split pea soup

Here are a few things I know to be true: Split pea soup is never going to win the winter soup Olympics. Its signature hue of mushy pea green will never be prized as fashionable by anyone but the unfashionable likes of me. If you know people who stand up and cheer when they hear that it’s a split pea soup for dinner kind of evening, you know amazing, rare unicorn people I would like to have over for dinner more often. It could be argued that split pea soup doesn’t help its cause by its, ahem, mushy texture that usually solidifies into a brick in a fridge overnight, which is why it surprised me as much as it did that when I mentioned making it — along with this black bread — in this food diary I kept for Grub Street last week, so many people asked me for the recipe.

what you'll need

I had been eating split pea soup for at least half my life before I realized it was not traditionally a vegetarian soup. Growing up, my mom made it from, well, tubes from the grocery store that included the dried peas and a seasoning packet I thought the results were above reproach. The fact that it was usually from Manischewitz probably could have explained the absence of ham hocks, but I don’t like to jump to conclusions or anything.

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salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread

Can there be a cookie of the year? Sure, it’s possible that I spend too much time consuming food media, the takes, the Tweets, the Instagram Stories. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have seen Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies virtually everywhere, weakening my resistance to the point that I had to try them, and when I did, realizing that just in case you’d missed them on, like, Refinery 29 or Eater or in her incredible first cookbook, I had to tell you about them because they should not be missed.

beat until softened

Roman’s book, however, was not new to me. I was lucky enough to read it the moment it was ready and it instantly became a favorite. If you saw me on book tour asked me what cookbooks I was into this year, I guarantee it came out of my mouth first. Roman has done stints at Milk Bar and Bon Appetit and writes regularly for the New York Times Food and her recipes show: she knows how to make the food we really want to eat. She’s also a sharp writer; I love her love letter to boiled potatoes. There wasn’t a chance I was going to miss the Roasted Broccolini with Lemon and Crispy Parmesan, Caramelized Winter Squash with Toasted Coconut Gremolata, Cucumbers and Kohlrabi in Crunchy Chili Oil, her whole section of Knife and Fork Salads, not-the-usual fruit salads (i.e. all savory), her Whole Wheat Pasta with Brown-Buttered Mushrooms, Buckwheat and Egg Yolk, Baked Pasta with Artichokes, Greens and Too Much Cheese and do I have to stop here? I don’t want to stop here but I’m getting close to just copying and pasting the table of contents.

dice cold, salted butteradding flouri had a lot of small chocolate bars!chopped chocolate

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dutch apple pie

Before I abandoned you (online) to spend time with you (in person) the better part of the last two months, leading to premature but rightly deserved obituaries*, I spend about half of the fall I was in town for obsessed with Dutch apple pie, and a significant amount of that time trying to understand what it was and was not. There seems to be a divide wherein American home cooking sites largely refer to a Dutch apple pie as a deep-dish apple pie (sometimes, but not always, in a cake pan) with a crumb topping and Dutch (or Dutch-sounding; I do not speak the language** so am making an educated guess) cooks use a more cookie-like dough that’s cross-crossed on top with a shiny finish. Fortunately, around this time I remembered that one of my son’s good friend’s mom is Dutch and she was happy to set me on the right course: yes the lattice is shiny, the dough is sweet and more buttery tasting than its American counterpart, the end result looks more like a cake, and please remember to send all samples over.

butter into flour and sugaradd the eggkneaded togetherwrap and chill the dough

divide the dough roughly into thirdscut a circle for the baselining the springform with crustlined crust

From there, I was off to the races… sort of. First I had to watch a lot of videos of home cooks making it and, as no two recipes precisely agreed, basically just throw my hands in the air and hope I could work it out in the kitchen. It does not always happen — figuring things out on an early go — but this time it did. I hope this is a good omen for the year to come, as my cooking wish list for 2018 could fill five calendars, and for you too: this is much, much easier than it looks.

