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September 2012
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November 2012

Sam & Sam Clark's Pumpkin Fatayer

I have no explanation why it's taken me so long to write about these little pumpkin packets. After all, I've been making them for the better part of the past three years. They jumped out at me from the pages of the first Moro cookbook, written by a husband-and-wife team both named Sam, for the sole reason that I hadn't ever seen pumpkin, or squash, really, and feta together and the moment I read those two ingredients on the same page, it sort of clicked in my mind. What a perfect combination - sweet and fudgy, soft and sheepy.

The fatayer look like they'd be a pain in the neck to make, what with a dough and roasted squash purée and then the assembly, along with some toasting of nuts. But strangely enough, they come together very quickly. I've made these on weeknights, in fact. They're easy as...oh, forget it.

They're very filling - you won't need much more than a little salad alongside one of them for dinner. That's if you make four big ones from the recipe. If you want to make smaller fatayer, it's no problem - you just turn them into eight smaller ones. That's probably more sensible, though I've never done it.


Don't let the dough scare you off: it's silly easy. You just mix water, flour, yeast, salt and a little olive oil. Hardly any different than pizza dough, though the proportions are different. Don't be tempted, like I was, to substitute different flours for the regular, all-purpose kind. White flour gives the fatayer a bit of snap - the dough's rolled so thin that it crisps up beautifully in the oven and almost snaps when you bite into it. If you use whole wheat (or in this case, whole wheat spelt flour), the dough never quite gets to that crackly stage and it's a pity.

While the dough is rising, you roast the squash with garlic and salt and oil. Then you purée it and while you're at it, you might as well go ahead and toast the pine nuts now and crumble the feta and prep the oregano, too.

Then, the rest is no worse than an after-school crafting assignment. Divide the dough into fourths or eighths. Roll it out thin as can be. Fill it with dollops of squash purée, crumbled feta, a sprinkling of oregano and the toasted pine nuts. Fold each one up into a rough triangle and bake just until the dough is turning golden and crisp.


You have to let the fatayer cool just a bit after they're finished baking, which will be difficult. Your house will already smell of toasted garlic and roasting squash and now the smell of baking bread will join it. But if you don't wait, take it from me, you risk burning your mouth.

But then, when they're ready, oh, are you in for a treat. The salty goat cheese, the hot, sweet squash, the punch of the oregano and the nice waxy feel of the pine nuts all work together very, very nicely. These are inspired little things. They're perfect for those nights when you're curled up on the couch for dinner - they don't really crumble and if they've cooled enough, you can even munch them out of hand. Perfect for these lengthening autumn evenings or for those of you stuck indoors by a menacing storm.

Stay safe, New York. xo

Sam & Sam Clark's Pumpkin Fatayer
From Moro: The Cookbook
Makes 4 large or 8 small fatayer


220 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
100 milliliters warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil


800 grams kabocha, hokkaido or butternut squash, peeled (if necessary), seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 garlic clove, crushed to a paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
80 grams feta cheese, crumbled
a handful fresh oregano, chopped (I used a sprinkle of dried oregano)
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
Salt and pepper

1. For the dough, place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Sprinkle the yeast in the well, then pour in the water and mix slowly together, adding the salt and olive oil as you go. Knead the dough together on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Set aside and cover with a cloth.

2. Heat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Toss the pumpkin with the garlic, olive oil and salt to taste and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring often, for 25 minutes or until soft. Remove and let cool slightly before puréeing.

3. Divide the dough into four or eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then, using a rolling pin, roll out one ball very thinly. Eyeballing the pumpkin purée, put either a quarter or an eighth of it in the middle of the round. Top with some of the crumbled feta, oregano and pine nuts. Moisten the edge of the dough with a little water, then gently squeeze the adjoining edges together until you have a rough triangle shape. Pinch the edges together well.

4. Place the fatayer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is starting to turn golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies


Quick! Oh my goodness!! The baby's asleep! I have all of thirty-five minutes to not only write this post, but do the dishes and, you know, wash and dress myself. Hurry, woman! Stop telling them about how little time you have and just do this thing!

Okay, so. You know how you sometimes just wake up needing a cookie? And not just any old cookie, but a sort of trashy, overstuffed, super-delicious cookie that will give you a guilty conscience if you eat more than two at once? That's how I woke up last Friday. Hungry for cookies.

A quick glance through my kitchen cupboards that morning turned up a container of oats, an unopened bag of shredded coconut, some almonds kicking around in a glass jar and half a bar of chocolate. An even quicker Google search led me to this recipe. (And to the related thought of missing Gourmet. I know, that dead horse is beaten. But still. I miss it. Epicurious is no substitute.)


My darling son and his myriad needs made it so that even though I started making the dough right then and there, I didn't get to actually eat a cookie until it was almost dinnertime. (Oh, babies.) That's not to say that the recipe was in any way complicated. It's a super-simple base dough laden with chopped chocolate, toasted nuts, coconut and oats. It is the cookie version of Molly's French granola, in other words.

