Fig-glazed chicken with apples, this week in cheese spreads, and an iconic cookbook gets a makeover
Greetings eaters and readers! What’s for dinner tonight? I’m thinking spicy chickpeas with yogurt or the sweet chili-glazed tofu-eggplant stir-fry from The Weekday Vegetarians or one of these five no-recipe recipes, or something super easy because I’m traveling for the rest of the week. (Wooooo hoooo!) In other news, Joanna and I had it out with each other over the “Irish Goodbye” on Cup of Jo last week, and maybe I’m just naive, but I was shocked…shocked!…by how many people agreed with her that ghosting a host is not only the preferred way to exit a party, but the more polite way! OMG I am still processing this! Lastly, my work email is back in business thanks to the digital wizardry of Danielle Centofanti-Davidson. (I wish I was having more kids so I could name one after you, Danielle!) The bad news is that I lost every email from September 6 through 16, so if you’ve tried to reach out during that period without a response, please try me again: Jenny AT dinneralovestory DOT com. And now, your Three Things…
1. Fig-Glazed Chicken with Apples
In what has become something of a Rosh Hashanah tradition, I'm delighted to once again feature a recipe from cookbook author Leah Koenig on Dinner: A Love Story. Leah writes the wonderful newsletter The Jewish Table, and even if you're not celebrating the Jewish New Year next week, even if you are not looking for a modern, seasonal, delicious main dish for the holiday table, even if you are just someone who loves fall comfort cooking -- and, um, isn't that all of us? -- you will want to try out her roasty, homey fig-glazed chicken with apples. As she writes: “The sticky, sweet, schmaltzy combination is pretty irresistible. I like to make this chicken to celebrate the first day of school, and on crisp autumn Sundays, after an afternoon of apple picking with my family.” How good does that sound? Maybe rounded out with her world-famous (or at least DALS-famous) Fattoush?
P.S. Leah is offering a 20% discount on her newsletter specifically for DALS readers this week -- I encourage everyone to take advantage of this, but especially hosts who find themselves constantly on the hunt for modern, creative recipes for Jewish holidays throughout the year.
Shana Tovah to those of you celebrating!
2. Starter Plate of the Month
Much as I love a bountiful snack board for entertaining (looking at you Marissa!) there’s something to be said about the tightly curated cheese plate — just enough to get a guest excited, but not too much to steal crucial stomach real estate before the main event. To that end, I struck on this combination this past Saturday night when my sister, Lynn and brother-in-law, Nick came over. I’m particularly obsessed with the red pepper jam, which seems to add a now non-negotiable sweet-hot kick to almost any cheese I pair it with; and the tahini sweet potato dip is excellent for conjuring up those Josie’s memories for 90s-era New Yorkers (If you know, you know!), Lynn and Nick among them. Here’s the cheese board run-down:
Nimbus Triple Cream (Chaseholm Farm, NY)
Bayley Hazen Blue (Jasper Hill, VT)
Peruvian Red Pepper Jam
Naan Crackers from Trader Joes (I think thin baguette slices would be better)
Tahini-Sweet Potato Dip (below)
Tahini Sweet Potato Dip
1 1/4 cups baked sweet potatoes, usually 2 small potatoes or 1 large
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon madras curry powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons warm water
Blend everything together in a food processor (I use a mini food processor), adding water one tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency.
3. Happy Anniversary, Marcella!
Just a warning: There is going to be a lot of Italian food on the dinner table (and therefore in this newsletter) in the upcoming weeks. This is because the 30th anniversary edition of Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking* just landed on my doorstep, and I am falling in love with it all over again, getting kinda weepy for that period of my life when I was a new college graduate teaching myself how to cook. I know I’m not alone when I say that Hazan remains one of the most influential cookbook authors of my life, and as I wrote in a tribute for Bon Appétit when she died almost a decade ago, I could almost tell my life’s story through her recipes — the bolognese, the pork in milk, the world-famous three-ingredient tomato sauce. The new edition gets a fresh design, a bright, cheery cover, and forwards from Lidia Bastianich and her beloved husband Victor Hazan who was the main driver of this project, but the recipes remain true to Marcella. She would’ve liked it that way. As she wrote of the collection in 1991:
[All the] recipes in this book move on the same track, in pursuit not of novelty, but of taste. The taste they have been devised to achieve wants not to astonish, but to reassure. It issues from the cultural memory, the enduring world of generations of Italian cooks, each generation setting a place at the table where the next one will feel at ease and at home. It is a pattern of cooking that can accommodate improvisation and fresh intuitions each time it is taken in hand, as long as it continues to be a pattern we recognize, as long as its evolving forms comfort us with that essential attribute of the civilized life, familiarity.
That essential attribute of the civilized life, familiarity. I hear you, Marcella. And I love you more than ever.
*Essentials is/was a composite of Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking.
P.S. This is big, people.
In one of the great honors of my professional life, the editor of Essentials asked me to endorse this new edition — probably because, as you can tell, I haven’t really shut up about Marcella since I discovered her in 1993. And I never will! You can order a copy as of today.
P.P.S. I always start the day with a walk or a run outside, but lately, I’ve been ending the day with one, too, heading down to our town train station on the Hudson to meet my commuting husband (and get a ride home). It’s my attempt to take advantage of these last few golden early evenings while we have them. Solvitur Ambulando!
Have a great week!