morning glory breakfast cake

It’s hardly the biggest surprise of parenting, but I’ve yet to get my head around the idea that I’ve taken part in creating a morning person. My son has always woken up early; if it’s 5/5:30am, he’s on the sofa, r…

It’s hardly the biggest surprise of parenting, but I’ve yet to get my head around the idea that I’ve taken part in creating a morning person. My son has always woken up early; if it’s 5/5:30am, he’s on the sofa, reading a thick book, wondering why we do not care to watch the sunrise with him. Over the years, we’ve tried everything to change his wiring — lecturing, star charts, bribery, begging, asking the pediatrician to talk some sense into him [although “he wakes up early and reads chapter books!” didn’t quite have the doom-and-gloom impact we’d thought it would], prayer — and eventually, as you might have inferred from referring to it as wiring, we gave up.

what you'll need

When you wake up at the crack of dawn, you also require breakfast at an earlier hour than normal people, like your parents, who love to sleep. So there’s no, uh, confusion as to what is and is not a “breakfast food,” we’ve taken to packing him a breakfast and leaving it in the fridge: a hard-boiled egg, fruit, cheese, and some sort of muffin. After working my way through my own muffin archives, I realized that I was missing one of those hippie/morning glory-ish muffins that he loves, loaded with carrots and apple and dried fruit, sometimes coconut, and spices. I’ve made a few versions over the last few months, and was about to go another round when a new (out tomororw), wonderful cookbook arrived at my doorstep: Yossy Arefi’s Snacking Cakes.

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skillet turkey chili

Right around the time quarantine cookies and tacos became a habit this spring, I also realized that that none of my existing chili recipes exactly fit the bill of what I wanted for dinner — namely, to focus on ground turkey, have a minim…

Right around the time quarantine cookies and tacos became a habit this spring, I also realized that that none of my existing chili recipes exactly fit the bill of what I wanted for dinner — namely, to focus on ground turkey, have a minimized ingredient list, and not take terribly long because it turns out that even with all day, every day at home, I just don’t have enough time to plan ahead for dinner and please don’t try to use reason or psychology to suggest there are other forces at play, okay?

what you'll need (cornbread optional, but not for us)

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simple cauliflower tacos

Last week I told you about our favorite quarantine cookies. This is our quarantine taco, another simple discovery from our early Inside Days this spring that ticked a miraculous number of boxes at once. Like, “How do we turn this massiv…

Last week I told you about our favorite quarantine cookies. This is our quarantine taco, another simple discovery from our early Inside Days this spring that ticked a miraculous number of boxes at once. Like, “How do we turn this massive head of cauliflower into dinner because it’s too big for our overstuffed fridge?” and “without having to go to the store and buy anything extra?” It used so many ingredients that had become staples — canned beans, cotija (great fridge shelf life), red onions, tortillas, and a small luxury of an avocado delivery service we discovered right when we needed it most. Plus, it managed to work for the whole family, including our pickiest, who we discovered liked roasted cauliflower and also pickled onions, we suspect because they’re pink.

what you'll need
roasted until almost charred

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whole wheat chocolate oat cookies

Because I am happiest when I let cakes be cakes, and cookies be cookies in all of their real-butter-and-refined sugar bliss, I rarely swap whole wheat or other ingredients in desserts in an effort to put a health halo on them, with two excepti…

Because I am happiest when I let cakes be cakes, and cookies be cookies in all of their real-butter-and-refined sugar bliss, I rarely swap whole wheat or other ingredients in desserts in an effort to put a health halo on them, with two exceptions. The first is morning baked goods, usually muffins like these I’d make for the kids on a weekday, which just feel more breakfast when they least resemble, say, a birthday cake, not that there aren’t days that require that, too. The second is when I think the baked good is improved by the ingredient swap — more crisp/craggy, dynamic or flavorful. I just never expected it to happen to what we call our House Cookie — a one-bowl oatmeal cookie I’ve probably made many times a year for well over a decade, always putting extra scoops in the freezer, so we can have freshly baked cookies when life demands them.

what you'll needwhip butter, sugars, saltadd the flour, oats, chocolatethick doughscoopedbaked

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homemade cream cheese

A few years ago, I figured out how to make cream cheese and didn’t quite know what to do with this information. What kind of crazy person makes their own cream cheese, no matter how delicious it is? Then again, you could use that reasoni…

A few years ago, I figured out how to make cream cheese and didn’t quite know what to do with this information. What kind of crazy person makes their own cream cheese, no matter how delicious it is? Then again, you could use that reasoning to reject almost anything here (looking in particular at you, marshmallows) and you’re still here. But I suspected this would be a bridge too far. Even food blogging grandmothers have to stay relevant and who has looked around [gestures to all of these things in this world right now] and said “What really keeps me up at night is the stabilizers in store-bought cream cheese”?

what you'll need for homemade cream cheesecream for cream cheesesaltheat the milk, cream, and saltdrainbefore you blend itso creamyvegetable cream cheese

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tangy braised chickpeas

One of my most core cooking beliefs, cemented over 15 vegetarian years (that ended shortly before this site began) is that most, or at minimum, half of what we think we like about eating meat has absolutely nothing to do with meat, but the way…

One of my most core cooking beliefs, cemented over 15 vegetarian years (that ended shortly before this site began) is that most, or at minimum, half of what we think we like about eating meat has absolutely nothing to do with meat, but the way it’s prepared, from the salt-pepper char on a steak to the layers of flavors in a long braise. It’s this logic that led me to mushroom bourguignon and pate and even pizza beans, where the beans take the place of meat and pasta in a ziti-like dish. And it’s what led me to drop my jaw at the brilliance of Molly Yeh’s 2018 “brisket-braised chickpeas” (cozy braised chickpeas with squash), a brisket-free, vegan dish that uses the flavors you’d put in your favorite brisket braise but with chickpeas and vegetables. My sister had recently gone vegan, and the timing was perfect for our new year meal.

