If you didn’t have a nonna to do so when you were a wee lucky thing
, it’s more than likely that Marcella Hazan was the person who introduced you to the concept of a spaghetti frittata, a cozy mess of leftover spaghetti, scrambled egg, some butter, parsley and a fistful of parmesan, cooked in a skillet and cut into wedges. It’s unfancy food at its best, as should be no surprise from the woman who was very distressed by complicated chefs’ recipes, wondering “Why not make it simple?”
A friend from high school texted me a couple weeks ago to say that he’d made the Spinach and Cheese Strata
for Christmas morning brunch and it was a big hit. Ever the smartass, I asked him where he’d found a whole room of people willing to eat bread and he said that this was Pittsburgh, where every salad has french fries on it and I said it sounded like a heavenly place and then he pointed me to this
to prove his point.
Let me get the obvious out of the way: you are not going to win friends, neighbors with whom you share airspace or small children
over with cabbage casserole. It’s beige and gray with traces of drab green. It’s cooked forever, or until whatever vim and vigor may have initially been in the leaves has departed. At best, it’s akin to unstuffed cabbage, which means that it will be comfort food to some but torture to others.
Here’s a thing I’ve been doing since the year began that’s made me very happy in the kitchen and it’s so simple, I completely expect you to roll your eyes at how un-revolutionary it is, but it goes like this: Find a recipe that sounds good to you and make it immediately. Don’t put it in the queue; don’t save it on that to-cook-one-day list, just dive in and dig in. So far, it’s been nothing but great; there was a giant egg bake
, ugly cookies
, green dinner pancakes
, a giant cabbage casserole
(recipe added!) we heaped on coarse mustard-slathered bread and a towering spaghetti frittata. And while all of these things have been delicious, what’s been the most fun about them is getting back to a kind of impulsivity that’s gotten pushed to the wayside in this hyper-scheduled so-called adult life. It’s also led to conversations I want more of in 2016, such as “well, if you’re around anyway, why don’t you stay for dinner and I’ll guinea pig a new recipe on you?”
I read about French farçous pancakes for the first time on Friday morning and by lunchtime I was eating them. As my usual process of funneling the hundreds of recipe ideas swarming around in my head into a single one worth sharing is an exercise in exasperation involving extensive considerations of how I’d like to approach something, ingredient availability, time availability, estimated number of rounds it will take to get said recipe right, scanning my worry meter over all the places I suspect it might flop, number of stores to get to find ingredients, all interspersed with baby feedings, and overdue items on an forever-long to-do list, getting from “yes I want to make this” to “eating it” in a little over an hour alone makes this the best thing I’ve made this year.
I am, as ever, a sucker for a recipe with a great name. Bring me your grunts, your bundts, your fools, slumps and sonkers. Take me across the pond and let me feast on jammy dodgers, bubble and squeak, rarebit and rumbledethumps. I hope you know it’s only a matter of time until we take in some scrumptious nun’s farts
. And so, for no reasons other than an inherent fascination with great food names plus egg whites to use up after a batch of these evil things
, I turned my attention this week to the brutti ma buoni
(meaning “ugly but good”), an egg white cookie that hails from Prato, Italy.
Although I am firmly of the belief that the internet needs another recipe for chicken crockpot chili like your groggy narrator needs another morning of her mini-humans
rousing her before 6 a.m., when I went to make my own one night, I was dissatisfied with what I found. It wasn’t because recipes out there weren’t good, or well-reviewed and certainly not because they hadn’t made countless other people out there content at mealtimes, but because they weren’t what I was looking for. And, well, as that’s how we got here in the first place, it seems appropriate enough to step into the year 2016, the year this website turns ten
, not fighting this at all.
I closed out 2014
somewhat exasperated (and quietly anxious and queasy because I was first trimester-ing this bunny
) that I had so much I’d wanted to cook and tell you about that year but couldn’t fabricate the time. Then I added a new tiny wonderful human to the mix and needless to say, the song has not changed. So, I’m going retune it. It’s better to have too many ideas than too few, after all, I’m sure there will be a time when these kids don’t call (sob) and the apartment is finally clean and organized and there are no items left on my tumbling to-do list when I’ll maybe even miss the chaos the chaos of feeling like I was barely keeping afloat. Plus, seriously, this was such an unquestionably excellent year, from impending
babies, missing front teeth
, a new weekly digest newsletter
, and even crazy milestones, like the 1000th recipe on this site
(my favorite cocktail, go make yourself one, I’ll wait). How could I want to change a thing?
Fully preoccupied with coming up with fun new shapes for my favorite cookie
a few weeks ago, I went deep into a YouTube cooking show rabbit hole
and emerged somewhere in France, where a twisted pastry that goes by the name tarte soleil
stopped me in my tracks, and zipped itself right to the top of the Must! Cook! Now! list.
For the last seven Christmas Eves, I have made the gingerbread cake Claudia Fleming made famous during her time at Gramercy Tavern
. The first year, I was so excited about it that I made it twice, first, for the holiday and then so I could tell you all about it because I think we all know that a Deb-fitted torture chamber would be me making some awesome cooking discovery and not being able to run to the internet to tell you about it immediately.