Recipes

drop cornbread biscuits

This past Saturday, we hosted our second Friendsgiving, stuffing 17 people in an apartment that has no business holding 17 people, but it’s okay, there’s wine for that. Our first one was in 2016; you can read about it here. I took 2017 off because I was a teensy bit busy book touring for Smitten Kitchen Every Day** It was fun to be back.

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When having friends over, I like to get everything done that I can in advance and I do this for completely selfish reasons: I want to enjoy my party, too, and I can’t if I’m scrambling around all day and am bone tired by the time food comes out. But last week was abnormally busy and I only got to grocery shopping on Thursday, only to discover that one week before Thanksgiving, it’s like tumbleweeds, the lull before the weekend stampede, all past-prime rosemary and other sadness. I almost cancelled but my husband miraculously found almost everything that evening, and instead I did a very beautiful, highly recommended thing: I nixed a few things on the planned menu and swapped more complicated ones for simpler recipes with shorter ingredient lists but high reward. Here’s the menu, a few details, and completely random tips:

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Recipes

roberta’s roasted garlic caesar salad

I realize that the internet needs another recipe for caesar salad as much as it probably needs another new spin on chocolate chip cookies (guilty as charged, of course). Thus, it was nowhere on my agenda to suggest one. Plus, I’ve told you before that the only caesar dressing I need in my life is my hopelessly, unapologetically inauthentic one — no raw yolks, no tinned fish, and keeps in the fridge for a month, easily — which I’ve shared in some form over here and in Smitten Kitchen Every Day (in a salad with broken eggs and crushed croutons that you need in your life, trust me).

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Recipes

sunken black forest cake

My kids will be at least 25% candy for the rest of the week, as the season demands. If it doesn’t come individually wrapped, if the first, second, or third ingredient isn’t chocolate, a food dye, or high fructose corn syrup, if it doesn’t have a marketing tie-in with Spongebob or Legos, they’re not eating it. Which means, since they’ve now definitely left the room, we get this cake all for us. You’re welcome, because we’re not going to share it anyway.

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Recipes

candy pork

What’s in a cooking repertoire? Is it basics, like how to make rice and a go-to method for roasting chicken? Is it your family’s classics, like a plum cake or the roast a cousin makes on Christmas Eve? Is it a collection of durable, flexible recipes that might be the last you ever need? I’ve been thinking about this since getting Jessica Battiliana’s first cookbook, Repertoire, this spring. I loved the concept immediately: the recipes she relies on most — not demanding but rewarding; not fancy, but special. There are recipes for parmesan chicken cutlets, meatballs, and a simplified eggplant parmesan; chicken tortilla soup, pretzel rolls, and corn fritters. There’s a recipe for the thing that most quickly went into my repertoire — a negroni (although I made it boulevardier-style) and potato chips (spoiler: they’re from a bag) — and birthday cakes too. But it was this candy pork that I couldn’t forget about, and I’m so glad I chose it, well, second.

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Recipes

even more perfect apple pie

I did not intend to go on an apple pie making bender. I merely did what we always do in October: go apple picking, balk at the price of a bag, insist upon filling it way past the brim (because: economics) and then we ate some apples on the way home home and the bag was still overflowing. So I made an apple pie with 4.25 pounds of apples in it and the bag looked exactly as full as it had been at the orchard. Might they still be growing in there? It’s the only explanation.

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Recipes

crispy spinach pizza

I went through a phase this summer where I couldn’t stop making crispy spinach pizza, but I had no plans to tell you about for a couple reasons, the first of which is it’s absolutely hideous. It looks like someone melted Oscar the Grouch onto a pizza dough and little I did improved this, not making it round, nor rectangular, in good light nor light so dim that maybe you wouldn’t notice it at all.

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Recipes

breakfast burritos

The first time I made breakfast burritos the way I like them — that is, the eggs softly scrambled and never dry, busy with vegetables, and nothing terrifying like hot, wet lettuce inside, second only to eating them in front seat of your car in an Austin parking lot on a chilly morning, a Topo Chico in the cup holder (i.e. maybe not exactly the way I like them, but real life requires compromises, or so you adults keep telling me) — I felt woundingly betrayed. It seemed like every cooking website on the internet made them seem so simple, but there I was with separate skillet-fuls of bacon and greens and mixed vegetables and eggs, and then more bowls than I could count for assembly. We were going to have them for an “easy” breakfast-for-dinner that night; dinner was spectacularly late and everyone was hangry and ate my 90 minutes of prep in less than 5, further insult to injury. Never again, I vowed, never.

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Recipes

flapjacks

One of the things I obsessively collect in my cooking life — aside, apparently, from container lids with no bases and jars of mustard seeds because every time a recipe requires it I presume I’m out because of that one time in 2010 I was — is recipes with very short ingredient lists. It’s not revolutionary to learn that, say, a salad can be made with just lettuce, oil, and vinegar or to find tomato bread, or basil pesto on these lists, but Marcella Hazan’s 3-ingredient tomato sauce is indeed something pretty revelatory, especially when you’re short on time to go to the store or merely patience to cook. So is this Minimalist Barbecue Sauce, Bacon Corn Hash, this summer squash pizza topping that could convert anyone to zucchini, and if does not, this Quick Zucchini SautĂ© will, the omelet that’s basically Spain’s national dish (and mine), and let us never forget all of the magical things that happen when you let fresh raspberries, brown sugar, and sour cream blister under a broiler, or roast a sweet potato until it almost candies itself inside. It’s not fully populated (I keep finding things I’ve missed and taking liberties when the 6th ingredient is butter or olive oil) but I finally got to pulling together a few of my favorites in this collection this summer. Life is busy; it’s here to help.

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Recipes

foolproof cacio e pepe

Soon, extremely soon, I’m going to tell you more about our 12 days in AndalucĂ­a but before that, before summer is truly over, before I start thinking about cooking more complex meals again, before I even consider turning on the oven again, I wanted to tell you that this summer was the year I finally figured out how to make cacio e pepe, one of my favorite pastas, as good at you’d have in Rome, and we cannot let the summer end until you do too.

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Recipes

layered mocha cheesecake

Last Friday at 3 pm, when we had dinner plans at 6, I decided it had been too long since I’d gotten myself into a right mess of a baking project and decided to make my husband a cheesecake for his birthday — which we were already 14 hours into. I’d been dawdling because despite having 11 cheesecake recipes on this site, I find cooking things I’ve already made before boring, and was working up the courage to tackle a harebrained idea for a cheesecake that had thin stacked layers.

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