strozzapreti with black kale, sage, and potatoes

strozzapreti with black kale, sage, and potatoes

deborah madison is one of my favorite cookbook authors. i have never made anything of hers that i didn't like. i mean, the good lady obviously loves her butter, so what is there not to like?! :)

normally i use
the old standby, but her local flavors book is also a great treat, with beautiful photos of recipes organized by seasonal fare typically found at your farmer's market.

cavolo nero

even though i hate the colder, darker days, i have to admit that i love dinner in the fall. everything becomes warm and hearty without being yet winter heavy.

("priest stranglers") refers to the pasta's shape, which resembles folded and twisted ribbons of fettuccine. the strozzapreti i found at fairway was probably a little more twisted than what i'm used to but ms. madison also suggests gemelli if you can't find any.


ms. madison also suggests this serves 4 ... umm, maybe 4 paul bunyans. i did use a bit more pasta than her recipe (who buys 3/4 lb of pasta??) but even so, this pasta is quite rich, so it would easily serve 6, and maybe 8 if you had something else accompanying the dinner.

butter, garlic, and sage

strozzapreti with black kale, sage, and potatoes: serves 6
adapted from madison's local flavors (2002, p. 101)

4 tb butter
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
10 sage leaves
2 bunches cavolo nero (black kale)
salt + pepper
2 cups finely diced yellow potatoes (about 3/4 lb)
1 lb strozzapreti
5 oz italian fontina cheese, cubed
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

1. bring large pot of water to boil. meanwhile, heat butter, garlic, and sage in small skillet over medium heat until butter is lightly browned and nutty smelling. turn off the heat and discard the garlic.

2. chop kale coarsely. when the water is boiling, add salt and kale. boil for 4 minutes, then add potatoes, and boil for 6 more minutes or until both are tender. scoop out, shake off excess water and reserve in bowl. in same water, cook pasta until al dente, then drain.

3. combine pasta, potatoes, and kale. pour the butter and sage over the mixture and using a pair of tongs, pick up some of the pasta to wipe out the butter pan. add the fontina and a generous grating of parmigiano, and toss well. season with pepper and enjoy!

a perfect meal for fall


the ER, daring bakers, and an award

if you are someone unlike me - someone who sees a deadline 30 days away and gets things done with 29 days left - then you wouldn't be writing this post.

but if you fall into the 30 days in advance means do it on day 29, well then a trip to the ER and a weeklong recovery means that the deadline is screwed.

such was my fate last week, which is why i do not have anything to share with you. natalie from gluten a go go and shelly from musings from the fishbowl picked an awesome recipe in peter reinhart's lavash crackers to be accompanied by a tasty vegan dip of one's choice.

what compounds my non daring baker misery is the fact that earlier this month lisa from magic sprinkles bestowed the brilliante award to me! even though i don't feel very brilliante right now, thanks lisa! now i'm supposed to pass on the award to 7 more bloggers. but i'm going to bend the rules and pass it along to the group of hundreds of amazing daring bakers. i've said it before, but every month they inspire me and humble me. so please, go check out these truly dynamite daring bakers!


best turkey burger for the end of summer

this relentless head sinus cold couldn't have come at the worst time - new york city weather has just been shamelessly gorgeous the entire week!!

but i've gone through three boxes of tissues. one pack of ricola and albuterol. lots of vitamin C and zinc. countless pill popping. add on to that ... the stress of getting everything ready for mr. mimi's big surprise party last weekend, all the math work i'm supposed to be doing for my economics class, the mess of papers on my desk (i hope there isn't anything important in that mail), i haven't played tennis in eons, i want to start training, et je veux prendre des leçons françaises ... what i need is a vaca and a detox, stat!!

well, the vaca is long over and the detox isn't going to be until next month. so i have to comfort myself by giving you a recipe to enjoy those last days of summer grilling. i have to admit that since i've been selectively eating meat again, the thing i seemed to most enjoy - you know, eating sensually with all five senses - were the hamburgers!

