Category Archives: Food

Sugo al Burro e Pomodoro

A favorite cookbook in my family is The (sadly out-of-print) Classic Pasta Cookbook by Marcella Hazan’s son Giuliano. It looks sort of like a kid’s book (it is published by the Eyewitness Books people, I think), with photos illustrating each recipe, but the recipes are really good and quite sophisticated and traditional.

My version of the ingredients:

I finally received my very own copy of the book recently, but hadn’t used it yet, and I broke it in for a casual dinner last week by making the simplest thing in the book: a tomato and butter sauce, which I served over store-bought fresh ravioli. Very easy, very comforting, and quite pretty–the (large amount of) butter gives this a softer flavor and color than marinara-style tomato sauces.

-2 14 oz tins of whole peeled tomatoes with their juice, coarsely chopped [I use one -28 oz can of the muir glen chopped ones]
-3.5 oz butter
-1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
-4 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
Put all ingredients except the cheese in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat until tomatoes have reduced and separated from the butter: 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the pan.
Remove from the heat and set aside, discarding the onion halves.
Toss the pasta in the hot sauce with the cheese.

(Gah, all my evening photos are so blurry—the lighting in the kitchen is terrible! I’m sorry.)

The best part, though, was the leftover sauce. The next day I suddenly felt inspired to use the sauce in my lunch, and I put it over fried eggs on sourdough toast. I could write a whole post about how much I love fried eggs on toast, and eggs in almost any form, but this was especially good. The soft flavor of the tomato sauce was perfect with the egg but did add a nice fresh taste, and made the whole thing seem more lunchy.

It was pretty, too.

Pink and Purple Potatoes (for 15)

Last weekend we went to a wonderful dinner at our friend Nancy’s house, during which she served three courses to 15 people without breaking a sweat. Nancy, who is the whimsical sort, had decided to cook a meal consisting of Foods That Begin With P. The first course was a pair of “petit pot-pies” (little tartlets filled with delicious fillings) served on a warm potato salad with some greens. For the main course we ate *sensational* Pork loin wrapped in Prosciutto, served with roasted Parsnips and Pears. Dessert was a tiny poached pear perched charmingly atop ice cream.

I just love this photo I took of the potatoes for the salad, before the were roasted—the Coop had Purple AND Pink varieties in stock the day of the party! (No food coloring was used.)

I was inspired by her composure and organization. Clearly I must aim higher in giving dinner parties!

Sausage soup for four, Hearty breakfast for Tree-Hunting.

(Still playing catch-up…)

A couple weeks ago I finally got around to trying my mom’s Simple Sausage Soup recipe, which she had long been telling me was a great weeknight soup. It involves a bit of sausage browned first in the pan, then held back to be added in at the end, cannelini beans, good canned tomatoes (Muir Glen), and not too much else.
At the end, along with the sausage, you add in a couple handfuls of julienned spinach. I improvised when I discovered that the soup was much more liquidy than I like–I’m a big fan of thick soups and don’t usually like brothy ones as much–and pureed some of the beans in the pot using my immersion blender. (That, by the way, is among my best wedding gifts. I use it several times a week, for pureeing soups, making strange flavor eggplant, beating egg whites, etc. It’s so easy to clean, I’m much more willing to use it than the cuisinart or a blender or something.)

I served the soup with assorted panini, which I forgot to photograph, and it was a nice quick dinner for a couple friends.

[Sidetrack about plates: I never thought much about plating my food before moving up here, since I so rarely cooked anything beyond a friend egg sandwich, scrambled eggs with toast, etc. We did get 12 place settings of nice china for the wedding, but we currently have them in storage until we’re settled into our long-term apartment next year. So our combined dishes are plentiful, but utilitarian and not very refined. We also didn’t have any pasta/soup bowls. I hated serving pasta and soup to guests in big tall cereal bowls, so we picked up 8 simple shallow bowls at Ikea last month, and I’ve really enjoyed using them. In fact, I’ve used them for the last 4 or 5 dinners I’ve made, in a row!]

