Roasted Broccoli Pesto Spaghetti with Veal-Ricotta Meatballs

This recipe came together the way many of my recipes do: After filling my bike basket to the brim with farmers market loot, I had to figure out how to tie all those ingredients together into something, you know, halfway cohesive.

Some ladies lust after designer heels, while I prefer the first first broccoli of the year. A shopping problem is still a shopping problem.

This weekend, I came home with: fresh ricotta, ground veal, purple spring onions, parsley, garlic, as well as the aforementioned broccoli. I laid it all out on the kitchen table, and got to thinking.

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Korean-ish Short Rib Sandwich

Last weekend, the Frenchman and I journeyed to Charleston, South Carolina, and it was delightful. It felt like a proper break, a real disengagement from the ho-hum of everyday, and there is nothing I adore more than traveling avec mon amour. The monsieur travels to Atlanta for work on the regular, but I had never been to the south before.

I loved the narrow houses of Charleston, the skinny side porches, some adorned with hanging plants or wind chimes, some old and listing like a tipsy uncle. I loved the real gas lamps burning, picturesque but inexplicable, in the light and heat of a May day. I loved the properties overlaid with vines, such bombastic vegetation and the smell of honeysuckle everywhere.

I loved the drive to Sullivan’s Island, across the long, modern bridge; rising with airs over the flat brown water and the skeletons of industrial machinery. I loved the walk across the packed, wavy, clay sand, to the receding line of the water where we found razor clam shells as long as a witch’s fingernail.

I loved the heat, thick enough to jar and only May, and the soundtrack of bug callings, and the line of oaks as old as this county: Imagine! they will outlive us all. I loved the weeping tree by the lagoon, the branches so thick and so low they meant to scoop us up and carry us off to who knows where. And then the lick of poppies, in front of the old house and beside the pecan tree, so loud and red and unembarrassed. Read more »

Rigatoni with Fennel and Veal Sausage

fennel and veal sausage rigatoni

How much fennel can be worked into one plate of pasta? Quite a lot, actually. I like this dish, because it utilizes every bit of the fennel, with not an ounce of waste. It’s also easy and inexpensive to make, but tastes like a million bucks.

This pasta works well for the weather, too: the sweet-anise notes of fennel suggest spring, while the presence of pecorino and veal sausage remind me that it’s still gray and chilly outside. (Hopefully not interminably, although it’s starting to feel that way.)

Plus, it’s adaptable: the flavors are sophisticated enough to serve as the first course of a spring dinner party (serves 6-8). But it’s also a crowd-pleaser–spoon some right out of the pot for a family-style meal (serves 4). Read more »

Slow-Roasted Carrots with Lamb and Spring Onion Dressing

Despite the fact that it’s still freezing cold in New York City (literally); despite the fact that the forecast reads “winter mix” more days than not (a phrase that sounds like it should be a jazz CD sold in coffee shops, but is actually a horrendous blend of ice-rain-snow)–yesterday was the first day of spring.

Clearly, my fantasies of delicate pea tendrils and narrow stalks of asparagus aren’t coming to fruition as quickly as I’d like. The farmers market looks much the same now as it has all winter. Still, there are small signs of change: multi-colored carrots, new potatoes, and a small collection of scallions. This recipe utilizes two of the three.

And chives, and tender ground lamb! Two more ingredients that promise spring. My goal for this dish was to create something earthy and balanced; flavorful, but not at all winter weary. I think I’ve succeeded.

This recipe is packed with (brown) sugar, spice, and everything nice (namely, jalapeño slices, creamy dressing, and crunchy peanuts). The combination is fairly delicious, if I do say so myself. Read more »

Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise

Here is the thing about trying to recreate childhood dishes for the Frenchman: it is invariably a petit désastre. I have tried my hand at lentils, white beans, croque-monsieur. It’s not that my attempts are bad per se (well, except for the beans. I am bean-impaired), but they simply don’t live up to expectation; they aren’t the same. What can I say? Childhood memory is a cruel competitor, particularly in the kitchen.

