Entries tagged with “You should try this”.


A bedtime tale: Once upon a time, there was a girl who published a lovely little food blog and had many delightful conversations with readers about incorporating good food into their busy lives. Then the girl’s job kicked into extreme overdrive, ratcheting from ridiculously busy up to holy-hyper-insanity-what-do-you-mean-it’s-already-June-July-August busy. It was so busy that the girl could barely manage to cook food every night, let alone photograph it and write about it. Then the girl’s grandma died. Then her job got even busier. One day, the girl decided she really missed blogging and decided to come back to it with a recipe for absolutely perfect chocolate chip cookies. The end.

Or something like that. Thank you for bearing with me during my unplanned hiatus. I missed you guys - I hope you missed me, too.  The past few months have been absolutely breathless; as it turns out, there is a monumental amount of work involved in being debtors’ counsel in a large chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Who knew?


To atone for my absence, I present to you my very favorite cookie.  As I have mentioned, I grew up making a scrumptious snuggle of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie known in my family as a Cowboy Cookie.  For the better part of three decades, I considered Cowboy Cookies to be the Mary Poppins of chocolate chip cookies: practically perfect in every way.


And then, one day, I cheated on my Cowboy Cookies with another recipe involving brown butter.  For the uninitiated, brown butter is the result of heating regular butter in a skillet until the water has boiled off and the milk solids brown.  It is rich, nutty, and capable of becoming an absolute scene-stealer in otherwise predictable dishes.  Jeffrey Steingarten wrote about brown butter in the June issue of Vogue last year. (Wherein he had the bizarre nerve to present an utterly pedestrian oatmeal shortbread recipe as the end-all, be-all oatmeal cookie whilst neglecting to include the baking temperature. Jeffrey, I expected better on both counts.)  My quibbles with the recipe notwithstanding, the story reminded me how beautifully brown butter enhances certain cookies.  Unsatisfied with my underlying recipe, I filed the brown butter idea away in a special section of my memory I reserve for Thoughts About Cookies. A few months later, I was intrigued by the idea of putting grey salt on chocolate chip cookies.  A few months after that, I received The Grand Central Baking Book for Chanukah and the stars were suddenly aligned for cookie nirvana.


The six-year-old in me thought this departure from Cowboy Cookies was utter heresy, but the 30-year-old who occupies the majority of my me-real estate told the kid to simmer down and have a nap. And then promptly set about combining all of these recipes into one perfect cookie.  A soft, chewy, perfect cookie that is both loaded with chocolate and tastes faintly of toffee. Robust with oatmeal and very grown up with a smattering of grey salt, it is a moment of baked perfection in even the most hectic life.


(Continue reading Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies…)

Is there anything more effervescently exciting to send out into the world than an invitation? Regardless of the event, I find a certain kind of lime green, spine-buzzing energy every time I nudge one out for consideration.  By saying to your recipients here, come share this with me, you open a piece of yourself to them and wordlessly communicate your (hopefully) very best intentions.  It’s a magical practice and I hope I never tire of it.

So I am very, very excited to invite you today to join me for the coming year in the Salty Spoon Challenge.  Each month, I will pose a new kitchen challenge that is designed to help you adopt the basic habit of cooking for yourself.  We will start small and build from there.  The challenges will be cumulative; part of each month’s new challenge will be to maintain the goals of the preceding challenges, unless otherwise indicated.  We’ll do this for a year.  You can join any time.  You can quit any time.  All you have to do is try.  The challenges are open to anyone and everyone, regardless of experience.  The point here is not to follow a specific learn-to-cook curriculum, but rather to increase your skills and comfort in the kitchen by challenging yourself with one new parameter a month.  As we work through the challenges, we’ll think critically about how and what we feed ourselves.  At the end of a year, we’ll have made incremental but meaningful changes to our approach to our food.

The challenges will begin on (or around) the first day of each month.  There will be a post on the Salty Spoon home page announcing the challenge, and the Salty Spoon Challenge page (links at the top right) will list links to past challenges.  We can discuss ideas, tips, progress, and frustrations in the challenge post for the current month - comments will always stay open.

There are hundreds (thousands?) of food blogs in this vast internet of ours. I am proud to be a part of such a vibrant, expansive community.  In a bout of January reflection, I gave extensive and serious consideration to what exactly I want to bring to this landscape.  I thought about why I started The Salty Spoon in the first place: to help inspire other busy people to get in their kitchens and start cooking.  I thought about how I felt about cooking when I was living in my first apartment after college.  The thought of preparing the majority of my meals for myself was overwhelming.  I liked to bake, but that was about it.  My arrival at my present state of cooking most of my food at home came gradually, over a period of several years.


