Donna Deane's Apricot Tart Brulee
Nigel Slater's Fennel and Olive Salad

Summer Savory


1. The gas company came, they inspected, they left. My gas line is free and clear and there's nothing to worry about. They couldn't explain the boom and popping cabinet, but said maybe a spider got stuck in the gas line and that's what obstructed it? Okay, sure, whatever. As long as I can keep cooking.

2. Henry Chang's Drunken Chicken, aside from being the most charming recipe name I ever did hear, is quite delicious. Unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence for you because precisely around dinnertime last night, I realized I had misplaced my camera battery charger and with my camera's battery completely out, I couldn't take photos. Fortunately, the chicken was so completely unattractive that it's just as well. (I found the charger ten minutes after dinner. Right in the spot where it should have been in the old apartment, but that I figured was no place for checking since this is a new apartment and you know, new apartment, new rules.) Unattractive, yes, but it was also delicious and furthermore, totally delicate and subtle. As you pop each piece of cold chicken in your mouth and chew, you realize that the wine-broth-ginger-scallion marinade, while certainly imbuing the chicken with some flavor, has more than anything concentrated the real chicken flavor, so that each bite you take becomes an explosion of the most chicken-y chicken flavor you've ever had in your mouth. Quite remarkable, really.

3. Is anyone else as fascinated with Chinese food as I am? I'm not talking American chop suey or even Moo Shu Chicken. I'm talking the real thing. When I read Nicole Mones's The Last Chinese Chef I had to restrain myself from chewing the pages. The descriptions, not just of the food, but of the legend and lore behind each dish were enough to make my mouth water in real time. It is a minor tragedy to me that Ben is one of those people in Nicole's article who knows only one kind of Chinese food, the stuff apparently called "meiguorende kouwei". He finds it oily, over-salted and over-sauced. He doesn't believe me when I tell him that Chinese food, the stuff that Chinese people eat, "zhongguorende kouwei", can be artful and light and bursting with flavor. Now that we live here, closer to Flushing's Chinatown, I'm on a mission. So tell me, readers, are there any places in particular I should take him to? Tell me your favorite dishes, too.


4. My books are back! After two weeks in boxes, I finally unpacked my books last night. Here are my cookbooks in all their glory. I thought a kitchen made a home, but it turns out that books do, too.

5. One of the secrets of my kitchen arsenal is a little jar filled with dried summer savory. In German, summer savory is called Bohnenkraut. Because the Germans know - this stuff on green beans? Delicious delicious delicious. But it's good on so much more, too, like this salad I made on Sunday night. I'll admit, I was stumped by the only vegetables in my fridge that night: beets and cabbage (from my CSA). But after I sliced them up fine, sprinkled them with savory and dressed them with a sharp vinegar dressing and some flaky salt, the salad was gobbled up in no time.

Beet and Cabbage Salad
Serves 4

2 beets, boiled and cooled
1 1/2 heads of Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage (or 1/2 head of regular green cabbage)
1 teaspoon dried summer savory
olive oil
white wine vinegar
flaky salt

1. Quarter the beets, then slice them. Quarter the cabbage, then slice it finely. Combine the two in a bowl with the summer savory. Pour in 2 parts of olive oil to 1 part vinegar, sprinkle in a judicious amount of salt. Toss and taste, adjusting the savory, salt and vinegar as you go.