Garlic and Wine Soup

I had the loveliest morning today.  I stopped at Joe: The Art of Coffee for an Americano and a coconut cream doughnut.  Instead of walking down the street, munching, I stopped in Union Square to sit on a bench and enjoy my impromptu breakfast.  Small, but bold, birds hopped within a foot of my hand and the morning sun came through the yellow and green leaves.  I thought about autumn.  This season makes me feel contemplative, relaxed, and sleepy (in a good way) - it's, hands-down, my absolute favorite season.  At the risk of sounding corny, my heart just felt so full, sitting there, and I couldn't believe my good fortune in being able to sit in the park and enjoy the morning.  It was, in every way, perfect.

The changing of the seasons is always the best time for food and drink, I think.  By the end of summer, I'm rather grumpy about the heat, declaring that I won't make a single thing for dinner that requires heat and pining for the day when I can roast and braise and fry.  Not to mention exchanging my Vinho Verde and Hefeweizen for Pinot Noir and porter.  Well, the day has come.

It began with the Cauliflower Macaroni and was followed by Garlic and Wine Soup.  Jonny and Amy over at We Are Never Full posted the recipe for this soup ages ago; I bookmarked it back in November 2009 and I've only now gotten around to making it.  And, goodness, I wish I had made it sooner!  It is the perfect way to herald in the new season with its creamy richness and earthiness.

Amy and Jonny, in their blog post, recommend pairing this with a rustic red wine, which I think would be lovely and much welcome in the winter.  However, I went with WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT and drank a Sauvignon Blanc with dinner (the same one I used in the recipe...which is why you should always cook with a wine good enough to drink on its own).  I found the bright citrus notes very refreshing with this soup - it cut right through the richness.

This soup truly celebrates a new season.  And don't be afraid of all the garlic; when simmered for a long period of time, it turns sweet, mellow, and fragrant.  My last piece of advice is that you avoid the mistake I made: don't wait for two years to make this soup.  Make it this week.

Eat, drink, and don't worry about your breath.

SOUPE A L'AIL ET AU VIN (Garlic and Wine Soup)
Adapted - only slightly - from We Are Never Full
Serves 2

4-5 heads garlic (50-60 cloves)
4 oz pancetta, cubed
3 tablespoons plain flour
5 cups warm low-sodium beef stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 egg yolks
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 cup Cantal cheese (Gruyere or Emmentaler would work too), grated
4-6 slices toasted country bread

1. Separate each clove of garlic from the head and crush lightly with the side of a knife.  Do not remove the skin.

2. Reserve one clove.  Peel it and chop it finely.  Keep for later use.

3. Gently render the cubed pancetta over medium heat in a large stockpot, until pieces are golden brown.

4. Add flour and stir into the fat.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.

5. Gradually add warm stock to the roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

6. Bring to a boil and add the garlic.  Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, mix the white wine with the egg yolks in a 1-quart measuring jug (or a large bowl).  Also, place bread on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler for about 3 minutes.  Add grated cheese and broil for an additional 2 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn.

8. After 45 minutes, strain soup through a sieve to remove garlic, skins, and pancetta.  Return soup to pot.

9. Add several ladle-fulls of the simmering liquid to the eggs and wine to gently heat (temper) the yolks.

10. Then, add the egg yolk mixture back to the stock post and stir well.

11. Reheat soup until it shows a few bubbles.  Do not allow to boil.

12. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

13. Mash the reserved garlic clove with chopped parsley (make a persillade).

14. Ladle soup into bowls.  Add bread slice on top, ladle soup over the bread, and sprinkle the whole thing with the persillade.  Enjoy!

NOTE: I actually forgot the parsley on my grocery list.  Which is why you see no persillade in my photo. It worked okay but I'd recommend the persillade, if not for flavor then at least for looks.

A NOTE ON KID-FRIENDLINESS: Who are we kidding?  Bug wouldn't touch this with a 10-foot pole.  She had "Kid Dinner" and then we enjoyed this for "Adult Dinner" after she had gone to bed.


Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower Macaroni

I'm just going to say this now because I know it'll come through anyway as I keep talking: Jamie Oliver's recipes are, hands-down, the most frustrating that I follow.  With measurements like "a full wineglass of dry white wine", "a knob of butter", and a "glug of olive oil", don't expect a lot of guidance from him.  He's loosey-goosey, to say the least.

