Buttermilk Barley Biscuits

When Bryan and I decided to move to Oak Park, we were moving further away from our friends. It was the one part of the decision to leave our old neighborhood that we were agonizing over. For anyone not familiar with Chicago’s geography, Oak Park is the first town directly west of the city center. It is still connected by the same public transportation and the Sears Tower (I reject its new name) is a major part of the view from our apartment. Think of it as a Manhattanite moving to Brooklyn. Or Hoboken? The point being, we could easily have moved somewhere else within the city limits and been much further away from our old neighborhood and friends. But still, we worried. Ultimately we decided to go for it, and honestly have never found the extra 20 minutes of a commute to be a problem, and we love our new community. read more+++

Socca to me!

(Too much?)

Those of you who have traveled to Nice have likely come across a socca vendor or two. I didn’t imagine it was something I could (or would want to) make at home, even though recipes for it have been popping up everywhere lately. The recipes are all basically chickpea flour and water, with a little olive oil and salt thrown in for good measure. As is so often the case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and it can be made at home.



You’ve likely seen these bagels before. Luisa just raved about them last week.  Because of her wonderful post, I considered not posting them here—but it is too important. Think of this post as a public service announcement. You need to make these bagels. For those of you that have experienced the joy of making your first loaf of no-knead bread, this is like that, but with bagels. I mean, what else is there to say? You. Can. Make. Bagels. And not just any bagels, really amazing bagels.

The recipe (from Peter Reinhart) is available here or here. But I wanted to add my two cents to the process.


Tomato and Cheese Pie

Italy is pretty easy to romanticize, especially the food. It is a country of grandmothers serving steaming bowls of saucy pasta, if you were to believe our collective imagination. I’ve only been to the boot once, but was there long enough to understand that it is an incredibly vibrant and complex food culture. I probably have more memorable/formative food moments from that one trip to Italy than on any other travels. But I still find myself attracted to recipes that play into my fantasies (or cliches). read more+++

Floriole, Bryan’s Birthday, and Some Amazing Cornbread

I have been MIA, but with good reason! For starters, my friends at Floriole opened their bakery and café and I have had no reason to bake since freshly made croissants, tarts and cakes are a couple of blocks from my office. I’ll be writing more about Floriole soon, but if you are in Chicago you really need to drop what you are doing and go! It is the most exciting thing to open in Chicago in a long time and definitely my favorite bakery.

But really, my time has been spent planning Bryan’s birthday party which was this past Saturday. It was a great night with lots of good friends and good food. A few of the recipes from the Southern-style barbecue were real stand-outs and worth sharing with you. I’m starting with Bryan’s favorite, which is a recipe for skillet cornbread from the Lee brothers. read more+++

King Cake!

The first time I had a king cake I did not enjoy it. Not because I didn’t like the taste of sweet bricoche-y bread topped with icing and colored sugar, but because I happened to get the slice with the baby in it. For those of you who don’t know the tradition, a small plastic trinket (often of a baby) or a coin is hidden in the baked cake and the person who finds it in their slice gets good luck, or to be king, or to bring the cake the following year, or something. Well, for some reason at the time I had that first slice of king cake with the baby inside of it, I did not want to tell anyone I had found it. I’m not exactly sure why, but it seemed embarrassing. So, I hid the baby and didn’t say anything. By the time we had finished the cake and everyone was complaining about the bakery forgetting to include a baby it seemed too weird to fess up. So my first experience with this cake was awkward. Thankfully, I have recovered from my king cake issues and am now able to enjoy a slice, baby or not.


Pizza (Pulp Fiction + Jim Lahey)

I’ve never seen Pulp Fiction. It got so much hype that I quickly lost interest. It’s a problem I have. I avoided seeing it until it seemed too late to see it and by then it had become sort of a badge of honor. People are horrified: You’ve never seen Pulp Fiction? Yeah, so what?

It was kind of like that with Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. Everyone was going crazy for that recipe and I waited just a little too long to try it and then decided it was stupid. Until last month when I got a beautiful new Le Creuset dutch oven as a housewarming gift and for some reason decided to break down and make the bread. Turns out I’m the stupid one. read more+++

Apple Cider Muffins


I wonder what it means that the first two recipes of 2010 are breakfast treats? I am guessing that getting out of bed on these dark, cold, winter mornings requires something more tempting than my usual bowl of cereal or piece of fruit. These Apple Cider muffins will do the trick and have had me looking forward to breakfast for the past couple of days. And lunch. And whenever else I manage to fit them in. They are simple and lovely and keep well. The texture is best on the day you make them but the flavor is best the next day, which I think is a good thing—they evolve.

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Los Angeles, 2010, Granola


I fall in love with Los Angeles a little more each time I visit. This time we were lucky enough to have some really amazing meals. Many of them were at Bryan’s parents’ house—his mom is a wonderful cook and his dad an excellent sommelier. I came home with great family recipes (and some excellent wine) which I will undoubtedly be sharing with all of you as the year progresses. But we also managed to get out for dinner. Rustic Canyon Wine Bar in Santa Monica blew my mind early in the trip. The meal was pretty close to perfect and included a beet salad that may be the best salad I have ever eaten in my life. The pear tart and cinnamon sugar donuts were equally exceptional. I also really loved Church & State in downtown Los Angeles, which some friends recommended. Really outstanding bistro cooking and such a charming atmosphere. If I lived in Los Angeles I would be a regular at both places. If you live in Los Angeles—go!

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