Sunset Salmon, Kitchen Confidential, and Other Things I Learned from Bourdain

I know, I know. The fact that I'm just now getting around to reading Kitchen Confidential is something that I should be suitably ashamed of, right? Certainly not something I should be admitting, let alone boasting about in a blog post. But here we are. I'm admitting it. I'm owning up to having missed out on a great literary, culinary work. I'm saying I was wrong for not having read this before, and I'm compelling you to do the same if you haven't already because this is not a book to miss. 

As I really hope you already know, Anthony Bourdain was the guy. The guy who exposed the world of restaurants and cooking in gritty behind-the-scenes details to the rest of us schmucks who usually only see the polished final product. The guy who brought the world the world on a plate. The guy who, although he knew he wasn't perfect, called out people in a position of power for not striving to be better. If you've seen his show, read any one of his books, or even just glanced at an interview he gave, like the one I'm about to reference, you know the deal. 

Kitchen Confidential and Sunset Salmon

In the last interview he gave, Bourdain talked about how lucky he was to have the gig he had. "To sit alone or with a few friends, half-drunk under a full moon, you just understand how lucky you are; it’s a story you can’t tell. It’s a story you almost by definition, can’t share. I’ve learned in real time to look at those things and realize: I just had a really good moment."

I had that quote in the back of my mind as I finished Kitchen Confidential and went to make this beautiful sunset-like salmon for dinner. Simple ingredients. Basically no recipe. Just the promise of a quiet dinner at the end of a hectic weekend, and a really good few moments. 

Do yourself a favor: read the book. Even if you've already read it once. Pick it up again, savor it for what it is, and enjoy it with a great dinner with people you love. 

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, Six Four, and Other Important Life Updates

As I think we all know, I have some obsessive tendencies when it comes to cooking. When I get into cooking or eating something, I get REALLY into it, and I have been known, occasionally, every so often, to go a tiny bit overboard. Most recently, I double whammied and obsessed over chocolate chip cookies and true crime.

My (most recent) deep dive into true crime got started with a crash course on the podcast My Favorite Murder. If you're not familiar and even the tiniest bit into true crime, run, don't walk. I know I'm a little late to the game here, but trust me, this is definitely a case of the better late than never. But alas, this blog isn't about podcasts, it's about books, and so, with MFM playing in my ears, I turned to my bookshelves for a true crime novel I had yet to read. 

I found it in Six Four, which won the Best Japanese Crime Fiction of the Year in 2003. While I thought it leaned a little more towards a political drama than crime fiction, it satisfied my craving for a gritty police novel with mystery, intrigue, and, yes, crime. I'm betting it'll someday become an HBO mini-series starring lots of cigarettes. You heard it here first. 

Six Four and Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simultaneously, I was also on the quest for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. And, with the help of my co-workers, who patiently taste-tested and gave feedback during my last week at work, I found it. This is a recipe worth memorizing, if I do say so myself. 

If you read that last paragraph carefully, you'll notice that I managed to sneak in a life update: I am officially two weeks into a brand new position about which I'm really excited. As of late July, I'm the Director of Admissions and Community Outreach at the GCE Lab School in Lincoln Park, Chicago. It's been a wild transition, which I'll use as a great excuse for not having posted in a while, and I'm just really, really pumped to be a part of this great new community of learners. If you're in Chicago, or know someone who is, get in touch and let me talk your ear off about this amazing school. 

I think that's it for now. More obsessions and updates to come. PEACE, LOVE, COOKIES.

Happy Cake Day: I Was Told There'd Be Cake and Blueberry Citrus Cake

If it wasn't already clear to you, I have a cake problem. I LOVE baking cakes (sometimes, when the time is right, and when the mood strikes me), but I am not the hugest cake fan. I will stare at a cake all day. I will watch videos of a cake being iced until my eyes roll back in my head and pop out of my skull. But give me an entire cake, and I'll make it through a bite or two before asking for a bag of chips.

