Corn Fritters

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As long as the Cloud-Men controlling the weather continue to deny that it’s fall, we might as well do the same thing in our own kitchens. 80-degree weather in October? Let’s lean into it by celebrating the advent of this weekend with, say, a nice, summery slaw, some slow-cooked ribs (not these ones), and a piping hot batch of corn latkes.

Because that’s basically what these fritters are, right? They’re starchy, they’re crispy, they’re kind of a pain in the ass to make, what with the shaping and the frying and the flipping and the keeping warm without burning-ing—although at least they don’t come with the tedious water-wringing step that turns latkes from fun kitchen project to ultra-tedious annual production. (Because who has the energy to grate, soak, drain, squeeze, and fry dozens of teeny potato piles more than once a year?) Continue reading

Date-Chocolate Cake


Sing, Muse, of the best reason I’ve found so far to get engaged!

Yes, I’m looking forward to the wedding itself (which is, er, next week, somehow), and to a lifetime of happiness with the man I love, and yada yada yada. But seriously, folks: can we talk about my beautiful new Kitchenaid, a gorgeous piece of equipment that I fall a little more deeply for with every passing day? Never before in my adult life have I had the proper tool to whip cream (see exhibits A and B), or egg whites, or create a perfectly smooth cheesecake filling, or even cream butter, really, without giving my biceps a major workout. This baby will even knead bread for you. Knead! Bread! For! You! When I’m fully recovered from looming wedding self-consciousness—which, in my case, has largely taken the form of “hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have an enormous sandwich for lunch every day, followed by a brownie”—oh, the things we will make together. Continue reading

Baked Salmon and Crookneck Squash


It’s Health Food: ’60s Style! We’ve got fish drowned in vermouth; we’ve got summer squash drowned in butter; we’ve got some vaguely spanakopita-esque greens baked with yogurt and a feta-free Greek salad, neither of which actually came from my grandmother’s cookbook because hey, who are we kidding?

The salmon and the squash, though? They’re about the upper limits of what Nonnie has by way of low-cal entrées and vegetables. (I apologize, by the way, for posting yet another salmon recipe— when you’re trying to eat stuff that’s relatively good for you and also trying to work your way through your grandmother’s saturated fat-saturated recipes, salmon frequently seems like the only way to square the circle.) Continue reading

Purple Plum Duck


Thought it was rabbit season? Think again. If ever there were a time to cook duck—rich, fatty, impractical—it’s now, when dropping temperatures urge us toward something that requires a nice, long vacation in the oven, something that emerges bronzed and crisp and lacquered with a delicious glaze made from jarred prunes and frozen lemonade.

Yep: That’s what Nonnie tells you to use in her recipe for purple plum duck, an Asian-ish riff on the classic duck-and-fruit-sauce combo. I have no idea where this vaguely bizarre recipe—which also features soy sauce, sweet chile, Worcestershire, and dijon mustard—came from; my Googles have all been for naught. Although I did discover something similar that seems to have its origin in a 1969 cookbook by, no joke, Mary Price and her husband, Vincent. You know: Vincent Price. Vincent “Darkness falls across the land/The midnight hour is close at hand” Price. That guy. Just the man you’d turn to for tips on how to cook all the exotic flavors of the Orient.

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Yes, you’re not seeing things: this is a cheesecake being sliced on top of a paper bag, which is itself perched on top of a blanket, on top of some grass, on top of some dirt, and so on. Because when you think “late-summer afternoon picnic,” you obviously think “dairy-based dessert that must be refrigerated for hours before being served,” right?

You know what, though? Having brought a cheesecake to a picnic (my version of bringing a gun to a knife-fight, I guess), I can say now that the decision really wasn’t that weird—eating it at the park was sort of like eating ice cream, but, you know, ice cream made of cream cheese and bordered by crumbled graham crackers that can only be consumed using a fork or your own dirty fingers. Continue reading



“Good news, everyone! You don’t have to eat meat! I made enough gazpacho for all—it’s tomato soup, served ice cold!!”

Poor Lisa Simpson is ridiculed and dismissed for offering a giant bowl of gazpacho to the carnivorous residents of Springfield at her father’s BBBQ. But I know what Lisa knows: the ‘spach is one of the most delicious things you can possibly eat, provided two things are true: one, that you have some really excellent, peak-summer (or early fall!) tomatoes, and two, that you’re making it correctly. Continue reading

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Is anything else as gloriously retro as a pineapple upside-down cake? The very name invokes visions of Betty Draper in an A-line dress, covered by a tiny, impractical apron, proudly brandishing a golden-brown, can-born concoction that she didn’t actually bake herself. (Justice for Carla!)

Even the origins of this cake are kitschy: apparently, it entered the American lexicon only after some genius at Dole figured out a mechanical way to slice the tropical fruit into perfect, even rings. Replace the humble apples of a French tarte tartin with the processed, sugar-soaked slices sold by a capitalist supercorporation, and boom: pineapple upside-down cake. Hell, it may be even more American than apple pie. Continue reading