Category Archives: Press/Appearances

Saving Money and Feeling Organized Takes 10 Minutes

Hands down, the question I am asked the most by friends is how I organize and plan out a week of meals. Whether you’re a parent or not, planning a week of meals ahead saves money, time, and is a ton healthier than calling for takeout when it’s 6pm and you have no idea what to make for dinner. Elizabeth Larkin @AboutOrganizing interviewed me for her blog and put together a  column that highlights how I think about the week to come. Here’s the link–let me know your thoughts and please share your tips on how you plan for the week ahead at your house!

And yes, that’s my fridge. On Fridays I always take stock of the fridge (and freezer) and figure out what needs to be eaten up over the weekend, and what can wait until Monday/Tuesday. It also helps me figure out the week to come: what staples do I need (whole milk, veggies, protein, etc.)  Here’s what I need to use up in the next few days:

  • leftover mushroom couscous (would it be weird to add this to an omelet? Oh, I also have that baby spinach in the fridge. That could work nicely.)
  • asparagus (I put it in the door front and center to remind myself to use it asap!)
  • leftover Indian cabbage (maybe I’ll make some spiced rice and lentil dal on Sunday)
  • leftover roasted pepper-cream sauce (this with the  boneless chicken thighs I have in the freezer plus roasted asparagus is a killer meal–I might do that for Saturday since that asparagus needs to be used pronto)
  • ham hock soup (last night I went to two fantastic film screenings: The Color Wheel and Girl Walk All Day. Since I knew it would be a busy exit strategy what with the sitter coming by 6pm, I sauteed some delicious pork sausage from Greene Grape Provisions and tossed with pasta and the soup for an easy sauce; might cook rice in leftover soup component for a delicious pilaf-y/biryani/risotto-esque meal)


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Filed under Dinner, Meal Planning, Organizing, Press/Appearances, Recipe, Soup

Hock Stock and Lentil Soup with Braised Pork Shoulder for FREE!

Last year when I went to Martha Bayne’s soup bash with singer/songwriter, novelist, and friend Wesley Stace, little did I know that I’d find myself cooking for Soup and Bread in a year’s time! Martha and I hooked up when I was introduced to her by Michael, a mutual Chicago friend, and I offered to help out with the event this year. (She also just published her first cookbook, the  super sweet Soup & Bread Cookbook which will be on sale at Littlefield.) I’m cooking up double-digit gallons of smoky porky lentil goodness to benefit the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. (Admittance to Soup and Bread  is free and the soup is gratis too–though $5 donations are encouraged, and more is welcomed!)

Actually, this has been a heck of a week here in my Brooklyn kitchen, and I have given my range quite a workout. Last week, I was full-on preparing for Midnight Brunch, making more than ten pounds of meatballs and ten pounds of lamb vindaloo,  a few pounds of orange blossom and almond shortbread, several dozen dark and stormy ginger cakes, as well as food for a side project–pumpkin cake pops and mini spinach-artichoke tartlets (this on top of dinner every night for the family!). Now, I find myself elbow-deep in ham hocks and a pork shoulder for soup. I am absolutely loving every second of it–it’s like cooking for a giant dinner party every few days! Because after I put my Hock Stock and Lentil Soup with Braised Pork Shoulder to bed, it’s on to Thanksgiving dinner preparations! Holy cow (and yes I’m allowed to say that since I’m a native Chicagoan, thanks.)

Here are some others who are supping it up:

The Good Fork

Jimmy’s No. 43

My Friend’s Mustard

Not Eating Out in New York’s Cathy Erway

Saveur web editor Helen Rosner

Caroline Hahm

Dave Klopfenstein, of Dave’s Kitchen

Hope to see you tomorrow at Littlefield in Brooklyn (622 DeGraw Street) to get your soup on! For those of you not in the nabe, keep your spidey sense tuned in for a soup post soon.

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Midnight Brunch Meatballs! This time, in Sicilian!

Thank you to everyone who came out for Midnight Brunch on 11/11/11! Who knew I could stay up past midnight, let alone eat lamb vindaloo (that’s me plating the lamb vindaloo above) and chicken curry in the wee hours of the morning without turning into a pumpkin? What a fantastic time–what a great crowd! Brian Quinn’s extra-smooth cocktails were superb (the Dutch Derby was my personal fave), and I absolutely fell in love with Emily Cavalier’s Persian rice (scroll down, and the last photo is Emily and myself in Scott and Jessica’s amazing cave-cum-portal to ancient Egypt!). An extra thanks to the event volunteers: Brian, Rachael, Dani, Bryce, Stacie, and Topher (that’s him with the bowl of meatballs) as well as the American Lamb Board for generously sending us a gorgeous leg of lamb for the vindaloo.

