Tag Archives: Molly Wizenberg

List Love

  • This late summer trifle looks so incredible, I’m determined to find an occasion to make it, ASAP. I think the fact that it’s late summer and that I’ve never made a trifle before classify as suitable occasions.
  • I’m kind of really in love with this blog and with Rebekka’s paintings.
  • Last week we made Alice Waters’s ratatouille and it was seriously life changing. I can’t stop thinking about it.
  • I have some gorgeous Italian prune plums that are begging to be made into Molly Wizenberg’s plum crumble
  • I’ve been living vicariously through the dreamy recaps of this Kinfolk workshop
  • It’s just about time for pears, and I intend to make this
  • I’m incredibly excited for the brand new series debut of A Chef’s Life, airing on PBS (nationally!) this Thursday evening (check your local listings here). It’s a unique hybrid of cooking-reality show, and each episode explores a particular ingredient and how chef Vivian Howard translates that ingredient on the plate. I’m honored to have been able to assist with some of the show’s website and blog content, and some social media, and through the process, have gotten to meet some incredibly talented people. I’ve known the show’s creator, director, and filmmaker, Cynthia Hill (from Durham) for a few years now and this woman is  talented and driven. She’s always got at least a couple projects in the works, is raising two adorable daughters, and runs Markay Media and The Southern Documentary Fund. Her partner Rex is also quite the talent. He too is a documentary filmmaker and has worked alongside Cynthia on this series. I can’t say enough about the wonderful work they do in the documentary field. And Vivian is the real deal. She’s got a true Mida’s touch, where everything that comes into her hands—be it a humble ingredient or a fancy one—turns to gold. She beholds a raw, unbridled talent for conceiving unique spins on simple southern dishes, and invested interest in exploring her southern roots and upholding those rich culinary traditions. She works with some amazing local farmers and food purveyors and has a mighty, tenacious crew at her and her husband Ben’s restaurant, Chef and the Farmer. It’s well worth driving to Kinston for the mere sake of eating there. If you’re even remotely interested in the south, NC, and/or food, you need to tune in Thursday night and watch this show.


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List Love


  • Forever and always, my first favorite food writer. And thank goodness she’s on Instagram, because I can’t get enough of her wide-eyed, curly mopped, cherub-cheeked baby June.
  • I’ve really been wanting to make a tomato pie lately (I’ve never made one). I’m really intrigued by Deb’s recipe for corn and tomato pie, and also this one, which I think is breathtaking, with all the multicolored heirlooms. Reminds me I have a luscious big ole Purple Cherokee waiting for me in the kitchen, just dying to be sliced up for a BLT…hold tight buddy, I’m comin’ for ya.
  • I locked myself up with Orange is the New Black and you should too. In case you haven’t been convinced you need to watch it yet…read this.

I know I said it last time but I’ll be darned if I don’t say it again. I’m still obsessed with this show, which I devoured like I would a bag of Peanut M&M’s, after a juice fast. For the record, I’ve never done a juice fast, but I imagine I’d want to devour a bag of Peanut M&M’s immediately after…if I even made it through…which I probably wouldn’t. Coincidentally I finished the last episode today—the same day they wrapped the first episode of season two. I find that very appropriate.

I can’t stress enough the admiration, fondness, even affection I have for these women and how they look out for one another. Being an avid fan of picking “favorites,” I struggled to determine which of them was my favorite. 13 episodes and much deliberation later, I still can’t decide. I realized that’s because I love them all (well, with the exception of Pennsatucky because she’s so real and awful, she just terrifies me). I don’t just love these characters; I love these actresses. I love their bravery, their humility, their gusto. I want to be friends with these women and I’m not sure if I mean the actresses or their characters. Maybe both. The LA Times was right on the money when they said, “This is the most impressive group of female characters ever assembled in a series.” Best of all, when they said “Each woman has a story, and that story will be told.” And you should listen.

Needless to say this and all its adorableness made me very happy.

