Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kid Chef Holiday Giveaway & Edible Gifts

It's been a terrific year empowering young folks in the kitchen. Happily, Kid Chef is actually making a mark on people of all ages, giving countless people new adventures in cooking! To celebrate, my publisher is hosting a special holiday giveaway…. It's the perfect gift for the kid on your list who loves to cook. 

*Feed your Kid Chef's Curiosity* Giveaway: order your young one - or another budding chef in your life - a holiday copy of Kid Chef and be entered to win a kid-friendly cooking kit, complete with BPA-free mixing bowls, measuring cups+spoons, kitchen timer, and a kid-size chef's apron. Click here for all the details. When you place your order and forward confirmation, you’re automatically entered to win! Giveaway ends this Saturday, December 17th, at 11:59pm EST. Good luck and happy cooking!

For this holiday season, I am sharing good food with family and friends, with the understanding that handmade and delicious makes all hearts full. 

For some lucky folks, I made membrillo - aka quince paste - using my friend Leda Meredith's recipe. 

In late summer, I infused a nice brandy with local wild black cherries. I made dark chocolate truffles and added some of the fragrant liqueur while mixing together these heady treats.

The great thing about both of these edible gifts is that they'll keep in the refrigerator for a while. Which means, in the midst of the rest of holiday plans and prep, you can parcel the process into manageable bits, making truly wow-factor gifts without coming up depleted. It's a win-win for everyone… :)

makes enough for 9 x 11 pan

3 1/2 pounds quinces
2 pounds granulated sugar

Wash and peel the quinces, reserving the peels. Core them, adding the cores to the reserved peels. Chop the remaining quince into approximately 2-inch chunks. Tie the peels and cores up in cheesecloth or in a clean muslin bag.

Put the chunks of quince and the bundle of peels and cores into a large pot. Add water to cover by approximately 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the quince chunks are mushy-soft.

Remove and discard the bundle of peels and cores. Strain the remaining cooked quince through a very fine meshed strainer or a double layer of cheesecloth set in a colander (you can use the liquid that strains out to make quince jelly). Leave the quince to strain for 1-2 hours.

Puree the strained quince mash in a food processor or run through a food mill. Weigh or measure the puree, then transfer it to a large pot. Add an equal amount by weight of granulated sugar.

Cook over low heat until very thick, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Stir constantly initially, to dissolve the sugar, and frequently after that. 

When it is done the quince paste will stick to a wooden spoon, and if you drag the spoon over the bottom of the pot it will leave a rut that does not fill in immediately with the quince. Be careful towards the end of the cooking time to stir often, so that it doesn't burn.

Lightly grease a 9 x 11 inch baking dish. Spread quince paste in the dish, smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon. It should be about 1 1/2-inches thick. Let the paste cool in the baking dish.

Dry the paste in your oven at the lowest setting, not higher than 125F/52C, for 8 hours or overnight. If your oven doesn't go this low, prop its door open with a dishtowel or the handle of a wooden spoon. 

The surface should be glossy, not sticky to the touch. Place the quince paste in its baking dish into the refrigerator for 2 hours. Run a knife around the edges. Invert the quince paste onto a plate or sheet of parchment. Cut into small blocks and securely wrap in cellophane or parchment paper, and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Black cherry brandy-infused chocolate truffles
makes 30-40 truffles

1 lb semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate disks or chips (62% cacao or higher), or a block chopped into small pieces - I used Callebaut1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp brandy or liqueur of your choice (Gran Marnier, Luxardo, and Poire Williams are all good) - if you want to infuse, allow at least a month for the infusion to meld, up to 6 months
unsweetened cocoa, for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Place the chocolate disks or pieces into a mixing bowl. 

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, brandy (or other liqueur), and salt to a simmer, stirring and scraping down the sides occasionally. Pour mixture over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. 

Fold the cream and chocolate into each other, until uniform and silky. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until slightly firm, then, using a melon baller, scoop ganache into rough spheres. Refrigerate the lot, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet, for 30 minutes-1 hour, then quickly roll them (so that they do not melt) between your palms to even their shapes. 

