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My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

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Notes about this book

  • Smokeydoke on February 07, 2017

    Not understanding the Reichl hype, as a cookbook alone, it is mediocre. As a memoir, it's a bit depressing and dramatic. When I first saw the cover with "Recipes that Saved My Life" I thought she had struggled through cancer. Uh no, she lost her job. Which is devastating, of course, but people usually recover. Sorry, I don't feel the emotional connection to this book that others have. Her recipe-writing is infuriating, but the recipes themselves seem to be tried-and-true favorites, nothing too ground-breaking. This one is going back.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Spicy Tuscan kale

    • Rutabaga on March 04, 2016

      This is a lovely way to prepare lacinato kale. As Reichl suggests, I added extra olive oil at the end, a nice green Tuscan oil, which really pulls the dish together. Cooking the onions until they almost melt lends the dish a gentle sweetness that tempers the strong taste of the kale, as does briefly blanching the kale prior to sauteeing it. My husband enjoyed this also, and even had seconds. Since he's typically ambivalent when it comes to kale, this dish will definitely be one to revisit.

    • Rutabaga on January 25, 2017

      I made this again, but was out of anchovies, so used Bomba tomato paste and a little fish sauce. It turns out the fish sauce was a mistake - it imparted an unappealing fishy flavor that you don't get when you make this recipe as directed. That's one variation I will not repeat!

  • Spicy Korean rice sticks with shrimp and vegetables

    • Rutabaga on November 09, 2018

      This is a great easy stir fry if you can get a hold of Korean rice sticks. They are wonderfully chewy with a toasty crust when pan fried. I adapted the recipe by using broccoli and leaving out the spicy ingredients to accommodate the children. Since I doubled the recipe, I split it between two pans, then sprinkled Korean chile pepper flakes over one dish and added more to taste at the table.

    • sosayi on October 25, 2017

      While I struggled with execution on this, the end result was well worth it. I substituted broccoli for the asparagus, which is a suggested change. Once I started cooking, though, I realized that the broccoli would not be cooked enough for my tastes just by stir frying for a 2-3 minutes, so I changed course and blanched it quickly first. Then, the sauce calls for you to add a "splash" of soy sauce and vinegar (either sherry, balsamic or rice... I used brown rice). I'd estimate I used a few tablespoons of each, however, and did need to add some water to make it a little more pourable, as well. I kept adding and tasting until it seemed balanced. My gochujang is also a concentrated version, so I skipped the cayenne. It was plenty spicy, even for my husband who regularly adds extra spice to most dishes. Next time, I'd use a different veg to make it more quick cooking, but I'll definitely make it again.

  • Turkey stock

    • Rutabaga on November 26, 2015

      This is a good, basic stock. I hadn't purchased turkey parts in the past just for the purpose of making stock, but it made the process simple and has the advantage of being prepared in advance of Thanksgiving if you would like to incorporate stock into your gravy in addition to the pan drippings.

  • Turkey gravy

    • Rutabaga on November 26, 2015

      This is a very traditional tasting Turkey gravy, pale and creamy, and essential for livening up oft-dry turkey meat. I only used about four cups of stock, but I think I had more liquid in my roasting pan than Reichl plans on, as I added water a couple of times while the Turkey roasted.

  • Perfect pound cake

    • Rinshin on February 07, 2017

      Normally pound cakes bake at 350 F. And depending on the ingredients used, I've seen the time listed from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours with toothpick test. The US version shows 2 C cake flour. I can try baking it this week and will report here using her American version.

    • Rinshin on February 09, 2017

      I made this pound cake exactly following the recipe in the US version. At about 47 min at 350F, the pound cake was lightly browned on top and I tested using the toothpick. It came out clean. I think I could have pulled the cake out at this point if I did not care for the fully browned top and it would be good this way too. I I baked it to 1 hr per instructions, and the top was golden brown of what I always envision what pound cakes should be. I tasted it the cake immediately after coming out of the oven, and the taste and texture is just to my taste. It has the sweetness but not cloyingly so. I know pound cakes develop in taste and texture once cooled off and I think this cake will prove to be one of the best. The US version is 2 C cake flour, 1 tsp baking powder, bit of salt, 2 sticks of unsalted butter, 4 eggs (both eggs and butter at room temp), 1 C sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla. I used metal 9 x 5 pan. Posted the photo.

