YellowTable

As soon as it cools down a bit, I’m totally going to make this Zucchini Parmesan.

A friend I admire very much self-published her cookbook, The Yellow Table (above), last year and then sold it to a publisher for wider distribution. Here, a story about her and kitchen keepsakes on Food 52 . Go Anna!

My husband works for a wine importer and sells wine wholesale to NYC accounts. This insidery article gives a glimpse into how the wine market works in New York and some of the (very first world) frustrations he experiences.

I linked to this on the sly in an earlier post, but in case you missed it: A terrific article on how pink wines became such “a thing.”

File this under #NotSoModernPotluck: A Social History of the Rise and Fall of the Jello Salad. 

And then something that’s #SoModernPotluck: These beautiful drink dispensers pulled together by The Fresh Exchange.

Ok and finally, this has nothing to do with food, unless you count this company’s chef-related tote bags. In any case, when it comes to clothing, I’m a chronic under-buyer. I hate shopping, and as I’ve gotten older, I’m really picky about the way fabrics feel and the way clothes fit. Over the past year, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Everlane for high quality, affordable basics. Because they sell exclusively online, their mark-ups are lower than usual and they’re completely transparent about the factories they use. I highly recommend them for anyone who loves wearing black, white and neutrals, like I do!

Grilled Zucchini with Dill and Walnuts

My cookbook, The Modern Potluck, is forthcoming from Clarkson Potter in July 2016. On occasion, I will share recipes—either my own or those I encounter out in the world—that I feel are fit for a potluck. And, of course, I’m creating a new hashtag around this theme: #SoModernPotluck. Enjoy!

I almost feel like I’m cheating, writing this dish up as a recipe. But this is what summer cooking should be, right? Take something you have in abundance and grill it. Sprinkle on the herb that’s growing wild in your garden or that you bought too much of at the farmers’ market. Add a nut that’s hanging around in the pantry. Serve it all with ricotta toasts and you’ve got dinner. Or a really nice dish for a #modernpotluck.

That’s the story here. I had too many zucchini and summer squash in the fridge as any cook tends to in the summer. Grilling the squash made sense: Not only do they become incredibly silky, the pieces shrink, so two people can polish off four of these babies if you’re not serving much else. I would have garnished them with basil except that I had a huge bag of dill. Walnuts then felt like the right nut to sprinkle.

Of course, you can plop the dish down in the middle of a table at a party, perhaps with ricotta and toasts, as I did, or a drizzle of salted plain yogurt and tell your guests to have at it. Any leftovers are great on sandwiches or tossed with pasta.

For wine, you ask? We ate this with a dry German Riesling, which was a stellar pairing. The zippy acid is delicious with rich, milky ricotta. Any light, citrusy white would work well here. continue reading

Traveling to France with a three-year-old.

We knew we had to forget about the long lunches, multiple winery visits and hotel hopping we would have planned for a trip to France if it we didn’t have a three-year-old in tow.

Renting the tiny convertible? That was put on the “In 15 years” list as well.

We also decided to skip Paris (quelle horreur!), figuring we live in NYC and would rather take a break from the little-kid-in-a-city stress we experience on the reg. We made a few mistakes in our planning, which I’ll cover in another post, but I’ve got to give ourselves props: We did a lot of things right when prepping for this trip.

1. We rented houses. For most of the trip, we stayed in one place for at least one week at a time, so we rented two different houses through Home Away. (AirBNB and VBRO, among other sites, are also great options for this). Having a house gave us a safe space to take a cranky kid and establish routines, which are always so important for little ones. Plus, we could cook whenever we wanted and spread out within a space.

2. We ate at tourist restaurants. My old self would turn up her nose. My mom self didn’t care: Tourist restaurants tended to be packed with little kids. Plus, it was France: Most of the time, the ingredients were great and simply prepared and the views were often amazing, so what could be bad?

3. We made few plans. I had no idea how jet lag would affect our daughter, so I didn’t create any kind of itinerary. We went with basic ideas of what we would do: Go to the beach the first week; visit Beaune the second week. Maybe hit up a winery or two in each place. We let our daughter find her rhythm naturally and tended to figure out what we would do for the day the night before.

4. We picnicked. Remember when you backpacked across Europe and loved how you could just buy bread, cheese and fruit, and maybe some ham; sit anywhere and make that a cheap meal. Well, it’s no different with a kid. Our daughter loved the picnics because she could run around while we lounged, and we loved them because we could lounge while she ran around. Bonus: I got a break from cooking.

5. We flew at strategic times. When buying our flights, I tried to pick times that would set our daughter up to sleep as much as possible. Being shoved into a tin can is stressful for anyone, but three year olds aren’t always so great at managing that stress in productive ways. We flew out of New York at 9:30 pm, just past our daughter’s bedtime. She was fast asleep within an hour of take-off and didn’t wake up until we landed. On the way back, we left at 4:30 France time, so she watched cartoons and colored for the first half of the flight and slept for most of the second half, with a couple of quick meltdowns in between. (Inevitable, I guess, right?) The best part about this return flight was that we got home at 9 pm and she went right to bed. She was barely jet-lagged the next day. Meanwhile, we still were, several days later!

What have you learned about traveling with little ones?

A simple French-style lentil salad. Great for lunch or picnics.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

This quote, attributed to Voltaire, has become one of my favorites over the past few years. And yet, I haven’t heeded this wisdom at all when it comes to this blog. If you scroll a bit, you’ll see that I’ve been posting surreptitiously behind a maintenance screen for almost a year. (My real first post explains why this blog exists.)

I kept waiting for the perfect moment to launch. First, I wanted the design to be done. The wildly talented ladies behind Wooden Spoons Kitchen, who sadly are closing up shop later this year, completed their work in the spring. Then, I thought, I’ll wait until after the photo shoots for my book but oh! Then there’s a wedding in Mexico. If I’m not launching until after Mexico, I might as well wait until I get back from my vacation. And on and on it goes.

In truth, I think I’ve been a little afraid to launch. I wanted more than the perfect moment. I wanted to know I could create a damn near perfect blog post, every time I tried. You see, so many bloggers do jobs that would require eight different people at a magazine (writer, editor, recipe developer, copy editor, prop stylist, food stylist, photographer, photo editor) and do them all pretty well. It’s totally intimidating.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Right.

And so here we are. Hi!

I did, in fact, wait until after my vacation, a truly wonderful trip to France with my husband, daughter and for part of the time, my dad. While there, we cooked very simply: Grilled or pan-seared fish with tomato salads were in heavy rotation. I also re-affirmed my love for a simple lentil salad, which we took out on a picnic one day with some spectacular canned tuna and, of course, a bottle of rosé. (That’s so us!)

Since being home, I’ve made a version of this lentil salad twice already. It’s a great make-ahead dish for lunch al desko (and #notasaddesklunch), whether you work in an office or at home. I also love having it around as a building block for a quick dinner: You can just add cooked salmon, pulled rotisserie chicken or a fried egg to make it feel a bit more complete. And finally, this is one of those dishes I know that my daughter will always eat. Sometimes I mix in a little cooked broccoli or feta cheese; sometimes I leave it as is.

The only fussy part is that the salad is best with lentils that stay together after they’re cooked: French green lentils (de puy); Umbrian lentils or those sexy black beluga lentils all work well. If you can only find your standard brown lentils, no sweat. The salad will still be good. And when it comes to a quick lunch or dinner, good is perfect. continue reading