Spicy and Sour Tomato Lentil Soup (Saaru or Rasam)
Spicy, sour, sweet, hot, and perfectly soul-soothing.
Roasted Root Vegetables with Miso-Shallot Dressing
Give your roots an umami kick.
Chinese (Baby) Lion's Head Meatballs with Braised Cabbage
Like a dumpling without the skin, seeped into savory broth.
Spelt and Mushroom Risotto with Parsnips
Indulge your winter cravings with healthy whole grains.
Tagliatelle with Duck Ragu
It's not as hard as it sounds.
Watermelon Radish and Ricotta Crostini
Spicy radishes are coddled with creamy ricotta for the perfect pre-dinner snack.
Lemony Grits with Baby Carrots, Brown Butter & Sage
A tasty veggie substitute for shrimp 'n grits.
Gumbo with Chicken, Shrimp & Squid
Happy Mardi Gras. The more (seafood), the merrier.

Latest Blog Posts

Spicy and Sour Tomato Lentil Soup (Rasam)
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This week marks the publication of my friend Chitra‘s cookbook, Vibrant India. If you’ve been reading this blog a while—or if you just like home cooking as much as I do—you may have found that cheap, healthful, and seasonal are some essential beacons to guide everyday recipes. And Chitra’s home cooking—and, hence, her cookbook—have these traits in spades. Read More

Savory Celery Root and Apple Hand Tart
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The taste and scent of celery root offends some, and this I had not known before. To me, the cleaned bare root looks, smells and tastes fairly innocent at first, then slowly creeps more complexity. The herbal, vegetal nuances are beguiling, surprising and intriguing to me. And combined with the sweetness of apple and the dairy richness of butter, it’s pure harmony. Read More

Gumbo with Chicken, Shrimp & Squid
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Happy Fat Tuesday. I’m feeling the extra weight from last weekend’s pre-Mardi Gras dinner party with friends. Any holiday is an occasion to celebrate with food. But when it’s Creole or Cajun food that’s associated with it, you don’t want to miss out. Read More

The Joy of Noodles (and an improvised Zha Cai Rou Si Mian recipe)
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When my mother first came to the US from Taiwan, she found the food here a little difficult to embrace. Except for spaghetti. Slurping up long, slippery strands of pasta was a familiar sensation that became the entry point for appreciating more American foods. Only spaghetti wasn’t exactly all-American. Or it wasn’t considered so then, at least. But now today, more and more Americans are slurping up bowls of Asian noodle... Read More

San Bei Ji Wings (Three Cup Chicken Wings)
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For the cookbook release of The Food of Taiwan, I threw a number of dinners and edible events. This was served at one of them, a pub menu-themed makeover of some classic Taiwanese dishes. Other dishes included clams braised with beer instead of rice wine with garlic, chilies and basil, and the famous Taiwanese “hamburger” or gua bao in a grilled slider bun instead of steamed bun. When Superbowl... Read More

The #ImmigrationIsTasty Recipe Roundup: Join Us on Presidents’ Day
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Spaghetti was seen as exotic in my grandparents’ day in age. Hummus was strange and vegan-centric when I was in college. Guacamole grossed a lot of Americans out a few decades ago. I don’t need to point out that they’re now proud staples of the American diet. But just imagine what our plates would look like if we had closed the door on immigration years ago.  Read More

Vegetarian Turnip Cake with Shiitake Mushrooms and Fried Shallots
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The Lunar New Year is upon us—tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Rooster. This is my year. I’m a rooster, and if you’re familiar with the Chinese calendar, you could deduce that I will be turning 24, 36 or 48 this year. I’ll let you figure it out. In Chinese horoscope theory, it’s supposed to be an unlucky year for you when it’s your year. Funny,... Read More

Roasted Squash, Broccoli & Lentil Salad with Raspberries
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File this under Stupidly Simple Seasonal Salads with A ‘Lil Bit of Something Cray-Cray and Not-So. And that’s a pretty good general formula for making a tasty, cheap, healthy and hopefully delightful meal. The cray-cray-not-so in question here are the raspberries, since they’re A) Not in season in my part of the world and B) Not usually found in savory bean or grain salads even if they were. But for... Read More

