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Too Many Cooks: Our Latest, Greatest Inspirations

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This week, we drew inspiration from the Hotline, where user LE BEC FIN asked, "What's sparking you these days?" We were so inspired by the answers you all gave that we wanted to get our whole team in on the conversation. Here's what's inspiring and surprising the Food52 team right now:

Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu
Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu

Tim: Chinese food. I love Chinese food, and my dream is to learn to cook like I grew up in Flushing, Queens. In particular, knife-shaved noodles are my jam. If you haven't gone to Uncle Zhou's in Elmhurst, go now!

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When my wife and I moved to Portland, we joined a monthly cookbook club with an old colleague and the first cookbook we cooked from was Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. and The recipes are delicious and pretty easy to make! We've been obsessed. The vegetarian Ma Po Tofu is now a staple.

Jovan: I'm obsessed with Michael Pollan's Netflix documentary series Cooked.

Leslie: I've been so inspired by the amazing things my friends have been doing! Last weekend I caught up with old friends and learned one was just hired as the creative director of an amazing show, another is following her dream of being a sommelier, and another just received a grant to fund the research behind his big software idea. I'm inspired every day by their accomplishments! (But also, Chinese food.)

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White Pizza with Ricotta, Yogurt, Tomatoes, and Basil
White Pizza with Ricotta, Yogurt, Tomatoes, and Basil

Micki: Pizza! I have been on a crazy pizza-making kick, and I am not sick of making (or eating) it yet, and at this point would rather eat my own that order it out. I've got my basics down—a dough I like, tomatoes I like, etc.—so now it's about changing things a little each time and taking mental notes. How long did I preheat the oven? What about these tomatoes? Different kind of mozz?

Natalia: Hosting weekly Tuesday night dinner parties. I iron my fancy linen napkins, light some candles, and clear out my fridge scraps. Last night was a ripoff of this dish from Sweet Hereafter in Portland, Oregon.

Broccoli Marrow with Pecan Garlic Butter
Broccoli Marrow with Pecan Garlic Butter

Annie: Closed-loop cooking, and this great piece that chronicled one woman's week of wasting as little as possible! That didn't just mean using up her leftovers, but approaching shopping, cooking, and ingredients themselves in a different way. I have broccoli stalks in my fridge right now, actually, waiting to be turned into pesto (or maybe given the marrow treatment?).

Jackson: I'm a big fan of podcasts, and currently I can't get enough of You Must Remember This. Host Karina Longworth takes seasons-long deep dives into topics surrounding old Hollywood—from the rise and fall of MGM to the McCarthy-era blacklist. I love how meticulously researched and tightly structured the stories are—a nice break from the many hangout podcasts out there. If you're looking for a great place to start, try one of the Elizabeth Taylor stories!

Catherine: Reading. It sounds so simple, but I didn't read for leisure much in 2015. Over the past weeks, I've torn through multiple books and am sitting here in my office chair, excited to get home tonight and finish my current book, Brooklyn.

Too Many Cooks: Oldest, Newest, and Most Worn Cookbooks
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Too Many Cooks: Oldest, Newest, and Most Worn Cookbooks

Kaitlin: +1 to reading! I am deep into the Neapolitan Novels and they have completely changed the way I feel about commuting. I only let myself read the books while on the train, so now I actually look forward to going underground so I can be swept away to Naples (I've even chosen a local train over an express to get more time in). They've got my mind racing and also make me very thankful to not be a 1950s Italian housewife.

Caroline: I recently picked up a collection of Rumi poems, and they are all so stirring and vibrant (and nearly 800 years old!!). His poetry is very focused on noticing and questioning; it's very meditative. He was also a cook, and writes very lovingly of chickpeas.

Bridget: Meditation! I am trying in earnest to spend time every day (maybe 3 minutes on the subway, maybe a half-hour at bedtime). The studies that show substantive benefits are too great to ignore. And I know it seems counterproductive to the cause but I use the Buddhify app and really love it.

Turkish Bay Leaves

Turkish Bay Leaves

$7
Fresh Sweet Bay Laurel Leaves

Fresh Sweet Bay Laurel Leaves

$20

Sarah J.: Bay leaves! I made this cake from Heidi Swanson last night, in which you infuse butter with 3 bay leaves, and I felt like it was the first time I had ever truly smelled and tasted them. The flavor was subtle but distinct—a little like a more delicate version of rosemary—and I'm excited to experiment with them more. Serious Eats has an interesting article about "the point" of bay leaves (and why it's better to use dried than fresh!).

Ali: Wintertime greenmarkets! The farmers are even happier to see you because there are fewer shoppers. And I'm happy to see them because their greens are super spicy and their cabbage heads are humungous. I've also been rediscovering recipes I once had a love affair with and then got sick of, like this poached radish salad and orange-glazed tempeh.

Inspire us! Tell us what's making you excited, curious, obsessed in the comments.

Tags: inspiration, hotline, too many cooks