spanakopita

I finally conquered my fear of making spanakopita, the Greek savory spinach and feta pie, and yes, this means I’m going to tell you all about it. It took me so long because, however pathetically, I find filo/phyllo, the thin dough used t…

I finally conquered my fear of making spanakopita, the Greek savory spinach and feta pie, and yes, this means I’m going to tell you all about it. It took me so long because, however pathetically, I find filo/phyllo, the thin dough used to produce the flaky layers in many Middle Eastern and Balkan pastries, stressful: the tissue-like sheets can dry into crumbles in what feels like seconds. Having to brush each layer with butter or oil before using it is challenging in a small kitchen, and a lot of work in any size. Over the years, I’ve auditioned many spanakopitaish pies that allowed me to hedge a bit on the phyllo — triangles (only one sheet at a time made it less scary), spirals (ditto with one sheet; this recipe is in Smitten Kitchen Every Day), galettes (using a pie-like dough), and even “skillets” where I just messily crumbled some phyllo on top. All were good. None were this. This is exact spanakopita I crave, more doable than I thought possible.

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short rib onion soup

A couple months ago, I was out with friends and we stopped briefly back at a friend’s place (hi Jocelyn!). It smelled amazing and it turned out she had chicken chili going in the crockpot. Despite not planning to stay, we inhaled a bowl …

A couple months ago, I was out with friends and we stopped briefly back at a friend’s place (hi Jocelyn!). It smelled amazing and it turned out she had chicken chili going in the crockpot. Despite not planning to stay, we inhaled a bowl in her yard before heading back out again and I have not stopped thinking about it since, hospitality on a you-never-know level. Stews and hearty soups are already wired with this energy — they keep well, are easily reheated, and if nobody else eats it, you’re happy to have it for yourself. But if it’s already ready, it means you can have impromptu drop-ins, and they are unquestionably the best kind. The table isn’t set, the toys aren’t put away, you’re still in sloppy clothes, and everyone has more fun.

short rib onion soup-01short rib onion soup-02short rib onion soup-03short rib onion soup-04short rib onion soup-05short rib onion soup-06

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winter squash and spinach pasta bake

I am in awe of people who can make a meal plan, repeating many favorite dishes weekly or several times a year, knowing that they love what they love. Because I’m not: I like shiny new recipes. My favorite thing to cook will always be the…

I am in awe of people who can make a meal plan, repeating many favorite dishes weekly or several times a year, knowing that they love what they love. Because I’m not: I like shiny new recipes. My favorite thing to cook will always be the last new thing I made. All attempts to be a responsible sort of person with a plan are consistently jettisoned by a sparkly whim that landed in my head in the last day or two, like a Big Apple Crumb Cake. Or, in this case, an Ottolenghi recipe from The Guardian I apparently bookmarked over three years ago and forgot about until this stunning image flashed across my screen a few weeks ago and all of my best-laid October plans were kicked to the curb. I haven’t a single regret.

sliced winter squashroughly chopped baby spinachmix with cheese, egg, waterhalf a pound of pastabroken noodlesready to bakefoil offfrom the oven

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simple, essential bolognese

The very first thing I cooked in our Inside Days was ragú bolognese. Previous to having all of the time in the world, I didn’t make it very often; we were too busy during the week and on the weekend, I preferred to be away from the stove…

The very first thing I cooked in our Inside Days was ragú bolognese. Previous to having all of the time in the world, I didn’t make it very often; we were too busy during the week and on the weekend, I preferred to be away from the stove. But that weekend! Our apartment smelled phenomenal as it gently bubbled on the back burner all afternoon, and I realized it had been way too long since we’d had the luxury of a multi-hour buildup to an anticipated meal.

I also remembered I’d been cheating on this site’s bolognese recipe for many years, and it was time to come clean. Previously, my go-to recipe was embedded in the lasagna bolognese, and to echo that recipe’s caveat: I think there are as many interpretations of Bologna’s famous braise there are people who make it — if you’ve found yours, I see no reason to veer from it. Marcella Hazan’s in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking has long been what you could call an industry leader, but I loved Anne Burrell’s, a milk-free, red wine-forward version that put the utmost care into building base layers of flavors.

what you'll needcube-free bolognesea well-cooked mirepoixa little milkwhen it's donedrained, al dente

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