Looking back, I wish I had taken a more purposeful approach from the beginning.  And that’s what I’ve decided to offer you through the Salty Spoon Challenge - a purposeful approach to adopting the habit of cooking for yourself.  Stick with it, and in a year you will find yourself in your kitchen more often, preparing better food, and enjoying it.  We’ll get there, I promise.

Let’s start with a few guidelines.  First, stay positive.  Cooking is about learning, thinking, experimenting, and indulging.  I do not accept the statement “I can’t cook.”  If you can read and follow directions with a basic helping of common sense, you can cook.  This isn’t about turning out Michelin-worthy covers for 200 dinner guests; it’s about feeding yourself good food at home.

Second, be open to new ideas.  We’re going to share our experiences with each other here, and we have a lot to learn from each other - myself included.  One of the things I love most about cooking is its essential, communal aspect.  Let’s help each other grow as cooks.

Finally, have fun with it.  Push yourself, but don’t get bogged down in the details.  There is no shame in simple food as long as it’s good food.  Make what you love to eat.  If you aren’t an experienced home cook, or you’ve found yourself in a cooking rut that has left you bored and uninspired, get ready to surprise and delight yourself.  There is an indescribable satisfaction in the ability to think of something you really want to eat, turn to your kitchen, and make it.  Explore, stretch, enjoy.

Are you ready?  Let’s cook something.
Keep reading Salty Spoon Challenge, Month 1…)


It took me weeks to figure out why I am almost always somewhat disappointed by fresh, hot apple cider.  Months, even.  I greedily snap up jugs of the stuff as soon as it shows up in our grocery store.  One jug lives in the fridge (sometimes a depressingly short life, truth be told) while its backup dancers keep a juicy vigil over the rest of the dry storage in the laundry room.  It’s not that I don’t end up drinking it; I can polish off a half gallon during an episode of House if I put my mind to it.  I just prefer it cold.

And yet I want to love it as a hot beverage.  Is there anything more intrinsically blessed with your mind’s perfect image of fall?  Hot apple cider screams fall and winter, the very words on a page conjure images of orchard donuts and bales of hay, or Dickensian Christmas scenes with cherry-cheeked children scampering around a cozy living room in their socks while the dog barks with joy.  Right?

So every year, I approach my first mug of hot cider with unforgivably poetic expectations.  Like, over the top.  The kind that would make Norman Rockwell roll his eyes and say “girl, pull yourself together and drink the damned apple juice.”  And every year I am slightly disappointed.  Every year, that is, until this one.


My friend Josh was kind enough to share his favorite wassail recipe on his blog, and at the very mention I knew what was missing from my cider.  I didn’t want hot cider at all.  When fall clicks its heels on my doorstep and ushers a biting crispness into the air, I want wassail.  The sweet acidity of the orange juice and lemon juice bring something lively to the cup. And oh, the spices.  As they mull together with each other, the juices, the maple syrup, they reach the perfect storm of spicy complexity that I’ve been missing in all those mugs of plain hot cider.  Beautiful.

It’s a rather Christmassy drink, I’ll give you that.  But I maintain that it’s never too late to indulge yourself in something so wonderful.  Enjoy yourself; it’s a brand new year.

(Keep reading Wintry Wassail…)


About a year ago, I blew out a candle on a piece of white cake with pink frosting, my standard birthday fare. I made a wish.  I wished that I would have the inspiration, time, and wherewithal over the coming year to figure out a way to bring my writing and cooking together into a big, lovely project.  I wished for a way to begin building an audience of readers with whom I could share my love of food, cooking, and a few stories along the way.  In effect, I wished for all of you.

We have just finished off another white cake with pink frosting.  Why so simple, you ask? Though I like to think of myself as a reasonably seasoned baker, I never go with anything fancy or new or complicated for my own birthday.  The white and pink combination is something I fell in love with when I was very small - somewhere in that post-toddler epoch that finds so many little girls swaddling themselves in billows of pink everything.  I think it also has something to do with having a December birthday.  Once Thanksgiving comes and goes, the default thinking behind every decorated cake seems to begin and end with wintry/Christmas things until February comes along with its shower of red and pink clashiness. Somewhere along the way, I came to prefer a cake that didn’t have anything to do with the season.  To me, a stripe of pink frosting between layers of fluffy white cake just screams BIRTHDAY and nothing else.  Though I have been known to take my birthday cake in a chocolate direction (the recipe for which I must share with you soon, because it’s a real charmer), more often than not I find myself coming back to my favorite pink and white number.


