friday link love

If you know nothing else about my workplace, know this: it's the kind of place that keeps communal pickles for a snack. And that's all right by me.

Hi friends, happy Friday! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I missed you and this space. How was your September? Mine was a blur: I started work at Phaidon; I edited two books I wrote this past year; I went to London for work and came back with a cold so fierce I’m still fighting it.

On the other hand, Andrew got the beloved yo-yo biscuits from Ottolenghi* as a souvenir. This doesn’t seem fair to me: I get a cold; and Andrew gets biscuits, but I suppose jet lag + suppressed immune system (thanks, pregnancy!) is a perfect combination of ingredients to yield something resembling a cold, except this was so much worse.

Something is going around here and over on the other side of the pond – some vicious bug – that takes hold of you and makes you cough for about three weeks, no matter the medicine, rest, what have you.

So – between work, two books, a cold, and this tiny human I’m growing, September wiped me out. And so here we are, October 3. Erev Yom Kippur. Guess who’s not fasting?

Guess who’s also barely figured out how to make dinner on weeknights? That’s right – me. It’s not the cooking – well, sometimes when I get home late it is – it’s the planning, the balance of full time work + freelance book work I am committed to completing, that get me. And things come up. Lovely friends come through town last minute and you drop your homemade dinner plans to see them. Or you get held up by work and come home entirely too late, so you cheat and call takeout. But we’re slowly falling into a pattern here, and I’m happy about that.

If you’re observing Yom Kippur, I wish you an easy fast. Otherwise, have a lovely weekend, and hopefully we’ll meet back here again next Friday if not sooner. xo, olga


All the comments on every recipe blog. Yup.

Banned words on Eater – I love this entire list.

An amazing piece on late bloomers, in terms of creativity, by Malcolm Gladwell – a must-read.

For all the New Yorkers, , and NYC visitors, how memorizing $19.05 can help you outsmart the MTA.

Not only do I love Vogue’s 73 Questions, but this segment with Reese Witherspoon makes me love her even more.

A great guide on how to store your groceries.

And something to contradict common wisdom on how to store tomatoes.

And now, some stuff on Russia… bear with me.

Stunning color photos of pre-Revolutionary Russia.

One of my favorite journalists, Masha Gessen, on the celebrated, and courageous Russian novelist, Lyudmila Ulitskaya.

Another piece by Gessen, this one – a book review – on the life expectancy of Russia’s residents and so, so many deaths. A sad but important read if you are at all interested in the politics of the region.

And to close out the loop, on the Russian/Soviet note, but a happy one for a change, here are some of the ways the former USSR commemorated its dogs in space.

*Ottolenghi’s yo-yo biscuits are amazing citrus-and-passionfruit scented sandwich cookies. They are tremendous and when Andrew and I were in London three or four years ago, we tried them on a lark and were immediately hooked. When Ottolenghi’s namesake book came out, we were the first in line to get it, eager to make those biscuits… or cookies as we call them in the US. Unfortunately, the cookies were not in the book. I found out why a few weeks ago: apparently no one wanted to share recipes for things sold at the restaurants as there was a concern people would stop coming in if they knew how to make everything themselves. I wasn’t going to argue with them (nor do I know if this is factually true – just what I was told by a salesperson), but this strikes me as erroneous thinking. I know how to make many dishes from Franny’s fabulous cookbook (heck, I tested a bunch of these recipes), and I still love eating there because Franny’s. In fact, I think, this will get your more loyal clients instead. Do you agree or disagree? Would you ever share a recipes directly from your restaurant (if you had one – and if you have one and speak from experience, even better)?


  • Robert S.

    Hi Olga – good to see the links back up; also, feel better :)

    RE: restaurant recipes, one thing I did before I left, (and, with the full blessing of the pastry chef), was to make photocopies of my favorite items from our menu. The work was whittling down the proportions for the home cook, but, once done, I was more than happy to share recipes.

    I made our tiramisu for a holiday party, and, one of the guests immediately put two and two together, and correctly deduced where I worked; not only did she ask for and receive the recipe from me, she improved it by using other types of liquor for the zabaglione that gets folded into the mascarpone/heavy cream mixture (Godiva, sambuca, e.g.).

    My philosophy is, if you don’t share, you may miss out on an innovation. And, everything has been done before in some way, so why be so secretive?

  • Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

    I absolutely love the Russian links round-up! And truth be told, I do understand some of the logic behind not wanting to reveal trademark dishes. That being said, seriously, I don’t think Ottolenghi’s restaurants are going to lose any customers because their recipes are available online. Many of them are very involved, and for a lot of people, it is much easier to grab something to go from their Notting Hill outpost, or sit down for a nice dinner at NOPI than to find the time, money, and experience it takes to make some of their more involved dishes. And I say that as someone who both cooks AND couldn’t wait to eat at Ottolenghi!

  • Christine

    I somehow missed your announcement – so first and foremost congratulations! I hope your pregnancy goes smoothly! You’re going to have so much fun!

    I have the Juniors cookbook, but hell if I won’t order a cheesecake when in the area instead. I might be able to cook it, but I am also pretty damned lazy. I also make a much better boneless spare rib than most we can order – but sometimes, I want to sit on my couch and watch television uninterrupted for a few hours. So.

  • olga

    Ksenia – I should’ve probably said none of the dishes from the restaurants are in the books. He won’t share them – a decision I respect, but disagree with. See Robert’s comment which talks about innovation, which I hadn’t considered before. But even more than that, I don’t think that would affect his business at all. In fact, I think he’d get more loyalty because people would have their favorite dishes at home and crave them at the restaurants – I’ve been that person myself. Again, I respect Ottolenghi tremendously – he’s a masterful chef and businessman; I just hope he changes his mind some day and shares his “secret” recipes with all of us. We all love them so!

  • Wendy Read

    I too missed your announcement and wanted to wish you congratulations! So happy for you on all levels :) Hope this cold runs its course quickly and lovely to see you back here.

  • Michelle

    Happy to see a post from you. I wish you plenty of rest if you’re able to take it (store it up now because you won’t have much for about four to five years :-) and plenty of joyful memories of this period of your time with your little guy or girl. It’s amazing how much you learn about them, before they arrive.

  • Rachel

    Hope you’re feeling better soon! I just got the KitchenAid ice cream attachment and made your chocolate Guinness ice cream to bring for our fast-breaking dessert tonight. It was my first actual ice cream endeavor after doing frozen yogurt a couple of times, and very well-received! I agree about sharing restaurant recipes – I’m not even close to being in the business, so just a food-lover’s opinion, but I know that even if I could recreate the recipes at home, it’s not the same experience as sitting down to a meal at a restaurant.

  • Zsuzsa

    Hi Olga,

    Loved your links again – especially the interview with Ulitskaya. Thanks for the links to good reads, and hope things go well with the pregnancy!

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