Six-time novelist Kate Christensen has written another beautiful book, and this one's a memoir, out now from Random House. It’s called Blue Plate Special, after the home-cooked, simple but sustaining meals her mother used to make. As I read Kate’s “autobiography of appetites”—some food-based but others not; this is a story of life told through food in the venerable tradition of M.F.K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and Ruth Reichl, and its scope is much greater than what’s on a plate—I laughed and cried, and sometimes I snacked. As Kate writes in her prologue, “to taste fully is to live fully. And to live fully is to be awake and responsive [...]
For months now, I’ve been leaving a glowing trail of dessert recipes. Recently I’ve begun to gather them up, turn on my oven, and bake. But once I get going, I’m like Hansel and Gretel gnawing on the witch’s house: I CAN’T STOP MYSELF. I want a taste of this, and oooh, what does that taste like, and what would it be like if I mixed this with that one over there… and before I know it, I’ve cooked enough to build my very own magical sugary cottage.
There are an infinite number of scrumptious cakes, and I don’t know if it’s [...]
This unphotogenic yet rewarding marvel is largely based on a recipe I hounded out of a now-deceased cousin, and is known in my family as "the tilapia thing."
"I don't have much time tonight, I'll make the tilapia thing." "Ugh, those peppers are on their way out, I'm going to slice them and put them on top of the tilapia thing." "We need to finish these brownies stat, I want that dish to make the tilapia thing in."
You get the idea. It's special! It doesn't sound that great, but it's cheap and easy and delicious and super-nutritious. I usually don't serve anything with it except white wine, because [...]
I spent a year and a half of my quarter-life crisis waitressing in a zany English-style tearoom – just enough time to pay for a three-month trip to Southeast Asia and my first year of graduate school. By the end I was deadly sick of dusting the china, buttoning up the knee-length lace jacket that served as a uniform, and digging jam-encrusted crumbs out of giant teddy bears, but sweet silver teaspoon I still loved the scones. Light and fluffy but not too sweet, they were the ultimate ladylike repast. Because the only person in the kitchen who could make the scones the right way was the owner’s 80-something-year-old mother, [...]
Whenever people say they love summer, I have to assume their air conditioning situation is better than mine. If I could find a way to spend July and August in a pool with a bottomless Michelada and no threat of skin cancer, it seems possible I might hate summer less. As things stand, I spend most of my time boxed up in my apartment, waiting for the heat rage to flatten into despondence so I can get some work done.
That is, until recently, when I discovered a neat trick: It’s near impossible to feel mad or despondent while you’re eating a popsicle. They are cooling, which is good [...]
These cookies perform a Rumplestiltskin-style trick: One minute you’ve got a pile of beans, the next minute, gooey, decadent, I-want-to-eat-every-last-one cookies. It defies logic. And it sounds more than a little gross, and just, *why* would anyone do this, and how, and, really, WHAT?!?
Believe me I know!
Nevertheless, I made them. I’ve been fixated on chickpeas for weeks now (honey-roasted chickpeas, anyone?), and also on making the perfect peanut-butter-olive-oil-dark-chocolate-chip cookies. (You would not believe how many deliciously imperfect pb cookies I have in my freezer right now.) But at last, these two obsessions collided, and I am in awe. Remember the booodseees? No? After eating these, [...]
Where I live, there’s still frost in the early morning, and most days I leave the house bundled in a sweater and jacket. But. The hyacinths are up, and above the front porch a pair of finches are at work building their nest with strands of shimmery, iridescent Easter-grass. Spring is here! Is it here yet?
Berries, the quintessential spring-summer fruit, are definitely not. Luckily, I have frozen berries hidden away, ready to transform into something unexpectedly perfect for the any-day-now springtime. For me, this recipe pulls it off: after eating it, it’s spring.
Clafouti is one of the most gratifying breakfast-desserts I know: It looks elegant, tastes like a [...]
It seems like everyone these days is brewing their own beer—except for me. This is easy to blame on my lack of space in a tiny New York apartment. I like to think that with enough room, I’d be the type of person who would brew and bottle their own delicious creations, but the truth of the matter is that I’m extremely intimidated by the “sterilization” step. I tried to preserve lemons once—a process that really only requires lemons, salt, and waiting—but by the third week there was a mysterious pink mold growing in the bottom of the canning jar. So while I’d love to brew my own beer, [...]
My mother-in-law flies in for a visit just once a year, and I'd planned to cook up all sorts of delights for her. For her last night here, I thought I’d make a frittata — and not just any frittata, but an amazing one with leeks and fennel and dill and ahhh it's so good. I’ll share it with you soon, I promise! I often make it when I have guests coming in the springtime and want to make something that I can prepare partially in advance and then throw in the oven at the last minute so that they arrive to a house filled with a beautifully savory-sweet smell.[...]
I love scallops. Those big, fat scallops, not the little cute ones that are the size of your thumbnail. They are also super good for you. And they do not have brains, or anything, and they do not care that you're eating them. I mean, they have ganglia, or something, you can make your own ethical decisions. But they cost A DAMN FORTUNE in restaurants, and you get, like, two of them (see picture). Promise me you will never order scallops in a restaurant, it's a mug's game.
(Also, it is still expensive to buy scallops at the grocery store, so this is your romantic at-home dinner with [...]