A Good Day for Macarons

Baking videos like these always kind of amuse me; they make mixing eggs, sugar, and flour in a bowl seem super artsy when really it’s kind of boring and routine. But oooh man these coffe-white chocolate macarons look so delicious. And it seems I found this video at exactly the right moment — Laduree is opening their New York City outpost today! I never had the chance to check out their famous macarons when I was in France, so I can’t wait to stop by their Upper East Side location.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to satisfy myself with watching this video on repeat.

The Perfect Recipe for College Care Packages (and Life): Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

My brother leaves for college today. Which actually doesn’t seem that weird anymore — I mean, the whole family’s been preparing for his departure for a year now. But I wasn’t about to let the occasion pass without commemorating it somehow, and since I never got him a graduation present I instead made him a college survival kit. I spent all summer accumulating various items, both useful and silly, and the final thing on my list was to bake cookies.

And then the hurricane happened. We’ve been without power for three days now, but I wasn’t about to let a little rain and wind and downed power lines get in the way of making my brother a care package. Thankfully I had a friend who did not lose power who let me use her kitchen to bake. Thanks, Adena!

I’m also excited to report that after a long search, I’ve finally found my perfect, go-to cookie recipe, which for me is almost as awesome as sending my li’l bro off to college. Oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookies. Can you imagine anything more scrumptious? If you can, please let me know. I will bake it immediately.

My only problem with the recipe was the yield. 2 1/2 dozen? Not if you’re making cookies the size of your face (which I did). I tried to take pictures to show exactly how ginormous these cookies are, but to get an idea I could only fit six of them per cookie sheet. And (you guessed it) they’re easy to make. So easy that I can pretty much recite the recipe from memory.

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Celebration Dinner: Caponata, Spiced Fennel Lamb Chops, and Wine-Roasted Figs

Guess what, y’all? If you haven’t heard (if I haven’t told you) already, I have an internship this fall! At ELLE Magazine! In the features department! (at least, theoretically. This is an internship, after all, so I have a feeling I’m gonna be doing whatever they ask me to do.) I am already prepping for Devil Wears Prada moments. As in, if I don’t drop a dress size and take home clothes from the sample closet and go to Paris and adopt a middle-aged gay mentor and get arch looks from Miranda Priestly Anna Wintour Meryl Streep the editor in chief, I will be severely, severely disappointed. Because that’s really why I applied for this internship. For sure.

Anyway, to celebrate my shaky step onto the rotting ladder of magazine journalism, I made a big ol’ celebratory meal. In my opinion, these three recipes make the perfect great fancy meal — they’re fancy, they’re still crowd pleasers with ingredients that you can find in any supermarket, and they’re quick and easy to make (most abused phrase on this blog). For the lamb chops, just rub some ground fennel seed and salt over the meat, saute for five minutes, and then stick the chops in a hot oven to cook through. For the caponata, a traditional Italian dish usually served on crostini, just place your chopped vegetables and spices in a skillet and let the flavors blend together as the dish simmers. For the figs, let them soak in wine, cover with aluminum foil, and roast for 15 minutes.

Hopefully, the internship will be just as easy. In any case, at least the Harry Potter series is over so don’t have to worry about getting any unpublished manuscripts.

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Weathering the Storm with Shakshuka

So here’s the thing about cooking for people when you’re sick: it sucks. It’s perfectly do-able, as long as you wash your hands obsessively, don’t cough or sneeze anywhere near the food, and you’re preparing something that cooks on a high heat and doesn’t require much (or any) handling of the ingredients. But you can’t really smell or taste anything, and even though you know that your body needs food to fight off germs, the occasional whiff of simmering tomato sauce can make you feel queasy.

I could have easily asked my parents or brother to prepare dinner tonight, but I’d slept all day and wanted to do something. Plus, the ingredients were all just there, sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for me to make them into something delicious.