The cake itself is just plain perfect.  Not only does it turn out beautifully every time I make it, you cannot find an easier recipe to execute.  Dump, mix, dump in the eggs, mix again.  I can barely justify a rundown for this one because it’s so incredibly simple.  Several years ago I looked and looked for a recipe that would give me a simple white cake with a tiny, moist crumb.  A few mediocre misfires lead me back to the Betty Crocker Cookbook, one of my kitchen’s secret weapons.  Straightforward, comprehensive, and full of helpful tables and asides, it is an invaluable resource for understanding cooking basics.  Plus, it’s ring-bound, which allows it to lie flat on your counter.  If you are ever looking for a cookbook that can act as a starting place for someone new to cooking, this is it.  My mom gave me a copy when I moved into my first apartment, and I refer to it at least once a week.  My copy is visibly well-loved and some of the pages have acquired dribs and drabs of their recipes, not the least of which is the page facing the recipe for this cake.


Back to that wish.  Tonight, my lovelies, I want to take a moment to thank you for being a part of this little blog of mine.  Over the past several months I have had the wonderful privilege of sharing my recipes, photos, and ramblings with you.  It has been a pleasure to read your comments, your emails, and share this wonderful journey through our kitchens together - over 7,000 kitchens to-date.  I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am to be part of your virtual food milieu.  Your willingness to return week after week is one of the best, most exhilarating gifts I have ever received.  Thank you.

(Keep reading White Birthday Cake…)


I’m not sure why I decided cinnamon rolls would be my Everest during the three weeks between graduating from college and starting my first real job, but I did. It was one of several projects I took on when faced with twenty empty days (the others being unpacking, sleeping in, and adopting a kitten previously rejected by Satan as being “too evil”). I wanted to find a recipe for really excellent cinnamon rolls. It had to deliver reliable, wonderful rolls every time, the kind of baked treasure that stops people in their tracks, wide-eyed and momentarily overwhelmed, before they exclaim WOW.


The first three recipes were unremarkable. They were too tough, too sweet, too boring. Something was fatally wrong with each one, and I began to get discouraged. I came upon a fourth recipe. Despite my skepticism, I dove in, pausing to figure out what it meant to scald the milk. The dough was smooth and satiny. It filled my tiny kitchen with a sweet, yeasty penumbra that sent little jolts of hopeful electricity into my dwindling expectations. I briefly lamented my lack of a rolling pin as I coaxed the dough into a large rectangle with a wine bottle covered in plastic wrap. It scarcely mattered that I couldn’t get it very even. The dough welcomed its thick mat of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with aplomb. I rolled it into a drippy, burgeoning tube, slicing it into a dozen syrupy disks that made their way into a cake pan.


After the second rise, I was astounded to see that the rolls had truly doubled in size. What had once come close to loosely filling the pan was now threatening to rise up and leave altogether. Surely, this was a sign of good things to come.


At the risk of sounding hopelessly twee, I will admit that I cried when I took my first bite of one of the rolls. Piping hot, silky, and feather-soft, it was like biting into a cloud in the version of heaven where everything is made of pastry (don’t tell me I’m the only one who has had that awesome dream, right?). After regaining my composure, I loaded up a plate with a few more rolls and settled down on my futon to watch an old favorite, Green Card. It occurred to me, as Andie McDowell and Gerard Depardieu acted out the lighter side of immigration fraud to the sounds of Enya, that I had something truly wonderful in my possession. It remains among my very favorite recipes, both to make and to share.


I have made these rolls in good times and bad.  I have made them for coworkers, for friends, for family, and for strangers.  I have made them with the full arsenal of a commercial kitchen and, most humbly, with a wooden spoon and a large pot.  Because they are a sure-fire crowd pleaser and require absolutely minimal equipment, I highly recommend taking the recipe with you when you travel.  You will be the houseguest who always gets invited back.
(Keep reading Cinnamon Rolls…)


I learned to arm wrestle really, really well working at the Olive Garden.  It had almost nothing to do with being a hostess there, but the arm wrestling champion of Butte, Montana taught me herself.  Her name was Mary, and she was a great teacher.

