Recipes for Uncategorized

A Few Recipes That are Not in the Book

April 2, 2019

In the original manuscript of Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, there was a recipe in almost every chapter.  My wonderful editor thought they slowed the narrative, and in the end we left in only a handful of recipes that were really important to the story.  This week I’ll be posting a few of the recipes that were left on the cutting room floor. So check back tomorrow.

To begin, the recipe for the Ian Knauer’s goat tacos.  If you’ve read the excerpt on Eater, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  This is from the chapter called:

Dot Com

Ian and Alan returned from Queens toting two enormous plastic bags. From halfway across the building you could smell them coming; the goat was still warm, the reek of the abattoir so intense it was as if they were carrying the entire contents of the butcher shop. The primal barnyard scent grew stronger as they approached, and by the time they reached the kitchen door the animal funk was overwhelming. Up close they were engulfed in the sharp metallic scent of freshly spilled blood; the hair rose on the nape of my neck and every instinct urged me to run. Despite my strong desire not to, I put my hand over my mouth. For a moment I  stopped breathing.

“I’m amazed the guards let you in.” I cautiously lowered my hand.

“They didn’t seem happy,” Ian admitted.  “But we flashed our passes and ran for an elevator before they could stop us. The doors were just closing.”

“I hope it was empty.”

Ian and Alan exchanged a glance.  Ian heaved his plastic bag onto the counter. “Anna Wintour was in there.”

I stared at him, fascinated and appalled.  “What did she do?”

“What could she do?  She just kept backing into the corner until she couldn’t go any farther.”

Goat Tacos for Eight

(adapted from Ian Knauer and Alan Sytsma, who adapted the recipe from Alexandro Garcia, Blue Agave Club, Pleasanton, Ca.)

Wipe 3 dried guajillo chiles and 2 dried anchos clean (they tend to be very dusty), slit them open and remove the seeds and stems.  Toast them in a hot, heavy dry skillet, turning them with tongs, until they change color (about 30 seconds each).

Soak the chiles in hot water for half an hour.

Peel a pound of tomatoes and chop them, carefully reserving the juice.

Drain the chiles and put them in a blender with the tomatoes, the tomato juice, a teaspoon of salt and 4 cloves of peeled garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano, a teaspoon of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 5 whole peppercorns, 3 whole cloves and a bay leaf. Puree until very smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sprinkle 3 1/2 pounds bone- in goat (neck, shoulder, leg), that you’ve cut into pieces at the joints with a teaspoon of salt and put it into a shallow baking dish.  Pour the sauce over the meat, turning it about so that the meat is coated to on all sides.

Cover the baking dish tightly with foil, put it into the oven and leave it for about 3 hours, until it is very tender.

Uncover the dish and let the goat cook for another half an hour, uncovered, in the sauce. Remove from the oven, coarsely shred the meat and mix it into the sauce.

Return the dish to the oven and cook, about another half hour.

Serve on corn tortillas with these toppings: crumbled queso fresco or feta, salsa, cilantro, chopped onions, sliced radishes, julienned lettuces, pickled jalapenos, limes.




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Dinner in the Tower of David

January 30, 2019

Chef Ido Zarmi cooked this gorgeous meal to welcome us to Jerusalem. The meal, which included seven different kinds of olive oil,  showcased local products. It began with this sabich of eggplant…

went on to a tartar of blue-stripe jack with creme fraiche tzatziki

fish and chips….

that salad up above, and then this “shish-brack” of striped bass with yogurt and za’atar

olive oil poached Spanish mackerel

goats milk panna cotta,

and finished with a selection of Ika’s chocolates which are, bar none, the finest chocolates I’ve ever tasted.


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A Day in the Life

November 9, 2018

Zaza in Spencertown, waiting for breakfast.

Drive into Hudson…

The porchetta and pickled shallot sandwich at Talbott & Arding – astonishingly simple and filled with flavor. Perfect food to eat in the car.

Listened to Colm Toibin’s wonderful House of Names as we drove south.

Then a meeting about the upcoming In Your Face show, which I will be headlining on December 6th.

