Best 80 of Stacey Ballis quotes - MyQuotes

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Stacey Ballis
By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Caroline made a steamed fig pudding with brandy hard sauce. Hedy and Jacob brought a platter of dense, moist gingerbread squares studded with chunks of candied ginger and frosted with a lemon cream cheese icing. John and Marie brought a flourless chocolate souffle cake filled with chocolate mousse, glazed with chocolate ganache and decorated with white chocolate swirls. Jag and Nageena brought a really interesting dessert called halwa that is made with carrots. And I brought Gemma's shortbread.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Stacey Ballis

My friend Alana comes over with her husband RJ, and they both kiss me simultaneously on my cheeks. They live in the neighborhood, and we sometimes have doggie playdates with Volnay and their dogs Dumpling and Pamplemousse.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Stacey Ballis

With the heady scent of yeast in the air, it quickly becomes clear that Langer's hasn't changed at all. The black-and-white-checked linoleum floor, the tin ceiling, the heavy brass cash register, all still here. The curved-front glass cases with their wood counter, filled with the same offerings: the butter cookies of various shapes and toppings, four kinds of rugelach, mandel bread, black-and-white cookies, and brilliant-yellow smiley face cookies. Cupcakes, chocolate or vanilla, with either chocolate or vanilla frosting piled on thick. Brownies, with or without nuts. Cheesecake squares. Coconut macaroons. Four kinds of Danish. The foil loaf pans of the bread pudding made from the day-old challahs. And on the glass shelves behind the counter, the breads. Challahs, round with raisins and braided either plain or with sesame. Rye, with and without caraway seeds. Onion kuchen, sort of strange almost-pizza-like bread that my dad loves, and the smaller, puffier onion rolls that I prefer. Cloverleaf rolls. Babkas. The wood-topped cafe tables with their white chairs, still filled with the little gossipy ladies from the neighborhood, who come in for their mandel bread and rugelach, for their Friday challah and Sunday babka, and take a moment to share a Danish or apple dumpling and brag about grandchildren.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Look, Jenna, it isn't like Wayne is perfect. Our crew is a bunch of overgrown misfit children. Wayne had it the worst growing up, but we all had the unpopular weirdo freak thing in one way or another. I like to think that a combination of decent brains and a fairly good sense of humor kept us all from becoming tragic situations." "You mean criminals and meth heads?" Elliot laughs. "Exactly. And at a certain level, I think we all cling to our weirdness because it insulates us from trying to fit in and failing.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