Place enough cocoa to easily coat the truffles in a small shallow bowl. Roll truffles around through the cocoa, then tap each lightly to free any excess. Refrigerate again, layers separated by parchment, in a sealed container until gift-giving time, and at that time, bring to room temperature.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwaanza. Give time to slow down, even if only a day or two, and enjoy your family and loved ones. By so many an account 2016 has been a rough one, but it doesn't make the precious nature of our time any different. See you in 2017! xxx

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sultry Umami Dandelion Greens, Favorite Brussels Salad, Thanksgiving Thoughts

I hadn't planned on making this, a fridge bursting with work projects and all. But I seized upon this bunch of greens so bright and crisp and decided there was room for *one more* recipe, a tangent to indulge myself in the mix of cooking and shooting out-soon cookbooks and far-away magazine stories.

I realized recently that a lot of what I make is what-to-do-with-leftovers, or rescuing food, as I like to call it: creating an exciting meal from the stragglers leftover from work. Sometimes my best eating comes from this spontaneous way of working; I'm not complaining. But it isn't often I go to market and just buy food that I want to make.

A good dandelion salad can be cathartic. I was determined to make the best that I knew how.

And then it almost didn't happen... There was the month-long, seemingly never-ending move (the second in two years!) which had me maxed out. We moved house, office, and studio. Add to that, I am a collector and supply the props for nearly all that I shoot, so this was a certain kind of, ahem, undertaking…. Then hosting family in the first week at new home, new jobs to tackle….you understand.

Despite coming up short for long enough that the greens were near spent, I set aside time and relished the experience. At last.

And, ate almost the entire platter, save for a few stems for dear husband later. So he, too, would know just how magnificent it was.

Consider this at your Thanksgiving feast. It strikes a bright note to offset the many rich foods you may be serving, and is just So. Damn. Good.

Sultry-umami dandelion greens salad

1 bunch dandelion greens, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed
2 tsp white wine vinegar 
3 cloves garlic
6 anchovy filets
freshly cracked black pepper
about 1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp finely chopped (rinse beforehand) preserved lemon rind, or more, to your taste*

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
a couple good glugs of evoo - or a tablespoon of bacon fat - to fry them in

Over medium heat in a cast iron or enameled skillet, melt bacon fat or heat olive oil until it shimmers in the pan. Add breadcrumbs and mix together. Stirring occasionally, move breadcrumbs around the pan to brown evenly, no more than 5 minutes. Transfer them to a dish.

Mash garlic and anchovies in a mortar and pestle to make a thick paste - kind of like this dressing. Add freshly cracked black pepper and the vinegar, and whisk to combine. At a bare drizzle, whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. 

If you are unsure about the consistency or if the dressing is in fact emulsifying, drizzle the oil more slowly, or stop altogether and look at the whisked mixture. Taste. Keep whisking. Add more oil as needed. The end result will be a deeply savory-tangy, velvety, uniform dressing which coats the leaves once tossed together in a large bowl.

After you have tossed the leaves and coated them well in the anchovy dress, transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle the diced preserved lemon, then the crisp breadcrumbs over all. Give a final shower of black pepper, and serve at once.

*The idea for the preserved lemon is to impart occasional tangy-pickled citrusy-yum, rather than a heaviness of "salt". So, taste. Add the 1/2 teaspoon at first and see if it is indeed enough. You can add more as you like, or place a small dish with a bit extra beside the salad as you serve it, to pique interest, offering your guests their own taste.

 See that you don't devour every last leaf and crumb.

Yesterday I shared another great salad on Instagram, which received many requests for "recipe please?" It too makes an ideal accompaniment to your Thanksgiving plans….

Shaved Brussels sprouts & apple salad with hazelnuts and Parmesan

15-20 Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed
3-5 Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples (any tart, crisp apple is good)
2 lemons
good olive oil
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, rubbed of their skins, and crushed gently under the weight of a pan
shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Slice sprouts very thinly using a sharp knife or mandoline. Transfer the lacy pile to a large platter or serving bowl.

Slice apples into narrow wedges and add to the shaved Brussels sprouts. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze it over the apple slices to prevent oxidation. Gently toss the apples, lemon juice, and sprouts together. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture and taste for fat-acid balance. Add the other lemon - or just a half - and more oil as needed.

Top with the crushed hazelnuts. Using a vegetable peeler or cheese plane, shave Parm over all. Add freshly cracked pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt, and eat at once.

