Recipes

crispy rice and egg bowl with ginger-scallion vinaigrette

It’s really unfortunate timing, because we’ve got a long year to go and I at one point had many great and luminous cooking plans for it, but they’re all cancelled now because on the afternoon of January 4th, before 2019 had really even kicked in, I ate the best thing I had or will all year or maybe ever — because what would the internet be without some unnecessary melodrama — and I threw it together from a mess of leftovers in my fridge.

scallionsgrating gingercarrotssliced cucumbers

Don’t you hate it when those lifestyle guru-types tell you about the meals they threw together from their leftovers, which just happen to be in tip-top shape, chromatically balanced, and Instagram-perfect. In real life, or at least mine, leftovers are a lot of Let’s Never Speak About That Again, the best of intentions cut short by poor planning, the now shamed and guilt-ridden humans responsible for the disgrace vowing to do better by that murky bag of herbs and liquefied cucumber next time.

ginger-scallion vinaigrette

But not last week. Last week, on January 1st, I made David Chang’s Bo Ssam, something I do once a year or so when I want to make a jaw-dropping feast for a crowd with exactly three ingredients (pork shoulder, salt, sugar) even a person living through the aftereffects of an evening of daquiris can handle. Of course, because most three-ingredient recipes are a lie, there are a few other things you make to serve with it: a Ssam sauce (it’s like a vinaigrette), a ginger-scallion sauce (a riff on the classic Cantonese sauce), rice, and I always like to serve it with marinated julienned carrots and thinly sliced cucumbers so needless to say, these leftovers were well above-average. Bo Ssam makes a lot; we ate it on the 1st, the 2nd, and the 3rd before we were finally out of pork, but I still had a smidge left of everything else so for lunch on that 4th day of the year, I put it all in a bowl and topped it with a crispy fried egg.

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Recipes

cozy cabbage and farro soup

Last April, Food52’s Cookbook Club chose Smitten Kitchen Every Day as their book to cook through that month, but I promise, this isn’t the point at all. The club has monthly picks and a yearly Bonus Book, a cookbook participants cook through at their leisure. So while April was my book’s month, for 2018, that book was Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.

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Recipes

cosmopolitan

Did you learn how to cook anything new this year? Anna Hezel, senior editor at Taste (one of my favorite breakout food publications of the last couple years) asked this on Twitter last week and like a Muppet to the ABCs, I couldn’t resist jumping in. I’m glad I did. I always wish I had more time to cook all the things I want to cook (my To Cook list is still thousands deep), wish I could share more recipes more often here, but this caused me to look back at the new recipes here in 2018 and feel a murmur of pride. Look at all we did! I learned to make falafel, and that it’s shockingly easy! I got to make Pad Thai I crave the most at home. We got cacio e pepe just about foolproof at home, just when I was convinced I never would. I learned about melting potatoes. We made the sheet pan sandwiches of my dreams and they’re vegan too. We had a real talk about the InstantPot and got some delicious short ribs out of it. I learned to make the best apple pie I’ve ever had. I made a completely bonkers layered mocha cheesecake late in the day on my husband’s birthday, and last week we mashed up baklava and babka, just because we could. I look at all of this and I am so excited about the year we’ve had, many of these things I had barely dreamed up yet this time last year, and I hope next year is even better.
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Recipes

baklava babka

I have something really pretty and really festive for us today. I hope it doesn’t send you running for the hills. When recipe hybrids are good — think pretzel croissants, cronuts, donut-looking cakes, donut-tasting muffins, brownie cookies, and pretty much everything on one of my favorite wildly creative cooking blogs — it’s usually because the two desserts that are mashed up have more in common than just cleverness, elements in each that make each other better.

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Recipes

falafel

Until recently, if you’d asked me if I ever wanted to make falafel at home, I’d have said “sure, one day” but what I meant was “nah, why bother?” I was certain that falafel was fussy to make and had a long ingredient list. It probably related in some way to a fritter, meaning that it was bound with eggs and flour, and probably had breading on it too, all pesky steps and this is even before you get to the peskiest of all: deep-frying them. I figured that it’s one of these things that there as many recipes for as there are people who make it, thus whatever I came up with would be wrong by default – too firm or too soft, with chickpeas instead of favas or vice-versa — no matter what. But this isn’t the whole truth. The fact is that below 14th Street, there are two locations each of Taim and Mamoun’s every time I even distantly considered whether I needed a homemade falafel recipe in my life, I knew I could get a perfectly executed sandwich in my hands before I even wrote out a grocery list.

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Recipes

chocolate caramel tart

Shortly after my husband and I began dating — the dark ages; no seriously, his phone at the time looked like this and I was like whoa, look how fancy you are, dude — we went on a road trip somewhere, stopped at a gas station, and I told him to grab something candy-ish, surprise me. This boy came back to the car with a pack of Rolos, and honestly, it’s amazing we didn’t break up right then and there because Rolos are terrible candy and it’s about time someone said it. [Oh I can hear the reverberations of a thousand unfollows but I will absolutely die on this hill, and remain undeterred.] They’re gooey so they give off the appearance, the suggestion, of being good candy but the goo tastes like nothing. I feel this way about all caramel that appears inside candy bars, which tastes me more like thickened corn syrup than anything toasty and nuanced. Plus, they’re inside a milk chocolate shell, so it’s sweet against sweet, no contrast whatsoever, and so help you if you don’t eat them in a single bite, I hope you enjoy having sticky hands for the rest of the drive. I know, I know what you’re thinking: it’s an absolute mystery how I ended up with such a picky child.

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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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