But every once in a great while, the pull of her heritage would hit her, and Grand-mere would cook something real. I could never figure out what it was that triggered her, but I would come home from school to a glorious aroma. An Apfel-strudel, with paper-thin pastry wrapped around chunks of apples and nuts and raisins. The thick smoked pork chops called Kasseler ribs, braised in apple cider and served with caraway-laced sauerkraut. A rich baked dish with sausages, duck, and white beans. And hoppel poppel. A traditional German recipe handed down from her mother. I haven't even thought of it in years. But when my mom left, it was the only thing I could think to do for Joe, who was confused and heartbroken, and it was my best way to try to get something in him that didn't come in a cardboard container. I never got to learn at her knee the way many granddaughters learn to cook; she never shared the few recipes that were part of my ancestry. But hoppel poppel is fly by the seat of your pants, it doesn't need a recipe; it's a mess, just like me. It's just what the soul needs. I grab an onion, and chop half of it. I cut up the cold cooked potatoes into chunks. I pull one of my giant hot dogs out, and cut it into thick coins. Grand-mere used ham, but Joe loved it with hot dogs, and I do too. Plus I don't have ham. I whisk six eggs in a bowl, and put some butter on to melt. The onions and potatoes go in, and while they are cooking, I grate a pile of Swiss cheese, nicking my knuckle, but catching myself before I bleed into my breakfast. By the time I get a Band-Aid on it, the onions have begun to burn a little, but I don't care. I dump in the hot dogs and hear them sizzle, turning down the heat so that I don't continue to char the onions. When the hot dogs are spitting and getting a little browned, I add the eggs and stir up the whole mess like a scramble. When the eggs are pretty much set, I sprinkle the cheese over the top and take it off the heat, letting the cheese melt while I pop three slices of bread in the toaster. When the toast is done, I butter it, and eat the whole mess on the counter, using the crispy buttered toast to scoop chunk of egg, potato, and hot dog into my mouth, strings of cheese hanging down my chin. Even with the burnt onions, and having overcooked the eggs to rubbery bits, it is exactly what I need.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Herman and I have been doing a lot of talking about the cake the past couple of days, and we think we have a good plan for the three tiers. The bottom tier will be the chocolate tier and incorporate the dacquoise component, since that will all provide a good strong structural base. We are doing an homage to the Frango mint, that classic Chicago chocolate that was originally produced at the Marshall Field's department store downtown. We're going to make a deep rich chocolate cake, which will be soaked in fresh-mint simple syrup. The dacquoise will be cocoa based with ground almonds for structure, and will be sandwiched between two layers of a bittersweet chocolate mint ganache, and the whole tier will be enrobed in a mint buttercream. The second tier is an homage to Margie's Candies, an iconic local ice cream parlor famous for its massive sundaes, especially their banana splits. It will be one layer of vanilla cake and one of banana cake, smeared with a thin layer of caramelized pineapple jam and filled with fresh strawberry mousse. We'll cover it in chocolate ganache and then in sweet cream buttercream that will have chopped Luxardo cherries in it for the maraschino-cherry-on-top element. The final layer will be a nod to our own neighborhood, pulling from the traditional flavors that make up classical Jewish baking. The cake will be a walnut cake with hints of cinnamon, and we will do a soaking syrup infused with a little bit of sweet sherry. A thin layer of the thick poppy seed filling we use in our rugelach and hamantaschen, and then a layer of honey-roasted whole apricots and vanilla pastry cream. This will get covered in vanilla buttercream.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Elliot, that was amazing." The meal has been spectacular. We started with a salad of fennel, golden beets, and grapefruit. He did a veal roast with a classic shallot-cognac pan sauce, smooth with butter and brightened with thyme and parsley, the meat perfectly cooked, still rosy in the middle, with a great crisp brown sear on the outside. An interesting dish of fregola, toasted pearl pasta that is one of my favorite ingredients, cooked with sweet corn he charred on the grill, and chives. And simple steamed asparagus. Everything cooked perfectly, well seasoned, and full of soul.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Most tourists, having done some research on Chicago delicacies, order their Italian beef sandwiches "wet," meaning that a slosh of extra meat gravy is dumped over the beef once it is in the bread. They think it means they are in the know, much as they do when they order a Chicago hot dog and tell the seller to "drag it through the garden." Chicagoans, almost to a person, order their dogs simply with "everything" if they want the seven classic toppings, and their Italian beef "dipped," meaning that the whole sandwich, once assembled, is grasped gently between tongs and completely submerged briefly in the vat of jus. This results in a sandwich that isn't just moist, it's decadently squooshy, in a way that sends rivulets of salty meaty juice down your arm when you eat. This is the sandwich that necessitated the invention of the Chicago Sandwich Stance, a method of eating with your elbows resting on your dining surface, leaning over to hopefully save shirtfronts and ties from a horrible meaty baptism. Dipped Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago require a full commitment. Once you start, you are all in till the last bit of slushy bread and shred of spicy beef is gone. It requires that beverages have straws and proximity. Because if you try to stop midway, to pop in a French fry, or pick up a cup, the whole thing will disintegrate before your very eyes. You can lean over to sip something as long as you don't let go of your grasp on the sandwich. Fries are saved for dessert. Most people wouldn't suspect how good iced coffee would be with Italian beef and French fries, but it is genius. My personal genius. Bringing sweet and bitter and cold to the hot, salty umami bomb of the sandwich and the crispy fries- insanely good.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

These. Are. AMAZING," Caroline says around a mouthful of apple cider zeppole. We're at the Logan Square Farmers Market, and have eaten our way around the square. We started with a couple of meat tacos from Cherubs, simply seasoned small cubes of beef on soft steamed corn tortillas, with a garnish of onion, cilantro and lime. A perfect amuse-bouche. Then we shared an insane grilled cheese sandwich, buttery and crispy and filled with gooey, perfectly melted Wisconsin Butterkase cheese. A pork empanada from Pecking Order, with their homemade banana ketchup. A porchetta sandwich from Publican Quality Meats.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

There are food stations around the room, each representing one of the main characters. The Black Widow station is all Russian themed, with a carved ice sculpture that delivers vodka into molded ice shot glasses, buckwheat blini with smoked salmon and caviar, borsht bite skewers, minipita sandwiches filled with grilled Russian sausages, onion salad, and a sour cream sauce. The Captain America station is, naturally, all-American, with cheeseburger sliders, miniwaffles topped with a fried chicken tender and drizzled with Tabasco honey butter, paper cones of French fries, mini-Chicago hot dogs, a mac 'n' cheese bar, and pickled watermelon skewers. The Hulk station is all about duality and green. Green and white tortellini, one filled with cheese, the other with spicy sausage, skewered with artichoke hearts with a brilliant green pesto for dipping. Flatbreads cooked with olive oil and herbs and Parmesan, topped with an arugula salad in a lemon vinaigrette. Mini-espresso cups filled with hot sweet pea soup topped with cold sour cream and chervil. And the dessert buffet is inspired by Loki, the villain of the piece, and Norse god of mischief. There are plenty of dessert options, many of the usual suspects, mini-creme brûlée, eight different cookies, small tarts. But here and there are mischievous and whimsical touches. Rice Krispies treats sprinkled with Pop Rocks for a shocking dining experience. One-bite brownies that have a molten chocolate center that explodes in the mouth. Rice pudding "sushi" topped with Swedish Fish.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Between culinary school, a year and a half of apprentice stages all over the world in amazing restaurants, ten years as the personal chef of talk show phenom Maria De Costa, and six years as Patrick's culinary slave, I am nothing if not efficient in the kitchen. I grab eggs, butter, chives, a packet of prosciutto, my favorite nonstick skillet. I crack four eggs, whip them quickly with a bit of cold water, and then use my Microplane grater to grate a flurry of butter into them. I heat my pan, add just a tiny bit more butter to coat the bottom, and let it sizzle while I slice two generous slices off the rustic sourdough loaf I have on the counter and drop them in the toaster. I dump the eggs in the pan, stirring constantly over medium-low heat, making sure they cook slowly and stay in fluffy curds. The toast pops, and I put them on a plate, give them a schmear of butter, and lay two whisper-thin slices of prosciutto on top. The eggs are ready, set perfectly; dry but still soft and succulent, and I slide them out of the pan on top of the toast, and quickly mince some chives to confetti on top. A sprinkle of gray fleur de sel sea salt, a quick grinding of grains of paradise, my favorite African pepper, and I hand the plate to Patrick, who rises from the loveseat to receive it, grabs a fork from the rack on my counter, and heads out of my kitchen toward the dining room. Dumpling followed him, tail wagging, like a small furry acolyte.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

