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Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage + Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
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Delancey

1


If you want to get Brandon’s family talking, you need only ask about his childhood tantrums, aaannnnnnnd they’re off! Their descriptions are sufficiently vivid that you’d think he’d had a screaming meltdown in the family car last week. But if you ask Brandon about his tantrums, he’ll tell you that he was constantly hungry, and that low blood sugar will bring out the wailing, shrieking lunatic in anyone. When he was eight or nine, he taught himself to cope by cooking. And his parents, who weren’t especially interested in cooking, rewarded his initiative, because in the Pettit household of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, whoever cooked dinner didn’t have to do the cleanup afterward.

Anyway, while most of his peers were off wrestling in the yard, breaking things, or lighting household pets on fire, Brandon got a lot of positive attention for cooking. His uncle Tom offered to teach him how to make a few dishes, and so did his mother’s friend Ellen. His best friend Steve’s mother, Laura, taught him how to make penne alla vodka when he was in middle school. Afterward, before he went home, she dumped out a small Poland Spring water bottle, refilled it with vodka, and gave it to him so that he could make the recipe for his parents. His mother found it in his backpack later that night, and you know how that story goes.

Meanwhile, I grew up 1,500 miles to the west, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the only child in a family so preoccupied with cooking and eating that we would regularly spend dinner discussing what we might eat the following night. My parents met in Baltimore and courted over oysters and pan-fried shad roe, and though they had lived in the land of waving wheat and chicken-fried steak since a few years before I was born, they took pleasure in introducing me to lobster, croissants, and Dover sole. My father was a radiation oncologist, and he worked full-time until he was nearly seventy, but most evenings, after pouring himself a Scotch and thumbing absentmindedly through the mail, he made dinner. It wasn’t necessarily fancy—there were hamburgers and salad and cans of baked beans, and his macaroni and cheese involved a brick of Velveeta—but the kitchen was where he went to relax, to unwind from a day of seeing patients. He was a good cook. My mother is also a good cook, a very good cook, but I think of her mostly as a baker. She made brownies and crisps and birthday cakes, and in our neighborhood she became something of a legend for the elaborate cookies and candies she made each Christmas. Food was how the three of us spent time together. Cooking and eating gave our days their rhythm and consistency, and the kitchen was where everything happened. As a baby, I played on the floor with pots and spoons while my mother cooked. The three of us sat down to dinner at the kitchen table nearly every night (except Thursdays, when my parents went out and left me with a Stouffer’s Turkey Tetrazzini and Julia Beal, the elderly babysitter, who always arrived with a floral-patterned plastic bonnet tied under her chin), and we kept up the habit (minus Stouffer’s and Mrs. Beal, after a certain point) until I went to college.

I started cooking with my parents when I was in high school. I was not what you would call a difficult teen: Friday night might find me baking a cake or holed up in my bedroom with my notebook of poems. If I felt like doing something really exciting, I might invite some friends over and make a rhubarb cobbler. When I was seventeen, Food Network came into existence, and then I spent hour after hour watching cooking shows, which fueled even more baking and a poem about immersing myself in a vat of Marshmallow Fluff.

Brandon’s teenage years were a little more interesting—he regularly handed in his homework late—but he too watched a lot of cooking shows. This was back in the golden age when you could actually learn something from Food Network—when David Rosengarten’s brilliant Taste was still on the air and Emeril Lagasse’s show was taped on a modest set without a studio audience, live musicians, or abuse of the word bam. Brandon learned about extra virgin olive oil on Molto Mario and balsamic vinegar on Essence of Emeril and begged his parents to add them to the grocery list. He once watched a show about soups during which the host reeled off a number of tricks for adding flavor and body: add a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind or a bouquet garni, for example, or drop in a potato, toss in some dried mushrooms, or simmer a teabag in the stock. Armed with this information, he decided to combine all of the tricks in a single soup, surely the greatest soup the world would ever know. The result, he reports, was very flavorful, like runoff from a large-scale mining operation.

