seeking comfort from arugula pesto

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When you’re under the weather {I’ve always wondered about this term and its origin. Could someone possibly be over the weather? I digress}, the only thing that’s not cumbersome is simple comfort food. For the past two days I’ve succumbed to the infectious plague that has become New York, and I’ve taken to my apartment, sustaining on green juices, tea and fresh pasta — in between chugs of DayQuil, naturally. Because, quite frankly, the idea of cooking anything complicated is inconceivable.

So I invite you to serve up this peppery version of the basil classic, and hope that I’ll be soaring over the weather come this weekend.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz fresh pasta (I oped for a tagliatelle, but you can use fettucini, linguine, etc)
3 oz washed + dried arugula leaves
1 large clove garlic
2 tbsp pecorino romano cheese
1 1/2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp of the reserve pasta water

DIRECTIONS
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Your pasta water should be briny, much like the ocean, but don’t overdue it as fresh pasta absorbs more salt than dried. I tend to put 1-2 tsp of salt into my water. While the water is coming to a boil, blitz the arugula, garlic, cheese, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper until it’s a thick, chunky paste and then stream in the olive oil until satiny-smooth. Scrape out the pesto and add to a large serving bowl.

Once the water has come to a boil, add in the pasta and cook to al dente, 2 minutes. Reserve 2 tsp of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to your pesto and mix to combine. Add in the pasta water to thicken the sauce.

This dish serves two, so dig in or reserve for lunch the next day!

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chocolate chip scones: a scone only a mother could love

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Make no mistake — these scones are ugly as sin but believe me when I say they were delicious. I’ve been battling this lately, the notion that all food photos have to be beautiful and awe-inspiring, sometimes unrealistically so. We’re drawn to the pretty and the perfect; our hearts covet the things that we see. We crave the idyll, we’re voyeurs who love to pore over photographs of the contents of someone’s home, closet, pantry or wallet. This is also why you’re seeing a slew of bloggers talk about “keeping it real” in 2013, how they want to show the boring, unseemly sides of their lives to give some color to the carefully-honed “reality” they architect in their online spaces.

Make no mistake — I’m a victim of this need for perfection just like anyone else. I held back posting this recipe for a month because every time I looked at the final scone shots I found myself shaking my head, thinking: This is too ugly for type. This is a scone only a mother could love. And the excuses piled on.

However, this morning I woke up and started thinking about the imperfect, and how that is so much more beautiful than the artificial stuff we see in movies and magazines. In the mess lies the passion. In the misshapen lies the devotion. Nothing is every worth it if there is no struggle, if it’s too easy, too pretty, so with that I hit the publish button and here you go.

Yummy, semi-frightful looking, scones.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Karen DeMasco’s The Craft of Baking
1 3/4 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cups plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp (85 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (84 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp Demerara sugar

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DIRECTIONS
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the butter. Put the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. Then beat the mixture on low speed until the butter is broken up into pebble-sized pieces, about 3 minutes.

Add the chocolate chips. With the mixer on low speed, add 1 cup of the cream and mix just until the dough comes together. Using your hands, knead the mixture in the bowl to bring the dough completely together.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 7-inch round, about 3/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 wedges (8 if you like bigger pieces), like pieces of pie.

Place the pieces on a baking sheet, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. While the scones are chilling preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brush the scones with the remaining 2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with the Demerara sugar. Bake the scones, rotating the baking sheet once, until the baking tray once, until they are golden on the edges and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The scones are best served the day they are made, but they will keep in a airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.

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get ready to weep: herb-gruyère biscuits

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Every holiday I make the Odyssean trek to Connecticut to spend time in a warm home surrounded by a vast forest. The drive from New Haven is a long one, and the road ahead is wrapped in a ticker-tape of trees that were once deciduous but are now covered in bone-white snow. This year my friend’s husband collected me from the train station, and as we passed the time in catch-up conversation, I slid further down in my seat. Taking comfort in watching my oldest and dearest friend’s husband drive.

I should tell you that I don’t like cars — they feel like metal coffins, and I’m always skittish when on the road. There’s not only you with your hands on the wheel and the road in front of you, but there’s all sorts of people, strangers really, to consider. So while my friend’s husband expertly navigated our way home, I found myself closing my eyes. Trying to forget the cars around me.

During the ride I did what I’m wont to do, which is ask after the food. We spoke of grilled fillets and chipotle sweet potatoes, and when he mentioned the biscuits, THE BISCUITS, I went weak in the knees. It should be noted that my friend Elizabeth makes the BEST. BISCUITS. EVER.

I mean, the BEST.

And after I managed to consume four in one sitting, I begged my friend for the recipe and she was kind enough to slip it into a package she sent a week later. So it’s with love and light that I honor Elizabeth and her kind husband by re-creating my true love. THE BISCUIT.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Food + Wine.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves
1 cup shredded Gruyère
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter—10 tablespoons cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled, 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Flaky salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425° and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. In a large shallow bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine salt. Add the chilled butter and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas. Add the chopped thyme and sage, and the Gruyère. Stir in the buttermilk just until the dough is moistened. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick disk.

Using a floured 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out biscuit rounds as closely together as possible. Gather the scraps and knead them together 2 or 3 times, then flatten the dough and stamp out more biscuit rounds. Pat the remaining scraps together and gently press them into a biscuit.

Transfer the biscuits to a large baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter. Lightly sprinkle the biscuits with a few grains of flaky salt and chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

Bake the biscuits for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let the biscuits cool slightly on the baking sheet before serving.

MAKE AHEAD The unbaked biscuits can be frozen: Freeze biscuits in a single layer and transfer to a resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Bake straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the cooking time.

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