Roasted Peppers

There’s something sort of… Georgia O’Keeffe-y about this picture of a charred pepper, right? Something vaguely obscene? Or did I just accidentally give myself a Rorschach test, and reveal my embarrassing results for the world to see?

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Mozzarella Marinara

You probably can’t hit a target from 50 meters while lying flat on your stomach in the snow, or execute a perfect Biellmann spin, or pull off a wicked backside triple cork 1440. If you’re like me, chances are you don’t even know how to ice-skate backwards without posing a danger to yourself and others.

I can, however, tell you about a simple culinary trick that’ll make you feel like an Olympian. Because even if you’re incapable of conquering Black Diamonds, you can make mozzarella sticks. Yes, you!

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Clam Dip

Please do not take this post—published mere hours before gladiators attempt to sate our bloodlust by pummeling each other into early-onset dementia—as an endorsement of New England over Philadelphia. Though I’d happily live on nothing but Cape Code chips, I have no loyalty to the land of snow and chowdah—which isn’t to say that I care much about Philadelphia, either.

What I really mean is that I can barely be bothered to give a shit about football under the best of circumstances. If the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, and I was at the game, and a wealthy benefactor had ensured that I wouldn’t have to sit outside in the cold, and I had an entire Mineo’s pizza in one hand and an endless supply of Dippin Dots in the other, and, like, Bernadette Peters were performing a one-woman “strictly Sondheim” medley at halftime… maybe then I’d be able to muster up some enthusiasm. Continue reading

Shrimp Puffs

The canon of weirdo Gentile party foods I grew up blissfully unaware of—ambrosia; grape jelly meatballs; anything involving, dear God, gelatin—would not be complete without shrimp puffs, a delightfully ’50s canapé comprised of crappy supermarket sandwich bread that’s toasted, then topped with a mixture of shrimp, mayo, and cheese, then broiled to an appealing golden brown.

Despite its final coloring—especially when the toasts are, say, left to sit in a hot oven a bit longer than they should, thanks to a negligent and slightly tipsy hostess juggling too many things at her own housewarming party—this may in fact be the whitest food in history, culturally speaking. Though I guess hotdish, a Midwestern casserole that combines canned cream of mushroom soup with canned vegetables and hamburger meat and tops the whole thing off with frozen tater tots, might have a bone to pick with that appellation.

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Liptauer Spread

I learned to cook in the summer of 2010, partially out of necessity—I didn’t want to eat takeout every night, especially since I was earning a whopping $8.25 an hour at my impressive-sounding, mind-numbingly-boring internship—and largely out of loneliness. (I was living in D.C., a four-hour bus ride away from basically all of my friends, and because I was fairly certain I’d be returning to New York once the internship was over, I didn’t try very hard to make new ones.)

There were two people who made me feel a little less lonely as I stumbled my way from ratatouille to zucchini bread to spaghetti carbonara, the first dish I made that felt like real culinary alchemy: Mark Bittman, who taught me the basics of how to cook everything in his aptly-named beginner’s classic, and Deb Perelman, who won me over with her chatty prose long before I learned that nearly everything she cooked at Smitten Kitchen was both picture-perfect and delicious. (I’m saying “nearly” only because I was afraid of cooking meat until I made her Thai-style chicken legs… and then they turned out so inedibly salty that I avoided making chicken myself again for like, a year.)  Continue reading

Savory Noodle Kugel

The noodle kugel of my dreams is not studded with rum-soaked raisins (blech), or crushed  canned pineapple (double blech), or synthetic apple pie filling (the blechiest of all the blechs). It is not sweetened with sugar, or topped with crumbled cornflakes, or scented with vanilla or cinnamon any other member of the pumpkin spice family. And you’ll never be confused about when to eat it, because it’s not some unholy combination of side dish and desert—it’s savory, damnit. It’s a kugel for adults. And whenever it appears on a buffet (or, you know, the stovetop, because there’s only so much room on a kitchen counter), it’s also the center of attention.

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