Archives for category: Recipes

Lunch today: gnocchi with braised nettles and pork, spaghetti with anchovies and tomato and breadcrumbs, and garganelli with olives and mushrooms. And paté. And my sweet parent-friend-who-I’ve-made-my-friend (and perhaps most devoted AC follower) JJ. We met for lunch at the tiny pasta mecca I’ve been reading about, Il Corvo, a fresh pasta project housed in a gelato shop. Procopio Gelateria by sunny day, Il Corvo by rainy afternoon. Home of just three fresh pasta dishes a day, made by hand each morning, devoured by dedicated masses by 2 or 3. (Il Corvo = The Crow, as Joan- “I speak enough Italian to ask the waitress for a table far away from the loud smoking Germans” -Jones, told me wisely … though I guess a person clever-er than I could’ve figured it out from giant crow on the sign.)

We debated what to order at the counter, and were pretty much instantly convinced by the three-man restaurant team to go ahead, why not!, order all three! Plus a little paté, just in cases. First, the paté. Perhaps the best paté ever. Also, I was starving and I have been making a good faith effort to eat healthy junk all week. Aka, kale and barley instead of grilled cheese dunked in Sriracha and a couple of dark chocolate peanut butter cups on the side. So white bread and pig, yes please. (Also, I went to a pig…erm…slaughter demo this weekend, and I’ve been weirdly…erm…craving pork. More on that soon.)

Shortly after the pate, three plates slid across the counter and a nod came our way. It’s your turn for pasta bliss, the pasta man with the awesomely rockabilly hair said with his look. Here is some logic for ya: pasta is good, fresh pasta is better, cold days makes you want pasta. All this came together right here for us real, real nicely. The spaghetti: clearly so reliant on olive oil, but somehow light too. Just fishy enough, brightened with just enough parsley. Given texture with breadcrumbs. Cooked just enough, so the pasta held that stiff fresh pasta bite-back.

The garganelli: (Do you know what that is? We did not. It is squares of pasta with ridges on one side rolled into tubes. The ridges hold the sauce, the tubes hold more sauce. Behold, the genius of Italian-ism) with slices of the most gigantic black olives I’ve ever seen or even imagined, with thinly sliced mushrooms (just enough mushroms to give it that good mushroom taste, which I love, but not enough that you could feel the mushroom texture, which I hate) in a slightly tangy tomato sauce. Just enough sauce too, that every pasta piece was perfect, and there was only tablespoons of precious flavor left at the end for bread-sopping.

Then, friends, the gnocchi. Tiny, tender, sweet. The babies of the pasta community, cuddly and lovable. With once-stinging nettles braised into yummy submission and salty pork shredded to goodness, little bits of crispy roastedness remaining. We loved it all. Beauty. And always so lovely to be with someone from home when you’re away from home. A sweet piece of Idaho (albeit a Canadian piece) here in rainland.

And, you know, pasta. The whole meal was perfect in its just-enough-ness, I’m realizing. Three pastas for two people would be crazy talk at pretty much any other Italian restaurant. Here, no. Go ahead and order the whole menu. You will leave warm and happily full, not stuffed with starch, just cozied with carbs. And the food itself, the just-enough-ness. Just enough perfectly trimmed little leaves of parsley. Just enough sauce, just enough pasta. Just so. And the place itself, just hidden enough that it feels special and secret. Yes. I love Il Corvo. And it is just a mere five minutes from my office. The healthy kick is over.

Made some blueberry cornmeal pancakes for breakfast. Unlike any pancake I’ve ever had. More like a quick-cooking, flat, dense, cornbread biscuit. Not in a bad way. Just like something a homesteading family would have made in an old oily skillet over a fire in their tiny cabin in rural Idaho in the early 1900’s. Would’ve been not so good without the blueberries. (And strawberries.) Plus lots of butter, syrup, and even a little peanut butter.

The aftermath.

P.S. Happy Father’s Day Papi!

