When my grandparents moved down to Florida, my Sundays changed. No longer would I play backseat driver to my grandma’s endless games of Solitaire. Nor would I trade my grandpa paper route quarters and dimes for the crisp bills he proudly pried from his money clip. But mostly what I missed was Sunday brunch.
Growing up a non-practicing Jew, my grandparents gave me an education through food. We ate pickled herring from the jar, chopped liver on salted sheets of matzo, and whitefish salad on marbled bagels or straight from their clear containers that never quite clicked shut. A pink container of Temp Tee cream cheese made its way out from the back of the fridge - it was too crumbly and dry for the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches I was obsessed with, but on those finger-burning bagels, it melted, as they say, like butter.
My mother must have missed their influence, too; Soon after their move, jars of store bought matzo ball soup appeared. Unlike Campbell’s, Manischevitz sold their soup in glass Vlasic pickle-sized jars. Each filled with cloudy yellow liquid. Upon shaking, orange and green bits flurried around while the beige, cratery globes gently bobbed - a culinary snow globe. Our cupboards looked like the science lab at school.
I’ve never been tempted to try jarred soup as an adult, the way I have other foods from my childhood (Spaghetti Oh’s (kind of good), Pop Tarts (not really very good), Fruity Pebbles (amazingly like chemicals), boxed mac and cheese (still a staple)).
But luckily, we have this recipe to enjoy so we can leave those childhood memories intact.
This is a salad of opposites. The brightness of the grapefruit and lemon cut through the smokiness of the trout. The avocado does double duty, adding heft to the salad, all the while grounding the saltiness of the fish.
It’s a meal in itself, but also lovely with softly scrambled eggs.
And you’ll want to leave leftovers so you can pile them high between two slices of toasted rye the next day.
Smoked Trout and Grapefruit Salad
These scones were meant for New Year’s Day breakfast. But a recipe requiring a box shredder, seeding a pomegranate, and enough patience for a warmed oven and browned edges is pretty ambitious for any morning - even one in which resolve against laziness is likely at its strongest.
This was my first time making scones. The process is more labor intensive than that for a muffin, but the burst of pomegranate, sour against the six tablespoons of butter, is worth it.
Pomegranate & Yogurt Scones Recipe
Making batches of eggs in the morning makes me giddy, because it means we were lucky enough to spend the nite prior with friends. And so I never mind waking up to prepare breakfast while a full house sleeps away belly aches and head aches.
These baked eggs can be made, pretty much, with eyes shut, making them the perfect recipe for post New Year’s Eve revelry. Fill ramekins with egg and cream and bake for 10+ minutes. Throw a pack of bacon in the oven and you’ve outdone yourself.
Eggs en Cocotte Recipe
I grew up on Shake and Bake pork chops. We ate them weekly, with Mott’s apple sauce and frozen and boxed green beans with slivered almonds. [It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned that real almonds did not resemble the flavorless, chewy toenail clippings that I’d been taking for almonds for more than a decade.]
The sides might have been underwhelming, but the pork was always delicious. The crisp coating (even the underside, like soggy Raisin Bran, was scraped clean from our plates) made up for the criminal overcooking of pork that was happening in every household in the 1980’s.
These chops don’t come from a box, but they are easy and quick to make. The zip from the wasabi and ginger provides a nice wake up call from nostalgia and more than bests my childhood memories.
Wasabi & Ginger Pork Chop Recipe
Sometimes when it’s 13 degrees outside, we bunker down and make pretty with some bread and fancy bits.
Averting our eyes from frosted windows, we crank up the heat and take our cue from cats: We bask in the sunny spots and pretend that it’s summertime.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Yesterday, Monday, was grey and gloomy and we had brown soup for dinner. Is that too much sadness in one sentence?
I actually made the soup last week. It’s a recipe I’ve made before. Simple and earthy, this unassuming pot was made even better with fresh pork stock.
But the soup sat in our fridge until the greyest of days, when, armed with a warm baguette and a Granny Smith apple, we finally resigned to warming this pot of rat-brown colored pureed mushrooms.
Halfway through the bowl, a funny thing happened: the drab, poised for snow, sky was no longer that, but the softest blanket of rabbit fur, almost inviting.
And that’s what a good soup does. Warms your outlook. Restores your faith in Mondays.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
I love a soup for Thanksgiving. Not the hurried affair of tossing tomatoes and canned beans into a 10 minute stock. Rather, a soup made with full fat milk and too much half and half. One made with pricey mushrooms only to be pureed. A soup that relies on its quiet flavor, instead of the old one-two punch. In short, a soup that feels special.
