One-Pan Cod and Potatoes with Olive Gremolata

Every family has its own way with potatoes. Growing up, my mom would buy frozen potato latkes, heat them up in the toaster, and serve them with Mott’s apple sauce (you can hear all about it on my mom’s episode of Lunch Therapy). Most families, I’d venture, are mashed potato families. Some do it from a box, others from scratch.

Here at Chez Amateur Gourmet, we’re a roasted potato family. Specficially: pee-wee potatoes roasted with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes with spices thrown in (smoked paprika, cumin seeds, crushed coriander seeds).

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Double Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Here’s some free life advice: if you ever see two vanilla beans on sale for $8, buy them.

That’s literally what happened to me last week at Cookbook in Echo Park. They’re selling vanilla beans in little packets of two for eight bucks. Here’s the thing: if you’ve never worked with a vanilla bean before, you should treat yourself, at least once, to the experience… especially if you like vanilla. A fresh vanilla bean is intensely fragrant in the most natural way — the total opposite of a vanilla-scented candle — and scraping the little black seeds out with a sharp knife is the closest many of us will ever get to buying caviar.

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Cavatappi with Pistachio Arugula Pesto and Sun Gold Tomatoes

One of the cruelest things food writers have asked innocent home cooks to do is to make pesto in a mortar and pestle. Yes, I know, Italian grandmothers do this instead of pilates; yes, I know, it yields a texture that’s so silky you want to rub it all over your body and wear it as a dress. I get that. But for most people, the idea of making pesto in a mortar and pestle just makes them not want to make pesto. And that’s a shame! Because pesto is one of the most terrific things you can make at home, especially if you make in the summer.

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Spicy Black Lentils with Charred Eggplant and Urfa Chili

Cinderella has to pick lentils out of the fireplace in order to go to the ball (at least in Into The Woods) and for a long time I thought to myself, “At least she doesn’t have to eat them!”

There are so many foods that people associate with “health food,” they’re anything but enticing. Lentils definitely have a prominent place on that list. (The guiltiest offender? “Nutritional yeast.” Can you think of a food with a more awful name? I can’t.) And yet, just like The Best Broccoli of Your Life changed the way we think about broccoli, Ottolenghi has a recipe for lentils that’ll shift them into the category: “Something I really want to eat!”

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The Fluffiest Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My friend Ryan O’Connell is a superstar in every sense. Not only does he have his own show on Netflix, he was featured this weekend in a New York Times article about artists as activists. (Coincidentally, the article was written by Mark Harris, a Lunch Therapy alumni, just like Ryan.)

Suffice it to say, I feel very lucky to call Ryan a friend. And knowing that his birthday was coming up, and that he’s part of our quarantine bubble (a very small group of friends that we still see), I asked if he had a menu in mind for his birthday dinner. He didn’t hesitate: “Oooh, can we have Martha’s Mac and Cheese?” (The best of all time, in case you didn’t know that.) “Oh, and maybe a salad with peaches? Peaches are season, right?” (They are.) “And can we do a coconut cake for dessert?” “You got it,” I replied.

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My Love Affair with White Balsamic

This summer, I’ve been having an affair. No, not in the bedroom, in the kitchen. I’m passionately in love with a vinegar; not just any vinegar, but white balsamic vinegar.

It all started when I was ordering groceries to pick up from McCalls Meat & Fish (yes, I know I mention them a lot). Their online store has an oils and vinegars section, so I checked out their offerings and saw that they had white balsamic. I’d never used white balsamic before, but I was intrigued, so I bought it. And that’s when everything changed. I started feeling feelings I’d never felt about a vinegar before.

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One-Pan Salmon with Sugar Snap Peas and a Cherry Tomato Sauce

When we think about one-pan cooking, we usually think about a dish where all of the components cook together in one pan at the same time. But there’s another kind of one-pan cooking! (Sorry for the exclamation mark, I was excited.) It’s the kind where you cook multiple components in the same pan one after the other and then assemble everything together on the plate at the end.

That’s what I did here when I made salmon for dinner the other night. You may be thinking: “Make the components one after the other? Don’t they get cold?” And I’d say to you: “Not really, they’ll stay warm. Stop worrying so much.”

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The Ultimate Road Trip from Los Angeles to Bellingham, Washington

At first, I talked myself out of it. We were going stir-crazy in our very hot apartment here in L.A. and Craig said we should drive up the California coast, up the Oregon coast, and finally to visit his family in Bellingham, Washington, where they share a cabin in the summers with friends on Eliza Island, at the tip of the San Juans. It sounded ideal, but also a little scary in Covid-times: where would we stay along the way? Where would we eat? Would it be safe? I came down on the “no” side and Craig was disappointed.

Then he decided to fly. He started looking at tickets. Fly! Wasn’t that more dangerous? What germs would he encounter on the plane? Would he be bringing them to his parents? Back to me? I recalculated the risk of driving: we would have to stay in hotels or AirBnBs, but face-to-face interactions could still be minimized. Food-wise we could stick to outside or drive-throughs. Plus: wouldn’t it be great to get out of this fiery cauldron? I re-approached the idea while walking Winston and shifted my stance. “Let’s just do it!” I said and, before we knew it, we were on our way.

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