Dearest lovelies, it’s been too long. I’m still cooking, but have been somewhat lost in the annals of work and life for what has turned into an embarassingly long hiatus from blogging. My return is imminent. I’ll have another Salty Spoon Challenge for you soon, as well as a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will knock your chocolate-loving socks off. In the meantime, I leave you with a few pictures of absolute peace, taken midway through an otherwise hellish drive from Yountville to LA in mid-April. When chaos builds around you, wouldn’t it be lovely to imagine yourself under a recently stormy sky, windblown and refreshed, as you look into an endless recess of blues and browns?

For me, it was.



Suzanne Goin made me eat salad dressing straight out of the bowl, with a spoon.  Sort of.

As I have mentioned before, I’m sitting on a handsome crop of Meyer lemons these days and continue to look for interesting ways to use them.  I eagerly turned to Goin’s beautiful cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, for inspiration.  The salad that follows caught my eye immediately.  Beautiful and seasonal, it earned extra points with me for using up two lemons at a time. I didn’t expect to fall so madly in love with the Meyer lemon cream that dresses the Belgian endive spears.

But how could I not?  Like many of Goin’s recipes, it strikes a lovely balance between simple and innovative.  It begins with a basic lemon vinaigrette, enhanced with the oniony, garlicky hum of a diced shallot, and then evolves into tangy, silken bliss with a few tablespoons of cream.  In a pinch, I found it also works to substitute a mixture of 2 tablespoons sour cream and 2 tablespoons water for the cream if, like me, you usually try to keep heavy cream off your property lest you end up eating it for second breakfast.


Though I don’t typically include restaurant reviews here in The Salty Spoon, I must mention that I recently enjoyed one of the Sunday Supper menus at Lucques and was blown away.  If you find yourself hungry in LA on a Sunday evening, go.  I was most impressed with the entire operation - lovely ambiance, attentive staff, and exceptional food.  I’m aching to go back again, both for the regular menu and for another Sunday Supper.  There is something incredibly appealing to me about a set menu from a chef I admire.  It’s much more intimate than a full menu, a closer conversation between you and the chef where you listen for insights about the chef’s likes and dislikes with respect to the available ingredients.  Goin is steadfastly committed to using seasonal offerings in the best way, and her Sunday menus showcase that approach with aplomb.

But if it is Tuesday and you are hungry for something elegant, you can join me in turning to this beautiful cookbook and finding something marvelous to do with a lemon or two.  I’ve made a few adjustments.  The original recipe calls for fava beans, which I have been sadly unable to find over the past few weeks.  I have reduced the yield of the salad from four servings to two, but the proportions for the dressing are intact.  Here’s why: in order to reach the proper consistency with your vinaigrette, it helps to really give it a hearty run with the whisk.  It’s a bit difficult to get the everything moving in the bowl the way you want with a half-quantity of lemon juice and olive oil.  However, you will have no trouble coming up with alternative uses for the leftover dressing.  It’s stupendous on fish, pasta, etc., if you have the discipline to put it away in the refrigerator.  If you are like me and find yourself gulping it down with a spoon instead of doing the dishes, well, I won’t tell.

(Keep reading Endive Salad with Meyer Lemon Cream…)


Oh, hi.

It’s been a while since those Wondrous Pillows of Carbtastic Splendor graced my editing window, and I want to assure you we haven’t been starving in the silence.  Since that post, I’ve been traveling, working, and thinking (and, admittedly, making several things that have needed a bit of tweaking before I present them to you – such is the mystery behind the food blogger’s curtain).

I’ve been thinking a lot about Gourmet. Though I had only just begun my subscription (ironically, the first issue I received was its last), I could not help but recognize the magnitude of this loss. When so much talent dissipates after accumulating so handsomely, the void is severe and deep. I read post after eloquent post from others, eulogies for this publication that brought elegance to so many dining tables. It was heartening to see a fitting tribute assemble itself from the food community.

But then came Christopher Kimball’s New York Times editorial about Gourmet, the internet, and the current state of recipe writing.  In his hamfisted attempt to explain how a publication with such a dedicated following could meet its end, Kimball took several  cheap shots at food bloggers, calling us a “ship of fools” who will never produce results as reliable as his hermetic  test kitchen.


I have been tempted to respond.  Kimball is someone I have, admittedly, looked up to in the past.  He has worked tirelessly to craft a franchise of publications and programs that have helped a growing generation of home cooks achieve consistency in their kitchens.  I regularly participate in test panels for America’s Test Kitchen.  It’s a bit disheartening to see that Kimball holds such a contemptuous view of the food blogosphere. In my head, while driving to work or peeling apples for pie (coming soon) or pushing a cart through the grocery store, I have written several rejoinders that delve into my beliefs about the essential, communal qualities of cooking and creating recipes.    But I haven’t let any of those arguments make their way to the page.  There’s no need.  As his subsequent responses show, Kimball really believes his way of cooking and writing recipes is the best.  He doesn’t value the things we, as food bloggers, bring to the proverbial table.  If the mountain of other feedback he has received from the blogosphere hasn’t given him pause about holding so steadfastly to a view that continues to alienate a community of people who could lend substantial support and conviviality to his business, then one more rant from me won’t do it either.


To tell you the truth, I’m grateful to Kimball.  His editorial and its aftermath have served as a lightning rod to motivate me to examine my own beliefs about food, about cooking and, most importantly, about what I’m doing here with The Salty Spoon.  Without boring you with a manifesto, let me simply say this: cooking is a part of my life and always will be. I share that part of my life with many people, both online and in person. I work at incorporating good food into my life and my household every day, and I hope by showing you, my readers, this process and my joy in executing it that you might be moved to join me. I am not an expert or a trained chef. Rather, I’m a kinesthetic learner with a big appetite and a warm heart. I love to eat and I love to laugh, and I try to inspire you to do the same. If that means I’m sailing blissfully along on Kimball’s ship of fools, so be it. I rather like the view from here.


Fall recipes are coming soon.  Though it’s a bit of an ephemeral concept here in Los Angeles, these pictures from our recent trip to Ithaca help me imagine cooler air, musty leaves, and good things made from apples.  The moon is waning, and all is well when a cup of cider is close by.