dinner

Scampi

by Lisa

Things to remember about prawns on a random Tuesday night:

  1. They can be bathed in a drizzle of olive oil, a puddle of warm butter, a splash of white wine, a whole head of garlic, a squeeze of lemon.
  2. They cook in 5 minutes.
  3. They’re finger food. Messy, buttery, garlicky, finger food.
  4. The kids will say thank you.
  5. There will never be enough.
  6. See #4.

Kale Salad with Poached Egg and Anchovy

by Lisa

You will have to trust me here, this recipe without a picture. Some months ago, Caroline fed me this delicious salad.   Then, I’d been reading Dash and Bella, one of the terrific writers contributing to our forthcoming book,  whose love of the irresistible umami of anchovies (and salt, and garlic) seeps into your own cooking life, making you lament that you’ve gone so many weeks, months even, without mashing up some for yourself.  I figured it was time I jumped on the kale salad wagon. I started with this recipe, subtracted a few ingredients, tweaked the dressing, and layered on some new things, ending with a poached egg, which Phyllis Grant knows makes anything better.  We’ve eaten this salad now–okay Kory and I have eaten it, the kids being not quite convinced it’s edible–four times for dinner. But I still haven’t managed to get a good picture.


Kale Salad with Poached Egg and Anchovies

  • one bunch curly kale
  • pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • a handful of fingerling or baby Yukon gold potatoes
  • eggs, one per person serving
  • anchovies, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces. Use a good, jarred variety, one per person or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Combine olive oil, vinegars, salt and honey. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Cut ribs out of kale, and then cut leaves into small, bite-sized pieces
  3. Toss kale with a small amount of salt and dressing to lightly coat. Let sit 15-20 minutes or longer to slightly soften the leaves.
  4. While the kale is resting, cook the potatoes in very salting boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut into small pieces or slice.
  5. Poach the eggs. Remove from water and drain on a paper towel. These will keep until you’re ready to serve. 
  6. Just before serving toss the kale with a handful of pine nuts–about a 1/4 cup, a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler), the cooked potatoes, and the anchovies. Add additional dressing as needed. If you’re serving anchovy-haters, you can add the delicious chopped fish separately to each plate.
  7. Separate the salad onto four plates. Top each serving with an egg and the anchovies.

Salmon with Spring Salsa

By Lisa

Finn loves spring: the flowers, the sun, the warm days, the bright nights.  He loves snap peas and peapods, which he eats by the bagful, and he loves eating outside.  Mostly he loves salmon.  He talks about it all year, until that spring day when it shows up on Pietro’s table at the market, and then, if I give Finn the task of choosing the fish for the week, he will always chose salmon.  Filets, steaks, smoked, fins, tail. He doesn’t care. He’d take any of it, he’d take all of it if I let him. If only I could afford it.

But the thing is, we’ve had very little salmon over the past four years. I don’t think we had salmon once last summer, and we had little in 2008 and 2009 when the local fishery was closed. Even when it returned, the season was drastically cut back and there was not much available. So not only has it been hard to find local salmon, it’s been very, very expensive.  Worse:  it’s been very, very hard on the fisherman.

Still, Finn remembers his pink fish. Maybe it’s the color, a vibrant memory jumping to mind, or maybe it’s the legend that ties their majestic leap to his saint.  Regardless, now it’s spring, and the salmon are back, and when I saw the piles of bright filets and steaks, their glistening, silvery skin, and Finn stood next to me eyeing the bounty with a gasp and a smile, I grabbed a cool, heavy package.  It was pricey; I didn’t think about the price. Big agriculture is pumping poison into chicken, and in the face of that insanity, I will gladly pay Pietro for this treasure, caught off a boat docked 30 minutes from my house, a boat Finn as seen and touched. We have waited for this. We know exactly what it’s worth: for Pietro, for the sea, on our table. Even Finn understands:  it’s worth the wait. It’s worth paying for.

Salmon with Spring Salsa

serves 4

  • 1 lb salmon filet
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk spring garlic, finely sliced, including light and some of dark green stalk
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced including tender green stalk
  • 4 leaves basil, rolled and sliced into ribbons (a chiffonade)
  • kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Italian bread, sliced for crositini
  1. Combine chopped tomatoes, sliced green garlic and onion, and basil in a medium sized bowl. Dress with salt to taste and olive oil. Cover and let macerate (for as much time as you have).
  2. Place salmon on a large bed of foil and sprinkle with salt. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the fish.
  3. Pour salsa over the fish, including macerating juices.
  4. Place another sheet of foil over the fish and salsa, then seal salmon and salsa into a foil pack by crimping the edges tightly closed.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let rest in pack for five minutes.
  7. While salmon is resting, lightly toast Italian bread.
  8. Open foil pack and serve immediately, using the toasted bread for extra salsa.