The key to winning at arm wrestling, according to Mary, is two-fold.  Getting the knot of forearms, hands, and elbows into a configuration that allows you to pull with your bicep is of paramount importance.  Getting there quickly, to the abject shock of your opponent, is equally critical.  Done correctly, you’ll leave them painfully mumbling in your dust as you swagger away, heady with the pride of your win.  Though the expression is woefully time-worn, it really is all in the wrist.

For two summers and a winter break in college, I was part of the front of the house “A team” at the Olive Garden in Billings.  I had applied for work at several restaurants in town, and the Olive Garden was one of my last stops because it was the furthest strip mall from my house.  It shared a parking lot with Red Lobster, where I failed the 300-question personality test prior to my interview.  By the time I received a Dear Bria letter informing me that my immediate future did not include reciting pithy witticisms about a menu filled with shellfish, it was the OG or nothing.


My arm wrestling lesson came around the same time gnocchi were added to the menu, during my second summer. New additions to the menu meant team meetings at the restaurant on Saturday mornings, where we put the “know your food” OG principal into practice (the other four principals being hot food hot, cold food cold, money to the bank, and clean restrooms).  I don’t remember anything else from the tasting that day, nor do I really remember whether or not the gnocchi were any good.  I can only recall the moment that marked what would prove to be a weeks-long process in fighting about the pronunciation of “gnocchi.”  It was not, as I emphatically argued, acceptable to refer to it as “nookie.”

It’s a good thing none of us are 19 for more than, say, a year.  It’s just so difficult to know Everything and struggle to communicate it to the rest of the world given a paltry allotment of only 24 hours per day.  I believe Mary was neutral on the pronunciation debate, but favored some sort of object lesson that would shut me up for the sake of keeping the peace.   Somewhere between hearing her credentials and that first, brutal loss, I managed to forget about the pedantry of the matter.

Today, I don’t care if you call them gnocchi, nookie, or Wondrous Pillows of Carbtastic Splendor.  Just make them, and soon.

The ricotta quantity is stated in ounces, rather than cups.  If you buy your ricotta, it should make a difference to you as 15 to 16 oz is a standard size.  If you made whole-milk ricotta with me and are staring at a giant wad of cheese, wondering how much to use, get thee to the store and pick up a food scale.  It’s an excellent way to maintain consistency and accuracy in the kitchen.  Fundamental recipes are ratios based on weight, not volume, and you will open many doors for yourself with the ability to scale recipes up or down based on weight.  Get one.

Regarding the bread crumbs: I cheat.  If you happen to have a few slices of white sandwich bread laying around, remove the crusts and blitz them in a food processor.  Toast the resulting crumbs in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes until they are golden and use them here.  Despite my bread-making proclivities, honey-oat whole wheat bread is the only kind we (almost) always have readily on hand.  It doesn’t make for very good bread crumbs, so I cheat with the kind in the little cardboard can.

(Keep reading Ricotta Gnocchi…)


When you feel helpless, the urge to search for ways to contribute something, somehow, overrides the little voice that says Hey, This Might Hurt. This is why a woman I knew volunteered to have her bone marrow tested for its compatibility with her brother’s even though his doctors were much more confident their other brother would be a match. Her name was Randy, and I was training her to replace me as the director of catering at a hotel in Montana.

Her brother had been diagnosed with leukemia, and it was both a crushing disappointment and a relief to him and his family. Though the outlook was fairly grim, everyone exhaled for the first time in months, now that they finally knew what was ailing him. Randy was tall, a sturdy Montana girl with a giant skull and beautiful skin. When she spoke, a northern Midwest accent chimed through each word. It’s the accent many people associate with North Dakota, because of Fargo, but sounds more like Montana to me. She offered up an honest-to-goodness doncha-know every third sentence. As she hung her massive head and cried about the diagnosis, she told me she wanted to be tested as a potential donor because it seemed like the only thing she could do to help.


She sat gingerly in my office – soon to be her office – after the appointment where they extracted a sample. The procedure had been painful, though no more so than one would expect to find any process that involves taking a bit of the good stuff out of your hip bone through a needle. Still, more than the pain, Randy was bewildered by what the extracted marrow actually looked like. “It just looked like a little tube of blood!” she exclaimed. I wondered, out loud, what she had been expecting. “Well, from the pictures on the wall in the office, I was expecting it to look like…like…” she paused, “what’s in manicotti?” I blinked. “Ricotta?” She slapped the top of my desk and grinned. “Ricotta! That’s what I thought it would look like. I’ve been thinking of nothing but ricotta for a week.”