Goulash for 2017
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It’s the start of a bright new year. And what bright, yet wintery dish to ring it in but a paprika-stained stew that’ll feed for many cold nights to come? I have no hard-and-fast rules or resolutions for 2017, but lately I’ve been plagued with wanting to cook things that I know are delicious, comforting, warming and cozy, but don’t get enough time to make so often. Hungarian beef goulash... Read More

Caramelized Onion and Kale Soup, French Onion-Style
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Weekends are a time to put things on the back burner. I mean that literally, of course. It’s a time to slowly melt a great pile of onions to sweet, sticky bliss, bubble a pot of marinara sauce, or make chicken stock for the sake of good cooking sometime else. Sometime less languid than the weekend. Read More

10 Gifts NOT to Give the Cook on Your List (2016 Edition)
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Each year commences with another load of food and cooking trends. And each year, people who like to cook are given them. I discovered that this topic—what NOT to give a cook for the holidays—unleashes a real torrent of pain amongst foodies. When I Facebook-asked friends what they’d like to see on the list recently, the post went on for a dizzying thread of some 80+ responses. That’s a lot of angst... Read More

Octopus with Shaved Fennel and Orange
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So, it’s my birthday this week. I’ve officially passed the threshold of being in one’s “early” thirties—but so what, right? There is infinite time to live and learn, make and do things, all of them incredibly new and infinitely, excitingly and fresh and different. I cooked octopus for the first time last month. It wasn’t exactly the first, if you count helping other cooks over their shoulder and doing-by-seeing, but... Read More

Curried Sweet Potato Dumplings
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The All-American meal is upon us: Thanksgiving. Apple pie, turkey and cranberry sauce; mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. I have always been intrigued by this holiday meal because even though I was born and raised in America, none of these things were really familiar to my palate except for once a year, on Thanksgiving. (A phenomenon also discussed by Andrew of the blog Beyond Chinatown, who compiled some great interviews on the... Read More

Reason For Not Eating Out #62: To Soothe in Stressful Times
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It’s taken a week and a cathartic dinner party with good friends to come around to writing this post. But believe it or not, it was going to be the next Reason For Not Eating Out even before the election one week ago. The stress of not knowing how that was going to go was almost too much to bear doing anything besides cooking, you see. Read More

Stuffed Delicata Squash with Kale and Pinenuts
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It is strange seeing winter squashes beside watermelon at the farmers market. Eggplant and enormous turnips. Sweet corn and cabbage. Winter and summer mixed with colorful abandon—that’s what early fall is for. I couldn’t resist plunging for the pumpkins and winter gourds while picking up some tomatoes, too. We won’t have the latter in-season in the Northeast for much longer, but it’s a warm welcome to squash season, having the best of... Read More

Beet Salad with Preserved Lemon
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Beet salads. I have to admit that I used to think of rendering fresh beets into smooth, juicy, orbs of crazy magenta was such a taxing chore that I reserved cooking beets for pre-determined occasions. A special side dish, for a special purpose. It’s taken me maybe eight years to understand that cooked beets—and the endless beet salads that can be made from them—are one of the simplest, easiest... Read More

Everybody Eats Dumplings (at the 13th Annual Dumpling Festival)
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Old people eat dumplings. Babies eat dumplings. Big people, little people, smart people, silly people, black, white, Asian, Hispanic—all people eat dumplings. It’s a phenomenon that I experienced early on, when my mom brought pork and chive potstickers for the elementary school “bake” sale. Everyone—teachers, parents, kids—ate them with gusto. “Dumplings are magical,” said a judge/organizer for the 13th Annual NYC Dumpling Festival last Saturday in Sara D. Roosevelt... Read More

Pepperoni Pizza Dumplings
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Here’s another notch to add to a wall of recipes that includes the Cheeseburger Dumplings, Buffalo Chicken Dumplings, Broccoli Cheddar Dumplings, Apple Brown Sugar Dumplings, and the Hot Dogpling—stuff you don’t normally see in Asian pan-fried dumplings, or potstickers. Quintessential as they might seem in hindsight (my friends and I certainly feel that way after gobbling up panfuls of these pizza dumplings last night), they’re recreations of favorites in the... Read More

