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NYT Bestselling Author. Reluctant master of packing light. Lover of beautiful shoes & spicy food. Lapsed ballerina. Cook. Book junkie.

Friday, February 10, 2017


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel like we could all use as much good stuff as possible this year. In that vein, I’ve decided I will share three things that I love on the first day of every month: something to read, something to watch, and something to cook. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’m a fan of anything that helps me to make a conscious effort at focusing on the positive.

I’m going to start with a recommendation for what is my absolute favorite, go-to, read-again-and-again: Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series. I know many of you are already fans, but if you’ve somehow missed these fantastic novels, you’re in store for an unforgettable treat. The first book, Crocodile on the Sandbank, introduces Amelia and the irrepressible Radcliffe Emerson (just please don’t call him Radcliffe). Great characters and lots of history—both of Egypt and of archaeology. I can’t think of a better comfort read. 

I love French films, and The Intouchables, starring Fran├žois Cluzet and Omar Sy, is one of my favorites. A wealthy French aristocrat, paralyzed in a paragliding accident, hires to take care of him a broke guy with a less-than-honorable past who is hoping to collect an unemployment check. I know, I know, it sounds like it would be awful, but give it a try. It’s funny, heartwarming, and based on a true story. Great dialogue and made me laugh out loud.

It’s no secret that I love winter. One of my favorite things about it is getting to cook all those wonderful cold-weather dishes. Sharing one of my favorites: 
Red Lentil Soup with Farfallette
(Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Pasta Book)
2 ¼ cups red lentils
6 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
6 TBSP chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground fennel
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
Fine sea salt
Kosher salt for cooking pasta
1 cup farallette
Pick over the lentils, discarding any grit or misshapen lentils. Rinse well and set aside.
In a soup pot over medium-low heat, warm olive oil. Add onions, carrots, 3 TBSP cilantro, fennel, and cayenne. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well softened, about ten minutes. Add the lentils and stir to mix well. Add the broth and 2 tsp sea salt, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. 
While the lentils are cooking, in a saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a rapid boil. Check the package directions for the cooking time, then add 2 tsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 3 minutes shy of being al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water.
Add the pasta to the soup about 3 minutes before it is ready. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle into warmed bowls, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro, dividing it evenly, and serve right away.