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It’s my birthday week! I’ve eaten a lot of cake, and by the time you read this, the Simnel cake that Michael brought back home from London will be gone. I’d heard a lot about this classic Easter cake but never tried one until now, and the combination of fruit and marzipan in this cake is spectacular. I’ve still got the Easter eggs to try! Which egg should I begin with (dark, milk, or white)?
The first phase of our home remodel is almost complete, and last Friday, I got my old-brand-new kitchen back, and I LOVE it (what you see in the reel is still unfinished, and I will share the entire finished room with you later)! The kitchen is everything I dreamed off and more, and while there are still items that need installing, I can use most of it. I’ve spent most of my time moving stuff into the new cabinets and getting a sense of what goes where. As most people say, when you move, it’s the best time to purge and get rid of things you don’t mind, and while this wasn’t technically a move, it was still a great time to get rid of the items I never or rarely use. I rarely ever use my mandoline, and for some reason, I own four different ones; I kept one and got rid of the others. I plan to repeat this clearing-out ritual a month after I’m more settled in the kitchen and better understand what works in the new room. I might get rid of the other mandoline. It’s also a nice feeling to finally let go of things that do not impact my life or work.
Some of you asked me about the most significant challenge during construction, and I’ve got to say it was washing dishes in the bathroom. I got myself a camping sink that helped, but it was a pain because there was no way it would fit into or over the bathroom sink to let water flow and drain conveniently. Now that I’ve got a proper sink in the kitchen use, I appreciate dishwashing in a sink a lot. As for that camping sink, I’m repurposing it as a raised bed in the garden.
The first thing I made in the kitchen was a cup of coffee, but I don’t think that counts as cooking (at least IMO). The first official dish I cooked in the kitchen was the roasted eggplant raita from my cookbook, The Flavor Equation. Michael’s got an eggplant plant that simply won’t die (it’s more than a year and a half old) and still actively fruits. It gave us two eggplants the week before, and I roasted them until they charred, extracted their tender flesh to make the raita, and served it with crispy-skinned salmon filets seasoned with a good sprinkling of za’atar. That combination is very satisfying and if you haven’t tried it yet, make it! Do roast it properly to get the smokiness from the charred flesh into your raita; it makes a big difference to the dish. I use my oven (try the roast setting), but you can get an even nicer smoky flavor if you own an outdoor grill or a torch. Smoked salt can also be used in place or regular salt in the recipe to build on that smoky aroma.
Speaking of The Flavor Equation, I just learned that the book is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Awards in the Reference, History, and Scholarship category of books for this year. It is an absolute honor to be included in this stack of cookbooks and nice to see it recognized. A big congratulations to everyone nominated.
My book came out right when the pandemic hit us and my book tour like many others was no more. I’m not going to lie; it was depressing. Once things improved, I tried reaching out to a few shows, but none of them were interested; they’d moved on to the next season of cookbooks. So honestly, the success of this book is mainly in part due to you. I’ve seen you cook from it, share photos of your meals, and help spread the word around the book. I will always be grateful for your help, and regardless of the outcome of any awards, your love and support matter more to me the most. I don't think I say it enough but THANK YOU!
I'm teaching a cook class! cookingThis June, I’ve got a live class with Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, and I’ll be teaching how to make Indian spice blends, chutneys, and even a pickle. Sign up soon because space is limited, and the classes sell out fast. Plus, live classes are fun and chatty! Use the code CHUTNEY when you sign up to recieve a 15% discount code for the class.
Next week, I'll be a year older and l hope a little wiser and I've got a brand new season of recipes coming your way.
Have a lovely weekend,
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