Moules à la grecque, from The Les Halles Cookbook
This one’s a nice departure from the summer-style mussel recipes so far, a dish more suited to fall or winter, or post-Labor Day New England. You know, fluffy sweaters and shorts, tourists all gone…that crisp, cool, Cape Cod light. Okay, I don’t live that way either. But it sounds good, right?
Anthony Bourdain, The Les Halles Cookbook
There are days in August especially when all I want is a nice, rich bowl of pasta; fortunately for me, I can make us a pan of Amatriciana sauce with fresh tomatoes and still count it as seasonally-appropriate cooking. It’s much more difficult to find an analogous dish in the wintertime, one that is made with seasonal produce but won’t weigh you down in its density.
Shellfish dishes have been filling this need fairly well so far this season, but moules à la grecque is quite possibly the ne plus ultra of the bunch. Relatively fast to make, easy to cook, and riddled with fennel, this is everything that Bourdain promises above: a wintertime alternative to the bright, summery dishes that beg for freshly-trimmed herbs and fresh tomatoes from the garden. If you can get it made by 5PM in late February, you can also enjoy it in the crisp, cool New England light, though shorts would only be recommended if dining indoors with good central heating. Read More
Roasted Grape and Goat Cheese Bruschette
As a rule, I try not to be too precious about my cookbooks. They’re meant to be practical, after all, and the best ones should bear the stains of cooking: the pages a little warped from sauce splatters, little smudges here and there on the edges, even pages escaping the binding after years and years of use. When I pull a book from the shelf and sit down on the couch to browse it, those little signs of wear and tear remind me of successful (and even the less-than-successful) meals.
My practical outlook was almost turned upside down when I unwrapped a copy of Polpo on Christmas Day, because in my hands was quite possibly the most aesthetically pleasing cookbook I ever had the pleasure of owning. I instantly loved everything about it: the typeface, the photography, the paper used for the pages. But the absolute neatest visual aspect about this book is the spine::
How cool is that? And then I found this fantastic article from The Paris Review a few days later on the evolution of the bookshelf and that back in the days when books were primarily found in monasteries they would be placed with the front edges out, all ornately illustrated. But I digress.
Roasted Bone Marrow with Caramelized Onions
[Editor's note: it should go without saying that what happened in Newtown, CT, this past Friday was deplorable, horrific, abominable, heinous, and many more synonyms that could be employed to describe it as such. I hesitated on whether I should mention anything at all on the subject as this doesn't feel like the appropriate forum, but then my friends at Saugatuck Grain and Grape announced that they would donate 10% of their sales from their Bubbles, Bubbles and More Bubbles event to The Sandy Hook School Support Fund, so if you're in the Westport, CT area on Saturday the 22nd between 3 and 6PM, stop on by and enjoy some bubbles while giving back to a worthy cause. If you're like me and will be traveling, their phone orders will also count towards their final donation and they offer free delivery (but I would inquire within on specifics, of course). They haven't asked me to publicize this, but I thought it had a nice sentiment: a small business toasting its customers while wanting to give back to the greater community during a time of intense sorrow. Full explanation of the photograph above after the jump.] Read More
So this coming weekend marks another Super Bowl (can I call it that even though I’m not affiliated with the NFL?) and another occasion when you might be called upon to make appetizers and “game day snacks” for your guests to mindlessly nosh as they watch said big game. It basically means that if you go anywhere near food media between now and Sunday, you’ll be inundated with recipes for chili and various x-layer dips and everything gluttonous and frankly, done to death. So I’d like to present you with two options that aren’t revolutionary in their construct, but are delicious and really easy to prepare and perfectly suited to slipping in with the usual suspects if you have guests with more discerning palates or you just want something slightly more sophisticated for yourself while watching the game.
Bresaola with Arugua and Parmigiano-Reggiano
The first Saturday of December found Michael and I out and about on a very brisk day to escort my parents around Midtown; they had boarded a bus to New York around 7:30 that morning from PA, and emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel about two hours later, so we ended up escorting them around Midtown for a good seven hours (notable to us only when we realized that we spent 6 of those hours walking). Once we had gotten them on their tour bus home (a surprisingly harrowing ordeal thanks to there being at least 30 buses all jockeying for a spot along 42nd Street at Bryant Park) we made our way home, stopping for a quick drink to discuss the evening’s plans that left me feeling torn on whether to bundle back up and accompany Michael to the Village for a party or to stay home. I was tired but I felt bad after saying I would go with him, and as the exhaustion from the exertions of the day set in, I’m pretty sure that it crossed a wire or two in my head because I got a little irrationally angry at the choice of either having to stay home alone or schlepping it down to the subway again. In any case, I wisely chose to stay indoors and sent Michael on his then-grumpy way, resigning myself to an evening of some of my favorite DVDs and the Wii, promptly remembering that I actually enjoy having nights to myself from time to time.
Well, in the midst of all of this (very silly) drama I had my first taste of bresaola–air-dried,salted, lean beef from the Lombardy region of Italy–in the form of what could be the most perfect meat-and-cheese sandwich ever: bresaola and goat cheese between two slices of toasted bread. That’s it. Read More
Campari and Lemon Aperitivo
So you know how we received that box of gorgeous Meyer lemons from Rustic Garden Bistro? Over the past couple weeks we’ve been devising ways to use them up, so be prepared for a small onslaught of Meyer-lemon-related goodness.
Roasted Pepper, Tomato and Anchovy Pizza
It started out so well: despite being stuck in traffic as we edged out of New York on Thursday morning on the Bolt Bus, we arrived in Boston only an hour late, and we knocked out most of our shopping for Friday night’s dinner at the Trader Joe’s in Cambridge. The plan was to then go out for dinner that night and then meet up with some of our hosts’ friends at a speakeasy (i.e. a lounge without a sign in which we had to wait 15 minutes to enter that’s become a thing in Boston). Everything was seemingly going to plan: dinner was great, the drinks were delicious–Drink is one of those places where you sip on drinks gingerly and slowly–and we went back to Somerville/Medford in good spirits. There may have been a little late-night snacking, but nothing too out of the ordinary.
Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil
This is easily my favorite time of year: walking around outside with not much besides a sweater or a slick jacket is not just possible but a pleasure, and farmers markets are still brimming with the last of the summer produce (well, perhaps now the best of the tomatoes are gone) and the early fall bounty, all but guaranteeing a heady, sensual experience when stepping out from the subway and into Union Square.
Clearly, this will not last forever; soon we’ll be dealing with “snowicanes” and shorter days and heavy coats. So meals during this time of year deserve to reflect the period of transition we’re experiencing: a little bit of summer, a little bit of fall.
Inside the Piazza San Carlo in Turin, Italy
We were intending to take a day trip to Milan, one of the few plans we had in mind for our otherwise lazy honeymoon. Milan fascinated me, but lovely lovely Diana (I dare you not to go to her B&B’s website and not drool and then make travel plans) said that Turin would suit us more; yes, it’s closer to Acqui than Milan, but more importantly, she thought that its rich culture would be of greater interest rather than the cool industrialism of Milan.
She was, naturally, right. Read More
Fancy some Pimm's? (Taken outside of The Bear in Oxford)
During our time in Oxford we kept encountering references to Pimm’s everywhere, from the chalkboard above to some of the wedding guests offering to fetch me a Pimm’s Cup while I hacked through our bridesmaid bouquets prior to dinner (it’s a long story). Alas, neither Michael nor I were able to actually try this unbelievably English libations until we arrived in London and C suggested making a pitcher of it, which was part of her larger scheme: Getting Us to Enjoy Odd British Foods.