Greetings eaters and readers! Thank you to everyone who participated in the book talk hotline with NY Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul last week. The questions were awesome — special shout-out to Rachel who asked “What are three books that you've read that you are jealous that other people still get to read for the first time?” Love that! (Reminder, you have to be a subscriber to have access to hotlines.) In other news, after a pretty nutty few weeks, the dinner table feels like it’s getting back to normal (no more pancakes for solo dinner at the counter — though I will say that meal was quite something, and my pancake recipe is legit A-PLUS) and we have a good line-up this week. Tonight is Chickpea Caesar Salad (page 69) from The Weekday Vegetarians. And I think tomorrow is….
…Priya Krishna’s Matar Paneer. It’s been way too long! Here are Three Things I’m thinking you should know about this week…
1. A Mini Fall Cookbook Preview
Every day is like Christmas when it comes to the mail lately. I’ve gotten review copies of some pretty exciting cookbooks, which isn’t surprising considering we are heading into the holidays, traditionally when all the Big Ones come out. A few to put on your gift-giving radar: Black Food, a collection of recipes and stories from the African diaspora (and the first book to be published by Bryant Terry’s new imprint 4c), wrapped in possibly the most gorgeous cover I’ve seen this year; Also in the department of The Highly Anticipated is Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking: A category-killer packed with sunny, happy vibes and recipes for things like Hummingbird Cake, Lane Cake (a whisky-laced custard frosted cake that made a cameo in To Kill a Mockingbird), Chocolate Church Cake and, perhaps most relevant right now, all things pies: Slab pies, Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Pie; Mina Stone’s Lemon, Love, & Olive Oil, as much an objet as a cookbook devoted to simple, elegant Greek home cooking; Pasta, a deep, authentic dive into every possible angle on the topic from the Lilia and Misi chef Missy Robbins (co-authored by Talia Baiocchi) and coffee-table-worthy to boot; Cooking at Home, by Momofuku founder David Chang (with an assist from co-author Priya Krishna) has the ambitious goal of creating “something as delicious as possible, in the least amount of time possible, while making as little mess as possible.” There are NO recipes, just a lot of “about this much” and mix in a “glug” of this or a “squirt” of that. Along the same lines, famously fussy Ottolenghi gives us Shelf Love, a collection of recipes inspired by his pantry and quick-and-easy cooking he mastered during the pandemic.
Reminder! The supply chain disruption is affecting products far and wide, including books. If you plan to order any book for a holiday gift — including The Weekday Vegetarians! — do it sooner rather than later.
3. The Best Potatoes
Do not sleep on these potatoes from The Weekday Vegetarians (page 180). Crispy on the outside from a quick last-minute broil, creamy on the inside from a quick par-boil, then tossed with lemon, olive oil, and oregano, they are unbelievably addictive. I’ve been making them ever since first trying the classic Greek dish at the old-school Greek restaurant in Manhattan, Uncle Nick’s. I’d argue that you (or your kids) might like them more than French fries.
Greek-Style Lemon-Oregano Potatoes
3 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1⁄4 cup lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with salted water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then decrease heat slightly and aggressively simmer the potatoes for 10 minutes. (They do not have to be fully cooked.) Drain the potatoes.
Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Line a sheet pan with foil.
Place the drained potatoes on the prepared sheet pan. Drizzle the olive oil all over the potatoes and, using a spoon or your hands, gently toss them to make sure every potato is coated in oil and turned flat-side down. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper, and another drizzle of olive oil.
3. Eat Family Dinner, Teach Empathy
I’ve talked to a lot of people about family dinner over the years, but there are certain lessons that have stuck with me, and this quote from my 2015 interview with The Lost Art of Conversation author Sherry Turkle is one of them:
Here’s what happens during family conversation: The first thing is you imagine other minds, you imagine the minds of your family, and over time you learn to empathize. The conversations allow adults to model listening, to show children how listening works. It’s in family conversation when children learn that it’s comforting to be heard and understood, when they learn the pleasure of being heard and understood. So in that way, these talks are the most important building blocks for empathy. And the reason why dinner conversation is an important part of this is because ideally, it happens one night and then it happens again, and then it happens again. It has that quality that most conversations don’t. You can talk things out, work things through, without acting out on your feelings.”
Have a great week.
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I truly do make these potatoes once a week - the method is life-changing and the flavours are divine.