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List Love

  • I’ve been absolutely, 100% enthralled by the new Orange is the New Black series, created by Jenji Kohan (who did Weeds). It’s hilarious, perverse, heartwarming, tragic, riveting, raunchy. I’m devouring it at a probably unhealthy pace. I recently heard Piper Kerman’s story on The Moth and then saw that they were about to come out with a series based on her book (same title). I could do without Jason Biggs, because I’ve always thought he was an annoying schmuck and his work in this show only further indicates his lack of versatility. But I love that just about all of the supporting cast members (stars in their own right), are unknowns and these women are just incredible. Periodic, partial flashbacks relay some of these inmates’ backstory and how they ended up in prison and we see them as more than just a number.
  • I’m going to have to make this coconut butter because I’m dreaming of this for breakfast…
  • I can’t wait for this to come out and can’t believe I have to wait a whole year!
  • I would like to make these…kind of like the Stumptown Shorty that Ovenly makes
  • These are definitely happening sometime before summer’s over!
  • I found this to be so entertaining and hysterical
  • I can’t believe this amazing concert in its entirety is available for free on youtube. She is ethereal…

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Rhubarb in the Rye


Right now, in the midst of transition, stress and uncertainty, I’m trying to find joy in the simple things. The scent of fresh gardenias from the yard, filling the kitchen with their summery perfume. The sight of the first firefly of the evening. The sound of our dog plopping down onto her bed at night. A compliment from a stranger.

I’ve been wanting to make these bars since I first saw Molly Wizenberg’s post on them and I’ve been wanting to do something with rhubarb for months but haven’t been able to find any good rhubarb at the farmers’ market. Finally, I succumbed and bought some at Whole Foods because they had some gorgeous New York rhubarb at a decent price. The rye flour lends a rich nuttiness to the crust and the streusel and is intensified by the toasted walnuts which also provide a nice texture. Black pepper makes its presence known, adding some extra oomph without being too obtrusive. It’s a good counterpart to the tart rhubarb jam that’s layered in between. The streusel recipe is definitely a keeper and would be awesome overtop a single-crust pie (I’m particularly yearning to use it in a peach pie) but the possibilities are endless.

If you’re pressed for time, you could easily use store-bought jam but I think it’s simple and worth it to make your own. Like Molly, I imagine an apricot jam would be lovely in this recipe but my mind wanders…



Rhubarb and Rye Streusel Bars adapted from The Bojon Gourmet and Molly Wizenberg

      For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup rye flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted, rubbed walnuts, chopped
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed


Rhubarb Jam

  • 1 lb rhubarb, washed with the ends cut off and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise and scraped)
  • 1/4 cup water


For the Streusel:

  • reserved cup of crust mixture
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned, rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup toasted, rubbed walnuts, chopped
  • 1 TBS chilled butter cut into pieces


To make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Then add the walnuts and the butter and pulse until the mixture starts climbing up the sides and has the texture of damp sand. If it’s a little dry, just massage the mixture with your hands.

Line an 8×8″ square pan with parchment or foil and leave a 1″ overhang on both sides (you don’t have to do this but it will make transferring and cutting the bars a little easier). Dump the crust mixture into the pan, reserving  1/2 cup for the streusel. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan, making sure it’s as smooth and flat as possible. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or so or until golden brown and firm.


To make the jam:

Place the rhubarb in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-medium low and continue simmering for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture is thick and the rhubarb is mostly broken down, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn! Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove and either rinse off and save the vanilla bean pod or discard it.


To make the streusel:

In a medium bowl, combine the reserved 1/2 cup of crust mixture with the oats, walnuts and the 1 TBS of butter. Massage with your fingers until everything is incorporated and starts clumping together.



Pour the rhubarb jam over the crust and spread evenly. Use your fingers to form little clumps of the  streusel and sprinkle it overtop. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the streusel has turned golden brown. *(I’d set the timer for 20 minutes to start, just to keep an eye on everything and make sure you don’t over-bake). Let cool for about 20-30 minutes, slice and enjoy!



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Sweet Dreams are Made of Peas

A couple weeks ago, the fickle Spring weather seemed determined to let March exit with one last cold and rainy hurrah…a final withering retaliation of bitter winter.  One day in particular was grey,  cold and misty, a mist that suspended in the air throughout the day and hovered over the lush green landscape.  It was the kind of weather that made me miss England and holding a Cadbury’s Twirl over my little tea-stained mug of boiled water, waiting patiently for it to get all melty.

But as March bid farewell, so did the cold and I’ve seen daffodils, dandelions and wild African violet colored flowers appearing all over the place, providing lovely pops of color that inform us spring is not teasing us anymore.  I’ve been enjoying the smell of the fresh air drifting through open windows, pinning stray wildflowers behind my ear, afternoon thunderstorms and fresh peas.

Last weekend, we had a couple friends over and we made a southern spring meal, inspired by Edna Lewis, which all started with her excerpt on green peas in cream, from The Taste of Country Cooking – a seasonally structured collection of food-related anecdotes from her childhood in the south,  simple but beautifully written.  I love creamed corn, I like peas and my mom used to make creamed peas, so reading this got me inspired and stirred something in me.  I decided to make these peas in cream for dinner, along with a roast chicken, buttermilk mashed potatoes, a spring salad of radishes, watercress and goat cheese, cream biscuits and raspberry cream brown betty for dessert.

