Tag Archives: red wine

Orecchiette with Tomato, Tarragon and Prosicutto di Parma

You know how when you make a tomato sauce and there’s all of those dark red or purple bits on the side of the pan? I want to make this sauce taste like that.
–Michael on the way home from Fairway after I nagged him to death about his super-secretive sauce idea.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I wish I had some profound reason for our collective silence, but to be honest, it boiled down to not feeling terribly inclined to write about food. The Thanksgiving holiday leaves me with nothing to say about holiday cooking since we’re not the ones cooking it, and we have to travel, and frankly I’m over writing about various squashes and how good they are with sage and rosemary and waxing endlessly on the deliciousness of roasted vegetables.. Yeah–they are all awesome. We know that. Let’s move on.

Over the course of the fall Michael and I have been tweaking red sauces fairly often, in part to rebel against the beige-ness of what tends to be made this time of year. This is a dish that evolved from that culinary puttering (see Michael’s quote above) as well as a very intense desire to have a sun-dried tomato pesto with orecchiette after a rather silly conversation on Twitter (see the #pastawar tag to see what I mean). Michael completely ran with it and flatly refuesd to give me the details of what he was thinking as he gathered ingredients at Fairway. Bastard. But I trusted him because he had a vision, and that vision included prosciutto di Parma, and there was no way I was going to object to any of it. Read More


Spicy Black Bean Soup

Oh January, we meet again.


Now that the holidays are over, New York has a tendency to descend into its winter-long hibernation. No one wants to do anything because it’s either snowing, has snowed or is just too damn cold outside, so you can either pull on the Hunter boots and see what’s shaking at the local watering holes a block or two away, or you only venture out to collect provisions from Fairway and the local wine shop and cocoon in your apartment. It’s the perfect excuse to spend the morning flipping through cookbooks, particularly new ones acquired during the holidays, looking for that perfect project to warm up the apartment…but there is also the temptation to want to indulge in comfort foods because it is so cold outside.

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Garganelli with Duck Ragu

We’ve been a bit quiet this past week for several reasons, namely travel and work, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been cooking up a storm during our increasingly limited free time–and we sometimes spend our evenings making labor-intensive meals. There’s something so…comforting, or freeing, or delightful about sitting at a dining room table and hand-rolling your own garganelli after hitting road blocks with a work project–especially when you realize you’re not half-bad at it. Michael even compared me to Iron Chef Italian Masahiko Kobe in the eventual speed I picked up in rolling the little squares into quills.

When you’re having a less-than-awesome day or even weekend otherwise, the little compliments like this can light your grin for the rest of the day. Read More

Onglet Garcon with Pommes Frites

[Ed.--And here's part 2 of our epic steakhouse dinner and a movie anniversary dinner. Michael elaborates on how things got...interesting.]

I love my wife. I know I do because I put up with this ass-ache of a meal to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We began planning the feast with the noblest of intentions, and honestly, by the time the movie started everything was again right with the world. In the interim, things were tense at times, annoying at others. The fault, dear reader was not in our stars, but in our selves; the meal we selected was… ambitious to say the least, taking a snarky page- actually several snarky pages from Tony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

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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.

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Braised Lamb Tacos with Shallots and Cheddar Cheese

“I want to braise a tongue and make tacos like the kind we had at La Esquina,” Michael said to me on a grey and slightly unseasonably cool Sunday.

My mind immediately goes back to the Friday a week prior and us leaning against an outdoor counter while wolfing down various tacos and remembering in particular how good the veal tongue ones were. “Sound fine to me. Do you have a recipe?”

“Lemme do a quick search. I’ll find something.” Alas, this idea was not to be. This time, anyway. Read More

Pasta e Fagioli, a la minuto di New York (or, Pasta and Beans, New York Minute Style)

A few days ago, over lunch with some of my colleagues, the conversation took a turn to cooking at home (and I swear I didn’t bring it up) and it was generally acknowledged by the group that while cooking at home is fantastic, it’s very difficult to keep up with during the week after a long day at work. Given that I have the fortunate situation of being able to come home to dinner most nights thanks to Michael having a non-commute (a walk the length of one iPod song does not a real commute make), I kept my mouth shut lest I come across as braggy at all.

