chile-lime melon saladRecipes

chile-lime melon salad

If you go to Mexico City and leave without a pressing, relentless craving for melon, or really just about any fruit, sprinkled with taj√≠n (salsa en polva), a branded seasoning powder comprised of chiles, lime and salt, I think you need to go back because you did it wrong. It feels melodramatic to call this intersection of tangy spice and juicy fruit a national dish, but the spice blend is a staple on tables and at street vendors all over Mexico, and I dare say more popular than ketchup is here. If you go to someone’s home and they have a bottle of tajin in their cabinet, it’s usually right up front and there’s a spare somewhere near because it would be unfathomable to run out. If asked, the person will probably tell you that they had it once over melon, mango, pineapple or cucumbers one time, or maybe in a michelada and they could never eat it another way again. I hope you consider that a warning.

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peach melba popsiclesRecipes

peach melba popsicles

When I moved to New York City 16 years ago I am pretty sure that on some level I believed if I went far enough above 14th Street with money I did not have, I’d reenter some gauzy version of New York from the past, you know, stuffy restaurants with tufted leather banquettes, paintings in gilded frames, black and white tiled floors and stories about when Sinatra was a regular. Places where mutton chops, Lobster Newburg, Baked Alaska and things in champagne cream sauce never went off the menu. It’s not entirely clear to me why I thought I was moving to 1950 but needless to say, in the actual New York City I moved to, my first years were filled with the typical stuff, a walkup apartment in an illegal sublet, a terrible job, a lot of wine, virtually no hangovers (because: youth) and a lot of five-dumplings-for-a-dollar and $1.50 slices at 1 a.m.

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summer squash pizzaRecipes

summer squash pizza

Stop what you’re doing. Dinner tonight is the very best kind there is: it has five ingredients including the ones to make the pizza dough. It’s seasonal, which means you can use it to decimate your CSA pile-up. And it doesn’t care what else you had in mind; recipes like this exist to disrupt the best-laid meal plans and that’s my favorite thing about them. It is, in fact, pretty much the only thing I want out of any dish, for it, at least for a time to be the thing you have to eat next because now nothing else will do.

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blueberry bread and butter puddingRecipes

blueberry bread and butter pudding

For some of us, classic French toast — not particularly French or toasted, to be honest, unless we’re speaking of pain perdu — is sufficient on a weekend morning to make it feel exceptional. For others, it’s casserole-style or bust because baking it in one big pan is vastly more enjoyable than dipping and frying on repeat while people who are not cooking come by and steal slices before you even get to sit down. But I’m going to make the argument that once you have Brit-style bread pudding casserole, uplifted by the tiniest step that is buttering the bread before fanning in out in a pan, there’s no other way.

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eggplant with yogurt and tomato relishRecipes

eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish

This is not a recipe for eggplant caviar, but caught up in an adoration of July eggplants too lovely to roast just to grind up, it is loosely inspired by it. If you’re unfamiliar with eggplant caviar, well, you need to come over to my in-law’s where it is never not on the table, or basically anywhere else my mother in-law goes, because she’s not allowed to show up without it. Just to confuse you, there’s also caviar on the table and they have nothing to do with each other, although this is a matter of argument. The Joy of Cooking and others liken eggplant caviar to a “poor man’s caviar,” a tasty substitute for those who could not afford the real stuff, but actual Russians will tell you that caviar was affordable in the Soviet Union and everyone was poor. Read more »

bacon corn and parmesan pastaRecipes

corn, bacon and parmesan pasta

Oh, hi, I am ready for summer now. What did I miss?

Because the first half of this summer was so busy — a manuscript due, a redesign set off into the world, a birthday, and a zillion other bits of happy work/life chaos — I’m in this funny position of looking up for the first time mid-July and realizing that no mysterious person has arrived while I was buried in winter recipe testing and font fine-tunings and filled my freezer with popsicles, put a bowl of heirloom tomatoes on the counter, ready for their caprese closeup [realistically, this doesn’t happen even if I had been paying attention, but let me enjoy this rose-colored Pinterest fantasy just the same] and beach? Hadn’t seen it since May. I have about seven weeks left to catch up, except I know at least five of those will be buried under recipe testing and book edits, which basically means it’s now or never to do all the summer things I haven’t yet. Read more »

peaches and cream bunny cakeRecipes

peaches and cream bunny cake

There are parents that sew their kids’ clothes, carry them in an Ergo until kindergarten and take them to Disney World at least twice before they even reach 2nd grade, but if you don’t mind, please don’t tell my kids that such people are options, at, like, the Parent Store. I, in turn, will not tell yours that while I am decidedly none of the above types I insist upon making all our birthday cakes from scratch. It’s not completely selfless though; clearly I love baking them, challenging myself to get maximum excitement from minimal amounts of efforts (i.e. one-bowl cakes, regular ingredients, no special pan sizes, no fondant and ftlog stay away from Pinterest, Deb, or you’re going to be elbows deep in food dye at 2am again) and I love coming up with new flavors for them, especially fun as our family birthdays fall in June, July, August and September, prime time for fresh ingredients. Read more »

welcome!Announcements

welcome to the shiny new smitten kitchen 2.0

9.85 years ago, I decided that I was going to start a home cooking blog and that I would design the site myself, which is hilarious because my HTML and CSS skill level is equivalent to that thing you do when you don’t know which circuit on the panel blew so you just flip them all up and down until the right thing comes back on. I made the logo in Microsoft Paint — I’m not even a little bit kidding — with a font I downloaded from a free font website, and that was until an hour ago the same file being used today. I’d expected this food blog thing to last maybe six months and instead I’m still here (hooray!) and this site, aside from some server changes and software upgrades, was still “coded” the way it was that first day in 2006. It was the design equivalent of these outfits. Font: tiny and terrible. Paragraphs: justified. Mobile responsiveness? 2006 doesn’t even know what these words mean.

But today is at last a new day. Here are a few things we’ve a talented team of developers have changed or improved:

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funnel cakeRecipes

funnel cake

For one week every spring the local Catholic church, an otherwise unassuming dot on the landscape of my suburb, turned their property into magical kingdom of lights, music, cotton candy and so many rides it was impossible to remember that all other weeks of the year it was just an empty field next to a parking lot. I was obsessed with this carnival… from afar. My parents, citing such horrifically dull things as having their children live long, healthy lives, questionable safety practices and clearly a focused interest in ruining everything, refused to let my sister and me go, even though my best friend, who went to school there and ostensibly had parents also invested in keeping her safe, got to go every night. Worst weeks, ever. This story should end here but as we drove to my parents house last month and I saw the carnival all set up again, I realized two things: 1. I wasn’t remembering it with rose-colored glasses, it’s actually, objectively amazing. 2. This miiiight be the source of my ongoing obsessing with carnivals.Read more »