He opens a lower cabinet to reveal that it is a mini fridge, and brings over two plates that each have a slice of what looks like flan, dark at the top from being baked with caramel. He hands me a plate and fork, and pours me a glass of wine. I take a bite. And my eyes snap open. "Gateau de semoule?" I say in disbelief. "Mais oui, mademoiselle, bien sur." He smiles. "I thought you might like it." "I adore it. And I haven't had it in years." The very French dessert is essentially baked creme caramel-type custard, thickened with semolina for an amazing texture and added nuttiness. There are juicy golden raisins, which I believe he has soaked in rum, and the caramel you make for the bottom of the baking dish turns itself into a light sauce when you unmold it. It is the kind of dessert that any French maman would make on a weeknight for dessert. Unfunny, unfussy, and completely comforting and delicious.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

She is never going to let me live down that stupid Thanksgiving," Kai says. I can't help but take the bait. "You made prime rib!" "It was delicious," Kai says, shrugging. "IT WAS BEEF! You can't have beef on Thanksgiving, except for appetizers like meatballs or something. You have TURKEY on Thanksgiving." Last Thanksgiving I spent with Phil and Kai, since I was orphaned and separated and Gilly couldn't make it from London. Everything was delicious, but it was like a dinner party and not Thanksgiving. The prime rib wasn't the only anomaly. No mashed potatoes or stuffing or sweet potatoes with marshmallows or green bean casserole. He had acorn squash with cippolini onions and balsamic glaze. Asparagus almondine. Corn custard with oyster mushrooms. Wild rice with currants and pistachios and mint. All amazing and perfectly cooked and balanced, and not remotely what I wanted for Thanksgiving. When I refused to take leftovers, his feelings were hurt, and when he got to the store two days later, he let me know. "Look," Kai says with infinite patience. "For a week we prepped for the Thanksgiving pickups." He ticks off on his fingers the classic menu we developed together for the customers who wanted a traditional meal without the guilt. "Herb-brined turkey breasts with apricot glaze and roasted shallot jus. Stuffing muffins with sage and pumpkin seeds. Cranberry sauce with dried cherries and port. Pumpkin soup, and healthy mashed potatoes, and glazed sweet potatoes with orange and thyme, and green beans with wild mushroom ragu, and roasted brussels sprouts, and pumpkin mousse and apple cake. We cooked Thanksgiving and tasted Thanksgiving and took Thanksgiving leftovers home at the end of the day. I just thought you would be SICK OF TURKEY!

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

There is nothing wrong with believing in yourself, in your heart. It always knows the path you should take, and often, the more you fear it, the more that is probably what you should try. Even if there is the likelihood of failure. Our failures prepare us for our successes, and you never know when you start which it will be.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I feed Volnay, who eats in her unusual way, delicately removing one piece of kibble at a time from her bowl, placing it on the little rug that serves as her dining room, and then eating it before going back in for a second piece of kibble. It takes her the better part of thirty minutes to finish her bowl. I'm sure if she had thumbs, she'd be patting her chin with a linen napkin after every morsel. When she finishes, she hits the water bowl. Silently. No one can figure out how she drinks, she sort of purses her lips and sucks, none of that slurping and splashing that accompany most dogs' drinking. She is a stealth drinker. When she finishes, she heads to her little bed in the corner of the kitchen to groom her fur a bit. Lovely girl.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

She isn't the kind of girl that makes you wonder why she doesn't have someone, you just know that the kind of guy who is good enough for her is rare, and she projects the kind of strength that says she is perfectly happy to wait till he shows up.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I love the caraway seeds in the classic rye bread, but I wonder if the rich dough might not also hold up to other flavors. I jot down some notes. Aniseed. Fennel seed. Orange zest. Golden raisins. Coarse salt? Maybe if Herman doesn't come down when I am working on the dough, I can use a small batch for a little experiment. I'm thinking rolls, not loaves. The kind of rolls you want to smear with cold sweet butter at dinner, or split and toast and spread with cream cheese for breakfast. Savory and sweet. Maybe semolina on the bottom instead of the coarser cornmeal we use for the regular rye loaves.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

But I had learned long ago that you actually probably don't want to know what kind of guy your besties think you ought to be with. It always says as much about what they think of you as what they think of him, and I find a certain comfort in being ignorant of what my pals might envision for me.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Iceberg wedges with a homemade Thousand Island dressing and bacon bits. Prime rib, slow roasted in a very forgiving technique I developed after years of trying to make it for weddings and parties where the timing of the meal can be drastically changed based on length of ceremony, or toasts, or how well the venue staff can change over a room. Twice-baked potatoes, creamed spinach. I have a stack of crepes already made, ready to be turned into crepes suzette with butter and brown sugar and orange zest and flambeed with Grand Marnier, because if you go all old school, something needs to be set on fire. With homemade vanilla bean gelato to cut the richness, of course!