Yes. Yes yes yes.


The original recipe says to drop 1/4 cup-sized portions of dough onto the sheet, but that sounded obscene to me, so I made smaller cookies for the first sheet, which then promptly overbrowned in the oven. Chastened, I made larger ones for the second sheet. And then I figured out why the larger ones were better: These are no three-bite sablés, to be eaten after being dipped in some delicate-tasting tea. Oh no. These are COOKIES, brawny and brazen and unapologetic (although next time I'd reduce the sugar a little). Palm-sized is the way to go. Best paired with a large glass of milk to wash them down with. Also, to be eaten warm from the oven, when the outside is crisp and the inside is chewy and the chocolate is molten and the whole house smells like a cookie factory. Yes.


Once I'd filled my cookie craving, there was still dough left, so I baked more and filled a whole bag for my friends. Once that was done, there was still dough left. So I baked more cookies and filled another whole bag for my in-laws. And there was still dough left. (Can you tell I've been reading a lot of children's books lately?) So I formed the remaining dough into balls, put them on a plate which I stuck in the freezer, and then put the frozen dough balls in a freezer bag. You know, for a rainy day, when I need just one cookie and don't want to make a whole batch of cookie dough.

I've always meant to do this kind of thing, but never have. But now I am a mother, sensible, laden with bags and always thinking ahead, so I have no excuse. I feel very pleased with myself about this frozen cookie dough. And as soon as I can fill the rest of the freezer with nutritious soups for me and ice cube trays of puréed vegetables for Hugo, I shall purchase high-waisted jeans and a station wagon and never look back again. Yes? Yes.


Speaking of motherhood, I was thrilled to be interviewed for the wonderful Momfilter: check it out here (bonus wedding and Hugo pics!).

Oh, and the lovely Caroline from Whipped did a great Q & A right over here: click.

The baby's still asleep! It's an October miracle! Off to shower! xo!

Chocolate Oatmeal Coconut Cookies
From Gourmet
Makes an enormous amount of cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar (I'd use 3/4 cup)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar (I'd use 3-4 tablespoons)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packaged finely shredded unsweetened coconut
12 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup almonds with skins (4 oz), toasted, cooled, and chopped

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Beat together butter and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until just blended, then beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add flour and mix at low speed until just blended. Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate, and almonds.

3. Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on a baking sheets. Bake until golden, rotating halfway through, 15 minutes total.

4. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

A Friday Report


Hellooooo! Is anyone out there?!? It's me! I'm back! Helloooo!

And, dearest, darlingest, bestest readers in the universe, I have the most amazing news ever. Ever. EVER EVER EVER.

My Berlin Kitchen is a bestseller!!! On the LA Times nonfiction hardcover list for the week of October 14, it popped on at number 8. Number 8! Number 8! Can you believe it? I cannot. You could have knocked me over with a feather, in fact you still could. Ohhh, and let me tell you, I have only all of you to thank for that, for going out and buying the book, for telling your friends, for showing up. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We got back to Germany two weeks ago and went straight down to my mother's in Italy to recuperate. At first I was all, pshaw, who needs to recuperate? I need more book signings, more cities, that's what I need! And then Hugo was all, woman you must be out of our mind, I have had enough, take me to Nonna's. So we went and lo, it turned out I did need to unwind, just a little. The first several nights, I did nothing else than replay everything that had happened on the tour over and over in my head, like the very best movie I'd ever seen. Other than that, we did nothing. Besides take one hike, sit in front of the fireplace every night and eat homemade gnocchi at Gabriella's for lunch one day. (Now you know who Gabriella is! Ha! I love it.)


For those of you who wanted to hear the Leonard Lopate interview I did in New York: here you go.

Here's an interview I did with the lovely Amy Scattergood of LA Weekly, before the first event in LA.

While in Portland, I was on the local morning television network KATU: have a look.

The questions in this interview with Popmatters were really great.

Oh, and remember when, this summer in Italy, I said I had a recipe for pickled eggplant for you? Here it is.


I took these photos the day after we arrived on the West Coast, exactly one month ago. We rented a car and drove to the Santa Monica beach, where we walked down the pier and gazed out over the Pacific Ocean. Just a day earlier, we'd been in gray Germany. Now there was a wide expanse of blue ahead of us, a huge beach behind us and a pelican sitting in repose beside us. We stood there quietly, snapping pictures, both of us a little nervous about the trip that loomed ahead still. Hugo slept in his stroller and I thought about how funny it was that he had traveled so far already and yet didn't have a clue about where he was, how far from home he was. All that mattered to him was that Max and I were right there next to him. We were his home. We are his home. I like that, so much.

My Berlin Kitchen: The Book Tour Ends

The last days of the tour went by in warp speed. Sunday, DC. Monday, New York. Tuesday, Boston. Wednesday, back to Germany. Bam! Just like that. I'm still reeling a little.

