It’s a dark and chilly December evening. You’re on your way to an Italian-American Christmas party, radio tuned to the station that plays Christmas music all month long….
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….
With fall around the corner, I’m trying my best to savor the last few weeks of summer. Though I’ll eventually look forward to apples, squash, and warm, hearty stews, I’ll need a few summer-to-fall meals to help ease me in—meals with a sweet so long! from my favorite summer produce, and a warm, cozy hug from the deep fall flavors ahead.
For my first meal, I’m going to need a little chocolate. But not just any chocolate: Taza chocolate. Fruity and spicy chocolate, that—with a little help from some sweet summer zucchini—will give me just the nudge I need to get me thinking about fall….
Pizza rustica is a rich Italian pie of cured meats, fresh cheeses and eggs baked in a slightly sweet pastry crust known as pasta frolla. With about as many variations as Italian families, pizza rustica is traditionally eaten on Easter. In fairness to Marcella, I have modified some equipment and techniques to fit the available tools in my kitchen. Her original recipe is worth a read and can be found in her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.