The following “braise” was one such attempt. The Frenchman lived in Tunisia for six years as a kid, so the man knows his way around a couscous. He loves couscous. I, on the other hand, am quite new to the dish.

I did some research, but mostly I relied on techniques I was already familiar with (to me, winter is spelled b-r-a-i-s-e), and employed ingredients I thought made sense together. I even bought couscous imported from Tunisia, which I hoped might add some authenticity to the proceedings.

When the dish came out of the oven, I though it tasted really good: the vegetables were soft, and flavored with pan juices. The sauce itself was complex and spiced, a little spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The couscous was downy, and tasted ever so slightly of the good olive oil I stirred into it. Read more »

Lamb Ragu with Pappardelle

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A few weeks ago, I tagged along on a road trip to Kinderhook Farm, located a few hours north of New York City in Ghent, New York. The animals who live there are extremely well cared for. The visit was excellent for several reasons.

The farm is gorgeous: a mosaic of red barns, a trail of low wooden fences, bold against the white snow that currently covers the pastures. Heritage breed chickens roam where they will, producing eggs in shades of blue, pink, green, and beige. I was introduced to Luci the dairy cow, the only dairy cow on the farm and apparently a bit of a diva for it. (I also met Apple, poor Apple, Luci’s somewhat abused sidekick; it’s a love-hate relationship between the two of them.) A sea of sheep spreads across a field, guarded by a pair of Italian herding dogs, both animal’s coats the white of snow.

The farmers who operate Kinderhook are impossibly friendly, gracious hosts. After touring us around the farm, we were invited into the kitchen for warm cookies, milk (courtesy of Luci, I cannot begin to tell you how tasty this milk is), and grilled cheese sandwiches. The kitchen’s bay windows look out past the barns and across the fields, over small hills dotted with trees that rise and fall as far as the eye can see.

If it feels like I am romanticizing this farm, I’m sorry, but it’s no exaggeration. It was bucolically beautiful, beautifully bucolic, and the animals Disney-esque in their loveliness. The clean and quiet air proved an invigorating change from the city. Read more »

Butternut, Apple, and Parsnip Soup with Smoked Duck

Hello/Bonjour! Long time no see. My self-imposed winter break lasted a little longer than I originally intended, but now I am back and raring to go.

Let’s get right to this soup. It is perfect in every way you hope a January soup will be. It is oh so easy to make (like, actually easy), and quite economical too. If you make it a day ahead, it will only taste better upon reheating. It freezes beautifully. (Make a double batch to tuck into the freezer for some other night.)

The squash, apple, and parsnip balance together famously. The soup itself is a little sweet, a little sharp, and incredibly rich in flavor, while low in calories. (You know I don’t normally care about such things, but what with January being a month of resolutions, I figured it was worth mentioning.)

The only bad part about this soup is peeling the butternut squash. I abhor peeling butternut squash. Alas, we can’t have everything in life. Read more »

Steak and Ginger-Pickle Sandwich

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This is a sandwich for when the Frenchman is businessing in Atlanta for the better part of the week. While he’s away, you deserve something tasty, but uncomplicated; laborious cooking is less fun for one.

This is a sandwich for when you agree to go to a (rather stodgy) holiday party with your parents, and the only menu item that seems remotely appealing is the surf & turf, a dish you haven’t had occasion to order since, well, ever. And so you eat the lobster tail, and ask the waiter to wrap up the 10-ounce piece of steak still languishing on your plate. Now you have 10-ounces of steak in your refrigerator.

It’s a sandwich for when you think: what can I do with this steak in my refrigerator? And then you decide to make a sandwich, because sandwiches are both easy and, when made properly, glorious. You decide to flash pickle onions and persian cucumbers with cider and rice wine vinegar, and (why not?) fresh ginger dropped in for flair and personality. Read more »