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3.27.2014

Book tour, housekeeping, and you will now have Hole songs stuck in your head

My publisher tells me that finished copies of Delancey, hot off the presses, are due to arrive in their offices early next week. (!)

I have a lot of feelings about this, both of the excited and terrified varieties, because it means that the book will finally be done, donedoneDONE, but also that it’s too late to change anything about it, make it better, or otherwise obsess over it. It means that it’s no longer mine, in a sense. But on the upside, it soon will be yours!  It also means that you should grab a pencil and get out your calendar, because I’m taking this show on the road.



I’ll be traveling around, doing readings and signings - regrettably, not karaoke’ing Hole’s greatest hits - for a good chunk of May.  Brandon has to stay home and make pizza, and June has to stay home and work on her pronunciation of pizza, so I hope you’ll come out and keep me company. I got to meet many of you when my first book came out, and it was, by far, the best part of the whole book thing. I’ve been hoping that I would get to go on tour again with this book, and I feel so, so, so very lucky that I do. Please come say hello!

In the meantime, you can pre-order Delancey, if you feel sufficiently moved, at any number of places, like Apple iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, University Book Store, Books-A-Million, Powell's, or an independent bookstore in your area.

With no further ado, here is the tour schedule. (I’ll also post it, as well as any updates, in the "click here for events and whatnot" link in the sidebar.)

Seattle, WA
Tuesday, May 6 at 7:00 pm
University Book Store
4326 University Way NE

Oklahoma City, OK 
Wednesday, May 7 at 6:30 pm
Full Circle Books
1900 NW Expressway

Tulsa, OK
Thursday, May 8 at 7:00 pm
Book Smart Tulsa
Fifteenth and Home
1512 East 15th Street

Washington, DC
Saturday, May 10 at 6:00 pm
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW

Brooklyn, NY
Monday, May 12 at 7:30 pm
Greenlight Bookstore
686 Fulton Street

Wellesley, MA
Tuesday, May 13 at 7:00 pm
Wellesley Books
82 Central Street
Tickets are $10 and refreshments will be served.

Wayzata, MN
Wednesday, May 14 at 7:00 pm
The Bookcase
824 East Lake Street

Santa Cruz, CA
Thursday, May 15 at 7:00 pm
Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Avenue

Pleasanton, CA
Friday, May 16 at 12:00 pm
Towne Center Books, "Read It and Eat"
555 Main Street
Tickets are $32 and include lunch and a copy of DELANCEY. Reservations required.

San Francisco, CA
Saturday, May 17 at 12:30 pm
Book Passage
1 Ferry Building, #42

Mission Viejo, CA
Sunday, May 18, beginning at 10:00 am
Books Are Better Shared
Norman Murray Community Center
Tickets are $25. Registration required.

Seattle, WA
Thursday, May 22 at 6:30 pm
Book Larder
4252 Fremont Avenue North

Vancouver, BC
Monday, May 26 at 6:00 pm
Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks
1740 West 2nd Avenue
Tickets are $45 and include refreshments and a copy of DELANCEY. Reservations required.

Kirkland, WA
Tuesday, June 3 at 7:00pm
Parkplace Books
348 Parkplace Center

Portland, OR
Monday, June 9 at 7:30 pm
Powell's City of Books
1005 West Burnside Street

Olympia, WA
Tuesday, June 10 at 6:00 pm
Bayview School of Cooking
516 West 4th Avenue

Spokane, WA
Tuesday, June 24 at 7:00 pm
Auntie's Bookstore
402 W. Main

Olympia, WA
Thursday, September 18 at 7:30 pm
Olympia Timberland Library
313 8th Avenue SE


Happy almost-weekend.

P.S. Make yourself a Black Manhattan tonight! I had one last weekend, with Amaro Nardini in place of Averna, and I’m still thinking about it.

3.21.2014

Call it a meal

We have reached the point in winter, or spring, or whatever it is, when even I am tired of making, eating, and talking about soup. I’ve been meaning to make a batch of vegetable and pearl barley soup for the past week, and I even forced myself to chop up everything the other night before bed, thinking it would inspire me to get on it the next morning, but, eh. Eh. I’d rather do what I did twice last week: throw a cauliflower in the oven, eat the whole pan, and call it a meal.