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Volnay is prancing, head up proudly; her squat little bowlegs producing a smooth gait that would make the dog show people preen. She carries herself like a supermodel. Weiner dog or no, she is a fairly perfect specimen of her breed. And I know I'm supposed to be all about the rescue mutts, and I give money to PAWS every year, but there is something about having a dog with a pedigree that makes me smile. Her AKC name is The Lady Volnay of Cote de Beaune. The French would call her a jolie laide, "beautiful ugly," like those people whose slightly off features, sort of unattractive and unconventional on their own, come together to make someone who is compelling, striking, and handsome in a unique way. I'm always so proud that I'm her person.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Your body will always tell you what you need. If you crave sweet things, your energy is flagging. If it's meat you want, your iron is low. When you want potatoes above everything else, there is something not grounded with you. Whatever tricks your head many play on you, however fickle your heart, your body will tell you very specifically what it is you need, and it is up to you to listen.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Naomi at TipsyCake is doing the cake, and it should be amazing." "Mmm, cake. What kind of cake?" "Almond cake with a layer of fresh apricot puree, white-chocolate-mousse filling, and vanilla buttercream." "Oh. My." "I know. Should be a killer party.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

What is it?" "It's a Thermomix." "That crazy cooking-blender thing you were telling me about?" "The very one." I've been coveting this piece of equipment ever since my last trip to Montreal when I found out that nearly every great restaurant there is using them. It is essentially a powerful blender that also heats, so it will cook your soup and then puree it. It can spin slow enough to make risotto or hollandaise, or fast enough to turn whole unpeeled apples into the smoothest most velvety applesauce you've ever tasted. They aren't for sale in stores or online; you have to go through a special independent contractor salesperson, and they don't sell them in the U.S. Also? They are fifteen hundred dollars, an expense that even I couldn't justify for a piece of kitchen equipment. "I thought you can't get them here?" "You can't. He would have had to go through someone in Canada." "Wow. That is pretty amazing." "Yeah.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

On the coffee table is a bottle of Madeira, a plate of dark chocolates, a bowl of tiny tangerines. He opens a lower cabinet to reveal that it is a mini fridge, and brings over two plates that each have a slice of what looks like flan, dark at the top from being baked with caramel. He hands me a plate and fork, and pours me a glass of wine. I take a bite. And my eyes snap open. "Gateau de semoule?" I say in disbelief. "Mais oui, mademoiselle, bien sur." He smiles. "I thought you might like it." "I adore it. And I haven't had it in years." The very French dessert is essentially baked creme caramel-type custard, thickened with semolina for an amazing texture and added nuttiness. There are juicy golden raisins, which I believe he has soaked in rum, and the caramel you make for the bottom of the baking dish turns itself into a light sauce when you unmold it. It is the kind of dessert that any French maman would make on a weeknight for dessert. Unfancy, unfussy, and completely comforting and delicious.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Whether you're a bride or a birthday boy, your options are much the same. Cake comes in chocolate, yellow, or white. Frosting comes in chocolate or vanilla buttercream, or you can opt for whipped cream. Fillings are either chocolate or vanilla custard, fresh bananas, or strawberries or raspberries in season. For birthday cakes, you can have either flowers or balloons in your choice of colors. For wedding cakes, you can add either fondant or marzipan covering, or either smooth or basket-weave buttercream, in white or ivory, with either pearl-like dots or ribbony swags made of frosting, and fondant faux flowers are extra.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

A chilled pea soup of insane simplicity, garnished with creme fraiche and celery leaves. Roasted beet salad with poached pears and goat cheese. Rack of lamb wrapped in crispy prosciutto, served over a celery root and horseradish puree, with sautéed spicy black kale. A thin-as-paper apple galette with fig glaze. Everything turned out brilliantly, including Patrick, who roused himself as I was pulling the lamb from the oven to rest before carving. He disappeared into the bathroom for ten minutes and came out shiny; green pallor and under-eye bags gone like magic. Pink with health and vitality, polished and ridiculously handsome, he looked as if he could run a marathon, and I was gobsmacked. He came up behind me just as I was finishing his port sauce for the lamb with a sprinkle of honey vinegar and a bit of butter, the only changes I made to any of his recipes, finding the sauce without them a bit one-dimensional and in need of edge smoothing.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

