on the comeback tour: pasta with chorizo

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In economics and finance, arbitrage /ˈɑrbɨtrɑːʒ/ is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.

This morning I woke wondering what my life would have been had I remained in banking. Would I have secured a very elegant apartment with walls festooned with the right paintings? Would I have my gabardine suits tailored, and would my only priority be how much money I made? Would I be married and as thin as I was all those years back — a wisp of a thing, so thin that people whispered, had begun to worry. Had wondered why I spent my days drinking without a plate in sight. Would I break my father’s heart because the one thing he asked me to do — don’t ever let me see you drunk — is the one thing I would continually do?

Would I be the sort of person who is what she goes after?

Years ago, I remember standing on the edge of Park Avenue watching two buildings tumble to the ground. I’d long since left corporate finance, and I thought about what my life would have been had I push through a set of revolving doors, swiped my card, adjusting my skirt and shot up forty-two floors from the ground. Had I remained at Morgan Stanley, would have I been the woman I am now, privileged to type these words from the comfort of a home that took so long to build. A home missing one cat, but slowly, slowly, ready for something more.

Seeing my father this weekend reminded me of the life that I need to be living. This year I made a tremendous leap of faith — I walked away from being uncomfortably comfortable — in search of something other. A life of my own making and design. A life where I can book a trip to Fiji while spending the days prior with projections, marketing plans, and organizational roadmaps. Sixteen years of slouching through my days, doing what everyone before had done, but better, and now there’s all this uncertainty. There’s all this quiet.

My father reminded me that sorrow and uncertainty are the things that one needs to live through. I need to wake up, create a routine, write, build, break, love, hurt, dream, cry, leap, fly, shoulder, utter.

I’m crawling my way out of the dark, and here is the light: silver, gleaming and white. This is me, trying to architect balance. Trying to find something between the collision of two worlds.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit, slightly modified
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small shallots, chopped
3/4 lb. fresh Mexican chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
12 oz small dried pasta
Kosher salt, cracked pepper to taste
Finely grated pecorino romano cheese + lemon zest for serving

DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo; cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes.

Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15–20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.

Serve pasta topped with parsley, if using, pecorino romano, and lemon zest. Salt + pepper, to taste.

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fig + plum compote pavlova

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After a long weekend of relentless typing: book revisions, cookbook reviews, blog posts and social media marketing plans, all I want to do is lay supine on the couch and dip a cold spoon into a bowl of something sweet. Right now, this is where you’ll find me — thick in the business of sugar consumption. Thrilled to be delivering against a deadline. Grateful for creating ideas and hatching plans for the things I believe in, for the people I respect and love.

INGREDIENTS
For the fig + plum compote: Recipe courtesy of Joanne Chang’s Flour, Too
3 ripe black or red plums
10 or 12 ripe figs
1 cup plum wine*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

For the meringues: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Desserts
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup cane sugar, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Notes in the Margins: Finding plum wine was an intense, insane journey. Quite frankly, I don’t have the patience to troll Japanese speciality shops for an ingredient. I used a sweet white wine (Riesling) instead, but I can also imagine you’d do just as well with a deep, fruity red with cherry bark.

DIRECTIONS
For the compote: Halve and pit the plums, and cut them into slices ¼ inch thick. Trim the stem off each fig and quarter the figs lengthwise. Put the fruit in a heatproof medium bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, granulated sugar, and salt and heat over high heat just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the syrup thickens slightly. Pour the syrup over the plums and figs and set aside for at least 3 hours, or until cool. (The compote can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before using.)

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For the meringues: Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375F degrees. Trace six 2 1/2-inch diameter circles on parchment paper, spacing apart about 2 inches. Invert paper onto baking sheet. In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form, about 3 minutes. Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Gradually beat sugar-cornstarch mixture into meringue batter, continue beating until very stiff, about 2 minutes. Beat in vinegar for 1 minute. Total beating time should be around 10 minutes. Divide meringues equally among circles, mounding and filling the rounds completely.

Bake meringues for 30 minutes. Turn oven off and keep meringues inside with the door closed for another 30 minutes. Open door slightly and let meringues cool in oven until almost completely dry in center, about 30 minutes longer. Serve with the compote immediately, or store separately in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Assembling the pavlova: Once the meringues have cooled completely, dollop a generous portion of the compote on top of each, making sure you include some of the delicious syrup. Many pavlovas are topped with a generous heap of whipped cream — not my scene. I already find meringues a bit sweet, so adding sugary cream would send me heart racing. If you love your cream, whip it up and add it. Otherwise, this is perfect, as is. Come to think of it, I think this pav would be fabulous crumbled up with the fruit and some Greek yoghurt. WHOA.