I was then faced with one of those adult moments, where one has to balance discretion and self-control with a serendipitous opportunity to be really, really funny. Should I smile and nod and suggest we hit the new burrito stand across the street? Or should I take advantage of the best segue ever to land in my lap and ask if she wanted to try the hotel chef’s newest lunch creation, pasta shells stuffed with sausage and ricotta?

The burrito was delicious.


Now, how about some ricotta! It’s actually pretend ricotta. Proper ricotta is made from leftover whey after making cheese, but this is a nice approximation for home use. It’s ridiculously simple and leaves you with that lovely, smug look-at-me-being-very-Laura-Ingalls-Wilder feeling without taking much in the way (whey, heh) of time or special equipment.

(Keep reading Whole-Milk Ricotta…)


The bakery cupcake phenomenon kind of escapes me. It highlights my fleeting disconnect from people who don’t see cooking as Something You Do.  Living in Los Angeles, I’m within each reach of at least a dozen bakeries with beautiful and famous cupcakes…but I’ve never been to any of them.

My reasons are two-fold. First, the few I’ve had have been fine, but not great.  It’s not that they’re bad, exactly, they’re just not something I’d go out of my way to track down. Second, I can’t fathom paying someone several dollars for a single cupcake when I can make piles and piles of them at home with the staples in my pantry and fridge.

However, I wholeheartedly support the cupcake movement, such as it is.  Tiny cakes that can be dressed and frocked to suit the wildest and mildest palates alike are whimsical genius, in my best opinion.  Cupcakes are simply fun. It has been delightful to see something so fun and so manageable at home become so broadly popular recently.  I only wish I could convince more people to make their own.

Do you want to know the secret to true cupcake perfection?  Take an unfrosted cupcake and slice it in half on its horizontal axis so that you have top and bottom pieces that are of roughly equal thickness.  Next, spread a generous layer of frosting on the bottom layer and set the top layer on top.  Frost the top as you normally would.  Carefully spread a final layer of frosting around the sides and voila, a tiny layer cake for one.  Enjoy with a fork.


Of course, cupcakes in wrappers are also lovely.  I made these Red Velvet Cupcakes for a friend’s birthday a few weeks ago when she told me her list of cake likes include lemon, chocolate, and cream cheese, in no particular order.  Red velvet has experienced a bit of a renaissance in the past two years or so.  No longer a regional staple of Southern birthday parties, it has gained a place in this new canon of cupcake frippery. I think it brilliantly exemplifies the genius of cupcakes. Here is a hyper-pigmented, sugar coma-sweet confection, packaged for one. It’s Dolly Parton as a dessert. A perfect platform for its flavor foil, frosting energized by the tangy snap of cream cheese; a perfect symbol for our national sweet tooth.

If you don’t have a pastry bag for piping the frosting, don’t worry about it. You can do a swell job with a dinner spoon.  Load up the spoon with frosting.  Holding the spoon in one hand and the cupcake in the other, set the spoon down on the center of the cake and rotate the cupcake in one, clean circle so that the frosting sweeps the whole top.  Touch up as needed – you’ll end up with a lovely look.
(Keep reading Red Velvet Cupcakes…)


As I have mentioned, we’ve been enjoying Shabbat dinners on a regular basis. Jewish or not, I think everyone should give the Shabbat dinner concept a go. You don’t have to light candles or say prayers, just try on the meal for size. It doesn’t have to be Friday, either, though I think the tandem formality and comfort of the meal creates a beautiful bookend to a hectic work week. Set a table. Pour some wine. Turn off the television and the phones. Enjoy the company of another person. Prepare something delicious and savor each bite. If you want to learn how to eat, how to really enjoy food, this is a good place to start.


Last Friday, we had lamb chops with our challah and wine. John threw together one of his beautiful chopped salads and we were set for a fine meal. Though we both intended to do more work after dinner, somehow the soft glow of the Shabbat candles made it impossible to abandon the remainder of the challah. So we sat there, making our way through a bottle of wine and the rest of the bread, talking and laughing about everything and nothing. You couldn’t plan a more perfect evening if you tried.

Though it was the challah that kept us at the table for over an hour, the lamb shone brilliantly in its own right. Lamb is a lovely addition to your regular meat routine. I’ve been delighted to find packages of 8-10 beautiful little chops at Costco in recent weeks. You can also usually find them at the meat counter in your regular grocery store. Plan to serve between 3 and 5 chops per person as there is typically a smallish teardrop of meat on each bone.


