Fish en Papillote and Herbed Carrots

Here are a few reasons fish (and carrots!) en papillote (or en aluminum foil, a la Nonnie) should be in your regular meal rotation, particularly this time of year:

  1. Preparing food en papillote, or inside a little sealed package, is an exceedingly easy, quick, and largely mess-free way to cook protein (and vegetables), making it ideal when you want to make dinner on the only weeknight you have free in between awards season screenings and holiday parties. (I know, I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for myself.)
  2. But it also feels very fancy, mostly because it’s got a tres sophisticated French name, hohn hohn hohn.
  3. Plus, every time you slice into a little foil package with delicious things inside, you’ll feel like you’re opening a present you gave yourself—and after all, ’tis the season.

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Creamed Spinach and Cheese

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I’ve got some bad news for you. You can follow this recipe exactly as written; you might even like what you end up with. But whatever you do, your ultra-’50s creamed spinach—a.k.a. frozen greens mixed with gloppy canned soup; tres chic—won’t be as good as the dish I made for Thanksgiving last month.

Why? Because barring some sort of crazy cosmic coincidence, chances are that your spinach, unlike mine, will not be hand-squeezed by a Moo. Continue reading

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

Baked Salmon and Crookneck Squash

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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

Beef Ribs and Cole Slaw

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See that, up there? That charred, vaguely carcinogenic square of bone and gristle? That is not, I think, what Nonnie had in mind when writing up her recipe for beef ribs. Beef ribs should look like this: caramelized, glistening, Flintstonian. They should yield meat tender enough to fall off the bone; they shouldn’t be shriveled and tough and sad-looking.

You know what, though? It is nigh on impossible to buy beef ribs in this day and age. Really! I tried! I spent a sweaty summer afternoon trudging from fancy Brooklyn butcher to less fancy Brooklyn butcher, on a quixotic quest to track down the kosher-style protein of my dead grandmother’s Semitic dreams. (Maybe if I’d said that to them, the meat-slingers would have been more accommodating.) I went to four—count ’em, if you happen to have a map of Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights handy!—places, all told: two told me I was SOL, one was closed, and one said that it would have beef ribs eventually, but not until the fall. Because… that’s when… a cow loses its baby ribs? I don’t know. Continue reading

Cheese Sauce

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Like most of us, I grew up believing that pretty much all cruciferous vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, and especially brussels sprouts, the patron saint of Stock Yucks—were disgusting. The only—and I mean only—exception I ever made was for Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup, which was basically a bowl of melted cheese studded with teensy weensy green flecks (you know, the broccoli).

These days, of course, I am a very sophisticated lady. I no longer subsist primarily on Frappucinnos and Fruit by the Foot. I understand that a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with cheese soup is not a healthy meal. And I don’t only consume vegetables for the good of my organs—I actually enjoy eating them. I promise! I swear! Don’t revoke my “grown-up” license, please! Continue reading