GAME OVER.

the road to delicious: parsley + chive pesto

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Those who know me well know of my passion for pesto. I’ve blitzed every green you could potentially imagine, and only once did I feel as if I created an enormous failure (I don’t care what the cookbooks or slick bloggers say, sage pesto is catastrophic unless you blend it heavily with a lighter leaf like basil, spinach of flat-leaf kale to cut the soapiness). However, when I opened up Bon Appetit‘s summer issue, I couldn’t resist the allure of the two greens I haven’t conquered: parsley + chives.

On my way home from the market, I wondered why beef got relegated to the red sauce lot — rarely do I ever see a sirloin paired with the verdant sauce, and I never understood why. Are we tied to silly food rules that dictate white wine must always pair with fish and rosemary must always complement lamb? So I ran back to the market, scored some beef, and set out for a dish that would be insanely delicious.

Suffice it to say, I’m addicted to the unexpected juxtaposition of the sharp chives with the almost sweet and delicate parsley. The pesto was savorier than those I normally make, and it stood up well against the grilled beef, lending a depth of flavor that I have yet to experience. If I can implore you to do one thing this summer, it’s this: eat beef with pesto. You won’t regret it.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, with slight modifications
1 pound fresh fettucini or linguine pasta
1/2 cup unsalted, roasted almonds
4 cups (packed) fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper + sea salt, to taste
1 lb ground sirloin + 2 tsp of olive oil for the pan

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DIRECTIONS
In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, beef and salt + pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes.

While the beef is cooking, blitz the pesto ingredients (almonds, parsley, chives, olive oil and cheese) in a food processor (or you can opt for the mortar + pestle method) until smooth + creamy. I’ll add the salt/pepper to taste after all the ingredients have been incorporated.

Once the beef is done, set aside. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Toss pasta and pesto in a large bowl, adding pasta cooking liquid by 1/4-cupfuls until saucy. Add in the beef. Season with salt and pepper.

burrata, arugula + edamame salad

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Words cannot express how much I LOVED this salad. Riding into the city, I flipped through the latest issue of Bon Appetit, and I felt the rapture coming. The original recipe calls for sugar snap peas, but I opted to use protein-packed edamame instead. The salad is light, flavorful and perfect with chunks of a fresh baguette.

After a breakfast of blueberry pancakes with my sweet friend Alex, believe me when I say that this would make for a very virtuous, albeit delicious, follow-up. Although I should be clear: I do not regret the BLUEBERRY PANCAKES WITH ROSEMARY SAUSAGE.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, and modified slightly.
Serves 4
8 ounces shelled, cooked + cooled edamame (I use frozen edamame, cook for 4 minutes, drain + rinse with cool water)
4 cups arugula, thick stems trimmed
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves plus more for serving
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
1 pound burrata or fresh buffalo mozzarella

DIRECTIONS
Combine cooked and rinsed edamame, arugula, 1/4 cup basil, and 1/4 cup mint in a large bowl. Add oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and toss to coat. Season salad with salt and more lemon juice, if desired.
Tear open balls of burrata (if using buffalo mozzarella, slice 1/2-inch thick) and arrange on a platter. Top with salad and more basil and mint.

love.life.eat of the week

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love.: It’s no secret that I’m mad for the color blue. In blue we believe, in blue we trust. When I organized my closet this year I was shocked to find that nearly every item I owned was in some shade of this magnificent hue. So it’s no surprise that my covets this week (as I’m on a deep shopping hiatus) are beautifully blue. From Erikson Beamon’s Duchess Earrings, which are rather grand and made for royalty (too bad my ears aren’t pierced) to Shop Terrain’s Textured Burlap Tray (imagine biscuits piled high!) to this rustic soapstone Cheese Slate Board, to this darling homemade Natural Linen Napkin set I discovered on Etsy (not blue, but certainly in the dreamy aquatic territory), part of me can mentally transport myself to the sleepy shores of Biarritz even while I’m bundled up for a New York winter.

