Skip to content

Thanksgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving Feast | Delightful CrumbI wanted to stop by briefly to share a few of my favorite dishes and wines fit for the Thanksgiving table, as well as a couple of helpful recipe roundups from around the web. I’m planning a fairly traditional feast myself, including but not limited to an itty-bitty turkey that my mom will be present to prepare (thank goodness!), the aforementioned delicata squash soup, a big kale salad with plenty of delicious toppings, my mom’s famous soft and squishy dinner rolls, a highly flavorful cranberry chutney and a pumpkin tart à la Amy Chaplin with plenty of softly whipped cream.

Key to the success of our feast is providing enough options to satiate everyone present, which will include folks with aversions and/or allergies to meat, gluten and dairy. I’m actually of the opinion that this isn’t so hard. You just need to have enough food on the table that there are options, which happens rather organically on Thanksgiving, and to go easy on the butter and cream. Additionally, while salad should never be the only thing that someone can eat, making a kick-ass salad is never a bad idea in any situation and will definitely help here.

What are your standby dishes, or your experiments this year? I’d love to hear! These are a few of my favorites…

To start:

Sautéed Dates: My go-to appetizer. I came upon the recipe by way of Molly Wizenberg‘s book Delancey, and it never fails to impress.

Gingered Delicata Squash Soup with Crème Fraîche & Fried Sage

Sparkling Cranberries: Set a dish out for instant cheer!

For the vegetarians:

Stuffed Squash, aka, The Best Vegetarian Centerpiece Ever (pictured above): One of these years, I will get my act together early enough to spell this out in greater detail, but for now, I’m directing you to the original source. David and Luise over at Green Kitchen Stories posted the recipe for this stuffed pumpkin a few years ago, and I’ve made my own rendition every Thanksgiving since. I’m forgoing it this year as there will be a turkey and I’m the only one abstaining, but it’s such a gem and makes for a stunning centerpiece. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s even prettier than your average turkey because, let’s face it, it is. I have always used kabocha squash and have had great success with both quinoa and brown rice. The cranberries and cheese really take this one over the top.

Delicata & Ricotta Toasts: Thickly slice good bread. Toast the slices in a 450-degree oven. Rub with garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Top with ricotta, slices of roasted delicata squash, more olive oil, Aleppo pepper, flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Galette (or try another of Deb’s galette recipes; she links to all of them in this post)

Butternut Squash Tian

Other essentials:

A very big salad: This year, my salad will consist of kale, roasted rings of delicata squash, pickled red onions, chopped Medjool dates and Sara Forte’s brilliant sweet-and-spicy sunflower seeds from her book Bowl & Spoon.

Cranberry-Fig Chutney

Stuffing Inspiration: I like a doctored-up version of my mom’s basic recipe, but since I knocked Bon Appétit in my last post, I will give them credit for their smart little stuffing matrix, which gives you lots of ideas alongside the freedom that is appropriate for such things as stuffing.

Festive breads & cakes (also good candidates for breakfast):

Pumpkin Tea Cake

Honey Cranberry Cornmeal Bread

Apple Sage Walnut Bread

Thoughts on wine:

Start with something sparkling! This is always an excellent idea in my book. Pét-nat (short for pétillant-natural), though actually ancient, is freshly hip—but with good reason, i.e., it is fun and delicious. I love Les Capriades wines if you can get your hands on them. Prosecco is also a great option; Casa Coste Piane makes my current favorite.

Gamay wins the day: The Gamay grape, grown mostly in the Beaujolais region of France, produces a lighter-style red wine that pairs well with basically any food and is also delicious all on its own. It stands up fantastically to the hearty fare of Thanksgiving. Yann Bertrand makes some particularly special Gamay from Fleurie and Morgon.

A classy California Pinot: Popular for a reasonClos Saron is my favorite, and Arnot-Roberts, Knez and Baxter wineries also make very pretty pinots.

Earthy Syrah: A full-bodied, structured Syrah from St. Joseph will carry you into the final stages of the meal, when you’re fuller and sleepier and looking for something to match.

Trousseau, for something different: Try one from the Jura—or elsewhere. Philippe Bornard‘s is the shop favorite over at Ordinaire.

Or, if you’re in the Bay Area, just come by Ordinaire! We will set you up for success. (We also ship! There’s still time!)

