Italian Archive

Monday, February 23, 2015

spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs

spaghetti pangrattato with crispy eggs

Several years ago, because we didn’t have a kid yet, didn’t know about things like school break schedules and figured midway through February was as good of a time to escape the snow as any, we decided to get away to someplace warm and winter-free during Presidents’ Day week. We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a beach resort that had to have easily been 75% children, and the kind that were at that time my worst nightmare of what kids could be [insert yours here, then multiply it as far as you can see] and we decided to both never have kids and never ever go away on Presidents’ Week again.

what you'll need, pecorino optional
pecorino, pangrattato, capers, parsley

Flash forward seven or so years and last week we went to probably one of the most kid-centric, kid-mobbed resorts* one can go to on the most kid-centric and kid-mobbed week of the year and it was the best thing, ever. Previous to last week, I wouldn’t say we’ve exactly mastered the art of family vacations. Sure, we always have fun together but it often either feels like we’re either someplace exciting for adults but less so for little kid, or someplace awesome for a little kid but it feels more like this for the adults. This may not be for everyone, but at least for now, the resolution turned out to be a place where us grownups could lay on the beach, reading books, napping, and being total slackers for most of the day while the kid attended a day camp with everything from pony rides to water slides, trapeze school and circus training and also a pirate-themed treasure hunt for … underwear which if you’ve ever been around 4 and 5 year-olds, know was the greatest. We’d retrieve our kid, sticky with ice cream, chocolate pastries and sugar cereals from his mid-afternoon goûter and then play on the beach or in the pool for a couple hours before dinner, stories, bed and everybody won. Everyone had an awesome vacation. Thank goodness we’re not doing anything in the coming months that would upset the chances of repeating this bliss next year!

spaghetti time

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Monday, June 2, 2014

nancy’s chopped salad

nancys chopped salad

When it comes to meal salads, I feel pretty much everything you need to know is summed up by one of my favorite commercials of all time, which assures you that no matter what’s in your bowl (deep-fried taco shell, ground beef, guacamole, sour cream and cheese), as long as it vaguely resembles a salad, it must be good for you. [“Is it healthy? Of course it is! It’s a salad, isn’t it?”]

what you'll need
chopping garlic, oregano and salt

I bring it up today because we’ve fallen madly in love with a salad that I’m not sure we’re eating for any of the earnest reasons that one usually eats a salad — a desire for leafy greens, fresh vegetables or to be enviable in a swimsuit. Nope, I’m pretty sure this is the best salad ever because it tastes exactly like an Italian sub, minus that all-too-frequently lackluster bread. Which totally makes it healthy.

whisky, whisky

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

fresh spinach pasta

fresh spinach pasta

I had the strangest weekend. My husband went to New Orleans for a bachelor party and my in-laws insisted upon watching my son for one of the nights he was away. I was all set to argue that I probably could handle a single potty-trained, getting-himself-dressed, occasionally listening almost-5 year-old for all of 48 hours but when I opened my mouth the only words that came out were, “Thank you! What a fantastic idea!”

on my coffee table this weekend
baby spinach leaves

All of a sudden, I was flying completely solo for the first time in half a decade and I had no idea what to do with myself. Would I finally clean the apartment? Would I have a giant party? Would I go away by myself for the night, just because I could? Would I watch two matinees in a row and eat popcorn and Reese’s pieces for dinner? Why had I not been planning for this day my all five years I’d had to think about it; I bet when Jacob was 8 months old and hadn’t slept through the night for any of them, I had a crystal-clear idea of where I’d run if given the chance. (Spoiler: Back to bed. Or Paris! Or both!) But that was then and this was Saturday. So, I went for a haircut. I took a walk. I ducked into tiny bookstores and bought new things for everyone to read. With friends, I went for manicures and pedicures, ordered cava and tapas, and stuffed wedding invitations. I slept in! I got a massage with a gift certificate I received over 3 years ago! I finished the book I was reading and started a new one! I realize this is probably the dullest story ever told, but I honestly couldn’t believe the lap of limitless luxury my life had become. I can’t believe there are people that live like this every single day; I can’t believe I was once one of them. This is probably how having kids turns you into one of those fuddy-duddies you remember your parents being.

wilted spinach

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Monday, January 6, 2014

parmesan broth with kale and white beans

parmesan broth with kale and white beans

This soup is the very best thing I ate in December, which is saying a lot for a month that involved the purchase of at least 4 pounds of butter. And it didn’t involve any of them. I know, I know — that’s crazy talk.

cheese rinds by the pound
smash some garlic

We had a last-minute dinner party in December, last minute enough that I basically ran to the store that morning and bought everything then cooked straight through until dinner. This is not my style. I’m a dinner party planner; rushing makes my skin crawl. But if there could be an upside to it, it would be that by planning the morning-of, necessary adjustments could be made due to the facts that 1. It was snowing very hard outside, thus, soup was in order. 2. A vegetarian friend (that’s not so strict that cheese is off the menu) was able to make so my beloved chicken stock was out for a base, but I wanted something equally magnanimous.

what you'll need

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Monday, November 4, 2013

spinach and egg pizzette

spinach and egg pizzette

This, this mash-, roast-, horseradish-, bangers-, crisps-, and goose fat-free, is one of my favorite things I ate while I was in the UK, and it’s not even British. Technically speaking, it was from a Venetian small plates restaurant, although I came to associate meals with generous helpings of gorgeously cooked spinach with the UK, as it appeared, to my delight, on so many plates. I had spinach tangled with a duck breast at a gastropub in what felt like the middle of nowhere, spinach in small tufts on another pizza (this one alongside a perfect pint) my first jet-lagged night in town, and a perfect amount of spinach at a pub on a Sunday afternoon, kissed with the horseradish sauce that had been ladled, to my glee, over my roast, but this was my favorite.

wilting the spinach
wilted spinach, to drain and squeeze

Here, spinach that has been wilted and squeezed, is re-plumped, so to speak, with creme fraiche, parmesan, salt and pepper, and is generously spread over a tiny pizza. An egg centers on this pile (and sometimes around it, at least in my kitchen) and the whole mess is baked together until the edges of the pizzette are brown, the spinach is tender, with a slight gratin-like effect, and the egg is white at the edges and just-runny-enough in the center and I think it might be my perfect meal. I would have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner almost any day of the week (also in the rain, on a train, on a boat, with a shark…) and now that I’ve discovered that glorious late-season spinach still exists at markets around here, I might just make it happen.

squeezed fistfuls of spinach

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