Besides–this would then lead me to explain that I spend three hours each day on public transportation, and really, there’s no need to start moaning on who has the worst commute, right? Read More

Grilled Cornish Game Hen with Roasted Asparagus

I’m going to be honest.  For whatever reason, the night I made this meal I was scared.  I was scared of my wife.  Why?  Honestly, I don’t remember.  Maybe I had made roasted chicken the previous weekend, maybe because I didn’t think E was up for asparagus… frankly, I’m not sure.  How do I know what I felt if I cannot remember the circumstances leading to the evening in question?  Simple.  I made couscous.  Couscous is my offering to the gods of egalitarian epicureanism in my own kitchen.  Whenever I think the Mrs. won’t necessarily pick up what I’m putting down, I put some couscous under that stuff. [Ed.--This put a smile on my face after a rather lousy commute this morning. Well done, sir.] Read More

Braised short ribs: who knew they are perfect for a party?

When I found out that my good and dear friends from college were visiting us here from Boston and Philly, I was overjoyed.  Finally being presented with the opportunity to cook for my friend Kerry whose been bugging me for a dinner since I started posting food pics on Facebook years ago, I was elated.  When she told me she was bringing seven friends with her, I freaked the geek out.

So, what does the intrepid, ambitious home cook do when a dinner balloons into a circus?  Does he give up, no!  Does she whine and complain?  No!  Do they resort to baked ziti?  NO!  You take the fight to the enemy.  When life gives you lemons, you throw a lemony party.

What I needed was an anchor.  I accepted the challenge without a solid plan, I mean, I always have some party faves in my back pocket, but these are largely of the spread and dip variety.  Great fodder, but not superstars.  I was watching something on TV, I don’t remember what, maybe Top Chef, I’m not sure, but I saw people eating braised meat while standing. [Ed.--Yes, it was Top Chef--I believe Kevin was braising something.] And that was that.

I decided to make a whole mess of braised beef ribs, the notion being if I cooked them long enough, they’d be easier to eat than chips and guac.  I found a very simple braise prep similar to what I’d use on veal or lamb, just some sweated aromatics, beef stock and a bottle o’red wine.  Browning the many, many ribs took a while so I started the night before and got three good hours in before bedtime.  The next day I took the lid off and finished it for another hour or two on the cooktop.  The ribs came out tender and delicious and no one needed much more than a fork to completely wipe them out.  Folks seemed happy and when my guests are happy, I am too.  More on this party in the coming posts.  Until then, readers, cook on!

Duck Fillets with Figs

Duck Fillets with Figs

Two words: duck and figs.  I was watching Fine Living Network after dinner one night (I know, it’s so embarrassing…), and they were showing a classic Emeril Live! The big guy (who, having done cooking on live-tape TV myself, is incredible in what he pulls off) was gushing over duck, and I think the entire episode may have been about duck.  Alton Brown did a duck episode a few years back, but it involves cast iron pans and while we have one, I haven’t cured it in fat yet (still, actually).  I have wanted to go for duck for so long, but without direction, these urges have never come to fruition.

I had been more than a little depressed about having to do Thanksgiving at my in-laws, only because I don’t do the holiday cooking when we’re there.  So the weekend before, I decided to go for it.  Elizabeth found an incredible meat counter at the Citarella’s at 75th St.  They stock fresh Long Island Pekin duck, the ancestors of a few ducks brought to the US from China in the 1870′s (more on this later).  I needed a simple and traditional preparation that would allow me to focus on the birdie and so, I did what I always do in this situation:  I took out the Silver Spoon, tossed it to the wife and asked her to pick us a winner.

I should have guessed what would come of this.  Duck and Figs.  It’s a simple and delicious as it sounds.  The recipe calls for 5 lbs of figs, which at today’s rates would run you just over $50, so we settled on 2 lbs, which was perfect. [Ed.--the figs were also on the large side (definitely not Mission figs), so had we purchased more than we did we would have been overwhelmed.] Essentially, you oven roast the duck at 400 degrees F for and hour or so than make a sauce out of the duck fat, the raw liver and red, red wine.  The figs get roasted for a few minutes afterwards and it all gets served family style on one big plate with fried bread crumbs.  I loved that while not at all cheap, there were so few ingredients, we could focus on making them great, both in purchasing and preparation.

As alluded to above, I was watching my beloved Good Eats tonight an lo and behold, he roasts a duck for Christmas dinner.  What’s more, he employs a battery of tricks to ensure perfect cooking and crisp skin that are brilliantly unorthodox.  I guess it’s just inspiration for next time and now that the beast has been demystified, I will go forth without fear.  Until then, dear readers, cook on!


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