Al Di La’s Chocolate and Pear Cake

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There are people in this world who can read the same book over and over again. That’s hard for me because I view my time on this earth much like Dorothy views the red sand in the Wicked Witch’s hourglass, constantly sifting downward until there’s nothing left. I almost never read the same book twice (though I did recently re-read Cooking For Mr. Latte but that’s only because I’d just finished reading We Need To Talk About Kevin and, after that, I needed something that made the world not seem like a festering black hole of misery and despair; though I do recommend that book, I do).

Anyway, I’m saying all this because I have a similar attitude about desserts. Almond Cake notwithstanding, why make the same dessert again and again when there are so many desserts out there for you to try? In case you haven’t noticed, I make a different dessert for almost every dinner party. Well, did. See everything’s changed now because I just discovered the recipe for Al Di La’s Chocolate and Pear Cake on Smitten Kitchen and it may be my new favorite go-to fall dessert. I’ve already made it twice.

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Anything Goes Salad

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After my New York Public Library event with Deb Perelman (there were 230 people there!), I’m rethinking my whole blog.

Somehow, through my aggressive questioning, I forced Deb to give up her blogging secrets. And the one that’s really staying with me the most is the fact that she cooks during the day to have daylight for her photos. That’s why her blog pictures always look so good. It doesn’t happen at night. My blog happens at night. Again, I have to rethink everything.

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Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes and Olives

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I am so proud of my friend Deb Perelman and her Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which is taking the world by storm. She’s proving, with her New York Times bestseller status and Amazon-clobbering sales rank, that food bloggers are here to be taken seriously. It’s especially exciting because Deb and I have the same cookbook agent and we sold our books around the same time, toasting our endeavors with a toasted marshmallow milkshake at Stand. And on December 17th, we’ll be sharing the stage at the New York Public Library for a discussion all about our books and food blogging in general. (Details below.)

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Vanilla Bean Pudding

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Let’s talk pudding.

It doesn’t sound sexy like “panna cotta” or sophisticated like “pot de crem.” It sounds like the kind of thing you eat out of a plastic container with an aluminum peel on top which, for many people who grew up with Billy Cosby shilling for it on TV, it very much is. Which is unfortunate because good pudding–the kind of pudding you make at home with whole milk, sugar, corn starch, and any flavor combination you want–can be a cozier and more comforting dessert than those fancier, European concoctions.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

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If you’ve ever seen “Fiddler On The Roof,” you probably know the term “yenta.” A yenta, in Yiddish, is a busybody, a meddler; in “Fiddler,” though, she’s a specific person, a matchmaker.

My whole life, I’ve always been something of a yenta. I love to get involved with people’s life decisions, telling people where to work, where to live, who to date. I’m kind of annoying that way. Which is why, over the years, I’ve pulled back a bit and let people lead the lives they want to lead, not getting too involved. And as far as matchmaking, occasionally I’ll set people up–I have some successes under my belt, some disasters too–though now I think I’m better off applying my skills to food: which is why I decided to pair pineapple upside-down cake with homemade toasted coconut ice cream.

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Zucchini with Almonds

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What’s that expression about teachers learning from their students? Is there an expression like that? There really should be.

You may recall that for my cookbook I have an intern named Tyla working with me. Tyla herself has a food blog called “Learning To Live Without A Microwave” and on her blog last week I saw an excellent recipe for “Zucchini Saute with Toasted Almonds.” Now Tyla got the recipe from my friend Deb of Smitten Kitchen who titled the post “My Favorite Side Dish”; Deb, in turn, got it from The Red Cat restaurant. (Another game of recipe telephone.) But the point is that I discovered it from Tyla and it’s such a killer recipe it’s time you discovered it from me; it takes just a few minutes and it’s a “wow-er.”

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