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Perfect Day, Perfect Dish

3 Apr

Saturday was perfect. The weather (despite a slight drizzle) was gorgeous in New York City, perfect for slowly and aimlessly wandering. We brunched at our favorite restaurant, browsed for books, went to a massive wine tasting and together created the perfect, no stress, delicious and easy Saturday night repast.

Ever since seeing this recipe, I’ve been trying to think of a variation I could make that would not contain quite as much citrus. While I adore lemons, the boy finds them a bit, well, annoying. I’ve been trying to bring him around to them… but, I’m really not trying all that hard. He recently realized he likes olives, and that’s enough for me. I can keep lemons for my own personal single-girl cooking nights. And wouldn’t you know it, but to replace the lemon in the sauce recipe, I chose olives. Funny that, no?

While the olives were delicious, as you can see, the sauce was a really funky color! That’s the problem with creamy sauces, sometimes, you really have to think about what you puree into the dairy. I suppose if I had used only green olives, it would have been a pretty, pale green, but, come on, who likes only green olives? They’re great, but, I prefer them in my martinis.

Inspired by SlashFood‘s recent Pantry Spring Cleaning series, I decided to delve into my secret stash of impulse pantry purchases and make a pilaf (say that 3 times fast!) as our side dish. The quinoa was purchased in January while I was atoning for my holiday season eating sins and the black lentils were a Trader Joe’s attempt at getting more legumes in my life.

I would have thought that with so many “super” foods in the pilaf it would have a grainy, icky texture (I don’t like pilaf very much generally, the mixed textures skeeve me out) but this was just perfect! The lentils were a fine base note for the slightly toothsome quinoa and the slippery, starchy orzo.

So, while the pictures are not perfect, the meal was, right down to the wine.

Head below the break for the recipes; Funky Chicken & Pantry Pilaf.

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Sausages And Sparrows

27 Mar

My aunt will be so proud. She will also be relieved… I taught myself how to make spätzle yesterday.Spatzle

My aunt, the daughter of German immigrants, has been making her brand of spätzle for family gatherings for longer than I can remember. In the weeks leading up to, say, Easter, I’ll call my mother, “Are we going to Syracuse? Is Aunt L going to be making spätzle??” over, and over and over, even now that I’m old enough that I really should know better.

Aunt L’s spätzle are different than any other I’ve tried at any German or Austrian restaurant anywhere in the world. Hers are much thicker, closer to a dumpling and less a little sparrow (and no, I don’t mean this kind of sparrow) and more like a gorgeous, fat goose. Also, as a bow to my family’s obsession with garlic, she browns them off in oil and garlic until they’re golden and crispy. To me, they are the picture of culinary perfection. I truly believe I could eat her spätzle every day for the rest of my life.

Sausages & Sauerkraut

For my first attempt, I think my spätzle turned out pretty well. Mine were smaller, but they had the same chewy, toothsome feeling as my aunts. When I make them again (and I will make them again!) I will use fewer eggs, maybe 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks, plus more milk and even a little more flour. Then again, maybe I’ll hold off until Easter, when I’ll badger Aunt L into making hers for me again, you know, as research…


I served my spätzle with kielbasa (we’re a melting pot of Eastern European culinary traditions my family is…) and sauerkraut all braised with caramelized onions and dry vermouth. The kielbasa was much different than what I’m used to. I was inspired to try some local sausage from the East Village institution, Kurowycky Meat Market, which was unfortunate, because well, to be frank (heh), I didn’t like their kovbasa at all. It was nicely spiced and full of large chunks of meat but had a strange, gamey smell/flavor that I just couldn’t get past. I’m a little sad really. I thought maybe, finally, I’d find a more convenient local source for my kielbasa fix, but alas, I’ll have to keep making that trip to Eagle Provisions in Brooklyn. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Recipes for both dishes below the break.

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Poker Widow Pasta

25 Feb

Friday night when I found myself a poker widow I decided, rather than going out, I would stay in and make myself something decadent. I had been waiting all week to try some Porcini mushroom pasta I had found and taking inspiration from Mark Bittman’s foray into puttanesca I created this luscious, silky, tangy and downright sexy pasta dish.

Poker Widow Pasta

prep: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Porcini Mushroom Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, sliced (but not too thin)
  • 1 package Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp Capers
  • 2/3 cup Dry Vermouth
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Chile Flakes to taste
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Hard Cheese (of your choosing)

N.B. ~ The timing on this meal is wholly dependent on how long your pasta needs to cook. The pasta I used only needed 4 minutes, but if yours needs longer, please start it earlier on in the sauce prep than noted here.

Place a large pot with salted water (for your pasta) over a flame and bring to a boil.

Place a small, heavy bottomed dutch oven over a very low flame. Add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom about 1/4 inch. When the oil is a little warm, add the garlic and cook slowly, about 5 minutes, to infuse the oil with its flavor and aroma.

Add the mushrooms and mix to coat well with the garlic oil mixture. Turn the heat up a little, to about medium, really cook the mushrooms down. When they have reduced in size, taken on a little color and released their liquid, add capers. Turn the heat up again to about medium-high.

Add the Vermouth and the lemon juice and allow to reduce by about half. Season with salt, pepper and chile flakes to taste. Add the tomatoes and stir.

When the tomatoes start liquefying into the sauce, add your pasta to the water. Remember to keep stirring the sauce to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of your pan. When the pasta is done, turn off the flame under the sauce, it will most likely keep bubbling away for a few minutes.

Drain your pasta. Portion into bowls. Top with a nice glug of your very best extra virgin olive oil and your grated hard cheese of choice. Mix it all together and dig in! This is a truly delicious, earthy, sexy meal!



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