Beginning of the Nobody is Above the Law march in Times Square, which grew larger as we marched.  Ran into director James Schamus along the way, then a few more friends who ran out to say hello and joined us.

After the march ended in Union Square we went looking for dinner. Long waits everywhere.  After wandering around,  increasingly hungry, for at least an hour we ended up at Hearth eating anchovies butter and bread …

meatballs, and…

this crisply delicious chicken.

When I looked at my phone it told me I had walked 7 miles.  A good day!

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Til Now, Part 2

August 6, 2018

We didn’t sleep.  We couldn’t.  We sat up, Michael and Nancy and I, drinking wine, worrying about Laurie and the kids until the sun came up.  Jonathan was gone, and it was hard to be half a world away.

And I still had the Basque Culinary World Prize ahead of me.

Michael, kindly, offered to drive me all the way from Umbria to Modena.  It was a long drive.  Passing Florence we said, “we should pull off and eat,” but we weren’t hungry.  A couple hours later, however, we knew we couldn’t make it all the way without stopping for a bite.  As we pulled off, in the little town of  Sasso Marconi, we were feeling foolish: Jonathan would have had a plan, known exactly where to go – even if it meant a three hour detour along a goat path.

The streets were empty.  Not a soul stirred, nor a breath of wind.  And so we went into the first restaurant we found.  To our astonishment the place was packed, alive with life, with noise, with music. The whole town was there, sharing food, indulging in a long leisurely Sunday lunch.

Let me just say that this was instant proof  that every restaurant in Italy does not serve good food.  Jonathan would have been amused to see me scoop everything into my (now soggy) purse and run outside to feed it to a passing dog. We drove on. To Modena, for the Basque Culinary World Prize.

The opening party for the event was at Hombre Parmesan – which not only makes extraordinarily fine organic cheese, but also houses an astonishing collection of vintage automobiles.   This Mazzerati from the fifties is sometimes called the most beautiful car ever made.  With good reason.


The food was fantastic. Huge shards of that fine parmesan splashed with Massimo Bottura’s private balsamic vinegar (you can see how thick it has become with age).  Gnocco fritto cooked in great vats of lard, snatched from the cauldron and  topped with prosciutto whose lacy began to slowly melt. Freshly made, still-warm ricotta.  There was more – so much more – but I couldn’t stop eating those crisp, salty, warm gnocco fritti.

Still couldn’t sleep.  Tossed and turned all night, wishing I were in Los Angeles.  Spent the next day deliberating over the prize at the gorgeous Villa Maria Luigia, which Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore are soon to open.

The Basque Culinary World Prize, which is supported by the Basque Government, is dedicated to the notion of gastronomy as a transformative force. Every single nominee is doing something impressive; it makes me proud that we’ve come to a time in human history when we understand that food can be more than something to eat, a time when celebrated chefs do more than  invent new recipes. I wanted to award the prize to every one of these impressive chefs, who are dedicated to feeding immigrants, eliminating waste, inventing new ways to feed the ill, and supporting indigenous populations.  In the end the 100,000 euro prize went to Jock Zonfrillo, who is doing extraordinary work with the native foods of Australia.

Lunch and dinner were both provided by Osteria Francescana – and were both extraordinary. (Massimo’s “Tribute to the Amalfi Coast,” above, may be my favorite form of desert.) For a few highlights from the meals, read this.

The following day was dedicated to a conference called “Transforming Society Through Gastronomy,” a day of fascinating talks by a group of diverse people from the artist JR, talking about the table he set up on the US/Mexico border

to the always erudite historian Bee Wilson, chef Andoni Luiz Aduriz taking us on a stroll through history and filmmaker David Gelb with an interesting take on Chef’s Table.  My subject was meant to be “an edible truth” but when I stood up to speak, all I could think about was Jonathan. Here’s an excerpt:

“I had a speech written for today, a speech in which I was going to talk about what is, in my opinion, the gravest danger facing food journalists today: the danger of telling the wrong stories.  I was going to talk about how much we’ve muddied the waters by relating what seem like truths, only to find out a few years down the road that they were the wrong truths. That we’d been misled by science, by politics, by marketing. And that in the face of all the serious problems today, we have, perhaps, so confused the public that they’re no longer listening to us.

