northern spy food co’s kale salad

Things have been deliciously dessert-y around here lately. Which is one of my favorite ways for things to be, but I thought maybe we should switch it up with a salad. A salad with the double virtues of raw kale and roasted sweet potato, but made extra tasty by fancy cheddar and roasted almonds. We don’t want to go toooo health crazy, after all. I first came across this recipe, originally from a Manhattan restaurant called Northern Spy Food Co, in a Food 52 post. I can’t remember how I actually found it: the post is from January 2012, and I pinned the recipe back in October. The internet is amazing. I haven’t ever been to Northern Spy Food Co., but I can say with confidence that they seriously know their way around a salad.

kalesalad1

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very favorite chocolate cake

In 2010, I was without a romantic Valentine for the first time in 15 years (lest that sound like the worst ever humble brag, lit-rally all of those long ago Valentines make me look back and shake my head at my younger self, so, there’s that). And I was really feeling it; getting used to living by myself and fighting not very successfully to stay optimistic about whatever might be next. My lovely seester called me on VDay, and asked about my plans. I told her that I was going to keep it low key, maybe Thai and Netflix, but that first I was headed to Kitchenette for one of their awesome hot chocolates. She agreed that this was a solid plan, and we hung up. When I got to Kitchenette and placed my order, the gal behind the counter said, “Oh, Jessica?” and gave me not only my hot chocolate but also a cupcake. Joie, in her infinite wonderfulness, had looked up the restaurant’s info, called ahead, given them a description of me, and ordered me an extra treat. I was so touched, but not exactly surprised. My seester is incredibly thoughtful and kind hearted. And, she knows the power of a really great cupcake.
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impress and indulge: chocolate lava cakes

A few years ago, Ed’s parents Martha and Terry came to D.C. for a late summer visit. Ed and I decided to spend a night cooking for them. The menu came together pretty quickly: parmesan-crusted chicken, green beans with vinaigrette, Pimm’s cups, and for dessert, I said I’d think about what to make. Ed said I should make a chocolate lava cake. I said I’d think about it, but maybe brownies would be easier. He said I should make a chocolate lava cake. I hedged again and kind of dodged it. I love lava cake, but finding the secret to the solid outside-molten center seemed like too much of a science experiment, especially because this was the first time we were cooking for his parents. Ed didn’t waiver. It was the only time—before or since—that he’d been adamant that I cook a particular thing. You sort of have to know Ed to understand that “adamant” for him means politely asking a couple of times in a row. It wasn’t an order, it wasn’t a demand, it wasn’t even a whine, it was simply an idea put forth with enough conviction that I knew he meant it. I still stammered around, mumbling about how I wasn’t sure how to make one and I needed a trusted recipe. And then fate sealed the deal. I’d just checked out Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess from the library and right there on page 179 was her recipe for Molten Chocolate Babycakes. 

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lovely lime (or lemon) bars

These limes bars were the result of a happy accident–they were meant to be lemon. I’ve loved my mother’s recipe for lemon bars, pulled from a Christmas issue of either Ladies Home Journal or Good Housekeeping years ago, since I was a little girl. We are first and foremost a chocolate dessert family, but these bars often made their way onto the sweets table at New Years Open Houses and potlucks, providing a welcome bright and citrusy contrast to the chocolate. Having made these lemon bars for a fall baby shower and reminded myself of how much I liked them, they seemed like the perfect dessert for an for an impromptu Saturday night dinner party. And they would have been, if I had remembered to buy lemons.

lime bars-1

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