I consider this lack of passionate love for cake to be one of my greatest character weaknesses, and I understand if this makes you as a reader suspicious of my validity as a baker. (Well, kind of.) BUT, to you skeptics, I offer this short, cake-related rebuttal: Today's blueberry citrus cake has not only grown on me in the last 48 hours, but made a huge splash at the office potluck that I had to bring it back in after I took it home because people FREAKED OUT. You know who you are. 

Just look at that beauty. It's no wonder people called it crack cake and made me sign a blood oath to bake it at their wedding. So cake lover or not, get your butt over to that recipe and whip up the cake critics are describing as "the best cake I've ever had" and "no, seriously, did you put cocaine in it?" Answer: no. I'm not that fun.

Speaking of fun though, if you read one book this week, please have it be I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. I think you'll snort with laughter and really enjoy it, but even if you don't, she might catch wind of the buzz and want to be my friend, which would really mean a lot to me. Thanks in advance.

I Was Told There'd Be Cake and Blueberry Citrus Cake

Walking a line: turkey burgers and Betwixt-and-Between

Here is the thing about being a vegetarian: people assume that you either hate all meat-eaters forever until the end of the world or that you hate fun or both. For me, it's both. 

KIDDING. Geez. As I think I've preached before on this blog, I'm a vegetarian because I simply prefer not eating meat, and that is that. I'm not overly picky about chicken broth in risotto or gelatin in pudding or anything. I always try at least a bite of the meat that I cook because I have a deep paranoia that one day I will accidentally give someone food poisoning and then be blamed for that person's demise as I, the vegetarian, stand over them, totally healthy and laughing.

There are a few foods that I make a definite exception for and indulge in more than just one bite: shrimp is one. Salmon also makes the list. These turkey burgers, with the delicious addition of feta cheese (hello) and spinach, are another. Thanks, Mom! (No, seriously, it's her recipe, and she ROCKS it.) They walk the line perfectly between a healthy choice for your body and the planet AND between tasting as indulgent as a half-pound burger stuffed with extra cheddar cheese. I did them on the stove, but they get EVEN HEALTHIER if you toss them on the grill. Just be sure to use a sheet of tin foil to prevent them from falling through the cracks.

Also walking a line, in my opinion, between a story collection and a book of philosophical essays, is this week’s book from Coffee House Press, Betwixt-and-Between. While it does win the title of the most beautiful book cover I’ve seen this year, I just couldn’t connect with the text and author Jenny Boully’s message. Check out the review, give it a read, and prove me wrong.

Coffee House Press provided a copy of Betwixt-and-Between for the purposes of this independent review.

Just so much butter: summer berry galette and Butter: A Rich History

Today's post is all about my favorite ingredient: butter. 

I love butter. Not margarine. Not Oleo. Butter. Why do you think we went to Ireland? The butter. Why do you think I go to the store so often? Butter. Why do you think I force myself to run as often as I do? You guessed it: butter (also, bread, but that's for another post). I feel almost as passionate about butter as I do about salt, and for those of you who know me, you know what a statement that is for me to make. 

For Christmas, Colin bought my mom a book called Butter: A Rich History, and I immediately began plotting to steal it from her at the first chance I got. And then, last time I was home, I did, even though she wasn't finished reading it. Mom, if you're reading this, don't worry, I'll deliver it the next time I see you and then we can talk about butter. ANYWAY, this gem of a book was every bit as buttery, wonderful, and smart as I thought it would be. Case closed.

Butter: A Rich History and Summer Berry Galette

Like any good book about butter, cooking, or an ingredient, this one has a hefty recipe section at the back, filled with recipes that highlight and illustrate the magical properties of butter. I knew that if I didn't blog this book with a recipe involving at least a stick of butter, there would be questions about my integrity as a blogger, so here we are: more galette. This time, with a vodka-y riff on Alison Roman's pie crust recipe and summer berries, it's a summery sister to our savory friend from this winter. And it's good. Real good. So run off, grab some berries, and rejoice in butter. Which is how I'm going to sign off every post from now on.