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endive salad with toasted breadcrumbs and walnuts

I understand that most people, normal people, can outline phases of their lives through jobs or photo albums or even where they lived; I apparently can do it through endive salads I was obsessed with at the time. In 2005, there was one from Nigella Lawson in the New York Times with toasted hazelnuts, grain mustard, lime and orange and sesame oil. My husband and I were a relatively new thing at the time and he wasn’t terribly into endive but he ate it politely for weeks and weeks, and eventually came around, or caved. Same thing, right?

what you'll need

Nine years later, I surprised my husband with a weekend in Miami for his birthday, although I hadn’t realized when I booked it four months earlier that I would be pregnant at the time and unable to enjoy so many of the culinary wonders of José Andrés’ Bazaar — tartares and raw oysters and his signature gin and tonic and no I’m not still mad about it, you’re still mad about it and want a do-over. The endive salad with orange segments, goat cheese, almonds and chives made up for a whole lot; I couldn’t get enough of it and it made it at least 18 more times when I came home, and demanded you make it too. (I still maintain that nothing goes better with the latke course at any Hanukah lunch or dinner gathering, a lightweight contrast.)

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bakery-style butter cookies + the new book is here!

Today my second cookbook, five years in the making, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites, at last leaves my noisy, messy kitchen and, perhaps, makes its way into yours. I am, as ever, a nervous wreck. I hope you love it. I hope you find a new favorite recipe (or 5) in it.

smitten kitchen every day

I hope you make the granola biscotti and have them on hand for breakfasts and snacks for weeks; I hope your weekend is filled with sticky toffee waffles and breakfast potato skins. I hope you make a big batch of the dressing and the crumbs tonight for the kale caesar right away and keep them in jars in your fridge so that you can make more every night, as we do for weeks on end throughout the year and when you need a break, move onto the sushi takeout cobb. I hope you’re as excited as I am that there’s a soup section this time (including a mini-matzo ball soup that’s completely vegetarian and a grandma-style chicken noodle soup that’s cozy and economical and the only way I’ve made it since). I hope you find that the artichoke galette tastes a whole lot like that retro parmesan artichoke dip and it’s not an accident; I hope you don’t roll your eyes when you read about Debröd (but I’ll understand if you do); I hope you see why I make that herby baked camembert for every party and probably always will. I hope you’re excited that most of the mains are vegetarian again (halloumi sheet pan roasts and puffy dinner pancakes and a wild mushroom shepherd’s pie) but the meat dishes are ones I couldn’t shut up about (meatballs marsala with buttered egg noodles, street cart-style chicken and rice and short rib carnitas). And I hope you know that one of the most bonkers parts of this book is the Party Cake Builder, 7 different one-bowl, dead-simple cakes and 4 easy frostings (think: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and then some) you can mix and match and present as cupcakes or sheet cakes or layer cakes without a lot of planning because I know — believe me, I know — most birthday cakes are made with love, devotion, and good intentions, but also at the last minute. And I hope you’ll see why I think the cookie section has some of my favorite recipes yet, because we’re finally going to crack the code of those bakery cookies so they at last taste even better than they look.

smitten kitchen every day (hidden cover)

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sausage and potato roast with arugula

I realize that if you want to toss some sausages and vegetables on a sheet pan on a weekday night and roast them to crispy, self-seasoned blister, there are innumerable ways to do it. I’ve fiddled around with this broccoli and chunks of sausage; I’d intended to try a version with cherry tomatoes and garlicky croutons before my tomatoes went south. You may not need a recipe.

what you'll needlotsa shallotsready to roastan interruption arrives

But for me, so much of weeknight cooking is a random suggestion that pops into my feed that doesn’t have to be overtly revolutionary, just something I hadn’t considered before and immediately want to make before anything else. In a moment, I go from lethargically considering a bunch of options I’d rejected on previous evenings for various reasons to mentally calculating how long it will be until dinner and wishing it was now now now. Finding these moments is my primary cooking interest.

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chocolate olive oil cake + more book tour!

