saffron shakshouka

saffron shakshouka // brooklyn supperWhile complicated techniques, all-day cooking, and special ingredients can make for some fantastic meals, good pantry meals are essential to eating well. Because you need something economical and easy for those nights when your kitchen fantasies are disrupted by your actual life.

Shakshouka has been a favorite family dish for a few years now, and I’m always enchanted by it’s mix of smoky peppers, slowly building heat, rich tomatoes, and of course, poached eggs. [Read more…]

fennel, beet, and blood orange salad

blood orange, beet and fennel salad
This rainy, mild winter reminds me of being a kid: sitting in the back of my family station wagon, listening to rain drops on the roof and the squeak of the windshield wipers with the easy listening sounds of Carole King on the radio. Remember when the backseat could be the safest, coziest place in the world? What a bummer that grown-ups don’t really get to snuggle in the back seat very often.

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braised country-style ribs with cippolini

country-style ribs

At the butcher, I felt a little embarrassed that I’d never heard of country-style ribs, given that I come from what is arguably “the country.” And even if you’re not willing to concede my particular home-census-tract is rural enough, it is, at a minimum, part of a country. Also, I really like ribs. So how had I not heard of country-style ribs? [Read more…]

simple roast tomato soup

roast tomato soup

For the first few months of summer I take all the fresh stuff for granted–I’m nonchalant about abundant berries and corn. But come September I start to panic, which leads rather quickly to panic fruit-buying. For instance, two weeks ago I dragged the whole family to Union Square farmers market and bought 20 pounds of peaches, 6 pints of blueberries, 3 pints of blackberries, and 1 pint of raspberries. Let’s just say we’re all set in the jam department. Also the pie department. This week I made a reservation for 40 pounds of tomatoes. Gulp. I’ll be canning the tomatoes for sure, but I might also have to make this soup again.

Now that it really is fall you pretty much have to make soup, too. This one is has big tomato flavor with smoky notes and hints of fragrant herbs. It’s exactly what you want to be eating as the first leaves of fall flutter by. [Read more…]

lamb ragù over polenta

Lamb ragu with broccoli rabeThere’s something undeniably wonderful about having a fragrant, slow-simmered ragù on the stovetop for an entire Sunday. The richness permeates the air and gives the entire day a slow and luxurious feel. Languorous weekends have been in short supply for us lately, so smelling this ragù all day almost felt decadent.

Lamb is a favorite in this apartment, doubly so for stews and slow sauces. The heartiness of lamb shoulder and neck (the cuts we used here) is just unsurpassable. To keep the richness and fattiness of the lamb from being overwhelming, we use red wine and red wine vinegar to give the dish a little bracing edge, which is tempered by the sweetness of tomato paste. The trio of carrots, onion, and celery give it a classic feel, while the garlic and bay leaves keep it from being a staid dish even if it doesn’t have any unusual ingredients.

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cream of mushroom soup

We made an excellent mushroom soup this weekend. It was actually our daughter’s idea, but then she didn’t eat any. It was easier to make than a traditional cream of mushroom (no roux!), but so tasty and filling. With nutty mushroom flavors, and notes of lemon and Madeira, it’s at once elegant and hearty. Ours was accompanied by grilled cheese, though I think some garlic and Parmesan toast would be ideal. If you’re suffering from the cold weather like we are, head over to Babble.com’s Family Kitchen and check it out.