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Cooking for the Whole30

Whole30 turkish eggplant beef stew

It's been a week since I started the Whole30. Seven whole days! And so far, what irritates me the most is figuring out breakfast. I'm usually a toast and cereal breakfaster, sometimes dabbling in oatmeal or pancakes. But now, all I eat are eggs. Eggs, eggs and more eggs. It's okay - I buy these totally luscious eggs from a little lady at the market and they have incredible orange yolks and taste sweet and fresh, like they were laid this morning. But still. 23 days from now, I know I am going to be deeply thrilled to eat anything other than an egg for breakfast again.

Other things I have discovered:

1. Whole30 is getting me to eat way more fruit. I hadn't realized how little fruit I'd been eating lately until now.

2. I'm eating far more "mindfully". There are no more random snacks or treats just because I'm feeling bored or tired. I have to think a little more about the preparation of my meals and when I sit down to eat, that's all there is. No dessert or pre-dinner snacking. It's sort of liberating.

3. I don't really miss the things I thought I'd miss (bread, pasta, bread and bread). In fact, it's way easier to do the Whole30 than I thought it would be. My cooking isn't really any different than before, it's just that I don't rely on my usual starches in addition to everything else to fill me up.

What I really do miss: my milky morning (and sometimes afternoon) Earl Grey. Oof, I miss it so much.

As for how I feel? I have a weird low-grade headache and feel sort of blurry in the afternoons, if you know what I mean. I've heard this passes eventually. Otherwise, I feel the same as always.

Now, here are a few things I made over the past week that were delicious and very easy and that you should eat whether or not you're on some ridiculous "nutritional reset". (Just add rice!)

Continue reading "Cooking for the Whole30" »

Friday Link Love

Three days ago, I started the Whole30 nutritional reset (which - to my eyes, at least - just seems to be the fancy term for a diet, except in this case there's no calorie-counting or finding weird substitutes for things). For 30 days, there's no dairy, sugar, legumes and grains of any kind, alcohol, processed foods or, wait for it, white potatoes allowed on my plate. I can eat fish and meat, all the vegetables I want, plus fruit, nuts and seeds.

Now, I am generally not the audience for things like this, or for diets of any kind. But I've been struggling with terrible insomnia, some pesky joint pain and a few unwanted pounds for months now and when I read about the Whole30, I was instantly intrigued. People claim that it helped them sleep better, gave them more energy and cleared up joint pain. And, I don't know, I suddenly wanted in on the challenge. I could have never done this in the winter or while nursing or at any point before in my life - willpower is not my middle name - but right now I'm feeling pretty pumped about the whole thing. I'll write more about it next week.


Spring in a bowl.

Eating organic on food stamps.

Fennel seeds on egg salad sounds so good.

The story behind Sriracha hot sauce (it's a family company!).

I want to master this most basic Japanese recipe.

Brilliant ideas for food to pack when traveling.

And finally, this müsli/granola hybrid is right up my alley (via House to Haus).

Have a lovely weekend, folks!

Strolling the Barnes Farmer's Market

Eggs at Barnes

Saturday morning, while everyone else in the house was still asleep, Betsy, her daughter Isla and I got dressed and headed out to the market. Betsy and her husband Ian moved to Barnes last year. It looks like the quintessential, peaceful English village with a pond and fuzzy ducklings and everything, but it's a district of London, so it takes no time at all to be in the middle of things if you want to be. Later, when the others had woken up, we left the kids at home with their dad and headed out to go shoe and window shopping on the King's Road. But first, Betsy wanted to show me Barnes. It was a beautiful day, sunny and windswept and clear. The kind of day that made you think there could be no city more beautiful than London.

Baby greens at Barnes farmer's market

Now, if there's something I like more than visiting grocery stores in foreign countries, it's going to farmer's markets in foreign countries. The Barnes farmer's market is pretty small as markets go, but it's a total gem. These baby greens reminded me of that stand selling microgreens at the Union Square green market in New York, just by the entrance to the subway.

Beef at the Barnes farmer's market

This butcher's stand was incredible. Check out the size of that piece of beef waiting to be cut into rib-eye steaks! It always seems to me that the English are big on meat-eating, and it's no wonder with such lovely institutions as the Sunday roast lunch and good-looking beef peppering their markets.

First rhubarb at Barnes market

But don't worry, there was plenty of produce too. Fat, pink stalks of rhubarb and a sign promising fresh asparagus in a week, plus local apples and juice.

Pork pies at Barnes market

Meat pies always sound like they'll be so delicious, straight out of the pages of an Enid Blyton book or the Chronicles of Narnia or something. Betsy advised us to stay away ("suet!", she whispered ominously), but I'll keep daydreaming about eating them piping hot while sitting at the top of a magical English tree.

Preparing eggs at Barnes market

Luckily, right next to the butcher's stand, three apron-clad folks were cooking breakfast sandwiches on a hot griddle. There were two kinds of bacon, spitting sausages and thick slices of blood pudding, all made from local pigs. Everything smelled so good. You could ask for your eggs to have a hard yolk or soft (my choice) and choose from a white or wholemeal roll. Plus, there were fried onions to fill out the rest of the sandwich and a long assortment of different condiments: English mustard, chili jam, a finely chopped pickle and more.

