What We'd Eat on Leap Day: When Nothing Counts!

We admit it: we're inexplicably giddy about the fact that this is a leap year. February 29th is a bonus day -- but what, we wondered, can we do about it?

And then Tina Fey, as she so often does, swept in and saved the day. Last week's episode of 30 Rock was entirely devoted to Leap Day. And if Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin say Leap Day is a thing worth celebrating, then who are we to disagree? A lot of crazy Leap Day "traditions" are touched on in the episode, such as the wearing of blue and yellow and something to do with rhubarb, but the big takeaway for us was the assertion that nothing counts on Leap Day.

Nothing counts, huh? No hangovers, no tummy aches. Well, what would you eat if it didn't count? Fried foods only? Birthday Cake all day? Cookies? Our menu would look a little something like this:

Gin Rickey (Is it a sin to drink gin before noon?) by Giulia Melucci

gin rickey
I hate tonic so I drink my gin with lime juice. I believe that agave nectar is a godsend to cocktail-making because it's less bother than simple syrup and it gives you the sense that you are doing something healthy; what with its low glycemic index. Today I garnished my drink with basil instead of mint because it's the last day of my family's summer rental and we're eating down the fridge. Being Italian cooks we always have basil, we rarely use mint. The two are, in fact, quite similar.

Serves 2

3 ounces gin
4 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
4 ounces seltzer
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 sprigs mint or basil
2 pieces lime

Pour all liquid ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into two glasses filled with ice. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint or basil and a slice of lime.

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Southern Sherried Shrimp by EBeier

sherried shrimp

Inspired by Edna Lewis' recipe for shrimp paste--which is something between pureed potted shrimp and a flavored butter--this recipe leaves the shrimp whole as a main course. It's ideal served over slow-cooked stone-ground grits but also excellent on its own, chopped and tossed into fettucini or toothpicked individually as a cocktail snack.
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Cheese Biscuits by merrill

cheese biscuits
Frequently on Tuesdays, Kristen shows up to our photo shoot bearing an armload of goodies from Bluebird Coffee Shop. All of the baked treats from this tiny gem of a place in the East Village of Manhattan are delicious, but our little cadre has pinpointed a couple of particular favorites: the doughnuts (more on those later this week from Amanda), and the cheese biscuits -- impossibly tender and almost melting within, the subtle bite of cheddar woven throughout. The other week, Amanda and I went to visit Adam Baumgart in his pastry kitchen in the basement of Bluebird, and he taught us how to make both of our top picks, sharing his tips and tricks along the way. This is Adam's recipe for his heavenly biscuits.

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Chicken Fried Steak by amanda

I remember my first chicken fried steak. It was in Houston, Texas, at the home of Jenny's in-laws. They were wise chicken fried steak aficionados, and cooked theirs in an iron skillet out on the patio on a squat little grill, where grease was welcome to spray the plants. The steaks came out of the pan wrapped in a warped brown and salty crust. It was my first time in Texas and knew from then on it would not be my last.A few weekends ago, I went to Oklahoma for a couple of book events, and got to hang out with Jeff Martin, the founder of Booksmart Tulsa, who may be the coolest guy north of Texas. At one of our stops -- lunch at Lucky's (go if you can) -- he talked me into chicken fried steak. It was just as delicious as I remembered it. This one came with a sage gravy. If you don't have guts for the gravy, a squeeze of lemon will work well (think veal Milanese). Just don't tell anyone in Tulsa I said that.

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Beauty School Knockout (Peppermint Hot Fudge Sundae) by Sydney

hot fudge sundae
When my sister and I were thinking of soda fountain creations, our ideas revolved around iconic flavors and colors of the 1950s. After brainstorming the myriad of soda fountain treats, we couldn't think of a more fitting indulgence than the classic ice cream sundae. We settled on one of our favorite ice cream flavors, peppermint, which also happens to be a lovely shade of Cadillac pink- sure to win the Pink Ladies' approval. In keeping with Rizzo's remarks that pink can never be "too pure," we've brought pink in touch with its devilish side by introducing touches of fudgy darkness: chocolate cookies and sticky, molten swathes of chocolate sauce. . .This one's for Frenchy. ;)

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