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Sometimes I have the hardest time finding simple recipes online. Does this happen to you? I guess for the sake of differentiating, people try to create the craziest thing instead of the basic thing. For instance, I searched for an oatmeal cookie recipe and got something along the lines of “Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Chunk with Almond Crumble” or something equally ridiculous. All I wanted were oatmeal cookies!!!

So then I tracked down this crispy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe on food52, and instead of the chocolate chips, I used pecans. I will be clear: I am anti-raisin and anti-chocolate when it comes to oatmeal cookies. Look, chocolate chip cookies are awesome, but don’t let that bleed into every other kind of cookie, OK? Chocolate doesn’t belong in everything. But I digress. I learned from making these that I do, however, like and even encourage some crunchy nuts in chewy raisins’ place.

The only other change I made was that I didn’t have allspice, so I added some cardamom to these instead. Clove would probably be equally delicious. The warm spices made them almost like oatmeal snickerdoodles. Totally awesome.

Onward and upward with pantry clean-out 2012!

I had one random cup of dried black-eyed peas hanging out, and I do think I made the best of it. First, I soaked them overnight in a pot covered by a couple inches of cold water. I drained the water, re-covered them with about the same amount of water, and brought them to a boil. Lowered the heat to a simmer, tested one, and once they got a bit tender, I added a generous amount of salt and some black pepper, a glug of olive oil, three crushed garlic cloves, 1 medium jalapeno, sliced, and a bay leaf. I left the pot partially covered and simmered (a low gentle bubbling) for probably a bit over an hour. I tested them frequently, tasted the broth, and continued seasoning as necessary. Once they were nice and creamy, I took them off the heat.

And now this is where the brilliance of pre-cooking veggies comes in: I had some fennel and kale that I’d sauteed yesterday. I put most of the beans in a jar with their liquid to cool, but left one serving in the pot and added the kale to heat up. Meanwhile, I poached an egg and made some toast and my goodness, that was one delicious lunch!

I’m moving in a month, so I did an assessment of my pantry today. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not some kind of grifter / nomad just because I’m pretty much constantly moving. So to focus on the positive: I never find 8 year-old cans in the back of my pantry! As is my ritual by now, I’ll spend the next few weeks trying to use up cans and dried goods to lighten my load. But this time, like an actual adult, I have hired movers. Huzzah!

Granola actually wasn’t part of my pantry-clearing plan, but my neighborhood grocery store stopped carrying the crunchy Ezekiel cereal I like, so it hit me that I had some nuts and oats at home. Instead of dropping $10 on gourmet granola, I decided to make some myself.

I haven’t made granola in ages — but it is one of those awesomely satisfying things to make, in part because it’s most often bought. I felt the same way about making biscotti, and bagels. Even if they’re not perfect, they’re yours. I discovered in my days of granola-making that adding nut butter is key to getting clusters. In a stroke of luck, I also had half of a jar of almond butter from Trader Joe’s that is way too thin and oily on its own, but perfect for binding together some oats. Once you make granola a couple of times you realize how flexible it is, too. Get creative! My recipe after the jump.

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I’ve been meaning to make this no-knead bread for a very, very long time. When I worked down near Spring Street and 6th Avenue, Sullivan Street Bakery was a little piece of heaven, where I’d sneak for a special lunchtime treat. At the time, I had no idea who Jim Lahey was, or the significance of his pizza bianca, and everything else from the bakery, in the New York food world. But eventually I put two and two together and realized the crispy, chewy, oily, salty deliciousness I enjoyed for lunch had come from him, and when his no-knead bread recipe surfaced, I filed it away immediately.

Somehow, thinking through the timing of mixing and then waiting 12 – 18 hours seemed difficult to plan for, given the unpredictability of my schedule. But after doing it once, I’m already planning to do it every weekend! Here is the recipe. I suggest you carve out some time and try it yourself because it is as ridiculously easy as it sounds. This weekend, I enjoyed it fresh from the oven with manchego, and then the next day toasted and drizzled with oil, topped with ricotta and flaked sea salt. Who knows what I’ll come up with next weekend!

And here I present post number two inspired by my cooking class last week: a frittata! I hope you can imagine me rolling my r like a sassy Italian when I say that…because I am.

I’ve made frittatas before, but apparently, sort of incorrectly. I think Americans go heavy on the egg and light on the ingredients, but we were instructed to aim for the inverse. Lots of filling, just enough egg to bind it all together. Another tip: no cheese inside the frittata. On top? Great. Inside? Not so much. Third tip: keep it at room temperature, on your counter, even for a day or two. This is another national disease — refrigerating everything! How many years did it take me to learn that refrigerating tomatoes removes all of their flavor? Too many!

This particular frittata was a mash-up of two we made in class: one with kale, and a tortilla española with potatoes. Process / recipe(ish) after the jump.

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Last Thursday, I took my first cooking class ever. Tamar Adler, who wrote An Everlasting Meal, was teaching in Gowanus at the Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center. Because I am absolutely smitten with her book, I signed up immediately for the egg cookery class after meeting her at an event. How could you go wrong with eggs!

I was expecting to have a good time, but I wasn’t sure what the format of the class would be, or how much I’d actually learn, you know? Not because I’m the most technically perfect cook in the world, but because I spend a great deal of time reading about food, cooking food, and watching other people make food. I’d even made shakshuka before (though my technique was slightly different), which was one of the dishes on the menu. But I’ll say, I came away feeling like I learned a lot. Like adding a few drops of lemon juice on top of softly scrambled eggs, or taking the germ out of garlic to remove the bitter part. I’ve been smashing my garlic to hell all this time, but this is a much more civilized method! You cut off the root end with a paring knife, peel the garlic from that end, then slice it in half. You’ll see the little germ growing through the center, which is then easy to remove.

This dish was inspired wholly by Tamar — garlicky greens with olive oil topped with scrambled eggs and a shaving of parmesan. Even her egg scrambling technique was wonderful to watch. Add butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat (one lesson: don’t be afraid of fat!). Add eggs that have been beaten in a bowl. Continuously stir and scramble with a rubber spatula, shaking the pan, and let them cook slowly, slowly. Take them off the heat before they look 100% done — they’ll finish cooking off the heat, just like any other protein like fish or meat that you don’t want to end up rubbery and tough. In class she added flaked Maldon sea salt, black pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and a handful of cilantro. Transcendent!

This is a bit belated, but I won’t let a hectic week stop me from posting about one of my favorite things to make: pizza.

I’m really not much of a sports fan. But I can appreciate that “my” team, the Giants, won the Super Bowl last week in nail-biting fashion. I like that the guy that saved the day is named Manningham. The half-time show was, by my estimation, pretty amazing to watch (both from the standpoint of pure entertainment and my sick fascination with watching Madonna age). And, most importantly, I like that the Super Bowl was inspiration to make pizza!

It’s been awhile since I’ve made pizza from scratch, and this time I used Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe (available in How to Cook Everything). And the toppings were totally legit — procured from my favorite Italian grocery, Russo’s, in Park Slope. Super fresh buffalo mozzarella and ricotta, some spicy sopresatta, and a nice puttanesca sauce (I don’t normally buy tomato sauce, but since this was made by Russo’s and not full of preservatives, I made an exception. It was also delicious.).

The first pizza had puttanesca sauce, buffalo mozzarella, and torn basil. The second was just a brush of basil olive oil, ricotta, sopresatta, and caramelized onions (with a bit of balsamic thrown in). On the second pizza I also added some arugula once it was done, and to both, of course, a generous sprinkle of red pepper flakes.