HBO Max's Baketopia; Cookbooks at the Circus

Plus: step aside, TikTok pasta.

Howdy cookbook fans!

And hello from gloomy, overcast Texas, where we are expecting a deluge overnight. Happily for my new plants: this weekend, I put in heat tolerant lettuce (we’ll see about that), jalapenos, serranos, basil, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini and TOMATOES, all of whom would love a bunch of rain to welcome them to the garden. Fingers crossed—the pandemic hitting when it did really threw a wrench in my gardening last year, and I am hoping this year’s crop makes up for it.

Today we have a recipe for Warm Greek Chicken Salad from the new book Sheet Pan Everything by Ricardo Larrivee, an easy mix of chicken, olives, red onions, feta, and parsley served over greens. Am considering making this slightly heartier by swapping the greens for pasta—TikTok pasta WHO?—with the greens on the side. TBD! Either way, sounds like dinner tonight to me.

There's cookbooks about soul food, but really not from a global perspective. I thought it was a chance to— through food—showcase all of the similarities that we throughout the world; we as people have when it comes to our cuisine, and some of my thoughts behind it. That’s the motivation behind doing the cookbook and wanting to just share a part of me with the world. 

Chef Deborah VanTrece discusses her new cookbook, The Twisted Soul Cookbook. [Thrillist]

Baketopia, Hosted by Cookbook Author Rosanna Pansino, Premieres March 25

On March 25, HBO Max will premiere baking competition show Baketopia, hosted by cookbook author of Nerdy Nummies fame Rosanna Pansino. Brought to you by the showrunner of Nailed It, this seems less a show about amateurs and more about people trying really complex pastry creations. Which is more my cup of tea (…teacake?) when it comes to food shows anyhow. Watch the trailer above.

If you’ve never used a cookbook before, you’re really missing out. You open the book at the correct page, and then all the information just stays exactly where it is until you don’t need it any more. It’s brilliant, maybe even unimprovable.

–I can’t really tell if Stuart Heritage enjoyed Ruby Tandoh’s new audiobook with recipes Breaking Eggs or not, but the cake looks nice in the photo. [Guardian]

Cookbook Combines Recipes and Circus Stunts

Okay, I think I have this straight: Circus Harmony is a youth circus program in St. Louis. To raise money for the program, they’ve released an interactive, digital cookbook full of recipes submitted by the families of participating students. Each recipe is paired with a video of *checks notes* the students performing related circus stunts to accompany the dish. “Some of it is very bizarre — let’s just say it,” director Jessica Hentoff told the Riverfront Times. It’s certainly the first cookbook/circus performance combo I’ve seen.

So, for example: a recipe for baguettes is paired with two girls performing an aerial dance routine while dressed as mimes, a recipe for guacamole features two boys doing a clown routine while one of them is dressed like a mole, a milkshake recipe features a girl doing a very spin-y hoops routine to mimi a blender, etc. Kids being weird and having fun! You love to see it. The cookbook is free online but they do request donations. [Circus Harmony via Riverfront Times]

What’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed; all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Laura Shapiro reviews The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes by Sam Sifton, exploring the nature of measurements and the ways humans interact with written culinary instruction along the way. It’s a good read. [The Atlantic]

Warm Greek Chicken Salad

Excerpted from Sheet Pan Everything by Ricardo Larrivee. Copyright © 2021 Ricardo Media. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Serves 4


1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil

3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice

1 tablespoon (15ml) honey

l teaspoon dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped


1 1/2 pound (675 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts)

2 cups (280 g) cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup (50 g) pitted kalamata olives, cut into rounds

1 red onion, thinly sliced

7 ounces (200 g) crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup (10 g) flat-leaf parsley

4 Lebanese cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) rounds

2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn

For the dressing:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

For the salad:

  1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). On a non-stick sheet pan, toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the dressing. Bake for 15 minutes. Set the remaining dressing aside.

  2. Remove the sheetpan from the oven. Arrange the tomatoes, olives and onion (see note) around the chicken. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes.

  3. On a work surface, thinly slice the chicken and return to the sheet pan. Adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley. Add the cucumbers and lettuce to the bowl of dressing. Mix well.

  4. Serve the salad in bowls. Top with the chicken mixture.

NOTE By adding the onion at this stage, it loses its strong raw onion taste while staying crisp. If desired, you can cook the onion longer by adding it at the same time as the chicken.

That’s all for today! I will see Friday folks Friday, have a great week.