Recipes

the red and black

For many Junes, this was my favorite cocktail. Yes, I realize that I sound particularly like a weird food writer person and not a person who lives among other people because most normal, sane people do not have a favorite cocktail for each month of the year, even if you agree with me — you do, right? –that a Perfect Manhattan is the ideal way to warm up on the first cold September day and a Porch Swing is the most refreshing way to endure a sultry July afternoon, but hear me out: this is squarely June or the weeks leading up to it because it’s a celebration of strawberries, so we might as well wait until they’re overripe the moment you turn your head and muddle them in a glass.

what you'll need, plus some limes and ice

The core flavor comes from fresh strawberries, black pepper, and lime, a combination I find so likable, I turned it into a popsicle, but at times when you’re not expected to share with kids, you should definitely add some white tequila. The drink was on the menu at Back Forty on Avenue B, an early locavore restaurant that abruptly, and with absolutely no notice, closed and never came back a couple years ago. Like all breakups you didn’t see coming, I’m still a little raw about it. Was it something we did? Something we could have done? But I’m sure they’re not somewhere pouting over us.

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Recipes

strawberry graham icebox cake

I have expressed in the past — oh, one, two, three, four, five, or perhaps 500 times — my adoration of cakes where the layers are thin and many and you have my word that one day, I will get to all of them so please tell me about your favorite here and now. For many years, I fiddled with ways to make cake layers thinner and thinner until I probably exasperated everyone, so it was just in the nick of time that I realized if I began with cookie-ish layers (say, soft macaroons or icebox cookies the size of cakes), and filled them with something fluffy that would soften them into “cakes” (whipped cream and its variants), it got easy enough that we could make them more often, which, after all, is the goal. Cookies aren’t limited by the number or size of your cake pans. Cookies can break and still stack into an excellent cake.

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Announcements, Recipes

potatoes anna + new cookbook preview

So, ahem [taps on microphone]… In the summer of 2014 I announced that I had not learned my lesson the first time and would be writing another cookbook. My editor and agent told me the second book always goes faster; it’s like they didn’t think I’d rise to the challenge. This 2015 release might have had some (tiny, adorable) effect on a rain-checked 2016 release, but as the first Smitten Kitchen Cookbook approaches its 5th birthday, the wildest thing has happened: this second book I promised you is (at last) out of my hands and headed to the printers.

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Recipes

tall, fluffy buttermilk pancakes

About a year ago, over a series of weekends I was up too early anyway, I went on a buttermilk pancake-making bender. I tried, well, not all, but several of the recipes I always read about, the loftys and the fluffys and the best-evers. I used, in turn, cornstarch and vinegar and unseemly amounts of butter, I separated egg whites, I rested batters, and every single one of these pancakes was consumed by happy children but not a-one of them stayed as tall as they left the pan for more than a few minutes and I was gravely disappointed. It was very possibly user error; all pancakes were made before 8:30 a.m. on weekends, pre-coffee. Regardless, I tabled it and moved on.Read more »

Recipes

rhubarb upside-down spice cake

I realize that spring is supposed to be all flowers and pastels, lightness and lemon zest, but all of these cool, rainy days in the last month make me crave winter spices, no matter how many tomatoes and herbs I have planted this week (so many, eee) in hopes, despite all historical evidence, that this is the year I excel at container gardening. And so when a teacher at my son’s school brought me a bag of the most gorgeous, deeply red rhubarb (I really am this lucky), I knew immediately that this cake would have buttery, lightly caramelized stripe-y rhubarb topping draped over it. If you’re ever asking yourself if it’s been too long since you had an upside-down cake, the answer is always yes.

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Recipes

a really great pot of chickpeas

A side-effect of doing this cooking thing for 10+ years is that people seem to imagine I’m so sort of domestic diva, eating only homemade bread and milling my own grains and not just someone with an obsessive streak when it comes to making things exactly the way she wants them. Even though I’d love to live in some alternate universe where I’d always have time and energy to make my own, I’m unbothered by frozen breaded chicken things (erm, occasionally), tortellini, boxed stocks, and canned beans; the freezer almost always contains the first two (lunchbox heroes!) and the cabinets, the latter, which is why when friend told me a couple weeks ago kind of sotto voce, almost like a confession, the other day that she’d never cooked her own dried beans, I couldn’t even rouse myself to gasp in faux horreur.

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Recipes

pistachio cake

Now that I’ve gotten a few bigger projects out of the way — hooray! And more soon on all of that, eee — I have a little more time again to do the things I like: read books with pages, fuss endlessly over our charges, get excited about summer events (I might make another wedding cake!), this year’s container gardening attempts, what color lipstick Refinery29 says was all the rage at Coachella this year (if I’m being completely honest) and more relevantly, cooking. Brainstorming earlier this week, Sara, who helps (I mean, she tries, she has only so many superpowers) keep me organized, said she’d had a really good pistachio cake at a coffee shop recently and I immediately wanted to try my hand at my own.

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Recipes

granola bark

In a departure from pretty much all of our norms, we went to Las Vegas this past weekend to celebrate a friend’s big birthday because… why not? Possibly needless to say, my opportunities these days to take long plane rides with no kids, lounge by pools long enough to finish books, uninterrupted even, and spend exactly zero minutes searching for or scrubbing sippy cup parts are scarce and when graced with a chance to do all of the above at once, it took half a second to book our tickets. Also needless to say, I could now use more sleep, less gin, and to reintroduce my system to fresh fruits and vegetables. This probably means we did it correctly.

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Recipes

almond horn cookies

The only thing my mother ever asked me to bring home from the bakery where I worked in high school where almond horn cookies, or Mandelhörnchen, probably no surprise as we are a family of established marzipan fiends, most especially when dark chocolate is also involved. Chewy at the center with crunchy edges, the best ones are dipped in chocolate and while I have yet to see them also with rainbow sprinkles, I say there’s no time like the present to make this a Thing.

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