plus: a fundraiser, a book tour, and an interview with anna painter
Monday, October 30, 2023
A perfect Halloween comic [New Yorker]
Casual dining chains are back [Eater]
Last week I told you about how, in reaction to feeling scared and hopeless following the attacks in Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza, I wanted to pivot my despair into helping people doing the herculean humanitarian work of feeding people who have been displaced from their homes. I’m pleased to share that in just one week, the SK community fundraiser for World Central Kitchen raised over $200,000. [You can follow this on Instagram.] I am grateful for the big hearts and generosity of this community and for the way you always help me re-focus on finding the good here, repairing the world in any way that we can.
This newsletter helps, I hope, us carry this warmth back into our homes with some of my favorite pastas for the fall, plus two excellent desserts for this week and a much-needed cocktail. I’ve got some further book tour details, which kicks off this week in Atlanta. And an interview with one of my favorite people, Anna Painter, about her first cookbook. Don’t miss it!
I’ve written three cookbooks and I’m a tiny bit biased, but I think you’d love them all. I’m excited that this weather means you might be able to cook some of my early fall favorites from my most recent cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers, such as the endive salad with apple matchsticks, double shallot egg salad, winter squash soup with red onion crisp, creamy tomato and chickpea masala, charred brussels sprout toast with ricotta, portobello hoagie, and the turkey meatloaf for skeptics with crushed ranch-y potatoes, and please don’t forget the carrot cake with brown butter and no clutter, butterscotch apple crisp, and apple cider old-fashioned. Were you looking for a list of all the recipes in each of my cookbooks? I’ve added these in a separate page and hope it makes it easier for you to find everything you want to cook.
It’s here! The Smitten Kitchen x Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving Tour kicks off this Thursday in Atlanta and continues onto Nashville TN, Scottsdale AZ, Dallas TX, Palm Beach Gardens FL, before wrapping up back home in New York City on the Friday before Thanksgiving. While I understand that all of the cooking classes sold out (I’m so sorry for those who’ve missed out) tickets are still available for the signing portion. A copy of Smitten Kitchen Keepers, my most recent cookbook, is included in each ticket price, along with a small donation made to World Central Kitchen, and I’ll be signing books after. Get all of the details and reserve your space right here.
The greenest thing I know how to make is also the most delicious. It's the cover star of Smitten Kitchen Keepers, my latest cookbook, a celebration of roasted garlic butter and fresh greens, tangled with spaghetti and it's the kind of recipe we made once then again and again -- an instant classic. Have you gotten hooked on it yet?
A stubbornly summery (in flavor) but fall (in coziness) dish of turkey meatballs, zucchini, and orecchiette (which acts like tiny meatball catching mitts) with pesto everywhere -- in the meatballs, in the brothy sauce, and dolloped at the end. Finished with a shower of parmesan, I cannot decide whether to eat this with a fork or spoon, so we use both.
The simplest way to make spaghetti al limone is also my favorite, enlisting an uncooked sauce, but no cream, butter, or other clutter. It's sunny and triumphant, a delicious way to end a long day.
A 15-minute, 5-ingredient crispy-creamy pasta-and-greens dinner that wants to change the way we make ravioli forever, just in time to talk ourselves out of ordering pizza tonight.
One of my favorite things to make when I think I don't want to cook: spaghetti tangled with intensely seasoned crunchy breadcrumbs and a broken crispy fried egg comes together as a quick, perfect bowl of undiluted comfort. Monday dinner crisis, averted.
A ridiculously simple pasta with fresh mushrooms, garlic, chives, and crème fraîche that's been in heavy rotation lately, the easiest way to turn a bag of mushrooms into a meal that, by some miracle, everyone loves.
This is the best (and easiest) spaghetti and meatballs I’ve ever made. A streamlined technique gets this whole thing on the table in under an hour, which means we get to have this for dinner more often.
This is one of my favorite pasta bakes of all time: craggy with browned crunchy edges for miles, sausage, and broccoli rabe, and a lightly creamy pecorino sauce to hold it all together.
A baked ziti exactly the way I like it, no jarred sauce, a bit of greens, ricotta on the side. It's spectacularly simple, effectively indulgent, and it makes bronzed, crispy corners worth calling dibs on.
A deeply toasty brown butter, brown sugar caramel tart with salted peanuts in a crisp shortbread shell. You finish it with a dollop of sour cream, which is cold and perfect here. I also include instructions to make this as salted peanut bars.
Arguably one of the best cookies on earth, these decadent dark chocolate sables -- like shortbread, with a gentle, buttery snap -- from Pierre Hermé via Dorie Greenspan got their name when a neighbor became convinced that a daily dose of these cookies was all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness. I hope it works.