WE BACK with Sweet Jerk Pork Chops and Missing Persons

HELLO. If you follow this blog enough to notice that I didn't blog last week, I mean, wow. Thanks. I'm truly honored that you noticed my laziness. You have my congratulations and respect. To reward you, I will now return to my regularly scheduled content. Bam.

Between weddings, holidays, and time off, I've had plenty of time to cook up a storm. However, between days of 97 and 101 degrees with one hundred percent humidity, I wanted to do anything BUT cook up a storm. For those of you who are with me and have a grill, welcome. I have a great recipe that you can do on your grill without heating your house up a single degree. For those of you who are with me and don't have a grill, bear with me, heat up your house a tiny bit, and enjoy these delicious sweet jerk pork chops anyway. You gotta do the best you can with what you have, and in this case, what you have are some sweet spices and barbecue sauces from Savory Spice Shop (thanks, guys!). 

While you're sitting in the room furthest from the kitchen avoiding the heat pouring from your oven (I feel you), might I recommend checking out Stephanie Carpenter's Missing Persons? It's a beautiful little collection that just miiiiight make you forget how big your hair has gotten from the humidity. But no promises. It's silly to promise anything when the humidity is this high.

Sweet Jerk Pork Chops and Missing Persons

Baked Falafel, Martin John, and What I'm Craving

WELL, WE HAVE MADE IT ANOTHER WEEK. Although it's been a doozy. On the bright side, the weather has been lovely. I've been spending a lot of time in the sun (hello, softball league), and as a direct result of this (cannot confirm, just speculation (please don't ask me if I'm pregnant; I am not)), I've been craving some weird things. Example: elote. Indian food. Very thick, slightly gooey chocolate chip cookies. Fruity IPAs. Margaritas. The list goes on. 

Usually, I try not to indulge in these cravings, which ranges in consequence from me staring into the fridge and sighing deeply for a few minutes to getting irrationally angry when the corn salad I make doesn't taste the way I want it to. IT'S FINE. But when the news looks the way it did this week, exceptions can be made.

This week, that resulted in my making falafel. As a compromise with the tiny part of my brain that retained its rationality, I did not deep fry said falafel as I have so many times before. Was it the same? Nope. Was it easier, healthier, and faster? Yep. So was it worth it? I think so. Craving = satisfied. 

Baked Falafel Salad and Martin John

Buckwheat Breadsticks, Florida, and Restraint

 

I'm not known for my restraint. Given the choice, I will always add more sprinkles, toss that extra bit of salt in, and buy that book that I quite possibly didn't really need. Luckily, there are some recipes where restraint isn't important. There are some recipes where it's more important to just go for it and dump those extra few sesame seeds (black or white) into that dough and trust that it'll end up delicious. The buckwheat breadsticks we're serving up this week is one of those recipes, and it was a huge hit at Friday's demo-catering event. (More about that in this month's newsletter, to which you can subscribe here.) (<--- self promotion) 

Florida and Buckwheat Breadsticks

 

There was little restraint shown for those breadsticks, but Lauren Groff, on the other hand, was practiced and cool when she wrote Florida, a collection of stories. And if you want to hear more about that, go read the review. I'm restraining myself from giving it all away.   
 

Cake Pops, Ready Player One, and Good Things from Good Things

Today's theme is how good things that come from other good things. Does that make sense? In other words, when you start with something good (like this cake) and then you make something out of it, it is also good (cake pops).

I am one of those people who staunchly believes that you should read the book before you see the movie. With the exception of The Princess Diaries and Game of Thrones (unpopular but certain opinion), I've never seen a movie adaptation of the book that was so much better than the book that it blew me away. And this post isn't going to change that, so if you're looking for an opportunity to tell me you told me so, head somewhere else. 

Ready Player One and Cake Pops

Colin and I saw Ready Player One the weekend we got back from Ireland at the tremendously charming Brew & View in the Vic Theater. I had not read the book, despite his numerous suggestions that I read the book, and I wasn't expecting much from the movie, but I ended up getting super into it. Then I read the book, and I was like "wow, no wonder that movie was so good! It came from such a good book! This will make a great blog post, and also the colors of the cake pops match perfectly with the cover! Fate!"

