Tuesday, 26 June 2012 | 25 comments

The grand gesture

Potlucks are our “new” thing. I know that you probably already understand that they’re fantastic, so forgive me for making old news new again. It took me a very long time to throw a potluck dinner. Somehow, I find it difficult to cede most of the control over the meal to others when it happens in my own home. This is bizarre. I know. Now that we’ve crossed over to the potluck side of things, though, I’m pretty sure these suppers will be a mainstay. We have a good record going.There’s a little Bon Appétit essay by the Canal House ladies, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, from last fall. A friend asks them how they accomplish effortless entertaining, and the answer, they reply, is “simple: we go for the grand gesture.” One dish that doesn’t take too much attention while it’s cooking and serves many. It struck me that the grand gesture can be my answer to a potluck: serve a big main dish, and then rely on others for sides and salads. They might not be well-matched, exactly, but at least there’s an anchor point. » Click to read more

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 | 19 comments

Zucchini crudo

Have you ever seen the Federico Fellini film, La Dolce Vita? There’s this iconic scene where ridiculously glamorous Anita Ekberg hops into the Trevi Fountain, clad in a full-length black evening gown. She wades around, oozing this beautiful-and-damned carelessness, full skirt wilted and clinging to her legs, arms thrown wide, embracing the night. Minus the extreme bustiness, I can almost remember a time when I felt like that: arms open, unworried about tomorrow, taking it all in.At the risk of sounding disingenuous—I am only, after all, in my mid-twenties—that carefree embrace of the world seems very far away, most days. My passions have become tempered with a concerned urgency. Even my motivation to cook, which remains a happy place in my life, is more utilitarian nowadays. Kinda boring and sad, huh? I am a bit of an old soul, and I’ll be the first to admit, but certainly being (or feeling) old doesn’t preclude a naïve sense of wonder. » Click to read more

Friday, 8 June 2012 | 20 comments

Cavolo nero breakfast skillet

I’ve decided I’m going to start calling Tuscan kale by its Italian name, “cavolo nero.” Despite the fact that I eat it quite a bit, somehow whenever I talk about kale I end up swallowing my words. What can you say about kale? The brassica once unknown to this country is now the epitome of “health food”; liquefied into green juices and chopped into raw salads. Also: kale chips. I am tired of hearing about your kale chips, no offense, guys. On top of everything, I feel a little sad for all the other equally wonderful leafy greens, talking about collards more than a person has a right to do. » Click to read more

Tuesday, 5 June 2012 | 17 comments

Fromage fort

I place myself squarely in the category of people who love leftovers. There are few things that makes me happier than to have the previous night’s soup or stir fry to take to the office for the next day’s lunch, or better yet, to give new life in some other form. Some foods, though, lend themselves better to leftover-ing than others. My cheese drawer suffers from this fact. We love having two or three good cheeses on hand, but at some point I always find myself sifting down through layers of tiny aluminum-foiled nubs of cheese, probably mostly rind.
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