One Sunday a girl from our study group, Jenny, invited us all to her mom's house in Hyde Park for a true Sunday Soul Food Dinner. Jenny's mom, Billie, a tiny woman with skin the color of café au lait, and silvery hair in a perfect chignon, laid out a soul food spread that brought a tear to the eye. Barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, collard greens with ham hocks, bread dressing, green beans, biscuits, candied sweet potatoes, creamed corn, and in the center of the table, a huge pile of fried chicken. I had never tasted anything like that fried chicken. The perfect balance of crisp batter to tender juicy meat. Everything that day was delicious, but the fried chicken was transcendent.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I have been all over the world cooking and eating and training under extraordinary chefs. And the two food guys I would most like to go on a road trip with are Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlmann, both of whom I have met, and who are genuinely awesome guys, hysterically funny and easy to be with. But as much as I want to be the Batgirl in that trio, I fear that I would be woefully unprepared. Because an essential part of the food experience that those two enjoy the most is stuff that, quite frankly, would make me ralph. I don't feel overly bad about the offal thing. After all, variety meats seem to be the one area that people can get a pass on. With the possible exception of foie gras, which I wish like heckfire I liked, but I simply cannot get behind it, and nothing is worse than the look on a fellow foodie's face when you pass on the pate. I do love tongue, and off cuts like oxtails and cheeks, but please, no innards. Blue or overly stinky cheeses, cannot do it. Not a fan of raw tomatoes or tomato juice- again I can eat them, but choose not to if I can help it. Ditto, raw onions of every variety (pickled is fine, and I cannot get enough of them cooked), but I bonded with Scott Conant at the James Beard Awards dinner, when we both went on a rant about the evils of raw onion. I know he is often sort of douchey on television, but he was nice to me, very funny, and the man makes the best freaking spaghetti in tomato sauce on the planet. I have issues with bell peppers. Green, red, yellow, white, purple, orange. Roasted or raw. Idk. If I eat them raw I burp them up for days, and cooked they smell to me like old armpit. I have an appreciation for many of the other pepper varieties, and cook with them, but the bell pepper? Not my friend. Spicy isn't so much a preference as a physical necessity. In addition to my chronic and severe gastric reflux, I also have no gallbladder. When my gallbladder and I divorced several years ago, it got custody of anything spicier than my own fairly mild chili, Emily's sesame noodles, and that plastic Velveeta-Ro-Tel dip that I probably shouldn't admit to liking. I'm allowed very occasional visitation rights, but only at my own risk. I like a gentle back-of-the-throat heat to things, but I'm never going to meet you for all-you-can-eat buffalo wings. Mayonnaise squicks me out, except as an ingredient in other things. Avocado's bland oiliness, okra's slickery slime, and don't even get me started on runny eggs. I know. It's mortifying.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I've been developing killer updated versions of things like Black Forest cake, now with bittersweet devil's food cake, a dried-cherry conserve, and whipped vanilla creme fraiche. I've perfected a new carrot cake, adding candied chunks of parsnips and rum-soaked golden raisins to the cake and mascarpone to the frosting. And my cheeky take on homemade Pop-Tarts will be available in three flavors- blueberry, strawberry, and peanut butter and jelly- and I've even ordered fun little silver Mylar bags to pack them in.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Making dinner for Wayne is either the easiest thing or the hardest thing on the planet, depending on how you look at it. After all, Wayne's famous Eleven are neither difficult to procure nor annoying to prepare. They are just. So. Boring. Roasted chicken Plain hamburgers Steak cooked medium Pork chops Eggs scrambled dry Potatoes, preferably fries, chips, baked, or mashed, and not with anything fancy mixed in Chili, preferably Hormel canned Green beans Carrots Corn Iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing That's it. The sum total of what Wayne will put into his maw. He doesn't even eat fricking PIZZA for chrissakes. Not including condiments, limited to ketchup and yellow mustard and Miracle Whip, and any and all forms of baked goods... when it comes to breads and pastries and desserts he has the palate of a gourmand, no loaf goes untouched, no sweet unexplored. It saves him, only slightly, from being a complete food wasteland. And he has no idea that it is strange to everyone that he will eat apple pie and apple cake and apple charlotte and apple brown Betty and apple dumplings and fritters and muffins and doughnuts and crisp and crumble and buckle, but will not eat AN APPLE.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Starting with the chocolate version, I swap out some of the cocoa powder with melted bittersweet chocolate and add some sour cream for balance and moistness, as well as some instant espresso powder, my secret ingredient for anything chocolate, which doesn't so much make something taste like coffee, but rather just makes chocolate taste more chocolaty. While the chocolate cupcakes are baking, I turn my attention to the vanilla recipe, adding some vanilla bean paste to amp up the vanilla flavor and show off those awesome little black-speck vanilla seeds, and mixing some buttermilk into the batter to prevent it from being overly sweet and unbalanced. The banana version uses very ripe bananas that I've been stashing in the freezer, as well as a single slice of fresh banana that has been coated in caramel and is pushed halfway into each cup of batter for a surprise in the middle of the cupcakes. Herman's frostings are close to the frostings of my youth, simple faux buttercreams made with softened butter and confectioners' sugar. Nothing fancy. In my newer versions, the chocolate gets melted chocolate and chocolate milk mixed in, the vanilla gets more vanilla bean paste and a tiny hit of lemon zest, and the peanut butter gets a blend of butter and cream cheese for some tang.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

