Month: November 2010

Nick’s Rigatoni

One of Nick’s favorite things to cook is red sauce.  Whenever we go out to eat and he orders steak, his first thought is “leftover steak for red sauce.”  I pretty much know from that moment on what we’re having for dinner on Sunday.  Then his love affair begins.  The Godfather goes on the TV and I smell garlic clouds drifting from the kitchen.  I must note that I am not allowed in the kitchen when this process is going on–as I, ah hem, tend to push my input whether it was asked for or not.  So I get to sit back and wait for the lovely results.  I have to say that every batch of red sauce he makes is different–but its always so delicious, so tummy warming, and feels extra special, because I know it was made with love.  Here you have it–Nick’s Rigatoni.  I think this was his best batch yet.  The sauce was so rich–the wine really kicked it to another level.  There was also this smoky taste to it, which …

Escarole, Sunchoke, Marcona Almond Salad

One of my favorite Fall salads is the Escarole Salad served at Otto in New York City.  I used to live walking distance from Otto, which meant lots of delivery.  But now that I live farther away–and out of their delivery range–I decided to try to recreate this salad.  Almost all of the ingredients were obvious: escarole, marcona almonds, and sunchokes.  However I was clueless (and remain so) about what kind of cheese they sprinkle throughout and what the dressing is composed of.  So here I have made my best attempt to recreate this delicious salad, from ingredients I had on hand. First a note about sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes.  Funny enough, they are neither artichokes or grown in Jerusalem.  Their outside is knobby and potato-skin like.  While the inside flesh is firm and similar to a potato/jicama consistency.  They can take some funny shapes.  For the salad they are peeled, resulting in oval knobs.  Once I peel them, I always add them to a lemon water bath (2 tablespoons of lemon juice + 1 …

Split Pea Soup

This is a soup I’ve made every year since I moved to New York.  I don’t know if its the chill in the air that calls me to make it or the autumn craving for earthy goodness, but either way, this soup has been a wonderful standby.  I like to make a big pot, spooning individual servings into my Tupperware for lunch all week and then freezing the rest.  This version is made with ham hocks (vs. bacon as you often see,) which gives it all of its character.  I suppose you could try it without the ham hocks, but don’t yell at me if it doesn’t wow you. The process for making this soup couldn’t be simpler.  In some butter in a large pot, I added the chopped celery, carrot, and onion until softened. Next I placed the ham hocks on their vegetable bed and added the marjoram.  A quick minute in the pot, and then I added the dried split peas and water.  Yes, water.  Not chicken or vegetable stock.  Trust me: the …

White Bean, Bacon, and Pork Soup with Thyme

  When life gives you leftover pork chops, make this wonderfully silky and rich soup.  I have actually made this soup twice: once with the addition of leftover pork chops and once with the recipe as is (except without carrots as I didn’t have any on hand.)  Both had wonderful results.  But the addition of leftover pork chops (or any leftover pork you have) adds another dimension of flavor and umph.  The soup becomes a meal in itself.  I ended up topping each bowl of soup with some grated parmesan which added even more richness and bite.  Super delicious. I started by soaking the beans overnight.  Please don’t skip this step and substitute canned beans.  Here’s why.  When you cook with dried beans that have been soaked, they still have a lot of firmness to them.  As they cook in the soup and soften, they release their starch–which thickens the soup. After chopping thick bacon into lardons, I placed them in a lightly olive oiled cast iron pot.  Once browned, I removed the bacon and …