Growing up, Brandon had four favorite pizza places: Posa Posa, Martio’s, and Michaelangelo’s, all in Nanuet, New York; and Kinchley’s, in Ramsey, New Jersey. Of course, every kid on earth loves pizza, and a lot of them probably have four favorite pizza joints. But I know of few eight-year-olds who want to interview the pizzaiolo. Brandon took dance classes as a kid, and the ballet studio was conveniently located a few doors down from Michaelangelo’s. After class, he would pummel the owner with questions. What’s in the dough? What do you put in the sauce? Why do you grate the mozzarella for the cheese pizza, instead of slicing it? In exchange for answers and free slices, he agreed to put coupons under the windshield wipers of cars in the parking lot out front.

But if it were all really that straightforward, if Brandon and I had both homed in on food from the get-go, and if he had known that he would be a chef and I had known that I would someday own a restaurant with my chef husband, this would be a boring story, and I would not be telling it.

Maybe even more than he loved to cook, Brandon loved to dance. His mother, wanting to expose her son to a little bit of everything, started him in dance classes as a very young kid, and by the time he was a preteen, he was on track to someday join a touring company. Down the line, he’d decided, he would be a choreographer. Choreography and cooking pushed the same buttons in him: they were both about making things, about taking a series of separate elements and assembling them in a particular sequence to make something appealing and new. As a middle schooler, he took upwards of eight hours of dance classes a week, and sometimes, depending on the season, he took as many as twenty. When he was twelve, he got into a prestigious summer program at the Pennsylvania Ballet school. Each afternoon, when he was supposed to be resting, he sneaked into the classes for older teens, where he got to partner with female dancers. This was the big time. One day, while doing some sort of move that you’re not supposed to do when you’re twelve, he fractured one of the vertebrae in his lower back. The upshot was that he couldn’t dance for the better part of a year, and as further punishment, he had to wear a plastic torso brace that made him look like Tom Hanks’s deranged secretary in Splash, the one who wore her bra over her clothes.

He couldn’t do anything that required much mobility, but he could still cook. He could also practice the saxophone. In addition to dance, he’d taken music lessons—piano and saxophone—since he was a kid. Now, while sidelined from ballet, he began to practice for hours a day. After school, he’d go down to the basement, put on Pink Floyd’s “Money,” and play along, over and over, with the sax solo that starts at 2:04. Or he’d go to Tower Records and fish around in the discount bin for classic R&B and blues CDs, Charlie Parker or T-Bone Walker, and then he’d play along to those too. He sometimes went to the ballet studio to watch a class, to try to keep his head in it, but he began to notice that, maybe more than the physical movement itself, what he liked about dance was the music. Music was underneath all of it.

By the time he started thinking about college, he was spending most of his non-school hours playing the saxophone, and when he wasn’t playing the saxophone, he was cooking. He thought about going to culinary school instead of college, but he’d been a vegetarian since birth—his parents, siblings, and most of his extended family are vegetarian—and while he didn’t want to cook meat, he also wasn’t interested in seeking out a specialized vegetarian culinary school, which seemed limiting in the long run. Anyway, he would always cook, he reasoned, whether or not he was a trained chef. He would always need to eat. But if he wanted to keep at his music, and if he wanted to go somewhere with it, he would need formal training. So he decided to try for a conservatory slot in saxophone, upping his practice schedule from a couple of hours a day to three or four. There’s a video taken around that time, at his high school’s Battle of the Bands. I wish you could see it. Brandon is seventeen, singing lead and straddling the sax in a band called “Ummm . . . ,” and he’s deep in his Jim Morrison phase, with dark sunglasses, long curly brown hair, and his shirt unbuttoned to the navel, for which he would later get detention.

The following year, he moved to Ohio as a freshman at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. He declared a major in saxophone performance, but the urge to make something—not just memorize and perform a piece of music that someone else had made—was still there, and in his second year, he added a minor in music composition. After graduation, he moved to New York to work on a master’s at Brooklyn College Conservatory, sharing an apartment in Manhattan with a violinist and an opera singer. Meanwhile, I had left Oklahoma City and headed west to Stanford, where I studied human biology and French and was frequently asleep in my dorm room bunk bed by ten o’clock, though I did flirt with rebellion by cutting my hair short, dyeing it calico, and stealing pre-portioned balls of Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough from the freezer of my dining hall. When I graduated, I spent a year teaching English in France before moving to Seattle in 2002 to start graduate school in anthropology at the University of Washington.