Roasted cauliflower! Old news! You know how to roast cauliflower. I know how to roast cauliflower. But here I am, talking up roasted cauliflower, because this particular version has become - just as Bon Appétit said it would - my new go-to. The recipe comes from the "BA Arsenal" section of the February 2013 issue, and it’s hardly even a recipe (which is, more and more, my favorite kind of recipe). You’ll probably have it memorized after the first read-through. And I’ll bet you have everything in the house already - except maybe the cauliflower, and that’s easy enough to remedy.

When I roast cauliflower, I usually just, you know, roast it: sliced cauliflower, olive oil, salt, boom. But Allie Lewis Clapp, food editor of Bon Appétit, apparently swears by the combination of cauliflower and onion, the former caramelized and the latter "just-this-side-of-burnt." (Color = flavor! Assuming, of course, that you don’t go too far and actually burn the onions, which I did once; see photo below.) To the cauliflower and onion, she suggests that you add a few sprigs of thyme and a few whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic, all of it slicked with some olive oil. Then you chuck it in a hot, hot oven, and after barely half an hour, the cauliflower winds up velvety, meaty, even rich, and the onions relax and soften into sweetness, and the garlic is tender enough to spread on toast, and a dark, savory, somewhat bewitching smell has filled your kitchen - or your entire house, if you’re me and your house is small and the exhaust fan doesn’t really work, even though it roars like the engine of a semi scaling a mountain pass. Then you grate some Parmesan over the whole pan, slide it back into the oven, and pull it out when the cheese has melted and crisped into crisp, lacy, frico-like webs and shards.


At this point, you could divide it between a couple of bowls, put a fried egg on top of each, and call it lunch. You could also divide it between four plates and call it a side dish.  You could toss it with pasta, probably, though I haven’t tried it, and serve it with more Parmesan. Or you could just eat it, period, which is what I’ve been doing. If you have any leftovers, they’re good at any temperature - even cold, eaten straight from a Mason jar while sitting in your car outside the pottery studio after class.

Happy weekend.


Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower
Adapted from Bon Appétit and Allie Lewis Clapp

One word of caution: don’t slice the onions too thinly here, or they’ll be more likely to burn.  I’d aim for ½-inch-thick slices, if I were you.

1 head cauliflower, trimmed
1 medium onion, sliced
4 thyme sprigs
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan or Grana Padano, for grating

Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.

Place the cauliflower on a cutting board, and slice it top-down into roughly 1/3-inch slices. Some of the slices will crumble, and that’s fine. Scoop all of the cauliflower into a large bowl, and add the onion, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Arrange the mixture in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is mostly tender, golden brown, and caramelized at the edges, 25-30 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, and grate a generous amount of Parmesan over the vegetables. (The original recipe calls for ½ cup, but I didn’t measure mine; I just eyeballed it.) Return the pan to the oven, and continue to roast for another 5 or 10 minutes. You’re basically cooking it to eye: you want the cauliflower to be nicely caramelized, but you don’t want the onions to burn.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

3.10.2014

A short leap

Our friend Ben is in town for a visit, and this past Friday, while we waited in line for lunch at Il Corvo - always worth the wait, in case you ever walked by and wondered - I told him about some lamb meatballs that I wanted to write up, but that I had a problem: the only photo I have is of the raw meat and seasonings in a bowl. Ooh, Ben said sharply, sucking air between his teeth, which I took to mean, That’s going to hurt.

And yet.  AND YET.


Maybe it will ease the blow to know that the reason why I have no meatball photo is that, by the time they’re done cooking, they smell so irritatingly good, and I’m so irritable and hungry, that my claws come out and I throw myself on the pan. Anyway, I think my mother will love this recipe, and if I hold off on posting until I have a proper photo, it’ll be almost like I’m depriving my mother, my very own mother, of happiness.