A few other lists:

Food52’s Genius Recipes, Thanksgiving edition

This clever meal planner from the New York Times

Tips and recipes from the Gluten-Free Girl

Put an egg on it | Delightful Crumb

P.S. Unless you are inclined toward pie, the above should definitely be your breakfast on Friday.

Even If | Gingered Delicata Squash Soup

Even If | Gingered Delicata Squash Soup

Gingered Delicata Squash Soup | Delightful CrumbAnd just like that, Thanksgiving is upon us! I am here today with a simple, delicious starter that will serve you well for the holiday. But I also wanted to take a moment to encourage you to take a lot of deep breaths, do some yoga, go for a hike in the woods, drink a nice glass of wine and/or otherwise take care of yourself so that you can enjoy the celebration in all of its glory—even if you over-whip the cream (which I did for my last dinner party) or your quirky uncle gets drunk before the meal begins and loudly spouts extreme political views that are directly contradictory with your own, whatever those may be, or you burn the turkey (I don’t eat meat—is this something to worry about?) or you realize at the last minute that you don’t have enough place settings for thirteen or nothing is ready on time and so everyone fills up on cheese.

Now, I should say that this whole take a deep breath message is as much for me as it is for you, as Ben can confirm. I love celebrations with all my heart, and I even love planning. But I am also anxious and a perfectionist, and my expectations often come back to kick me in the shins. To my credit, I am finding that the more self-aware I am on this front, the better things get. I am making slow but steady progress, so check back when I’m eighty; I will be a zen hostess with a shock of white hair and excellent collections of both muumuu and wine.

I’m also going to disagree with Bon Appétit‘s assertion in the November magazine that “it’s not Thanksgiving unless there’s more food than you know what to do with.” I find that a little annoying, and also not true. While leftovers are glorious, staying sane and actually enjoying your feast are better. Even if that means you don’t have six vegetable dishes on the table. To this end, I have a strategy: make a plan (whether for food, activities, house cleaning or all three), and then cross two things off the list. It’s not so hard! And you are like me, you still have plenty more to do!

Gingered Delicata Squash Soup | Delightful CrumbI’m more excited for Thanksgiving than I’ve been in some time, as my parents are making the trek to California to spend the holiday with us, and to celebrate my dad’s 60th and Ben’s 30th birthdays. (Is it bad form that I just shared their ages with the internet? Hope not.) I am therefore battling with both the Thanksgiving menu and our plans for the week as I endeavor to not be a crazy person. We will eat good food and drink good wine and go outside in the sunshine and be together, and it will therefore be amazing. At least, this is the sort of thing Ben says to me, to which I reply that yes, that’s true, but I would like it to be the best of the food and wine and experience, ever, in the world! But since I’m trying to keep my over-ambition in check, let’s stick with the it will be amazing mantra.

To start our Thanksgiving meal, I’m taking a cue from my pal Celia, who is an amazing cook and hostess. Last year, we had no plans for the holiday until Ben bumped into Celia’s husband, Joe, at the grocery store mere days before Thanksgiving. Because they are incredibly generous and apparently not stress cases like me, he invited us to join their family’s feast on the spot. It was a great gift to have somewhere so special to go for the holiday and quite the treat to sit in on someone else’s family dynamic. Also, everything was delicious. I loved how Celia kicked off the meal with a simple delicata squash soup, served in little espresso cups. What follows is my rendition.

Here’s to soup, sanity and actually enjoying the big day!

Gingered Delicata Squash Soup | Delightful Crumb

Gingered Delicata Squash Soup with Crème Fraîche & Fried Sage

Serves 6 – 8 as a starter, or 3 – 4 as a main

This is a simple recipe, and one that takes well to variation. You could make a lovely version with butternut, kabocha or acorn squash. The toppings are flexible, too, of course. If you find yourself without sage to fry, as I did on the day I took these photos, top your soup with a bit of parsley and some toasted sunflower seeds or pepitas. Heavy cream and yogurt make great substitutes for the crème fraîche. You could also take a hint from Thomas Keller and doctor up the dairy with a dash of nutmeg.