The menu is spectacular. Passed hors d'oeuvres include caramelized shallot tartlets topped with Gorgonzola, cubes of crispy pork belly skewered with fresh fig, espresso cups of chilled corn soup topped with spicy popcorn, mini arepas filled with rare skirt steak and chimichurri and pickle onions, and prawn dumplings with a mango serrano salsa. There is a raw bar set up with three kinds of oysters, and a raclette station where we have a whole wheel of the nutty cheese being melted to order, with baby potatoes, chunks of garlic sausage, spears of fresh fennel, lightly pickled Brussels sprouts, and hunks of sourdough bread to pour it over. When we head up for dinner, we will start with a classic Dover sole amandine with a featherlight spinach flan, followed by a choice of seared veal chops or duck breast, both served with creamy polenta, roasted mushrooms, and lacinato kale. Next is a light salad of butter lettuce with a sharp lemon Dijon vinaigrette, then a cheese course with each table receiving a platter of five cheeses with dried fruits and nuts and three kinds of bread, followed by the panna cottas. Then the cake, and coffee and sweets. And at midnight, chorizo tamales served with scrambled eggs, waffle sticks with chicken fingers and spicy maple butter, candied bacon strips, sausage biscuit sandwiches, and vanilla Greek yogurt parfaits with granola and berries on the "breakfast" buffet, plus cheeseburger sliders, mini Chicago hot dogs, little Chinese take-out containers of pork fried rice and spicy sesame noodles, a macaroni-and-cheese bar, and little stuffed pizzas on the "snack food" buffet. There will also be tiny four-ounce milk bottles filled with either vanilla malted milk shakes, root beer floats made with hard root beer, Bloody Marys, or mimosas.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Caroline has laid out a beautiful spread, which is a combination of some of my favorite things that she has cooked, and traditional Sikh wedding dishes provided by Jag's friends. There is a whole roasted beef tenderloin, sliced up with beautiful brioche rolls for those who want to make sandwiches, crispy brussels sprouts, potato gratin, and tomato pudding from Gemma's journal. The savory pudding was one of the dishes from Martha's wedding, which gave me the idea for this insanity to begin with, so it seemed appropriate. I actually think Gemma would strongly approve of this whole thing. And she certainly would have appreciated the exoticism of the wonderful Indian vegetarian dishes, lentils, fried pakoras, and a spicy chickpea stew. From what I can tell, Gemma was thrilled anytime she could get introduced in a completely new cuisine, whether it was the Polish stonemason introducing her to pierogi and borsht, or the Chinese laundress bringing her tender dumplings, or the German butcher sharing his recipe for sauerbraten. She loved to experiment in the kitchen, and the Rabins encouraged her, gifting her cookbooks and letting her surprise them with new delicacies. Her favorite was 'With a Saucepan Over the Sea: Quaint and Delicious Recipes from the Kitchens of Foreign Countries,' a book of recipes from around the world that Gemma seemed to refer to frequently, enjoying most when she could alter one of the recipes to better fit the palate of the Rabins. Mrs. Rabin taught her all of the traditional Jewish dishes they needed for holiday celebrations, and was, by Gemma's account, a superlative cook in her own right. Off to the side of the buffet is a lovely dessert table, swagged with white linen and topped with a small wedding cake, surrounded by dishes of fried dough balls soaked in rosewater syrup and decorated with pistachios and rose petals, and other Indian sweets.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I look over the recipe again. It sounds very simple. You boil some rice in water like pasta, I can do that. You cook some onion in butter, stir in the rice, pop it in the oven. Add some cream and grated cheese and mix it up. And voila! A real dinner. I pull out a couple of the pots Caroline gave me, and began to get everything laid out. Grant always yammered on about mise en place, that habit of getting all your stuff together before you start cooking so you can be organized. It seems to make sense, and appeals to the part of me that likes to make lists and check things off of them. I manage to chop a pile of onions without cutting myself, but with a lot of tears. At one point I walk over to the huge freezer and stick my head in it for some relief, while Schatzi looks at me like I'm an idiot. Which isn't unusual. Or even come to think of it, wrong. But I get them sliced and chopped, albeit unevenly, and put them in the large pot with some butter. I get some water boiling in the other pot and put in some rice. I cook it for a few minutes, drain it, and add it to the onions, stirring them all together. Then I put the lid on the pot and put it in the oven, and set my phone with an alarm for thirty-five minutes. The kitchen smells amazing. Nothing quite like onions cooked in butter to make the heart happy. While it cooks, I grab a beer, and grate some Swiss cheese into a pile. When my phone buzzes, I pull the pot out of the oven and put it back on the stovetop, stirring in the cream and cheese, and sprinkling in some salt and pepper. I grab a bowl and fill it with the richly scented mixture. I stand right there at the counter, and gingerly take a spoonful. It's amazing. Rich and creamy and oniony. The rice is nicely cooked, not mushy. And even though some of my badly cut onions make for some awkward eating moments, as the strings slide out of the spoon and attach themselves to my chin, the flavor is spectacular. Simple and comforting, and utterly delicious.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Stacey Ballis

