Virtuous Kale Braised in Coconut Milk

pen and palate kale web illustration

This time last year, I was afflicted with the sudden fit of self-improvement mania that arrives like clockwork annually. I made all sorts of lofty, thigh gap-centric goals and ordered a new yoga mat and a workout DVD from Tracy Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer.When it showed up in my mailbox a few days later, I was pleased that it had arrived in such a timely fashion. I then stowed it away in some shadowy recess for safe keeping and never touched it again.

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Cherry Picking

pen and palate ice-cream cone

I came to baking because I got married when I was 19 years old. I had never cooked, and I had certainly not baked. I burned down my parents’ kitchen when I was 13 years old, and I was not allowed in there again. When I got married, I was a college student; my husband Michael had his first job. They didn’t have takeout the way they do now, and we didn’t have the money for it anyway. So I learned to cook, but I was very excited about it; it was a whole playing-house thing for me. I cooked some pretty disastrous meals and some not bad ones, working from cookbooks. I tried to bake and I found that I loved it. I loved the process of it. I loved the way you touch ingredients when you’re baking. I loved the magic of it, the fact that you kind of don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s the same ingredients over and over again; butter, flour, sugar, eggs, but you can get so many different things from it. Also, it didn’t hurt that when you put a homemade dessert on the table, everybody was happy.

-Dorie Greenspan talks with Christine Muhlke in the latest issue of Cherry Bombe. I love that she burned the kitchen down and still came back for more, something with which I obviously have some experience.

One of the things I love about this magazinewhich is still really new; this piece is in the current, third issue—is how long it takes me to read. I got it last week, and I’m still working my way through! That’s pretty much unprecedented for me with any magazine barring the New Yorker (which, anyway, I tend to consume on my phone between 3 and 7 a.m., when my body regularly wakes me up for a very cool 4-hour party break). It feels luxurious, and not just because of the thick paper stock and the gorgeous photographs, although those things don’t hurt. It’s chock full of thoughtful Q&As, reported features, cozy essays, and beautiful images, mostly about women and food, and mostly by women. Not that I only read food writing that’s by and about women! It’s just a very appealing world they’ve created over there: Like the discreetly fancy kitchen (you know the type: French countryside vibe, vintage pastel Cuisinart mixer resting casually on the countertop) of your chic, funny friend—who, naturally, also happens to be a fantastic chef. What I’m saying is, it’s worth the $20.


Friday Links


 Hello and welcome to the second installment of our weekly links thingy! Today we have one woman’s journey into TGI Friday’s Hell, booze for Bronte lovers, ice cream delivery services, and, in further evidence that the end is nigh, selfie toasters. Have a good weekend!

  • You’ll never believe what happens when one woman boldly tests the limits of humanity by taking TGI Friday’s up on its “endless appetizers” sales pitch. JK, you will totally guess: She eats 32 mozzarella sticks, makes $6, vomits a little, and earns a week of vacation. Still, it’s the journey that counts! And this one is particularly worth reading.
  • Bronte Liqueur,” for those dark and stormy nights when you’re sitting in an overstuffed armchair reading “Wuthering Heights” and misquoting Ralph Waldo Emerson. (And yes I do plan on ordering some.)
  • With this “selfie toaster,” you could eat your face on toast everyday. Ok, narcissists! Ever heard of JESUS? And Oprah?! And Sean Connery? There are so many good people to put on toast, let’s not limit ourselves!
  • In his new book, Paul Greenberg goes all Upton Sinclair on America’s seafood industry. We could say we’re reading American Catch: The Fight For Our Local Seafood, but that would be a lie. Summer is for turning your brain off! We did listen to the author’s fascinating interview with Terry Gross and got the general gist of it. Good enough, right?
  • Tram thinks banana splits are gross, which is why she has never actually had one. Disagree? Bring it in the comments. These grilled peach splits, however, sound divine.
  • Finally, should you get your ice cream Ubered to you? Only you can answer that question, dear reader, but I will note that in order to do so you apparently have to buy $25 worth of Mister Softee, which, even for the gluttonous among us, is a lot of Mister Softee.

Secret Garden Rhubarb Fizz

Pen and Palate rhubarb gin fizz

A couple of years ago, my boyfriend Rob bought this house in Pennsylvania. It’s near his parents, and a lake, and it’s relatively close to New York City, and it has these gorgeous glass windows that, in addition to letting in lots of sunlight during the day, have the added benefit of being very terrifying at night, because the house is in the middle of the woods and when it’s dark outside the murderers can see in but you can’t see out. It’s spooky in a lightly thrilling way, which I consider a real plus.