    • mayastonecastle on February 07, 2017

      I didn't have success the first or second time on this recipe. In it she instructs to use "scant cup" measurements. I really dislike imprecise measurements, especially in baking. She lists butter in weight and grams, why not the flour and sugar. Also, I think the temperature was too hot and it bakes for too long. I have the UK version. I'd be curious what the US version shows.

  • Anchovy bread

    • sosayi on October 09, 2018

      The flavor on this bread was really outstanding. I think, though, that I failed in the execution, as mine lacked the distinctive and separate swirled layers that showed in the picture in the book. Where I think I went wrong is the whole part about leaving the edges free of filling. I think I went too close to the edge, so that the dough didn't seal and the filling seeped out during the bake. My final loaf was quite orangeish and oily/crisp on the bottom (which is not a BAD thing, it sure tasted good) and there was barely a discernible spiral when you sliced into the coiled loaf. I also didn't have the spacing/gaps in between the spiraled layers.

  • High-heat turkey

    • Rutabaga on November 26, 2015

      Probably my favorite part of the high heat method for roasting turkey is how easy it is. I cleaned the oven the night before, and had no issues with smoke. Our bird was about 15 pounds, and in retrospect I don't think it needed more than two hours in the oven. But since my meat thermometer was broken I kept it in an additional fifteen minutes to be sure it was truly done. This made much of the meat drier than it should be, but it was nothing that a good ladle of gravy couldn't fix. I also salted the turkey prior to roasting, even though Reichl doesn't mention adding any salt. I had a hard time imagining roasting a turkey with no seasoning, however; it seems a little should be added at least.

  • Turkey hash with fried eggs

    • Rutabaga on November 28, 2017

      I baked the last of my Yukon Gold potatoes the night before as Reichl suggests for easy grating. Instead of onion, I used a mix of shallots and scallions, and I also added some shredded Savoy cabbage that was past its prime (although still great for hash). With the extra veg, I decided to go for it and use a full stick of butter. It made for a hearty, satisfying breakfast, although my six-year-old turned up his nose because of the cabbage. The potato became thoroughly mashed as I cooked and stirred it, scraping up the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. It was very reminiscent of bubble and squeak, just with turkey added. For those who like it spicy, serve hot sauce on the side.

  • Pumpkin pancakes

    • Rutabaga on November 23, 2015

      These pancakes have a pleasant, lightly spiced pumpkin flavor, and are a nice change of pace from everyday pancakes. I probably enjoyed them more than my family. They still liked them, but generally prefer more traditional pancakes.

    • Yildiz100 on October 06, 2018

      Lightly spiced, very moist (almost too moist) texture. Required dirtying three mixing bowls as well as a small bowl to melt the butter, and I think there are better pancakes that require less cleaning.

  • The cake that cures everything

    • jumali on April 05, 2016

      This cake was voted "best cake I've ever eaten" by 15 people ages 11 to 76. Based on comments on the NYT website, I doubled the frosting, and had enough to frost the cake generously, plus enough to frost an 8X8 pan of brownies. I used Ghiradelli cocoa powder and Callebaut unsweetened chocolate. I will be making this again (and again...and again)

    • anwade88 on January 07, 2018

      I am not the biggest cake fan, however this cake was really lovely. And the group I served it to raved about it. This makes a very large cake... as the recipe specifies. I created this cake for the 2017 eclipse. I will definitely make this again.

  • Sriracha shrimp over coconut rice

    • danielis on March 06, 2018

      This is such a great combination. The spicy sriracha, sweet prawns and mellow coconut rice. This is a go to mid week meal. You can substitute the asparagus with other greens and it still works well.

    • nadiam1000 on October 24, 2018

      I thought the shrimp were good with simple ingredients and quick to make - I do like sriracha and lime and I added a good amount of salt and pepper - pretty straightforward flavors and not particularly exciting but tasty. I used haricots vert in place of asparagus which worked out very well. The rice on the other hand was delicious - creamy and flavorful with the coconut milk, it needed more than a pinch of salt but otherwise a recipe I will repeat.