The end.

Sourdough, Show Your Work!, and Serious Things

Sourdough from Scratch

The fabled sourdough starter recipe has at last been posted, and it's a doozy. It's the longest recipe I've ever posted on Page & Plate, while also arguably the simplest, as it clocks in at two ingredients (three, if you count the five grapes). It's something I'm really proud of and will overhype if I'm not careful, so go check it out here if you can't possibly bring yourself to sit through three more paragraphs of this post. 

Originally, I had plans to post this recipe alongside the book Heat by Bill Buford. The photo shoot was done, the book was scheduled to be my night read for the week, and the recipe was ready. But then I started reading. As you may or may know, the book details Buford's experiences in befriending and then working for Mario Batali, who you definitely know as being recently accused of sexual assault by many women as a part of the #metoo movement. 

I think I got about 60 pages in before I realized that this book was going to be one of the few I couldn't finish. You read my reviews. You know that I'm pretty easy to please as a reader. For me to not finish a book, there was a problem. And in this case, the problem was the now-infamous Batali behavior that is written into Heat as a laughable, not-a-big-deal part of working for and being around Batali. I was really, really taken aback and disappointed that this behavior was portrayed the way it is in the book, as a joke, a laughing matter, an aside to Batali's success story. So I stopped reading it. I thought about posting the bread recipe by itself to make a statement, but I decided on something else. 

Instead, I'm posting this recipe with a beautiful, inspiring, empowering book: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. I loved how jazzed this book made me and how anti-BS it was. But I especially loved how I got to share it with a dynamite group of ladies called the Society of Lady Artists and Entrepreneurs (SLAE) that I've been hanging out with here in Chicago. We're all pursuing different arts, mediums, and passions, and when we come together, it's anyone's guess what we'll end up talking about, but one thing is for sure: we all leave the table empowered and inspired, in part because of stuff we share with each other like this book from Kleon (who also runs an awesome newsletter here). If you're in Chicago, and you're looking for some inspo in the #slae part of your life, hit us up on Instagram at @societyoflae

Okay. Rant over. GO BREAD AND SHOW YOUR WORK!

Sourdough and Show Your Work

Which is more addicting: this tahini tea cake or Idiophone by Amy Fusselman?

The title of this blog post is a trick question because I honestly cannot figure out the answer. HAH. Got you! Got me? AH. I don't know! Which, by the way, is a great problem to have. And it means you should really bake this tea cake and pre-order this book

 WHAT A POWER COUPLE.&nbsp;

WHAT A POWER COUPLE. 

I mean, Idiophone (out in July from Coffeehouse Press!) was SO unexpected and wonderfully weird and artsy that I expected not to like it, but I actually REALLY loved it. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in about an hour. No, it's not super long, but still. An hour. On the train! While people were talking and being generally distracted. I think that really says something. 

And this bread. Cake. Whatever. Man. I took a bite and was underwhelmed. Then I took another one, and I was like "wow, this isn't nearly as bad as that first bite," and now here I am like half a loaf later, and I don't know if I like it, but I can't stop eating it and I definitely haven't brought any to work to share. I don't know, you guys! Help! Do I hate it? Do I love it? Am I just really, really selfish? Help a blogger out, make the cake, and leave a comment with your verdict.

Coffee House Press provided a copy of Idiophone to Page & Plate, LLC for the purposes of this independent review.

Herb Spiral Tart, The Female Persuasion, and Some Plugs

I KNOW. I missed a post last week. I was doing so well. I was on such a roll (that's foreshadowing for today's recipe by the way). BUT, I'm also not going to apologize because life gets busy, I'm not perfect, and I can't hold myself to unreasonable standards. I am zen, calm, and totally excited to share what I meant to share on Thursday with you TODAY, which is Tuesday.