Egg sandwich at Barnes farmer's market

We finished the rest of our market stroll munching on the warm, delicious sandwiches and then, on the way home, passed by the pond again so that Isla could jump in some muddy puddles with her little pink wellies and we could throw crumbs to the ducks. When we got home, the rest of the house was up and ready to go.

Friday Link Love


Pardon the delay, dear readers, of my Friday link love, but I couldn't bring myself to post a thing yesterday, not with my heart in my throat at the thought of what was happening in Watertown, just a few minutes down the highway from my father's house. It was all way too close to home yesterday. Way too close to home.

This morning, I'm so proud of the city of Boston, not just the incredible police work that was done, but the courage of regular Bostonians to get through what must have been an absolutely terrifying day. I so fervently hope that Monday's injured make a swift and triumphant recovery now. Oh man, people's bravery just flays my heart open. I can't stop thinking about this guy in particular. (To help the man he saved, who does not have health insurance, donate here: Bucks for Bauman. To donate to the Boston Police Foundation, click here. The Richard family needs help here. The injured MBTA officer's friends are raising money here. If you know of other victims who need help, please post them in the comments.)

I flew to London yesterday for a weekend with my three best friends. We'll be celebrating Teri's 40th birthday here and going to what is apparently "the best farmer's market in London!" and eating Indian takeaway if I have anything to say about anything and cuddling Betsy's newborn son and swanning around the Tate and swapping facial care tips (motherhood and age, man) and getting career advice and going shopping together and making life plans and, you know, all the good stuff we wait all year for. Most of all, blessing our lucky stars, too.


Reinventing the sandwich (with pickles and herbs!).

A really long, really good interview with Michael Pollan.

Deb finally cracks the Bienenstich code.

The New Yorker gave the audio edition of this book a great review.

Fuchsia Dunlop makes even simple meals sound irresistible.

And finally, a little interview I did on our Berlin neighborhood.

Have a good weekend, folks - be safe and hug your loved ones, over and over again.

Melissa Clark's Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes

Chicken curry with sweet potatoes

Sometimes a recipe so good comes along that it threatens to blow everything else you've ever eaten clean out of the water. Melissa Clark's chicken curry is that recipe.

I don't even know what else to say! That's how good it is.

Okay, here's something: It is a measure of my wifely devotion that after I made it last week, I actually put some aside for my husband to have when he came home on Friday night. Forget being the sole caretaker of our child five days a week, 24 hours a day. Giving up a portion of this delicious-beyond-words curry was the real sacrifice.

Chopped ginger, scallions, chile and garlic

Now, Melissa paired the recipe with a very convincing argument that, when in the mood for chicken, one should always buy a whole animal and break it down ourselves. And that's usually what I do. But the day I wanted to make this, I passed by a butcher at the market who happened to be selling whole chicken legs, and since I like dark meat best anyway, I decided to buy three of those and have the butcher cut them into two pieces each, drumstick and thigh.

What's important here is that you use bone-in chicken, between six and eight pieces of it. It's also important that you use a real Thai curry paste. I bought Mae Ploy and am currently taking suggestions on how to use the rest of it up, please and thank you very much.

Chicken curry

For the curry, you make a wonderfully aromatic base, after browning the chicken pieces on both sides, with scallions and ginger and garlic and chiles (I used just one jalapeño and the curry nearly blew Max's head off, so proceed with caution if you want more) and curry paste. Then you chop in a couple sweet potatoes and put the browned chicken on top. In goes a little water and then, once the pot is boiling, you put the whole thing in the oven. Yay! I love recipes like that. Then I get to clean everything up and I don't have to worry about stirring or things boiling over or anything else.

Once the chicken is done, there are really only a few things left to do.

A. You must reduce the sauce until it's creamy and, er, sauce-like. (Removing the chicken and potatoes beforehand so they don't overcook and fall apart.)

B. You must be sure to toast coconut and mustard seeds and not let them burn. Please, whatever you do, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. (Forgive the yelling, people! It's just that this topping totally completes me and the dish!)

C. You must be sure to have a few wedges of lime around. You must! In a pinch, you may use lemon, I guess. But skip either and YOU MIGHT AS WELL SKIP THE ENTIRE RECIPE! (I'm sorry, I really am. But I'm kind of worked up about this right now?)

D. And you must have some cilantro on hand. (Even if you hate it, like me! You need it here. Promise me?)

Toasted coconut and mustard seed

Ooh, now's the best part. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Then sprinkle the toasted coconut and mustard seed mixture over the serving dish (or, if you have guests, you could have them do this to their own portions). Squeeze lime on top, add the cilantro, and then help yourself and start eating. Just try and see if you can stop at only one serving.

Then, once you've done that, please tell me what words you would use to describe the dish because, honestly, nothing I can come up with seems close to doing it justice right now.

Okay, one last try:

Total perfection!

