If you can watch this and not:

a) get really hungry
b) kind of feel like we live during the most amazing time on the most amazing planet in the most amazing universe
c) really want to hug him when he gets surprised by the champagne

... then we probably don't hang out very often. If you feel a, b, c or some combination thereof and we also don't hang out very often, let's fix that and probably get something to eat.

EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Now go eat lunch! Quickly, before you die of jealousy.


From the Vault: Ben's Chili Bowl

Walking into Ben's, even on a night crowded with tourists, a line wrapping around the counter and winding its way through the restaurant, you get a warm feeling like walking into a family friend's house. The hip hop bumps, bass rumbling throughout the conversation and laughter that flows from customers to cooks. In an era in a city where kindness is a premium, Ben's is overflowing.

via TriViews

The cooks dance behind the line, taking pictures of college kids at the counter who know, just like we all do, that we are in a truly special place.


How to Horrify Your Dinner Guests

Because of my upbringing, I take Halloween very seriously.

When I say "my upbringing", what I mean is this: my childhood house turned into a crypt for the entire month of October and part of November because my mother takes Halloween very seriously. Our front yard was a cemetery. Our windows were blockaded with ghosts and warning signs. Navigating the spider webs in the hallways became an important skill. There was a fountain of blood in our dining room. Doorknobs turned into monster hands. Am I painting enough of a picture for you? Every year my parents threw a balls-out, lavish, enormous Halloween party for 100 of their closest friends. I've decided it's my responsibility to uphold this tradition, albeit on a slightly smaller scale in my adult life. In that spirit: a little Halloween party food porn:


Pork Plucks and Kindred Nerd Spirits

Big thanks to my wonderful friend JSuh for alerting me to what's happening on Four Pounds Flour this week.

I can frame this, right?

What's happening is some pretty significant digging into the New York Historical Society's culinary collection and the resulting nerdery. JSuh pointed me to the final post of the series, Unusual Meats, and now I am obviously hooked and will read everything Sarah has ever written on Four Pounds Flour, because clearly we are the same kind of nerd.Go check it out!


A National Day to Get Behind

I don't remember the first pickle I ever ate. But I do remember the first pickle I ever asked for more of.

1st Pickle Festival in NYC

They were hamburger dill chips and they accompanied the grilled cheese sandwich of my dreams.


An Ugly Limbo

I will never claim to be the kind of person who does not complain about the weather. I hope you guys can forgive me. There is something about this particular transition of fall to immediate winter that really seems to throw me and the ones I love into a funk. I'm envisioning the next six months of bitter cold, slush on the ground and decreased sunlight, but am not quite to the point where I anticipate cozy nights with hot toddies and braised meats. It's an ugly limbo, October. 

Fried Pickles with Vanderbilt Ranch Dressing

One freak snowstorm later, November is here with its closed windows, boots and early sunsets. I am glad to say that I spent one of our final bonus days of summer a few weekends ago sitting in the window of The Vanderbilt, sipping a cocktail of tequila and grapefruit juice, acting like I will never stop wearing flip flops and sun dresses.


Breakfast of Fall Champions

My Sidekick is desperate for me to love fall. And to be truthful about it, I do. I love fall. What I hate is winter. And in New York, as in pretty much any other place I've lived, fall lasts about two weeks. Then, what happened today happens. The temperature drops twenty degrees overnight, winter is here early, all of our hearts die a little bit and we put our winter coats on to trudge through the next six months of slush.

I am deeply sorry for being this hyperbolic. Why am I even telling you this? Because I want you to stay inside tomorrow and make breakfast.


Happy Accidents with Vinegar

Oh, it's me, pickle-crazy again. Remember when I pickled everything in my apartment? Remember when some pickled okra left a crazy amount of extra brine? I poured it over these to make my favorite cocktail garnish to date.

Let’s talk Gibsons for a moment. A Gibson is basically a classic gin martini, garnished with a pickled onion instead of an olive. The perk? No one ever asks if you want that Gibson made with vodka or with gin. They just KNOW. If you're asking for a cocktail garnished with a pickled onion, people generally assume you're not afraid of flavor. Vodka drinkers: I'M SORRY. I just don't get you people.