Plugs of color are important in every day life (especially when it's summer), and that's why I'm so excited to show you today's recipe for herb spiral tart and the absolutely gorgeous cover for The Female Persuasionboth of which are excellent choices for summery days that feel like the depths of fall and kind of look like it too with all of this fog, hem hem CHICAGO, get it together.

In other plug news, I've been really into the newest section of the New York Times's daily newsletter, called What We're Reading, and so I'm going to hop on that band wagon and tell you what I'm consuming (therefore covering food, books, articles, television, etc., how clever) at the moment that I think you should consume too:

  • Laurnie Wilson's piece on Life After Anthony Bourdain, which hits hard and hits home. (And really, anything else on her blog, which is worth your subscription.)
  • Haley Bryant's piece on The Humanity in Data, a brilliant exploration of data, how we collect it, and what it means to us as humans in this moment. 
  • Surfing Merms, a new project by CJB, where feminist mermaids come to life.
  • Faces Places, a documentary on Netflix that made me cry for no reason other than it was very sweet and in French.

COOL. See ya Thursday. Promise.

National Cheese Day Alert

Hello. Today is National Cheese Day in the United States of America, and I for one am all about this holiday. Cheese is my favorite food, and I am so excited to present you with a round-up of 'cheese-foward' recipes that you can and definitely should make to honor this most wonderful of occasions. Without further ado: THE CHEESES OF PAGE & PLATE.

Spicy Summer Salad and Dead Girls and Other Stories

Man, talk about an attention grabbing blog post title. 

Today I'm going to wax poetic about salad. I was chatting with a friend over the long weekend, and he told me (TO MY FACE) that he believed anyone who says the like salad is a liar.  I was frozen in place. How could he think this? I liked salad, right? Am I the only one who likes salad? Have I forced Colin to eat salads, thinking he loved them, when all the while he was disgusted behind my back!? (No clue, I love it, no, and no, he likes them.) 

OKAY so here is my defense of salad: if you don't like salad, you haven't had a good salad. You've had some gross, watery lettuce glued together with Ranch dressing. Here is the beauty of salads: you can put whatever you want on a salad. It doesn't even have to have lettuce! I hate lettuce! But I LOVE SALAD. Because I make amazing salads that have all sorts of fun veggies and cheeses and dressings, and they all go together and make delicious bites you feel good about eating. I love salad because salads are beautiful and unique. As evidenced by today's recipe for a spicy summer salad. Go make it, all you non-believers. You'll believe me then.

In other things that are unique and beautiful, today's book by Emily Geminder, Dead Girls and Other Stories, came from Dzanc Books, who were kind enough to send it my way for a review. It was a wild ride, and you should definitely check it out. Very, very interesting, and very powerful.

Dead Girls and Spicy Summer Salad

Note: Dzanc Books provided Page & Plate, LLC a complementary copy of Dead Girls and Other Stories for the purpose of this independent review.

Apricot Ginger Cake and The Reservoir Tapes

This week I did two things with incredibly impressive speed: bake a SUCCESSFUL and non-traumatic cake and breeze through Jon McGregor's upcoming book, The Reservoir Tapes.

The Reservoir Tapes and Apricot Ginger Cake

I was pretty pleased with myself -- not going to lie, mostly because I baked a cake without crying into the icing. As you may recall from my birthday cake, layer cakes are ... iffy at best for me for no other reason than I struggle with patience. It's fine. I'm learning. BUT with this cake, it went so smoothly I almost wondered if my guardian baking angel was like "GIRL, ENOUGH ALREADY" and swooped down to ice it for me. I think it was helpful for me to have company while baking / assembling in the form of Cait, the face of a fabulous style blog and Oeil Jewelry. Whatever the case, this cake turned out to be the best I've ever made, so go run and get the recipe. Another bonus, by the way? The ginger liqueur that gives this cake a kick of flavor was made by Chicago's own Koval Distillery. Win-win-win-win-cake.