When we got off the airplane at dusk in DC, the air smelled familiar again. California smelled different, somehow. Drier, more exotic. As we rode the comparatively empty streets to our hotel, I felt in a weird way like I was making my way back home. Which, in a way, I guess I was.

The DC event was big, bigger than any had been on the West Coast, and to boot, the store sold out of my book that evening. I hadn't expected either of those things. We celebrated with delicious steak and beers at Bistrot du Coin. The night before we'd seared our mouths with a late-night meal at Shophouse. Can't wait until that thing goes national. Your taste buds should be warned.

The next day we pushed on to New York. (Acela Express, you should know you impressed two diehard Deutsche Bahn fans with your free wifi, punctuality, and hot water in the bathroom sinks - ahem, three guesses as to who added that one.) For the first time, I started getting a little jittery. I think I was scared of being there for mere hours. I was afraid of how it'd make me feel. Luckily I was almost too busy to notice.

First order of the day? The Leonard Lopate interview. (!!)
Second order of the day? A pedicure (my first since before Hugo's birth!)
Third order of the day, this one cooked up by my genius girlfriends? Afternoon hotel room party with dumplings from Vanessa's, stellar tortilla chips and guacamole from Brooklyn and treats from City Bakery and Billy's while Hugo got to meet his New York family. It was splendid.

The reading and signing at the gorgeous Powerhouse Arena was lovely, relaxed and filled with friends. The only wrinkle was that it was the beginning of the end of Hugo's incredible easiness on this trip. Poor baby was starting to hit a wall. One too many airplane rides or early morning wake ups? Who knows. He still deserves an award for what a champ he was.

Now I won't deny it; I cried saying goodbye to my friends and I couldn't really bear to look out the window as we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan that night. The visit was too short, too brief. The way a tourist might see the city, or a visiting author. Not like me, a real New Yorker, right? Right? Oh people, my heart did hurt. But then we were off again, to Boston and my stepmother, who was impatiently awaiting Hugo.

I could write a whole post on the final event of the tour, of coming back to Boston, of reading at one of the bookstores my father used to take me to when I was a kid, of seeing old friends from those days in the audience, along with faces from every step along the way to where I am today, their faces shining up at me like so many brilliant little secrets. Maybe I will, we'll see. But in the meantime, if I tell you that on that night, looking out into the audience, I couldn't help but choke up, you'll know how I felt. Blessed, lucky, proud; a little bittersweet and melancholy, too. My heart just filled to bursting.


Now we're back in Germany again, both of us reliving little moments of the past two weeks over and over. It was the trip, no, the experience of a lifetime. Those of you who came out, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. It meant the world to me to see you there, to chat, to answer your questions, to see your faces matched up to your names. And you know, for all that belly-aching I did about writing the book, I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant another tour.


My Berlin Kitchen: The Book Tour Ends

My Berlin Kitchen: The Book Tour Ends

My Berlin Kitchen: The Book Tour Ends

My Berlin Kitchen: The Book Tour Ends

My Berlin Kitchen: The Book Tour Ends

My Berlin Kitchen: Bay Area Book Tour Update

Neither of us wanted to leave Portland. What a beautiful place! The morning of our departure, I was on the local morning television show (a link to this as soon as I'm no longer posting from my cellphone) talking about the book before we sped off to the airport to catch a flight to San Francisco.

But that flight was delayed by cloud cover, which made the rest of the day a game of catch-up as we hustled from appointment to appointment. I arrived at the reading at Book Passage in the Ferry Building a few minutes late and totally frazzled, only to see, in the group awaiting the reading, so many familiar faces from all the different parts of my life that I almost burst into tears. (You will be glad to know that I kept it together. Wouldn't that have been awkward otherwise? Ha!)

The next day, I drove out to beautiful Danville, San Francisco a faraway glittering jewel, to a lunch and get-together at the totally inspiring Rakestraw Books. I'm telling you, this book tour is making me want to open a bookstore or something. After a ride back to the city and a quick cone at Bi-Rite (malted vanilla, ho!), we drove down to Santa Cruz where I found myself contemplating getting a job at Bookshop Santa Cruz if only so I could be friends with the charming booksellers there. (Do you think it could work?) They had prepared meatballs, Pflaumenkuchen and Christmas cookies from the book for the crowd, who were amazing, full of great questions and tips on Quark-making machines (I know! More on this when I'm back at a computer).

When we had to leave the West Coast the next day, I was beset with melancholy. I'd loved every minute of the tour thus far. Los Angeles already felt so long ago. I didn't want the tour to end (still don't) and flying east meant one thing: only a few days were left.

***A note to my New York readers! The event tonight starts at 7:00 pm at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn Heights. I can't wait to see you there. Oh, and wine and cheese will be served!***

My Berlin Kitchen: Bay Area Book Tour Update

My Berlin Kitchen: Bay Area Book Tour Update

My Berlin Kitchen: Bay Area Book Tour Update

My Berlin Kitchen: Bay Area Book Tour Update

My Berlin Kitchen: Bay Area Book Tour Update