I have in my fridge?” cooking. Usually, when I get back from somewhere, I’m too fatootsed to go food shopping, so I either (a) give in and order take-out from Pine and Crane, our favorite take-out spot; or (b) take a culinary swing with what whatever I have around. Last night after getting back from Santa Barbara, I went for option B.

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Lunch at La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara

We spent last week with some friends (our quarantine pod) in Santa Barbara to ride out the election. And what a week it was! We thought we might be celebrating on Tuesday night as the results rolled in, but, as we all know, Tuesday’s uncertainty led to Wednesday’s uncertainty as the votes were slowly and meticulously counted.

How best to get our mind off of election stress? The ghost of Julia Child visited us one evening and told us to go visit La Super-Rica. The place is legendary — Isodoro Gonzalez opened it in 1996 — and Julia Child counted it as one of her favorite places to eat Mexican food. So off we went.

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Stressbake a Banana Cake

You could bite your nails right now, you could doomscroll through social media, or you could do what I’ve been doing: stressbake.

Stressbaking isn’t so much a strategy, as it is a state of mind. It’s where your body — your hands, your stomach, your taste buds — jump up into your brain and say: “Halt! No more perseverating. There’s work to be done.” In this case, the work involves taking very ripe bananas off of your counter and turning them into a cake.

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Roasted Honeynut Squash Soup with Apples, Ginger, and Yellow Miso

One of the biggest clichés in food writing is the idea of cooking with love. It’s abstract, vague, overly sentimental.

And yet, there’s something about it that makes sense to me, especially when I’m making soup. You can cook with a lot of love when you’re making soup. You can take the time to strain it, for example, to make it extra smooth. You can take the time to make stock from scratch, instead of using stock from a box. Most people won’t notice the difference, but you’ll know that you took the time to do it. So what else to call that except cooking with love?

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