Since this soup takes well to freezing, I’m going to make it several days ahead of time and tuck it away until Thanksgiving, when I will be grateful for my foresight.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for frying the sage (or butter)

1 yellow onion, chopped


2 medium cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Pinch of cayenne (for a kick that won’t bother the heat-averse, I use about 1/8 teaspoon)

White wine (or dry vermouth)

3 medium delicata squash, peeled, halved, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cups vegetable broth

Apple cider vinegar

Freshly cracked black pepper

Crème fraîche, for serving

Fried sage, for serving (recipe follows)

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion and a big pinch of salt. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften but not brown. If it starts taking on some color, turn the heat down slightly. Add the garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook for a few minutes more, until fragrant. Add a generous splash of white wine and cook until the liquid is gone.

Add the squash to the pot and stir. After a few minutes, pour in the broth, starting with 3 cups and adding until the liquid just covers the squash. Reserve any additional liquid. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until the squash is very tender, about 25 minutes.

While the soup cooks, make the fried sage. Warm a thin layer of oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add several leaves of sage to the pan in a single layer, keeping them from touching one another as much as possible. Fry until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel to cool.

Once the squash is tender, turn off the heat. Transfer the soup to a blender in batches and purée until very, very smooth. Blend longer than you think necessary—you’ll be glad you did.

Return the soup to the pot over very low heat. Add the reserved broth (or water) if you’d like a thinner soup. Taste and add vinegar, salt and cracked pepper as needed so that the soup is flavorful and bright.

Serve in small jars or espresso cups, topped with a swirl of crème fraîche and fried sage.

If You’re Really Lucky | Tartine Brownies

If You’re Really Lucky | Tartine Brownies

Tartine Brownies | Delightful CrumbAll of a sudden, it is autumn. The temperature has dropped and the sun has swung away from our apartment, leaving it chilly all day long, the sheets icy when we slip into bed at night. Light fades early, the perfect excuse to stay inside with big bowls of soup, then hunker down on the couch with blankets and a mug of tea. I even woke up on Monday morning to the gentle rumble of thunder—a rare occurrence around here, to put it mildly. Rain was a gift all on its own, thunder icing on the cake. I put on a record and cozied up with my coffee, the gray sky keeping the house dark and moody even as the morning inched along.

Cozy is just what I want at this time of year, the season of festive gatherings of all kinds, of holiday preparations, of exuberant meals, of joy for the sake of it. This can also be a complicated season for many, of course, for a whole host of reasons. But I must admit that I love it rather indiscriminately.

I invited over friends this past Saturday night, guinea pigs for a dinner party’s worth of summery recipes I was testing for my friend Erin‘s forthcoming book. I now have leftover pineapple and watermelon in my refrigerator, which isn’t exactly holiday-season fare, but the festivity was right on point. I had one of my characteristic breakdowns a couple of hours before dinnertime, when the spring rolls weren’t looking quite as beautiful as I’d hoped and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish everything and/or shower and/or set the table before everyone arrived. (This, I should say, has nothing to do with Erin’s very helpful instructions or stunning-but-simple recipes, and everything to do with my penchant for anxiety.) But when my kitchen was full of friends, laughing and sipping Casa Coste Piane Prosecco (i.e., the best prosecco), I remembered that everything always turns out just fine, and this is the point, after all: connection, celebration, laughter, full bellies at the end of the night. We drank a lot of gamay and ate our fill and had a grand time. (And I can tell you, Erin’s book will be a stunner! Mark your calendars for fall 2016.)

It was my dear pal Celia’s birthday a couple of days later, and her husband threw an amazing party, the sort where she was surprised multiple times over, every time another friend walked through the door. Joe made loads of his famed pizza, and we drank great wine, and I felt so grateful. I met Celia rather unexpectedly, when Ben and I checked out an apartment in Oakland in the complex that she and Joe and their adorable kid lived in at the time. If they hadn’t been moving out of their space, I imagine we might have chosen that apartment just to have them as neighbors, lovely as they seemed right off the bat. But we picked another spot and went back to Michigan, our home for a few weeks more, where I realized that I had been reading Celia’s blog for months. So I sent her an email. And now here we are three years later, fast friends, and I don’t know how I got so lucky but I couldn’t be more glad.

And all of this is what this season is about, is it not? Festivity and loved ones that sweep in to remind you that it doesn’t actually matter if you didn’t have time to wash the floor, or, for that matter, if you’ve accomplished what you thought you would by this stage in the game. Because it turns out that life is good anyway, and by some grand serendipity and grace, you’ve found your tribe, and there’s wine to boot. Maybe even brownies if you’re really lucky.

