This time of year I start to get antsy for spring. February is over and it should be warm.- except it never actually is.
But the good news is that we can enjoy all the incredibly warming recipes of winter for a little longer. Luckily, we have just the recipe, from a book I am particularly excited about: Katie Parla’s Food of the Italian South. If you aren’t familiar with Katie’s work then you just aren’t reading enough about Italy. The Rome-based journalist has written some of the best food and travel guides for the region. Her first book, Tasting Rome, is an engrossing love letter to the food of one of the world’s greatest food cities. And now her upcoming book explores the cuisine of Italy’s Southern regions.
I am so excited for this book (since my love of Italy is basically unsurpassed) and loved having Katie in the kitchen to showcase one of the book’s recipes. She shared her Polpette Casce e Ovo - essentially bread ‘meatballs’. They are doughy delights and perfect for staying inside and eating to your heart’s content.
I spent my college years in the UK so I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Jamie Oliver. I was living there right as he was growing in popularity in the British consciousness (I might date myself here) and he was really my first introduction to British cooking, well before I knew I would have a career in food. And as years went on I loved watching him transform into an advocate healthy school lunches. He has always seemed to hold a sensible middle ground that advocated for healthy options while also not veering into total health fanatic category.
So the chance to sit down with him and chat about his newest book, 5 Ingredients, was a delight. We touched on everything from rock star ingredients that can transform a dish to getting kids cooking. Watch the video below to hear Jamie’s take and perhaps you might have a bit more confidence in your weeknight cooking!
Any time spent with Carla Hall is just pure delight, due to her being among the most genuine and charming people around. But it is extra fun getting to cook from her newest book - Carla Hall’s Soul Food - because it is such a beautiful personal exploration. The book takes a unique perspective on her own background and includes a lot of vignettes via a road trip.
But of course the recipes are what really draw us all in and I couldn’t wait to get her unique take on shrimp. Her Cracked Shrimp recipe is a twist on the cracked conch she saw when she worked in the Caribbean and it has completely shifted my view on cooking shrimp. Watch the video below to see her technique and get the recipe to try it yourself!
There are so many diets and opinions on how we all eat that sometimes it can feel dizzying - eat more meat! be a vegan! stay in ketosis! - but typically we assume that the diet is mostly about the actual food.
Now we apparently have to contend with when we eat. But if the thought makes you want to throw out the diet books, you might want to wait until you hear from Dr’s Michael Roizen and Michael Crupain, the authors of What to Eat When..
You can’t help but want to listen when these two docs start talking. Dr Roizen is the Chief Wellness Officer at the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Crupain is the Medical Director of the Dr. Oz Show - but more importantly once you see them in person you know these are two guys that don’t want to take all of the fun out of your life! On the contrary, they have the science to back them up but also enough joy in their approach to make it all feel like they are on your side. And what they are proposing is staggering: we’ve been eating at all the wrong times.
When I met Dorie Greenspan many years ago I was so delighted to learn that the voice I relate to so much on the page of her cookbooks is the exact person you get if you are lucky enough to have her standing in front of you. For so many of us she is our helpful and enthusiastic guide, coaxing us along to make recipes that bring out our best selves without feeling a lot of stress.
For her newest book, Everyday Dorie, she really brings us into her home and I wanted to tackle a recipe from it with her that really spoke to her demeanor. This salad we made together doesn’t have an artfully done photograph in the book nor was it one of the ones she suggested. But I love it because it reminded me of the quintessential way all of Dorie’s books make me feel - like I can do anything with whatever I have on hand and it will still turn out fabulously.
So watch me gush over one of my favorite people (sorry, I just have to every time I see her) and then get inspiration for a salad that will have you reaching into your pantry in no time.
Certain concepts seem to be stuck in another time. Egg salad always feels that way - a bit heavy and a bit basic with the tweaks in herbs or spices never feeling quite large enough to shift the genre. But that’s where Cal Peternell comes in. His recipes always have the feel of something you should have been making forever but are actually his own special spin. His newest book, Almonds, Anchovies and Pancetta, is a delight and is full of semi-vegetarian recipes that all fit that bill. I fell in love with his Salsa Rustica because it feels like a breath of fresh air to the egg salad mold. It serves the same purpose but without any mayo and ingredients to give depth and new life.
When I first moved to New York, my mother-in-law made sure to pass along a lot of her local ingredient knowledge. With seafood there was one constant: Citarella. She would travel over 20 blocks to get her fish at Citarella because to her there was nothing better.
So when Joe Guerrera- Citarella’s founder and original fishmonger - came out with a book, I knew it was going to be great. The title is succinct perfection: Joe Knows Fish. I had to have Joe over and he decided to share one of his easiest recipes, Spaghetti Vongole. It starts with good pasta and very fresh cockles or littleneck clams. But it’s one of those recipes that takes only a few ingredients and makes something magical.
I’m a little bit cookbook obsessed, to the point where I like to read them in bed like a good novel. And like a great narrative book, a cookbook can sometimes suck you in and make you want to revisit it over and over. Bottom of the Pot by Naz Deravian is one of those undeniable books. It recounts her Persian childhood and years of cooking her native cuisine in North America. And the recipes reflect that duality - traditional but all with swap-outs that make it accessible for finding ingredients here. If you have never tried Persian cuisine then you haven’t tried one of the best on the planet, but Naz’s book makes it feel like it is second nature. It is by far one of my favorite books of the year
Now that I’m done gushing, let’s talk about this recipe. Naz came over and we made one of her most vibrant dishes. Her yogurt beet dip, known as Borani-yeh Laboo, is worth it just for the color alone. But the simplicity of the recipe defies the depth of flavor that the beets and tarragon give to this appetizer. Make it yourself and then pick up the book. I promise it will become a favorite.