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Conspicuous Consumption


A few weeks ago for Romeo’s birthday, I gifted him the most beautiful cheese grater in the world. Designed by Richard Sapper in 2004, it was an instant classic. It measures literally 18” high, which is naturally, the perfect size for a cheese grater. It also went over much better than the bathroom scale I bought him a few years ago for Valentine’s day. Not sold on this ridiculous cheese grater? From the product description:

“So what you need to know is that Sapper, one of the designers who has been with us the longest, the creator of some of our most innovative objects, in his own home is in charge grating cheese for the whole family. Thus his inspiration was based on extensive personal experience on this theme…”

I love it as a beautiful sculptural object, and truly, every time I pick it up to use it, I feel infinitely better about the mostly nutritionally empty meal I am about to consume. It performs marvelously at it’s designated task, as well as doubling as a nutmeg grater. All that cheese grating expertise comes with a hefty price tag, but it’s worth it. Also, think of all the dollars you’ll save eating all those pasta dinners!



Friday Links


Welcome to our first official Friday link roundup! This is a new thing we do where we talk about all our favorite food-related things on the internet this week. (Duh?) Today we discuss Amar’e Stoudemire’s new cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, being basic in the Hamptons, and buying food on Etsy. Have a good weekend!

  • Who knew it was this easy to make homemade vanilla or lavender extract and not accidentally poison your family with botulism?
  • Famous basketball Knickerbocker Amar’e Stoudemire has a new cookbook out called Cooking with Amar’e: 100 Easy Recipes for Pros and Rookies in the Kitchen. There are no less than three pictures of him on the cover and in two of them he’s inexplicably sporting a chef’s jacket. From the book description, it sounds like Amar’e has been cooking for exactly three weeks, which shouldn’t deter him from writing a cookbook, or you from buying it.
  • Apparently you can buy food on Etsy? These planet lollipops are so nerdy and gorgeous, exactly the sort of thing we imagine Neil Degrasse Tyson snacking on.
  • Remember Lo from Laguna Beach? Well, apparently she’s living in New York and working as a lifestyle entrepreneur (who isn’t, these days?), and vacationing in the Hamptons with characteristic aplomb. “I move on to my first glass of rosé of the weekend. Basic, amirite? Hamptons and rosé, blaaa.”
  • We just got a hot tip that Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream—which for the record is the BEST ice cream—is doing a pop-up shop at Gotham Market in New York City!!!! On that note… we’re just going to… um… see you next week! *tiptoes silently away in pursuit of chocomole*

A Song of Ice and Fire

fire thumb

Smoked ice.

Just wrap your head around that for a moment. Conceptually so clean, so minimal, like a perfect Oscar Wilde epigram. This delightful magic trick is courtesy of everyone’s favorite falafel chef, Mr. Grant Achatz. I’d use these in a summery cocktail made with pineapple juice, mezcal, agave syrup, maybe a slice or two of jalapeno, and mint; the smoked ice adding a depth and balance to the brightness and acidity of the fruit.

Now for the fire part, lets talk stovetop smokers. It had only recently come to my attention that such a thing existed, and as soon as I found out (at like, 2 in the morning–I woke Romeo up to tell him our lives had forever changed but he didn’t seem too impressed) I ordered one. I’m usually anti-gadget, (falsely) believing in my heart of hearts that I am a minimalist, but this is reasonably priced, doesn’t take up too much space, doubles as a roasting pan, and it totally works! I have been steadily pumping my foods with carcinogens on the stove from the comfort of my tiny Chicago kitchen, with great success, We’ve smoked salmon, fat little cherry tomatoes, and soon…ice!



Lucy’s “Famous” One-Hour Eggs

Lucys Famous One-Hour Eggs Pen and Palate

A few weeks ago, I visited Tram in Chicago for the most magical weekend. Usually when I visit Tram it’s about -20 degrees (I tend to find cheap tickets in February, plus, the freezing temperatures can last through May in Chicago), but this weekend was the most glorious, sunny, mid-70s weather. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. The hoochies were done up in their skimpiest tube top-and-miniskirt ensembles. It was perfect. On Friday, we roamed around town stirring up trouble (um, eating pizza and ice cream and paella); on Saturday, we walked along Lake Michigan to a secret and mystical “witches’ circle,” drank margaritas, ate homemade mussels and French fries, and considered trying out for the Amazing Race.

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The Paris-Roubaix Cocktail

pen and palate paris roubaix tram nguyen

Lucy was in town the other weekend,which obviously made it the best two days of my life. To prepare for her impending arrival, I made plans to place a casually lovely arrangement of ranunculus in a mason jar by her bedside table (“Fresh flowers? But of course, I ride my bicyclette to the farmer’s marché every week and drop $400 on organic, locally grown produce and flowers.” They never sit for weeks past their due date in murky water until they are sad and wilted.), stock the fridge with tasty snacks, and scrub my apartment until it was absolutely spotless. After a few minutes of sweeping up the dust bunnies behind the fridge, I thought to myself, “This is hard and boring.” So I stopped and decided I’d have no choice but to use my body as a physical barrier between the kitchen wall and Lucy if she ever felt the inclination to move the fridge. The best I could manage was a clean towel and letting the Roomba take a single lap around my living room.

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