For that, I am here. Or rather, Tartine Bakery is here. For Ben’s birthday earlier this month, he requested brownies with ice cream. I went on the hunt for a recipe that seemed sufficiently special for the occasion and landed on these, from Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s first cookbook. The brownies as purchased from the bakery are pretty incredible, and I knew I’d be thrilled if these were only a shadow of those beauties. Happily for all of us and our bellies, the home version stands right up to the bakery classic. Fudgy, decadent and the easiest Tartine treat I’ve yet to replicate in my kitchen. They are perfect for kicking off the holiday season, celebrating whatever goodness you’ve got going on, birthdays and plain old weeknights. I am only slightly embarrassed that we polished off the entire pan in just over a week, with very little help, but I am telling you anyway, as a testament to their goodness.

Tartine Brownies

Ever so slightly adapted from Elizabeth Prueitt & Chad Robertson’s Tartine

Makes one 9-by-13-inch pan of brownies, to serve 12 – 18

3/4 cup (6 oz / 170 g) unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan

1 pound (455 g) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chips, of course)

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (4.5 oz / 130 g) all-purpose flour

5 large eggs

2 cups (14 oz / 395 g) light brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (for topping, optional)

2 cups (10 oz / 285 g) walnut or pecan halves (for topping, optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until it melts. If you have trouble melting the chocolate, put the pan back over the heat for 10 seconds and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and becomes pale in color, about 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternately, use a mixing bowl, whisk and a very strong arm.)

Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Then, add the flour. Fold it in quickly but gently with the spatula so that you don’t deflate the air that has been incorporated into the eggs.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with an offset spatula. In you are using the flaky salt and/or nuts, evenly distribute them across the batter.

Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. (A cake tester won’t help you here, as it will come out wet even if the brownies are done.) Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a sharp knife, cut the brownies into squares. They will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week, if you can make them last that long.

The Little Orange Kitchen | Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula

The Little Orange Kitchen | Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula

Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula | Delightful CrumbMy first solo apartment occupied the front right-hand corner of a stately purple house on the downtown edge of Grand Rapids’ historic Heritage Hill. I lived there when I started this blog, and I’ve surely mentioned it before. It was a special little place, after all.

I moved in at the very beginning of 2010, just half a year or so after I’d graduated from college, the act a concrete commitment to stay in my home state of Michigan for at least a little while longer. Lucky for my fragile post-college, deep-in-the-first-job, single lady, recession-weary soul, this was the sort of home that greeted you warmly. It had a very nice stoop, for one. Through the first set of doors, there was a tiny, square screened-in porch, a rather dreary place that was mainly reserved for my recycling bin. Continuing on through the next door, there was an even tinier room, a foyer of sorts with two weathered wooden doors to the front and the right and a heavy metal coat rack on the bright red wall to the left. Through the door to the right was a sizable front room; the door straight ahead led to the bedroom. The two big rooms were separated by a pocket door that I always kept partway open. Paired with the soaring ceilings, I might as well have lived in a mansion for how expansive it seemed.

A narrow hallway ran through the middle of the apartment, along the length of the bedroom, leading first to a compact kitchen painted a lively, rusty shade of orange and then to a bathroom with a built-in tub, walls seafoam green. There were closets in surprising places, wood floors all the way through and antique doorknobs that my mother said reminded her of the ones in her grandparents’ home. On the long wall of the bedroom was a big bay window, and I tucked my bed right alongside it, investing in thick curtains to keep out the Michigan chill.

The kitchen was already outfitted with a sweet little hutch where I stocked my cookbooks and colorful glass bowls from Spain. I filled the dark brown cupboards myself, the first time I’d ever had such a pleasure, with spices and flours and sugars and cans of tomatoes and beans. I didn’t know yet how hot that little kitchen could get with the oven cranked on in the height of summer, but with that as its greatest flaw, there was never all that much to complain about.

When one of my landlords asked me to be sure to regularly take out the trash because they did not have mice in this house (which turned out to be not entirely true) and told me they had all of the paint colors to touch up the walls once I’d decorated and explained that I could call if it got too cold and they would come adjust the heat, I wanted to throw my arms around him and embrace him and burst into tears of pure joy. I didn’t. But let me tell you, I was very close.