On Pickles and Panic

I opened the fridge. All our homemade pickles had been consumed. I panicked. And then I pickled every single comestible in sight. 


Grumpiness, Meat and Gratitude

Sometimes you have bad days. Sometimes, you have bad days that follow other bad days, that have probably been piggy-backed by other bad days. Sometimes you are in a funk cloud that you can't get out of. If you are lucky, from this final, funky, cloudy, grumpy, bad day, you come home like a ravenous monster to your husband (or Sidekick) standing over this.

And then you feel pretty insanely lucky. Lucky to have him. Lucky to have the giant porterhouse he brought home searing in the cast iron skillet. Lucky to have two Manhattans waiting. Lucky to have a tried and true old MacBook in the background to write on, especially upon hearing the news about Steve Jobs. Lucky to been have brought up as a Mac nerd from the get-go. Just lucky, all around. So, from one lucky jerk to another, go do something awesome. And maybe eat a fucking steak. It will definitely make you feel better.


Jerry Orbach's Trifle

Just wanted to share the most amazing, nerdy food thing I've read about today. The Dead Celebrity Cookbook is for sale on Amazon as we speak, and I think I'd really like you guys to buy it. Also, please be on the lookout for my new punk-soul band, Jerry Orbach's Trifle. I am not kidding about this. This is really going to be the name of my (imaginary) band. I created our first album cover for our (imaginary) forthcoming, self-titled EP.

Have I mentioned that a seasonal change makes me a little weird? You're welcome.


Gloomy Outside, Gloomy Inside

Oh boy. Don't look outside. Seriously, don't. We're all just kind of dealing with the change of season pretty badly today. None of us want to write anything. Some of us might not even want to eat anything. We're grumpy. And I get why. Earth is messing with us. Here are a few things that might cheer you up:


Punch Drunk

The Fred Swayze/Shivery McPickles union turned one year old last month. To celebrate, we were supposed to be in Spain for our honeymoon. Unfortunately, as you all definitely know, my Sidekick had to get - well - re-stacked this summer, so we've postponed. To soothe the burn of having to reschedule our ham and txakoli-oriented trip, we threw a bitchin' party centered around a giant bowl of punch.

If that looks like the sun rising over the horizon to you, it's no coincidence. This mother holds three gallons.
My Sidekick was in charge of the punch. A no-nonsense hell-broth of bourbon, citrus, maraschino, orgeat, bitters and sparkling wine that tasted like juice, went down like water and made everyone's cheeks especially rosy. I was in charge of the snacks.


Let's Have Some Frills

We have begun the Stuffed Eggs section of A Book of Hors d'Oeuvre and I couldn't be happier.

We all know that I love to make deviled eggs. A little bite of filling receptive to any spice you mix it with, held preciously in an edible boat? Uh, yeah. What's not to like? I am, however, relatively set in my ways when it comes to deviling eggs. I have a certain set of ingredients that rotate around each other that are usually on-hand because this keeps my life simple and simplicity is important to me.


A Renewed Enthusiasm

With all the injuries, moving apartments, crazy heat waves and other life-craziness, A Book of Hors d'Oeuvres and I took a little hiatus from each other. However, the weather has already begun to cool down - although my heart will not let me totally admit that it is already happening - and my stomach has begun to agree to let me put more than gazpacho and Mexican beer in it. Which brings us back, as ever, to where we started: more cream cheese.


Hog Wild

Let's talk briefly about Kirby psychosis. This is something that takes over my brain each summer around the time these little pickling cucumbers hit the market. Let it suffice to say; shit gets real.

A good friend of mine recently tweeted, “I don’t use the term “hog wild” lightly. Let’s just say there were Kirbys at the farmers market and leave it at that.”