best turkey burger

i never craved them before, but they were so good this summer, i just loved them. maybe it has to do with the context of lazy summer evenings with a grill and friends? how much of the food we like or don't like has to do with the memory of that food, with the context, with what we were doing or who we were with? it's like the memory of music, n'est-ce pas?

nice topping

best turkey burger: serves 4
from martha's great food fast (2007, p. 123)

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey - note: try to get the best quality, from your local farm or farmer's market if possible, it truly does make a difference!
1/2 cup finely grated gruyère cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced (we omitted b/c i hate scallions!)
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
salt + pepper
vegetable oil for grill

1. heat grill to high. in medium bowl, use fork to gently combine turkey with cheese, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, and garlic. season generously with fresh salt and pepper. divide the mixture evenly and gently form four 1-inch thick patties.

mr. mimi tip: in order to avoid the shrunken flying saucer hamburger syndrome ... while forming the patty, press the middle so that it is thinner in the middle and wider on the outside. then when the meat contracts while grilling, it will shrink to a normal hamburger shape.

2. lightly oil the grill. place patties on hottest part; sear until browned, 1-2 minutes per side. move patties to cooler part of grill and continue grilling until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes each side.

enjoy the end of summer!


salad days: mediterranean couscous and lentils

beautiful black beluga lentils

months ago the mimis were perusing the bulk items at fairway and came across lentils labeled "black beluga lentils." although they looked similar in shape and size as french green lentils, i wasn't sure what they would taste like. but with such a sexy name ... who in their right mind could refuse buying them?!

but then they languished on the pantry shelf, all pretty looking with nowhere to go. finally after a couple of days of takeout to compensate for a bare refrigerator, i was dying to make a home meal with whatever we had on hand. a little searching around epicurious and i found this wonderful, easy recipe.

lentils and couscous

mediterranean couscous and lentils: serves 6
from gourmet (sept 1995, via epicurious - click here)

1 cup lentilles du puy (french green lentils - or use black beluga lentils if you can find them!)
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 bunch arugula, chopped (we only had some wild greens, but with some bitter herbs and arugula included so we thought it might work – probably better with all arugula though)
2 cups vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved (we used regular tomatoes, chopped)
1/4 pound feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1. in a small saucepan simmer lentils in water to cover by 2 inches until tender but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes, and drain well. transfer hot lentils to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. cool lentils completely, stirring occasionally.

2. in a saucepan bring water to a boil and add couscous and salt. remove pan from heat and let couscous stand, covered, 5 minutes. fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. stir in 1 tablespoon oil and cool completely, stirring occasionally.

3. in a small bowl whisk together garlic paste, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. stir lentils and dressing into couscous. chill salad, covered, at least 3 hours and up to 24. (note: we only chilled it to a warm room temp, for about 1 hour and it was still delicious!)

4. just before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

mediterranean couscous and lentils


martha mondays: tomato tart

another round of martha mondays!

i hate the end of summer. shorter days, colder evenings. it all just means one depressing thing: crappy man winter is on its way. so you'll probably see me try to squeeze in every last drip drop of summer left here in the next couple of weeks. denial is a wonderful thing! ...
and so is this tomato tart!

i bought martha's baking handbook back around the holidays last year, and this was one of the first things that caught my eye. the thought of using blah winter hydroponic tomatoes seemed a waste of the whole effort, and so i had to wait it out six long months!

tomato tart

there's nothing tricky about this tart, just your standard pâte brisée dough, tomatoes, garlic, fontina cheese, and basil for garnish. i haven't made dough in quite a long time so i decided to make it with half vegetable shortening, half butter to make it easier to work with (in case you're wondering, shortening doesn't melt so that's what makes it easier). but i still had problems rolling it out, mainly because it became a wee crumbly as i tried to stretch it to 13 inches. so the dough got manhandled when putting into the tart pan, although it still turned out pretty flaky. note to self: more practice with pâte brisée! hmm ... i see all sorts of pies in my baking future :)

tomato tart

you could say this is just a fancy pizza, and even though the preparation and assembly is easy, it is a bit of total time needed (with the garlic roasting, baking, and cooling). but pizza never looked so amazing, smelled so awesome, or tasted so delish! next time i will have to come up with a way to dry the tomatoes a bit before baking so that the crust can stay a little more firm. but make this your next lazy sunday and maybe you, too, will forget that cold weather is almost here.