Brandon and I met in 2005, when a friend of his suggested that he read Orangette, the food blog that I had started the previous summer. He did, and then he sent an e-mail to pass on a few choice compliments that evidently were very effective. He described himself as “a musician (composer) getting my master’s part-time in NYC, while being a full-time food snob / philosopher / chef.” Let’s ignore the snob / philosopher part; he was only twenty-three, so he gets a pass. But the chef part! He was referring, I would learn, to his part-time job as a cooking-and-grocery-shopping go-fer for a wealthy uncle, and to the fact that he liked to have friends over to dinner. But, people: I should have seen it. This man was not going to be a composer. By the second letter, he was describing the smell of flaming Calvados on crêpes, and to explain what type of music he wrote, he offered this:

I guess it’s considered classical. I usually write for choirs or orchestras or chamber groups, although sometimes I use electronics or make sound sculptures or installations. For a food analogy: I won’t make salads with raw chicken, lychee, pork rinds, and lemon zest with a motor oil, goat cheese, and olive oil dressing, just because no one has done it before. I try to make “dishes” that taste like nothing else, and taste good. Being a composer is really no different from being a chef or a choreographer.

I should have seen it, but I didn’t. And until a few months after we were married, I don’t think he did, either.

Revue de presse

"A crave-worthy memoir that is part love story, part restaurant industry tale. Scrumptious.” (People)

"You'll feel the warmth from this pizza oven...affectionate...cheerfully honest...warm and inclusive, just like her cooking." (USA Today)

"Wizenberg shines as a writer. She brilliantly turns the ups and downs of their do-it-yourself project into a compelling yet hilarious narrative....Like dipping into a lively, keenly observed diary....Charming." (Boston Globe)

"Charming, funny, and honest--in a hip, understated way--Wizenberg combines simple, appealing recipes with a tale of how nurturing her husband's passion project helped her see him, and herself, more clearly." (More)

"The messy, explosive, and exhilarating story of giving birth to a restaurant...draws readers right into the heat of the kitchen." (Christian Science Monitor)

“When I sit down with Molly Wizenberg’s writing, it feels as though she’s just across the counter, coffee cup in hand, sharing an intimate truth….Inspiring, entertaining and informative, [Delancey] is a satisfying read.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"What makes this story so readable...is that it doesn't just chronicle the nuts and bolts of starting a restaurant. It's as much about navigating a new marriage, figuring out what kind of life you want to make together and what roles you want to play in life together." (Dinner: A Love Story)

"Honest, humorous, and endearing." (PopSugar)

"It's about how the things we make, make us. It's also about discovering our stories as we live them, learning to understand them, and ourselves through them. Oh, and it's about pizza too." (Sweet Amandine)

"Illuminates the restaurant experience in a way that was entirely new to me....Molly's gift is to walk you through the process while simultaneously broadcasting her own emotional journey...honest and essential." (Amateur Gourmet)

"You will cheer for Wizenberg...and her husband as they navigate the exciting and sometimes treacherous task of opening a Seattle pizza shop--and try to build a marriage too, in this honest, sprightly memoir." (Coastal Living)

"Charming . . . humorous, intimate, and honest." (Library Journal (starred review))

"Fun and engaging." (Publishers Weekly)

"Entertaining and wondering and plainspoken...full of the hard work and trial and error of emerging into adulthood." (Bookforum)

"Molly Wizenberg writes with the sweet candor of Laurie Colwin and the sly amusement of M.F.K. Fisher. Delancey is the perfect restaurant tale -- gripping, nutty, and yet somehow meant to be." (Amanda Hesser co-founder of Food52 and author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook)

"Delancey is so riveting, well-written, and interesting, I found myself wishing it were twice as long. Molly Wizenberg writes as well about life as she does about food. Her voice is so charming and funny and poignant, it made me want to invite myself over to her place for dinner, where I would certainly overstay. I loved this book." (Kate Christensen author of Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites)

"You might think making pizza is a piece of cake (or pie!) But Molly Wizenberg’s tale of triumph as she and her husband learn to make the perfect pie, and construct the restaurant to serve it in, make for delicious – and dramatic – reading. Told with humility and humor, Delancey shows that with hard work and determination, dreams can come true . . . no matter what obstacles lie in your way." (David Lebovitz author of My Paris Kitchen)

"Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey is so much more than a memoir about opening a highly regarded pizza restaurant. It is a story about building a marriage and a beloved community through grit, thrift, and self-determination in the pursuit of excellence. Ultimately this is a story about whole-heartedly embracing the one you love without trying to smooth away the rough edges or edit out the hard parts. It is also a most delicious read (with recipes!) that sent me to the kitchen as soon as I turned the final page." (Susan Rebecca White author of A Place at the Table)

"Delancey is the extraordinary tale of what it means to build a life with the person you love, and the professional roller coaster ride that is opening and running a wildly successful restaurant together. Molly Wizenberg has, in her inimitable way, written a modern love story that marries razor-edged wit to warmth, and passion to flavor; Delancey is an utterly delicious read." (Elissa Altman Poor Man's Feast)


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Amazon.com: 164 commentaires
64 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
I'm a Fan of Her Writing, But Not of this Book 19 mars 2014
Par K. Kasabian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I am a frequent visitor of Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, and read her engrossing memoir, A Homemade Life. A naturally gifted writer, she has set the bar high for herself in her sophomore work, Delancey, a memoir about building a small business and surviving a marriage in the process. Unfortunately, this book delves too lightly into its complex and intimate subject matter. Learning how to navigate in a young marriage is difficult and a worthy subject matter on its own, but learning to coexist while finishing a book, going on tour, and helping your new husband to open a restaurant is a writer's paradise. This memoir whets the reader's appetite, but does not satisfy. It reads more like a series of light-hearted columns than a cohesive story. Wizenberg's talent for bringing the reader into her living room is one of her greatest strengths, but as a reader, I felt as though I never made it past the foyer. Not recommended.
42 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
More about the restaurant than the marriage 31 mars 2014
Par N. B. Kennedy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I absolutely loved My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store by Ben Ryder Howe. So I was looking forward to this read that promised a similar, riveting story about a young couple whose marriage is stretched (almost to the breaking point) when they decide to open a pizzeria.

But, sadly, the narrative is bland and gets bogged down in details. It starts out great, as the author sketches out her personality and that of her hobby-loving (but usually hobby-abandoning) husband. But soon after her husband announces his intention to open a pizzeria, the book descends into long passages about learning to make pizza, scouting for a location and opening and running a restaurant. The author, obviously a blogger, includes very few viewpoints from anyone else, including her husband. She talks about her husband, but scenes and dialog including him are sparse, almost nonexistent, except for one dramatic moment when he wants to back out.

I was hoping for more of these moments, but like many blogs turned books, the book has little narrative drive and no story arc. Editors should have had her turn some of the narrative into scenes and dialog, to give the story energy: the old adage "show, don't tell" should be every storyteller's goal. The author does describe the train wreck the restaurant almost made of her life, but it's buried in all the verbiage about restaurant ownership. If you're interested in what it's like to open a restaurant, go for it. But if you're looking for a compelling story of the twists and turns of a young marriage, this isn't it. I would like to read the author's first book, though, the bestselling A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, which got great reviews.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Restaurant Dreams, Kitchen Nightmares 5 mai 2014
Par Antigone Walsh - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Opening a restaurant can break the bank and the hearts of the aspirants. When the author's husband, a decidedly scattered academic, decides to open a pizzeria, the author indulges him, thinking he is not really serious. But to her shock, he is. This is the story of how a young couple fought to build a business and save their marriage.

The book reads more like a series of blog posts than a smooth narration. Although a food professional, the author is not cut out for the restaurant business. Recognizing her strengths and weaknesses, leads her to a decision that is best for the business, her marriage and herself. Included are a number of recipes. The range is fairly broad and includes a boozy eggnog, a quite good bourbon sour, and a garlic martini. Some are pedestrian like the penne alla vodka and a brownie recipe attributed to Katherine Hepburn while some intrigue like the dates sautéed in olive oil and dusted with sea salt. But most are fairly pedestrian with the author's twists, i.e., rice pudding with cherries, meatloaf with fish sauce. I thought the author was a bit overwrought and at times insensitive but overall this is an appetizing account. Recommended.
19 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Didn't love it as much as Wizenberg's first book 27 mai 2014
Par Chicago Book Addict - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I was very excited to read Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage because I highly enjoyed reading the author's first book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Historically I haven't loved memoirs by bloggers because more often than not, they haven't seemed to translate well to the page. But I found A Homemade Life to not only be one of the best memoirs by bloggers I had read, but a genuinely wonderful book in its own right. I also love behind the scenes accounts of restaurants, so I was very curious to read Wizenberg's experience of opening a restaurant with her husband. Unfortunately after reading Delancey, I just didn't love it as much as I did her first book.