The Rhythm of Lunch

I often find myself having the conversation about how hard it is to make adult friends. No one is ever totally sure why it feels creepy to ask someone out on a friend-date for the first time, but everyone is sure that it does. I have a few theories, the most sentient one so far being that as a kid and a teenager, you are unburdened by self-consciousness and only have to know that you like the same things as that person likes. There's no question of how your overture will be received or if the resulting friend-date will be awkward as hell. When you are kids, if someone doesn't want to be friends with you, they will probably either not talk to you in the first place or just throw rocks at you when you walk down the street. Our carefully cultivated ability to smile-and-nod, something we work on to set others at ease even when we are not, ultimately serves only to foster doubt about whether or not a potential new friend is genuinely interested in getting to know us.

via Flickr

Sometimes I'm afraid I'm the only one who thinks things like this. I suspect, however, that I am not alone. Luckily, we've found the salve: meals. And when the adult friends in question also happen to be co-workers, the salve, more specifically, is lunch.


And Then Sometimes Corn Makes You Laugh

via Eatocracy
 I can't say with any kind of certainty that any first line of an article about growing your own corn has ever, or will ever again, make me laugh this hard.
"This morning, I stood on my roof deck and made my African Guinea Flint corn have sex with itself."
 I am clearly the target audience for this kind of joke, and for the thoughtful, nicely written article that follows. Corn really gets a bad rap in my brain, based on its sheer saturation of our daily diet. To hear someone talk lovingly about raising heritage kernels from the ground up is a nice change of pace. And to see a corn-banging joke on Eatocracy sort of makes my heart swell up with pride. Way to go, ladies. Click over here to read it!


On Treading Water and Bulgarian Feta

A few quick notes.

1) Moving is crazy.

2) Do not get sick or hurt, ever.

So, we're treading water a bit. Having just recovered from an apartment move and with my Sidekick on the mend from a herniated disc, the food we've been putting in our faces has relied largely on the two following principles: how quickly can I do this, and with how little heat?

Which is where Bulgarian feta comes into the picture.


Oh, Hey June.

I promise that I did not stop eating. Or talking about it. Or taking pictures of the things I ultimately eat. Here's proof.

Remind me that we need to have a long conversation about shrimp rolls.

Here is what is happening: we're moving! Not very far, still in Brooklyn, but it requires that we pack up all our - you know - shit. And then take it somewhere else. To cook more. And take more pictures. And stuff our faces and those of the ones we love. July is going to be filled with posts. Promise. For now, please give me ideas of things I can make for dinner that don't require heat.

Also, the McSwayze family made the Huffington Post food page! Check us out here


In Case You Are Melting

I joked with my sidekick last night (I wasn't joking) that we've reached the the part of the year where all I want to drink is Mexican beer. The only beer I will fruit - just shove a lime in a Pacifico and send me on my way. I have to admit, when I said that, I'd momentarily forgotten about this bad boy. Allow me to introduce you to the Pucker Up.

If those straws do not make you swoon, you may want to check your pulse.


On Leaving Your Edges Rough

I just saw this and feel compelled to share:

If you have not already read this woman's book, I would suggest that you do. That being said, allow me to be kind of a bitch for second: Gabrielle Hamilton is not a very nice person.


When the Grid Goes Down, at Least I'll Have This

UGH, Blogger.

As some of you may have noticed, the post about the epic dinner party of pork in pastry has been taken down. This is because someone at Blogger rubbed sandpaper on their brains and did some "maintenance". I'll rewrite it soon! Until then, here's something I promised to show off: the new thistle that is going to share the rest of my life with me.


The Godfather - Redux

*Ed note: This post was rescued from interweb purgatory by Marc Balgavy. For this feat of courage he'll receive a whiskey when I see him next.*

Okay, you guys. It's time to talk about it. Well, almost. First, let's talk about how things sometimes take you by surprise. How, sometimes you think that prunes are sort of gross and you don't care about them, and then someone changes your mind.

No one has ever asked me to steam a prune before. Quite frankly, I don't steam much and the recipe for Bacon and Prunes, Baked (Hot) made me realize that I don't really even have a proper steaming basket.


Prelude to a Gut-Bomb

The sun is shining. The temperature is allegedly rising. Soon, you will be invited to a lot more let's-get-together-and-have-a-drink-on-the-roof type things. Let's talk about what to bring. Cold, petite, brightly colored little bites are my personal preference. Especially if what you are eating for your main course is (as was the case a few weeks ago at some dear friends') a gut-bomb of epic proportions.