For more Thanksgiving ideas,

This cornbread dressing I made for The New York Times -

In today's New York Times, which features 15 American Thanksgiving traditions, I produced the ultra cheesy baked Sweeney Potatoes, and the brioche-like Venezuelan "Pan de Jamon." We are a nation of immigrants, of many wonderful traditions, and so much terrific food.

When Thanksgiving has passed, turn your mind to the end-of-year holidays and celebrate with these sour cherry ganache chocolate rye sandwich cookies, my last Bounty column with Where Women Cook. Yes, the Creating from the Bounty column is ending, but don't worry. We dreamt up a new column for the next year, one which features Kid Chef! It'll be out December 1st...

But before Thanksgiving comes - and then goes - I want to share a few organizations that could use our help in the name of justice for all, and giving thanks. Whether you contribute time and/or money, give what you can in lieu of the recent election results.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope the journey through this year brought you closer to good food in every form, and to the great people you can cook and eat it with.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Kid Chef Book Signing, Fort Greene BKLN September 10th + The Perfect Gazpacho Recipe

Come say hi and sample the Kid Chef summery corn and watermelon salad - with bright garnishes! - this coming Saturday. I'll be in the center of the Fort Greene farmers market at the Food Book Fair tent, from 10am-12pm, and the weather forecast looks perfect! 

Speaking of perfect, as summer (very unfortunately) winds down, I wanted to share the gazpacho gulps recipe from Kid Chef here. It is refreshing, super flavorful, and easy to make. I fancied up this version with fun garnishes - also easy - making for a beautiful presentation and extra textural delight.

Gazpacho Gulps from Kid Chef

2 lbs ripe red tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 cubanelle pepper cored, seeded and cut into chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small white or red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in halves
2 tsp sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Purée ingredients: In a blender, add tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic. Blend at high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop periodically and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Season with salt and pepper.

With the motor running, add vinegar and slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the feeder cap. The mixture will become pinkish or bright orange. Blending as you add the oil will emulsify the mixture, making it a creamy texture.

To serve: Transfer gazpacho to a glass pitcher or jar and refrigerate for 3 hours or until well chilled. Before serving taste and adjust salt, pepper, and vinegar as needed. Serve in small glasses with a drizzle of olive oil, preferably sipped in the sun. Leftover gazpacho will last up to 5 days, kept refrigerated and covered. Give leftovers a good stir just before serving.

In the version here I crushed breadcrumbs and minced hard salami, fried them together in a skillet until golden and crispy, and scattered onto the gazpacho. That, along with snipped chives and parsley flowers, some halved tiny tomatoes, and a drizzle of good olive oil, and there was some very good eating to be had. 

Recent press for Kid Chef

I wrote a column about how to keep lunch interesting at Food52, which just debuted. As with Kid Chef, in it I break down how to make simple tasks of meal preparation, and even, how to rethink what a meal ought to be. For me, fun and delicious are at the top of the list.

Weelicious included Kid Chef in a sweet lineup of great kid-friendly books. Read more here.

Poppy Tooker dedicated last week's episode of her radio program, Louisiana Eats to young cooks. We did an interview together, which you can listen to here. Still cutting my interview chops and radio voice…. ;P 

The National Post in Canada did a lovely writeup featuring Kid Chef in back-to-school glory. 

In recent cook - style - shoot work…

Did you see the juicy story I produced in the Sweet Paul summer issue?  You can find it here, as well as many Anthropologie and Barnes&Noble locations. 

This terrific tomato galette recipe is another ideal use for your tomato bounty...

Recent projects with The New York Times…..

Hands-down delicious cast iron story with Julia Moskin and Charlotte Druckman - 

Crisp toffee bars

flattened chicken thighs

A leftover chicken salad - so good. Could easily be a page from my own playbook - 

For your armfuls of summer squash, this gratin duo -

 Look for more Kid Chef events in NYC as we swing into full back-to-school mode. There's always good eating to be had over at Instagram, and soon, I'll have more delicious content I can share with you here. 

Make something new today. Maybe it'll turn out terrific. You get the satisfaction of trying something new, and bonus - exciting new eating in your repertoire to revisit again and again. XO

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Savory Crostadas and The Perfect Aioli

I've been baking this season's bounty into lots of delectable galettes and crostadas, i.e. free-form pies.

The tender crumb of buttery crust - recently flecked with citrus or parmesan and black pepper - perfectly cradles sweet or savory fillings. My impulse of late is almost an automatic, "oooh that would be great made into a galette!" You can see why….

