Gregory Gourdet’s Cashew “Hummus” with Harissa

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.

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Julia Moskin’s Corn Fritters

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Julia Moskin, “Corn is the One True Vegetable of American summer.”

And though I sound like a broken record talking about trying to cook all of the summer things before it stops being summer (an unlikely prospect here in L.A.), I do have to make some time for corn here. I already told you about my skillet chicken breasts with peppers, corn, and scallions, and that’s basically how I’ve been doing corn all summer: cut straight off the cob (see that post for the technique involving a bowl inside a bowl) and cooking it in a skillet with aromatics and some kind of fat (butter, olive oil, bacon fat, or in that post, chicken fat).

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The World’s Best Crab Cakes

Craig’s dad Steve has opinions about the title of this post. “Well,” he says, “if people like it, great. If they don’t, tell them it’s not my recipe.”

I have no qualms about calling these the world’s best crab cakes. Here’s my evidence: 1. The crab is freshly caught Dungeness crab; 2. That crab is cooked in sea water; 3. The crab cake itself is composed mostly of that crab; and 4. The man who makes them has the following sign in his kitchen.

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Quick Queso with Chorizo (and Other Tex-Mex Delights)

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Sometimes it’s nice to cook for friends who favor a particular cuisine because it steers you in a new direction. Normally, I default to European/Mediterranean things like pastas and chicken with couscous and preserved lemon and stuff like that. My friends Jim and Todd (you know them!) are Tex-Mex fans and so, when I cooked for them last week, I decided to pull The Homesick Texan Cookbook off the shelf to delight them with food that they love. Turns out, I love it too and now I have some new dishes up my sleeve to pull out at dinner parties. The one I’m most excited about? Queso with Chorizo (it’s in the title of the post, duh.)

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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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Sweet Potato Latkes and Regular Latkes Too

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A lot of people are making a big deal about the fact that Hanukkah fell this year on Thanksgiving. “It’s the first time in thousands of years that this has happened!” someone said to me and I said back, “But America hasn’t existed for thousands of years?” There was an uncomfortable silence. The point is that many people, while eating turkey, were also eating latkes last week. And since we’re still in the middle of Hanukkah, it’s not too late to have a latke party. All you need are some potatoes (sweet or regular), some onion-like things (I’ll explain momentarily) and miraculous vegetable oil that’s capable of burning for eight nights straight.

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Beet Dip

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“Dip” is a funny word because, really, does it make you hungry? It connotes a drop in the road or a dippy person. It’s also kind of retro. “How about some chips and dip,” says a mom on a black-and-white TV show from the past, doesn’t matter which one. Oh: it also connotes chewing tobacco which my college roommate used to spit into a cup. He’d leave the cup around our dorm room and every so often I’d glance into it and want to puke. So dip, yeah. It’s not the sexiest food word.

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I’m Gonna Get You Socca!

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It’s time to admit that my love affair with chickpeas has gone too far. Not only did I post about making a big pot of chickpeas a week ago, and also a salad of roasted beets, carrots and chickpeas that week, I already have another chickpea dish to blog about coming up–one with tomatoes, basil and zucchini. I need to be stopped. But what’s this I see at my local fancy supermarket? A bag of chickpea flour? Chickpea FLOUR? Oh my, I think I need to buy this. I think I need to make something with this. CHICKPEA FLOUR. I’m sold.

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