Let me be clear, the thing we ate for our main course was likely one of the most delicious things any of my friends has ever fed me. It was, however, like a prehistoric ancestor of the Bacon Explosion that none of us can forget. I promise to tell you more about this later, but for now, let's talk about complementing your friends' ritualistic torture of your arteries with some things that are dainty and refreshing.


Armed Only with Garlic-Breath and a Bad Attitude

It's the hap-happiest time of the year.

I know everyone is angry about ramps again this year. Last year we were mad because everyone makes such a big deal out of them. This year we're mad because we're like, diminishing our biodiversity, man. With all due respect, I love you all very much, but please shut up and just let me eat my onions.


Here's Where it Gets Weird

So far, I've been going easy on you guys. I've tried to pick things that are mostly accessible to our palates and our times. Here's where it gets weird.

We've arrived at the the texture my Sidekick dreads the most: JELLY.


Tomorrow Will Be Better

Okay, guys, here's the deal. Tomorrow, it will be spring again and I want you to be prepared.

Although right now it appears that New York City will be swallowed up by clouds and carried away, you might have a shot of actually eating something outside tomorrow. If you do, maybe you should eat one of these things.


Dear Tastebuds: Duck and Cover

Just so we're all clear, I can be a bit of a braggart. I love to proclaim loudly to whoever will listen that I grew up eating just about anything that was placed in front of me. This is mostly true. But there have been a few hold-outs in my life. It took me a fairly solid two decades to appreciate a runny yolk, a tuna fish sandwich, and now, the star of today's show: anchovies.

I have ALWAYS wanted to like anchovies. When, as they will in any reputable establishment, a server asked if I'd like anchovies in my Caesar salad, I'd always boldly say yes. And, without fail, I'd end up pushing the leathery little monsters around my plate like refugees. Fishy is still a flavor profile that I'm working on having the utmost enthusiasm for. Let's just say that Anchovy Canapes I made me feel particularly enthusiastic.


Are We All Tired of Toast Points Yet?

I'll admit, I am. I'm a little tired of toast. This toast in particular combines a lot of things I love: olives, melty cheese, broilers. But, I was a little less than moved by it, to be honest. Is it perhaps too reminiscent of the cream cheese and olive sandwiches an enthusiastic grandmother tried to get me to eat in my youth? Yes, perhaps. Were they also served alongside the aforementioned bacon and cheese revelations? Yes. Sadly for Olive and Cheese Canapes I, they were.

No hard feelings, guys. Thanks for coming to the party.



A few weekends ago, the wind took us up to Williamsburg, landed us at Dram for a few cocktails, then on to Pies n' Thighs for a hedonistic bloodbath of fried chicken consumption. At Dram (which is a delight in a sea of overpriced, over-styled, overblown meat markets) my Sidekick ordered a bartender's choice with Rye, spirit-forward, as he is wont to do. The lovely, capable, tattooed girl behind the bar brought him Archibald's Last Memory. It was so delicious and so unlike anything we're currently drinking that my wonderful, obsessive Sidekick purchased each ingredient and went to work re-creating it. Filmed by McPickles, performance and editing by Fred Swayze. Please to enjoy.

Buyer beware: one of these will make you feel drunk.


An Open Letter to New York City

Dear New York City,

Hello. I hope this letter finds you well. I'll be direct, because I know you're busy: we get it. It's fucking hard to live in you sometimes. But please, for the sake of the sanity of all of us, warm. UP.

The problem is that you gave us one glorious weekend of sunshine and spring temperatures and then took it away. This, above all things, really, really hurt our feelings. It's lucky for you there is an indoor farmer's market near to me on Sundays. Otherwise, I might go crazy and start threatening to move to the south. For now, I'll occupy myself by roasting pork. But, this is a mere diversion, so please get your shit together. XOXO: Rebecca.

Now, about that pork.


Step Five: Don't Forget That You're Cooking

Sometimes I have ideas to make funny videos. Then sometimes, other drunk people have already had that idea and are pretty funny. Don't fuckin hurt yourself.


Ugly Duckling

Suddenly, all I can talk about on Friday is what you should make for breakfast over the weekend. Today, I realized that I don't really have anything breakfast oriented to talk about. Or do I?