I found the writing early in the book felt a little dry and clinical to me, vs. the more lyrical, emotional and evocative writing in A Homemade Life. And since, as Wizenberg admits in the book, the restaurant is more of her husband's project, I found myself longing to read parts of the book from his point of view (it was all written by Wizenberg), especially since Wizenberg wasn't even present for some of the scenes she retells. Written entirely from her point of view, it just felt less compelling and engaging.

I think her retelling of the departure of an employee was a final straw for me. It felt a tad vengeful and left a bad taste in my mouth. I was also surprised by how little the book actually focused on the effect of the restaurant on her marriage, given its prominence in the book's subtitle. This was especially surprising to me since A Homemade Life seemed to focus on just on food, but on relationships. I also found the recipes in the book to be a bit of a let down. The only recipes from the restaurant that are featured are side dishes and desserts and there isn't a single pizza recipe in the entire book. Instead, a lot of the recipes seem to focus on the dishes that Wizenberg and her husband were cooking at home at the time the restaurant was opening. Wizenberg admits that the didn't have a lot of energy or interest in cooking at home at that time so the recipes often seemed overly simple and none caught my eye.

Overall, this book just wasn't for me. I wanted to love it more given my experience with Wizenberg's first book, but in the end I didn't. That said, if you haven't read A Homemade Life, I would still very much recommend it and hope that Wizenberg writes books more in the style of her first going forward.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3 stars for the memoir; 3.5 for the recipes 28 juillet 2014
Par I Know What You Should Read - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
My husband’s favorite food is pizza. When you’re married to someone who truly loves pizza, you eat a lot of pizza (a couple weekends ago, we had pizza for lunch one day . . . and then went out for pizza at a different spot for dinner that same evening). And, when you eat a lot of pizza, you have no choice but to become a bit of a pizza snob. You can immediately discern good crust from bad crust (and good char from bad char), you know the perfect ratio of sauce and cheese to crust (enough for taste but not so much that the crust gets soggy or the toppings are gloppy), and you know all of the places in town with the best pies (here in Atlanta, that’s Antico, for their Napoletana with broccoli rabe, salsiccia, and bufala mozzarella on a perfectly charred crust).

Luckily, there are a lot of people out there that take pizza seriously. They have studied wood-burning oven times and techniques, what cheeses taste best with various toppings, and the exact right amount of sugar to put in the tomato sauce. These days, there are lots of pizza hipsters, and they make some durn good pie.

Molly Wizenberg’s husband, Brandon, is one such pizza hipster. And it’s about his pizza obsession, his dream to open a pizza joint in Seattle, and the realization of that dream that Wizenberg writes in Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage. The book follows the couple from the hatching of the idea to open their own pizza place through its opening (and beyond), discussing everything from deciding on its name to finding its location to hiring (and, in some cases, firing) its staff to perfecting the pizza dough to crafting the menu.

There are emotional highs and lows. There are times they want to quit. There are lots of long days. And, most importantly, there is a lot of talk of delicious food (and not just pizza!). The book is part cookbook; it contains twenty recipes (a sizeable percentage of the 242-page book), from Sriracha-and-Butter Shrimp to Shortbread with Rosemary and Candied Ginger.

Memoir Rating: 3/5

Memoirs are usually a little too feely and poorly written for my taste. But this one is written by a well-known blogger (her blog, Orangette, has been called the best food blog in the world) and writer for Bon Appétit (a magazine I read and cook from religiously), so I had high hopes.

The beginning of the book starts out with a strong concept: there is a photograph, followed by a brief introduction and a short chapter that explains the background and circumstances surrounding the photo, followed by a recipe for a dish that was mentioned in the chapter. It all ties together nicely and reads like one of Wizenberg’s well-crafted blog entries or short magazine articles.

But, after the first chapter, that structure fizzles out quickly. It seems like Wizenberg lost steam or ran out of good tie-in ideas for the recipes. As the book goes along, the recipes (which follow some, but not all, chapters) become more peripheral to the text . . . and are, on occasion, totally random. This was a disappointment for me, because I really enjoyed the structure of the first chapter. It was well-organized and made sense. And, after starting the book with that structure and then abandoning it, the later chapters seemed a little lazy.

