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Pigs in a blanket with black pepper pastry.

In the section on entertaining in Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites: A Cookbook, one of his suggestions is to always keep some frozen pigs in a blanket on hand because from his experience, no matter how fancy the affair everyone will come clamoring for some meat in puff pastry. It’s a fine idea, and one I’ll probably keep in mind for our next New Year’s Eve celebration, but if I’m entertaining a smaller group of people I want to do something a little more special. Read More

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Massimo Botturra’s meat tortellini from Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, finished in sage and brown butter.

Can I take a moment and say how smitten I am with the newest episodes of Master of None? We’re slowly making our way through the season–just one new one a week–and as such I feel like we’re SO behind because the various pop culture blogs I follow have already moved on to a bunch of other shows, like The Handmaid’s Tale and GLOW. (Both are really good, and I’ll be writing about the former in this space relatively soon.) Such is the internet in the age of Peak TV, but I still prefer savoring each episode on its own especially since it’s not clear if we’ll see another season of the show, much less one anytime soon. And given the ambition Aziz Ansari and his team had with this season, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be incessantly asked when the next batch of episodes would be coming because so many people burned through the current set so quickly. Read More

Lemon-Lemongrass Drink

Thanks to the lasting influence of Good Eats, we really make a point of not trying to buy unitasker gadgets for the kitchen. Admittedly, I’m a bit more susceptible to doing this than Michael, but I usually see it as a challenge to explore other ways of using something. (On a related note, definitely watch this video of Alton Brown mocking unitaskers, even if you’ve seen it already because it’s so good.)

A perfect example of this is the iSi siphon. While I primarily use it to make creamy, foamy desserts, I’ve also made Albert Adrià’s famous sponge cake with it a few times in the summer to go with macerated strawberries. When I was poking around and looking for other ideas for applications I came across a recipe for carraway-infused whiskey from Richard Blais which completely piqued my interest, and subsequently decided to try a combination of strawberries and bourbon so we could make strawberry-bourbon juleps for a dinner party we threw a few months ago. Those came out remarkably well, and later I tried infusing strawberries with tequila and that came out OK, but my attention was drawn elsewhere and I didn’t really do much more with it. Read More

Blackberry-Rosemary Compote with Crottin goat cheese

If you follow me on Instagram (you should! I post there sometimes!) you may have noticed that over the course of February I was posting shots of various tableaux, usually featuring wine and/or cheese and tagging a local wine shop in all of them. It was part of a promotion they were running in which they would randomly select a winner and give them a $50 gift card, and while winning would obviously be awesome (a winner hasn’t been announced yet as of posting this), I also really liked the chance to exercise some creativity and take some interesting photos. Moreover, it also gave me an excellent reason to experiment some more in making some flavorful accompaniments to cheeses, and while the contest itself may be over, I’m looking forward to expanding my repertoire.

First up on the list: blackberry compote. Read More

Goat cheese with kumquat-rosemary marmalade

Signs you probably have been watching too much Top Chef via Hulu recently:

  1. You’re obsessed with timing and food prep, to the point where you have no issue doing significant prep work on a weekend afternoon because you’re paranoid something is going to happen when you actually get down to cooking dinner for real.
  2. You really, really want a GIF of Dale Talde yelling “FUCK” after his team lost the mise en place relay race before Wedding Wars because you need it to express your frustration with so many things in life. (Unfortunately it’s not in this clip but this is as close as I could get it.)
  3. You’re very upset that you can’t make one yourself and be done with it.
  4. You get very strong inclinations to make everything from Tom Colicchio’s cookbooks.
  5. You get feelings of anxiety when you go into your new-to-you supermarket because you know if you only had 30 minutes to shop you would be TOAST and not get half of the things you needed.

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Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe

Guilt can be a powerful thing–and as with all things powerful, it must be used in responsible ways. Michael is headed for a conference this coming weekend, leaving me to fend for myself for six days.* Naturally we’ve had periods of separation before–usually because I’m the one traveling for work–but this will be the longest period we’ve had to deal with since I moved to Connecticut five years ago. I know Michael feels bad about leaving me to have to cook for myself for a whole work week because not only did we have pasta on Sunday night, he was the one suggesting to make it and he acquiesced to my request for cacio e pepe without much protest.

In other words, he brooked no opposition to us having a dish that is, in essentials, pasta and cheese. Yep, that’s guilt. Read More

Fresh eggs:  a carbornara must.

Fresh eggs: a carbornara must.

Ever since the Mrs. and I honeymooned at Baur B&B, she has been devoted to making our own carbonara.  It’s the kind of place where you feel like you’re best friends with everyone who walks through the door, so much so that another couple staying there offered to share their dinner with us and the proprietor one night for no reason other than fellowship and kindness.  It’s the inherent  greatness of sharing a meal with kind people.

Hang on a minute, sailor- you should be saying.  You two got married a while ago, right?  Why the hold up? Honestly, this dish is fraught with peril. The carbonara conundrum, so to speak, is that you have to be very, very sure of your eggs before you proceed or risk a very, very unpleasant evening.  And so, trepidatious to say the least, we waited. Read More

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