Gooseberry Fool

I love berries. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. I can eat them by the handful. Growing up, my insatiable love for berries was satisfied by the copious amounts of blueberries and strawberries, and occasionally blackberries, we picked at u-pick farms in the Hudson valley and by the raspberries my mom grew in our backyard. She also grew a curious little green berry that, until I was well into my 20s, I never, ever, saw anywhere else: the gooseberry. Despite the abundance with which they grew (and despite how much, it seemed, the birds adored them), the gooseberries in our backyard never inspired in me the same kind of love I have for other berries, however. Picking them was tedious, and “topping and tailing” them (or cleaning off the papery pips and stems) was hard work that never seemed quite worth it.

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Emily HalpernComment
Grandma Margot's Plum Torte


I ate curious foods around my grandparents' table, although they never struck me as unusual. When my family visited my grandparents, we’d gather around for an array of German products I never saw anywhere else: liverwurst, weisswurst, gooseberry fool, little pickles, dense, grainy bread, Westphalian ham. My grandmother hated the kitchen, but my grandfather loved food. It was around their table that my identity as “feinschmecker” was born. 

Though she wasn’t much of a cook, my grandmother baked, and she passed down her love of sweets to me. Every visit brought the promise of cookies, cobbler, or my hands-down favorite plum torte. 

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French Tomato Pie

You may have noticed it’s tomato season. Time for Caprese salad, tomato and mayo sandwiches (yum, btw), fresh tomato pasta sauce, tomato this, tomato that. One of the perks of the perfect tomato is that it’s best eaten as is, out of hand, like any other delectable piece of juicy summer fruit. But the thing is, with all this fresh fruit around, sometimes you just want something a little bit more satisfying (read fattening). That’s where this week’s recipe, tomato tart, comes in. 

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Lecsó and "Lecsó Shakshuka"

It’s mid-August, people. When and how exactly did that happen? Out here in the ‘burbs (also known as my parent’s house north of NYC), my mom is reaping the benefits of her vegetable garden. Kale is ready to be cut, eggplants shine in the summer-sun, basil plants are knee-high, and, somehow, there is a new zucchini on the vine each time you blink. Wasn’t it just a moment ago that the farmers’ market was brimming with spring’s sugar snap peas, asparagus, and strawberries? This morning, it was overflowing with the high-summer harvest: beans, corn, summer-squash, peppers of all colors and kinds, and tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes.

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Summer Borscht

Last week, as a sticky heat wave descended upon New York City, I went on a mini-vacation to Vermont. There, I enjoyed country air, pastoral views, cool, fresh breezes, a swim in a crystal clear river-bend, and a much-needed break from the sweltering temperatures (oh, and lots of Vermont cheddar cheese).

Then I returned to New York, and the heat felt even hotter. As steamy weather always calls for light meals and cold food, I decided I’d make use of summer’s bounty by using my farmers’ market beets to make a classic cold soup: borscht.

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