Rhubarb season, an easy eggplant dinner, and some news!
Greetings eaters and readers, and some breaking news for you on this sunny May afternoon: I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be working with the same wonderful team at Clarkson Potter on another cookbook devoted to plant-based dinners. The working title is The Weekday Vegetarians: Shortcut City, and it will be full of everything you are hopefully used to seeing in this newsletter by now: stories, tricks, tips, easy, and inspired recipes to advance my mission of turning your dinner into your own love story. (No laughing! Anything is possible.) The concept of this next book was 100% shaped by a conversation with subscribers on this newsletter, so big ups to you all for the help. FOR REAL. This community is really something else, I gotta say. Going forward, I will be needing a lot more feedback on recipes and ideas, so thank you in advance for
writing my book for me being there for me. And now, sound the trumpets, your Three Things…
1. Tonight’s Easy Peasy Vegetarian Dinner
I have not been shy about my love for Hetty McKinnon’s 2021 cookbook, To Asia With Love, a collection of vegetarian recipes which are, as she describes them, “Asian in origin, modern in spirit.” Apparently, many people agree because last week the book was nominated for a James Beard Award. (Yay Hetty!) To mark this occasion, it felt only right to make her signature Salt & Pepper Eggplant dish, which gets its special depth from a Chinese 5-spice spiked seasoning. Hopefully you already have her book, but if not, you’re in luck: The recipe was published online last year. Easy comfort food at its best.
P.S. Other eggplant inspiration for you: Crispy Eggplant with Romesco and Basil or, if you’re in the market for a showstoppy vegetarian main, Leah Koenig’s Moussaka.
P.P.S Other general dinner inspiration for you: Smashed Pea Toasts, Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken (old-school!), Three-Bean Chili, Migas Tacos.
2. Protect Yourself Against Rhubarb Remorse
If you are like me, you might have seen these gorgeous ruby stalks at the market, then immediately heard the sound of a stopwatch ticking before the panic completely set in. Why? ‘Tis the season for all those spring darlings that disappear seemingly as soon as they show up. (Pretty sure I missed ramp season while I played Wordle last Thursday.) But worry not, at least when it comes to rhubarb, because I have a strategy for you. The smartest thing you can do to ensure you are making the most of its brief season, is dice up those beauties, then simmer with strawberries and a little sugar to make a sweet-and-sour compote, which will upgrade anything it touches: French toast, ice cream, pancakes, yogurt, and, as I recently discovered…
….this very basic no-bake cheesecake. (Inspired by a Justin Chapple recipe, as well as my friend Robin, who pointed me in his general direction.) You can get the recipes (for the compote and the cheesecake) over on Dinner: A Love Story.
And while you’re in a strawberry-rhubarb state of mind: Don’t sleep on the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp I made maybe a hundred times last summer. It’s up next in my house.
It feels like the fruit will be chunky forever, but be patient, they’ll break down for a smooth and saucy compote. (This caption is really just an excuse to show you my favorite new big-buckled Birks.)
3. On Lasts
I read the new Elizabeth Strout novel (coming out in the fall) which is remarkable, and I promise to remind you about it when you can actually purchase the thing, but I did want to share this one quote from the narrator, our beloved Lucy Barton, who has decamped to Maine during the pandemic. Here she is reflecting on a quiet older man she had once known, whose wife suffered from Alzheimer’s, and who was no longer speaking. The thing that had haunted this man was that he couldn’t remember the last word his wife had spoken to him. Here’s Lucy:
And thinking of this now made me think of something I had often thought before: that there had been a last time — when they were little — that I had picked up the girls. This had often broken my heart, to realize that you never know the last time you pick up a child. Maybe you say “Oh, honey you’re getting too big to be picked up” or something like that. But then you never pick them up again. And living with this pandemic was like that. You did not know.
I’m sorry if that just broke your heart a little — but the point is: As we all head into the season of stepping-ups, graduations, final games and matches, senior days, and all the hyper-emotional Lasts that accompany this time of year, try to keep in mind that it’s a privilege to be there, a privilege be present.
Have a great week!