Read this before you make scrambled eggs again.

The next coolest wine bar in NYC.

This Instagram feed, which made me want to make this sticky sesame chicken.

Just as I finally start blogging, the Amateur Gourmet (one of the early food bloggers) starts a new career.

Inspiring work by tech company Intel.

Also inspiring: Some of the response to the NY Times stellar report about the ugly truths behind cheap manicures.

Best news ever after the worst news ever.

 

 

Mango-Cashew-Orange-Ginger Smoothie

Scroll through my Instagram feed most mornings and you’ll see at least one person showing off their $10 green juice. I love those fresh juices for their color and for their ability to feel like a boozeless cocktail. But do I think that a $10 juice has miraculous healing properties and is cure for all that ails? No, not really. To me, juice seems like style over substance.

Smoothies, however, are different. They have plenty of sugar, sure, but they also contain fruit and vegetable fiber, slowing down the absorption of all of those good nutrients. Plus, fiber is filling, so a smoothie can stand in for a meal or, at the very least, a large snack. (And it should! The recipe below has about 400 calories.)

I never totally understood the appeal of a smoothie other than it being a way to cram more healthy ingredients into my life. But recently, I came into one of those powerful blenders. You know the type: They can grind grain into flour; puree soups to silk and pulverize coconut meat into milk, should you be masochistic enough to want to open up a coconut at home.

With this blender, leafy greens and hard vegetables, like carrots, become one the other ingredients, leaving no unappealing chunks or flecks. Plus, the blender blades spin so fast, giving the drink a whipped, airy texture.

Thanks to this powerful blender, I’ve been on a smoothie kick, feeling much like writer Oliver Strand does in this Vogue article after he acquires a Vitamix. “My Vitamix runs with such brutal efficiency that when I go to the market I look at what’s on the shelves and in the produce aisles and think, I could blend you.” (For the record, my blender is actually not a Vitamix but one from Wolf Gourmet.)

My recent favorite recipe tastes like an Orange Julius after a visit to southeast Asia. Thanks to the richness of the cashew butter, the smoothie drinks like a milkshake but is actually dairy-free.  continue reading

Pasta with clams and ramps. The food world likes to wax poetic about ramps. I just love to cook with them. From the second these wild leeks arrive—usually in early April when they’re thinner than pencils—to when they departure with their swollen bulbs in late May, I add them to as many dishes as I can.

Pasta with clams in a white wine sauce is a house favorite, so I recently thought, why not let ramps stand in for the usual garlic? Since clams and ramps both have fresh, bright but funky flavors, let’s just say that this pairing was meant to be. A quick word of warning: The resulting dish is quite fragrant so it’s best to open the windows while you cook!

And to drink? Try this with any minerally, salty coastal white wine, like French Muscadet, Spanish Albariño or Vermentino from Liguria in Italy. continue reading

Fish escabeche for The Modern Potluck

My intern, Amelia, took this photo as she tested a fish escabeche.

After enlisting many, many volunteers to help test about half of the recipes in The Modern Potluck, I found myself backlogged with more testing and retesting. Recipe testing is a fun gig but cleaning up is less so. Plus, to be honest, I started to get tired of making the same dishes over and over.

Throughout the book writing process, people told me to hire an intern. The problem is, I like developing recipes by myself, with no one looking over my shoulder. Sometimes, my process involves a bit of puttering around; I don’t always come to the kitchen with a clear-cut plan so I wasn’t always sure what an intern could do.

Testing and re-testing written up recipes, well, that is something someone else could do. I didn’t have any budget left to hire a tester, but I remembered that one of my best early experiences post culinary school was helping a cookbook author organize her ideas and doing some testing. For free. Yep.

I decided to get over my anxiety about having someone work in my home kitchen and ask my alma mater, the Institute of Culinary Education, if they knew of a recent graduate who might like some experience testing recipes. Within a few weeks, they sent me the perfect person—a career changer and mom of two girls who had some serious grit and a great attitude. She was working full time at a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York and looking to transition away from the restaurant gig to a job with saner hours.

I couldn’t pay her in dollars, but I promised her tons of food, recipe testing experience and all the contacts she could ask for. She came to my house once a week and cooked through three or four recipes each time. The best part about having in her my own kitchen was that I was able to check in and taste throughout the process. I could immediately see where instructions needed to be better or where we needed to add more of less of an ingredient. And yes, she cleaned up the kitchen when she was done.

Best of all, she found a job as a test kitchen assistant almost immediately after she stopped working at the restaurant and with me. I’m thrilled I could be part of her journey, and I know she’ll continue to do awesome things.

If I ever write another cookbook, I will definitely hire another intern. It was an incredible experience for me, and one that has only made the book better.