tomatoes, garlic, and fontina

it appears i also need more practice with my lovely camera and studio light set-up (there is no option for "natural" light since i ain't baking or cooking until well after sun down.) do you see all those blown highlights in the tomatoes and cheese?! ugh.

tomato tart: serves 4 as main (or 3 if you are anything like me!)
from martha's baking handbook (2005, p. 268)

1 head garlic
3 tb olive oil
1/2 recipe pâte brisée (follows)
3/4 cup grated fontina cheese
1 1/2 lbs ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
salt + pepper
12 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. preheat oven to 30F. place garlic on piece of aluminum foil; drizzle with 1 tb olive oil and fold foil to encase garlic, sealing folded edges well. place on baking sheet and roast until golden brown and top of knife easily pierces flesh, about 45 minutes. remove and let cool.

2. on lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 13 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. remove excess flour and fit dough into a 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pressing into edges. use rolling pin to trim dough flush with top edge of tart pan; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

3. raise heat in oven to 425F. when garlic is cooled, squeeze cloves out of their skins and into small bowl. mash with a fork and set aside while tart shell is chilling.

4. spread roasted garlic evenly on bottom of tart shell. sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated cheese. arrange tomato slices in overlapping circular pattern on top of cheese, working from outside towards the center. season with salt and pepper. sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese and drizzle with remaining 2 tb of olive oil.

5. bake tart until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but retain shape, 45-55 minutes. cool on wire rack for 20 minutes. garnish with sliced basil leaves and serve warm. (you can make this a day ahead and reheat at 300F until warmed through.)

flaky crust

a yummy slice

pâte brisée: full recipe (use half for tomato tart)
from martha's baking handbook (p. 224)
note: i used half shortening, half butter - but i'm giving the recipe as written

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cold cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

1. combine flour and salt in food processor. add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces. (to mix by hand, combing dry ingredients in bowl and cut in butter with pastry blender.)

2. with machine running, add ice water through feed tube in slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being sticky. do not process more than 30 seconds. test by squeezing small amount of dough together; if it is crumbly, add more water 1 tb at a time.

3. turn out dough and divide in half, shaping into flattened disk and wrapped in plastic. refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. can also be frozen up to 1 month; thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.


salad days: classic chicken caesar

my motto: if i salad is complicated, it shouldn't be made. and if it isn't tasty, it's just a bunch of rabbit food. this caesar is perfect on both points. we forgot to make the croutons, but a little less carbo is always a good thing anyway.

caesar salad

chicken caesar salad: serves 4
adapted from martha's great food fast (2007, p. 119)

4 oz italian bread, cut into cubes
3 tb olive oil
4 chicken cutlets (each about 2-3 oz)
1 package romaine lettuce leaves (18-20 oz)
salt + pepper

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup soy mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (essential, not optional!)
1 small garlic clove

1. preheat oven to 375F. place bread on rimmed baking sheet. drizzle 2 tb olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. bake, tossing occasionally, until golden about 12-15 minutes. remove and let cool.

2. heat remaining oil in large skillet over high heat. season chicken with salt and pepper. cook until done, 1-2 minutes each side. remove and let cool. slice chicken crosswise into strips.

3. cut romaine hearts crosswise, wash and dry.

4. whisk together all ingredients for dressing until smooth (martha had you use a blender, but that is totally unnecessary).