Here's the question: does the idea of making raw bacon and cheese force-meat repulse you? I mean, by all accounts it should. It sounds and looks pretty gross. But there is just no way you can get the bacon to get so cheesy, or the cheese to get so bacony without doing so. I used my food processor for this because, as I noted to my Sidekick, who was already making me a third cocktail, "She keeps calling for a meat grinder because food processors didn't exist." Don't get me wrong. I have a meat grinder. But drunk food processor use somehow seemed safer.


Classics for a Reason

Sometimes old recipes kick around catering menus for so long, it makes me think, "What is the point of even making that anymore?" Aren't there any new ideas? Can't we come up with something better?

Then I make the recipe and realize, no, maybe we can't.


The Flavor is Unusual

I always say I could never be a vegetarian. But honestly? If there were enough mushrooms, cheese and Shanghai mock duck involved, I probably could be. When my Sidekick and I first started dating, I asked him - as every one of his predecessors had been asked - if there were any foods he didn't like to eat. And I mean, let's be honest, this is a trick question. This question only gets asked so that I can force you to try your worst gustatory enemies in a way that will make you forgive them. My Sidekick's answer: beets, mushrooms, Jello. Since that day, he has declared beets to be one of his favorite foods, never balks at a mushroom and still despises Jello. We're getting there.


Oh, and Cream Cheese

There is something about the color combination of pink and green that has always owned my heart. My first ever bikini was pink and green. I have always loved cutting into a watermelon. My birthday cakes almost invariably had pink flowers with pale green leaves. In these late days of winter and early spring, I can often be found in hot pink rain boots and a ridiculously over-sized green scarf. It's an illness. And it's not going away any time soon. This is all to say that the recipe for Stuffed Radishes I really appealed to me.


And Then Sometimes, You Really Need a Sandwich

As everyone around me knows, I get really hard to deal with in March. It's cold when it should be warm, winter when it should be spring and we have more potatoes and parsnips when we should have ramps and asparagus. I get antsy, what can I say? So, sometimes, when you're eating lunch at your desk because somehow you are the person someone agreed should be in charge of budget data entry every two weeks (believe me, I don't know why either) something as simple and lovely as the cross-section of your Lenny's sandwich can really brighten your day.


Bacon, Tomato, Butter

There is something so charming about the name of this canape: Bacon and Tomato Canapes II. It sort of indicates that, yes, there is another bacon and tomato canape in this book that includes mayonnaise and eggs and olives. But BTCII gets straight to the heart of what you most desire. Bacon, tomato and butter. And on this particular evening, we were fortunate enough to have Mangalitsa bacon. 


A Pretty Good Reason to Marry Someone

In our circle, it's a pretty well known fact that my Sidekick makes a mean cocktail. However, he has a dirty little secret: he also makes a pretty great little movie.

This cocktail, the Negroni for Wimps, is made with Campari's slightly less jaded sister, Aperol. It is lightly sweet, extremely refreshing and has me even more anxious for spring to arrive. I mean, just looking at those ice cubes makes me want to be in flip flops.

So, without further ado, please enjoy the reason I must constantly make snacks. To keep us from getting too drunk.


Crazy for breakfast: H-to-the-uevos

There are days when New York City is particularly unforgiving. Days when commutes are long and choked with people. Days when the wind whips around buildings like a freight train and blows your umbrella in half. Days when cabs splash you with puddles of dubious composition as they drive past. Those are the days when I miss certain niceties about New Mexico, which for better or worse, is a place where people will still hold the door for you and smile at you without asking you for money or directions.

Those are the days when simmering a big pot of red chile to pour over things feels most imperative to me. And, because my obsession with breakfast becomes increasingly intense with each passing weekend morning, this particular giant pot of red chile was meant for huevos.


This is How We Learn

Oy. You guys.

A brief survey: Have you ever been so excited to cook something, so meticulous about its pairing and preparation and so trepidatious about screwing it up that when you do, somehow, screw it up you have to sit down on the floor of the kitchen and practice yoga breathing in order to not explode into a fit of toddler-like proportions?