One of yesterday's projects was to use the second disk of dough I'd made when prepping the tomato-olive-scape crostada, which - thank you all! - was very loved on Instagram. 

For the broccoli galette, I devised a base layer of barely-steamed waxy potato slices, mascarpone smeared over the potatoes (heavily seasoned with black pepper and garlic, grated on a microplane), and piled on top of that, delicate broccoli stems which I'd harvested while at Seven Arrows last week, where I've been making some time to help out with the huge work that is the season's planting and harvesting.

The dough itself is magic. It is made particularly pliable with the addition of a goldeny yolk egg - also thanks to Farmer Meg and her sweet, plucky free roaming hens

I use this dough often and modify the add-ins (citrus zest/ cheese/ herbs/ black pepper/ etc) depending on what I plan to make.

After thoroughly enjoying how folks responded upon seeing this creation, my week got even better when "proper bad-ass LA made aprons" co. Hedley and Bennett decided to share it, too. 

Which - I am reminded of an important aside - Saveur Magazine is holding their annual Blog Awards *right now* and have created a new category for Best Food Instagram. I pour my heart into Instagram every day and would very much appreciate your nomination! Here is the link to vote - you can do so as often as you like, until July 18th. -> <- Best Food Instagram - yippeeee!

Okay, back to the tarts…. ;)

Made with the same parmesan-black pepper-flecked dough, this tart has a base layer of goat cheese I'd made from milk brought home from Seven Arrows' Farm, and seasoned with herbs, boursin-style.

After a good schmear of that onto the pastry (to help the crust from becoming soggy from the juicy tomatoes) I placed tomato slices on top, then studded the surface with torn olives. I had Kalamatas; use whatever you have, in the directions of something deeply savory. 

Before folding the pastry onto its contents I scattered thinly sliced garlic scapes for a little more punch, and then as I folded, sealed the pastry seams with beaten egg.

This crostada was quite easy to make once the dough had been prepped. Plan the time to make the dough, because the results are completely worth it.

Tomato, olive, garlic scape crostada

for the dough
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks butter, cut into small cubes, freezer cold
1 pasture-raised egg
2 tbsp cider vinegar plus 4 tbsp ice water
1/4 cup Parmiggiano-Reggiano, finely grated
lots of freshly cracked black pepper

for the filling
3-5 tomatoes, depending on their size, sliced into rounds
1/4-1/3 cup goat cheese, boursin, etc.
a handful of pitted olives, torn into halves
2-3-inch segment of a garlic scape, sliced thinly
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 pasture-raised egg, lightly beaten, for brushing onto pastry

Stir together all dry ingredients in a large bowl - flours, salt, grated cheese, black pepper.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter, just until pea-sized bits remain. Add the egg and cut in to incorporate. Drizzle in vinegar-water mixture a little at a time, cutting the liquid into the dough, pausing to check and see if dough holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Use only as much as needed for the dough to come together.

Empty dough out evenly onto two large segments of cellophane. With your hands underneath, use opposite diagonal ends of the cellophane to press dough together, into a solid mass. Seal dough in cellophane, then pat into a disk. Repeat with second batch.

Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes to allow it to mellow. Remove it 5-10 minutes prior to rolling out. Makes two crostadas, one top+bottom crust pie, or, freeze the second disk (as I did), wrapped in cellophane and foil, then placed inside a resealable bag, for up to three months.

Unwrap dough and sandwich between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper. Roll out into a circle, 1/4-1/8-inch thick. Transfer pastry to a sheet pan and refrigerate at any point during this process, if it becomes smeary (aka not cold enough).

Peel away the top layer of parchment and begin: leave a 1 1/2-2 inch border and slather on the goat cheese or boursin, followed by the tomato slices. Nestle olive pieces around, and then scatter surface with sliced scapes.

Season the whole thing with freshly ground pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil, then crimp the pastry over the fillings, brushing the seams with egg wash and pressing to seal. Evenly brush the pastry surface with egg wash, then chill for at least a half hour, so that it retains its shape once in the blazing hot oven.

During this time, preheat oven to 425 degrees, with oven rack positioned in the bottom third. Transfer chilled crostada to the oven and bake until cheese bubbles and crust is deeply golden, about 40 minutes. I like to check about halfway through to rotate the pastry for even browning.