So why do I keep buying his cookbooks?  Well, for a couple reasons: 1) they're styled and designed beautifully and 2) I love his unique combination of flavors.  And the secret third reason is that he is one of the hot men of the cooking world.  With that, I happily bought a copy of his newest book MEALS IN MINUTES.

The book is laid out in a completely different way, and I haven't quite got used to it yet.  Oliver put together menus.  For instance, it's not just a recipe for Cauliflower Macaroni; instead, it's a menu of "Cauliflower Macaroni, Belgian Endive Salad with Insane Dressing, Lovely Stewed Fruit."  Then the instructions assume that you'll be making all three together: a step for the macaroni is followed by one for the fruit, then we're back to the macaroni; the salad follows behind.  For this recipe, I made the macaroni and the salad but I didn't make the fruit; I found it easy to just skip the fruit-related instructions and move forward with the rest.

That said, I had A LOT of other problems.  Oliver calls for "8 slices pancetta".  But it was like an itch I couldn't scratch: "HOW THICK?!?!"  When I buy pancetta at Eataly, they tend to slice it thin.  When I order it from Fresh Direct, they give me a choice of "standard" or "thick".  Which is it, Jamie?!  I went with Fresh Direct's standard slices, which are approximately 1/8" thick.

Another thing that I just didn't get was that, in both the macaroni and salad recipes, Oliver specifies that the garlic should be unpeeled.  But never does he say that the peel should be removed later.  So, with that in mind, he means that we just blend it in?  That we have peels floating around in the macaroni?  I couldn't get on board with that.  Could you?  I made the call and peeled them.  And I want you to have that confidence too: if it sounds "off" in a recipe, make your own decision.

That's one thing that can be said for Oliver's cookbooks: they encourage improvisation.  Or thrust it upon you.

Okay, I'm done ranting.  So let's get on with it.  See below for my adaptation of Jamie's recipes.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's MEALS IN MINUTES
Serves 8

8 slices pancetta (about 1/8"thick)
1 large head of cauliflower
1 pound dried macaroni (or similar shaped pasta)
9 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
4 thick slices of country bread
a few springs of fresh rosemary
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup crème fraîche
Parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Fill a pasta pot with water and boil on high heat.  If you choose to grate the Cheddar cheese using a food processor, put the coarse grater attachment into the machine.

2. Lay the pancetta in a 9 x 13 roasting pan (I used a Pyrex dish).  Put into the oven and bake for about 8 minutes until slightly golden and turning up at the edges.

3. Trim off the tough base of the cauliflower stalk and quarter the head.  Put in the pasta pot with the pasta, on high heat.  The water should be just a few inches over the cauliflower and pasta; drain some water, if needed.  Season water with about a tablespoon of sea salt, drizzle over about a tablespoon of olive oil, then stir and cook following the instructions on the pasta package, with the pot lid askew.

4. Grate the Cheddar in the food processor and tip into a bowl (or you can grate coursely with a hand grater).  Fit the standard blade attachment, then get your pancetta out of the oven and blitz in the processor with the bread, rosemary leaves, and drizzle of olive oil (approx 1 tbsp) until you have a coarse breadcrumb consistency.

5. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.  Add the macaroni to the same roasting pan you cooked the pancetta in and add about 1 1/2 c. of the reserved pasta water.  Add finely chopped garlic cloves and mix in the crème fraîche and grated Cheddar, gently breaking up the cauliflower with tongs or a potato masher.  Taste for seasoning.  The pasta sauce should be loose and creamy; if not, add another splash of pasta water.

6. Spread the pasta out evenly in the dish and scatter over the breadcrumbs.  Put in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and the pasta is bubbly.

NOTE: See the photo below?  That's all our leftovers.  Jamie says this dish is for 6 servings but, with the salad, I think it's closer to 8 servings.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's MEALS IN MINUTES
Serves 6

2 heads red endive, or 1 large radicchio
2 large heads Belgian endive
a small bunch of fresh basil (about 12 leaves)
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 anchovies, drained from jar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons natural yogurt (such as Fage)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Trim the bases of the endives and thickly slice them; scatter in a salad bowl or over a platter.  Tear 3-4 basil leaves and scatter over the endives.

2. Put the remaining basil leaves into a blender or food processor.  Crush in the garlic clove, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, the anchovies, mustard, yogurt, vinegar, and olive oil.  Add a tablespoon of water and whiz until smooth.

