Recipes

skillet ravioli with spinach

One of the biggest shocks of my post, cough, 30 life is that I have become, well, a jock. It unfolded in such an innocent manner, I barely registered what was happening. I always swam laps but every couple years I take a break from it to torture myself into becoming “a runner” (read: jogging and sputtering). I usually fail and go back to swimming but this time it held my interest longer. Then I decided to throw in a day a week with a trainer because I’m just not the kind of person who does burpees on my own volition. Then I found out my trainer used to be a boxer, and so I started that too. Then I got my mom’s old bike and it turns out that biking around the city is vastly superior to any other mode of transportation. And then my husband decided that he wanted to get back into tennis and I was bummed I’d never learned and now we both take tennis classes once a week. If you think I’m about to break into some horrifically boring speech about, like, the power of exercise, don’t worry, I’m still me. If there was any takeaway here, anyway, it would just be that once I realized I did not care whether I ever achieved greatness in any of these sports — I have no desire to run races and spend more time gesticulating my racket in the direction of a tennis ball than I do hitting it — I was free to truly enjoy them.

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Recipes

chicken curry

[Note: This dish was previously, incorrectly called “Chicken Tikka Masala.”]

In February, I fell into an I Miss GBBO rabbit hole (my interest waned when Mel, Sue and Mary Berry left, although perhaps it’s my loss) and found myself on Chetna Makan, the talented semifinalist from the 2014 season’s YouTube page, watching her make her mom’s chicken curry. It looked absolutely amazing. I watched the video, “BEST Chicken Curry recipe!” three times, and, having failed to find the recipe online or in her cookbooks, did that thing I imagine we had to in the pre-internet era of food television: wrote down the recipe from what she was saying. My kids were in the backseat and I kept saying “shh! I need to hear what spice this is!” (I’m fun.)

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Recipes

chickpea and kale shakshuka

The fact that it’s taken me almost 10 years to find a new version of shakshuka to fuss over, is as much a testament to the superbness of the classic as it is a compliment to these new additions. Shakshuka, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a North African dish, largely Tunisian, of eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce. It’s also one of the most beloved recipes in the Smitten Kitchen archives, right up there with broccoli slaw and my mom’s apple cake, and for good reason: it’s about the highest calling of eggs-for-dinner I’ve found, and I think we know how hard I’ve studied this category. This recipe takes it a step further into the realm of a stew, with chickpeas and kale, and it comes from a wonderful book out this past spring, Family, by Hetty McKinnon.

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Recipes

cinnamon sugar scones

I realize that there is not a dearth of scone or biscuit recipes on this site, the internet, or cookbook shelves at large — they’re easy to make, and the good ones are, to me, a revelation. Still, I had not planned on adding to the category. I confess I’d been attempting to thin my cookbook collection a few months ago when I flipped through the cookbook that brought us these great early summer strawberry-rhubarb crisp bars bars and zoomed in on these stunners. How had I missed them? I made them for breakfast on son’s 10th birthday last week and the apartment smelled so blissful and fall-like, I decided to share them immediately on the site, haha just kidding.

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Recipes

stuffed eggplant parmesan

I might be deeply ambivalent about:
* fall (less the weather cooling off and more how long it insists up staying cooled off for; doesn’t 8 months seem excessive?),
* stuffed vegetables (the good ones are great but the bad ones a very underseasoned-rice-in-green-peppers-cooked-until-soggy-and-gray, you know?),
* and eggplant parmesan (mostly the staggering amount of effort made to fry and crisp rounds of eggplant only to burrow it in crisp-cancelling sauce and cheese, why)

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Recipes

crisped chickpeas with herbs and garlic yogurt

We’ve all been lying to you about crispy chickpeas. I’m sorry. It wasn’t very cool of us. I include myself; I’ve been telling you for years that you can crisp chickpeas in the oven and you can, you really can. But it’s not the whole story. The whole story is that you can get them crunchy in the oven but they also dry out a bit and the texture isn’t half as good as the more lightweight, nuanced crisp you get from frying them on the stove. I’ve always known this. But, who wants to deep fry? Not most of us, and certainly on a random Tuesday. It sounds like a project. It must use a ton of oil. It feels a bit heavy… for lunch.

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Recipes

salted caramel pretzel blondies

My son went to sleep-away camp two weeks for the first time this summer and it was terrible. Oh, I don’t mean for him. I got the full, joyful report when we collected him the first second they let us fly through the gate on Saturday, but even the bits and pieces we’d heard sooner sounded ebullient. He was having the time of his life! But I found it agonizing. Whose idea was this? (Mine.) What was I thinking? (That he’d enjoy it.) Wasn’t he just born? (He’ll be 10 next month.) How was he leaving us already? (You literally talked him into it.) Stop using reason with me! (I am having a full blown conversation with myself.) They were two very long weeks. I was shocked by the slack created when one person slips out of the rubberband that snugs you sometimes crushingly together, and the sheer amount of angst I could pour into this void. Friends with kids in camp went on vacations, went out every night, took up tennis, cleared out their backlog of stuff that never gets done. I did some of that stuff but a tremendous lot of mentally counting the days since he had probably last brushed his teeth, wondering if he’d even unwrapped the packing seal on the sunscreen cans, joking way too many times that we’d sent the wrong kid away (acting out means you miss your brother in 4 year-old-ese, right?) and reloading the parent portal with the occasional camper photos so many times my computer thinks it’s my homepage. (Pauses to check it again. Why stop now?)

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Recipes

black pepper tofu and eggplant

I spotted black pepper tofu on Ottolenghi’s* Instagram last week, a fine place to gush over food. The recipe is from Plenty, an excellent cookbook that I happen to have, which means I could make it right away. However, rather than making it and then still feeling a loose obligation to make a vegetable side dish or salad, I decided to add eggplant. From there, everything went south. I don’t have three types of soy sauce. I can get them, theoretically, but I was feeling lazy about it. I was pretty sure five tablespoons of crushed peppercorns and eight thinly sliced red chiles would make my children run screaming from the room; 11 tablespoons of butter was a bit rich for my tastes. But here’s the thing with this and, I think, all recipes. Much ado is made about “internet recipe commenters” and their “I changed eight ingredients and it didn’t work, zero stars”-type presence on websites. I’m often asked how I don’t “lose patience” with these types of comments and here comes an opinion, you just know I had one brewing:

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