We ended up doing buttermilk fried chicken instead and were dying to try the recipe in the Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook, which also provided a sweet and savory sauce accompaniment – a tabasco-honey sauce that accentuated the flavor of the juicy fried chicken.  I picked up some freshly shelled green peas from a little farmer’s market (the first time I’ve ever had fresh peas!), some watercress (or pea tendrils – they looked like they could be passed off as either one and I just couldn’t distinguish), and some snap peas in their pods.  This was also the first time I’ve done anything with watercress/pea tendrils and rinsing off the rutty dirt and weed remnants in the colander made me glad because I knew they came straight from the earth, to a truck and right to the market and into my hands.  I tossed the greens with some mache and a sherry-dijon-honey vinaigrette and then topped the salads with little dollops of goat cheese, thinly sliced radishes and the pea pods.  The result was a freshly crisp spring salad that was just what I was aiming for, save for the pea pods which I apparently didn’t boil long enough because they were a little al dente.

The chicken was all Jay’s and they tangoed marvelously, especially after the chicken’s generous and indulgent bath overnight in the buttermilk and herb mixture.  Though their appearance seemed homely and weathered, the cream biscuits were a wonderful surprise,  rich and tender and perfect with a drizzle of honey (or with raspberry jam for breakfast the next morning).  As an added bonus, they were really unfussy and easy to make (although I can only take credit for suggesting the recipe, since Jay made them).  Mashed potatoes are kind of self-explanatory, I whip them to a frenzy, alternating with gradually adding buttermilk, butter and finally some salt and pepper.  Dessert was a disappointment to me, especially since I had been looking forward to it all week.  It was more like a soupy bread pudding with its excessive amount of liquid, since the “cream” part wasn’t quite a custard.  It lacked thickness and was too sweet, more like a creme anglaise, but we all ate it nonetheless.  It would be a great shame to let fresh vanilla bean, challah and raspberries go to waste!  I’m definitely the most self-critical about my desserts.  I know they all can’t be home runs and the flops and failures help me learn, but it still drives me crazy when my hopes are high and the dessert doesn’t measure up.  However, I do see a favorite, fool-proof banana pudding in the very near future ; )


Now, lastly, let’s finally talk about these peas.  You boil them for a few minutes, drain them, set them aside and bring some cream to a boil for just a minute or two.  Then you cover the peas in the hot cream, add some butter and give them a gentle “swish,” as Lewis says.  She says to serve them with some fresh chervil sprinkled on top but I didn’t have any.  I also added about a tablespoon of flour which really isn’t necessary but I just wanted to thicken the mixture a little.   Either way, they are exquisite and will absolutely change the way you think of peas, especially if you’re a skeptic or one of those who is still traumatized by childhood memories of being forced to shovel heaping spoonfuls of  mushy canned/frozen peas before being excused from the dinner table.  Luckily, this never happened to me and I’ve never had any wrinkled up nose reactions to the delicate little vegetable.  Just trust Edna on this one, it’s simple, clean, decadent and will totally make you forget you’re eating vegetables, let alone peas (again, if you’re typically not a fan).


Green Peas in Cream

By:  Edna Lewis


-4 cups of cold water

-3 cups of shelled tender peas

-1 TBSP sugar

-1 scant tsp salt

-1 cup of heavy cream

-2 TBSP of butter

-1/2 TBSP of fresh, finely cut chervil (optional)

*Optional: 1 TBSP of flour

*I STRONGLY recommend using fresh peas for this recipe, as the freshness is evident and makes a huge difference, but if you don’t use fresh peas, keep in mind they will probably take about 25 min. to cook instead of 10.*

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan bring 4 cups of water to a boil and drop in the peas, a few at a time, then add the sugar and salt.  Boil for about 10 minutes or so, until peas are tender but not mushy.
  2. Drain the liquid and set the peas aside.  Pour the cream into a 9-inch skillet and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes.  Then poor the boiling cream over the peas, add the butter and swish around in the pan.  Keep them hot before serving but do not cook them any longer.  Sprinkle with fresh chervil if desired.

Eat them all up and if your dessert failed like mine did, have some more of these peas because they’re just as sinful as some chocolate mousse…in a different kind of way of course.  Then boast to your mom that you ate all your greens ; )

















Sadly there are no fried chicken, mashed potatoes or creamed pea pictures but the above photo captures the delectable cream biscuits, happily devoured the next morning, alongside some fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella scramble and some crack bacon.  Okay, so it’s not called “crack” bacon, it’s Clinton Street’s sugar-cured bacon that was basically like bacon cotton candy except for the texture.  We used HALF the amount of sugar it called for and it was still so rich and sugary, it was too much like candy and I could barely make it through half of my piece.  It was still fun though.