Is this just me? Because that is exactly what happened with the beautiful Mangalitsa pork chops I was going on and on about just the other day. They look so harmless here, nestled in their bed of Brussels sprouts, poised to ruin my evening.


No Concessions for Frugality

Deep breath. Here we go:

There is so much that I love about this book. A teensy bit of history, (because I am a loser this way) so that from here on out, you'll understand where good ol' Lucy was coming from. This book was first published in 1925 (the edition I have is from 1970, which accounts for the pictures being so awesome). That's post-WWI, but pre-Great Depression, which is revealed in the fact that there are no concessions for frugality. There is no suggestion to use milk instead of cream or paddlefish roe instead of sturgeon. This is a straight up, balls to the wall indulgence for those you are welcoming into your home, entertaining and plying with luxury. Lucy co-founded the Boston School of Cookery in 1915 after studying under Fannie Farmer. So... you know, she's got some street cred. Okay, on to the sexy stuff.


Crossing the Threshold

Recently, I've made a pretty solid commitment to the kind of food I love to eat, prepare and talk about. That food is home-style, simple, unpretentious, about feeding the people I love deep down into the depths of their bellies and making them happy from the inside out.

And now, for something completely different:


A First

Eep! Something amazing happened this weekend at our farmers' market. Mangalitsa came to us.

I've never worked with the stuff or tasted it before and am super excited. We got two chops, each a half pound, and a pound of bacon.

The farmer we bought this from said they're the only Mangalitsa producers in the area and even said to let him know if we'd ever like to come up to the farm and hang out with "the little guys". I feel like that is an offer I am pretty likely to take him up on at some point.

I'm cooking the chops tonight. Any recommendations from veterans? More porky details to come.


Learn to Steal

Sometimes I run out of ideas. Sometimes, I feel like I make the same soup, stew, roast, braise in different variations over and over again.

And then sometimes, benevolently, someone will invite me to dinner at their place and inadvertently give me something to steal. Which is exactly what happened when some of our dearest friends invited us over for a Feast of an Indeterminate Amount of Fishes.


Getting Itchy

So, anyone else tired of winter? I know, I know. Every year with me, it's the same story. When the cold sets in, I'm thrilled to braise, roast, slow cook and bake to my heart's content. Along comes late February and I'm getting itchy for pickled green tomatoes and micheladas.

I pickled these particularly beautiful green tomatoes at the very end of summer last year. Happening upon their picture today really makes me want to pickle. And for it to be 75 degrees outside. Anyone else?

In terms of pickling, anyone have any favorite winter pickles to tide me over? Was thinking of pickling some carrots today. What pickles are you making/eating?


Chameleon of Deliciousness

Psst. Over here.

It's me, your trusty and beloved slow cooker. Any plans for the weekend? Want to - I don't know - collaborate on a project? Look, I'll just come right out and say it. I miss you.


Politics and Artichokes

Indulge me. I'm having a moment of philosophical weakness. It doesn't happen very often and I promise to reward you, somehow, later, for putting up with it. I need to talk to you guys about politics. Not American politics, not office politics, not even really food politics exactly (I promise not to talk about Michael Pollan right now), but more the politics of how we think about, talk about and own food. I've had a few conversations in the recent past that have really set me to thinking.

The first was with my uncle Mitch last week. Mitch is one of my favorite people to eat with. He's a trained chef - out of professional kitchens now - but always putting his skills to good use for friends, family and the occasional competition. He's also a fucking grump, which is what makes me like him so much. While in the midst of an excellent blogging project on eGullet with a few friends, he invited me over to participate in their "mystery basket" challenge. While we chopped, snacked and sipped - as always - on a cocktail or two, we got into a conversation about cooks, chefs and the way we define them.


More Weekend! More Breakfast!

Guys, I've gone breakfast crazy lately. Have you noticed? Of course you have. I have too. I'm not really sure what's to blame. Maybe it's the fact that my Sidekick and I see getting up just a little earlier on weekends as a very adult decision. (Please, don't panic. By early I mean maybe 10 instead of 11.) Maybe it's the fact that living in Brooklyn gives me regular access to some of the best eggs I've ever tasted. Maybe it's because I'm almost incapable of cooking for anything less than an army and leftovers are really good with eggs on top.