One of my highest hopes for The Kitchen Daughter is that it finds a happy home with book clubs. I've been in a book club in every city I've lived in since college, including a great group of ladies here in NYC. Last week, we just had our second meeting. How was the discussion of A Reliable Wife? Excellent. How was the food? Off. The. Charts.
Flatbread with leeks and potatoes. Roasted beets with almonds, feta, and green apples. Quinoa. Strawberry-rhubarb pie. And more. Plus wine, of course.
Me? After some very smart advice from a participant on the weekly Washington Post food chat, pointing to my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen, I whipped up a half-batch of Blueberry Boy Bait, an absurdly delicious airy-textured butter cake dotted with blueberries and dusted with cinnamon sugar.
(My pictures are nowhere near as good as Deb's but I had to give it a shot.)
The recipe's got a few tricks to it -- you can't just toss everything in the stand mixer and hope for the best -- but the end product is so delicious and irresistible that I highly recommend finding somewhere else to be for the 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven. Because letting it cool in the pan for 20 minutes, with that taunting buttery cinnamon smell, is a real test of willpower.
(This test, I failed. I couldn't wait. It was so soft I had to take the corner out with a spoon, but take the corner out I did.)
In sum: YUM. Whether you're baiting a boy, or fueling a book discussion, this one works wonders.
(Incidentally, I've tagged "book news" for this post for good reason -- I've finally turned in the final version of the manuscript! Yes, I may invoke the word "final" a couple more times -- we've still got copy edits to go, after all -- but this is a big moment of DONE. Yay! Perhaps I should... bake a cake?)
I don't really do full-on restaurant reviewing much on the Simmer blog, for several reasons.
1. I don't take pictures in restaurants, like most reviewers (or their associates) do, so it would look pretty dry.
2. There are plenty of people already around in NYC doing this awesomely. More power to them. And I rarely go to a restaurant enough times, and ordering enough diverse dishes, to really give a true and informed opinion of what a typical diner's experience would be.
3. Although I love restaurants, I also love cooking at home, and that's where my focus is these days. (In addition to finishing the last of the revisions on THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER, as I've mentioned. Just four more tape flags!)
But there are a couple exceptions. I did mini-reviews of Garces Training Company, because I'm a sucker for anything Garces, and of the CookieBar pop-up, because it was fun. That's why I have an "other people's food" tag -- I do, from time to time, go batty over other people's food.
And last weekend I went batty over the $35 Cucina Povera deal at Hearth.
NYC, being full of food, is also full of food deals. Prix-fixe lunches. Street carts. Buy-one-get-one offers. A gazillion dumplings for a dollar. Special nights at special prices. But what I liked about Hearth's Cucina Povera deal is this -- any night of the week, you can get three courses for $35, and a set of three wine pairings alongside for $15. Do you get a choice about what you eat? Nope. But is it delicious? You better you better you bet.
And here's another reason this is totally not a restaurant review -- I didn't even order it, though I did taste every course (and every wine). I had an out-of-this-world saffron lasagna that, days, later, I'm still reverse-engineering in my mind. But I know a deal when I see one, and when you see a deal in New York City that doesn't require you to compromise in some significant way (only available til 5:30pm! only for the whole table! only in Long Island City! only for parties of 12!), you jump on it.
In brief: gorgeous June produce + working from home = perfect, easy summer lunch.
I cut up the zucchini, salt it, and let it rest about an hour to draw out a lot of the water. Then I throw some shallots into a pan with olive oil, heat that to high, dry off the zukes and toss them in, then let 'er rip. After there's some browning, I chop up a few Marcona almonds to add. Salt. Pepper. Done.
Oh. And if I'm lucky, and happen to have a little birthday present standing by, this happens.
Delicious. Fresh. Wonderful. And faster than going out for a sandwich.
Sometimes, when the fruits of summer start coming in, you just want to eat them straight up. Peaches gnawed off the pit, raspberries popped straight into your mouth, strawberries with nothing but maybe, maybe a dusting of sugar.
But sometimes, you want to mix things up a little. You've got berries, but three or four days from now, they'll be past their prime, and you don't want to let them rot. With nearly any fruit, you can just cook it down with sugar, and keep it in the fridge another week. But if you want something the next notch beyond that, you can mix a little something into your fast jam. Ginger in your cherries. Thyme in your blueberries.
Still embroiled in revisions (down to 13 tape flags! yes!) but had a few minutes to share a couple things with you.
First: mmmmm, tapenade and stinky cheese on crostini. The tapenade recipe is from a cookbook called Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein, and what makes it extra delicious is a heavy helping of citrus juice and zest. That plus black and green olives, good olive oil, and roasted garlic = magic for all occasions.
Second: Allison Winn Scotch is running an absolutely fabulous contest from her website, and you could win one of 28 books... or, the grand prize, ALL 28 books. Signed by the author(s)!Stop by her blog, Ask Allison, and follow the instructions to enter.
I'm sorry, folks. I'm embroiled in the very last round of edits on The Kitchen Daughter, and when I'm doing that type of writing, this type of writing (blogging, I mean) sometimes suffers. I hope I can be back in full effect next week, but at the moment, I'd like to offer you an absolutely gorgeous and amazing blog post... written by someone else.
There's a recipe box that plays a very important role in The Kitchen Daughter, for one main reason: because there are many, many recipe boxes that play an important role in actual real life. Molly from Orangette is a fabulous writer and blogger whose grandmother recently passed, and her blog post on her grandmother's recipe box is a wonder of nostalgia and joy and memory. And, of course, it includes a recipe you want to make immediately and share around the world.