Every once in a while I read a book that makes me go, Dang, I want to be able to write like this author does—as economically, as unpredictably, as gracefully. It tends not to matter so much what the content is, and in fact, the last few writers who’ve affected me this way have been Michael Ondaatje, Rachel Cusk, and Tamar Adler.

My dear friend Madeleine gave me Tamar Adler‘s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace for my birthday last month and I devoured it the following week. Adler formerly cooked at Chez Panisse, was an editor at Harper’s Magazine, and is now a columnist for the New York Times Magazine. Her book’s subtitle could have been: writing with economy and grace. She writes like she cooks—unpretentiously, no panache, no gotchas.

To me it seems that most writing about food these days, especially in the pages of magazines and blogs, not so much in books I suppose, is an all-too-clever, winking, gotcha! tone. We get it, you’re funny; you could be an ad copy writer; you’re smart and I’m smart and we all have impeccable taste in food and style, bla bla bla.

Well Adler is none of those cloying things. Instead she’s all: here is how to boil your vegetables, use parsley, turn leftovers into better leftovers, cook meat, make soup. It’s an old-fashioned kind of mentality and tone and I mean that in the best possible way. The book, basically, instructs how to get good at the act of cooking and all the simple but important preparations involved in doing so. In all the food writing I’ve read over the years, hers is integrating into my being in a way others haven’t. In the past few weeks I’ve already wasted less food and made better meals than I have all year.

Yesterday, on a blustery early April afternoon in Brooklyn, I ventured to make her rosemary olive oil cake, which she adapted from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli. It was subtle, herbaceous, moist, and would go perfectly with a cup of Earl Gray tea or an espresso. Here you go. You’re welcome.

(When I made this cake I wasn’t planning to write about it and thus have no good photos of it…then today I was struck by the desire to share the recipe so am doing so sans visual aids for the first time! Maybe it’s the spirit of Tamar encouraging me that simple is ok.)

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
ala Tamar Adler

8 eggs
1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar (I used only 1 cup)
1 2/3 cups olive oil
4 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary*
3 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

*You may be thinking 4 tbsp sounds like a lot. I only had 3 tbsp so I used that and the rosemary was subtle and in fact I think 4 would’ve been better, so be bold!

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl for 30 seconds with a handheld beater. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture becomes foamy and paler in color. Still mixing, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Then fold in the rosemary.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and then pour the batter into the bundt pan.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, rotating the pan halfway through. Mine took closer to an hour. The cake should be golden brown and a skewer should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool briefly in the pan then gently tip it out to cool on a rack.

This would be delicious with unsweetened whipped cream, or smeared with a bit of honey. Makes great breakfast leftovers the next day.



It’s the Sunday night after Thanksgiving. It’s so quiet in my Brooklyn apartment that it feels like I’m either in some country house I’ve rented for the weekend or it’s New York City in January after a blanketing of snow quiets the city. Never mind, a neighbor just started blaring some Katy Perry remix and all is normal again.

For the first time, I hosted my family for the holiday and was really honored to do so. It’s been a full house here for days. My family is almost always together for this holiday, which includes celebrating my older sister’s birthday, but we are usually in Vermont. It’s hard to beat my father and stepmother’s house, the fireplace,  the snow (sometimes), the sauna, the woods, it’s pretty perfect for the occasion.  But for various reasons we decided to do Brooklyn this year and my boyfriend John so graciously hosted us in his slightly bigger apartment than mine up the street.

This is such a sullied American holiday—one that’s nearly impossible not to celebrate here in the U.S. and yet one that never feels right celebrating either (what with the whole genocide of native peoples and all, not to mention a holiday founded on the slaughter of animals)—so it’s complicated really. I do love to gather my siblings and half the parents together and have days to sit around catching up on our years and the months we haven’t seen one another. My nephew, just past 2 1/2, projectile-vomited right before the dinner. Poor little guy. I was in the kitchen managing the last-minute shenanigans and I can’t say I’m sorry I missed it. But moments later, like a champ, he was sitting around the table like the rest of us, asking over and over if it was time for cake yet. That’s the spirit.

The attendees: Dad and stepmom from Vermont; sister, sister-in-law, and nephew from Northampton, Mass., brother from Boston, sister from Durham, N.C. and her doggie. As soon as it was confirmed I’d be hosting I wanted to invite my NYC friends but nine was about the maximum that could fit around the table.


The best part of the Thanksgiving organizing was menu planning. I culled recipes mainly from Bon Appétit, the Minimalist Baker (which has become one of my new favorite sources for recipes and inspiration), and the New York Times. I was accommodating a variety of diets, including: non-dairy; can’t eat garlic and onions; and vegetarian. As my boyfriend reminded me, it is often challenges that bring about the best creativity. Ugh, don’t you just hate when people saying annoyingly true things like that?

