And Now for Something Totally Different

When I told friends that I was launching a style blog in February 2015, many of them told me that I should, instead, blog about interior design.

My first reaction was: YOu dOn’t LIkE mY cLOthEs?

My more reasoned, less paranoid response was: Absolutely not! Those interior design bloggers work hard. They’re fixing up their houses all the time, re-covering the furniture and spray-painting things. That’s too ambitious for me.

And thus you find The Directrice as it is, one year later, dedicated to the subject of . . . what I wear to work. I did, however, reserve the right (see our contract, What Is The Directrice) to occasionally write about something other than clothes. Today is one of those days.

I like to cook, but am a busy person. I look for three things in recipes: ease, speed, and replicability. I love pawing through cookbooks at the bookstore and have bought a fair number over the years. So here I am recommending my favorites, along with my go-to recipes from them. None of these recipes is difficult; an asterisk appears next to the recipes that are particularly easy and fast (excluding baking time).

The Silver Palate Cookbook
by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso

  • Chicken Marbella* (w/out the prunes)
  • Beef Tenderloin*
  • Chili for a Crowd
  • Pasta Puttanesca*
  • Pasta Sauce Raphael (do not blanch tomatoes; just use canned Italian plum tomatoes)
  • silver palate

    risotto risotti
    Risotto and Risotto Risotti
    by Judith Barrett & Norma Wasserman

  • Butternut Squash and Spicy Sausage (from Risotto Risotti)
  • Sausage and Pecorino
  • Prosciutto, Chickory and Fontina

    The Big Book of Casseroles
    by Maryana Vollstedt

  • Roasted Chicken and Vegetables*
  • Beef, Barley and Mushroom Stew
  • Salmon Loaf
  • cassaroles

    Simple Suppers from the Moosewood Collective

  • Navajo Stew*
  • Pasta w/ Carmelized Onions and Blue Cheese*

    Pasta e Verdura
    by Jack Bishop

  • Carmelized Vidalia Onions with Black Olives and Rosemary*
  • Porcini Mushrooms w/ Cream and Parmesan*
  • pasta e verdura

    Some of these are out of print, but available (and very cheap) through used-book dealers through Amazon.
    If you have favorite cookbooks, do share! And have a fantastic weekend!

    18 thoughts on “And Now for Something Totally Different”

    1. I love this! I too like to cook, and to collect cookbooks, but the need for ease and speed does temper the love of cooking — on weekends it’s a hobby, on weeknights a duty. I don’t have any of these, so am curious to check them out. I have a slew of Cooks Illustrated, which I love for their replicability.

      That said I am always impressed by the backdrops to your outfit photos, so would welcome a couple interior design posts as well. I realize more and more how many of the aesthetic principles can be applied to clothing and decorating.

      • I love Cooks Illustrated, too, Bubu. I just love the thought of them testing those recipes over and over — it must be such a fun job.

    2. I still talk about how beautiful your home is and how one day, I will have a kitchen with lavender walls, so YES! Blog about your home decorating skills! First idea: how to create a simple yet attractive framed photo gallery.

    3. I love hearing your favorite recipes but I think your readers really NEED to see the inside of the ‘trice’s closets! and we NEED to hear about the Directrice’s upholstery fetish. And we NEED to hear about throw pillows. Oh, there are so many things. Get going, Directrice!

      • It’s a obsession/compulsion, not a fetish, and I am going to get it listed in the DSM if it’s the last thing I do on this earth! Then my upholstery costs would be paid by health insurance or at least out of a tax-sheltered medical savings account.

    4. I love to cook from Junior League cookbooks. I have quite a collection passed down from my grandmother and mother. Some of the recipes are dated but in a quaint way, if that makes sense. The books come from a specific region in a certain era and the recipes are a reflection of those times.

      • I know exactly what you mean, Beth. I bet all of the desserts have shortening in them — which makes everything better even though it is, allegedly, very bad for us. I wonder if there is a thriving underground market for Junior League and other social groups’ cookbooks . . . You may enjoy the Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook edited by one of the editors of Yankee Magazine. Loads of great cookie and bar recipes and charming comments about each from its contributor.

        • I do very much enjoy the Wellesley Cookie Exchange book! ;). One of my favorites since cookies are my weakness.

          Yes, shortening abounds in many of these community books, especially the older ones. However, since these books reflect what is going on in the community the recipes ‘lightened up’, along with the rest of us, in more recent times. However, many of my favorite treats are the oldy but goodies with unhealthy ingredients aplenty. Not too dangerous if they are infrequent treats. 🙂

    5. I love cook books and certainly have a few. One favorite that I keep going back to is Mark Bittman’s classic “How to Cook Everything”. It has no pretty pictures, but what it lacks in appearance it makes up in having a good recipe for anything you would want to cook. I’ve used the book as my guide for years and it still keeps giving. I’m also a fan of borrowing cookbooks from the library. Especially the pretty ones that are fun to read through. I may try a recipe or just gather some new ideas (gluten free, paleo, etc). It’s a good way to get some variety without the clutter.

      • Liladyblogger — Such a great suggestion! I am embarrassed to say it never occurred to me. I borrow craft and interior design books from my local library, but I never thought to look at the cookbooks. Borrow them, test them at home and if you really like one, you can order it from the bookstore.

    6. Here is my current favorite: Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse by Sara Dickerman
      It has some of the best recipes I’ve tried in ages, and most all weeknight-friendly.

      Also like many by Deborah Madison (Vegetarian Suppers especially) and The Food Lab by J Kenzi Lopez-Alt. I keep a web subscription to Cook’s Illustrated and use that frequently.

      • I like Deborah Madison, too, Julie. The others you suggest are new names to me, so I will look forward to checking them out. Thank you!

    7. I really enjoyed this post and much as I love your outfit posts I’d also enjoy hearing more from you on other topics from time to time. I understand what you mean about the constant project churn of many interior design/home blogs, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I think the kind of analysis you apply to clothing and putting together outfits could also be used for interior design (e.g., how to choose artwork, how to decide what to display together, etc.) and I would love to read more about how that plays out in your home.

      I’m a big fan of the Silver Palate Cookbook too, it’s so charmingly of-its-time and yet it holds up so well I think. I have their party cookbook (Silver Palate Celebrations? not sure of the title, my cookbooks are in the other room and there’s a cat on my lap so you get my best guess) too.

      A couple of recipes you might enjoy if you are into risotto are Marcella Hazan’s Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup ( and Israeli Couscous Risotto ( Both are staples in my house.

      • When you have a cat on your lap, the only thing you should get up for is a fire alarm. Thank you for the recipe recommendations, Sarah; I will definitely check them out.

    8. I love the Silver Palate cookbooks, but have never made the famed chicken Marbella. I resolve to do so this weekend!

      • Good luck, Rhizophora! It’s the easiest thing ever. But take a look at the recipe in advance — you need to marinate the chicken overnight (or at least all day). I don’t use nearly the amount of brown sugar as the recipe calls for. I probably use 1/4 c. and I double the amount of olives (because they taste so good after baking).


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