I was surprised at how fast I made it through The Reservoir Tapes because I've been reading a lot of dark thrillers lately and thought I was going to take a bit of a break. After I opened the package from Catapult Books, I went to put this book on the bookshelf, looked up, and realized I had gotten halfway through. Yep. That good. Check out the review, then head over to pre-order it from Catapult.

Note: Catapult Books provided a pre-release copy of The Reservoir Tapes to Page & Plate for the purposes of this independent review.

Smoked Maple Scones, The Power, and Packing a Punch

When I walked out of the Savory Spice Shop in Lincoln Square after picking up the spice samples they had set aside for me, I was looking at two small-ish bags of sugar crystals thinking about what recipe I had that only needed a teaspoon of sugar and how that could possibly do this spice a justice. 

Smoked Maple Scones featuring Savory Spice Shop
 Here is a picture of me explaining to Colin that just because I am eating a scone with bacon in it does not mean I am a disappointment to vegetarians everywhere. There is an 80% chance that I was saying "I'm telling you..."

Here is a picture of me explaining to Colin that just because I am eating a scone with bacon in it does not mean I am a disappointment to vegetarians everywhere. There is an 80% chance that I was saying "I'm telling you..."

Because I am the patron saint of impatience, I opened the bags when I got to the car and took a sniff and was basically knocked on my butt by how powerful that little bag of sugar smelled. I mean WOW. And then, of course, I wanted to dump some in my coffee because whiskey, sugar, and coffee all sound like things that belong together, and again, lots of impatience. But I managed to resist the impulse, bake the sugar into smoked maple scones, and then promptly devoured those instead. See? It all worked out. And lemme tell you, that sugar packs a punch on those scones. They're like little left hooks that you want to eat for brunch. So cute! AND, I made a video so yeah, worth your time.

Also, I read The Power by Naomi Alderman on a train in Ireland and it was so engrossing that I basically didn't even care we were driving past castles. Almost. But still: it was a book that slams you with realness and then walks away into the distance to leave you with your thoughts. I'm not going to be like "feminist dystopian fiction is the new beach read!" but it kind of is.

Read the review, read the recipe, and check out the Savory Spice Shop. They have some seriously awesome spice blends that I'm dying for you to try, and they were kind enough to give me some for free, so look for more recipes with their stuff coming your way!

Smoked Maple Scones and The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Big Ireland Download

You knew this was coming. Welcome to the Big Ireland Download, featuring every recommendation I have for eating your way across the Emerald Isle that you never asked for but clicked on anyway! HAH.

Dingle

Small town charm is an understatement here. Ireland's version of a beach town, Dingle was on the cusp of tourist season, which made it the perfect place to beat the crowds while driving around and exploring. Biggest recommendation here is to rent a car and check out Slea Head Drive. Apart from a few close calls on a one-lane road at the edge of the world, you won't regret it. We pulled over at a quaint cafe that I'm kicking myself for not remembering the name of and soaked in this amazing view over lunch. The tomato soup and scone was awesome and fresh, but I was a bit distracted with the front row seats to the island where they filmed Star Wars. No big deal. 

Galway

People keep asking me what part of the trip was my favorite, and the answer, of course, is all of it, duh! But as the experience marinates like a fine piece of meat (ew, sorry), I'm realizing that maybe just maybe Galway was my favorite of the three places we spent our Ireland adventure. Small enough to ooze with charm, but big enough to hold a new surprise around every corner, Galway was where we walked 10 miles a day, ate one of the best meals we've ever had (which I pulled out in its own gallery), and heard our favorite music on the trip. Make this a stop if you're headed to Ireland for sure. It's a vibrant, beautiful, old town with a modern spirit and some amazing finds. Other shops / sites to check out while you're there: The Sheep, Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, and St. Nicholas's Collegiate Church, where Christopher Columbus prayed before his journey to the "New" World.