    • pistachiopeas on October 07, 2018

      Mediocre, as one would expect from a dish with sriracha as the main seasoning.

  • Potatoes au gratin

    • Rutabaga on June 18, 2017

      This is the best potato gratin I have had. All the cream and Gruyere cheese has something to do with it, I'm sure. I baked my dish for 35 minutes at 400 degrees, and it was perfectly cooked and nicely browned on top. Of course, it's so rich it's best as a special occasion dish, but it's well worth the occasional splurge.

  • The diva of grilled cheese

    • Rutabaga on October 29, 2015

      This really is the diva of grilled cheese sandwiches. The simple addition of finely chopped garlic and onions (I used scallions and shallots), as well as pressing extra cheese on the exterior of the sandwich (I used Tillamook Vintage White, our go-to cheddar), do take grilled cheese to a new level of comfort. Using a non-stick or cast iron pan is probably the way to go, however, as I had a difficult time loosening mine from my stainless steel pan, and lost some of the delectable cheese crust in the process. We went to a Reichl book signing where they were offering samples of this sandwich, and after tasting it my four-year-old proclaimed, "Make this, mommy!", so it quickly earned the kid seal of approval.

    • pistachiopeas on October 07, 2018

      Excellent and will be made again and again.

    • hirsheys on October 20, 2018

      I liked but didn't love this grilled cheese. For me, the slightly uncooked taste of the alliums inside was what threw me off. That said, I definitely enjoyed it, and found it extremely filling. (I may also have overdone the cheese-y crust...)

    • sosayi on April 14, 2017

      This. So many times over, this. My go-to way to make grilled cheese now! I also use her crispy cheese technique on other grilled sandwiches (like tuna melts) and it's equally delicious. Try it!

  • Butter-toasted apricot oatmeal

    • Rutabaga on February 15, 2016

      The apricots add a bright sweet and tart note to warm bowls of steel cut oats. I cooked the oats in half water and half milk for an especially creamy dish. Since my husband and son prefer their oats without dried fruit, I was the only one in the family to add any apricots, but fortunately it's easy to serve them on the side for each person to add as they wish. I used unsulfered Turkish apricots, which are more sweet than tart.

  • Lemon panna cotta

    • BasicStock on March 05, 2018

      This recipe didn't work for me. It never set up properly. It just says to use the juice and rind of 3 lemons, and my lemons were very plump and juicy. I think I had too much lemon juice going into the cream mixture. For a recipe like this, I think having the amount of lemon juice specified would help guarantee success.

  • Tart lemon tart

    • Rutabaga on March 31, 2016

      The cashew crust has pleasant sandy texture, contrasting nicely with the smooth lemon curd. Because there were a few small bits in my curd, I pushed it through a strainer to remove them. The curd was nice and tart, just like the recipe title states, and I used Meyer lemons, as Reichl did. With regular lemons, you'll likely need more sugar.

  • Beef, wine, and onion stew

    • sosayi on October 19, 2018

      A good, basic stew recipe that turned out well for us, and we enjoyed it immensely, but it is more of a guide than an exact step-by-step recipe. Nothing about it was new/inspirational/something I couldn't have done without a recipe, so I doubt we'd repeat.

  • Banana bread

    • Rutabaga on March 09, 2016

      As you would expect with banana bread, this one is nicely moist and tender. I found the flavor to be rather one-dimentional, however. Since I was out of brown sugar, I substituted one half cup coconut palm sugar and one quarter cup turbinado sugar, so perhaps that affected it. It was much lighter in both color and density than other banana breads I've had, and the banana flavor was less pronounced, but I did cream the butter and sugar until very light and airy, which may not be the right method for banana bread. Still, it is wonderful topped with homemade chocolate hazelnut spread.

    • Kfaber on January 24, 2016

      Best banana bread recipe!

  • New York corn muffins

    • Rutabaga on March 13, 2016

      These muffins are moist, tender, and lightly sweet, perfect for topping with butter and honey or jam. Anyone who likes "northern" style cornbread (in other words, sweet cornbread) will doubtlessly enjoy these.

