And in honor of great new beginnings, the best darned holiday food I know: Lentils, redux. I'm not superstitious, but I do appreciate when certain superstitions give me an excuse to do something I want to do anyway. In Italy, lentils, called lenticchie (pronounced "len-TEA-ki-yay") are traditionally eaten for New Year because they are supposed to bring prosperity to the eater. The reasoning being that the little legumes are vaguely reminiscent of teeny tiny coins so by eating them, you will be showered with money. Which is why every year when the new year comes around, thinking my friends and I could use a little prosperity ourselves, I invite, I make as big a pot of them as I can. I start with Umbrian Lentils, which grow in and around a town called Castelluccio, in Umbria. Smaller than traditional brown lentils, Umbrian lentils come in various shades of brown and are known for their tender skin and rich, slightly sweet flavor. You'll have to get them at a specialty food store and ...

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My mother is impossible to buy gifts for. Last night to dinner, I wore a scarf I gave her one year for Christmas. "You obviously liked it. You'll wear it more than I would. You keep it." Another year I bought her nice hand cream. The woman loves rubbing cream into her hands. A year later I saw the tube sitting on her bathroom counter, untouched. "Don't you like it?" I asked. "I love it. I just don't want to use it up." I bought her another one so she'd know there was plenty of hand cream in her future. She kept that in her car console, also untouched. Her standard line regarding gifts has always been, "I can afford to buy myself anything you can afford to buy me. Make me something instead." And so I decided to make her this online album. We've spent the last two mother's days together at my friend Andre's home in Venice, California. Andre is a landscape designer, floral designer, and artist. His garden, which I call Andre's World, is a work of art, and one of my favorite places on the ...

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Today my friend the Foodinista asked me what I was cooking for Thanksgiving because somewhere during our ten year friendship she picked up the idea that around this time of year, I have something inspiring up my sleeve. My family is having a pseudo Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow afternoon. I'm bringing dessert, and since I have been elbow-deep in olive oil and grated Parm testing recipes for the Mozza cookbook all week long, I didn't think about what I would bring until five o'clock this evening at which time I decided to take a Why Argue with Success approach and make a Sourmash Apple Cobbler that I have been making since 1991. I was given the recipe as a going away present from the chef at a restaurant where I worked after college to save money to move to New York City, and I have relied on it countless times since--even after my rustic baked fruit repertoire became much more, er... sophisticated (can I that word in the context of a rustic baked fruit dessert?).  The apples are cooked ...

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