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.
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.
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.
I had it in my head to make brunch on Saturday. We never eat brunch–I eat breakfast when I get to work, and Michael tends to only have oatmeal on hand, and fighting the crowds on Broadway to enjoy overpriced eggs and bacon holds little appeal for us. Sometimes, though, we’ll make it when friends are staying with us and that’s always fun, but it’s also a lot of work. So the idea of making a few small tapas for brunch had immediate appeal for me: filling but not overwhelmingly so. Michael tends to just eat a few hard-boiled eggs on weekend mornings to get him through until dinnertime, so using that as a base for ideas, I flipped through The Book of Tapas, made a shopping list, and on Saturday morning got to work.
The sobrasada tapa pictured above was by far my favorite–and that includes the tapa that I made with smoked salmon, for crying out loud! It was by far the easiest of the three to make, though, and when it comes to making a brunch spread at home, that’s really important. Read More
Pan con Tomate (Tomato Bread)
There’s so much to share from Saturday’s dinner that it felt appropriate to divide and conquer: I took on the bread-based tapas, while Michael handled the shellfish. One of my birthday gifts was a copy of The Book of Tapas and I knew that I’d want to dive in and start making dishes from it straightaway. Five recipes, one loaf of bread and some pretty interesting ingredients later, it’s clear that this book will make many appearances on our dining room table and here on this blog.
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
Orechiette alla Zucchine
Today marks our second wedding anniversary, so we spent this past weekend celebrating it in the best way we know how: through food. Saturday’s dinner was a bit of an epic meal (so much that we both feel compelled to write about it), but last night I wanted to give a nod to where we spent our honeymoon–mainly because I love any excuse to make a nice northern Italian meal at this time of year. Read More
This week’s Weekend Cook & Tell on Serious Eats was a good impetus to head down to the Union Square Greenmarket, as it served as a reminder to me to try to take advantage of the local tomatoes that would both be at their peak of deliciousness and also their lowest price. It didn’t occur to me until we emerged from the subway (and overwhelmed by the amazing smells everywhere) that we would also be getting the first of the fall harvest as well, so it took a good lap around the market for us to figure out what we wanted and where exactly we were going to purchase it all.
Michael wanted to roast a chicken, and as we passed the random vendors selling jazz albums and the community compost center he proposed pairing it with a nice pasta made with a gently cooked fresh tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella cheese.
Who am I to say no to that? Read More
Pasta e ceci: a simple, comforting meal to make for one or for a whole crew of people. After many days of traveling this past week, it feels right to ruminate over a dish that can accommodate anyone with the energy to chop some garlic, open a can of chickpeas, and boil some pasta–even after a particularly long commute. Read More
Linguini with Anchovies, Tomatoes and Tarragon
Pasta has become a once-a-week thing at our household, a truce of sorts to satisfy my cravings for it and Michael’s desire not to eat too much of it, so I am now determined to make the absolute most of every opportunity I can get to enjoy it. While this has led me into a state of nearly paralyzing indecision as I fret over what length and shape to use in order to maximize the other players in the dish, it has encouraged me to dive into cookbooks again to try any new combination I can get my little hands on.
Enter one of my newest cookbook additions: Sicily: Culinary Crossroads. Read More