Now go forth and make peas in cream!

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Something Good

Well my…this is a little embarrassing.  Here I’ve been, cooking and baking up a storm this month and October is almost over and I’ve only blogged once.   I’ve been writing a little for Good Bite, working too much, and experimenting like a mad woman scientist in the kitchen for Food 52’s contests.  They bring out the competitive, perfectionist in me.  In a good way I think.

You know how almost every great chick flick has one of those cheesy, guilty pleasure, iconic fashion/shopping/makeover/couple falling in love montages?   That is what I am about to do…but with food pictures.  Because that’s my kind of montage.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…

First there was the Boston Cream Cake… my first time making one – I used the yellow cake recipe (my favorite) from Smitten Kitchen, a chocolate ganache icing from David Lebovitz and a pastry cream from I forget where (but it’s not important because I was rather disappointed with how that turned out).  Next time, I intend to use Tartine Bakery’s recipe.  I pine and dream of this bakery and yet I’ve never even been to it.  We will alas meet one day sweet Tartine, it’s in the cards for us.

Enter Gwyeneth Paltrow’s Turkey Ragu from her website Goop.  This is my ultimate cool weather, sock wearing, hunker down and hibernate comfort food.  It’s simple, elegant and your whole house will smell of savory deliciousness and piney rosemary for approximately three hours.  Trust Gwyneth.  Trust the ragu.

Then came the nutmeg doughnut muffins.  Oh boy.  These were, make your mouth so full because you can’t just take petite, modest, dainty bites because they’re too luscious and they’re beckoning and evil and will make you consume 3 in one whole setting doughnuts.  I had been wanting to make these for awhile and finally one Sunday morning I did, and they were even just as good the next day.  Day old doughnuts get stale.  Doughnut muffins do not lose their luster.  They’re just another reason for me to adore Molly Wizenberg.  Make these!

Slow-Braised Beef Short Ribs, courtesy of Cecilia, for lending me her beautiful candy apple red Le Creuset dutch oven and Wolfgang Puck, who does not mess around.  Make these for people you really like.

Then we got really crazy and made gnocchi, which proved to be the perfect vehicle to serve and enjoy the short ribs with.  We’d never made gnocchi before.  (It’s not as hard as you think).  We didn’t know that and we still dove right in and had fun doing it!  They didn’t hold their shape well but I’m sure with practice…

We also had rosemary caramelized parsnips (Sara Foster’s recipe and one of my go-to fall favorites – though we failed to get a picture).  The salad consisted of mixed greens tossed with fig balsamic vinaigrette that I made, toasted pine nuts, dried bing cherries, red pear slices and goat cheese.  YUM.  Dessert was also a Sara Foster recipe (from her “Fresh Everyday” cookbook) – “individual chocolate pudding cakes,” that I drizzled with warm homemade salted butterscotch sauce and cream.  Also YUM.

For fear of photo montage overload, I’ll post the rest tomorrow or Sunday and for now, I’ll leave you with a list (because I love making lists).

Things I am Enjoying Right Now:

  • Australian musician Sarah Blasko and her cover of “Something Good,” from The Sound of Music.
  • Curling up on the couch with Indian food and Harvest Curry bread from the bakery (for dipping of course), a puppy dog and Something’s Gotta Give.  Diane Keaton is so honest and exquisite in that movie.  She’s so effortlessly classic and cool.
  • Modern Family as always, but especially this past week’s Halloween episode and how it made me laugh so hysterically to see Mitchell in a Spiderman costume.
  • Sneaking M&M’s from the trick or treater’s Halloween stash.  Seriously, I need to stop or they won’t have any candy come Sunday.  Oop’s…
  • This adorable sweater that is currently en route to me and reminds me of something Emma Pilsbury would wear, even though I’m not really into Glee, I think she’s precious and want to raid her character’s wardrobe sometimes.
  • Having my English cup of PG tips in my black & white Metropolitan Museum of Art mug, standing over the kitchen island, eating a cold, dark chocolate Mcvities digestive.

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Dove and Syrup and the Powerful Temptation of a Chocolate Bundt

I love that right now I smell of a combination of the new package of Dove (beauty bar) soap I just opened in the shower today and maple syrup from the southern brunch I just devoured at Smith Street Diner.  The Dove always reminds me of my granny, since she’s used that soap for as long as I can remember.  It conjures up memories of me visiting her adorable, southern house in Nicholasville, Kentucky, that is so filled with various antiques that its practically a museum.  You can barely maneuver a corner without elbowing an old barrel or stubbing your toe on a little toy wagon or stool.  I’ve always loved that house and how it smells and will forever associate Dove beauty bar soap with the house and my granny.