Which leads me to shakshuka, an Israeli dish (with the funnest name ever) that is basically just eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. I eliminated the spice to suit my family’s taste preferences, but spicy shakshuka would probably taste awesome with the feta that’s sprinkled on top. Also on the plus list: it’s quick and easy to make, cheap, vegetarian, gluten-free, and really filling.

Ironically, getting sick is probably the best thing that could have happened to me during this hurricane; I’m perfectly happy just lying in bed, doing nothing, and eating shakshuka.

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Salmon, Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Garlic Scapes

Sometimes you don’t really feel like busting out a crazy recipe for dinner. Sometimes you have a ton of random stuff you have to use up, but none of your ingredients really go together. Sometimes you don’t want to make a protein and a carb and a vegetable but you still want a somewhat balanced meal. Sometimes you just gotta throw everything in a skillet and serve it over pasta.

And guess what? It’s pasta. So it’s gonna taste amazing, no matter what you use.

Luxirare just did a post on what she calls after work pasta, and while her recipe is (predictably) fancier than mine, it’s pretty much the same idea (Though I wish I’d seen her post a little earlier because cooking pasta in clam juice sounds AWESOME). This is less of a recipe and more of a “look what I did” post because really, when it comes to slapdash pasta, just use whatever you have.

Anyway. Before we get started, I have a question for you. What the what is a garlic scape?

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Grilled Plantains

Plantains! I go crazy for plantains. So when I saw them on sale at a bodega on my way home from Jackson Heights, I picked up three. I am slowly working my way through them — one of the great things about plantains is that they ripen reeeally slowly, so you can keep them on your counter forever until you’re ready to use them. Also, you don’t really have to use a recipe — whether they’re grilled, roasted, baked, or fried, plantains will never disappoint. But if you want, you can add some brown sugar or cinnamon or paprika or whatever. No one will complain.

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Kale Blueberry Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Ok. I know you guys are probably sick of kale recipes at this point. But here’s why this one is better than all the other kale recipes I’ve posted:

1. The kale was fresh from the Union Square Greenmarket. I’m usually suspicious of the claim that farmer’s markets have better produce than supermarkets. Sometimes, they taste the same. Sometimes, they taste worse, like when you bite into a maggot in your pesticide-free apple (true story). But fresh greens taste like an entirely different vegetable from their Stop & Shop counterparts. Try buying fresh lettuce some time. You might have to spend an extra couple minutes washing off the dirt, but it tastes amazing.

2. I bought Tuscan kale instead of whatever odious green usually comes in those giant bags of “col rizada.”

3. Blueberries! I don’t know why, but blueberries and kale taste great together. I substituted them for pomegranate seeds, but I bet the pomegranate version tastes delicious, too.

4. The dressing. It’s homemade honey mustard vinaigrette. Do I even have to say any more?

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Stuffed Peppers

I made this dish on a Tuesday night. Although the cook time is 1 hour, the recipe I used claimed that the prep only took 20 minutes, which seemed reasonable to me. I figured I’d just start cooking a little early, pop these suckers in the oven, and dinner would be ready by 7:30 at the latest.

My mom knew better. When I told her I was making stuffed peppers, she was delighted, but mentioned that she no longer made them because they took so long to prepare. I rolled my eyes, but sure enough, it took me an hour just to chop all the vegetables! I think we started dinner around 9:00…

Moral of the story: Stuffed peppers are not a weeknight meal. And of course, Moms know best. Also, this meal ended up feeding six people, including three teenage boys. So it’s a great dish to make if you’re cooking for lots of hungry vegetarians.

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On Food and Race

Good recently ran an article entitled, “Eating While Black: How I Navigate Watermelon, Fried Chicken, and Frozen Yogurt.” It’s a fascinating read and offers some insight on the significance of food and racial expectations. I know that most, if not all, of the people who read this blog are white, but I’d love to hear any thoughts or experiences you might have in response.

(The only experience I have to contribute is not liking traditional Jewish food. Which is a contentious issue around Passover and Rosh Hashana, but not really what Aydrea Walden is talking about here.)