My favorite place, my favorite drink.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNA PAINTER
New feature alert! My shelves are full of wonderful cookbooks I don’t get to talk about enough and I’m adding this weekly section so you can get to know the cool people behind them. Today we're chatting with one of my favorite humans, Anna Painter. Anna’s first cookbook, The Official Netflix Cookbook, came out earlier this month.
1. What inspired your cookbook?
“The Official Netflix Cookbook” was fully imagined - complete with a table of contents! - when I was brought on board. So instead of talking about what inspired the book, I’ll tell you about what inspired me as I was writing the recipes.
When my dad would read me picture books when I was little, he always really took his time, noting all the tiny and delightful details: the twinkle in the eye of a character, the tiny flowers in a mouse’s bouquet, the frosted delights on a dessert table in the background. And I have grown to really love these details too.
When you are watching a show or a movie and trying to capture a particular food moment, it’s easy to get caught up in the characters or the plot. You have to really slow down, sometimes watch a scene again and again to be able to take in the finer details. When I was writing the Haengbok Noodles recipe for The Extraordinary Attorney Woo, I watched the last five minutes probably a dozen times. While the noodles are discussed on and off for the entire episode, the actual dish is only shown in the last few minutes. There was a lot of starting and stopping, trying to see the components, and what the garnishes were on top. It takes a little time, but when you finally able to capture all the details, it’s incredibly satisfying.
2. What recipe are you the most proud of in the book, or felt the most triumphant when you got it right?
Dalgona candy, featured in one particular hair-raising challenge in Squid Games, is usually made one at a time by carefully melting sugar in a metal ladle over an open flame. This technique seemed like it might be challenging for a home cook. A small saucepan worked in place of the ladle and with a slightly large cooking vessel, I could make four candies at once. For the caramel, I decided to use both honey and granulated sugar. The honey gives the candy a really lovely flavor, and because honey is an invert sugar, I think that it keeps the caramel from crystallizing. (But maybe this is a baking chemistry myth I tell myself!) A little baking soda, stirring in right at the end, creates a lovely, crunchy candy. Also! If you pour the caramel onto the parchment, wait one minute, and then press a well-oiled cookie cutter into the caramel a few times, you will be able to remove the shape from the surrounding caramel without too much trouble. No needle or beads of sweat required!
3. What recipe is so low-effort, high-reward that it's worth cooking for dinner tonight, even if we're tired and don't want to cook?
There are so many different ways to answer this question in the context of this book. Because what feels low-effort and high-reward can feel really different from one day to the next, I present three options:
Dips and appetizers can make a very fine dinner, IMHO, so first I suggest the Guacamole Cups based on Anthoni’s now internet-notorious addition of Greek yogurt to guacamole on Queer Eye. Here, you whip up a garlicky yogurt crema and layer it in tortilla cups with a quick guacamole and a few crunchy garnishes. Assemble the cups ahead of time or bring all of the fixings to the table and let everyone assemble their own. You can even add cooked chicken, spicy shrimp, shredded cheese, the works! Taco Tuesday but bite-sized.
One of my absolute favorite food-based lines was in an episode of Cobra Kai. A rather grouchy Johnny Lawrence is making sloppy joes. He’s scowling, the kitchen is kind of a mess, and he’s so clearly just over it. He tastes the meat, growls “not manly enough,” and shakes a bag of beef jerky into the skillet. ICONIC. You don’t have to add the chopped beef jerky to your Mini Sloppy Johnny’s, but topping your sliders with plenty of pickles and potato chips makes a good sandwich great.
Finally, when the Halloween candy is piling up and you just want breakfast/dessert for dinner, treat yourself to the Triple-Decker Waffle Sundaes that Hopper makes as a peace offering for Eleven in Stranger Things. If you happen to have Smitten Kitchen's Easy Freezer Waffles, you should absolutely use those.
4. What's something you wish more people knew about your book?
This book is just so much fun! Now, is it always going to answer the “what’s for dinner” question? It’s not. But do you want to make a really great zombie-head Undead Meatloaf for Halloween and watch The Santa Clarita Diet? This book has you covered! Want to curl up with something sweet and binge To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? There are hidden heart cupcakes for your inner Lara Jean. Do you want to eat frost hand pies and watch carefully for the two times that Sandra Bullock eats in Bird Box? It’s all here and so much more.
Thank you, Anna! You can order The Official Netflix Cookbook right here.
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. I recently added several new favorites I’ve bought in the last year. For each item, I've attempted to provide a range of shopping links so we're not just focusing on one giant retailer.
See you next week!