Two weeks from today, my second cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites will be leaving warehouses* to reach bookstores or perhaps your front door (if you’ve preordered the book) and I cannot believe it’s so close now. Last month, I shared the trailer for the book and told you all about the book tour that begins the day the book comes out and I promised additional cities would be added. Today is the day! The book tour page — see it in full right here, or click on the image below — now includes Minneapolis, Atlanta, Montreal, Kansas City, Denver, Boulder, Tulsa, Maplewood NJ and an additional book signing in New York City, in addition to the events already planned in Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles.

The book launch will be right here in New York City two weeks from tonight at Barnes & Noble Union Square. Amanda Hesser of Food52, New York Times, and James Beard Award-winning fame and I will chat, and a book signing will follow. Prepare to spot all sorts of Smitten Kitchen Family Members, eager to share stories about what a terrible cook I was as a kid.

Will you come say hi? I hope you do. I hope we get to hang out.

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quick pasta and chickpeas

Pasta e ceci (pasta and chickpeas) is one of Rome’s most iconic dishes, the only dish so essential that it shows up on both Tuesdays and Fridays on the informal meal calendar.* And while there are no two matching ways to make it (a fine excuse to spend as many weeks in Rome as it takes to try them all, if you ask me), the rough guiding recipe principles are fairly consistent: a sautéed base of garlic, sometimes onion, celery and carrot too, and seasonings to which chickpeas, water or chickpea cooking broth, and pasta are added. Some are a more brothy like soup, some blend some chickpeas for a thicker base, some more herby with rosemary or sage, some are light and others are heavy on tomatoes. And then then came Victoria Granof’s version that took the internet by storm over the last couple years as word of it trickled out from her Chickpeas cookbook (which goes so far beyond hummus in ways that only a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and famous food stylist would think of) in the lovely Short Stack single ingredient cookbook series.

what you'll needwhat you'll need

I bet you think this means it will be complicated. It is, in fact, the opposite. Granof’s version has 5 ingredients, I bet every single one is in your pantry right now, and takes 20 minutes, which is why there’s no making it just once. We all need more 20-minute dinner magic in our lives, so it’s not surprising that it’s already made the web rounds from Food52 to Dinner: A Love Story.

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chocolate tahini challah buns

Challah, that stretchy, rich, lightly sweet, braided glossy bread that’s brushed with egg and baked to an burnished burnt umber shine, like many great traditional foods, does not exist in a vacuum. While challah is a Jewish ceremonial bread, eating on Sabbath and major Jewish holidays, and is usually paerve (dairy product-free, so it’s Kosher regardless of what is being served), pulled away from the Judaic lens, it’s a close cousin to brioche and other enriched breads.

whisk wet ingredientsknead in flourready to risedoubled

And it is from this jump — challah is brioche-like; breakfast buns are brioche-like… — that I began making challah-ish breakfast buns last year. We adore them. They’re less rich and more fluffy than the usual gooey, rich and very sweet cinnamon rolls (which, of course, there is always a time and place for), they go well with afternoon coffee or tea, should you find yourself in the kind of civilized life where this is your norm (and please teach me your ways) but hardly abstemious. My two favorite fillings I auditioned were a sweetened cream cheese with jam (basically tastes like cheesecake) and a chocolate-tahini swirl. For a Food Network episode, we featured the cream cheese buns; they liked the story about my dad growing up in the Bronx and having cream cheese and jelly sandwiches from a local deli (as do I, less so that ridiculous face I’m making in the video still).

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pizza beans (cookbook preview!)

Good morning! In less than one month (28 days, not that I’m nervously counting or anything), my second cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day, will be ready to leave warehouses and head to you or your favorite bookstore. A book tour will be quickly under way (I hope we get to meet!). And all of this means that today, I get to share two more awesome things:

1. Early copies of the book have begun to arrive at warehouses! While the book will not be officially out until October 24th, we thought it would be fun to send a few of these out right now. To you. For free. Because maybe being the first of your friends to get the book comes with bragging rights. Because we hope it’s worth the wait, and that wait (4.92 years) has been long enough. My publishers are giving away 10 copies each to U.S. and Canadian residents; use the links below to submit your name for a chance to win.

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