3. Taste the dressing for acidity; add more olive oil if you want to mellow it out a bit.  Pour the dressing into a jug or glass for serving.

A NOTE ON KID-FRIENDLINESS: This macaroni dish is perfect for kids.  I mean, you can't go wrong with crunchy breadcrumbs and nearly a pound of Cheddar cheese.  That said, Bug still managed to eat around all the bits of cauliflower.  Of course.  And I substituted the salad with the tried-and-true apple slices.



I bought the new Jamie Oliver cookbook yesterday: MEALS IN MINUTES.  I could lie and tell you that I got it at my local indie...but...yeah.  I paid full price at Barnes & Noble, guilty as charged.

I can't wait to try the recipes - you'll see some of them here soon (note the tabs I've already inserted for the recipes I want to take on).  I'm particularly excited about this one:

It's Quick Lemon and Raspberry Cheesecake.  You pound gingersnaps and hazelnuts with a rolling pin then, after mixing them with melted butter, you press them into the bottom of individual dishes.  Add store-bought lemon curd.  Sprinkle raspberries over the curd.  Top with creme fraiche (or mascarpone or cream cheese) that has been stirred together with some sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.  Last but not least, grate chocolate on top.

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is my kind of "baking".  Future dinner party guests can expect to see this one soon.

Eat, drink, and move to the 'burbs to make room for your cookbook collection.*

* Note to self: count how many cookbooks, reference books, and food memoirs I own.  I'll share the number with y'all when I do.


Sublime Pairings

I don't know what happened this past week but I was in a scheduling funk.  I hadn't planned a dinner menu, I hadn't gone grocery shopping, we had to keep eating out...  I was just out of sorts.  Menu planning for me is all about the routine: creating the menu, making the grocery list, doing the various shopping (Fresh Direct, farmers' market, Todaro Bros.), and then the actual cooking.  And when I don't go through every one of those rituals it just throws me off.  Ugh.  I'm getting stressed even recounting all this to you.  Last week wasn't my best.

It was in this mindset a few days ago that I decided we couldn't eat out another night; I was just going to have to create something from what I had in my kitchen already.  I had pasta because I always keep a package of fresh linguine in the freezer (another Fresh Direct stand-by).  I also had a butternut squash that I had picked up randomly a couple days earlier.  The squash was roasted, the pasta boiled.  I melted some butter, browning it and then adding some dried sage.  The last touch was to toss the pasta in the butter, put it in a bowl, and top with the squash, some freshly grated nutmeg, and Parmesan.

As usual, I checked WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT to see what they suggested as a wine pairing.  As luck would have it, Viognier was recommended with butternut squash and I just happened to have a bottle of Sobon Estate Viognier in my wine fridge.

It was, in every way, a divine pairing.  The earthy sage and salty Parmesan brought out all the warm butter and wood from the Viognier; together, it seemed to be autumn personified.  I actually gasped out loud; it was that perfect.  It's not to say that I don't enjoy most of my wine-food pairings because I do (thanks to Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page!)...but every once in a while you hit the perfect one and there's just nothing like it.

And what about a bad pairing?  We once had a young family friend - she was about 18 at the time - ask us how you know when a wine-food pairing is bad.  I responded, "It'll turn your face inside out."  If you've experienced it, you know exactly what I mean.  This pairing was the exact opposite of that.

Eat, drink, and pair up.

NOTE: Your kid(s) won't touch butternut squash?  Neither will mine.  So I didn't add any to Bug's bowl - she pretty much had just buttered noodles.  Then I sliced up an apple and put that on the side for her since that's about the only fruit/vegetable she eats gladly.

Recipe by Pinot and Prose
Serves 4

1 pound fresh linguine (dried is fine too)
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp dried sage (or to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly and finely grated nutmeg (or to taste)
4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Peel butternut squash then cut in half.  Remove seeds.  Cut squash into 1/2-inch pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Put onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for about 30 minutes until squash is pierced easily with a fork and starting to brown.

2. In a large pot, boil water over high heat and then add 2 tbsp salt to the water.  Add pasta and cook according to package instructions (fresh pasta will take only about 2-3 minutes).  Make sure you try pasta before draining to make sure it's done.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

3. Melt butter in a large saute pan.  Add sage and the cooked pasta; toss.  If the pasta seems dry, add the reserved cooking water, 1/4 c. at a time.