Just add bacon

by Lisa

The question usually goes something like this:

“What are we having for dinner?”

And the answer goes something like this:

a) “I don’t know yet.”

b) “Food.”

c) “(insert actual name of real dish I’m serving here)”

In other words: a) the lie, b) the evasion, c) the truth.

Option “C” ? It rarely goes well. Which would be one thing if the kids didn’t like to eat. But according to the laws of kid-dom, where they reside, they are obligated to pout and protest and suggest alternative meals…and then almost without exception sit down and eat without complaining. It drives me crazy.

However, I have found a stealth weapon and it is bacon. The other night when they asked the question, I was ready. “Pasta,” I said, then I paused, and added under my breath, “with bacon.” I waited for the backlash.

They cheered.

Technically, it was pancetta, but who’s keeping track? There was an egg involved, too, that I sort of left out of the description.  I did the evasion thing until the last moment when I poached it right there in front of them. I’m not such an expert at the poaching, but the kids love a runny yolk, and they found the process weird and satisfying.

As I was cooking, the two of them admitted that I could add bacon to anything and they would be happy. Really? I asked. “So if I say we’re having pasta?”

“Boo.”

“Pasta with bacon?”

“Yay!”

“Fish?”

“Yuk.”

“Fish wrapped in bacon?”

“YUM!”

“Tofu?”

“Blech.”

“Tofu and bacon?”

“Yes, PLEEASE!”

“”Burgers?”

“And bacon!”

“So I can add bacon to anything and you won’t complain?”

“Nope. I mean yup. Bacon!”

Pasta with Bacon and Eggs AKA Pasta with Pancetta, Parmesan, and Poached Egg

Serves 4

  • 3/4 pound small shell pasta
  • 4 slices pancetta, cut into small dice, or more, if my daughter is coming to your house
  • about 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan romano
  • Several large handfuls of pea greens or spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar
  • olive oil
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Bring a smaller pot to boil for the eggs.
  2. While water is coming to a boil, sautee the pea greens &/or spinach in a large pan until tender. Separate into four bowls.
  3. In the same pan, sautee the pancetta in a few tablespoons of olive oil until crisp. Turn off heat and set aside.
  4. Refuse to stuff each individual shell with a piece of bacon/pancetta, per your daughter’s request.
  5. When small pot is boiling, turn it down to a low simmer. Crack each egg carefully into a ramekin or small bowl so it’s ready to poach.
  6. When the large pot boils, cook the pasta. When about 4 minutes are left to go on the pasta, make sure the water for the eggs is simmering, then pour in vinegar, turn off heat, give the water a swirl to make a whirlpool,and  one by one, carefully slip the eggs into the poaching liquid.
  7. Let the eggs sit and cook in the water for 3-4 minutes while you drain the pasta, then add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta.
  8. Add the cheese to the pasta and pancetta and toss to coat.
  9. Portion the pasta into 4 bowls, layering it over the greens.
  10. When the eggs are done, remove one by one with a slotted spoon, drain for a minute, and place them carefully on top of the pasta.

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

By Lisa

Half citrus pasta, half fettucine alfredo, this recipe is a delicious mash up.  Inspired by the bright, cool spring we’re having–sunny days cut through with crisp wind–a pound of fresh lemon pepper pasta, a carton of heavy cream, two older recipes (here and here), and the bag and bags of lemons we continue to harvest.

It’s everything the paradox of a spring evening wants:  fresh, vibrant flavor, and a warm, rich cream to take the edge off the chill.  For a few minutes, we gathered around the counter, slurping noodles in silence, soothed and energized all at once.   Sometimes, there’s balance.

Lemon Pepper Pasta with Parmesan Lemon Cream Sauce

  • 1 lb fresh lemon pepper pasta, or fresh fettucine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of one eureka (or meyer) lemon
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan or grana padano
  1. While waiting for pasta water to boil, pour cream into a large, heavy bottomed skillet.
  2. Zest the lemon into the cream, add butter and heat slowly until butter melts and cream thickens slightly. Turn off heat and let rest.
  3. When pasta is done, drain and add it to the lemon cream along with the parmesan.
  4. Over medium-low heat, toss the pasta in the cream for about a minute to mix thoroughly and let pasta absorb the sauce. Serve immediately with additional parmesan, if desired.