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Dessert of Champions

Here in New York spring has really sprung, and it’s making a grand entrance indeed. My prettiest dresses are sailing out of the closet; bright pastels are crowding the streets; heck, I even shaved my legs. (This activity usually lasts until mid-June, at which point I decide the patriarchy needs to get over itself and any lover scared off by a little fur won’t last long with me anyway.) The big news is that iced coffee is back on the menu. Since I quit sweets, this is the closest I ever get to a real dessert: ice, espresso, and half and half. It’s like an emotionally evolved egg cream. If I’m feeling really decadent, I take the situation a step further: Lemon or orange seltzer with iced coffee, a dash of cream, and a lot of ice. Delicious and disgusting, just like the best foods of our childhood.

Ode to the Sandwich in All Its Carb-Laden Glory

I admit it. Sometimes sandwiches entail more of a commitment to bread than I’m willing to make. As much as the food lover in me rolls her eyes, I go through phases in which I’d rather limit my consumption of refined carbohydrates to the occasional serious dessert—caramel sea salt tart trumping tuna on rye in my book. But there’s a fuck-you element to a sandwich that I simply can’t deny, a glorious mobility that no other foodstuff can provide. It’s not like you can hold a salad in one hand while you steer your getaway car through the night. It’s not like you can slurp soup during a seaside hike. And it’s not like you can stow last night’s leftovers in your pocket to munch while ogling the dog run on your lunch hour.

My inner Frugal Fanny kvells over such economy—how yesterday’s lamb can be repurposed with a sliver of asiago cheese, a sprig of parsley, a layer of fig jam spread liberally over rosemary focaccia; how you can pack your vegetable and protein and fat in one sweet-and-savory punch. There’s a universe unto itself that a sandwich invariably comprises. You can feel free to improvise wildly because, no matter how baroque you get, the worst possible disaster will be contained to a single casualty and between two slices of bread. God knows I never would have happened upon the winning combination of roasted pork, pickled peaches, lemon, fresh mayo, habanero sauce, and chopped cilantro had I been trying to please anyone besides myself. So never mind the Bullocks, man. Sandwiches are just so punk rock.

(This missive was repurposed from a little ditty I wrote for Put a Egg On It, a zine so punk rock that it foreswears online content.)

Pancakes Are No Piece of Cake

For years I’ve been waiting for someone to make me delicious pancakes.

My mom, like many people who baked a lot when they were children, is the reigning queen of breakfast food. Alas, the quality of her cooking falls off as the day progresses, a fact I’ve always chalked up to her lifelong preference for sweet carbohydrates though she denies herself them. When I was a kid, she earnestly munched salad after salad while she fed the rest of us vague casseroles and overboiled vegetables. Except in the morning. Then my whole family feasted upon cinnamon challah, fried matzoh (as we half-Yids referred to matzo brei), and the world’s most wonderful pancakes: golden brown, subtly flavorful, delicate and yet sturdy enough to serve as the perfect conduits for maple syrup and butter—which is all most of us really want in a pancake. By the time I was 10, she’d showed me how to make them at least three times but I developed a very selective amnesia when it came to the recipe. Because my sister and dad were not as gaga about them, pancakes were one of the few things my mom made just for me and I was not about to let anything intrude on that experience.

So it’s not a surprise that, as an adult, although I typically adore cooking for myself and others, I’ve always quietly been hunting for an excellent pancake maker. It’s also not a surprise that I find that goal so elusive. Pancakes might seem easy enough but Proustian enterprises never are nor is anything remotely Freudian. In this as in so many other ways, childhood is sticky. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy