So, full disclosure here. I’m sure many of us are aware by now of the (very warranted) backlash against Alison Roman after this ridiculously insensitive interview went live. Let me be clear: I am in no way condoning her words and thought process, both in tearing down other women as examples of what she disdains and the fact that these women she attacks happen to be POC, who if anything, deserve our positive support always and now more than ever.
I went back and forth about whether I should share this review of her first cookbook, Dining In, which I began writing before the controversy ensued. But where I netted out is, I think that this fits into a larger belief system of mine around giving people a second chance, and giving them space to learn and grow and atone and do better.
After monitoring her content closely over these past few weeks and seeing a concerted effort to use her energy to lean into educating herself and her platform to share and give back, I feel comfortable sharing my review of her cookbook. I don’t know if I’d be able to preach about my general belief in rehabilitation as an alternative to, in many instances, mass punitive incarceration or militant policing, if I didn’t action these beliefs in my own day to day.
That means believing that people can get better. That means believing that none of us are a “finished product.” I’m living off of the fumes of this hope more than ever these days, so it seems. Because what’s the alternative? Writing someone off completely? Cancel culture? Does shaming another human ever make them want to learn and do better?
As someone who personally responds best to positive reinforcement, I’d say… take me by the hands, show me the error of my ways, lead me by example, and have faith that I can be better. That’s what I’m trying to do over here, anyways. Don’t you think we owe that to each other, now more than ever?
So, here we are.
True to the review that I did for Nothing Fancy, the OG AR cookbook, Dining In is nothing short of highly cookable, weeknight-friendly, flavor-heavy brilliance. It’s full of recipes that are based on simple yet effective techniques, and she does not shy away from acid and punchy flavors that I so adore personally. I made far more of the recipes than I reviewed below, but suffice to say, I can confidently conclude that a home cook who loves delicious, fresh, and unfussy food would do well to cook from this cookbook.
I also noted the recipes that I have yet to make but which are on my list to cook next. Send me an email or a DM on Instagram if you want to join me in making them, and I’ll send you the recipe 🙂 Happy cooking, reading, or both!
Spring Peas with Anchovy, Lemon, and All the Radishes – The proof is in the pudding with this recipe – I loved it so much that I made it twice in one week. Not only are snap peas and radishes two of my fave crunchy-ass veggies, but the salad keeps up its structure the next day, even dressed. The combo of whole chopped lemon, anchovy, and fresh tarragon is out of this world flavorful and unexpected. The second time I made it, I chopped the snap peas instead of deveining them, to save time, and it was just as good. I also skipped the pea tendrils both times because I couldn’t find them, and it was still perfect.
Fried Eggplant with Harissa and Dill – So I normally hesitate to fry, especially in my lil studio kitchen, but when confronted with a holy trinity of fave ingredients (eggplant.harissa.dill), I couldn’t *not* attempt this recipe. I ended up searing the eggplant off instead of doing a serious deep fry, and replaced the olive oil with avocado oil because it has a higher smoke point. The harissa sauce is to die for, and I plan to use it on lots of grilled and roasted veggies for.. the rest of my life. Also, I was surprised by how filling this was – I actually eschewed the protein at my dinner because the eggplant felt like a meal unto itself.
Crispy-skinned Salmon with Spicy Radishes and Green Romesco – Let it be known, this girl never met a salmon dish she didn’t like. But, as with all things… good, better, best. And this recipe qualifies as a best. The green romesco sauce has SO much herb-y punch, and doesn’t overwhelm the salmon at all. I served this over a bed of mixed greens, and used the romesco as my dressing with an extra squeeze of lemon. Et voila!
Fennel-rubbed Pork Chop for Two – And by two, we mean for one, with leftovers. I don’t make pork often at all, but have been on a quest to mix it up now that I’m home cooking more than ever. I had no idea how well pork pairs with fennel, both of the seed and fresh varieties. When the chopped fennel is caramelized in your cast iron alongside the pork chop and mingles with all of those juices… that’s heaven right there. It was delicious cold the next day, too.
Paprika-Rubbed Sheet Pan Chicken with Lemon – As many of y’all know by now, I love any sort of roast chicken situation. And I will legit be making this recipe until the end of time. I actually cheated here and did not spatchcock a chicken – I bought two whole split breasts and legs (skin on and bone it), and cut the cooking time down to 1.5 hours (I think I could even have cut it by another 10 minutes and let it rest, honestly). The paprika-crisped skin is so perfect with a squeeze of that roasted lemon on top, and when you make a salad with the leftover chicken the next day, squeeze the remaining roasted lemons on top as dressing for even more depth of flavor.
“The Cookies” aka Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread – Ah, the cookies so legendary that they simply go in the internet ether as “the cookies.” This take on chocolate chip cookies is a bit more work than the usual Nestle Tollhouse variety, but the flavor and texture are SO worth it. Don’t forget that you’ll chill your log of dough for about 2 hours prior to baking, so this needs to be baked into (haha) your cook time. And don’t skimp on the sprinkle of flaky salt at the end – it *makes* them.
Side Note – An Ode to Chapter Names That I Like
I Love Boiled Potatoes
Morning-After Breakfast Salad
How To Casually Frost a Cake
What I’m Making Next (cook along with me!)
Chocolate Tahini Tart with Crunchy Salt
Cumin Lamb Chops with Charred Scallions
Golden Chicken Broth with Turmeric and Garlic
Blistered Green Beans with Creamy Tahini and Fresh Hot Sauce
Want the realest of my real talk? THIS is how you get it.