Shine on, Crazy Diamonds

In the early nineties, I used to work Wednesdays and Saturdays selling fruit behind the Locust Grove Fruit Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City. Almost without fail on both of those days each week, the pastry chef Gina DePalma, would come in to buy fruit for the rustic, seasonally-inspired desserts she made first at The Cub Room, a SoHo hotspot at at the time and then at Mario Batali's legendary pillar of Italian cuisine, Babbo Ristorante. Gina died earlier this month of ovarian cancer. Sadly, Gina and I never became real actual friends, but we made the occasional contact via social media and saw each other at events, and I think it's fair to say that we liked each other and regarded our long ago farmers market connection as a sort of bond from the trenches. Gina kept a blog until the end and I loved reading it. First, because she was knowledgable and a professional and whether she was writing about the iconic pasta dish, cacio e pepe or giving her readers a r ...

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Resolution Number 9: or Lima Beans for the Open Minded

Any seasoned New Years resolution maker knows that the secret to feeling good about yourself in the days and weeks to come is to make at least one resolution that you know you can keep. This year, among the more challenging against-my-nature changes I set out to make in the ongoing crusade toward self perfection, I resolved to cook more for my family and friends. Since I live in a back house behind my sister and her boyfriend, both of whom are, from what I can tell, always hungry, and since my love of cooking far exceeds the amount I can eat, this isn't going to be a difficult resolution to keep. This week, for instance, I made roasted acorn squash, two types of cabbage, shallots, carrots, potatoes, and kale. (No, not together.) I slowly simmered a tiny pot of garlic cloves in olive oil until they were golden, sweet, and spreadable. (Here's how.) I made a big pot of chicken stock; I roasted a whole chicken, and, let me just tell you, that was good. But nothing was more popular among ...

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Eat Lentils, Get Rich

A lot changed in 2015. I sold and wrote my first cookbook, Bowls of Plenty, a book on healthy, delicious grain bowls (not to be confused with health food) that will be published in in 2017. I paid off my debts. My step-dad, who raised me, left the world after a long and rich life, two friends died young of alcoholism, and a few more acquaintances' lives got cut short, which is at once sad and also a reminder of how seriously we have to take this business of enjoying life. And then, of course, there are the things that remain the same: I wrote a cookbook for a celebrity I'd never heard of. I wrote a third cookbook for Nancy Silverton, out this fall, it's called Mozza at Home. And I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning to make my annual New Year's lentils, which, according to the Italian tradition, if eaten on New Years, will, because of the coin-like shape of the lentils, bring said eater prosperity in the year ahead. I've written about this before, as you can read here, but len ...

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Just when you think a dish is so simple that who needs a recipe, some bright person (or two) comes along and starts asking for details. Yesterday I posted on Instagram a picture of a simple cucumber salad."Cucumber salad with sweet onions and fennel pollen. Unexpected and delicious. Dress with lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. There's your recipe. You're welcome," I wrote, smugly. The raw ingredients. I'm in Italy, staying at my friend the chef Nancy Silverton's house. She and I had come home from a trip to Brunello Cucinelli, located about three hills over from the medieval hill town where Nancy has a house. The trip had been a bust, and now we'd changed our goal from finding 20-ply cashmere at an affordable price to the more attainable: putting together a simple lunch with what we had in the fridge. What we had, as it happens, is about 15 pounds of various leftover meats, all from the famous Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini who'd brought them to a party earlier in the week, but the on ...

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