This long winter eased into a cool spring. And while at times that constant grey, snow and cold was numbing, it also gave me a chance to huddle in, to cook, to read, to listen. Here are some of my loves as of late:
The eloquence, subtle humor, honesty and beauty of Gabrielle Hamilton's writing in Blood, Bones and Butter. Let's just say I am dying to try her restaurant Prune in New York City. And, I confess, to meet her! Groupie, I am.
The fact that every.single.recipe is absolutely delicious in Dorie Greenspan's Baking. I know I am late to discover this gem. Ironically, after I swooned over Around My French Table, I realized that Baking was the first to use her fantastic format: dozens of recipes, with even more variations. Her recipes are so clear, so easy and just so yummy.
The writing of Nigel Slater. Slater is another writer I would love to emulate. His voice is so calming and reassuring as he suggests ways to grow and prepare vegetables, to enjoy simple meals and just to be.
The Leite's Culinaria "Authors' Answers" Podcasts. I have long been a fan of the amazing site, Leite's Culinaria. It fulfills two roles for me: access to great recipes and to glorious writing. Yet, somehow I missed these podcasts. Here David Leite interviews authors such as Melissa Clark, Joanne Chang, Dorie Greenspan and Amanada Hesser. Not only do you get a chance to discover these authors but to find out how a cookbook evolves. Listening to this is a joy.
The writing of Melissa Clark. I have written before about the thrill of discovering her broccoli and shrimp dish. Roasted in the oven, dinner is ready in minutes. While I had enjoyed the sweet crispness of roasted cauliflower, roasted broccoli is good, too. But the revelation in the recipe is the use of coriander and lemon zest. With that combination the other flavors sparkle. And each week in her New York Times column, Ms. Clark provides a backdrop for her thinking and a lovely recipe that I am dying to cook. I have also loved having many of those recipe (and more) in her delightful book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. The recipes aren't complicated, but the resulting dishes sing with flavor. The stories, too, support her strength as a writer.
Mario Batali's cookbook, Molto Gusto. As I wrote about here, I am not a huge celebrity chef fan. But this cookbook, which focuses on his restaurant Otto, centers on simple preparations and many are focused on vegetables. Rather than covering, say, cauliflower with cheese sauce, you top it with sliced olives and serve it warm. I am always looking for more ways to honor the vegetable, while taking a new twist, on, say, brussel sprouts. This also has many pizza recipes which could be done on the grill. But my secret fav? His recipe for olive oil ice cream from Otto, one of the most memorable desserts I have had!
Cafe Pajaro coffee from Trader Joe's. While I would love to always get coffee from local roasters like Karma in Sudbury, I can stock up on dark, rich Pajaro for those mornings that I need coffee. NOW.
High Lawn butter. After a great Spilled Milk podcast that covered butter, I, too tried to find a local sweet butter for topping my bread. High Lawn uses Jersey cows, known for their rich milk and cream. This butter is a lovely and deep yellow. It is sweet and wonderful topped with Maldon salt flakes.
Maldon Salt Flakes. Okay, I get that I am really late to this party. But these crunchy gems are a revelation on top of butter and bread, polenta, vegetables and, well, anything. They are worth the price.
The way my son, 5 years old, loves "popping peas." He sits with a huge bag of English peas from Russo's and devours them. One of those moments that I can actually take pride in my mom skills!
And you, readers? Any things that you are a cravin' right now?