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.
Sometimes life just isn’t fair. You’re not supposed to be able to sell 14 million albums AND be a great cook. But alas, that’s what you get with Martina McBride. The country music superstar just happens to also be an accomplished cookbook author and her second book, Martina’s Kitchen Mix, was recently released.
Martina came by the kitchen to share a little bit about her book as well as one of her recipes. She was so sweet we might even forgive her for being good at everything.
I grew up with a grandmother who was all about pie, and she was particularly adept at the perfect pie crust. It was always a lattice and she made it look so effortless.
But of course as I got older and tried doing it on my own I started to feel that there was a lot of effort behind the effortless. I needed someone to take the fear out of my lattice. And Vallery Lomas was just the best possible person.
You might recognize Valerie as the winner of the Great American Baking Show. She has an awesome blog Foodie in New York that is a party-lovers’ dream. Vallery came over to show me her lattice crust secrets and she had so much advice. From the best way to cut the pie crust to the tricks to hide any imperfections I feel like I am ready to take on any pie now.
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.
Anyone who knows me knows I am oh-so-skeptical of any baked good that is gluten or dairy free. Most of the time they feel like a sad imitation - sure, if you have to eat it then it would be great. But if not, why bother?
Angela Garbacz of Goldenrod Pastries in Nebraska makes you rethink all of that. Her recipes feel like they just happen to be gluten free but you would never notice it. This recipe is for anyone missing those summer blueberries and doesn’t mind taking the slightly-less perfect versions and throwing them in a cake. The other secret is a touch of cardamom to give it a luxurious depth.
Over the summer I try to eat as much lobster as humanly possible. Nothing speaks to me quite like a lobster roll when it is hot outside.
You can actually eat lobster all year long but in the summer (and into the fall) you actually get new shell lobsters which have their own wonderful texture. I spent a lot of time up in Maine last year learning about the differences in lobsters (you can find them up the coast from Canada as well, but I am a bit in love with how Maine handles their lobsters).
At any rate as the season changes (or doesn't, based on the weather where you are!) I wanted to break out of my roll rut and try something new. Luckily Kwame Onwuachi was in town to show me a flavorful and bright take on a lobster salad that will keep you hanging on to warm weather. You might recognize Kwame if you have been to his DC restaurant Kith/Kin or if you are a fan of Top Chef!
So few things in life can make almost anything better. But I think shrimp butter really can. It is basically a sauce that can be made easily but elevate any type of dish. Spread it on toast in the morning or make a fancy-seeming pasta at night for guests. Make a tomato sandwich spread with shrimp butter or put it in a bowl of rice and take it to the next level. There are very few things that shrimp butter can't do. And you know what makes it even better? It takes less than 10 minutes to make.
I grew up with variations on shrimp butter since in the Lowcountry of South Carolina there are few things more prevalent than shrimp. But I also saw a version in Normandy that knocked my socks off. So this aims to be the in-between - a Southern staple but that still tries to be as light and bright as possible.
This is also great in the freezer - keep it on hand and then whip it out when you have guests. Trust me, no one will think you didn't plan ahead.