This Thanksgiving, I made exactly that - a lobster and seafood bisque that benefited from a generous amount of coconut oil, fresh lobster meat and two days of preparation.
Although this recipe is labor intensive, the heavy lifting is done well before the guests arrive, allowing it to warm patiently on the stove, waiting to be served at your leisure.
Lobster & Seafood Bisque
Over the past decade, Thanksgiving tradition has gone out the window with the turkey, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ve rung the bell of an unfamiliar door with a bottle of wine and our empty stomachs, eaten fish tacos on the balcony of a Maui rental, inhaled tamales while searching for our next bite on the streets of Tulum, and slept through our dinner reservation, waking with heads still cloudy from a day of Sonoma wine-tasting.
Some years we spend local, passing a crystal bowl of jiggling cranberry relish around Grandma’s table. And others, we spend with friends squeezed around our makeshift farmhouse table, knees knocking table posts.
This year there were just 4 of us, which allowed for ample knee and elbow room and plenty time between hanging up my apron to dry and our friends walking through the front door.
And so we sat in the living room, waiting for our friends to make the 90 mile trek north, while snacking like birds and sipping this (super simple) rum-spiked hot apple cider.
Hot Apple Cider
I keep reading about the backlash against kale. While it may be human nature to scoff at trends, I love that I can walk into just about any restaurant and enjoy a kale salad without the time it takes for the perfect chiffonade or the effort to get out the blender to purée anchovies.
That said, maybe I’m still doe-eyed on the kale bandwagon. Aside from kale chips, I really only cooked with it the first time a few years ago. My first love was a zippy Asian-y salad I posted about here. A year later, I obsessed over Five Leaves’ creamy anchovy version enough to replicate it here.
Since then, my go to kale salad has become less fussy (just 4 ingredients), a bit healthier and lightning quick to prepare.
Kale, Feta, Lemon, Avocado Salad
I would never pickle a cherry in May or June. But by the end of July, when it’s difficult to remember the excitement of the first cherries of the season, all bets are off.
The result is addictively satisfying (sweet! sour! spicy!). And despite the quick boil, the fruit remains fleshy and plump.
We ate these odd little cherries with copious amounts of cheese and a very fun champagne and recommend you do the same.
Spiced and Pickled Cherries
On unbearably hot summer nights when you’re forced to eat dinner in your bikini, nothing beats the convenience of a citrusy, spicy larb. Requiring just ten minutes to prep, and even less burner time, the only thing making you sweat will be the jalapeños.
The dish is versatile, so feel free to sub out the protein or switch up the herbs and the spice. But don’t don’t even think about swapping out the iceberg. The crispy, cool lettuce is the perfect complement to the spicy meat mixture you’ll wrap inside.
Like most rational people, food generally does not annoy me. But corn, masquerading as a vegetable, drives me mad. It’s loaded with sugary and fatty calories and, even though it’s creamy and milky, it contains no calcium.
That said, it’s difficult to resist this wildly sweet treat in the height of its season. My favorite way to indulge is Bittman’s simple corn and tomato salad. The heat of the jalapeño, tang of lime, smokey bacon, creamy avocado and crunch of the barely cooked corn will change your corn cobbing, kernels stuck between your teeth ways.
Start of the season always lends itself to minor extravagances. And so after a half-hearted forage for ramps, I found myself at the market overpaying for a soft shell crab and a bunch of the elusive ramps.
Wanting something bright and stringent to cut through the meaty soft shell crab, I quick pickled the ramps using my old standby recipe.
In the way that I rarely want an oyster that isn’t on the half-shell, or a broiled or stuffed lobster, I generally don’t pickle foods that are already delicious and special on their own.
And yet, in the days that followed, I ate these slimy strings of ramps over piles of arugula, buried in avocado sandwiches, sharing forks with rosemary panko pork and, too often, straight from the jar until my skin breathed garlic and vinegar.
There’s a Key
There will be a sunny Saturday in April when you know you should stop craving shoyu ramen and meatballs and warm baguettes with Irish butter and saucisson sec.
On this day, you’ll think about making a righteous kale salad. And yet.
You’ll lay a fire in the stove, run an afternoon bath and camp under the duvet with your dog and a well-worn copy of The Secret History, waiting for this hearty strata to finish baking in the oven.