When ready, use the sheet of parchment to slide finished crostada to a wire rack to cool. This delightful tart can be enjoyed hot, cold, or at room temp. Perfect for brunch, dinner, or your next picnic.

Broccoli, potato, and garlicky mascarpone galette
2 waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, peeled and sliced
4 oz mascarpone
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on your taste
1 handful thin broccoli stems, or 1 head broccoli, cut into thin florets
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
good olive oil, for drizzling
buttermilk, for brushing

Use the same pastry recipe for this galette.

Lightly steam broccoli until stems turn bright green. Shock in an ice water bath. Briefly steam the potato slices, enough to soften.

Use a microplane to finely grate your preferred amount of garlic into a small bowl (or mince it with a knife and transfer). Add mascarpone, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Roll out pastry as detailed in the tomato crostada recipe. As above, pastry should be transferred on its parchment paper onto a baking sheet once you are ready to make the galette.

Pat potato slices dry and arrange in a concentric circle leaving a 1 1/2-inch border, and slightly overlapping them as you go, as your base. Slather mascarpone onto potatoes. Drain and shake broccoli dry (or pat dry with a tea towel). Measure and cut broccoli into lengths so that when arranged onto the pastry, their florets meet in the center (or, as you like - feel free to get creative). I had enough to make two layers of broccoli; consider which stems are most attractive as you make yours and save them for the top layer.

Fold dough onto fillings, painting the seams with a little buttermilk and crimping to seal, until the galette is complete. Paint buttermilk evenly onto pastry and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour (or freeze for 15 minutes).

For this preparation I transferred the cold galette onto my pizza steel, which I'd placed to preheat in the oven. The results worked out quite well. If you have a stone or steel, I'd recommend doing the same! Bake with similar timing/attention as for the tomato crostada.

I was extremely pleased with how this broccoli galette turned out and will definitely be making it again! If you make it too, please let me know what you think. ;)


Another recent, vocal request has been for my aioli. I made a caper version for my Anthology column some time back, paired with aromatics-poached salmon. I referred to that recipe, minus the capers, for a recent dinner party. I served it with all manner of steamed and crunchy veg that night and was so present to my guests, I forgot to document the evening (!!).

Here is a plate of leftovers we devoured, the morning after.

And, more of the richly hued leftovers (which you could say I didn't mind having extras of), slathered onto quick & easy pan roasted fish - a seriously great recipe unto its own and included in my new book, Kid Chef. This unexpectedly delicious meal made for an incredible midday interlude.

Perfect Aioli

4 pasture-raised egg yolks
1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated on a microplane, or minced
a pinch of kosher salt
juice from half a lemon
grapeseed oil and good olive oil, to emulsify 

Rest a small mixing bowl onto a tea towel draped over a pot of similar size. This helps the bowl stay put so you can use both hands. 

Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and garlic. Squeeze a little lemon juice and whisk again. In the thinnest stream, drizzle grapeseed oil as you whisk continuously. You'll add about 1/4 cup or so, stopping at intervals to make sure the mixture has emulsified. Keep whisking! The mixture should thicken; when ready, the aioli should appear plump. 

Add the olive oil now, again in the thinnest drizzle. Add about 1/8-1/4 cup, whisking continuously. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Kid Chef Cookbook, Available Now! And, a Seasonal Knockout Meal

To celebrate the launch of my book, Kid Chef, here is a little video for one of the recipes - shakshuka! My cookbook is now available at booksellers nationwide. You can also order it on Amazon, at a can't-be-beat rate. I feel like such a proud mama!! We had a lot of fun shooting this little movie, so much so that we'll be making more soon… ;)

I could not have done it without my incredible team at Sonoma Press. Thank you Meg, for giving me the space to create a work which has become so much greater than the sum of its parts! Now, the book will go out into the world like a kid on her first day at school. I hope she will find a vast and welcoming community as she finds her way!

There is much in the pages of my book, laid-out as part culinary school and part recipes. Anyone who is passionate about food, young or old, will find Kid Chef a valuable resource to turn to again and again. Whether you find pieces such as "9 Steps That Will Make you a Good Cook" helpful or inspiring, or declare recipes like the colorful Fresh Fish Tacos (strong steady in my home) your new love, Kid Chef has something for everyone.