I christened my kitchen with a birthday potluck. I gave very few specifics when asking people to bring something to share, which resulted in a meal consisting of my big pot of chili, a batch of Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies and guests’ contributions of eight bottles of red wine, five types of bread, two batches of hummus and one package of Oreos. As one guest aptly put it, it looked like a glorified communion.

I still remember how proud I felt, talking to my friend Abby as we stood in the kitchen, wine glasses in hand, while I pulled another pan of freshly baked cookies from the oven. I was an adult. I was living my life—working, paying my rent, cooking for my friends. And it was actually pretty great.

I reveled in the occasional festive gathering, and the more mellow dinners when we’d tuck a whole group around my four-by-four-foot table, covering the entirety of its surface with food. But this apartment was also where I learned how to properly dine alone. My table sat squarely in front of the one narrow window in the apartment’s front room, a perch to eat my solo meals while watching the goings on of my quiet street or reading a book with the light streaming in. I cooked what I craved and ate just what I wanted for dinner: whatever vegetables were in season, plenty of leafy greens, garbanzo beans, lentils, warming soups, grainy toast and hearty crackers. I’d buy oozing stinky cheeses when the craving struck, to be enjoyed by me alone. I’d buy big red wines, my preference at the time, drinking them over several days, and I stocked my freezer with little tubs of Jeni’s ice cream that would last me for weeks. I always had some good jam on hand to stir into yogurt or top my afternoon toast. On the weekends, I left the coffee pot on to enjoy steaming mugs all the day long, behavior now prohibited by my husband, who is actually right on that count. I would make everyday cakes and simple quick breads that I’d slice right away, wrapping the pieces individually and tucking them into my freezer to have on hand for dreary days at work. I figured out what I loved, and who I was when left alone.

And I made this dish, over and over again, leaning over the stove in my little orange kitchen late at night, often after a long run in the falling darkness, streaming the NPR Talk of the Nation program from the day. It filled my apartment with the scent of ginger and garlic and my bones with the indisputable sense that I was, by some fantastic grace, home.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula | Delightful Crumb

Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

This book was one of my first cooking bibles, along with a now-weathered Moosewood cookbook and Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I don’t pick it up all that often anymore, as I’ve learned many of these basics well enough that I don’t need a recipe—which is, of course, the point! I don’t remember why I chose to try this recipe in the first place, but I know why I returned to it again and again. First of all, it includes chickpeas and arugula, two of my favorite ingredients. I also love that it’s healthful but delicious and (somewhat) filling. Most importantly, however, it is full of flavor. This is my preference for most things, and something I was just realizing while living in that Grand Rapids apartment and cooking for myself more than I ever had before.

I mentioned this dish on my blog a little while back, and a few of you asked for the recipe, so here it is, with just a few tweaks to Bittman’s original edition. I wish I could say I’ve been making this ever since I discovered it, but the truth is that it fell out of rotation some time ago. However, I couldn’t get it out of my head after it came to mind, and I’ve now revived it. I’m happy to say it’s as good as I remember, and my more recently acquired love for soft-boiled eggs means that I’m reveling in this optional addition, too. I hope it fills your belly and brings you as much comfort as it does me.

Also note that spinach can be substituted for the arugula with similarly delicious results. Next time I make this, I plan to quick-pickle the red onion to eliminate the harsh bite it can have when raw. Thickly sliced toast or hearty crackers would be a welcome addition if you’d like to make this into a meal.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas (or a generous 1 1/2 cup freshly cooked)

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

About 4 cups arugula

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 soft-boiled eggs, halved

Warm the olive oil in a deep skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant and the ginger and garlic are soft, about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in the chickpeas. Cook until the chickpeas are hot and coated in the oil and seasonings, about 3 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat. With a fork, stir in the vinegar, honey and 1 tablespoon water. Mash a few chickpeas as you stir to add texture.

Place the arugula, onion and chickpea mixture in a large bowl and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve warm, with soft-cooked eggs alongside if you like.

