Like all those cooks out there who’ve had the chutzpah to admit their failures (and, presumably, those annoying beacons of perfection who have not), I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in the kitchen.
In reflecting on them this past week, I’d say that most fall into one of two categories. The first is careless negligence, which includes things like forgetting the brussels sprouts in the oven until they resemble something that Khaleesi’s dragons might have sneezed on. A historical favorite is the time I poured cold stock from the fridge into a straight-from-the-oven Pyrex dish, causing it to shatter/explode dramatically and my neighbors to stop by to make sure everything was okay.
Then there’s the type of mistake that’s just pure technical ignorance. Since I didn’t go to cooking school, I’m particularly prone to this genre of fails. But because I prefer to drink uncurdled eggnog and to not have to throw away 6 ramekins of sunken, nasty soufflés, I tend to stick to recipes that are well within my comfort zone. But this approach to protecting my kitchen confidence proved problematic last week when I had to attend a potluck at Dana Cowin’s apartment, in honor of her new book Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen.
The evening gathered together some of my all time favorite women in the food community, including many who inspired me to start writing about my small kitchen triumphs and failures in the first place (cough cough, Deb). For the meal, we each had to bring a dish that we’d previously failed at and had since mastered.
I had many fails to choose from…obviously. The tortilla espagnola that covered my kitchen with raw egg when I tried to invert it, and the Canal House biscuits that came out as dense as cookies were among the front-runners. But sadly, I hadn’t yet found courage to right my wrongs, and trying to do so in time to impress my idols seemed like yet another recipe for disaster. Continue reading
You may remember that last fall I was chained to my stove non-stop developing recipes for Food & Wine’s website. I produced nearly 100 in my little kitchen sweatshop, and since they were broken down by category (like casseroles and fried rice) I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time hacking away at would be jack-o-lanterns and turning them into soups, stews, and many a wedge.
When they were finally published on F&W’s site in the Spring, I was still so sick of pumpkin I thought I would never bounce back. But one trip to a picking patch later, and here we are. The light at the end of the tunnel (as seen through the triangular eyes of a carved out gourd) has arrived and I am finally pumped for pumpkin. Continue reading
It’s amazing how far behind the rest of the world we are when it comes to tea. Our global commerce is pretty much epitomized by the Starbucks that have popped up on every corner of the world. But in the last decade I’ve noticed that people have started to shift their allegiances from the morning espresso to a green tea, even if I still get weird stares when ordering a cup of Ginger Peach at my local hipster coffee spot. Continue reading
I filmed this segment a few weeks ago for Fox Business’ show Risk & Reward and it finally aired today! I was on air with Side Chef CEO Kevin Yu to talk about their exciting new app (featuring Feed Me Phoebe recipes) and how tech can help new cooks in the kitchen. The screenshot above is unfortunate, so to watch me in action (wearing more makeup then I put on my face in the course of a month), click here.
People always freak out about summer in the blogosphere. But as much as I love fresh corn and tomatoes, fall is really my favorite time to eat and cook. For one thing, I prefer it when my sweat glands go into overdrive from the neck up, which they definitely do from this vegan cauliflower soup with spicy red curry, rather than from the waist down like when I’m sitting on a sticky plastic chair in 90 degree New York City humidity trying to house a smoothie. I won’t even get into what my grey T-shirts look like after an afternoon of cooking in a not-so well ventilated studio apartment in the summertime.
So now that things are cooling down, I’m excited to switch on my oven and turn up the heat (spice-wise) on some of my go-to fall soups and stews. I got the idea for this curried cauliflower soup from one of my favorite vegetarian bloggers, Kate. I loved the idea of roasting the cauliflower until sweet and caramelized and then pureeing it with Thai curry paste. The resulting color is so much more exciting than regular cauliflower soup, though I’m sure there’s a paint chip named after it somewhere.
There’s a great little Thai takeout place in Chelsea Market that also has a wall of grocery items. I usually try to stock up there on condiments and rice noodles, since their brands are so much more authentic in flavor and texture than what you’ll find at Whole Foods (no offense, Thai Kitchen and Annie Chung). The curry pastes with primarily English lettering tend to have half the heat of some of these other products, so keep that in mind when adding more or less to this vegan cauliflower soup recipe. You can use any flavor you like. I decided to go with a Penang curry instead of regular red. Continue reading
Last week, despite my jetlag from Jackson Hole, I spent my Monday preparing vegetarian shepherd’s pie and playing hostess. Usually, the idea of getting friends together over good food is enough to motivate me beyond the worst post-wedding weekend fatigue. And this gathering was extra energizing in that the occasion was not just that I had 10 types of casseroles to test that day, but to raise money for a good cause.
A few months ago I was asked to help spread the word about Lauren Bush Lauren’s new FEED Supper initiative. Over the course of one month, leading up to World Food Day on October 16th, the initiative is trying to raise money for 1 million meals. Instead of a series of big benefit galas, the power of FEED Supper lies in community gatherings for good. To participate, all you have to do is host a dinner. Instead of bringing a bottle of wine, ask guests to give $11 to FEED, which amounts to 10 meals donated. The math is easy and empowering—with just a table of 7 girls (and a few other generous no shows), we were able to raise nearly 4,000 meals.
I had been looking forward to the dinner for weeks and wanted to design a menu that was easy to transport, since my friend Sophie volunteered her beautiful terrace as the venue (which is a lot more worthy of the price of admission than my coffee table). I also wanted to choose a main course that was affordable for people to replicate as hosts, leaving more money in the budget for donating meals or feeding additional guests. Continue reading