Chicken with Cornell Sauce
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My grandfather, father and brother all went to Cornell University, for very different things. My grandfather for Pre-Med. My father for Asian Studies. And my brother for a double-major in Music and Computer Science (hello, Asian blood now in the family). Going to my paternal grandparents’ place in Upstate New York in the summertime growing up usually involved a platter of grilled chicken with Cornell sauce. Read More

Potato Salad with Sweet Corn, Peppers & Pickles
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Every time I lacto-ferment something and it turns out well I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Home picklers out there, you feel me, too? Seriously, a few moldy “sauerkraut” experiments or squishy, pukey cukes all play into the glory that is the perfect peck of pickles when it does happen right. And right it did happen most recently, with a jar of cucumbers that were left to sour over a hot... Read More

Reason For Not Eating Out #61: Because It’s Been 10 Years
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This month marks ten years since I’ve been writing this blog. Ten years of scribbling, cooking and ranting about not eating out. 607 original recipes, 60+ Reasons For Not Eating Out, scores of profiles, ruminations and home-cooking events totaling 971 posts. Dozens of Huffington Posts and writings elsewhere. Two books. And seven years and 279 episodes of podcasts on Heritage Radio Network. It’s been 10 years. Read More

Chicken and Eggplant Stir-Fry with Spicy Black Bean Sauce
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I remember when eggplant, like portobello mushrooms, was more or less encountered as a substitution for meat. This often occurs in dishes like eggplant parm, deep-fried so as to give it more texture, or when smothered in sauces, like a thick curry, obscuring the quivering, greyish-purple stuff that it is. But I think eggplant is great when prepared with some meat, as its spongey flesh absorbs flavors readily, making it easy to use less of... Read More

How to Make Preserved Lemons
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Here’s a preview to a much more delicious post to come, one that actually uses the preserved lemons in a recipe. But it’s always nice to dig deeper into the ingredients of a recipe, especially when they might seem exotic and elusive at first. If you’ve ever tried Moroccan food, you’ve probably come across this singular ingredient in a tagine with chicken. I’ve made many renditions of the dish using... Read More

Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad with Toasted Spices, Hummus and Pita
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Summer’s a good time for a ‘mezze meal.’ With so many vegetables in season, you can easily pull together a colorful assortment of stuff to dip and mix from a plate with pita. This isn’t a very elaborate version of what that could be—try a colorful assortment of lots of salads and sides for a casual dinner party—but it hits the spot, and fills you up in all the right ways,... Read More

Zucchini and Feta Tart
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Zucchini and other summer squashes are truly versatile veggies. But I rarely think of baking them—perhaps due to the scorching heat when they’re in season locally. While some baked goods seem invented to hide the stuff rather than celebrate it (zucchini “bread”?) you can really get your fill on its flavor by slicing into layers upon layers of zucchini inside this savory tart’s shell. Its texture becomes something almost like custard... Read More

Fresh Mozzarella with Rainbow Chard, Pinenuts and Pickled Swiss Chard Stems
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You don’t have to have ripe, juicy tomatoes and basil leaves to enjoy some slices of fresh mozzarella on a plate. The classic combination (known as Caprese salad) is not overrated by any means, but if your crisper drawer is bursting with greens instead of tomatoes since your early-summer CSA began (or if you just want to sneak more greens into your diet, noble you), then you can play up this... Read More

Reason For Not Eating Out #60: Solving the Puzzle of ‘What If You Don’t Have An Amazing Protein?’
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We live in blessed times. I mean, seasonally. It’s late-spring, and we have things popping out of plants that are incredible and edible (and not edible, but fragrantly incredible, like wild lilacs, too). I recently had the plum privilege of being a judge for a cookoff held by GrowNYC, where I got to observe the making of, taste the outcome of, and help decide the winner of two very... Read More

Strawberry Toast with Farmer Cheese, Mint & Hot Honey
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Here’s an ode to strawberries: Why have I seen you more often than not so tarted up—doused in granular glitter, softened to sweet paste, or masquerading as a flavor to something which you are not? This, my red friend, is ridicule. You’re too good for that; you have nothing to hide. Read More

