Wings for two, I'll Be Gone in the Dark, and partying

 Attempt #1

Attempt #1

The time has finally come for me to post my long-delayed review of what has become one of my favorite books of the year, I'll Be Gone in the Dark. First, I was going to post it with the espresso brownies. Theme: what keeps you up at night. But then we started watching The Haunting of Hill House and between that show and this book, I wasn't sleeping at all. So I started reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and put this book aside for a few days. A few days turned into a few weeks, I got too many requests not to post the brownie recipe solo, and here we are, pairing this FINALLY completed book with a recipe for chicken wings

 The final pairing

The final pairing

These chicken wings, by the way, are not a bad consolation prize as far as recipes go. Between them (made with some delightful massaman curry from my friends at Savory Spice) and the vegetarian buffalo chickpea dip recipe that’s going out to newsletter subscribers tomorrow and will be live to all you non-subscribers next week, you’ve got the start of a party.

If we can return to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark for a moment, though, I just want to emphasize that it didn’t take me so long to read this book because it’s bad. Rather, the opposite. This book rocked my world. It was happy, sad, terrifying, thrilling, and absolutely addictive. I could barely bring myself to put it down, even while it was turning me into an insomniac. It's more than just true crime, which is exactly what everyone says about it, but it is! I really, really think that everyone should read it, and not just because I want people to talk about it with. I want you to read it because I think you’ll love it. And because you’ll want somebody to discuss with too. Fair, I think.

Autumn salad, Black Klansman, and fall fun

Ah, fall. The rainy, dreary, basic time of year wherein people grow scarves out of their necks, consume more pumpkin than they probably should, and get in your face about being registered to vote.

If you nodded your head and sighed while you read that last sentence, I have mixed news for you: the good is that you’re not only getting the typical recipe and book rec today, but a movie rec as well! Wow! Three for the price of one (two?)! The potentially less good news is that I’m going to join the ranks of people who get in your face about voting.

So, let’s intersperse the voting rant with fun things! Starting with #1: it’s my mom’s birthday today! She’s the best, and I know that you probably don’t know her, but if you did, you would think she’s the best too. If you want to give her a birthday shout out, head over to Twitter, where she lurks as @hollys_momma (Holly is our dog, okay?). Cool. Thanks!

Okay, here’s where you can find out where you should vote. Here’s where you can read up on the issues and the candidates. Here’s where you can find out how to help at a polling place to make democracy happen. Here’s where you can learn about what to do if you’re turned away at the polls.

Anyway, SALAD, am I right?! It’s almost that sad time of year when salads lose their spark (aka fresh veggies), so nab this recipe now, nail it, and then figure out how to swap out the tomatoes for sweet potatoes or carrots or whatever else floats your boat. That way, you’ll have something delicious to look forward to this winter diet.

Also of note and worth recommending are both the book Black Klansman and the movie it inspired, Blackklansman. They’re both good, so you should see it AND read it. You’ll love it, I promise.

Black Klansman and Autumn Salad

Donut cake, Broken Monsters, and what you should pay attention to this weekend

Folks, it is officially fall in Chicago. I will pause here for your appreciative applause.


And now, I present you with the ultimate guide for the first fall weekend in the Windy City, where just 48 hours ago, it was something like 85 degrees. I don’t know; I just live here.

First up: make a donut cake that pairs perfectly with spiked, warm cider, hot coffee, or some other warm and likely alcoholic beverage. It’s baked in a bundt tin, which I am usually strongly opposed to, but in this case, I’m really okay with. It’s full of nutmeg and cinnamon and buttermilk, and you’ll probably have no interest in leftovers, but just in case you do, they’re amazing and even more donut-y than I thought was possible. Y. u. m.

Second: read a spooky book about a supernatural murder mystery. Wow, you say, that sounds so specific. However will I find a book that fulfills those criteria? Oh, honey. I got you. Click here to read the review of Broken Monsters, and then realize that it’s the perfect book for this weekend.

Donut Cake and Broken Monsters

Lastly: pay attention to at least two things this weekend. One is, appropriately, also donut (or, in this case, doughnut) content. My friend from my high school journalism days has started a doughnut bakery in Pittsburgh called Fight Sized Doughnuts. If you live in Pittsburgh, as I know some of you do, run, don’t walk, to his website and give him a follow on Instagram. Tasty things await you.

