I’d Tapas That

The cooler weather (crystalline and perfect in these parts lately) combined with the explosive home stretch for the garden—the damn peppers always hit their stride right before the frost—can be inspiring to the point of madness, especially when the farmers’ market throws in even more treats like mushrooms and fish. To wit: yesterday, when as a result of all the bounty I thought it would be a good idea to make tapas. You know, six different dishes, in an attempt to duplicate that wonderful restaurant  experience of having a table crowded with plates, all boasting varying colors, textures, and tastes that showcase the best of the season. And the nightshade-heavy late summer bounty positively screams Spain.

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Time To Make The Doughnuts

Last year, Milo told me that instead of a birthday cake he wanted an Eiffel tower made of éclairs. So I made one. It was lopsided and barely held together with bamboo skewers and ganache, but it killed; the 7-year olds in attendance were blown away and laid gleeful waste to it. This time around, I was informed that instead of cake he wanted his name spelled out in homemade doughnuts. So I made them. Keep reading Time To Make The Doughnuts…

Seeing Red

This time every year I order lots of Blue Beech tomatoes for making purée and sauce to get us through until the beginning of the next tomato season. Blue Beech are a variety of paste tomato that can be cooked with skins and seeds and still remain wonderfully sweet, so processing them is dead easy: I trim the stem end, halve them , and throw them in the pot to cook down and disintegrate. Then I stick-blend the whole thing and run it in batches through the food mill to catch the skin fragments and seeds. It saves a lot of time, especially when dealing with a hundred pounds of them at a time as I did recently.

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Sweet Leaf

One of the things I love about sorrel, apart from the fact that it’s a low-maintenance perennial, is that it grows twice each season: once in the spring and again in the fall. Its gently lemony tang and big green leaves are welcome in salads and other applications, especially when the fall lettuces haven’t come in yet. In this case, along with the shiso—which had a banner year—they made superb rolling papers for bulgogi ssam. Sorrel and shiso are a combination for the ages, especially when paired with richly seasoned beef, pickled radishes, and Thai chilis.

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Pudding On The Ritz

When it comes to the subject of desserts, having a child around the house is a lot like having a crackhead with a law degree as a roommate. The incessant negotiations, bargaining, and meticulous parsing of every word in a simple phrase like “If you eat your dinner” are exhausting in the extreme. How much of the dinner? During what time frame? Will the quantity of sugar correlate with the volume or percentage of dinner consumed? Can we renegotiate these terms after a nonzero percentage of said dinner has been consumed, pursuant to the the stipulation that the painful levels of hunger expressed during the preparation of said meal have in fact vanished mysteriously, leaving only a tiny amount of hunger that is exactly equal to the quantity of dessert, but no more? Will there be seconds?

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I’ve Seen Fire And I’ve Seen Sauce

I do enjoy a vacation from blogging sometimes. There has been no shortage of cooking, both here and in Vermont, but not so much documentation. Among other memorable events, I taught a bread class, cooked for 75 or so people at a charity benefit, and fed my family daily as is my wont, but just wasn’t feeling the writing about it part. With an average of a post every other day for six and a half years, I don’t feel bad about taking a break. So now, as regular content resumes—subject to an impending deadline and how well I stave off the cold that Milo caught right before his birthday, torpedoing a weekend’s worth of fun—I’ll begin lazily simply with a few shots of How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Keep reading I’ve Seen Fire And I’ve Seen Sauce…

Back To School

This is a few days late, but I was in Vermont, blissfully removed from all things digital. For the September Chronogram I talked to Sandor Katz about his excellent new tome The Art of Fermentation. Whether you’re a curious would-be amateur or a seasoned fermenter, the book is a trove of practical knowledge.

Photo by Kelly Merchant

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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