what you'll needcook the onionsadd the mushroomsadd broth

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corn coconut soup

I didn’t say it was logical, I think we know better than to expect clear, sound reasoning here, but when cookbooks decided that cauliflower could be pizza crusts or that black beans could go in brownies, I’m sorry, but I checked ou…

I didn’t say it was logical, I think we know better than to expect clear, sound reasoning here, but when cookbooks decided that cauliflower could be pizza crusts or that black beans could go in brownies, I’m sorry, but I checked out. But this summer in particular, as plant-based diets are on evermore agendas, I’ve seen so many creative uses of corn — as ribs, twice, corn butter, and now, a surged interest in a longtime restaurant kitchen staple, corn stocks — and I love it; I’m all in.

start with good cornremove kernels from cobsmake corn brothstrain the corn broth

A few weeks ago, People Magazine ran my blueberry muffin recipe and on my way to find it, I ran into this winning corn-coconut soup from beloved Top Chef Season 17 winner, Melissa King, and had to make it right away. It absolutely delivered. Because you first make a corn stock from corn cobs, ginger, onion, and water, the soup is completely vegan and more deeply corn-flavored than it would be from a mixed vegetable stock. From there, you sauté the kernels, more onion, and garlic, simmer it with the stock and coconut milk, blend it, and finish it with lime juice. The resulting soup is mellow and delicious — the pickiest human in my family not only ate it, she vocally reconsidered her previously-held stance on not liking my cooking, and requested it for lunch the next day. (I am still recovering.)

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shaved fennel and crushed olive salad

Last week I childishly pouted that nobody really loves fennel salads and so many of you commented that you wanted one, I am delighted I’ve been given the external validation I require to share a new one here. This fennel salad is from Ca…

Last week I childishly pouted that nobody really loves fennel salads and so many of you commented that you wanted one, I am delighted I’ve been given the external validation I require to share a new one here. This fennel salad is from Café Altro Paradiso, which shares a chef — Ignacio Mattos — with two other New York restaurants, estela and Flora Bar. What I love about the cooking at these restaurants is that there’s a quiet minimalism to each dish that belies the actual complexity of flavors. It’s particularly evident in salads. At estela, my favorite is this endive salad, which seems like the most plain pile of lettuce until you find the heap of loudly flavored texture and crunch below, for scooping onto the leaves. This fennel salad looks equally unassuming when it comes out: a mountain of shaved bulb. But it sits on a piquant medley of crushed olives, thinly sliced stems, minced fronds, sharp cheese, citrus zest, juice, wine vinegar, olive oil, and seasoning that I’m not sure I ever want to stop eating.

what you'll need

Fennel is divisive. Olives are divisive. I know this salad isn’t for everyone — I mean, what is, truly, except puppies, kittens, and thriving postal service — and if you’re about to tell me that you’d like this except for the fennel and/or the olives, shh, you don’t need to because I already know. I’ll have something you like more next week. Everyone gets a turn. I’ve gone full Mom Voice, haven’t I?

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mathilde’s tomato tart

I read a new novel, The Margot Affair, last month and loved it. It’s not about about food, but every time a meal comes up, I was riveted by how good it sounded.
“The salt-cured cod was layered with cream mashed potatoes and prese…

I read a new novel, The Margot Affair, last month and loved it. It’s not about about food, but every time a meal comes up, I was riveted by how good it sounded.

“The salt-cured cod was layered with cream mashed potatoes and presented in a small cocotte… the mussels bathed in white wine and garlic sauce.”

“Caramelized slices of pear hid beneath the custard, and the top was sprinkled with shards of toasted almonds.”

“She made it with whole milk and a dash of cream and pieces of dark chocolate. I dipped a piece of buttered toast into the chocolate.”

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kachumber cooler

If you go way back in the land of Smitten Kitchen, you might know that one of my favorite restaurants of all time was called Tabla, specifically the more casual, heavier on the small plates, downstairs space called the Bread Bar. In my early y…

If you go way back in the land of Smitten Kitchen, you might know that one of my favorite restaurants of all time was called Tabla, specifically the more casual, heavier on the small plates, downstairs space called the Bread Bar. In my early years in New York, I went there as often as I could scrape the change together. I’m pretty sure we ate there for my 25th birthday. Alex met my parents there for the first time. We even put the (now discontinued) wine glasses on our wedding registry. I obsessed over every dish and can reel off the names of several just from memory — saag paneer pizza, potato apple chaat, black pepper shrimp, boondi raita, aloo kulcha, and the mango kulfi pops. The cocktails were also exceptional; Alex loved the Masala Mary, and I loved the Tamarind Margarita and the Kachumber Cooler; we drank them standing up, because it was always crowded, and snacked on my desert island favorite, the bar popcorn with ghee and chat masala, although we’d also never say no to the chickpea-battered onion rings with a spicy masala ketchup.

cucumber, jalapenomuddle it

After Tabla closed in 2009, we went out to eat everywhere the chef, Floyd Cardoz, cooked next — North End Grill, Paowalla, later called Bombay Bread Bar, where he rekindled the menu with many Tabla favorites, much to our delight. It closed a little under a year ago, and I was impatiently waiting to hear what he’d be up to next when a friend texted early one morning in March that he had died of complications relating to Covid-19. He was only 59.

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