Last weekend my dear friend Bridge came for a visit with her boyfriend, and we went Christmas Tree Hunting. To prepare for a day prowling the wilds of New Hampshire (actually a Vermont tree farm; very rustic) we made an enormous country breakfast. Ben is the Pancake Man in our house, and I contributed eggs and sausage. I dearly, dearly love breakfast…

Thus fortified, we triumphed over nature with the acquisition of a very lovely tree:

Which was soon trimmed, to great effect:

So festive!


We spent a week on Long Island for Thanksgiving. Tom joined us for most of it, and I spent a lot of time shuttling to and from the city for work and play.

Before Tom joined us Ben and I went for a cool walk on the grounds of an old estate that backs up to his family’s house. It was a gorgeous late afternoon.

Late sun through ornamental grass in the yard:

Wonderful weathered red shutter on a collapsed potting shed abandoned in the woods:

The last gasp of sunset:

We cooked most of the sides for Thanksgiving: Super-creamy (and amazing) mashed potatoes (wheeee, 6 pounds of potatoes, 3 cups of cream, 3 sticks of butter!), stuffing/dressing, cranberry sauce and gravy. It was my first attempt at any of those things and I was delighted that everything turned out well. The gravy freaked me out because the turkey turned out to have dropped 2 cups or fat with virtually no juice. Since nothing separated I assumed it was all juice, no fat, used butter to make my roux, then found myself with a separating greasy mess of gravy. I eventually drained off most of the fat and gave it a final good whisking before giving up, and Poof, it pulled together, very velvety and glossy if a bit (a lot) thick.

Ben’s brother John’s second or third helping:

On our final night on the Island, Tom made one of his standby specialties, chicken with cashews. Delicious as always!

Pasta for four (2 veggies), Chinese eggplant for a crowd, a nearly un-recorded dinner for 8

Another long delay in posts but I have a bunch coming.

A couple groups including vegetarians came over in mid-November. For the first duo, it was just four of us and I made Mom’s Penne Vodka recipe. It came out well but I was a little short on sauce–I should have kept back some of the pasta when I was mixing it. A tiny bit spicy for me, too, even though I went with the low-end red pepper measurement, but the guests liked it fine.

That Sunday I was going to a Gourmet Club meeting (all Partners of students up here), and the theme was Foods We’re Thankful For. I was bringing an appetizer and decided to ignore the harvest-theme in favor of something I’m actually thankful for. For appetizers, that left me with two eggplant options, Mirza (a Persian spread/dip that I’m obsessed with) or Strange Flavor Eggplant, a fantastic recipe from Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Cookbook. Since Mirza looks even worse than most eggplant dishes and really leans on excellent tomatoes for flavor, I went with the chinese version, which is super simple and wonderful. It was the amuse bouche at China Moon, and it’s sweet + spicy (“strange flavor); delicious on crispy garlic croutons/crostini.
Lots of ginger, garlic, scallions and some red pepper for the aromatics.

Pureed roasted eggplant, sauce made from soy, vinegar, brown sugar.

After a quick stir-fry, it’s all done:

I was a little nervous about taking it to the club (afraid it would come off as weird and off-topic) but people loved it. It’s an especially good intro point for people who don’t think they like eggplant!

The next night we were hosting a study group that Ben is advising. It was a total of eight, including two more vegetarians, so I spent Sunday afternoon on the phone with Mom as we both made meat lasagna. (I forgot to take any photos.) I also made a meat-free baked ziti. With about 4 pounds of meat, sauce, cheese and pasta resting in the fridge overnight, I just had to make dessert and salad on Monday. I baked another Mom recipe (sense a theme here?), an Almond cake that was more like a torte. I think maybe my pan was a bit big? The cake was very thin but delicious and quite rich since it’s mostly almond paste.