4. Add pasta to individual bowls.  Garnish with roasted squash, grated nutmeg, and Parmesan.  Serve immediately.  With a big, buttery Viognier, of course.


Apple Tart

Despite the unseasonably warm weather we've had lately in NYC, we're still acting like it's autumn as much as possible.  And that included apple-picking this past weekend (note the flannel shirt on Bug...even though it was 75 degrees last Saturday).

We went to Masker Orchards, an apple farm we had never visited before but it came recommended from Time Out New York.

The selection was good: Empire, Jonagold, Macintosh, and the ubiquitous Red Delicious.  We filled a huge bag for $25 and bought a dozen amazing cider doughnuts.

On our way home, we stopped by a park to eat a picnic lunch and dip our toes in an ice-cold stream.

And while more than half of the apples ended up going to Bug's class for snack, we saved a few to make one of the few things I bake: Ina Garten's French Apple Tart.

Her recipe calls for handmade puff pastry which, of course, I don't do.  Heck, even Ina Garten says that you can cut corners by using store-bought pastry.  I buy my pastry from Fresh Direct but Pepperidge Farm's version would work just as well.

French Apple Tart
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 6

4 Granny Smith apples (I used Empire apples this time, which worked well)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
1/2 cup apricot jam (Ina recommends sieving it...but being less detail-oriented, I don't worry about it)
2 tbsp. Calvados, rum, or water

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Make sure that the packaged puff pastry is thawed before rolling.  Dust working surface lightly with flour.  Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 x 14. Use a small kitchen to trim the edges of the pastry so that they're even.*  Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

3. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem.  Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller (I use an apple peeler for this task, instead of a knife - reference photo above).  Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-thick slices.  Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices.  Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar and dot with butter.

4.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apple start to brown.  Rotate the pan once during cooking.  If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out.

5. When the tart's done, heat the apricot jam together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jam mixture.  Loosen the tart with a spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper.  Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

It really is as easy as it sounds, maybe even easier.  See?  I even messed up the pastry dough:

And it all turned out fiiiiine.

The results were delicious, and I even ate a piece for breakfast the next morning with a steaming cup of coffee (from Joe: The Art of Coffee...since I'm trying to break myself of the Starbucks default).

Eat, drink, and bake sometimes.

* If you follow the recipe link for Ina's version, you'll see that not only does she cut the dough with a knife to make it even...she even recommends using a RULER.  For heaven's sake.  Yeah, I don't play like that.  Not only did I NOT use a friggin ruler...I didn't even cut it with a knife to make it even.  I rolled it out and considered it done, crooked lines and all.  If you're the type of person to use a ruler for something like this, then my blog must drive you crazy.  I'm so not that kind of cook.

NOTE: I'm going to make this again soon because there are some variations I want to try.  I think it could be awesome with crumbled bacon on top of the tart.  And I also think you could grate some sharp cheddar over the tart, stick it under the broiler, and have a savory treat.


Figs and Pecorino

New York City is in the middle of an October heat wave that has sucked my will to live: our building had to turn off everyone's air-conditioning a couple weeks ago so we've been melting away in our apartment with 85-degree temps outside.  We'd buy fans...except there's no damn room for them, such is life in a tiny apartment.  All our windows are open...which lets in all the noise and, annoyingly, very little breeze.  Bug can't sleep, we can't sleep. We're all grumpy.  It has not been pretty.

So yesterday I declared that there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that I was turning heat on in this place in order to cook.  Which ended up being untrue, alas.  I found a recipe in Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italy for sticky figs and it struck a chord with me.  All it calls for is taking a pint of figs - or however many you have - and halving them.  Then you put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Jamie calls for them to be baked at 120 degrees for two hours but my oven only goes down to 170 degrees.  So I did that for two hours.  Done.  That's it.

I paired the figs with a crumbly, salty Pecorino.  This is one of those cases where you should find the best Pecorino you possibly can since it's one of the stars of the meal.  We added Prosciutto di Parma, rustic Italian bread, and dipping oil (really good-quality oil, sea salt, pepper).

Very little heat, very little fuss.  I know there are some of you who read this who will say, "They had only that for dinner?!"  And the answer is a resounding YES.  It's too damn hot to eat anything else.  Seriously.

Eat, drink, and keep it simple.

