Spaghetti Carbonara

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Mangia mangia!

Spaghetti Carbonara was one of the first meals I made where I diverged from my mother’s recipe. Growing up, my mom would make a delicious Spaghetti Carbonara full of crispy bacon bits and sautéed onions covered in a creamy sauce. It was not until college that I realized that though bacon is passable, an authentic Spaghetti Carbonara recipe never includes onions and the creaminess does not come from some generous pours of heavy cream.

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Aperol Spritz

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Simple, refreshing, summery

When the temperature starts to rise in New York, I ditch red wine for chilled rosé and mix margaritas more merrily and frequently (I drink margaritas year round, but summer makes this behavior 100% acceptable). The summer beverage Luke and I especially love is the Aperol Spritz. Sipping on our spritzes, I like to imagine sitting at a little bar somewhere in Rome or in Florence along the Arno, enjoying an aperitivo as the sun sets. Our vermillion drinks matching the faded, orangey hues, of the surrounding ancient buildings. How lovely does that sound??

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Grainy Mustard-Glazed Pork Loin

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Mmmmmmm meat juices

Dijon mustard is one of the most versatile ingredients in your fridge. Sadly, the small Maille or Grey Poupon jar often sits in condiment asylum with months-old bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise, and salsa. It’s time to break your mustard loose from hot dog hell. The world of marinades, dressings, glazes, slaws, and sauces awaits! A grainy Dijon mustard plays a starring role in this roasted pork loin recipe. Used along with brown sugar and herbs, the mustard glaze gives the meat amazing flavor and texture. To double-down on the Dijon, make a quick side salad of arugula dressed with a mustard vinaigrette. Previously unused and unappreciated, your jar of Dijon will definitely be feeling itself after this meal.

This marinade comes from Marian Burros of the NYT. The overnight marinating is not mandatory but definitely recommended. We opted for pork loin instead of pork tenderloin, as called for in the original recipe, and modified the cooking time. But this works really well for pork tenderloin too! And if you’re curious about the difference, read more here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb pork loin
  • 3 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS grainy Dijon mustard (if you don’t have grainy Dijon, smooth Dijon will suffice, you’ll just lose some of the texture)
  • 2 tsp rosemary and/or thyme, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS cooking sherry or red wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Make the marinade. In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and sherry/vinegar.
  2. Place pork loin in a plastic bag or shallow bowl. Pour the marinade over the meat and turn to coat well. Let the pork loin marinate in the fridge overnight. If you’re pressed for time, you can marinate for as little as 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a medium-sized baking sheet with foil. Place the loin fat side down unto the baking sheet. This can also be done in a well oiled cast-iron skillet.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes. The fat side will have developed a nice crust. Turn fat side up and roast for another 25 to 30 minutes. To test doneness, you can insert a thermometer into the center of the loin. The internal temperature should read 155°F.
  5. Remove from oven and let loin sit for 10 minutes. Cut crosswise into thin slices.

A simple pan-sauce can be made by deglazing the meat juices in a skillet or saucepan. Luke’s special recommendation: use leftover meat to make a classic roast pork sandwich the next day.

Details: Serves 4 or 2 for dinner plus 2 for lunch sandwich leftovers.

Chocolate Tart

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Decadent sliver

Mastering a chocolate tart recipe sort of makes you feel like you could pull off the eternally enviable style of Parisian women – you are Patricia, the beautiful American heroine of Breathless. That, “I woke up this stylish and put-together” look. Seemingly effortless and simple, but at the same time tailored and unique. Parisian style is unassuming, beautiful, and beguiling. For years us American woman have been trying to crack the code. Serving this chocolate tart to guests, you’ll elicit a similar response. They’ll be thinking, “It’s so simple, but so good and I’m not sure how I can recreate this for myself.”  This tart is perfect all on its own – no need to accessorize with whipped cream or ice cream. The filling is silky smooth chocolate, but with just the right amount of bite. And you’ll only need a sliver. There’s a lot of decadence in a tiny portion.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from David Lebovitz, a Parisian emigrate and our favorite ex-pat food writer. We used a crust recipe from Amanda Hesser, though David has his own as well (which we are sure is great).

Ingredients (Crust, makes 2):

  • 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened + extra for greasing
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp milk
  • 12 oz (about 2 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 TBS warm coffee
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Make the crust. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg yolk and milk and beat to combine. In a separate, medium bowl combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture, stirring until completely blended. Gather dough into 2 balls and wrap each in plastic wrap. Freeze one for a later date and chill one in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heavily butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure to butter all the nooks and crannies. Roll out the dough and press the dough into the pan, patching up the sides and trimming the edges as needed. Prick the bottom with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Prebake the tart shell. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove tart from freezer, fill with pie weights, dried rice, dried beans to prevent the crust from puffing up. We use a lot of coins! And line the crust with parchment paper or a buttered piece aluminum foil before pouring in coins or weights. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
  4. While prebaking, make the chocolate filling. Spread sugar in an even layer in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch-oven. Cook the sugar over medium heat until the edges liquefy and begin to caramelize. Using a heatproof utensil, gently drag the liquified sugar toward the center of the pan. This encourages the sugar to melt evenly.
  5. Once the sugar is melted it will caramelize fairly quickly. When it starts to smoke, but before it burns, turn off the heat and stir in the coffee. Be careful when you do this; wear oven mitts and don’t stand too close to the pan. The mixture will bubble and seize up a bit. If the caramel has seized up a bit, stir it gently until smoothed.
  6. Add the butter and salt and stir until melted. Then add both chocolates and stir until smooth. Once smooth, mix in the eggs, then the flour. Finally, stir in vanilla.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked tart shell. Bake 15-20 minutes, just until the filling starts to rise and crack at the edges but the center is still jiggly. Don’t over bake!
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing.

