pasta milano: savory, simple + delicious

IMG_4886IMG1231
Believe me when I say that this is one of the days where I don’t want to leave the house. Right now I’m content with streaming episodes of The Twilight Zone and preparing my lunch for the week. The benefit of an Odyssean work commute and an office park where one has to drive to the nearest Starbucks, is the need to bring your own lunch. This necessity prevents me from ordering a daily slew of garbage. This necessity makes it imperative that I potter about the kitchen on Sundays, filling plastic containers with fresh food, salads and a little sweet.

On deck this week is a little pasta milano. I have to say that out of all the cookbooks I’ve purchased while in Australia, hers has proven to be a star. There’s no real flash in this book, rather, Janelle Bloom offers a steady stream of meals that are simple to make and satisfy the palate. From fried chicken to protein-packed salads and quick fixes (free-form Bolognese pie and Turkish pockets stuffed with spinach and feta), I’m excited to cook my way through the book and share my finds with you.

So this week you’ll find me munching on pasta, sipping on my green smoothies, and savoring homemade cookies.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Janelle Bloom’s Fast Fresh & Fabulous, with significant modifications*
500g (1 lb, 4 links) chorizo
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken (or beef) stock
400g (1lb) pasta
1/4 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
50g pecorino romano cheese (1/2 cup), grated

*Cook’s Notes: The recipe called for an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream, which I eliminated. I also dialed up the shallots and chili flakes and used homemade tomato sauce I had on hand. I also used chorizo sausage instead of Italian sweet sausage.

DIRECTIONS
Using a sharp knife, remove the sausages from their casings. Roughly chop the sausage meat and set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan (or a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat. Add the shallots, with a touch of salt, and allow them to cook until lightly golden (3-5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to high, and add the sausage meat to the pan, cooking the meat for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Stir in the tomato sauce and stock. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. While the meat is cooking, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and return to the saucepan.

Combine the mascarpone and parsley and stir into the meat sauce. Add the pasta and pecorino cheese to the meat sauce and stir over heat until well combined. Season with salt, pepper and serve.

Untitled
IMG_4888IMG1231

on the comeback tour: pasta with chorizo

IMG_2618IMG123
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.

Untitled

seeking comfort from arugula pesto

IMG_8332
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!

IMG_8338
IMG_8324

table for one: squash + kale salad, sausage and fried sage pasta

IMG_6270
To be Silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glitter, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless.To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

I like being alone. I crave the quiet, the still and the noiseless, and while people who think they know me find themselves shocked by this, I can only say this: you don’t really know me. As an itinerant teenager in Long Island, who skirted the edges of things, who never quite fit in, I spent evenings and weekends taking buses to other parts of the North Shore. There was never really an itinerary, it was just something to do. It was a temporary escape to feel my body in motion and to be quiet and calm while frenzy surrounded me. I memorized bus routes and collected change. Walked through expansive malls that stood under a halo of fluorescent lights and kicked leaves by creeks and watched small boats cleave through the water from a harbor. Always I arrived home in the gloaming, when the evening closed in on us and the sky was an actinic blue. Back then our neighbors blasted Led Zeppelin and burned leaves in garbage cans. All I wanted to do was sit in the middle of the street, alone, witness to the passersby shivering in anoraks, watching flames lick metal.

It’s strange to think that I live in a culture that sometimes demonizes the art of being alone. Many equate alone to loneliness. Others take pity on the single-serving dinner and the chair left bare. However, sometimes, there’s nothing I need more.

After two weeks of intensive meetings, plane travel and days of talking, smiling, talking and more talking, I cancelled my Thanksgiving plans because there was nothing that made me cry out more than having to endure another day of talking. I wanted to give my vocal cords a break. I wanted a clear mind to think. A body to rest. So I can’t even tell you how much I’m enjoying my Thanksgiving, which has amounted to a spin class, a movie and batches of cookies and stalks of kale.

Whether your’re surrounded by your beloveds or spending some time in solitude, I wish you clarity and much, much light.

IMG_6280

INGREDIENTS
For the salad
8oz Tuscan (or Lacinato) kale, chopped into thin ribbons
16oz butternut squash, peeled and chopped into fat cubes
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
1/3 cup dried cherries
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
Optional: 2oz soft goat cheese, crumbled

For the pasta
16oz whole wheat fettucini (or linguine)
8oz ground sweet sausage
1 tbsp chopped sage leaves
4oz Tuscan (or Lacinato) kale, chopped into thin ribbons
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4oz truffle-infused cheese (you can also use goat cheese or thick chunks of parmesan — either would work well)
up to 1/4 cup reserve pasta water

DIRECTIONS
For the salad: Pre-heat the oven to 400F. On a cookie sheet lined with tin foil or parchment paper, spread out the squash and drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure that all the squash cubes are coated, slick and glossy. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender and slightly char. Set side to cool.

Cut along the vein on each kale leaf, discarded the vein when you’re done. Your left with leaflets of kale. Bunch all of them and fold them over and cut small ribbons with a sharp knife. Add the leaves to a bowl. Brief parenthetical: some folks can’t stand raw kale, however, I love it and find that it’s a crisp juxtaposition to the squash and cherries. If you’re the sort that wants a little massaging, add olive oil to your palms and massage each leaf with a little sea salt. This will break down the fibers and deliver a slightly wilted, less bitter green.

In a small skillet, toast your pistachios until their aromatic and slightly browned (2-3 minutes). Set nuts aside. Cut your slightly-cooled squash into mini-cubes, and in a large bowl toss the squash, kale, toasted nuts and cherries. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and add cheese if you prefer. Add salt/pepper, if necessary.

For the pasta: In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Nigella Lawson once said that pasta water should resemble the Mediterranean and I believe her. Once your water boils, add your noodles and stir a bit ensuring that none of them sticks to one another. Back in the day someone tried to sell me on the olive oil trick in water. It didn’t work, and all I ended up doing was wasting expensive oil. If you don’t want your noodles to stick, stir them to separate.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of oil In a large saucepan and add your sausage and sage. Stir until the sausage is brown, slightly charred and set aside. Drain your pasta, however, keep a little reserve water just in case your dish is a bit dry. Add your pasta to the cooked sausage and stir so the noodles are coated and slick. Add in the cheese and stir to combine.

Cut along the vein on each kale leaf, discarded the vein when you’re done. Your left with leaflets of kale. Bunch all of them and fold them over and cut small ribbons with a sharp knife. Add the leaves to the bottom of a large bowl.

Tumble in the pasta, sausage and cheese mixture and stir to combine. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and reserve water, if necessary. Season with salt, pepper. Serve hot!

IMG_6273
IMG_62932