The Sicilian meatballs I made  were a massive hit–I made about 125 meatballs and they were all devoured within 20 minutes! Now that’s serious eating. I figured it would be extra swell of me to share the recipe, which is based on a meatball recipe I learned while growing up in Chicago from the Campo family (hey Mr. and Mrs. Campo!). I posted a more traditional version earlier this fall that I made for Eugene Mirman’s Brooklyn Comedy Festival. Needless to say, those went pretty fast too–I had meatball groupies following me out of the even asking if I had any more “magical meatballs.” Lucky for them, not only are my meatballs “magical” but they’re also legal.

Sicilian Meatballs

Makes about 2 dozen golf ball-sized meatballs

These meatballs are based on the ones I made for the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in September–with a few shakeups like a pork and beef combo, currants, and mint. A disclaimer: I have never been to Sicily, however, this is how I imagine a Sicilian meatball tastes, perhaps with pine nuts added too (I think they get in the way of a nice ball cross-section, and don’t care for their earthy undertones, but hey, try it out and let me know your conclusions!).

  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus a good pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese plus 3/4 cup for sprinkling
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1  pound 80- to 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups neutral oil (I like grapeseed)

1. Place the currants in a small bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the panko, a good pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a large bowl and add the milk. Set the mixture aside until the panko has absorbed all of the milk (about 10 minutes).

3. Whisk in the eggs and then and the Pecorino, shallots, garlic, basil, mint, salt, and pepper. Drain the currants and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir to combine.

4. Add the ground beef and ground pork, gently breaking them into small knobs as you add them to the bowl. Using your hands,  gently toss the mixture together until combined. Be careful not to knead or overmix and knead the meatball mixture. If you warm up the fat in the ground beef too much, your meatballs will be tough and stressed and your meatballs won’t be succulent and juicy.

5. Heat the olive oil and neutral oil in a large, deep skillet (I like busting out the cast iron for this) over medium heat. Once the oil is fragrant gently press and roll a chunk of the meatball mixture into a golf ball-sized ball. Add the meatball to the oil and fry it on all sides. Taste it for seasoning and adjust the salt or pepper if needed.

6. Shape the remaining meatball mixture into balls flattening them slightly (this allows you to easily brown them on all sides). Add 8 to 10 to the pan taking care to leave about 1-inch between meatballs (the frying meatballs should sound like a even-keeled applause, not angry white noise—adjust the heat if necessary). Cook the meatballs until both sides deeply browned, about 10 minutes total. Rest the meatballs on their sides around the pan’s perimeter to brown the edges, turning them as necessary. Add more raw meatballs to the center of the pan. Continue to cook the meatballs, turning them as needed, until browned on all sides. As they are done, use tongs to transfer them to a plate and sprinkle with lots of Pecorino, piling the meatballs on top of one another as you go, and always sprinkle Pecorino on top of the sizzling hot meatballs. Serve hot or at room temperature.

A special thank you to Clay Williams who took the photographs–thanks for making me look so good!


Filed under Appetizer, Beef, Dinner, Pork, Press/Appearances, Recipe

Midnight Brunch Spoiler! Orange Blossom and Almond Shortbread!

Sometimes life seems like no more that a series of weird coincidences. Like when I met my fabulous literary agent Angela Miller: when I left Cook’s Illustrated nearly ten years ago, I asked the formidable Jack Bishop (Cook’s editorial director and renown cookbook author) for advice on getting an agent. He gave me Angela’s name and I took that back pocket ticket with me to Brooklyn when I moved here in 2002. Not a month after the big move, I threw my back out and fell behind in my work–getting in touch with Angela got pushed to the back burner. Eight months later in the summer of 2003, the NYC blackout happened, I met Suvir Saran (who happened to be a neighbor) and like kismet, I found out Angela was his agent too. Like I said, in New York, and especially in Brooklyn, weird coincidences seem to happen.

