Diet Busters: Chicken Liver Paté


It’s that time between the holidays of the sun and the holidays of the moon, between the piles of toffee and the platters of spring rolls, when I try to take a breather. As the décor shifts slowly from red and green to red and gold, my table overflows with refreshing escarole, shaved fennel, crinkly frisée, crisp breakfast radishes and nuggets of ruddy, roasted beets. Bowls of tangerines stand ready in nearly every room, while a very large, extended family of apples takes up residence in my kitchen.

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Pain Free Latkes


Although I didn’t make it Saul’s Deli this year for their annual Neverending Latke sidewalk fest, a lingering craving for piles of crispy potato cakes convinced my husband to brave the task of grating and frying.

He more or less followed a straightforward recipe from Gourmet and managed to deliver, with his first try, a most excellent feast. Some crème fraiche, homemade applesauce and leftover oil from donut frying may have gilded the latkes, but they’re so good, we don’t really need much more than a plate or fork. Of course, some of us who hover around the cook right at the stove don’t even need those.

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Easy Comfort: Pork Sparerib & Mustard Green Soup


Sometimes, when  it’s cold outside and you’re bundled in bed incapable of cooking and yet you need some food that feels and tastes homemade, but your mom is maybe 1,500 hundred miles away, it’s time for the smart shortcuts.

Sure, the first can of chicken and stars brings back fond memories, but by the tenth or twelfth, even after heretical adulterization with dandelion greens or hot sauce, that bowl of comfort starts tasting rather thin. You’ve finished that delicious chili dropped off by a friend and your loved one is in meetings all day. Driving a stick shift up hills is most definitely beyond your abilities, assuming you even get past peeling off your flannel nightgown and navigating the laces on your shoes.

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Pfannkuchen: German Pancake


The cookbook with the most stains in my collection is also the first one I ever bought: a copy of the 45th printing of the 1975 Joy of Cooking. It helped me survive my teen years, and then it helped me graduate from college with a bit more meat on my bones. I never did upgrade, and that white bible of the American kitchen (complete with its two silky red ribbons) is still my go-to tome for pancakes, muffins, cakes, pies, dinner rolls, dressings, and quick breads.

I’m still discovering new foods in its pages. A recent addition to our family favorites is a Tran variation on a Rombauer adaptation of a Davidis classic: German pancake with apples.

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Campfire Shrimp Boil

campfire-shrimp.jpg Every Labor Day weekend, Joshua and Jineui gather 30 or so lucky friends for a four-day camping extravaganza by Manresa State Beach. This is not a hardcore outdoor experience — this year, there was a badminton game going near a very well stocked bar and a four-burner kitchen set up within snacking distance of our tents. For the price of an hour of downtown parking, some of us could even enjoy a hot shower. It’s definitely more about extreme eating and drinking that any thing resembling “camping,” but there aren’t too many things that bond people together better than wide, shaded hammocks or Scrabble marathons or jumping and screaming together in the ocean’s cold waves.

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