On the table:

Kale Stuffing
Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Garlic and Ginger Green Beans
Vegan & Gluten-Free Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Parsnip & Sweet Potato Soup, served with Caramelized Pears and a Gorgonzola-Mascarpone Whip*
Raw Broccoli and Brussels Sprout Slaw
Homemade Parker House Rolls
Cranberry-Orange Relish**

Desserts I can take no credit for, but:
Pumpkin-Pecan Pie
Apple Crumble Pie
Birthday cake with chocolate-buttercream frosting and the kind of candles that never blow out completely, hehe

Pas Mal!

*This is an unpublished recipe that will appear in the forthcoming book by Meike Peters of the popular blog Eat In My Kitchen, published by Prestel USA in Fall 2016. I ate it in Berlin in October and knew right then and there it had to be on my Thanksgiving table.

**My stepmom’s classic recipe, the only thing I specifically asked that she bring with her from Vermont. She was so so kind enough to also bring, unsolicited, homemade apple sauce from her tree!


Now, my notes. The outstanding dishes had to have been the soup and the raw slaw, though everything was very kindly applauded by my family, who honestly, I think were stunned at the quantity of food I produced. I did have a couple of great helpers in the kitchen — John and my sister Emily. And very sweetly, in the hour before dinner was served, my dad gamely mashed the potatoes and carved the turkey and my stepmom stepped in to make the gravy, which was so good, as always.

The soup is this delicious blend of sweet potatoes, parsnip, herbs, and stock. It can be made totally vegan and it tastes like fall. If you’re not making it vegan I do recommend the whipped gorgonzola and mascarpone dollop. The raw slaw was a hit because it’s such a refreshing contrast to all the heavy roasted side dishes. The stuffing, which includes a sub-recipe for Suzanne Goin’s Tuscan kale, was so labor-intensive I might shy away from it in the future but it was damn good. And the spaghetti squash lasagna was so good and relatively easy to make I’d put this in my regular weekly rotation. (Instead of dairy the cheese-like filling is made from a tofu-olive oil-basil-lemon juice concoction that’s so rich and flavorful.)

After the last of the turkey was carved and the leftovers stuffed into every last tupperwear container we could possibly find, John and I slept for nine hours. For dinner tonight we made brown rice with tofu and steamed broccoli. Can you blame us?


Previous posts about Thanksgiving:

2011: Thanksgiving Overload

2012: Giving Thanks

2014: Butternut Squash Galette



It was Easter. It was (is) Pesach. It was a super moon.

As tradition dictates, I spent the Sunday that is Easter with my grandmother on Long Island. I’ve written a post I think each year about this and the various shenanigans we get into. For instance there was this retro easter cake debacle I wrote about four (!) years ago.

Earlier this week I was flipping through the latest Bon App and came across a recipe for a very springy Rhubarb Cake (p. 66 of the April 2015 version if you have the hard copy). That’s it! Perfect, I thought. I’d make that for my grandmother, a woman who loves tart rhubarb baked into pies and cakes.

But of course neither the Union Square Greenmarket nor the Park Slope Food Coop is carrying rhubarb yet. Duh. It’s the first week of April. I think it may be another two weeks away. I picked up the organic blueberries on sale at the coop for $2.99 a pint in a pinch, hoping it would be an adequate substitution.

The blueberry was a hit. I’d still like to try this in a few weeks with the season’s rhubarb but I will definitely make this version again.

P.S. – I reduced the sugar quotient from the original recipe because blueberries don’t need to be offset the way rhubarb does. I also substituted 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with spelt flour, because, well, regular flour is a little boring, and spelt flour has a subtle depth or nutty flavor I like.


Blueberry Almond Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 8

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter*
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
2 pints blueberries, rinsed
1/2 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (would be fine to use all-purpose flour only, 1 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup blanched almonds
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (1/2 tsp vanilla extract if you can’t find vanilla beans)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a tart pan (or small rectangular baking dish) and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the flours, almonds, baking powder, and salt until the almonds are finely ground.

Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Scrape the little black seeds from the vanilla bean and reserve the pod for another use like making vanilla-scented sugar. Using your electric mixer on high speed, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Don’t cheat. Add the eggs one at a time to fully incorporated and then some, about another 3 or 4 minutes.

Reducing the speed to low, add the dry ingredients, and then the yogurt. Fold in half of the blueberries (one pint) and pour into the pan. Arrange the remaining blueberries on top.

If using a tart pan place this on a baking sheet (to catch any juices that may escape) and bake for approximately one hour, or until the cake is cooked through (comes clean with a toothpick) and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

*A note on butter: the quality of butter matters here. I use Kerrygold because it’s made with milk from grassfed cows and is the same price and sometimes cheaper than Kate’s butter from Maine.


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