You can enjoy with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but it truly is delicious all on it’s own!

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

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Chicken dinner for the WIN

This recipe, which we sourced from Nigella Lawson, has made its way around the web a bit. You can find a version from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Martha makes a similar recipe with just two additional ingredients – lemon zest and fresh dill. It’s a tried and true recipe that is welcome to a little tinkering. And like Romeo and Juliet or Jay-Z and Beyonce, buttermilk and chicken are an illustrious couple, most famous of course for the wondrous results of frying buttermilk brined chicken. Buttermilk is such an amazing marinade because it not only imbues flavor, but its acidic composition also tenderizes the meat – double win!! As long as you can remember to whip together this super simple marinade the night before, this chicken recipe comes together real quick and yields flavorful, tender meat with salty, crispy skin. Enjoy with a green salad and some bread to sop up the chicken juices. You’ll feel like you’re seriously spoiling yourself for a weekday dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken bone-in thighs (or a mix of thighs, drumsticks, wings – important to have bone-in chicken, whatever you choose!)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS veggie oil (we used canola)
  • 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TBS sea salt
  • 2 TBS freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 2 cloves peeled and crushed garlic + garlic cloves with skin on for roasting (optional)

Directions:

  1. The night before, marinate yo chicken! Place chicken in a large freezer bag. Add buttermilk, 1/4 cup oil, salt, crushed garlic, rosemary, and honey. Seal bag securely, mix contents around, and store in your fridge. Chicken can be marinated for up to 2 days.
  2. Remove chicken from marinade and place on rack so excess can drip off. Try to let your chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, or an hour ideally. This will allow your chicken to dry off a bit and come to room temperature, which ensures even cooking and crispiness.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. We opted to cook our chicken in our cast iron skillet, but you can also cook on a tinfoil lined roasting pan (tinfoil makes for easy cleanup). Drizzle chicken with 2 TBS of oil. Sprinkle with a bit more sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Throw the couple cloves of garlic in the skillet as well, if you’d like (they turn soft and are great spread over a slice of bread). Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until when chicken is pierced the juices run clear.
  4. Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes. Then enjoy immediately!

Details: Serves 4-ish. Maybe we’re gluttons, but we have a hard time eating just a single chicken thigh per person.

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

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Classic goodness

Disappointingly, women today are still not respected, nonetheless celebrated. In this month of March when we celebrate Women’s History, it is important to pay tribute to the incredible women who shape and inspire us. Women who deserve recognition everyday, but some extra pomp and circumstance all March long. Marcella Hazan is one of those women. When reading about Marcella you come across many admiring quotes – famous chefs and food writers who credit Marcella for teaching them how to cook, care for, and love food. Interestingly, many of the chefs Marcella inspired were men. Marcella did begin cooking for traditional reasons – married in 1955 and living in New York she was first compelled to cook in order to”feed a young, hard-working husband.” Although her foray into cooking was more or less due to gender stereotypes, she quickly realized her skillfulness and wasted no time putting it to good work. Hazan went on to publish several cookbooks. Her first, The Classic Italian Cookbook, is legitimately the classic Italian cookbook. It is canonical. This March, Luke and I honored Marcella’s legacy by tackling her bolognese recipe.  We’d argue it’s the only bolognese recipe you’ll ever need. No need to cross reference with other cookbooks or websites, substitute one ingredient for another, or make many additions. Follow this recipe as is and you’ll have the perfect bolognese sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS butter + 1 TBS for tossing pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrot
  • 3/4 pound ground beef chuck (80% lean, 20% fat is best)
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • a tiny grating (approx. 1/8 tsp) fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cup canned whole tomatoes, cut up, with their juices (get good quality!)
  • 1 lb pasta (spaghetti or fettuccine)
  • freshly grated parm, for serving

Directions:

  1. Be prepared to spend the next 4 hours tending to your bolognese. Once it starts simmering it doesn’t take much work, but this sauce likes to be checked up on regularly.
  2. Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven and turn heat on medium. Cook until the onion has become translucent, about 5 minutes, and then add the carrots and celery.* Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Stir meat well, so that it crumbles, breaking up with a fork if necessary. Cook until the beef has lost its red color.
  4. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until milk has bubbled away completely. Add the freshly grated nutmeg and stir.
  5. Add the wine, and as with the milk, let it simmer until it has evaporated completely. Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble turn the heat all the way down. You want the sauce to cook at a very gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 3 hours, stirring from time to time. During this cooking process, you will likely find that the sauce loses quite a bit of liquid.  Be wary of this! You don’t want the meat to stick to the bottom of your pot so add 1/2 cup water at a time when the liquid supply is looking low.* At the end of the 3 hours though no water should be left. Also check taste as you go, adding more salt as necessary.
  6. Add a tablespoon of butter to the cooked pasta, and toss with the sauce. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parm.

The recipe above is verbatim Marcella Hazan bolognese. We did not want to disrespect the queen of Italian cooking in this post. We did make the following 2 minor adjustments that you can consider making as well –

  1. With the celery and carrots, we also added a couple cloves of garlic, minced.
  2. We created a mixture of tomato paste and warm water (1 TBS tomato paste to 2 cups warm water), stirring the tomato paste into the water so that it would dissolve. We added this mixture to the sauce when it was drying out. We ended up using all 2 cups of this mixture during the 3 hour simmer.

Details: Serves 4-6.