Which is how I met Emily Cavalier, the brains behind the blog Mouth of the Border and the fantastic dinner party series, Midnight Brunch, which I am cooking for this Friday. My sister-in-law Caryn-Ann, went to the University of New Hampshire and was (still is, actually) good friends with Emily. When Emily moved to Brooklyn from New England, Caryn-Ann connected us–see, Emily was trying to figure out how to get a footing in the world of food. We met at a coffee shop in Fort Greene–I think it was 2006. God knows what I said to her–I was like a year postpartum, severely sleep deprived, and probably epically behind on work…to say I was upbeat and congenial  probably would have been a stretch to say the least! Caryn-Ann got married last summer and guess who I run into–Emily! Not only is Emily a lovely person who happens to live a whole two blocks from me in Clinton Hill, but in the five years since she moved to the city she carved out quite a niche for herself planning food events and spearheading press campaigns.

I am amazed at Emily’s indie spirit and confidence and so honored to be collaborating with her on this third installment of Midnight Brunch! We cooked up a fantastic menu that calls on ancient spice trade for inspiration–you know, the routes of Vasco de Gamma, long-ago sea pirates, and intrepid mariners who sailed around the world in search of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. What better time than now to cook up a feast showcasing spices used throughout the holiday season. I mean, imagine apple pie without cinnamon, bread stuffing without a kick of black pepper, a holiday ham without its requisite clove studs, and egg nog without a dash of nutmeg! This Friday, 11/11/11 (can you get any more auspicious?) we’re cooking up a bevy of deliciousness–lamb “vin”daloo, Sicilian meatballs, Persian rice with pistachios and saffron, and smoky honey-glazed sweet potatoes with cilantro and peanuts to name but a few dishes (all paired with stellar craft cocktails thanks to mixologist Brian Quinn featuring SNAP ginger liqueur, Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon, and Banks 5-island rum).

When I was thinking about a cookie to accompany Emily’s cardamom panna cotta, I envisioned Portuguese and Spanish sailors returning home from a many months-long sea adventure and how, once they set foot on land, they must have been  bowled over by the fragrances of their homeland. The romantic in me went straight to the sweet perfume of orange and almond blossoms, which are so intoxicating, especially by moonlight. What better way to honor the end of the 11/11/11 Midnight Brunch journey than with these flavors. Orange Blossom and Almond Shortbread is somewhere between an English Hobnob and Scottish shortbread, buttery and crisp yet nutty and toasty thanks to almonds and just a smidge of whole wheat flour. A cinch to make, it also keeps beautifully for up to a week in an airtight container, making it a worthy treat to bring along on your epic journeys this holiday season.

Orange Blossom and Almond Shortbread

Makes 16 rectangles or 32 triangle-shaped cookies

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Zest of 1/4 orange
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons orange flower water
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick pan spray and set aside.

2. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they finely chopped, about four 1-second pulses. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and the orange zest and pulse to combine. Add the flours, confectioners’ sugar, and salt and process for 3 seconds to thoroughly combine. Sprinkle the orange flour water over the dry ingredients and then drizzle in the honey. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture is like coarse cornmeal and rides up the sides of the food processor, about 12 to 15 1-second pulses.

3. Turn the mixture out into the pan and spread evenly. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumble dough into a dense, even layer. Drag the back of a knife through the dough (but don’t go to the bottom of the pan) to mark the dough into 3 rows crosswise and 6 columns lengthwise.

4. Place the baking dish in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Bake until golden brown and fragrant, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan midway through baking. Remove the pan from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cool for another 10 minutes and then use a sharp paring knife to slice completely through the cookies where marked (for smaller triangle shaped cookies, you can also divide each cookie in half on a diagonal at this time). Cool completely and then use a knife to pop the cookies out of the pan. The shortbread keeps in an airtight container for up to one week.


Filed under Baking, Cookie, Dessert, Holiday, Press/Appearances, Uncategorized

Call in to Heritage Radio TODAY 11 to 11:30 Eastern

Breaking news! I’m on Heritage Radio TODAY from 11 to 11:30am on the show Taste Matters with Izabela Wojcik (Izabela helped me make meatballs at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival—-Iz is the red head with the bun on stage–that’s Eugene in the middle) and chef Ryan Hardy formerly of Aspen’s Little Nell (he’s cooking up a new project in NYC—maybe we’ll get him to spill the details). Tune in and even better, call in!

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