  • Pork and tomatillo stew

    • Rinshin on March 31, 2016

      Somewhat tart tasting stew that needed some sugar to offset the taste. Unusual combo of orange juice, beer, tomatillo and black beans. I would add twice the amount of black beans next time. Added cubed avocado before serving. The taste was very good and somewhat similar to pozole.

  • Big New York cheesecake

    • usingSpoons on December 20, 2015

      I replaced the chocolate wafers with digestive biscuits (I'm in the UK). If I did this again, I would reduce the butter in the crust by about half - some butter leaked out while the crust baked. Sublime smooth and creamy cheesecake though.

  • Matzo brei

    • Rutabaga on April 05, 2016

      As Reichl suggests, I did find this dish comforting. Plus, it takes scarcely five minutes to make, perfect for a weekday morning. My four-year-old felt it wasn't eggy enough, however, so I'm going to try a two egg to one matzo ratio for him next time.

  • Tuscan bean soup

    • sosayi on October 09, 2018

      A great, very easy, bean soup that you can set and forget for hours. This was a lovely, comforting bowl on a cool, fall night. I used a smoked ham hock, which is all my butcher had, in place of the "meaty ham bone". RR suggests that you can add any meat from the bone back in, which I did, although I would have been just as happy without it. While I've tried many similar recipes, I loved the simplicity of this one and the lack of complications.

  • Bulgogi at home

    • Kfaber on January 11, 2016

      This was delicious - had a ton of flavor- and fast. Perfect weeknight meal. Used some of my own additional toppings- peanuts, cilantro - that were nice complements.

    • PennyG on December 17, 2016

      Oh! This was a hit with us! Especially quick for me as I have a Korean market closeby where I can buy Korean "Bulgogi Meat" already thinly sliced. This will go into our regular rotation.

  • Eggplant and arugula sandwiches

    • sosayi on October 09, 2018

      We enjoyed these sandwiches; they seem like a good base to play around with. We subbed goat's cheese for the butter on the bread and drizzled extra balsamic and olive oil over the arugula. Maybe some roasted tomatoes next time?

  • Crisp and easy potatoes

    • Rutabaga on June 06, 2017

      These potatoes turned out just the way I like them - perfectly crisp and well seasoned, and so hard to stop eating. While it's a simple recipe, it does take a little time (especially when peeling many small potatoes), so I made it more weeknight-friendly by cooking the potatoes before work and tossing them with the oil and seasonings before putting them in the fridge for the day. At home in the evening, I only had to spread them on a sheet pan while oven preheated - easy!

  • Fannie Farmer's classic yeast-raised waffles

    • Rutabaga on June 21, 2016

      This is my new favorite waffle recipe, even better (I think) than the yeast waffles in How to Cook Everything. Plus, the amount of work it takes to mix the batter is minimal, you just have to remember to mix it ahead of time. They are light and airy on the inside, and crisp on the outside, although they will soften as they cool, so eat them hot off the iron.

  • My pancakes

    • Rutabaga on September 12, 2017

      Wow! These pancakes are really good. I used whole wheat pastry flour, and they were still incredibly light and tender. Maybe the whole stick of butter in the batter has something to do with this... I decided to try this because I wanted to make pancakes, but had no buttermilk or yogurt on hand. This is a great recipe to turn to at those times. For my family of four, I would also multiply the recipe by 1.5, or maybe double it if I wanted some leftovers. According to Reichl, the batter keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

    • joyous on December 27, 2016

      Wow. These were delicious but I'm sure that is because of the entire stick of butter. Her advice about serving immediately while they are crisp is true.

  • Moroccan purslane salad

    • Rutabaga on August 17, 2016

      This unusual salad is easy to prepare and adapt to taste. It would also be a great side dish at a picnic. I seasoned it with chopped preserved lemon and smoked paprika, and topped it with green olives. My five-year-old was not a fan, but surprisingly my seven-month-old really enjoyed it!

  • Easy Vietnamese caramelized pork

    • Rutabaga on September 11, 2018

      I made this with chicken instead of pork; while not particularly crispy, it was still delicious and nicely caramelized. This is a good family dish, as people can customize their own portions. Extra plain cucumbers and sweet peppers are nice to have on the side to complete the meal.

