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Quasi-mushroom piadina with an Aperol spritz.

Years ago I found this recipe for piadina in an issue of Food and Wine magazine, and despite the presence of ricotta cheese I actually was able to convince Michael to make it fairly often. This was before I started making my own pizza dough so we’d use the stuff from the store, and then once I started making my own dough I think we became too preoccupied with making pizza to try making these again. Once we did use the ingredients on a full-fledged pizza, but I think it might have been too much ricotta for Michael to handle so we haven’t done it since. Read More

Cacio e pepe

Michael was in the UK for most of this past week, and so for the first time in a while I had a few days to myself to make whatever I wanted. Obviously, the first thing I did was buy a boatload of cheeses.

The next thing I did after running some errands on Sunday was to sequester myself in the kitchen to do all kinds of things: make a nice fancy brunch was first on the list and then I did some much-needed meal prep for the week. My friend D at The Kitchen Witch recently posted an intriguing recipe for a warm tomato vinaigrette, and I had bookmarked it thinking it would go really well with chicken thighs. I slow-roasted the tomatoes and whipped up a batch fairly easily, tripling the recipe she provided to use up all of the tomato passata that you make, and boy howdy is it tasty. I even made enough for Michael to have some for lunch when he got home from the airport because I’m nice like that. Read More

Open-Face Croque Monsieur from Pastis

Despite the fact that it’s been years since we’ve been there and it’s been well over a year since it closed, every once in a while I still get a craving to go to Pastis. In spite of all of the irritations about the place–the crowds, the rather ridiculous prices, the cramped banquettes and tiny tables–every visit there would still be a pretty fantastic food experience, and I’ve even taken their lead on a few dishes and incorporated them into our normal recipe rotation.

Plus, it was arguably the prettiest of Keith McNally’s very pretty restaurant empire: lots of dark wood and penny subway tile, but not as dark as Balthazar nor as intentionally run-down as Lucky Strike. (I have yet to visit his newer places so I can’t speak to them, but I imagine they are also very, very pretty but probably not as aesthetically pleasing to me as Pastis.) While it helped that there always seemed to be a preponderance of European tourists eating there at all times of the day, you really did feel like you were being swept into a bustling bistro in a hip Parisian neighborhood and the only thing missing was being able to light up a cigarette or two while you lingered over French 75s and omelettes. Read More

Tomato-Peach-Basil Salad with Burrata

Despite it being his birthday month, Michael hates the month of August. He’s also not that much of a fan of his birthday, come to think of it—the last few years we’ve gone down to Keen’s in Midtown so he could avail himself of a giant steak, but even that isn’t appealing to his senses this year. I have plans to take him to Momofuku this year, as we’ve never been but we are completely obsessed with Momofuku. I want to make sure it’s fully in the spirit of Treat Yo Self Day and we spend the day frequenting as many of his favorite places as possible.

It needs to be a good one, too, as this particular August had an..interesting beginning but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bright spots here and there. We were able to celebrate a friend’s milestone birthday down at his new home in Maryland and had a mini-reunion of sorts with so many of our friends from the New Haven years which was a real treat. I also haven’t been south of Delaware for years, so it was a lot of fun to see places like Baltimore for the first time in so long—the last reason that brought me to that particular area was when I was scoping out colleges and Loyola was on my shortlist.

Hawksmoor at Home’s simple tomato-cucumber salad

The other bright spot, as silly as it sounds, has been the fact that heirloom tomatoes have been on sale at Fairway all month. Organic heirloom tomatoes, I should add. Every week I’ve ventured over to the organic section to pick up a few for weekend salads, and every purchase has yielded delicious results. Whether it’s the tomato-cucumber salad from Hawksmoor at Home or a lunchtime arrangement with peaches, basil, and burrata, I haven’ had to fret much over eating enough lycopene. Taking a cue from Ina Garten I also made a fresh pasta sauce by marinating some chopped heirloom tomatoes in olive oil, mint, and garlic and then stirred it into fedelini with some fresh mozzarella. The leftovers I had the following week were excellent, as each day it smelled like a margherita pizza was cooking in the work microwave.

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Shrimp and Orange Salad with Arugula and Fennel

It’s not even August and apparently stores are stocking their shelves for Hallow-freaking-ween. I’m very much aware that holiday creep is a huge thing in retail (back-to-school seems to go back on the shelves around the Fourth) but especially after the winter so many of us had to endure this year, well, cheering on the arrival of the season of inevitable misery seems abominably cruel. It’s not like this summer has been particularly arduous here in the Northeast—we’ve had some periods of hot and/or humid weather, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far: a day or two of intense humidity have beckoned a cold front blowing through almost immediately thereafter, and otherwise we’ve had pretty pleasant weather. There have been many a weekend afternoon spent on the local beaches, and even an evening or two listening to the rain while we sit on our balcony.

In short, I’m doing everything I can to appreciate the summer while it’s here, and I will be loath to give it up because gauzy clothes and cool drinks are superior to woolly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More

The houses and inns along Passeig del Mar in Caldetes/Caldes d’Estrac.

It seemed like a good idea at the time to relish the beginning of fall on the beach in Caldes d’Estrac, swimming in the Mediterranean’s surprisingly strong current, and tucking into a delicious lunch at a tiny seaside restaurant. We had been teased with a quasi-sunny day the previous Friday, but clouds intervened before we were able to stay outside for long (not that it stopped me from at least getting a momentary dip in the sea) and so when that Monday dawned bright and sunny, there was naught else to do but go to the sea, armed with chairs and towels and books. I spent most of my time in the Mediterranean, either swimming or standing strong against the intense tide to collect seaglass, shells, and pieces of clay tile.

In retrospect, I think this was a bit of a mistake because I am now sure that this was the day that ruined the rest of the fall season for me and Michael. It doesn’t help that since we touched down in JFK that following Wednesday we’ve had more than our fair share of lousy weather (see: frankenstorm and then nor’easter), but even on our nicer days I’ve been yearning to go back to the little bar in front of Kalima and eat tapas, drink beer, and watch the sea while bathed in sunshine.

Boquerones with olives and beer.

Our lunch that day was very simple: a starter of some anchovies and olive oil and bread, and then gambes a la planxa for me and pintxos moruns for Michael. I had been looking forward to getting those whole shrimp since we booked our tickets, but it wasn’t surprising when Michael went with some pork with a side of papas fritas; while we enjoyed at least a few meat dishes at every place we went to, the portions were not large and often they were cured, so when he had an opportunity to enjoy some fresh meat to himself, he took it. Read More

Sopa de Albóndiguillas Catalana

Dear readers, I have the vapors. I cannot believe that La Roja have taken the World Cup, even though they are an amazing football/soccer team, and as a result it should come as no surprise that I inundated poor Michael with lots of Spanish food over the entirety of the weekend. It was all I could do with the enormity of this final; having listened to the commentators on ESPN Radio constantly remind their audience that “no team has won the Cup after losing their opening game” and yet being buoyed by every victory (low-scoring though they were), I was always a mixture of cautious optimism and paralyzing fear while either listening or watching a game. When Iniesta masterfully sent that cross into the net with only minutes to go in the second extra time period, both Michael and I jumped from our seats and cheered…after the “1” came up on our television screens. While it’s all very bittersweet as it is over 1,400 days until the next WC, I imagine my Spanish will improve immensely thanks to me now officially following FC Barcelona in La Liga.

If you’re curious, you can see some great shots of the final and the subsequent parade in Madrid here. Prepare yourself for an overload of the cuteness, however.

That’s enough football/soccer talk for now, however. Onto the celebration food! Read More

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