5. toss all ingredients with a bit of drizzled dressing - a little bit at a time - caesar dressing is very strong and you won't need much for flavor. grate some extra cheese if you'd like on top of each plated salad.


salad days: light and easy

even though i'm currently a full-fledged omnivore, i still crave greenery and love having salads for dinner. here are two that were made quite a while ago, but would be perfect for the end of summer produce.

when mr. mimi first put some strawberries on one of our side salads, my first thought was creative but gross. and then i ate it. wowzers, i loved it. the sweetness complemented the tangy vinaigrette so well. and it felt so refreshing.

greens with nectarines and avocado

what i happily learned is you can basically add any fruit to a green salad and it is wonderful. this time we added nectarines to a romaine with tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and boca chick patties with a simple champagne vinaigrette for a big main salad. but really, you could use any summer fruits - plums and peaches (yumm, grilled peaches too) would be delicious!

summer salad

cherry tomatoes

another simple side salad we made was a mix of green and wax beans, tomatoes, and a spicy sesame-vinaigrette. if you've never used sriracha sauce, this is *the* spicy sauce - and now you can even get it on amazon! i bet you'll never go back to boring tabasco!

with sriracha vinaigrette

what do i think about sarah palin?

a family member has been forwarding me all sorts of anti-palin commentary. finally i responded with a snarky "i am probably not as anti-palin as you think" and i think she fainted with shock - you need to put it in the context that i am more left than most left democrats, and pretty much a diehard feminist - and she wrote back "but don't you think palin isn't ready to be president?"

i sat on it for a day and then this was my reply:

... actually i think the whole "ready or not?" question is not even necessary - and certainly ironic when it comes from obama supporters (not you specifically, i mean in general) who claimed the question was irrelevant for their candidate, but now somehow crucial for the republican side.

i have lots of opinions about this election, but they probably don't fall into the neat package that most democrats portray. and while it may grab headlines, i really can't take any author seriously when their title is "caribou barbie" - this is what represents meaningful conversation??! but then again, for most democrats - they actually don't want any meaningful debate, they just have knee-jerk reactions (democrats good, republicans bad) in which they'll believe anything that the left-side press will write.

honestly, of course i disagree with the vast majority of palin's beliefs, values, and positions on many issues. however, i think the democrats (or at least the left-side press) is rutting around for anything - which usually turns out to be nothing - to try to discredit her. and it's just not going to work. first, because the kind of stuff they are bringing up really doesn't matter. the hypocrisy of the democrats for what should be a "scandal" is embarrassing. and second, because what the democrat party fails to remember again and again is that not everyone in the country is a left democrat.

i think the party made a huge mistake when they didn't pick hillary to be the vp nominee. not only did she win 48% of the party itself, but she obviously won over people that palin is going to appeal to. could they not understand what the demographics in the primary results indicated? biden is just not going to be a match for that. that's the difference between the republicans and democrats - the republicans pick people to win, and the democrats pick people they like.

it doesn't say much when probably the only reason i'll vote along the democrat ticket this year is because of the supreme court justices and not because i actually want to vote for the democrat nominee. the democratic party had every single thing going for it this year to make it a real election, to bring real issues to the forefront. that they haven't done it thus far, and from the look of the stuff the left-side press is dishing out - they probably won't - is depressing.

but then again, two months is a long time and who knows what will happen! but if it continues like this and obama and the democrats that support him don't change their strategy, he will lose ...

i haven't gotten a response yet :)

update: her response was about the supreme court issue, which i agree is very important. but this was my reply ...

the problem is ... for most of americans - even women - the supreme court is not the most important issue. the more the democrats mention that, the more they are preaching to the choir and missing what palin appeals to. the thing is that pro-choice and pro-life are values that many voters won't cross. the republicans are smart enough to know that and they don't bother with that issue. instead, they go after the other "gray" issues which leave many voters undecided. i think the biggest problem with the democrats is they dismiss and devalue what palin brings to the republican ticket - it's easy to call her a "caribou barbie," no? - and they don't seriously look at what she's going to bring in areas like ohio and michigan. we watched bill maher last night and he made fun of her and her "small town" experience and values. what the democrats forget is that most of the nation does not live in LA or NYC. i'm not saying i agree with those experiences or values - but i don't underestimate them and i don't belittle them - because i know that the states that matter also live like that.