Dining Section Roundup: 10.5.05

Today's is another NY Times Dining section where the "Dining Out" is stressed over the "Dining In" - but we'll forgive them on the merits of two small details, which happen to be two of our favorite things: escarole, and pear ginger muffins.

The minimalist, Mark Bittman, gives us an ode to escarole, a bitter green that is often overlooked in the market. But why? It's inexpensive, has a long growing season, and the perfect vehicle to toasted bread, cheese, broth... all the best stuff. What's to over-look? As a pip-squeak, I was in love (and still am) with my mother's escarole soup, a recipe we'll be revealing soon. As the story goes, I was wild for the taste, but I had a topical reaction to the soup, so as it dribbled down my neck I would break out into hives. Mom fed it to me anyway. Gotta love mom.

Bittman's recipe is for Escarole and Beans, which, for you adventurous produce folks out there, will suffice for now until we can get mom's soup up.

Nigella Lawson is back after a long hiatus with a wonderful little article that will make anyone feel like they can bake. This one is going in the file for all the "hopeless chefs" who come to me for confession. Nigella gently coaxes us, as only she can, through the simple steps of mixing dry ingredients and wet ingredients, then combining them into a Jumbleberry Grunt (we're making this simply because the name is so wonderful), and finally, a Pear Ginger Muffin. I know what we're making this weekend.