FRENCH TOAST. Gawd, I love french toast. I would eat it all day. I read about savory french toast, and I almost did it, but my maple-love… I just couldn’t. But… it was for lunch. So I turned it into a french toast PB&J (dipped in syrup, clearly.) Hot mama! Good! Almost as good as cold-leftover-pancake-PB&J. THAT is some good stuff. Those two pancakes no one could stuff down, but don’t really deserve a fridge spot? About 1 o’clock… blam. PB&J pancakes. (French toast memories: 1. French Toast Wednesdays. Pop used to make french toast every wednesday morning. And there was some secret ingredient that was finally revealed to me, and now I’ve forgotten it. Fool! 2. My dear, lovely, pixie-hair-cutted, tiny, Australian friend Genia, aka “G,” and I were at her house long ago as tiny chaps, and we were both jonesing hard fore some f. toast, but were bread-less. So we cut off the tops and bottoms of hamburger buns and sallied forth. G will be surprised that I remember this–I forget everything–while she has a memory bank the size of Antarctica. It’s seriously impressive, she will remember your cute shoes from the first day of seventh grade and compliment you seven years later. And thus concludes Nostalgia Hour.)

CHICKPEAS. Are good. Are they beans? I don’t want to google it and ruin the intrigue. The rockin’ blogger Bitchin’ Camero (fo’ reals, that’s her blog. How rad!?) makes tons and tons of tasty tasty things. She is from whence roasted squash and chorizo pasta came. Anyway. Chickpea and bread soup! (I just realized why I love chickpeas so much. Just say the name a couple times. It’s so cute.) Pan roasted chickpeas (LOUD, popping about the pan like rowdy little guys.) and beef stock and bread. With cheese on top, under the broiler a la French onion soup. Mm so cozy and warm and soupy and salty and just good. And today I made a chickpea salad for lunch: chickpeas, tuna, celery, onions, and the summery little Mexican; cilantro. Ate it on a dock, lackadaisically gazing out at lake and mountains, chatting with SD.

LA BREA. La Brea, who are you? You producer of good bread for the masses? Are you Jesus? La Brea bread; it’s in the grocery store, its probably on your plate at restaurants, it’s certainly in your heart and stomach. The La Brea baguette is just. PERFECT. You can get them at the grocery store, warm it up in the oven, and fill your world with joy. Currently the bread drawer holds a loaf (…half a loaf) of rosemary olive oil crusty bread. It was toast with cream cheese (um… and butter…) late last night as I tried to mash together a paper on a Buddhist parable. (Summer school. Reading “The Inferno” and “What The Buddha Taught” at the same time can really squash one’s brain about.) This morning it was a companion to my daily yogurt. Tonight it was garlic bread. (Alongside grilled chicken and pea-radish-mozzarella salad.)

MAMA VINAIGRETTE. (that’s spelled weird…) My mom is Salad Queen. (Green, pasta, potato, and otherwise.) For lunches she somehow cobbles together the crisper drawer into the best salads on the whole earth. And for dinners she whips out these far-beyond run-of-the-mill salads full of tasty little morsels. You know when salads have too much lettuce and not enough “junk”? Mom’s got the perfect ratio. The Golden Mean of salads. And she always makes her own vinaigrette (Wow ok, spell checker says thats how it’s spelled, I don’t like it. Should be “vinagrette.”) I’ve pilfered her recipe and I don’t like anything on salads but Mama Vinagrette. Many dressings out there in the world are either: too creamy (makes your salad wilty and squishy and makes us lactose babies queasy), too sweet (think “Our house huckleberry vin! It’s tasty!”), or too oily (blech.) Mama’s dressing is none of these things. It’s just pure goodness. And no, I’m not giving you the recipe. (You gotta love the tupperware.)