I am not the first person in the world to own The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by the brilliant Deb Perelman, and I am also not the first person to be tempted by her recipe for Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs.  Deb mentions in the sidebar that the recipe can be made with ground lamb instead of turkey, and what I am, in fact, is here to report that, yes, absolutely, it can!  I’ve done it myself five or six times now. There is probably no meat that doesn’t go well with toasted sesame seeds, garlic, cumin, coriander, and chile, but in most such cases, lamb would be my intuitive choice. The meatball that we’re talking about here has the basic flavor profile of falafel, right, and since lamb shows up in cooking across the Middle East, falafel to lamb is a short leap.  I don’t know, but I sort of want to call these Falafel-Spiced Lamb Meatballs.  Deb, I’m screwing up everything.

In any case, it’s nothing more complicated than mixing up ground meat and seasonings in a bowl and rolling them into balls. It’s the kind of cooking that can be accomplished with only minimal attention, while the rest of your brain is lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves crashing on the white noise machine in your kid’s room on the other side of the wall.  (Or, you could listen to Spilled Milk. Did you know that we’re going weekly? And that you can donate to the show, which helps us buy ingredients and pay for hosting and wins our devotion to the grave and beyond?) The resulting meatballs are juicy, fragrant with cumin and coriander and garlic, and when you chew, there’s a faint, wonderful crackle of toasted sesame seeds between your teeth. The crackle might be the best part.

Deb serves hers with a smashed-chickpea salad that’s bright with sumac and lemon, and the combination is delicious. I like them with anything, though most often a pile of roasted vegetables. They would be perfect with couscous, or stuffed in a pita with shredded cabbage and chopped cucumber and some yogurt or tahini sauce, or even just heaped on plain rice with a cucumber salad on the side.  The main thing to know is, they would be perfect.


Falafel-Spiced Lamb Meatballs
Adapted slightly from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman

Deb’s recipe calls for browning these meatballs in a pan and then finishing them in the oven, and while that certainly yields a stunner of a meatball, both in flavor and beauty, I regularly take a lazier route: I only bake them. Then I can basically walk away, and ta da, the meatballs cook themselves. Cleanup is also very easy, thanks to the parchment on the sheet pan.  Do what you will.

2 tablespoons (15 grams) sesame seeds
1 pound (455 grams) ground lamb
2/3 cup (40 grams) fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup (60 ml) water
1 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
Olive oil, for cooking

Preheat the oven to 425°F. If you plan to skip the stovetop browning and only bake these, line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.

Put the sesame seeds in a small skillet, and place the skillet over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the seeds smell toasty and are beginning to turn golden.  I never pay attention to exactly how long this takes, but it’s not terribly long.

While the sesame seeds toast, put the lamb through cayenne in a medium bowl.  When they’re ready, add the toasted sesame seeds.  Mix with a fork (or with your hand, my preference) until evenly mixed. Form the meat mixture into 1½-inch, or golf-ball-sized, balls.  (This is easiest to do if your hands are wet; that will help to keep the meat from sticking to you.) If you plan to brown the meatballs on the stovetop, arrange them on a tray or large plate; if you plan to only bake them, arrange them on the prepared sheet pan.

At this point, if you’re lazy like me, put the sheet pan in the oven and walk away. After about 10 minutes, pull out your thermometer (all hail the Thermapen! Possibly my single favorite kitchen tool!) and poke one or two of the meatballs: when they’re ready, the internal temperature will be between 160 and 165 degrees.  If they’re not hot enough, slide them back in, and check again shortly. Again, I never seem to keep track of how long they take to cook. Somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes, I think?

If you’re a better person and plan to brown your meatballs as Deb directs, heat a generous slick of oil in a large ovenproof skillet or sauté pan. Brown the meatballs in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan or nudge them before they’re good and brown. Be gentle as you turn them: they’re soft! Transfer the meatballs to a paper-towel-lined tray or plate, and continue cooking in more batches until they’re all browned. Then discard the oil, wipe all but a little of it from the pan, and return all of the meatballs to the pan. Slide into the oven, and bake until a thermometer reads an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees, or about 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: about 4 servings, or roughly 25 meatballs

Note: These meatballs freeze beautifully.  I like to cook about half of them right away and then freeze the remaining half on a sheet pan lined with parchment.  When they’re frozen solid, I transfer them from the pan to a plastic storage bag. They thaw quickly - and actually, I’ve even baked them while they were still slightly frozen. It took a bit longer, but no harm done.