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.
There are some dishes I just can't ever get enough of and in the summer I will have ceviche in any form. But some have sauces that make you want to lick the bowl at the end.
I went to De Maria in Soho recently and every dish had that joyous pop of flavor that makes you want to just jump for joy. But the leche de tigre on the ceviche really took the cake.
If you're not familiar, leche de tigre is a sauce used in Peruvian cooking to add a bright citrus pop to their famous seafood. It is literally 'tiger's milk' and its a creamy take on a lot of flavor. But the one at De Maria was the perfect combination of texture and citrus so I knew I needed the recipe. Turns out it is as simple as can be.
Watch the video below or follow the recipe below for a sauce you'll want to put onto everything.
So if you follow me on social media you might have noticed in the last week that I was in Rhode Island and was mildly obsessed with blueberry picking. It's one of my favorite activities because it's a soothing task that somehow also yields pounds upon pounds of blueberries - how could that not be a winning combo?
I made a ton of pies and pancakes and just about a million handfuls of blueberries on their own, but of course when you pick tons of fruit there is nothing better than jam.
Now, you all know I love to make things as simple as humanly possible because I'm incredibly lazy. But jam is one of those things I have never understood the insanity around. Everyone wants to make it more complicated. Pectin! Canning machines! Special ingredients! I say screw all of that and make it as easy as possible.
This recipe is my classic because it takes the least amount of work and ingredients but still tastes like a glorious batch of summer. Blueberries are perfect for this kind of jam because they get jammy pretty naturally. If you do want a slightly less cooked version you can add pectin. But if you're like me and you don't make a ton of jam at home then this is a simple solution that will suddenly make you feel like a home cooking superstar. The truth is that great in-season fruit makes excellent jam without much else, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.