Kai Cafe & Restaurant

Easily the best dinner of the trip, quite possibly the best dinner I've ever had. Kai Cafe & Restaurant's menu was filled with fresh, local food in classic recipes with inspired twists (along with some banging cocktails). The bread they casually dropped on the table at the beginning of the meal was better than most bread I've paid for, and don't even get me started on that butter (LOOK AT IT. LOOK HOW YELLOW AND WONDERFUL IT IS.).  We started with the ricotta and asparagus appetizer, which I ate before I could take a picture. I love cheese, and I love vegetables, but never before have two so beautifully co-existed on a plate. For dinner, I had the fried halloumi (a perfect example of how to make fried cheese taste and look like a million bucks) and Colin had the steak, which was so buttery and well-done that it melted on the plate. For dessert, we had the burnt meringue, which it is now my life goal to replicate. I died and went to heaven after this meal, and considered begging for them to adopt me so I could call their beautiful space my home. 

Dublin

The last time I was in Dublin, it was a whirlwind visit that left me with a bigger list of things I wanted to see / eat / tour than before I had even been. I don't think we had a disappointing meal -- including coffee and midday pastry stops because I have a problem -- while we were there, but highlights included The Winding Stair (above a bookstore, people, ABOVE A FREAKING BOOKSTORE), where I didn't take enough pictures and we had a glass of wine for lunch in #luxury, and Camerino Bakery + Cakery which is officially the cutest little bakery in the world. Also, Brother Hubbard, as detailed below. Other things not to miss: St. Stephen's Green, the Kilmainham Gaol, Dollard & Co., The Gutter Bookstore, and Phoenix Park.

Brother Hubbard

In a bookstore in Dublin, Colin stumbled upon a cookbook from Brother Hubbard, a restaurant just around the corner. We decided to walk by and casually check it out like we wouldn't be absolutely taken with it and come back for dinner. The dinner was my favorite of our time in Dublin. The warm hummus was the best I've ever had: well-spiced, smooth, and served with warm pita (I mean, come on.). My appetizer wasn't the usual delicate vegetarian entree, but a generous, meaty serving of aubergine, zucchini, and chickpeas that left me perfectly full and just really impressed with the flavors that got stuck between my teeth. I'm not saying I'm definitely going to have to buy their cookbook, but I'm saying I'm definitely going to have to buy their cookbook.

Cake Intervention Sunday

Hi, it's me, your friendly neighborhood cake icing video addict! And Instagram cake stalker. And just like ... generally very into cake human being. Am I the only one with major FOMO (fear of missing out, it was a thing like three years ago, people) from that GORGEOUS WEDDING CAKE? I'm sorry that I just linked to People, but god, THAT CAKE. I mean, yeah, so happy for them, whatever, but I want. that. cake. I don't even like lemon flavored things but LOOK AT IT. I need cake. Now. Or, in Michael Scott-isms:

So here I am, on a Sunday, just a blogger, laying on my couch, putting some cake recipes together and asking an audience to bake them. (Did you guys know that quote I just totally ripped off in the worst way was from Notting Hill? I would've put money on it being from Say Anything. I have never seen either of these movies.) 

Go forth and eat. some. cake. 

And finally, lest we forget, the ultimate chocolate cake with mocha mascarpone icing: CLOSE CALL BIRTHDAY CAKE

Fried Potato Pancakes, Priestdaddy, and Other Things That Came in the Mail

I just finished my favorite book of the year, and it's only May. "Laura, how could you possibly know for sure that this is going to be your favorite book of the year?" you ask, because bless you, reader, you always ask the right question when I write your questions for you.

I know this is my favorite book of the year because it's funny, it's real, and it's fresh. It's content nothing like anything I've ever read before, and it deals with sobering subject matter with an attitude that is incredibly aware of how important the issues are while making me laugh until I cried on the Purple Line again. I am becoming a crying train lady, but for this book, that is okay. This book is Priestdaddy, and once again, I have Jennifer at Riverhead to thank for sending it my way. Best. Mail. Ever. 

 What a perfect afternoon.

What a perfect afternoon.

Coming a close second was the box of Imperfect Produce that contained purple potatoes, radishes, and parsnips: a lovely variety of root vegetables that I first made into mashed potatoes and then fried because I am an adult. Nab the recipe for these fried potato pancakes here