Artists + bloggers I’m loving right. this. moment.: Not*Otherwise (she preaches the truth), Nicole Franzen (her photographs are transformative) and Elephantine (her prose is quite lovely).

life.: I promise you (and myself) that this is the year where I will break ranks. And although that sounds cryptic, intentionally so, I’ve been surprised by just how much I love my French classes at the French Institute Alliance Française. Every Saturday, myself and 12 other hopefuls watch movies, play games and learn how to think in a new language. For those three hours I joke with new friends, get dramatic with vowel pronunciations, while proclaiming, Oh, we’re so French, while we’re clearly not. But for that small pocket of time I can immerse in a world that is so far removed from the one I knew and closer to the one I will inevitably know. And I also have access to the FIFA library, cultural programs and a whole new suite of possibilities, gratis! In grade school I switched out of French class because it was all too complicated, it wasn’t the language we spoke in the streets, and I’m glad to have returned to new ways to think of words. Change doesn’t happen until you leap out of your comfort zone, so here’s me, reaching for sky.

eat.: This week I’m craving a mix of the very virtuous and the very naughty. Last night I read a feature of the designer Kelly Wearstler in Bon Appetit magazine, and I was shocked that my favorite mag would publish a piece about a woman who basically starves herself during the day and has one meal at night. PSA, PEOPLE: JUICING IS SOCIALLY-ACCEPTABLE STARVATION, AND IT’S NOT OKAY. It’s okay to eat, folks — everything in moderation. So if you’re feeling the need to feast on kale check out this yummy Crunchy Kale Salad made with nuts, avocado and tahini. Surprise your taste buds with the melange of flavor in this protein-packed Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Harissa recipe. And find morning comfort in this Barley Porridge with Maple-Glazed Almonds and Blood Orange.

Or perhaps you want to indulge in flights of almond fancy with this etherial Almond Bread Pudding or these Salted Caramel Banoffee Éclairs, or these Lemon Seed Poppy Rolls by one of my favorite foodies.

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best laid plans come undone: bon appetit’s peanut butter honeycomb pie

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Believe me when I say that I had the best intentions. Inspired by @SweetRevenge’s decadent peanut butter cake cupcake (pictured below), I sought to fix a pie that would harken back to one’s childhood — if your childhood was replete with honey cracked cookies and gobs of peanut butter. All was well with the world of peanut butter custard — the luscious, enveloping vanilla bean that imbued the pie with a fragrant depth of flavor — until I overfilled the pie.

This should have been a warning. One should always see a bit of crust peeking out amidst the cream. But a woman waved her hand away, said, DON’T STRESS OUT, FELICIA, ETC, ETC.

Maybe I should have stressed out.

Then there was the situation involving the honeycomb. Friends who know me well know that I’m a Type-A fiend who follows every direction to the letter. So imagine my surprise when my honeycomb dried into a foamy mush. Since one could not plop mush over lush cream, I ran out to the store for options. Chocolate cookies seemed to do the trick. Who would deny the crunch of chocolate, melted ganache, and peanuts on top of a cloud of cream?

My pie should have looked like the below:

However, it came out like the above. Let’s call a spade a spade. MY PIE IS UGLY. HOMELY. IT IS THE CHANGELING OF PIE. I have acknowledged its inferior state, but still was determined to plunge my fork in. And can I say it was DELICIOUS? The custard was feathery-light and unctuous and the cookies provided that necessary crunch? So although my version is a far, woeful cry from the ideal, the flavors are blowing my mind. This is a pie worth fixing.

ASSUAGE ME, FEARLESS READERS. Have you ever fixed a recipe that looked horrifying, but was delicious?

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted directly from Bon Appetit
Crust
9 graham crackers, coarsely crushed
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted

Filling
8 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Topping
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Honeycomb (click for recipe)
1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts

DIRECTIONS
Crust
Preheat oven to 325°. Finely grind graham crackers, sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor.Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl. Add butter and stir to blend. Use bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of 9″ glass or metal pie pan.Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Filling
Mix yolks and 6 Tbsp. sugar in the bowl of a stand mixers fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat at high speed until ribbons form, stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.

Combine milk and remaining 6 Tbsp. sugar in a large saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove bean. With mixer running, gradually add hot milk mixture to yolk mixture. Scrape mixture back into pan. Clean bowl. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat; whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Return custard to mixing bowl, beat on high speed until cool, about 4 minutes. Mix in butter on Tbsp. at a time. Add peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt; beat to blend. Scrape filling into cooled crust; smooth top. Chill until set, 2-3 hours.

Topping
Stir chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Drizzle some of the chocolate glaze over the peanut butter filling, making a circle in the middle of the pie and leaving a 1″-2″ plain border. Pile pieces of honeycomb and salted peanuts on top, then drizzle remaining chocolate glaze over.

sweet revenge cupcake
peanut butter pie
peanut butter pie
sweet revenge cupcake
sweet revenge cupcake