    • pistachiopeas on October 07, 2018

      Very delicious. I'll make again. Good use of a small tenderloin.

  • Fresh peach breakfast cobbler

    • Rutabaga on September 10, 2018

      This simple recipe works well for a morning meal. It isn't overly sweet, so you don't feel like you're just eating dessert for breakfast. The biscuit topping is unsweetened, and the natural sweetness of ripe peaches meant that a quarter cup of sugar was really all that was needed. My two-year-old especially enjoyed it.

  • James Beard's tomato pie

    • Rutabaga on August 13, 2018

      This is a lovely tomato pie, and the biscuit crust works so well. I would change a couple things next time I make it. First, I didn't have room to include a full two pounds of tomatoes, but still added all the mayonnaise/cheese mixture. This threw the tomato to topping ratio off, which I should have expected. Next time, I'll lessen the amount of topping. Also, I think I would prefer a one-to-one mayonnaise to cheese ration in the topping for a little more cheese and a little less mayonnaise. But all in all, this is delicious!

  • Corn pudding

    • sck on January 01, 2018

      Amazing. We made this bunches of times last summer!

    • ksg518 on August 23, 2016

      Wonderful summer brunch dish. Reichl's idea of grating most of the corn gave this a great creamy texture with little pops of corn kernels. I added about 3/4 pound cooked bacon since this was going to be the main dish. I could also see adding sautéed peppers and perhaps roasted tomatoes (roasted to avoid adding more liquid). Four people devoured it and would probably have eaten more.

  • Savory sweet pasta for Michael

    • pistachiopeas on October 07, 2018

      This was excellent, though I would use less pasta next time.

    • hirsheys on October 21, 2018

      I made a few small changes - 1) I cooked my cauliflower for much longer, but that's because I love really soft, roast-y cauliflower; 2) I used slightly less pasta than called for (what I had left in the box) - 9 oz; 3) I used anchovy paste, rather than anchovies. All in all, I found this yummy, and would make it again if I had a cauliflower sitting around. The one major change I'd make would be to increase the sauce/seasonings - I agree that the balance is off, even with my slightly lower amount of pasta.

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Reviews about this book

  • Bitten Word

    My Kitchen Year is a beautiful book. If you loved Gourmet, we think you'll find great comfort and memories in the book.

    Full review
  • Eater

    Reichl walks through the hard year that followed the end of her ten-year run as editor in chief and brings her readers with her, and as she finds solace through cooking, we find comfort too.

    Full review

Reviews about Recipes in this Book

  • Sriracha shrimp over coconut rice

    • Salt Sugar and I

      ...if you're not a fan of seafood or have an allergy you could always substitute chicken breast. I think it's a great dinner to change up slightly for what you have in the cupboard/freezer...

      Full review
  • ISBN 10 1101924098
  • ISBN 13 9781101924099
  • Published Sep 29 2015
  • Format Misc. format
  • Page Count 352
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Books on Tape
  • Imprint Books on Tape

Publishers Text

In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”

My Kitchen Year follows the change of seasons—and Reichl’s emotions—as she slowly heals through the simple pleasures of cooking. While working 24/7, Reichl would “throw quick meals together” for her family and friends. Now she has the time to rediscover what cooking meant to her. Imagine kale, leaves dark and inviting, sautéed with chiles and garlic; summer peaches baked into a simple cobbler; fresh oysters chilling in a box of snow; plump chickens and earthy mushrooms, fricasseed with cream. Over the course of this challenging year, each dish Reichl prepares becomes a kind of stepping stone to finding joy again in ordinary things.

The 136 recipes collected here represent a life’s passion for food: a blistering ma po tofu that shakes Reichl out of the blues; a decadent grilled cheese sandwich that accompanies a rare sighting in the woods around her home; a rhubarb sundae that signals the arrival of spring. Here, too, is Reichl’s enlivening dialogue with her Twitter followers, who become her culinary supporters and lively confidants.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part paean to the household gods, My Kitchen Year may be Ruth Reichl’s most stirring book yet—one that reveals a refreshingly vulnerable side of the world's most famous food editor as she shares treasured recipes to be returned to again and again and again.



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