I like my lamb to be simple and very rare so that the wild, rowdy flavor comes through without a lot of interference. This sauce is a basic ratio that will handle 8 small chops – adjust up or down as needed. Note that although the chops will be fully coated in the sauce in the beginning, much of it will cook away. Fear not, the blissful melody of the mustard and olive oil will still sing out in every bite, especially the bite you follow with a final morsel of challah.


(Keep reading Mustard-Glazed Lamb Chops…)


Oh dear.  I have become a woman who carries a pile of gadgets wherever I go.  It started innocently enough – a small cell phone.  Then an iPod.  Then a Blackberry.  Then a Kindle.  Then the cell phone died.  Then I got an iPhone.

People, I have a phone that farts on command.  Sixteen different ways.  I’m not sure if this is a sign that we, as a society, have reached a cultural and technological zenith, or if the other three horsemen are going to be pulling up soon, but it pretty much blows my mind either way.

As I type this, I’m sitting on a plane home a quick work trip to Chicago’s strip mall-dotted suburbs with a laptop on the tray table and a bag at my feet full of the aforementioned cadre of gadgets.  How is it possible that I have become a person who travels with four different power cords?  Heaven forbid one of these things should run out of juice (really, it happened last week during another even shorter trip, and it kind of sucked).  If nothing else, the many feet of cords that fill the bottom of my suitcase would have made it possible for me to rappel from the 11th floor of the Hyatt Lisle should the need have arisen.  A sort of modern-day Rapunzel.  After all, it’s good to have contingency plans.


It doesn’t seem like too terribly long ago that all I had was a cell phone.  A cell phone that did one thing: make calls.  It was years before I had a phone with a camera, which I used for nothing other than filling its memory card several times over with candid shots of the cats (Max in a box, Max next to a box, Max thinking about a box, Phoebe eyeing Max in a box with a glint of her trademark evil in her eye, etc.).  I eventually started work and received a Blackberry, the life force that sustains every modern attorney.  It was equipped with an even better camera, which afforded me the opportunity to take more completely inane cat pictures.  One day, however, the world turned on its axis when I found myself in line at Starbucks, realizing this Blackberry had been placed in my hands for the sole purpose of being able to discretely photograph the breast cancer awareness ribbon the Starbucks employees had made by taping packets of  Sweet N’ Low to the backsplash behind the barista.  That was technology at its finest.

It went downhill from there.  Forget an actress’s name while driving to Costco?  Google it from the Blackberry.  Need a makeshift flashlight to find a misplaced set of keys in the early morning without waking up a sleeping spouse? Turn on any one of the backlit screens and let its anemic glow light the way.  And the capacity, oh, the capacity.  Between an iPod and a Kindle, there’s enough capacity to fill even the longest, worst airport layover with thousands of diversions.

And then there’s the iPhone, which puts the rest of these things to shame.  The same little wad of metal and plastic that cheerfully woke me up on cue this morning (at the unholy hour of 4:45 pacific time) kept me entertained with a dozen games as I waited standby for my flight home (three times) and will help me pick a traffic-free route home from the airport.  It’s amazing, really.  And a little exhausting when I think back to the days when my purse held only a tiny wallet, a tube of lipstick, and that first single-purpose cell phone.


Sometimes, a little simplicity is a welcome refuge from the complexities we heap upon our lives with such abandon.  Or maybe I’m easily amused by things like fried capers.

After seeing fried capers mentioned three or four times in the course of a weekend, I really had to try them.  Wow.  Just…wow.  When introduced to a skillet of shimmering olive oil, they bloom.  Literally.  They open up into tiny florets as they brown.  Briny and crisp, they are delicious by themselves and stunning alongside something equally simple like garlicky shrimp.  For kicks, I’ve added fried garlic to the mix here, but you can mix and match the garlic and capers as you please.  My garlic was a fantastically weird and wonderful smoked variety – almost a garlic pickle – but plain raw garlic works just as well.

As I’ve mentioned before, I keep bags of flash frozen shrimp from Costco on hand for dishes like this.  They thaw in a few minutes in cold water.  Once that’s covered, you can bang this whole dish out in about 15 minutes.  Marinate the shrimp for a few hours in a bowl in the fridge if you feel like it, or let them have a quick nap in the oil and lemon juice while you fry your capers.  Both will be lovely, and refreshingly simple.

(Keep reading Simple Shrimp with Capers and Garlic…)