I was going to say that in these times, more than ever, people need real news, news they can use to fix our broken food system.  I think we can all agree that there has never been a time in human history when we were in so much need of the facts each time we sit down to eat. We all keep asking the question _ what should we eat?  Never have the answers been so confusing.

You all know the problems.  They’re the ones many of the candidates for the Basque World Prize are trying to solve: food waste, food distribution, hunger, poverty, obesity, the devastation of the oceans, carbon dioxide in the air, water, climate change, overuse of antibiotics.  Our food is being threatened from everywhere.

But I landed in Italy to such terrible news that I just can’t give that speech right now.  I got off the plane to learn that my longtime colleague and friend, Jonathan Gold, was dying.  That I’d never see him again.  And so for the past few days I haven’t been able to think about anything but Jonathan. Which is probably appropriate to this conference.  Because the mission of the Basque Culinary World Prize is using gastronomy as an engine for change – and I don’t think anyone has ever done that better than he did.”

I went on to talk about Jonathan’s legacy.  And I ended like this:

“Jonathan not only showed us a new way of looking at food, but also proved that you don’t need television or a movie to make an impact. Every time he put pen to paper he proved the power of words.

I know there are a lot of writers in this room. And I hope you’ll all remember Jonathan’s most important legacy.  What Jonathan showed us – more than anything – is what food writing can do. In the hands of a passionate, talented writer, words can become powerful weapons.

Last week I thought that what we needed were more investigative writers telling us the truth.  And that is certainly true. But now I see that sometimes the softest words can make the biggest impact. Jonathan wrote about delicious dishes in far-flung neighborhoods.  He did not write an overtly political word.  And yet he touched millions of people and gave them a new way to experience their own city.  Those of us who want to change the world would do well to remember that sometimes the stories that seem very small are actually the biggest ones of all.”

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Terrible Weekend

June 12, 2018

Like almost everyone in the food community, I’ve spent the past few days mourning Tony Bourdain. He wasn’t a close friend, but I’ve known him for at least twenty years and watched, gratefully, as he changed the food landscape.  More than anyone, he was the person who persuaded a wide swath of Americans that food is much more important than merely something to eat.  He went beyond the delicious to demonstrate that it’s one of the fundamental ways we connect with one another.  He made it his mission to prove that food is really about community and politics, about economics, the environment, culture and history.

He mattered, and it’s almost impossible to believe that he’s gone.

I was on Cape Cod when the news arrived, speaking at a charity function for a wonderful institution called We Can dedicated to helping women in transition at difficult points in their lives.  We were, of course, talking about food and community.  And as I went out, alone, to walk along the beach in the early morning, thinking about Tony, I was glad to be there. I wished there had been someplace Tony could have reached out  to when he was in so much pain.

Then I drove to Truro, to a workshop at another wonderful institution, The Castle Hill Center for the Arts. There for a writing workshop, we were all so sad that we dedicated our  time to Tony’s work.  We began by reading his first seminal piece for the New Yorker, and then some pieces from Gourmet.  I especially like this one.

And then, of course, we ate.  It seemed appropriate to celebrate Tony’s life with food. Here are a few highlights.

Fried belly clams.  There are dozens of places to get them on the Cape.  My favorite in Wellfleet is PJ’s. (These are not theirs – I forgot to take that picture. These are from another place down the road, whose name I neglected to write down.  But it’s hard to find bad fried clams on the Cape.)

Baked Wellfleet oysters from Terra Luna restaurant – one of the coziest, friendliest restaurants you’ll ever find.  They describe their food as “rustic neo-pagan” which seemed just about perfect for that moment.

A plate of homemade salumi from Ceraldi’s – the most ambitious and impressive restaurant in the area.  They’re making their own coppa, pancetta, bresaola – and that bagna cauda beneath the radish was really delicious.  (As was everything we ate in a long meal, from crisp local oysters with samphire, to locally raised chicken and a rhubarb panna cotta.)

Had more fried clams on the way home.  And then, back in Hudson, stopped in at Oak Pizzeria Napoletana for a wood-fired clam pizza.  Seemed like a fitting end to this particular journey.

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