Recipes

spring asparagus galette

I know it’s too early for asparagus, at least in New York, but I’m tired of waiting, a feeling that both encapsulates my cooking right now and my mood about [waves hands] everything. I am sure I’m not alone in being ready for summer, for outside, for all of my friends to get vaccinated, for my kids lives to normalize so they can be off screens all day, and I know you do not get things by stamping your feet and demanding them (I may have tried) but if there’s one thing on this list we can safely take an advance on, it’s spring vegetables. Grocery store asparagus is lovely and here for us until the freshly-plucked Greenmarket stuff emerges and I say we embrace it with abandon.

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Recipes

sheet pan chow mein

Here’s a really fun dinner I made recently, the sheet pan chow mein from Hetty McKinnon’s, new cookbook, which is a love letter to all the vibrant Chinese food she grew up eating plus many of her other Asian favorites. You — we, if I may be so presumptuous — love McKinnon’s vegetarian cooking because she’s so creative, as we saw in this chickpea and kale shakshuka, and yet it’s all so practically-minded, clearly having been vetted in the chaos of real life family dinners.

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Recipes

lemon potatoes

Is this a good place to admit that I almost never ate potatoes growing up? I tell my Russian husband this and he’s baffled. Mashed? No. Roasted? No. Fries, only at restaurants. Tater tots, from the freezer on a too-rare occasion. Baked potatoes were definitely a dinner menu item and I don’t think anyone had anything against potatoes, just not a strong pull towards them. Needless to say, if the archives here are any indication, my kids will not be saying the same. And yet despite the gratins, the crispy crumbled, the melting, the brown butter mash, the kugel, twice-baked and the Anna, I still crave potatoes in ways I have yet finetuned a recipe for, and this brought me to a surge of lemon potato studies over the winter.

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Recipes

hummingbird cake

I know, I know: We’re still in a global pandemic. It’s no time for party-sized cakes. Passover is in three days and those who celebrate it don’t want to be tempted by forbidden baked goods. But it had been so long since I’d made a towering and abundantly festive layer cake and ever since spotting this hummingbird cake in Zoë François’s fantastic — like, just go buy it right now, you are in for a treat — new cookbook, Zoë Bakes Cakes, I couldn’t think about anything else. It feels forward-looking and spring-celebrational. It is deliciously warm and happy, almost defiant, planning for a brighter year ahead, no matter what the one before it looked like. And so I went all in and made a three-layer celebration cake and flung slices off with friends and neighbors and have absolutely no regrets, except for the fact that it’s gone now.

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Recipes

crispiest chicken cutlets

Whether you call them milanese, schnitzel or “they’re just big chicken tenders and you like chicken tenders, please try them!”, I absolutely love perfectly seasoned, craggy bread-crumbed, deeply golden, crispy chicken cutlets but I absolutely hate making them. Which, as you can imagine, leads to a bit of an impasse. We’ve bought them at our local grocery store, but I disagree with the store on seasoning, in that I believe in it and they do not. Maybe it’s just that my kitchen counter is small, or maybe I’m just kind of lazy, but I find the whole process interminable: pounding the cutlets if you want them thin, dredging them in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then frying them, then draining them on endless paper towels or paper bags, then trying to either reuse or dispose of the oil properly, and somehow, after all of this, dinner isn’t made. We still need salad and/or another vegetable. That is me, throwing my hands in the air, 370 days into a global pandemic, wondering why anyone bothers cooking at home.

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Recipes

the perfect margarita

This week many of us are coming up on the anniversary of all sorts of things we had little idea would define the year ahead. I remember saying things like “these masks are really expensive but they’re all that’s available, should I buy them?” (yes, Deb, and also some flour) and “they can’t cancel school, can they?” and “we can still plan a summer vacation because things should normalize by then, right?” and I’m sure I’m not alone in these one year-ago reminders throwing me for a big emo loop. It’s also been delightfully almost spring-like in NYC after a consistently wintery winter and I haven’t been able to stay inside, inventing as many reasons as I can come up with for taking walks, which is bad for productivity but doing wonders to counteract all of those heavy moods. At the end of one yesterday, I swung by the grocery store to get ingredients for crisp black bean tacos and because I cannot make this up, you must believe me: a bird pooped on me in the store. Is it still luck if it happens while you’re inspecting cabbages, hoping to find an apartment-sized one?

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Recipes

marbled cheesecake hamantaschen

It’s almost too on-the-nose that I tried to make hamantaschen cookies that look like carrara marble and actually made cookies that evoke cow hides. Is the universe trying to tell me something about my kitchen hopes and dreams? Don’t worry, I’ve chosen to not read into this at all.

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Recipes

rigatoni alla vodka

If you ever need evidence that I do not shy away from embarrassing myself here, look no further than one of the earliest posts on this site, where I tell the story of inviting a guy I’d recently begun dating over for dinner. I’d watched Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals that morning, equally hungered by her making one of my favorite pastas, penne alla vodka, and horrified by the fact that she renamed it the “You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta.” I decided to make it, you know, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastically, sure Deb, except it “worked” — we are 15 years married (although everyone agrees the last year counts as two) which works out to about 17 years of repeating this awkwardness as part of our “how it started in the kitchen” story.

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Recipes

baked feta with tomatoes and chickpeas

Listen, this will surprise nobody at all, but I am not trendy. I am deeply uncool and I prefer it this way. It puts expectations right where they belong — low; no, lower, please. But I am not immune to TikTok. I, um, love TikTok, it’s my favorite time suck. Through it, I’ve learned so much about even more ways I can be uncool. Side parts! Laugh-cry emojis! It’s a whole thing. So is this baked feta, which is a spin on a baked pasta that’s been going viral the last few weeks. It began with a recipe developed by Finnish food blogger Jenni Häyrinen called “Uunifetapasta,” which translates to oven-baked feta pasta. It’s an older recipe (2019 is “old” in TikTok) but it caught on again because tomatoes and feta are timeless. I like that it uses cherry tomatoes, which are obviously not as great in the winter as they are in the summer, but are surprisingly good year-round when roasted. You’ll see.

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Recipes

plush confetti cupcakes

Nobody needs my dedication to butter, milk, buttermilk, cream, crème fraîche, sour cream, or eggs clarified here; we all know I get a little twitchy when the fridge is low on any. These vegan cupcakes are not an abnegation of anything, but a celebration, as they should be. What has surprised me the most since I happened on the first vegan cake recipe here, the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, a couple years ago is not what it is “missing” — you’d never know — but what it does astoundingly better than cakes with any of my usual crutches: it’s even more moist and plush. Who knew that eggs in cakes were sometimes a …hindrance? Definitely not me.

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