Chilled Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Shredded Chicken
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Summer comes as a sudden burst in New York City, a gushing declaration of heat, humidity and sun. Like a blast of fireworks or a Memorial Day hibachi grill, the heat is suddenly on for the long haul — no more stalling, sputtering, or beating around the bush. “Coffee” becomes cold brew; shoes become sandals; parties become barbecues; ramen becomes chilled noodles. This is science, and who am I to fight... Read More

Breaded Fish Milanese with Flowering Kale
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Breaded, frozen fish sticks were a fairly staple kids’ food in my time. (Are they still now?) Bland and inoffensive logs of cod, the ads for them always promised they’d be crispy, with an ethereal, ear-chattering canned crunch sound so elusive from any food, let alone fish. Short of this satisfaction, they always needed something — they needed some help — but I can recall only dipping the finger-shaped nuggets in... Read More

Rhubarb Compote and Yogurt Parfait
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This is something that I would eat every day if I could. But I can’t, because rhubarb is only around for such a short spell in spring. Isn’t that the law of scarcity, that you want something (only because?) there’s so little of it to go around? Read More

Crispy-Roasted Asparagus and A Soft-Boiled Egg
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Ever had a perfect Saturday where you did everything you had to do and still found time to do the fun things, too? Sometimes I compartmentalize my days into must-do’s and would-like-to’s: Responsibilities, commitments, eating, exercise, social events. One thing in that little list sits squarely in the middle—eating, because it can be taken both ways. If only doing laundry could moonlight as a recreational hobby. Read More

Reason For Not Eating Out #59: For Creativity’s Sake
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I have a friend who takes classes on just about everything and anything that’s interesting in the world. Bollywood funk dancing? Sign her up. Grown-up pottery workshops? Let’s make a date of it! she says. She’s a typical New Yorker, Type-A personality, where every learning opportunity is seized, and funneled into bonding sessions with good friends, new date persons, or chances to connect with strangers. In short, she is totally awesome and... Read More

Potato Salad with Pickled Ramps
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Hello, ramp season. You know, after the six or eight years that everyone’s gotten excited about the wild spring allium, I have to say I am a little over the phenomenon that is pearly-pink bulbs resting pretty at the ends of long, flowy, green shoots. Of course I’m not. But I may be over their smell. Having carried a bunch of ramps (purchased at Union Square Greenmarket this past beautiful Saturday)... Read More

Calamari Braised with White Wine, Tomatoes & Spinach
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Spring has been really snoozing on the job. Rather than bursting with cherry blossoms, the new season has only brought soggy, sort-of snow and below-freezing nights. This might be our latest bitch and moan as we bundle up in scarves on the subway each morning, but it’s actual, literal bad news for local orchards. Seems that peaches in Upstate New York may not make an appearance this summer, unless these... Read More

On Racism in Food
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Several years ago an ex-boyfriend’s mother offered to prepare the appetizer for a dinner I was cooking. Her dish, once assembled, was a salad. Yet it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The top was sprinkled with stiff pegs of noodle and raw radish slices, and it smelled like sesame oil. I asked with genuine curiosity what was in the dressing and she fired off a strange list with... Read More

Tongue Tacos (Tacos de Lengua)
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The only way to get more comfortable with cooking a certain type of food is by cooking it. Maybe for some the challenge lies in steak, or a roast Thanksgiving turkey. Maybe you’re intimidated by cooking curries or poaching eggs. But maybe it’s something a little more… unsightly than that. Read More

Shroom ‘n Grits
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I’ve just returned from a week of eating and boozing in Mexico with five friends. There was a different taco to try at just about every hour of the day. I intend to throw a taco party very soon, to celebrate and exercise my own hand at the new flavors that so captivated us while they’re fresh in memory. But in the immediate aftermath of the trip, there was a... Read More

Spicy Korean-Style Seafood and Tofu Stew with Spinach (SoonDuBu Jigae)
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I was craving Korean food the other night, so I made something that could approximate it. Haunts of stuff that one might get while on a group outing to Koreatown with friends, that sort of thing. It’s not difficult to pull off a hardscrabble version of such dining-out memories, as long as we aren’t talking some Escoffier-esque French gastronomy classics. These cravings can overwhelm, but if you’ve perhaps tried... Read More