You should also pay attention to Samin Nosrat (aka my girl Samin, my goddess of cooking, my imaginary best friend who I chat with even though she’s not there in the kitchen) and her brand-new Netflix show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which is based on her most illustrious cookbook that has been reviewed right here on Page & Plate. I started the first episode last night, and honestly, I had to stop because it was just way too exciting and wonderful and I started crying when she made pesto with a nonna.

Corn muffins, Hope Never Dies, and a whole lotta corn

The amount of corn that’s about to happen in this post is very high, both in literal corn amounts and a good, old fashioned corny read. And also some things that I am super excited about and am highly likely to make corny puns as a result.

Corn Muffins

But first! The muffins. The OG corn babies that provide our literal corn. The beautiful, golden nuggets of goodness. I mean, just look at how beautiful they look in the late-in-the-day sunlight on a beautiful, hand-made plate. They are delicious and good, and if you can get your hands on fresh corn, you should use it to make these gorgeous muffins before it’s too late! This is a scare tactic.

As long as you’re in the business of corn (and being depressed about current events), you should probably read Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer. A fictionalized and adorable alternate universe Joe Biden who probably treated Anita Hill better than his IRL equivalent narrates a murder mystery / drug bust that he heroically solves alongside (who else?) Barack Obama. It’s exactly the corny, dad joke-filled, over-dramatic book you expect, and it’s a delight.

Hope Never Dies and Corn Muffins

And now, a virtual drumroll to announce UPCOMING EVENTS, which is a huge and very exciting development in Page & Plate posts. I’m so excited to let you know that I have two very exciting events coming up in the Chicagoland area, and that you, yes, you! can register today for them.

Pie's NOT the Limit: Pumpkin Recipes for Everything from Appetizers to Dessert

This cooking demonstration AND wine tasting will take place at wineHouse Chicago in Lakeview. I’ll be making a bunch of pumpkin recipes that are not pie because I don’t like pie and that’s that. Join us to discover the many ways to use pumpkin and the wines that compliment those recipes.

Watercolor Cookie Workshop with CJB Creations

My dear friend CJB is an artist, creative, and all around talented human, and I’m so pumped to be offering a watercolor cookie workshop in which you’ll learn to paint on cookies! Mind. Blown. This class will take place at Shop 1021 in Logan Square. Best of all? While you’re learning to paint, you can enjoy small bites courtesy of moi.

Bacon fat brussels sprouts, The Third Plate, and nerding out

Remember that book I talked about last week? The non-fiction one that I couldn’t wait to put down Mr. Penumbra to read? Yeah. This is it.

The Third Plate and Bacon Fat Brussels Sprouts

Dan Barber, chef and restaurateur, is not a few face to me. And probably, if you’re reading this blog, he’s not new to you either. After being featured in one of my all-time favorite Netflix shows, Chef’s Table, Barber became more of a household name in a very small category: chefs focused on the future of food and what we can do to make our eating more sustainable at a fine dining level.

This book is all of that and more. And, coincidentally, did a lot in terms of making him seem less like a jerk and more like a hero, in my opinion. He travels the world to explore what it means to be responsible eaters and discovers more problems than solutions, which is both unfortunate and motivating. Anyway. Go read the review, and you can decide how nerdy you want to get with this.

Speaking of nerding out, let’s talk about how many versions of brussels sprouts I’ve made before finally getting to this recipe, which I think (actually, I know) is a total winner. Even the non-brussels sprouts converts (hi, Uncle Dave and Papa) will have a hard time turning them down when after they’ve been roasted in bacon fat.

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.

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

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

Roasted Salad, The Silkworm, and Embracing What You Love

Let's talk about embracing what you love with wide open arms instead of hiding it under the bed or in your junk drawer or in that awful cabinet where leftover containers and their lids go to part company forever. No? Just me? Okay. That's fine.

 I embraced this salad into my stomach almost as fast as I embraced that book itno my head.

I embraced this salad into my stomach almost as fast as I embraced that book itno my head.