For salad I half-replicated a favorite salad from Inoteca in the city. I had mesclun instead of romaine, but I cut up half a head of radicchio and dressed those together, then topped each plate with a MOUNTAIN of finely shredded ricotta salata. (Now that I think of it I should have made a ricotta cake of some sort for dessert and had a themed meal!) My rotary grater worked perfectly for the cheese, which I’d feared would be a bit soft. It made a much fluffier pile than a regular grater would have.

Burgers for four.

Two of my best friends from Fortune were in town for a journalism workshop, so they joined us for dinner on 11/1. Back at the beginning of the year I had made the pork burgers from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which Tom had seen on the blog Well Fed. They’re a little rich for my taste (they have chorizo AND bacon in them) but Ben loved them and he wanted to grill again while the weather was nice. There are a lot of ingredients in the burgers, though I left out the cumin, which I dislike.

The meat: Ground pork, bacon, chorizo. (+parsley)
meat.jpg meat-mixture.jpg

Flavoring: Shallots, a mild roasted chile powder, thyme leaves, lots of garlic, salt. These are sautéed together before being added to the meat mixture.
flavorings-for-burgers.jpg shallot-mixture-cooked.jpg

Then the whole mess is shaped into burgers:

Then grilled, topped with manchego cheese, arugula and tomatoes, and served on toasted rolls slathered with a cheater’s version of aioli (mayo with mashed garlic and some cayenne):
cooked-burger.jpg fixings.jpg burger-and-trimmings.jpg

I served a salad and some roasted potatoes on the side, but the potatoes weren’t as good as usual–I’d cheaped out and gotten regular red potatoes instead of the new ones, and so instead of quartering them and having nice evenly-sized pieces, I had to cut them up smaller and it was a bit of a mess.

Still, the burgers tasted great–I liked them much better this time–and it was a fun night. I missed having my cooking buddy, Tom, to help with the chopping/mixing, though.

Cheese and Honey, Sausage and Beans, and friendly Pumpkins

Well, I’m weeks and weeks behind, and we’ve had quite a few dinner parties and a couple good regular dinners. Among the things I’ve eaten:

10/25: A surprise lunch with Tom, who brought over an extra robiola cheese from his Cheese Class. Also a loaf of ciabatta, so we had the cheese and bread with honey for lunch while discussing the article about him in the Dartmouth newspaper.

10/29: Craving cassoulet but obviously lacking the time or resources to pull even a facsimile together, I cooked navy beans and then combined them with garlic sautéed in olive oil and a can of muir glen diced tomatoes, then added a couple sausages (I browned them a bit first). When the sausages were almost cooked I pulled them out and sliced them, then added them back in a few minutes before serving the stew. It worked out well and was a nice warm meal on a damp Sunday. I still need to get the cheater’s cassoulet recipe from a guy I work with at Tuck, who served it at a big french-themed party a month or so ago.

10/31: On Halloween we carved our first jack o’lantern, who Ben named Steve. Ben did the initial hollowing and I took over for the carving. (The hair was Ben’s suggestion.) We weren’t going to be home that night, so we left out candy for the trick or treaters, of whom there were very few on our quiet little street.
ben-pumpkin.jpg kate-pumpkin.jpg steve-the-pumpkin.jpg
Sadly Steve, after being moved outside next to the steps a week or so later, seems to have attracted a large number of very small slugs. Yikes.

Pork chops, polenta, and a baking extravaganza

Ok, it’s been a while but there have been two days with good cooking-outcomes, as well as one total mess.

The mess first–I thought quesadillas would be a fast, good dinner one night, so I laid in tortillas, refried beans, sour cream and salsa, and figured I’d use up a bag of grated jack cheese in the fridge. Sadly the bag was nearly empty, and Ben said he thought he’d eat 3 quesadillas (they weren’t big); I figured I’d eat two. We had cheese for two in the bag, so we pulled everything out of the cheese drawer and sliced it up. One had provolone and scraps from some weird thing that had come in a food basket (not gouda, but covered in red wax, yellowish inside). One was two slices of cheddar plus scraps from food basket loaf of cheddar. Another was all the weird wax-cheese. I fried two and gave them to Ben, and then fried two more for myself, at which point Ben was totally full and I realized I could only eat one. So we had one uncooked (one of the shredded cheese good ones) and one extra cooked one, and we’d used up all our sandwich cheese for nothing. I really need to work on knowing how much we can eat and what exactly we have in the fridge.

