Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

 Preparations for Thanksgiving

Monday, November 15, 2010


Stylish? Me?  I was just passed on the Stylish Blogger Award.  Thank you! I've never thought of myself as particularly stylish, but now the pressure is on to live up to the name.

Rules for accepting this award are:

1.  Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this.

Thanks to Valerie of Living Out of The Box for passing on this award. Val left a stellar IT career, packed a suitcase, and moved to Italy to study wine and the Italian language.  And she is about to do the same in France.  I love following her adventures as she follows her bliss, laughing all the way.

2.  Share seven things about yourself.

I am a private person who is not fond of sharing myself with people I don't know. So here goes.

The day after my wedding, almost 39 years ago, I left everyone I had ever known to start a life with my husband in Guadalajara, Mexico. We lived there for four years.  It was quite the culture shock for a 22-year old Jersey girl who had never even been on a plane!

My husband thinks I swear too much.  What the f---?  Seriously?

I started my career as an assistant buyer for the now defunct department store, Gimbels, in New York City. In budget lingerie and foundations I worked for two old broads from Brooklyn with the ever- present cigarette hanging from their lips.  Priceless!

I had a Personal Chef business.

I love books and films, especially foreign films.

My favorite place to be is on the beach in St.Thomas.

3.  Pass along this award to 15 stylish bloggers.

I think 15 is a bit excessive, but I would like to pass on the Stylish Blog Award to some of my favorite bloggers:

Amuse-Bouche for Two is where Tracy chronicles her kitchen life with Roberto while they e-mail each other to plan what's for dinner--punctuated with her fabulous photos.

Chez Danisse is where Denise paints beautiful pictures with her words as well as her camera.

Crumpets and Cakes is Monika's edible photography project with her beautiful stylized photos.

Good Food Matters Nancy is an ex-caterer, cooking teacher, food writer and an artist. Quite an accomplished woman.

In Search of the Finer Things I love sharing in Stacy's travels and her cooking and dining experiences.

Rachel Eats is written by a Brit who fled to Italy, met a Sicilian and lives and eats with him in Rome.
Her food is delicious and her exploits are hilarious.

The Ordinary Cook Kath is another Brit who will have you wishing you could cook all of your puddings in an Aga.

Thank you all for your delicious words and beautiful pictures and the glimpses you give us into your lives.  It continues to be a pleasure getting to know you and being inspired by you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Autumn Weekend

It was a beautiful fall weekend in New Jersey.  As our son was making his way across the country, John and I had plenty to do at home.

When our friend, T, called early Saturday evening asking, "What are you cooking for dinner?", there was only one way to respond. "Come on over."

I checked out the refrigerator and poked through the cupboards--pasta it would be.

After I cleaned and sliced some cremini mushrooms, I sauteed them in olive oil in a large skillet along with some shallots.

When the mushrooms were browned, I seasoned them with salt and pepper, set them aside and put the water on to boil for the fettuccine. As they sipped their Martinis and the fettuccine was dropped into the pot, I put the heat on again under the mushrooms, added some thyme to the pan and deglazed it with some dry Marsala. When the Marsala had reduced a bit, in went the drained pasta and a knob of butter. Adjusted seasoning, tossed in chopped parsley, and passed a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano to grate on top. Done!

Earlier in the day I had made one of my favorite fall cakes, and it became dessert.

This very simple cake feels as if it is straight out of a country kitchen.

Torta di Pere alla Paesana
   By Marcella Hazan from her book, More Classic Italian Cooking

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 pounds fresh pears
A 9 inch layer-cake pan
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat eggs and milk together in bowl.  Add the sugar and salt, continue beating.  Add the flour, mixing it thoroughly with the other ingredients.

Peel the pears.  Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and core; then cut them into thin slices, no more than 1 inch broad.  Add them to the bowl, mixing them well with the other ingredients.

Butter the pan, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on it.  Turn it upside down, and tap it or shake it lightly to get rid of all the loose crumbs. Dot the surface with butter.

Bake in the upper level of preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top has become lightly colored.

Remove from pan as soon as it is cool and firm enough to handle.


The cake is very forgiving.  I didn't have two pounds of pears on hand, so the four I had were enough.You know that I can't stop tinkering, so I like to add a pinch of nutmeg to the flour before mixing into the eggs and sugar. I happened to have some small amaretti cookies on hand, so I finely crushed them and used in place of the breadcrumbs. Nice touch.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

California Here He Comes

Did I tell you that our son is moving to California?  Did I tell you that he is our only child?  Did I tell you that California is 3,000 miles away?  And did I tell you that we will miss him?

For a farewell dinner, of sorts, I made one of his favorite fall meals--Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage. This is a hearty and delicious meal--and a little goes a long way.

I followed the pasta with a riff on this salad by New York chef, Andrew Carmellini.  A lovely mixture of baby arugula, Granny Smith apples, raisins, fennel and celery; this citrusy salad proved to be a nice counterpoint to the richness of the pasta.

You  certainly don't need a farewell to serve this dinner.  Give it a try!

The pasta recipe is my rendition of one by Rachel Ray.  Oh please, don't judge me!

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 to 6 sage leaves cut into chiffonade
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked al dente
Parmigiano cheese for grating

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausage and saute until brown.  Remove and drain sausage on paper towels.  Drain fat from skillet and return pan to stove.  Add remaining oil then the onion and garlic, and saute 3 to 5 minutes until onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage and wine to pan.  Raise heat and reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes.  Add chicken broth and pumpkin and stir to combine. Stir sauce until it comes to a boil.  Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream.  Season sauce with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Simmer mixture 5-10 minutes until sauce thickens.

Remove bay leaf from sauce and add drained pasta; toss over low heat until pasta is coated. Top pasta with grated Parmigiano cheese and garnish with sage leaves.