Comfort Foods

My Nepenthe

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by Charles G. Thompson

ImageMy first visit to Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, California was in the fall of 1983. It was a hot day and we sat outside on the massive terrace with a cold drink – in those days white wine, or possibly beer – and looked down at the unbelievable view. A view of the Monterey coast that went on forever. I've never forgotten that first visit. Or that first view. Yes, the parking lot was full of rental cars, and yes, there were crowds of tourists snapping photos but none of that mattered. I didn't know what to expect as we climbed the winding stone steps up through a canopy of oak trees to the restaurant.

But once I stepped foot onto the large terrace and saw the view, I understood the magic of Nepenthe. No matter where you are at Nepenthe, the Phoneix Shop, the Café Kevah or the restaurant itself, the view is there. Always and forever. In my memory there were hawks floating on thermals almost at eye level. That is how high up Nepenthe is. In the clouds. At the end of our drinks it was very hard to pull myself away. Over the years I have gone back to Nepenthe each time I visited the area. How can one not visit such a spectacular place?

I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook

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by Susan Russo

When I was in college I had a vegetarian friend who ate the same thing every single day for lunch, “a meatless burger.”  It wasn’t a chewy veggie burger or a hearty black bean burger. Oh, no, her meatless burger consisted of lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a single slice of American cheese piled neatly on a hamburger bun. Every day for four years. It was tragic.

It’s too bad Andrea Lynn’s new book, I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook: 150 Cheap and Easy Gourmet Recipes wasn’t out then. I would have bought it for her. She would have loved it, especially the chapters on “Sandwiches & Salads” and “Vegetarian Main Meals” that include tasty options such as Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches, Teriyaki Tofu with Baby Broccoli.

All of Lynn’s recipes feature Trader Joe’s signature products, so you won’t have to trek from market to market searching for items. It’s really a one-stop-shopping cookbook ideal for both cash- and time-strapped college students. And kitchen novices. And working moms and dads. And anyone looking for easy recipes and trying to save money.

Grilled Cheese, Please!

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by Charles G. Thompson

grilledcheeseplease.jpgApril is National Grilled Cheese Month so highly appropriate for Laura Werlin’s newest book “Grilled Cheese, Please!” Werlin has quite the cheese expert pedigree having written four previous books on the subject which have won James Beard, IACP and the World Gourmand Awards.

Who doesn’t like grilled cheese? It has to be one of the most comforting of all comfort foods. A basic grilled sandwich, like those from many of our childhoods, is comforting enough but up the ante the way Werlin has and it’s food nirvana.

“Grilled Cheese, Please!” has fifty different grilled cheese recipes and covers eight chapters: Just Cheese, Meat and Cheese, Anything Goes, Veggies and Cheese, Global Grilled Cheese, Grilled Cheese on the Go, Regional American Grilled Cheese, and Old Favorites and Modern Sides.

Nigella Bites

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by Ann Nichols

nigellabites.jpgHow do I love Nigella? Let me count the ways. Sometimes she’s bigger, and some times she’s smaller, but she’s always incredibly beautiful. She is incredible intelligent and well-educated, and has had some incredibly hard knocks (including the death of her first husband) and survived with consummate grace.

She is a mother over 40 who oozes sex appeal, admits to cooking pasta for herself to eat in bed while watching television, and deep fries candy bars in batter. Most important, in an age of molecular gastronomy and foodie preciousness, she cooks food that is simple, sensuous and exactly what you were yearning for but couldn’t name until you saw the recipe.

Yummy Potatoes: Cookbook Review

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by Amy Sherman

yummypotatoesWhat a great thing for the fall, a potato cookbook. -ae

Last week I went through a box of recipes I had clipped from the San Francisco Chronicle. I found recipes dating back to the late 90's! I wish I was as good at organizing as I am at hoarding. Reviewing all those clippings, I can safely say I had saved more recipes written by Marlena Spieler than from anyone else. Spieler has been a writer for the Chronicle for ages and has written tons of cookbooks to boot. 

So imagine my pleasure at receiving a review copy of Marlena Spieler's latest book, called Yummy Potatoes 65 Downright Delicious Recipes. And on the same day I posted one of my yummy potato recipes! Potatoes on the brain. I cannot tell you how delectable most of her recipes look! There are Breakfast Potatoes, Tapas, Meze and Antipasti, Soups, Salads, Mashes, Baked, Fried, Sides and a category called "Potatoes for Dinner!" I swear the exclamation point is hers, not mine, but it might as well be mine.

Caroline Wright's Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals

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by Editors

20dollars20minutesI can’t exactly remember when I met Caroline as this whole online food world introduces you to so many people on a regular basis. But I do remember this: instant connection. Bright. Fun. Sharp. All the qualities I love in friends, and the fact that she knows food made it all the better.

So when she told me she was writing a book, Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals, I couldn’t help but get excited. But little did I know this book would actually help me. As in I-need-something-quick-n-easy-but-still-delicious kind of help, and early on while reviewing the galley of the book I noticed myself actually cooking from it. And it’s not that I don’t mean to cook from the books written by my friends, but after spending all day in the studio with food I don’t usually get excited enough to step into our kitchen at home. Caroline has changed this.

I wrote her a quick email and thanked her for really amazing solid recipes that feature ingredients that get me excited. And then I thanked her for the Cacio e Pepe recipe that has literally become a staple for us. As in once-a-week, as in super easy and delicious. And while I’ve tried quite a few recipes for this dish that features a delicious play between cheese and black pepper, I must tell you that this is my favorite and you will absolutely want to follow her steps for toasting. It makes all the difference in the world. Seriously.  (And yes, I was lazy once and tried to skip it and it just wasn’t the same, trust me on this).

 

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