Crostini with Watermelon Radish, Ricotta and Mint
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Yes, be a little twee sometimes — go ahead, I dare you. That time you splurged on a dear, felt hat that was so right for a horseback riding weekend in the country that you’ll never go on? With the kid gloves that go up to your elbows? That fancy little fetish for truffled sea salts in the cupboard? The extra emoji in a text to a crush? We can all push... Read More

Tagliatelle with Duck Ragù and Duck Skin Cracklins
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It’s not as crazy as it sounds. You get one meaty duck leg (or two, perhaps from a whole duck that you want to separate the breasts from for a finer entrée another time), and then you roast it until it’s weak at what was once its knee-joints. Then you add it to some white wine and stock-enriched tomatoey sauce and let it cook until it’s melting to the touch even... Read More

Buffalo Chicken Dumplings
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Gong xi fa cai! It’s Chinese New Year, and for many — as in more than 25% of the world’s population — that means cooking or just eating a huge amount of home-cooked foods to celebrate. I can’t think of a better time to not eat out in New York. But the eve of the Year of the Monkey 2016 happened to coincide with another great tradition in the US... Read More

Reason For Not Eating Out #58: To Rewrite the Dating “Rules”
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The first rule of dating is that there are no rules. But hopefully you know that already. So why should you read this, from a person who probably knows less about the secrets to dating success than any given stranger on the subway? Because if you’re reading this, then you probably like to cook. And that in itself holds some powerful dating potential. Read More

Savory Mushroom Tart (with a Cool Ranch Doritos Crust)
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Yeah, you heard right. We’re throwing out the pastry books and heading to the bodega—why? Because it was my friend Karol’s birthday last weekend. And—still—why? Because she requested specific foods for her potluck party menu, and one of them happened to be a mushroom tart. Another one was Cool Ranch Doritos. Read More

Kale Salad with Garlicky Miso Lemon Dressing
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I really want to call this a vegan, miso-based “Caesar” salad, but know that the powers of food purism would call this foul. No, it doesn’t have Romaine lettuce nor egg yolk, nor anchovies nor parmesan—but it does have a punchy piquancy that I’d equate with that of the classic dressing we know and love. And it was inspired by Caesar (salads, nothing Roman to look at here)—which are nowadays... Read More

Split Pea Soup with Root Vegetables
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It wouldn’t really be a soup if it were only one ingredient, right? That’s the thinking behind this weekend concoction where I deposed my growing stash of random root vegetables into a not-strictly-root-vegetable soup. By definition, soup is a mingling of stuff in liquid form, often creating a harmony of flavors that tickle your tastebuds as it soothes your soul. So do your kitchen a cleaning with this approach to your... Read More

Pasta with Clams, Kale and Breadcrumbs
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“How do you cook clams?” is a question I’ve heard a lot from home cooks over the years so let’s get a few things straight: Clams are amongst the cheapest, tastiest, quickest- and easiest-to-cook seafood. They’re also resoundingly sustainable (you can do much worse with shrimp if you’re going the shellfish route). They help clean the ocean, they fortify us with minerals and omega-3’s, and they’re commonly found on restaurant plates. Especially with pasta. But you... Read More

Crab Cakes with Dill Mayo
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There are things that are good, and things that are really good. And for a New Year’s Eve party in the city, my friends and I have decided to go all-out really good with food. Dismayed that we didn’t find a house to rent upstate with a fireplace and enough beds for everyone, we threw in the towel searching on Airbnb and turned our attentions to throwing a really good... Read More

Baby Lion’s Head Meatballs with Braised Cabbage
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They’re made of pork, but these meatballs are nicknamed “Lion’s Head” in Shanghainese cuisine, because they’re usually made in gigantic proportions. Larger than a baseball, that is. But I was going to a holiday party — and I had just been to a holiday party — where bite-sized morsels were precursory. So I shrank the homestyle comfort food to size. That doesn’t mean they’re any less delicious, though. Read More

What NOT to Give the Cook on Your List (2015 edition)
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It’s been a while since we’ve played Scrooge. In 2011, I compiled 10 things not to give the home cook for the holiday season. Last year, I offered 5 “alternative” gifts for them instead. But we’ll take it back to that curmudgeonly place where it all began, since there are always newfangled food toys coming from the North Pole (or Mount Sinai for Hanukkah Harry land). Ho, ho, Who got me... Read More