I read Luisa Weiss’s (of The Wednesday Chef)  latest blog post this morning and literally sighed out loud after I completed the last sentence.  Her prose always seems so effortlessly whimsical, lovely and honest.  I then realized that even though I may peruse more than a few food blogs during my daily web surfings, there are four that I check like clockwork each day, when it really comes down to it.  These are the four who, when upon checking their blogs each day, my heart lurches and flutters every time I find they’ve revealed a new piece of their world in a post.

  • Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette : because she is first and foremost my favorite food writer.  The first food blogger/writer I was ever really exposed to.  Who’s words I was transfixed by and who’s recipes and photos I was inspired by and salivating for.  She is humble and funny and extremely gifted and both her blog and her book – A Homemade Life have left such an important impact on me.  Lately, I’m especially enjoying hers and Matthew’s  Spilled Milk podcast because it’s pretty much just 15 minutes of solid, hysterics and laughter between two friends who discuss the most random food-related topics a little in the middle.
  • Joy Wilson is Joy the Baker and boy is she funny.  I love her because she’s so relatable (at least to me).  She’s honest and hilarious and real and she has a serious sweet tooth.  Her writing is so brave and candid and delivers a strong sense of what type of person she is – one frankly, I’m sure I’d have a blast hanging out and baking with.  She also makes me feel better about eating dessert every day.   I had the lucky opportunity of interviewing her over the phone a few months ago and she was incredibly kind and helpful and this little old article/interview was what came out of it.  (Unfortunately my byline is no longer there, since the site has recently turned over, but hopefully it will re-return soon, as it is still being worked on).
  • Ree Drummond is The Pioneer Woman and what I love about her is that she too is hilarious and very candid.  She also has an affinity for humble comfort food dishes that I am such a sucker for.  I’ve made quite a few of her recipes now and always consult her blog when I need something unpretentious and more on the simple side.  Something that will warm and feed my stomach and my soul.  She seems like a rosie the riveter type.  She’s got balls.  Also, I think she looks like Malin Ackerman with auburn hair.
  • Luisa Weiss – The Wednesday Chef,  is also one of these women food bloggers I admire most.  She makes me feel adventurous and inspires me to want to cook out of my comfort zone.  She’s also the one who posted Marcella Hazan’s recipe for tomato sauce with onion and butter, which I have become obsessed with.  Luisa is humble and writes such elegant, honest, personal prose.  Reading her blog is almost like reading a letter to a long lost friend.

Reading any of these four inspires me to be a better writer and for that, I am eternally indebted – which is why I decided I had to blog today.

This past week was a mildly ambitious one for cooking and baking.  I was consumed with work and slapped in the face with a cold, which I am still in the process of nursing out the door (a nightly dose of spicy Indian korma and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo seems to help).  Last week was the week however, that I spent $6 on a very petite package of mushrooms.  Dried porcini mushrooms from Oregon to be exact.  They smelled heavenly when I let them steep in a hot water bath and made Jamie Oliver’s version of chicken tetrazzini.  I adore mushrooms that way.  Just to clarify, I am that type of girl who spends $6 on mushrooms instead of getting a manicure.  Manicures are a frivolous expense; dried gourmet mushrooms for my dinner are necessary.

Last week was also the week I was experiencing an intense chocolate cake craving  and came straight home from a long shift at work, to make a chocolate cake from scratch.  For some odd reason, it was a chocolate bundt that was haunting my thoughts.  I swear, whatever my last meal on earth would be, it would have to include some chocolate cake.  We’re a very contented pair.  I was eager to try this recipe from The Big Sur Bakery cookbook.  It looked lush and sinful and seemed like it would live up to the craving.  Believe me, it did.  It was incredibly moist and flavorful, due to generous measurements of buttermilk, vegetable oil and coffee.  I had no intention of icing it with that beautiful sour cream ganache concoction, though I’m sure it’s fabulous.  What I had in mind was more simple – just a happy dusting of powdered sugar.  But then I cut myself a big hunk and whipped up some awesome (and quick) hot fudge, which I then doused it in, and topped it with vanilla ice cream, to make hot fudge cake.  I take my cravings seriously.  Apparently.

This week, I plan to make some adaptations to develop my own recipe to enter in Food 52’s latest contest for “Best Autumn Pie,” and make an apple pear pie with gruyere crust.  Exciting and intimidating!

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