Psst—I’ve got a pizza secret you won’t believe. It defies most every pizza recipe, so listen closely!…
I’m at the stage in my life when the holiday traditions of my childhood are shifting. With three extended families and just a handful of holidays per year, it’s impossible to eat all of my favorite dishes with the people who make them best….
I usually cycle my cooking in two phases: 1. buy groceries to make a specific dish; 2. use the leftovers to make something new and different. It’s a process that makes me feel empowered, both creatively and financially (take THAT, grocery store—I’ve turned your “garbage” into dinner for free)….
Happy September, friends. It’s been weeks since I’ve been in touch, but I’ve been thinking about you and all of the stories I want to share with you.
The month of August was a busy and nostalgic one for me. My husband and I moved out of our apartment on the 31st, inspiring us to revisit and re-evaluate all of our “stuff” as we dug it up and decided whether it would make the journey to our new apartment.
Among this “stuff” were two pounds of pork liver, resting patiently in my freezer alongside a bag of pork fatback and another bag of pork loin. They were left over from a particular recipe I’d planned to share with you almost a year and a half prior: a meaty pork and pork-liver pâté baked in brioche dough. I’d taken photos and everything—only I let season after season slip on by without ever posting the recipe.
To give you a little backstory, I’m a huge appreciator of old, lengthy recipes. I like recipes that I can really get into—especially ones that take me to another time or place. This particular recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. It’s one of my favorite books to cook from because the dishes feel so different from anything I would normally put on my weeknight dinner table. Its recipes are a time capsule of 1960’s French cooking and entertaining, where you and your guests could easily spend as much time enjoying your fancy meal as you did preparing it. It’s a romantic idea that I find both fascinating and comforting—so if I’m in the mood to slow down and celebrate a little, there’s a good chance I’ll be cooking from one of Julia Child and Simone Beck’s encyclopedias….
One year ago I started a blog about food. I’d been trying to make it happen since the spring of 2012. It was late on Easter Sunday and we were all picking at leftovers of our 22-pound brined fresh ham.
“I’m thinking of starting a food blog,” I blurted out to Ben and our guests.
The second I opened my mouth I felt nervous and vulnerable—I’d been keeping this dream pretty well hidden until that moment. I was working in architecture and I didn’t expect many people to understand that I’d rather be cooking and writing.
But my friends seemed excited, so I continued. I told them that I wanted a blog with recipes and tutorials. I’d noticed a lot of recipes with missing “how’s” and I wanted to change that.
The more I shared the more we brainstormed. We proposed the name Recipedia. Charlotte would design it, Ben would build it, and we’d all get it going as soon as I’d get the courage to write for an audience.
I created a document in Microsoft Word. You know, the way Creed does in The Office? And I just started writing. I wrote about pesto, beets, Waffle Crisp cereal, sweet potato hash and how parchment paper chars when you crank your oven too high. Ben and I started a garden and I wrote about that. I even made lists of meals we’d eaten at restaurants.
But then I made Joy the Baker’s beet cake, and I entered an entirely new realm of inspiration….
I know we never talked about a gift exchange, but it’s the holiday season and I just couldn’t resist making you something.
Every time I write a new post you come here and listen to my stories. You comment, you try my recipes, and you make me feel like a million bucks. So to thank you, I’ve made you a lasagna—a very special lasagna that helps you spend Christmas, New Year’s and Sunday Dinner out of the kitchen. What I mean is, you can make the entire dish ahead of time.
The lasagna is a beautiful silky stack of tender braised beef, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a creamy béchamel sauce that’s flavored with just a hint of garlic and rosemary. The flavors are simple and subtle—the sort of combination that says, “oh, hello, there!” in the classiest, most refined voice—a voice that never utters once that your beef was braised in the slow cooker one (or even two!) nights earlier. Or that the entire dish is nothing short of a pure mashup of cuisines, cooking styles and traditions. …
My world of meat is complicated. So complicated that I have three stories for you: a story about my kick-ass butcher; a story about my wishy-washy meat purchases; and a story about a tender, braised lamb’s neck that will hopefully inspire you to find a kick-ass butcher of your own.
Though I hope you stick around for the whole story, please be warned that this post is about butchery and includes photos that may be upsetting to a non-meat eater.
My Kick-Ass Butcher
I want to buy good-quality meat from animals that have been raised and slaughtered responsibly. Meat that is fresh and never frozen. Meat that is sold to me by people who know what they are doing, who do their best to use up an entire animal, and who teach me to think beyond steaks, chops and roasts.
My convictions and my execution are a bit muddy—but more on that later….
This is a feel-good salad, especially in the winter when fresh flavors are hard to come by. Here in Boston, the days are getting longer, but they are not getting warmer. This means that soups, roasts, and oven-baked meals are still in full rotation. When I find myself craving something light and easy to prepare, I make this salad. Between the crunchy carrots—the sweet, bright orange slices—and the smooth, nutty avocado—it’s as refreshing as stepping outside and feeling the freezing cold air on your face….
Dinner is my favorite meal of the day. It doesn’t need to be special, but it needs to be dinner. For me, this means dedicating some time to the food on my plate and the people around me. Dinner has a slower pace than breakfast or lunch, and for some of us, it means that the hustle of our day is finally over. Weeknight dinner is great—maybe it’s pasta with a fried egg, or maybe it’s a pb&j sandwich with a glass of milk (yes, this is a thing). But Sunday Dinner—with a capital D—this is the king of all dinners. There is no pace. There’s just food and more food.