After escargots swimming in garlic butter, steak with the crispiest, thinnest fries imaginable, and simple salads of butter lettuce in a peppery Dijon vinaigrette, we share a cheese course, followed by a trio of desserts: lemon tart for me, blueberry bread pudding for Jean, and a poached pear for Ruth.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

This year I am doing praline pecans, an old favorite family favorite, easy and addictive. And a festive holiday dark chocolate loaf cake, with pistachios and dried cherries and white chocolate chips. I get out my huge seven-quart KitchenAid mixer, and head to the basement, where I have ten pounds of gorgeous halved pecans in the chest freezer, and a pallet of organic eggs from Paulie's Pasture in the commercial refrigerator I use for entertaining and overflow. Upstairs, I focus on separating eggs, reserving the yolks for making pasta or custard later. Beating whites, melting butter, I can feel my shoulders unclench as the scent of toasted sugar pecans caramelizing fills the house.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

When I was a little girl my mom would make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch at least three times a week, crusts cut off, sliced twice on the bias for triangles for me, and into long fingers for Gilly. I eventually moved from smooth peanut butter and grape jelly to chunky peanut butter and strawberry preserves to fresh natural peanut butter with homemade damson plum jam or peach coriander confiture.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

In the center of the table is a classic deli platter of lox and tuna salad with all the fixings, bagels, and cream cheeses. And on a trivet, a noodle kugel, a casserole of egg noodles suspended in a light sweet custard, with a crunchy topping of crushed cornflakes mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar. It was always my favorite thing my mom ever made. "All my favorites." My mom beams at me. "And mine too. Let's eat!" my dad says, swatting my mom on her ample tush. We make our plates, I grab a plain bagel and top one up with tuna salad and dill pickle, and the other with chive cream cheese and cucumber. I also help myself to a large corner chunk of kugel, for maximum crispy edges, and some coleslaw. Clearly someone went all the way out to Kaufman's on Dempster in Skokie; I can tell by the bagels. A slight crunch on the outside gives way to perfect dense chewiness.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

So," he explains. "Take the piece of bread, dip it in the olive oil and then in the spice and nut mix, and then smear some of the spicy carrot dip on top." The appetizer is complicated to assemble, but absolutely delicious. The bread, a hearty baguette from La Boulangerie, is a chewy, crusty foil for the buttery oil, savory crunchy nut mixture, and sweet and spicy carrot puree. An explosion of flavor and texture. He also has some creamy local chèvre, and marinated olives.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

There is a gate across the entrance, which Liam moves aside for me, and there is a scrabbling noise as a red blur comes zooming across the room. Liam reaches down and picks up the dervish, who licks him frantically. "Hello, girl. Nice to see you too. This is Anneke, she's a friend of mine. Anneke, this is Kerry. Like the country." I can finally see that she is an Irish setter, maybe four or five months old, and I reach out to pet her, and Liam drops her unceremoniously in my arms. She is soft and warm, and immediately snuggles cozily against me. "Cute pup." "Yeah, I have to say, she has stolen my heart." "That's just because she's Irish." "That might be it. Always did have a thing for redheads." This makes me blush, and I focus on cuddling the puppy to cover my discomfit.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I want coffee to taste of coffee. Maybe a little cream and sugar. I do not want coffee that tastes of potpourri or fruit or nuts or like licking the bottom of my spice drawer. And while I should not be eating donuts to begin with, I REALLY don't want to waste precious donut-related calories on Dunkin'. I'll head to the Doughnut Vault for a pistachio or coconut old fashioned, or maybe grab a Chocolate Bacon from Fritz Bakery for a real treat.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Stacey Ballis

Yep," I say, cutting a large slice of the Dutch Baby pancake and sliding it onto her plate along with two pieces of thick-sliced bacon. Then I serve myself, the fluffy pancake, doused in butter and lemon and confectioners' sugar, the bacon perfectly crispy and salty. "What happened? 'Cause that is some full-service lawyering; I'm clearly with the wrong firm. Damn this thing is delicious," she says in a rush, forking a large piece of pancake into her mouth and rolling her eyes. "I know, right?" I take a small bite, letting the flavors mingle, the light pancake, the tart lemon, the sweet sugar. Perfection.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I fill one container with hearty vegetable soup, and another with a Japanese-style broth, bok choy, scallions, and udon noodles. I pack up a roasted chicken breast, and some plain steamed brown rice. Some orange slices in honey vinegar with mint. A couple of corn muffins.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Stacey Ballis

My daughters-in-law, you know..." she shrugs her rounded shoulders resignedly. "They are such sweet girls, good mothers, kind to me..." "And such bad cooks!" we all say in unison, the refrain of every Leftovers Brunch in our history. "Tell us," Benji says, all of us relishing the litany and details of failed dishes. "Well, Gina, you know, she is Italian, so she brings sausages in peppers, which smells like feet. And she takes the beautiful sausages that Kurt makes at the butcher shop and cooks them until they are like hard little rocks. Ellie, she is afraid of getting fat, so she makes cheesecake with no-fat Greek yogurt and Egg Beaters and fake sugar that tastes mostly of petrol. Lisa wanted to do stuffing, and it was so dry that you could barely choke it down. I had to make a second batch of gravy in the middle of dinner because everyone was trying to soak it so that it didn't kill us." "But you made that beautiful turkey, and those dumplings are like pillows," Andrea says. "And your famous German potato salad," Eloise says. "And all of those desserts from the bakery," I say, dreaming of crispy, sweet pastries, oozing custard and homemade jam and dolloped with whipped cream. "A good meal in spite of the girls." Lois beams, knowing that we all really mean our compliments.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