Little Omelets & Other Simple Things

Little Omelets & Other Simple Things

One-Egg Omelet | Delightful CrumbI’ve already gone on about Cal Peternell and his fantastic book, Twelve Recipes, haven’t I? Quick check of the archives says that yes, indeed, I have. Well, I won’t belabor the point, but I really think most people ought to own this book. His methods for making toast alone are worth the cost of the book, and I’m actually not kidding. This is the most perfectly toasted bread I’ve ever achieved! What more can you ask for in this world?? Truly, though, this is a book that’s useful for all of us, from new cooks to seasoned ones. There are fantastic instructions for all of the most important simple things, like toast and eggs and boiled vegetables, as well as ideas for making these building blocks into all sorts of delicious meals.

And the simple things are the most important things, are they not? When we made these little omelets for the first time back in August, filling them with thinly sliced tomato, caper and olives and pairing them with a crusty baguette and glasses of rosé, as instructed by Cal, Ben said it was one of the best meals we’d had in some time. At first, I was upset. It was so easy! It couldn’t be the best! What about the more elaborate meals I’d cooked up in recent weeks, what with my sudden unemployment and all? The silky corn soup, elaborate bento bowls, homemade pizza, seeded galette, beer-steamed clams… And then I realized, what a silly response! This is a meal that can be ours in a good deal less than thirty minutes, any time we want it, and it’s amazing, in part due to its simplicity. If this is among the best meals we could have, then I am all for it.

Though few of us would eschew an elaborate home cooked meal or dinner out, I’m always most curious to know what people are cooking for dinner on any given weeknight. A friend asked me recently for breakfast ideas, and I waxed poetic about overnight oats made with homemade, unstrained almond milk and plenty of fruit to prevent boredom and lack of texture, Megan Gordon’s genius method of toasting oats before cooking them up into a hearty bowl of oatmeal, all of the things one might put on toast in the morning, savory grain bowl preparations and the like. And this was actually helpful, in a way that my musings on perfect pie crust or pain d’epi just might not be (though, of course, there is a time and place for these as well).

It turns out that one of the best things I’ve eaten lately was a simple snack late last Tuesday night, after my shift at Ordinaire. I slathered halved and toasted lengths of baguette with goat cheese, drizzled olive oil atop and finished the tartines with flaky sea salt. It was exactly what I needed. I added tahini, honey, lemon and Aleppo pepper flakes to one slice, which was exquisite. And yet I would never serve this for dinner. But why ever not? Why is it so easy to doubt that something simple could be this grand?

The simple stuff, in food and in life, is the good stuff. Easy weeknight dinners, sleeping in, sparkling wine popped for the hell of it, laughter with friends, going to Children’s Fairyland with one of your best pals and her kid, big bowls of popcorn, fat slices of cake to eat in the afternoon, celebrations of any size. And these humble little omelets, of course.

(By the way, making an omelet is definitely simple enough that there’s no need to resort to making it in a bag instead. Gross.)

Pair your omelet with baguette and rosé if you really want to take things over the top. Bliss can be simple, after all.

One-Egg Omelet

Adapted from Cal Peternell’s Twelve Recipes

Makes 1 small omelet

Peternell makes the excellent point that a one-egg omelet is, texturally, much like a crêpe in the most pleasant of ways and gives the filling the chance to shine. He suggest making multiples rather than a many-egg omelet if you’re feeling hungry. Plus, though one egg doesn’t sound like much, these little omelets never look sad on the plate.

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk or water


Freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 tablespoon butter, olive oil or ghee

Filling inspiration: thinly sliced tomatoes with chopped olives, capers and (optionally) anchovies; goat cheese and soft fresh herbs; sautéd greens and/or mushrooms; feta cheese with sliced scallions; pesto; miscellaneous leftovers

Crack the egg into a medium bowl (“large enough to take some action,” says Cal). Add the milk or water and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until thoroughly mixed and free of any streaks.

Heat a skillet, then add the butter, olive oil or ghee. (If using butter, you’ll know you have the heat right if it melts then foams gently.) When the butter stops foaming, or the fat is nicely warmed, add the egg. Tilt the skillet around so that the egg covers it all. When it’s set all over, only slightly liquidy and just in the center, add the filling to the side you’re flipping onto (if right-handed, the left side; if left-handed, the right). Run a spatula around the omelet to loosen the edges, then slip it under the unfilled side. Fold it over the filling, turn off the heat and cover the pan with the lid for a couple of minutes.

Peek inside. If the omelet is set as you like it, tilt the skillet over a plate and slide the omelet out with a spatula. If making many, keep the omelet warm in your oven, at low heat.