Best thing I've eaten all year!


Melissa Clark's Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
Black pepper, as needed
2 tablespoons peanut, safflower or vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated (1 1/2 tablespoons)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 (15.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 cup coconut flakes
1 tablespoon black or brown mustard seeds
Fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Brown chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, until golden all over, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate.

3. Stir scallion, ginger, garlic and chiles into pot and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in curry paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk and sweet potatoes. Arrange chicken pieces on top of potatoes, placing breast meat on top. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of chicken (about 1/2 cup). Bring to a boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast coconut flakes until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mustard seeds and toast until they begin to pop, 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl and season with a pinch of salt.

5. Transfer chicken and sweet potatoes to a platter. Return Dutch oven to the stove and simmer over medium-high heat until cooking liquid has thickened to a saucelike consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour over chicken and potatoes. Sprinkle with the coconut and mustard seed mixture and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

A Real German Breakfast

German breakfast spread

It occurred to me yesterday, while I was putting together a groaning board for our Sunday breakfast with our friends and their two boys, that you might like to see what a real German breakfast is like. After all, German breakfasts are the stuff of legend, at least based on my anecdotal reading of all the times people have mentioned to me their wonder upon experiencing their first German breakfast, whether as exchange students in college or as business travellers or tourists as adults.

The French and Italians are dainty eaters at breakfast. A cornetto dipped in coffee or a split piece of baguette with a café crème are about the norm. After all, the most important meals in those countries are at lunchtime and dinner. But the Germans like to pull out the stops at breakfast (especially weekend breakfasts). Lots of different cheeses, meats, multiple jams and honey, boiled eggs, fruit and vegetables, smoked fish and of course, every kind of roll or hearty, seeded bread your heart could desire.

German breakfast cheeses

In preparation for our Sunday breakfast, we went to the market on Saturday afternoon (this one, for a change) and made the rounds of the different stands. We bought a thick block of English cheddar and a piece of ash-covered French goat cheese from the cheesemonger. (On Sunday morning, I added a piece of Comté, a small round of Camembert, and some herbed fresh cheese to the table. The key to a good German breakfast is a feeling of surplus and bounty!)

German breakfast meats

Then we bought a piece of liverwurst (a must for any breakfast with German children and a special treat for those of us who were once German children (or, you know, Italian-American children growing up in Germany)) and Schlackwurst, a kind of German salami.

German breakfast jams

For the sweeter-toothed among us, there should be at least a couple of jams on a German breakfast table. (Homemade, of course!) I put out raspberry-mint, quince jelly, and strawberry-rhubarb, with spoons for each jam. That way, people could serve themselves jam with the dedicated spoon and skip putting their dirty knives into the jam jars.

German breakfast rolls

On Sunday morning Max and Hugo went out to fetch fresh rolls and bread. The rolls were still warm when they got home! Max also picked up two Laugenstangen, which are soft pretzel rolls, my favorite multi-seed Vollkornbrot, poppyseed-spangled Hörnchen, and some sweet rolls.

Then, while Max kept the baby occupied, it was time to set the table. I love this part of having people over - choosing the right tablecloth, folding the napkins just so, then arranging the food so the spread is well-balanced and bountiful. I picked a striped, colorful tablecloth that I bought years ago at a Bellora sample sale in New York and laid my mismatched French plates that I bought one by one when I lived in Paris and spent weekends trawling the flea markets. To fill in the holes on the table, I put out a jar of yellow honey, a dish of soft, sweet butter, bright stems of candy-like tomatoes, a bowl of cut-up melon, egg cups, some Greek olives, mugs for tea and a pitcher of cold water. A little vase of muscari made everything look more spring-like. All that was left, then, was to put the eggs on to boil and to make tea.

German breakfast table

And that's really the most wonderful thing about German breakfasts. There's hardly anything to actually cook. I don't usually think of that as a plus, but on Sundays, when I want to maximize every minute I have with my family, it's actually pretty key.

What do you think, would you ever serve a real German breakfast to your friends?

Friday Link Love


It was a big week here in our household. A gleaming red Kitchenaid mixer moved in and we are all very taken with it (her?). Even the baby gives it long, dreamy stares every time he passes it. I have a lot up my sleeve with this machine that I can't wait to tell you about soon. In the meantime, all my gratitude goes to KitchenAid Germany, the generous sponsors of our red beauty.

We've got no less than two brunches and a date at the Philharmonic planned this weekend. I'm still trying to figure out what to serve on Sunday morning that's breakfast-y, easy to prepare, delicious and kid-friendly. Any suggestions?


A Californian version of Bircher Müsli.

Ever wish you could scratch-n-sniff a food magazine?

Cocoa-Roasted Almonds, whoa.

My favorite bagel is the thinking man's bagel.

Oh, to live in LA where fresh flowers line the stoops and adorn pretty bowls of soup.

Peek inside my fridge (and check out my insane artistic talent, huh? HUH?).

How to use up that can of chipotles in adobo sitting in your fridge.

Have a great weekend, everyone!