What do you want for lunch?" "Jag and I were talking about maybe needing a little Persian fix. What do you think?" "I think I will do an order to Noon O Kabab, and then take the dog for a walk. Can you keep an ear out for the doorbell?" "Will do?" I grab my iPad and log in to the restaurant website and place an order for hummus, baba ghanouj, spicy pomegranate wings, and skewers of chenjeh, koubideh, and lamb. The combination of grilled marinated rib eye, minced spiced beef, and tender lamb should be plenty for three hungry worker bees, with Persian rice and grilled vegetables, chunks of feta, and their delicious large pita breads.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Stacey Ballis

The nice thing about this menu is that it will keep fine for tomorrow. I decide to finish the potatoes, cutting the top off and scooping out the fluffy interiors, leaving a quarter-inch-thick shell. I mix the scoopings with butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese and chives, add a splash of milk to keep smooth, and restuff the potato shells, sprinkling a mixture of shredded cheddar and fried shallots on top, and pop them in the fridge. All I will have to do tomorrow is cook the beef, reheat the spinach, and bake the potatoes.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Stacey Ballis

RJ gets to work in the kitchen on the dinner he is preparing, allowing me to sous chef. He seasons duck breasts with salt, pepper, coriander, and orange zest. Puts a pot of wild rice on to cook, asks me to top and tail some green beans. We open a bottle of Riesling, sipping while we cook, and I light a fire. The place gets cozy, full of delicious smells and the crackling fire. We ignore the dining table in favor of sitting on the floor in front of the fire, and tuck in. "This is amazing," I tell him, blown away by the duck, perfectly medium-rare and succulent, with crispy, fully rendered skin. "Really, honey, it couldn't be better." "Thank you, baby. That's a major compliment. And I have to say, I love cooking with you." "I love cooking with you." And I did. I never once felt like I wanted to jump in or make a change, or suggest a different choice. I followed him as I would have followed any chef, and the results of trusting him are completely delicious, literally and figuratively.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I can't tell you how many times over the years people tried to give me soy cheese and tempeh fake-meat, and other ickiness and pass it off as yummy. I'm sorry but no, you cannot make vegetable protein taste like bacon, no matter how much salt and liquid smoke you put in it! I wanted to celebrate good food, prepared in ways that make it good for you, which is surprisingly easy to do if you know the basics. If you use exceptional products that have inherent natural goodness, you don't need to swamp them in butter or cream to make them taste good." For dinner we'd had grilled skirt steaks, spicy Thai sesame noodles from my friend Doug's recipe, braised cauliflower, and for dessert, poached pears and Greek yogurt with lavender flowers and black sage honey. Filling, balanced, nutritionally sound.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I think back to the parties Aimee and I planned, and how all those tuxedos and ball gowns weren't really that much different, costumewise, than some of these getups. Not as elaborate or out there, to be sure, but not so different. After all, is an hour at Bobbi Brown for the perfect party makeup that much of a stretch from an hour putting on a Klingon forehead or Spock ears? Is searching for the perfect dress, shoes, bag, wrap, jewelry so much different from the perfect jumpsuit, ray gun, ammo belt, and communicator? And unlike most of the regular parties we did, these people are way open to each other and the experience. There don't seem to be gaggles of people standing back to judge the other gaggles. And while a lot of the subsets do seem to flock together, Star Wars over here, Lord of the Rings over there, I haven't overheard one snarky comment about someone's costume. None of the women here, in all of their variety of shapes and sizes, seem to be doing anything other than squeeing at each other and praising how gorgeous they are. And everyone seems to just own themselves. I've been at hundreds of events looking at a sea of black dresses because everyone thinks it is slimming. But today I've seen a riot of color and skin. Including a 350-pound raven-haired vixen in a chain-mail corset, with cleavage you could park a hovercraft in, surrounded by a coterie of clearly smitten men. I wanted to high-five her.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Stacey Ballis

I invested in a fifteen-dollar handheld mandoline, knowing that my knife skills would never be good enough to get the potatoes thin and uniform. I shockingly manage to slice them all without opening an artery, and briefly cook them in a mix of cream and half-and-half, with a pinch of nutmeg, a sprig of thyme. I've got a buttered dish at the ready, which I've dutifully rubbed with the cut side of a half clove of garlic, but I'm suspicious of this maneuver; I can't imagine it will really impart much flavor. When the potato slices are pliable but still not cooked, I transfer them to the dish, discarding the sprig of thyme, and add enough of the cooking liquid to barely cover them. I pop it in the preheated oven, wondering how that soupy mess of potato and cream will come together into a sliceable dish.