a dinner for Marcella

the table is set

It was our turn to host supper club, but we hadn’t been sure what our theme would be. Then we heard the news of Marcella Hazan’s passing, and decided to have a dinner composed of her recipes to honor her work. I hope she would have been pleased. Continue reading

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Staple & fancy

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We happened to be in Seattle earlier this week for a consultation for my new tattoo (I’m so excited!) so we took ourselves out for a belated anniversary dinner. We had gone out with friends on the actual day, so it was fun to do something just the two of us. We decided to try the chef’s choice tasting menu at Staple & Fancy in Ballard.

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getting my bearings again

Sheesh, this has been a crazy month. It’s been so long since I’ve posted here I haven’t the slightest idea where to start. There was a trip to Orcas Island to scatter my grandparents’ ashes, immediately followed by a trip to Kansas City for a memorial service for my mother-in-law. A few great dinners with friends at which I took no pictures because it seemed too much like work, and a few meals cooked at home in between various outings. I definitely have some great stuff to post here but my brain doesn’t seem to working in a straight line (the 90 degree heat may have something to do with that). How about I start with our last supper club event?

Birch Bay

The theme was Tuscan family dinner. It was a lovely evening on Birch Bay, and we started with a bocce tournament, at which Jon and I stomped everyone until the very last game where we were soundly defeated. I have seldom met a sport better suited for playing while holding a glass of wine in one hand. The only downside of winning so many games is that we hardly had any opportunity to help eat the wonderful prosciutto and steamed artichokes that Jenise put out for antipasti. Continue reading

pasta with wine-braised sausage

gemelli with wine-braised sausage

One of the real perks of living in Ellensburg, as we did many years ago, was proximity to the town of Cle Elum, home of Glondo’s Sausages. Recently recovered from a serious bout of vegetarianism, we were ready to take advantage of Glondo’s wonderful products, and this recipe is what we invariably made when we were feeling festive. Now that we’re an inconvenient 140 miles from Glondo’s, we have to make do with the sausages from our local grocery, but the pasta is still very tasty.

ready to cook

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cooking class: evening in Tuscany

prepping

The day after I got back from the conference, we were scheduled to volunteer at Gretchen’s Cooking School. I was so exhausted I was afraid I wouldn’t make it through – fortunately, even though the class was by Peter Belknap, it wasn’t too much work to keep up with. He was doing Tuscany (each of his classes focuses on a different country), and the food was very straightforward and rustic. He didn’t dirty nearly as many dishes as he usually does! And I can absolutely guarantee that nobody left hungry.

tuna & beans

The first course was a salad of oil-packed tuna, cannellini beans and mixed vegetables, with a dressing of mustard, vinegar, mayonnaise and the oil from the tuna cans.

salad fixins Continue reading

fava bean puree with greens

fava beans

I finally got around to making something out of my most recently acquired Italian cookbook. Not farro, though (I need to restock my supply), but fava beans. An embarrassingly long time ago we picked up a bag of dried favas but had so far failed to use them in anything – I kept looking for good recipes but everything seemed to call for fresh beans, not dried. This recipe, though, is specifically for dried beans: a simple puree of cooked favas, blended with garlic and olive oil, and topped with sauteed greens. Apparently it’s a very traditional dish, and according to the book, Marcella Hazan has said this is what she would want for her last meal. Maybe it’s better when she makes it.

fava beans Continue reading

farro risotto with sage and orange

dinner

The way I decided to make this was typical: I had found a new (to me) cookbook at the local used bookstore, and bought it partly because it included a number of recipes for farro. I decided I would make one of the recipes this week, but as I was scanning them I was suddenly reminded of a dish in The Italian Country Table that I had been intrigued by. So I made that instead. I’m easily derailed when it comes to menu planning.

herbs and onions

I thought this was a cool recipe, pairing the sweet taste of farro with bright orange zest and fresh herbs, and chickpeas for added flavor and texture. It made a nice change from the cream and mushrooms often used in farro dishes. We had it alongside a roast chicken and a chunky beet salad (which went great with the orange in the farro).

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penne carbonara

penne carbonara

I can hardly believe it, but it’s true: I had never eaten pasta carbonara before this week. Shocking, I know. And I might not have gotten around to it, if I hadn’t seen this amazing post. Jennifer’s carbonara was full of delicious local eggs, plus she had some wonderful looking pork jowl to work with; mine was a little more subdued but still very successful.

the last two eggs

We had come home from a wine tasting at our local shop, and were feverishly trying to think what we could cook with what was on hand. We had two eggs left in the fridge, a fresh pack of Hempler’s bacon, some parmesan cheese in the freezer, and some random boxes of Barilla pasta – and I already had carbonara on the brain from the aforementioned blog post. It seemed worth a try.

bacon Continue reading

planning for leftovers

lasagna

Our freezer has gotten very low on emergency lunches, so it was clearly time to make a lasagna. Few things are as comforting on a cold day as being able to pull a container of lasagna out of the freezer, nuke it, pour a glass of wine, and have a hot, cheesy satisfying lunch. And to make that happen, of course, we have to have lasagna for dinner first. Oh, the sacrifices we make.

I make lasagna pretty much exactly the way my parents did when I was a kid (it was my favorite), except for the addition of no-boil lasagna noodles, which are God’s gift to casserole makers. Sometimes I’ll do a variation with pesto and white sauce, and I often add fresh spinach, but this particular one was just the basics: red sauce with meat and mushrooms, ricotta, mozzarella and noodles. End of recipe. I do not add egg, or cottage cheese – I feel very strongly about these things. That grainy ricotta texture is important here.

Oh – to go with our lasagna, we threw together a spontaneous salad of mixed spinach and lettuce greens and shaved fennel, with a lemon-mayonnaise dressing. It was FANTASTIC. If I ever figure out how I did it I’ll write the recipe down. Wow.

Now, back to the lasagna:

cooking hamburger Continue reading