a transitional menu
plus: eggplant involtini
Monday, September 12, 2022
Does anyone drink hot coffee anymore? (NYT, unlocked)
I maintain, however defiantly, that there is way too much pumpkin spice in my food feeds right now. Too much apple pie. I’ve even spotted some decorative gourds. Can we just slow down a little? However, I couldn’t help but notice that the moment Labor Day ended, I needed a cardigan in the evening, even on a so-called 82 degree day. It got cloudy and rainy. I ordered chicken noodle soup at a local diner. It was almost like the weather wanted kids to feel better about having to go back to school — their parents, meanwhile, were cackling over this nostalgia — and made itself as un-summery as possible, so they wouldn’t feel like they were missing anything. I needed a menu for exactly the next couple weeks that enlists all of the tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and plums still overflowing at the market but at a point when it seems safe to cook them longer. I hope you also find some inspiration below.
A back-to-school side project: A tremendous amount of teachers don't get the funding they need to set their classrooms up for success. Most will end up paying out of their own pockets to buy educational materials, which feels all wrong. I asked teachers to send me their wishlists so I could share as many as possible to a wider audience that might be able to help clear them. Help out if you feel you're able; I’ll keep this list up until the end of September. When you check out, make sure you have deselected your usual shipping address and selected instead the name/town you do not recognize (i.e. the teacher’s information) that says “Full address hidden for privacy.” [Smitten Kitchen Teacher Wishlists, or click the screenshot below]
New: I cannot stop making eggplant involtini, which is essentially a summerweight, weeknight-friendly eggplant parm with no skimping on the tangy mix of melted cheese, tomato sauce, and silky eggplant. I hope you find it as worthy of repetition as I do.
✨ My third cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers, will be out in just 71 but-who’s-counting days and I cannot wait to share it with you. This week, Eater named it one of the best 10 cookbooks coming out this fall and Epicurious said that the recipes are “sure to become some of the last you’ll ever need to learn.” (I’m verklempt) This Wednesday, I will announce the book tour schedule and I’m so excited. I hope this means we finally get to meet, or meet again. Stay tuned!
Classic panzanella salad is just dressed tomatoes and stale bread but as we inch towards fall, I prefer this busier version with crisp vegetables and heartier croutons. I always wonder why we don't eat it for dinner more often.
Penne alla vodka was the first meal I ever cooked for my husband, but I make it so differently these days -- more flavorful, quicker, and because kids make you totally square (sure, Deb), less vodka. This updated recipe uses my favorite pasta shape and is a cinch; we should definitely make it for dinner tonight.
Listen, I know broccoli on pizza is often terrible. But this one uses a garlicky white sauce instead of the usual marinara, three types of cheese (because I like us) and then a bit of lemon juice, zest and pepper flakes because these things make broccoli awesome, and we deserve nothing less.
For a rainy day that's been kind enough to overlap with the end of pepper season, a perfect bowl of soup from way back in the SK archives. I'm deeply attached to this recipe because it was a dinner party menu staple for many years -- it's simple, cozy, and looks really cute in small cups with a swirl of cream.
I bumped into a teacher friend last week who told me she’d made these sandwiches as a night before back-to-school fun meal for her kids. The problem is, I was with my kids when she said this. So, welcome to the menu this week: it’s been too long. Caramelized onions, peppery arugula, and a creamy-sharp dressing make this steak sandwich a low-key luxury and longtime favorite.
A pinnacle-of-summer baked grain dish that has all of the decadence of a pasta bake -- tomatoes, gooey cheese, and a crisp, burnished top. Farro, small, nutty and slightly chewy, provides heft while letting the vegetables star. We love this.
If you can read about something called a magic cobbler that you make more or less entirely in the pan you bake it and not have it in the oven 15 minutes later, you're made of stronger stuff than me. This one celebrates peak late-summer-ness with apples, plums and a cinnamon-sugar topping and it's exquisite served with whatever is left of a scoop of vanilla ice cream after it lands on top of the warm cobbler.
A banana bread that's half dark chocolate, half classic and gently spiced, and marbled in distinct swirls so you don't have to choose.
Ever wonder where I get my cutting boards, paring knives, offset spatulas and more than you see when I cook? I've created a page on Smitten Kitchen with links to some of my favorite kitchen items, the ones I'm asked about the most. For each item, I've attempted to provide a range of shopping links so we're not just focusing on one giant retailer. Recent additions: The glass pot you might have seen in some recipe demos, and my go-to nonstick crepe pan. Let me know if there’s anything I’ve left off that you need!
See you next week!