I don’t like the term “pot stickers.” It sounds like a parasitic little Chinese bug. But I don’t think you can legally call them dumplings once they’re fried, unfortunately. Steamed = Dumpling, Fried = Pot Sticker. (THESE are dumplings. Soup dumplings people. Dumpling, full of soup. Yes. I advise that you

NEVER eat them, because you will get addicted and be very, very depressed when you realize you live hundreds upon hundreds of miles from a proper dumpling house. Unless of course, you’re lucky enough to not live in the backwoods, then by all means, gorge on them. In a dark dark time of intense craving I considered making them, but just looking at a recipe for soup dumplings will make you cry.) Anyway. I made the fried variety. Momma made some really good pulled pork (in our new lake crock pot!) this weekend, but we were out of rolls last night, so pot stickers seemed the best course of action. I’ve seen the little dumpling wrappers at the store and I’ve been desperate to use them, so I was overjoyed to have finally found an opportunity. I was torn as to whether to try and go Asian with the filling, or just let it be its very American self. Unable to come up with anything that could possibly turn salty, sweet, barbeque-y pork into something vaguely oriental, I just let it be its porky self. A little dab of dijon mustard, a mini mound of pork, and a few tiny radish slices. (Side note: I love me some radishes man! They’re so strange and so good. I like the snappy texture and feisty flavor–they way they have that spicy sharp little after-bite. Mmm.) It was a little trickier than I thought to get the little guys to stick together, they kept popping open. Key is only wetting one side of the wrapper, and not using too much filling. Then a quick fry on a hot pan. Dipped in more mustard, crispy, hot, sweet, good. Eaten whilst watching season 3 of Mad Men. Good all round.

Pulled pork pot stickers, why wouldn’t cha?

You know how sometimes your camera goes haywire and it turns out strange and kind of nice? Or maybe that’s because my poor camera has gotten buffeted around in backpacks and been in the ocean a few too many times. Either way. (Pop’s boats stacked up in the breezeway.)

Somehow this house has become a banana graveyard. “Somehow” meaning I definitely think “Oh, I like bananas!” and buy a bunch EVERY time I go to the store. Regardless. There are a lot of aged once-yellow fruits slouching around on all the counters. So I did what any sensible person would do. Made muffins! I’ve been in a muffin mood lately. Actually. always.

Muffins rock. Not the mammoth ones encrusted with strudel at coffee stands though, those are just an affront to the real muffin community. The fat-laden Costco ones aren’t legit either, though they are so horrifically, diabetes-inducingly good. Real muffins are sweet but not very. Just sweet enough to be satisfy the morning sugar need. Don’t act like you don’t want at least a little sugar hit in the AM, you dedicated muesli eaters out there (You know who you are.) So this perfect muffin is just sweet enough, and a dense little baked good. Far denser than say, cake. Closer to banana bread, but not quite there in terms of densitometry (HA, wow, that is a real word. Probably not often used in terms of muffins.) And a little bit of fruit to justify it as a balanced breakfast is always a big plus. And today’s batch was just hitting it out of the park on all these fronts. Kinda followed these dudes recipe, but I’ve become extremely… flexible with my recipes. (Read: sloppy.) Did a little more banana than they said, used 1/2 brown sugar (as always), vanilla soy milk, and a big handful of oats. And… darest I reveal my new favorite thing? My super secret trick of the week? I’ve been putting pumpkin pie spice in everything. (Pancakes, applesauce, etc.) It is dang good. Why not really? Makes everything just a tiny bit nuttier, spicier, better. In sum: gooooood muffins. Plus the first sunshine in weeks, my friend SD and I sat on the deck and ate muffins and it was lovely. (Notice lake in the background? Lake, blueberry banana oatmeal muffins, sunshine, jealous homies?)

Moving on. Stew. So, in my mind there’s this SOUP–STEW spectrum, based on water content. This stew was kind of like how you imagine a F1 speedometer… way off the one end flickering around in some unidentified badland. It was really, really thick. I don’t know why. Yes I do. I didn’t follow a recipe and I don’t know how to make stew. Whatever, it was good. I gawked a bunch of stew recipes, gleaned what I thought was STEW 101 and forged onward. Big ol’ mama pot, cook some bacon, take it out, cook some meats, take it out. Caramelize onions in bacony goodness, add carrots celery garlic rosemary thyme. Pour in a bunch of red wine and beef stock. Cook it for a while. Put in some potatoes. Realize you have a pot of beef-flavored vegetables. Frantically add more liquid. Too liquidy. Google “thicken stew.” Mash up a bunch of flour and butter, drop it in. Stew thickens. Goodness ensues. It was real tasty an’ all… I just don’t know where all that liquid up an’ ran off to.

Yes, I take pictures of everything on the deck.