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Monday, May 8, 2023
The Secret to Ordering the Best Thing on the Menu [NYT, unlocked]
Last week, my son told me he’d subscribed to my newsletter — this newsletter! My son, who was only recently small enough slump against a can of Crisco! But who is apparently heading for high school this fall! Reading this newsletter on his own volition! I’m sorry for all of the exclamation points but it really does feel this way sometimes as a parent. I’m also sorry if you were hoping for some rosy insights into motherhood or, say, having a mother — I’m still adjusting to all of this, and probably will be forever. But I do like a good menu plan, so below I’ve included two: some ideas for luxe brunch and some for a fancy-feeling lunch or dinner. I hope you get inspired to share great food with your favorite people, which has to be what this is all about.
P.S. If you’re reading this, please instead do your homework!
I’ve written three cookbooks and I’m a tiny bit biased but I think you, or someone you know who likes to cook or wants to start, would love them all. New: A German edition of Smitten Kitchen Keepers! You can read more about it here.
The perfect homemade hash brown patty: crisp and so fuss-free, it's almost baffling. This is my absolutely favorite raft for an egg, or the base of a salad-y lunchtime avocado "toast" -- I hope you're inspired!
A LUXE BRUNCH
The best sticky buns I've ever made are a celebration of contrasts: the sugar is restrained in the bun portion and then cascaded with the most unapologetically decadent salt-flecked dark pecan caramel. They make for the happiest weekends.
Two of the best things, thick slices of bread pudding-like brioche and crème brûlée, burnt sugar finish and all, in one blissful brunch dish.
What happens when baklava meets a babka? Buttery, nutty, glossy woven happiness, either in a wreath-like ring or two individual loaves.
One of my favorite brunch dishes of all time, eggs are baked in nests of lightly creamed spinach, mushrooms and parmesan. Scaled down in a skillet, it’s also great for lunch and dinner. Add some fresh biscuits and crispy bacon and you’ll be at the best restaurant in town.
Thomas Keller's Leek Bread Pudding is legendary for good reason: it's endlessly delicious for breakfast (with bacon or another egg), lunch (with a green salad) or dinner (alongside a roast). Squeeze it into your Mother’s Day repertoire once and it will never leave.
Herby mushroom and cheese crepes stacked into a showstopping cake for brunch or lunch this weekend is, well, my favorite, so I'll be right over, okay?
Hearty greens, grain-like bulk from quinoa, tart dried fruit, deeply toasted almonds, and a scattering of salty crumbly cheese is a forever favorite lunch salad. Depending on my mood, I might throw an extra on top, such as a poached egg or sliced avocado. I always wish I'd made more.
A LUXE LUNCH-TO-DINNER
A savory dinner tart version of my favorite soup, replete with the sweetly cooked onions, a hint of broth, and the nonnegotiable broiled cheese lid. This is the exact pick-me-up your week needs, don't you think?
Comfort food at its prettiest -- a tall, bronzed torte of a spaghetti pie, wound with an abundance of cheese, black pepper and, if you so desire, greens as well. Those edges are my happy place.
Small, sweet clams steamed open in wine, butter and garlic with a tumbler of cold wine and a side of grilled bread. It feels like you're in a restaurant overlooking a beach sunset, even if this isn't your current reality.
Never underestimate the power of a golden, crisp, thin, fried-but-somehow-not-heavy chicken breast piled with a giant, seasonal salad to quickly become the most popular thing you know how to make. This is one of my favorite things to make for friends and family.
There's good roast chicken, and then there's Judy Roger's legendary approach -- dry brine (a fancy term for salting and leaving it), crazy crisp skin and a salad that's akin to deconstructed stuffing. This is one of my favorite luxurious but low-key fall dinners.
An unforgettable salted caramel tart with a chocolate cookie underneath and chocolate ganache on top. It's like a Rolo candy, but a thousand times better.
One part cheese danish, one part berry pie, all in a flaky, buttery, easy crust, I absolutely never get tired of this combination.
Old-school banana pudding with one little twist: double "nilla" wafers with a hint of sea salt because there was no going back after trying them. Snug and cozy in little dishes, this is a perfect crisp day treat.
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!