As the Kid Chef community grows, use the hashtag #kidchefcookbook to share your stories on Facebook and Instagram. See you all soon!


In other news, here is recent delectable seasonal fare -

Seared Lamb and Alliums for 2

2 lamb steaks, patted dry with absorbent paper
1/2 bunch scallions, ends trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 bunch ramps, ends trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry
1/4 tsp sumac
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
good olive oil
red wine or leftover pickle juice for deglazing*

*I had leftover spiced ramp pickle juice from last season, which made a nice pairing

Note: to sear effectively, you may set off your smoke detector - take precaution and deactivate it in advance, as well as open a nearby window for better ventilation.

Remove lamb from refrigerator at least 20 minutes before cooking to allow to come to room temp. Season both sides of the lamb with s+p and sumac. Set aside.

In a screaming-hot pan set over medium-high heat, swirl olive oil to coat and add the alliums. Sear, turning once they have softened a bit and begin to brown in spots. Turn occasionally so that all surfaces get contact with the hot pan surface. Total sear time will be 3-4 minutes. Transfer scallions and ramps to a serving platter.

In the same pan, add another glug of oil, swirl, and sear meat 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat. Press on the meat directly around the bones for even browning. Turn to second side. For medium doneness, which retains its juiciness but isn't as much work to chew, sear meat on second side for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Transfer lamb to serving platter and pour deglazing liquid into pan. It should bubble like crazy - as it does, free any browned bits stuck to the pan by scraping the surface, letting the liquid reduce by half. This should take only a minute with the pan this hot.

Pour reduction over all, and eat at once.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sign up for an Advance Review Copy of Kid Chef! And, St. Patrick's Day Shepherd's Pie

In case you haven't heard already, I’m thrilled to let you know I’ve written a new book! Kid Chef (on sale April 5th) is a cookbook for kids who truly love to cook, supplying them on the real information they need to get comfortable in the kitchen and make meals the entire family can be proud of. 

I confess I've been secretly excited that Kid Chef will equally provide a greater foundation for grownup cooks, too. That the book is written in a no-nonsense way, and the recipes are just real, *good food* means kids and adults alike can use the fundamentals in Kid Chef.

Now, we need readers and kids to take it for a test drive. My publisher Sonoma Press is giving away a limited number of digital advance review copies to see what parents and kids think! We want to get your feedback about the book in the form of an honest and thoughtful Amazon review to help online shoppers get to know the book through real readers. Sign up for yours here! Thank you as ever for your love and support.

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, here is that super savory shepherds pie I teased you with on Instagram. Enjoy! 

Lamb Neck Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs lamb neck, finely diced*
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely grated on a microplane
most of a bottle of porter beer - I used Yuengling and it was excellent
2 cups free-range chicken stock
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp mustard powder
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
good olive oil

For potato topping
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed - I used German Butter Balls 
1 egg, lightly beaten for wash
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp butter, cubed
1 tbsp hot English or Dijon mustard

*Rotating things out of the freezer, I had a mix of both boneless and bone-in lamb neck. I diced the boneless and browned the batch with the larger chunks, and after simmering the two in the savory mixture (those lovely bones added extra body and flavor), I removed the chunks from the pot when all was ready, just long enough to cool so that I could shred the meat from the bones. Return the meat to the pot and discard the bone fragments if you have the same configuration when you make this dish. 

Pour a glug of olive oil in a heavy bottom or enameled pot, and over medium-high heat, add the vegetables. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes, adding the garlic to the mix a few minutes in. 

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Add another good glug of olive oil once the pan is hot, swirl to coat, then add lamb in batches so as not to crowd the pan and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes a side. Add lamb to veggie mixture, pour in stout, and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes or so. Add stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and herbs, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes. Check, cooking a little longer if needed.

Make a paste with flour and a little cold water in a small bowl, mixing until smooth. Add to lamb mixture and stir until incorporated throughout. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and transfer to an ovenproof dish, or four small casseroles, leaving 1/2-inch space from top to allow for potato mash. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, empty into a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. (for finer mash, press through a food mill or potato ricer) 

Add cubed butter to the still-warm mash. Pour in cream and buttermilk and mash again to thoroughly combine. Add mustard and season with s+p once again, to your taste. Spoon onto lamb mixture, covering entire surface. Brush with egg wash, place onto a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes or so. 

Serve warm, alongside a stout or robust red wine, and good company.