UPDATE #1: Naturally, Bug didn't want anything to do with the figs (though we did make her try just one) so she had a sliced apple.  She also wasn't a huge fan of the Pecorino - she thought it was "spicy".  But she ate almost that entire pile of prosciutto - I had to add more to the board - and she had bread with butter slathered on it (she claims, falsely, that she's "allergic" to olive oil).  This is such an easy meal to cater to picky eaters.

UPDATE #2: Foolishly, I forgot to mention what we drank and thanks to my good friend Daphne for reminding me!  Per Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page's What to Drink With What You Eat, I drank a Riesling: Arthur Metz 2010 from Alsace.  It paired very well, but didn't wow me.  Adam had the winner: Brooklyn Brewery's Monster Barleywine.  It was huge in flavor, but didn't overwhelm the cheese or figs.  It was an unexpected, much more interesting pairing than the Riesling.  I highly recommend it.



I was thrilled when my friend Jen suggested a big group dinner out this past Friday night.

This last week was my last one at Harper (no more freelancing), Jen has had some issues at work, and the Soul Twin was starting the healing process after a family tragedy: we were a rag-tag group, for sure.  Put in charge of getting a reservation, Resto seemed the perfect place to eat.  Gorgeous quality, heavy on soul-soothing food, and a casual atmosphere was exactly what we needed (check out the dinner menu - you'll see below that they even offer large format meals with "nose to tail" options).

Friday night was a beautiful autumn evening, crystal-clear with temps in the 60s.  Perfect.  Our group of 7 scored the only table out on the sidewalk so we were able to escape the noise inside; it felt like our very own private space in the middle of a city sidewalk.

One of my favorite things at Resto is the deviled eggs.  They're served on "pork toast": a pig's head is boiled down until it's fatty and melty and then it's smoothed flat in a sheet pan and frozen.  Once solid, it's cut up, breaded, and fried.  Crispy on the outside, melty fattiness on the inside, it's nothing short of pork heaven.  A slightly spicy deviled egg is served on top.

It's insanely rich - four of us shared this and we were more than satiated.

Andrea and Brian shared the moules et frites with Dijon mustard, house-made bacon, Parmesan, onion confit, and tarragon.  Tina and Jen shared the moules et frites with green curry, lemongrass, coconut milk, and kaffir lime.

Adam and Phil both had the burger.

I ordered the skirt steak with wax beans, fine herbs, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, and honey.

We also ordered every one of the dipping sauces for the frites: lime pickle; mayo and onion; sweet chili; Old Bay; mayo; Cajun remoulade; Sriracha; lemon and smoked paprika (my favorite!); yogurt, cumin, and roasted garlic; gribiche.

Resto is also one of the rare places that has an outstanding wine AND beer list - it seems that most places only have one or the other. This list isn't the whole book you see below but it's damn close.  The best thing is that I've never had a server at Resto who didn't know their beers and wines from top to bottom - they can find the perfect pairing to anything, I'm sure of it.

An amazing night of good food, good wine, and good friends.

Eat, drink, and share a communal meal to cure what ails you.



I did something radical last night: I went to the store (Eli's Manhattan) to get ingredients for dinner.  And I had no idea what I was making.  I'm a list-maker and a recipe-follower; I don't generally just show up for the party without some sort of plan.

The key to spontaneous food shopping is to mentally catalog what you already have available at home and, if you can't remember for sure, hopefully you can call someone at home and have them check.  Adam regularly fields calls from me, asking if we have such and such ingredient in the fridge.  For instance, in this case, I knew I had pizza dough from Fresh Direct that I had put in the fridge to thaw just that morning.

So with pizza crust in mind, I went into Eli's.  As I perused, I thought about shrimp - what about a shrimp pizza?  Which then jogged my memory about a shrimp pizza I had at Ramblin Jacks in Olympia, Washington way back in 2000 when we lived there.  In my memory, it had shrimp, Brie, and apples on it; it looks like they're still serving something similar, sans shrimp.

Okay, so shrimp and Brie on the pizza.  Now what?  I was then reminded of shrimp skewers that Amy made when we were visiting them: bread cubes and shrimp tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fennel seeds.  Shrimp and fennel seeds is a sublime combination.  But what about a vegetable?  Maybe baby spinach?  Sure, why not?  So I threw that in my cart too.