I've been on a bend recently. It's not one that I was planning on sharing with you or anyone besides my Kindle, really, but honestly, I'm way too into this bend to be able to keep quiet any longer: I am so. totally. obsessed. with the Cormoran Strike mystery novels that J.K. Rowling wrote as Robert Galbraith. So obsessed that since I prepared this post, I've blown through the third and only remaining book of the series. I CAN'T HELP IT. So please go enjoy the post about book two of this series, The Silkworm, with the full knowledge that late last night, I finished the third book in the series and will never be able to walk alone in a city ever again. Cheers!

In other much more exciting news, it's still National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, and we are still going gray to celebrate survivors, remember those who have lost the battle, and raise awareness for research efforts. Here on Page & Plate, we're collaborating with TakeTHATTumor and celebrating #gograyinmay with healthy meals that fit any lifestyle. Today, that meal is roasted salad. I hear you over there, you people who don't believe that salad is a meal. IT IS. Or it is also a lovely side. Take your pick. no hard feelings. But just saying, I embrace salad as a meal ALL THE TIME. 

The Publican's Cauliflower, The Goldfinch, and Masterpieces

I am a sucker for two things: a book I can really lose myself in and a vegetable heavy dish that lives up to my expectations. Wow, how perfectly does that set up today's book and recipe combo? It's almost like it was intentional. Swoosh.

 Two masterpieces, side by side.

Two masterpieces, side by side.

I read The Secret History in college, and I LOVED it. It's the kind of classic book you read, then you read again, then you put down for a year, then you pick back up and fall right back in love. Then I read The Goldfinch, and WOW, it was just as good. How could one woman possibly be so talented in her writing?! Easy answer: she is Donna Tartt. Not-so-easy answer: she is Donna Tartt, and she takes between eight and ten years to write these masterpieces. It's enough to make you want to cry into the pages of your well-loved copies of her books as you read and marvel over them in jealousy and awe for the umpteenth time.

But enough about me. Let's talk cauliflower. More specifically, let's talk about the work. of. art. that is the cauliflower dish on the dinner menu at The Publican right now. It's crunchy, it's fresh, it's satisfying, it hits every one of Samin Nosrat's qualities of a good dish, and it is VEGETARIAN, people. The only reason I didn't wolf it down in two minutes flat was because every time I took a bite, I had to stop to say "oh my god, Colin, this is so good" and compliment the waitress, who, by the way was also our bartender and rocked. I tried my best to get you as close to the dish I had there, and I think you should probably go make this right now and check it out, because I got pretty close.

I hesitate to call today's post a masterpiece because I'm comparing it to the best dish I've had this year and one of my all-time favorite books, but if you want to go there, I'll support it 100%. Enjoy your masterpieces. 

Curried Acorn Squash, Skippy Dies, and Getting Things Over With

I've had two acorn squashes sitting on my counter, staring me in the face every time I walked in the kitchen, wobbling in my way as I tried to wipe down the counter, and taunting me with lack of inspiration. Every Sunday as I set up my grocery list and meal plan for the week, I've kind of half-heartedly googled "what do I do with sassy acorn squash," scrolling through endless pages of nothing, and giving up. I came very, very close to throwing them in the microwave and smothering them in butter and brown sugar like the good old days, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. 

I had all but resigned myself to making a dinner I wouldn't like, even with a weird recipe from a little place I like to call the New York Times Cooking Section involving the curry powder I bought at the Savory Spice Shop. Then, this dish happened

Curried Acorn Squash.jpg

And I can confidently say that acorn squash has been redeemed in my eyes. No longer are they the dweeby, useless little brother of the butternut. No longer will they be shoved into decorative baskets to slowly rot as December trudges on. No longer will I bowl them down my mother's backyard, pretending to be feeding the deer but really wishing I could get the kind of oomph I do with a squash in a bowling alley.

This dish is bold, flavorful, and full of all sorts of textures and flavors that you wouldn't expect from a simple squash. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm glad I decided to sauce that squash. My taste buds have been forever changed, and my garbage can at work will never smell the same. I got it over with, and I got got. 

I also got reading Skippy Dies by Paul Murray over with, and I'm all the happier for having crossed it off my list and for having read it, of course. 

Now if only I get in that mindset for Infinite Jest, my to do list would be perfectly empty.