On to successes:

Thursday night I cooked wild mushrooms, polenta, and grilled pork chops. I followed Bittman’s grilling instructions and rubbed the chops with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
oil-salt-lemon.jpg pork-chops.jpg
And then Ben grilled them perfectly on our great little weber baby-q, a b-day present from my parents.

I sliced up all the mushrooms, then sautéed some garlic in olive oil before cooking the mushrooms.
mushrooms.jpg mushrooms-sliced.jpg
mushrooms-cooking-1.jpg mushrooms-cooking-2.jpg mushrooms-cooked.jpg

The polenta was only ok—I had a box of instant from a cake I’d made, so I used that. Easy, but the texture wasn’t great and it was too salty.

Everything came together nicely though. I piled the polenta high (it was stiff), laid the chop over it, spritzed that with lemon juice, and then put the mushrooms on top.

I fried the leftover polenta for lunch Friday, and sautéed a zucchini to fill out the leftover mushrooms.

Sunday my brother Tom came over for some home-style baking. We had bulla on the mind—they are a Swedish roll sort of like challah but with cardamom and a sweeter dough. We had trouble getting the dough to rise, and then overcompensated by not punching it down hard enough or rolling the strips of dough out enough before shaping the bulla. As a result the rolls’ texture is a bit off and they puffed up more than usual in the over, losing the distinctive knot shape they should have had. They taste good though! Next time I’ll up the cardamom so the flavor is stronger.

For dinner I made a Dutch Baby, or german oven pancake, which is something we had for Sunday Night Supper growing up. It’s an egg batter that puffs up in the oven, and we always eat it with maple syrup. Well, I’m not sure if it’s my oven or what, but it puffed like CRAZY around the edges, and stayed totally flat in the middle (which is typical, but this was more pronounced than usual). I think one edge must have been 8 inches tall when I first pulled it out of the over. Whee!

Tom demonstrates the massive height of our dutch baby:

Tom, by the way, is looking like a skinny lumberjack these days, especially in his new 10″ LL Bean boots:

Dinner for five

We had a friend and her two kids over for dinner last night (her husband couldn’t come at the last minute), and made a simple but great menu. I forgot to take photos of anything once it was done, though, so there’s only prep stuff!

Our dining table, built in 1790 or so, is lovely but only fits four comfortably. We could probably squeeze six if we had to, but it would be very, very tight. So we lined up the kitchen table with the dining table and diguised with placemats and things. I’d forgotten to get flowers, so I just lined up some plums and apples with the candles.

I made roasted potatoes with rosemary (Mom’s classic), steamed some green beans and dressed them with olive oil and lemon juice, and we grilled sausages from the Coop. Super-easy and I was able to do nearly everything before anyone arrived.

Potatoes—20 small new ones:
Quartered and boiled for about five minutes:
pot cooking
A handful of garlic to be crushed and thrown in with the potatoes while they roast:
Tossed the potatoes with olive oil and threw on a baking sheet with the garlic and some sprigs of rosemary:
potatoes rosemary
Lots of salt and pepper, and then roasted in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes, tossing them once. They were perfect, crispy and creamy.
The beans:
were good too. We grilled 10 sausages and I laid everything out on a long white rectangular platter (sausages/beans/potatoes), which looked great and made clean up easier. Of course I didn’t take any photos of the finished food. We had a chocolate cream pie for dessert (Ben’s favorite), but I only have a pic of that from while it was chilling in the fridge:

Definitely a menu I’d cook again, though if the second adult had been at dinner I would have been short on potatoes.