I generally like to have two separate pizzas - for variation - when I make them.  I also had two crusts.  Eli's had some gorgeous figs (from California, of course) so I grabbed those.  Blue cheese sounded too rich so I grabbed some ricotta - I thought they would be a good combination.  And I had ham in the fridge at home - maybe I could add that.

And I went home to put it together.

I shared all the above information just to illustrate my thought process.  It's all about thinking about tastes you've enjoyed before, putting them together, interpreting them differently.  And not being afraid to try something.  You might fail, but so what?  I still had cheddar cheese and a loaf of bread at home - if I made inedible pizza, we could always have grilled cheese.

Here's how it turned out:

The fig pizza wasn't great, I have to be honest.  Figs and ricotta?  Great.  But it needed something...  I initially thought about walnuts, but I don't think that was it.  It needed brightening.  Maybe lemon zest.  Maybe red pepper flakes.  The blue cheese might have been the way to go.

The shrimp pizza was absolutely fantastic, though.  Brie and shrimp is a wonderful combination, and the fennel seed added some pep.  You could even add some actual roasted fennel.  I do think that, doing this again, I would add lemon zest to this as well.  I believe it was Mark Bittman who said, "I never regretted adding lemon zest to anything."  I subscribe wholeheartedly to that way of thinking.

I'm not going to regularly experiment like this - I still enjoy the list-making, menu-planning, and premeditation.  But this was fun; I like pulling from my previous memories and experiences of great meals.  Not to mention that, when you improvise like this, you begin to gain more and more successes.  And your confidence in the kitchen grows.

Eat, drink, and step outside your comfort zone.


La vie, toujours, la vie

Aw, guys. I really want to thank you for sticking with me - I know I've been all over the place lately, and I'm so glad you're still here.

My mom was visiting for the last week and we had the loveliest time. We ate at Resto, shopped at Ann Taylor (I bought this sweater), and visited the High Line. We also tried to navigate the insanity of the TKTS booth in Times Square (result: an hour in line and NO tickets to Mary Poppins). Here's the view of the insanity inTimes Square (photo by Mom):

And my mom is on a restricted diet as of late so making up a menu was a challenge: limited dairy and animal protein, limited wine, no refined sugar, everything multi-grain and whole wheat. Here is one thing I made while she was visiting:

Food and Wine's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cabbage and Pine Nuts, served with ricotta-topped grilled bread (I omitted the ricotta on my mom's plate).

I've also been busy working on my iTunes playlists. As you know (here and here, among others), playlists play an integral part in my kitchen and eating life. And with the new computer, I've had to work on reorganizing my 10,000+ tracks. A huge task but one I love, actually.

Also, those of you who have been reading awhile are familiar with the Soul Twin and her husband, My Other Husband. They've had a family tragedy recently that has left me feeling helpless and sad. Ugh. I'm just sick over the whole thing, and I don't know what to do. Cooking, hugs, love...sure, that's all great but it won't bring someone back who never should have left. Shit.  I just can't find words.

But I was going through the blog the other day and looking through past posts (from waaay back!) and thinking about things that I've done, what a full life I've had, and how much I've laughed.  And how much amazing food and drink I've had.  So if you'll indulge me, I'm sharing my trip down memory lane with you:

Back when I still blogged children's books, I went bowling during BEA with Chris, Jack, Scott Westerfeld, and David Levithan.

Adam and Bug: one of my first photos with my new camera

Homemade calamari is so simple!

Relaxing at home while Adam was on a business trip (this was a Stratus Chardonnay).

A trip to Florida with the Soul Twin

My first taste of Cubanisimo's Rosado

My trip to Anguilla that I never did tell you guys all about, as I promised.

Mixing work and foodie pleasure with In-N-Out (thanks again to Liz Burns and Angie Manfredi for creating one of my favorite conference memories)

Golden Globes party with the Soul Twin 

My first macarons at Bastille Day 2011!

Lastly, on a really high note, I have to share a video with you. I've been mum about it but now it's known worldwide that Dogfish Head Brewery and some Googlers collaborated on a beer together: Urkontinent. Guess who's Google-y husband spearheaded the project? Mine! Guess who's husband got to brew beer with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head? Mine! I couldn't be prouder of Adam. The video is below. It's a little on the long side but I promise that it's entertaining and you'll learn some interesting stuff about the brewing process. Not to mention that there's a tall, cute blond guy for you all to look at. Enjoy!

Eat, drink, and let someone know today that you love them.