Becoming a good cook is a little bit like becoming a good musician: at a certain point, you can glance at a recipe–the way a pianist might glance at a piece of sheet music–and know what it’s going to taste like, just like the pianist knows what it’s going to sound like. That’s a real skill to have, especially when planning a dinner and searching through cookbooks for something to dazzle. On the morning our story begins, I was flipping through a Food52 Cookbook that I was sent long ago, and this recipe–which is also live on the Food52 site–sang out to me like a Mozart concerto. Turns out, not only did it taste as good as it did in my head; it tasted even better.
The name of the game on a weeknight, as far as I’m concerned, is “big results, minimum effort.” Recipes that meet that criteria are few and far between, but when you hit on one (like the roasted broccoli, for example) you’ll never forget it.
Meet your new string bean side. You won’t need your old recipes anymore, because all you have to do is memorize this one. It’s pretty flawless.
I’m a pie fool which isn’t the same thing as being a fool for pie. Julie Klausner recently pointed out in her podcast that Jews are cake people, Christians are pie people. From my own life experience, I find that to be true: my Jewish parents and grandparents, when at a social gathering, would put out cake. My dad would eat Entenmann’s crumb cake or lemon coconut cake at home for breakfast or dessert. I can’t recall a single time that a pie ever made an appearance at my house in my childhood. Whereas Craig, who grew up in a Christian family in Bellingham, Washington, ate pie. His dad makes a killer apple pie; pie is part of the fabric of their existence. Which is probably why when I make a cake, I could eat the whole thing and Craig will have a little slice; when I make a pie (especially apple), he goes nuts for it.
Last week I tried an experiment in Liveblogging that didn’t really work. I was really just fooling around, having some fun with my phone, but I can see why seeing pictures of bread arriving at a lunch table isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. Today, though, I bring you a different take on the same concept: a post about something I just made and ate. This all happened moments before I clicked “Add New Post” so I literally still have the taste in my mouth and can describe it to you in vivid detail. Are you ready?
Here they are, the brownies I’ve always wanted and never found. I didn’t know my brownie life was lacking; for years, I’d been melting chocolate in a double boiler along with some butter to make the Martha Stewart version. Those were always good. So were all the other brownie recipes I attempted with a similar technique: melt chocolate and butter, stir in sugar, eggs, flour, and voila, brownies. The resulting brownies were always enjoyable–fudgy, flat–but never reminiscent of the brownies that made me love brownies in the first place. Until I came upon this recipe.
Amanda Hesser has lived in my kitchen for as long as I’ve been cooking. Well, in cookbook form: her “Cooking For Mr. Latte” (which I refer to as a cookbook even though it’s really a memoir (with recipes) about her courtship with New Yorker writer Tad Friend) is a constant go-to resource for me. The almond cake in it? It’s one of my all-time favorite recipes. So it was a big deal to have her and her Food52 co-creator and collaborator Merrill Stubbs here in my kitchen today for this latest installment of “Someone’s In The Kitchen With.” We chat about The New York Times Cookbook (Merrill assisted Amanda in writing it), the creation of Food52, and–later on in the conversation–what it’s like being women in a male dominated internet start-up world. Plus, I served them this coffee cake and Amanda already Tweeted that she’s coming back for more tomorrow. I cooked for a cookbook hero and she wants to come back for more (that’s a good feeling).
As autumn conquers summer, and I stroll through the Union Square Farmer’s Market, I start to panic and worry about all the fruits and vegetables I didn’t buy during those precious few warm-weather months. Which explains why, during one Saturday saunter, I came home with four giant red peppers.
I didn’t really have a red pepper agenda, but after watching this red pepper video on Food52 I decided I wanted to roast them. Then marinate them. And who knew that from that simple act I’d get three more dishes: a sandwich, a salad, and a gussied-up mac & cheese?
I’ll admit, I get lazy when it comes to eating seasonally. It’s easier to pop into the grocery store across the street, where lemons, onions and garlic look the same the whole year round, than it is to march all the way up to the Union Square Greenmarket on a windy or rainy spring day. On a Saturday, however, the rules change: I forcibly remove myself from the world wide web and make a point, especially in spring, summer and fall, to go pay a visit to the Union Square farmers. Sometimes I come home with just honey or maple syrup; other times I buy flowers (the lilacs I bought a few weeks ago made it into my newsletter.) This past Saturday I came home with ramps (despite my ramp-ambivalence) and asparagus and a few hours later I whipped up a dinner (the one you see above) that I declared to be one of the best meals I’ve ever made. And I give 100% of the credit to what I found at the farmer’s market.