The writing has the typical tone of a laid-back memoir. It’s cute but a little scatter-brained (lots of awkward transitions and occasional pointless tangents) and similar in style to her blog. The best moments are her discussions of the struggles and stresses she and her husband endured as a result of working 18-hour days together when they first opened the restaurant. She is very honest in her depictions of herself and her reactions. In her recollections of situations, she allows herself to look unreasonable, unfair, and vulnerable, which is endearing and relatable.

Cookbook Rating: 3.5/5

Despite the fact that the book is about the opening of a restaurant, the recipes are, largely, not recipes from the restaurant ("A few of the recipes in this book are for dishes that we served at Delancey early on, when I cooked there. But in large part, what you’ll find here are the foods that we wished we were eating. You’ll also find dishes that friends made for us when we were too crazed to cook for ourselves. And you’ll find recipes that we turn to most often now, when we don’t have a lot of time to cook together but still want to make the most of the time we do have.")

As I mentioned above, I would have preferred more connection between the recipes and the restaurant. As for the quality of the recipes, the only way to assess that is to test them out. And, because this book is, in part, a cookbook, I decided I could not reasonably review the book as a whole without also making and reviewing at least a couple of its recipes.

First, I made the Tomato and Corn Salad with Shallot Viniagrette. The recipe calls for both regular tomatoes (“2 large beefsteak tomatoes or 6 smaller tomatoes”) and “1 or 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes.” Our garden is in the throes of tomato production, so this was a perfect recipe for the season. The recipe includes a very simple vinaigrette recipe to dress this incredibly easy plated salad (made from just the tomatoes, kernels cut from one fresh ear of corn, a little Maldon salt, and some fresh basil leaves). Here’s a picture of the finished product:

Let’s be honest: it’s hard to go wrong with garden-fresh basil and tomatoes with sweet and crunchy fresh corn kernels. You can’t really mess up fresh and delicious ingredients like those. So, no complaints there. But my husband thought the shallot vinaigrette was a little too shallot-y. The recipe instructs you to “stir together the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a small bowl” and set them aside for at least an hour to “soften the flavors of the shallot and garlic, so that they no longer taste raw; they should taste lightly pickled.” I set them aside for about four hours, but the shallot flavor was still quite pungent. Edible and pretty tasty, certainly, but a little too strong for his taste. It was good, but I probably wouldn’t make it again.

I also made the “My Kate’s Brownies,” which Wizenberg adapted from one of her mother’s old recipes (her mom found it “in an article about Katherine Hepburn in a 1975 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal”).photo-7 I was looking for a good brownie recipe to use in my latest homemade ice-cream creation (“Nutty Nutella Brownie”—hazelnut ice cream with a Nutella swirl and brownie bits). I wanted a small brownie batch (this makes one eight-inch square pan) with brownies dense enough to hold up well in ice cream. Wizenberg described these as “thin, but they stay chewy and fudgy, and I think they’re perfect,” and, based on the ingredients, they seemed to fit the bill. Plus, this was one of only a few recipes that they actually served in the restaurant, so I thought it would be a good one to make.

Like the tomato and corn salad, this recipe was incredibly easy (all told, it took only about 8 minutes of prep time before I popped them in the oven). There are no photographs of the food included in the recipes, so you don’t have that guidepost, but she includes helpful comments like, “The batter will look gritty” to help you along the way. She is obviously writing with inexperienced bakers in mind (“bang the dish straight down on the countertop a couple of times, to release any air bubbles”), which makes the recipes manageable for just about anyone.

And the result? Delicious! Exactly as described—very thin, chewy, and fudgy. Perfect for inclusion in my ice cream. I will definitely make these again.

The recipes are all easy and straightforward (and explained in a very conversational tone, complete with helpful little notes and pointers throughout), and none requires any bizarre ingredients or tools. They’re a nice mix of the totally mundane (Meatloaf) and the unique (Sautéed Dates with Olive Oil and Sea Salt). Any home cook could easily execute any recipe included in the book (but, if you’re a serious home cook, some of the recipes will probably strike you as a little too simple or, in some cases, maybe even pedestrian).
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