Spaghetti with Tomato, White Anchovy & Olives

I wasn’t planning to write another love letter about Italy so soon after the Roman steak tartare, but then this pasta happened.

So off we go!  We’re heading south, gonna’ get coastal.

Spaghetti with Tomato, White Anchovy & Olives

It was an accident, really, this pasta.  The ingredients and idea assembled themselves; we didn’t set out to recreate a specific dish.  My gardener friend brought me the season’s last bag of ripe tomatoes and I made the mistake of taking Matt to the grocery store, where he insisted we buy white anchovies.  I didn’t realize until we sat down and started eating just how transportingly Italian it was going to taste.

This could be a really quick recipe, I dare say 30 minutes if you use dry spaghetti and canned tomatoes.  Matt and I have been itching to crank out some fresh pasta and I had the ripe, red tomatoes so we opted for the scenic route.

Divide and conquer.  Matt’ll mix the pasta dough, I’ll get the sauce going.








Don’t cry when your well breaks, you’ll recover.

Peel, core, crush tomatoes.





Let’s start building flavor.  Promise me you won’t skip the anchovies.





Let your sauce simmer while you tackle pasta cutting as a team.





Fun.  Now let’s finish the sauce.  Olives, capers, herbs.  Taste, season.  Almost there!

Ready?  Let’s eat.

And suddenly, we’re back in Italy, feasting and having fun.  All because of a couple tomatoes and some white anchovies.  The best happy accident in months.

Spaghetti with Tomato, White Anchovy & Olives

Spaghetti with Tomato, White Anchovy & Olives
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Serves: 4
  • Spaghetti (recipe for homemade follows or use 1 box dry spaghetti)
  • 2 c. Crushed Tomatoes (use canned if tomatoes are out of season)
  • 1 medium White Onion, halved
  • 4 cloves Garlic, bruised
  • 8 White Anchovies, divided
  • ½ c. Black Olives (I used nicoise olives), chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Capers, chopped
  • Fresh Oregano
  • Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion halves, bruised garlic, and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes.
  3. Saute until onion and garlic start taking on color (don't let garlic burn).
  4. Add tomatoes, season, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add 4 chopped white anchovies.
  5. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, remove onions and garlic, add olives and capers, and continue to simmer (about 5 more minutes) until flavors blend, adjusting seasoning as needed.
  6. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti "al dente" and add directly to sauce.
  7. Sprinkle in some fresh oregano and chopped parsley. Divide among warm plates, drizzzle with additional olive oil, and garnish with an anchovy.

Semolina Pasta
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Makes 1 pound of pasta. Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as a first course
Serves: 4-8
  • 1 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Semolina Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¼ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cold Water, as needed
  1. Combine flours and mound on clean work surface.
  2. Create a well in center of mound, add eggs and pinch of salt.
  3. Carefully beat eggs with a fork, slowly bringing in flour, adding water as needed.
  4. When you have incorporated enough liquid to create a rough ball, knead the dough for a couple minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll rested dough and cut into desired shape.
  6. Cook in plenty of salted, boiling water. Pasta is ready when it floats to the top.

Pork Roulade with Caramelized Fennel & Onions

This pork roast is so good.  It tastes so familiar, so comforting, so homey.  It tastes like autumn Sundays of my childhood.

So, now what?  Am I about to share my mother’s top-secret, time-honored recipe for pancetta wrapped pork loin roulade with caramelized fennel and onions?

No, I’m not.  No, the only “roulade-ing” I remember my mother doing those days involved corned beef and cream cheese (which is still delicious, but not the point).  In fact, I doubt anything pancetta-wrapped or caramelized fennel-stuffed came out of her kitchen pre-2002.

So why does this pork remind me so strongly of my youth?  It’s like we’ve met before, I just can’t pinpoint where.  Did one of my grandmothers make something like this?  An aunt?  A friend…

It finally dawned on me.

It’s not the finished product- it’s the process of making it that seems so familiar.  It’s spending a Sunday afternoon at home, the smell of onions cooking, padding through the kitchen to give something an occasional stir, wearing your grandma’s old “kiss the cook” apron, the sound of a football game on in the background.  That’s what I remember from my childhood; that’s what I find so comforting and satisfying.

But you didn’t come here for sap.  You came because you’re hungry!  Let’s cook.

Flavor Agents, report for duty.  Red onions, fennel, apples, walnuts.

Let’s take our fennel and onions from crisp and sharp to dark, concentrated, and sweet.





Unroll your pork and pound.  Work out those frustrations.  You’d never have this much fun just popping something in the microwave.






Let’s put it all together now.  Spread on the onions, roll up the pork, wrap with pancetta.  It’s like a pork on pork jelly roll…I wish I looked this good in pink.











Brown on the stove and place over apples, onions, and Brussels sprouts.  Add cider and you’re oven-ready.






Roast, let rest.  Mash potatoes, open some wine, and call your mom if she’s not across the table from you.

Pork Roulade with Caramelized Fennel & Onions
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This pork roast could easily be assembled the day before you plan to serve it. I served it with brussel sprouts, roasted in the same pan and mashed potatoes. It would be delicious served with polenta or squash puree as well.
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 medium Red Onions, sliced
  • 1 bulb Fennel, sliced
  • ½ c. Walnuts, chopped
  • 2# Pork Loin Roast
  • ¼# Pancetta, thinly sliced
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Sage
  • 1 c. Apple Cider
  • 3 Apples, cut into wedges
  • 2 small White Onions, halved
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Butter
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil together over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and fennel, season with salt and pepper, and caramelize slowly over low heat, about 2 hours, stirring occassionally. Add 1 tsp. chopped rosemary and walnuts towards the end and season as neccesary.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. Roll cut pork loin to create a rectangle. Pound to even thickness and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread flattened pork with onion-fennel mixture and roll.
  5. Cover rolled pork loin with slightly overlapping slices of pancetta and secure with cooking twine. Tuck sprigs of sage and rosemary under twine.
  6. Place apple wedges and halved white onions (and brussel sprouts, if desired) in roasting pan.
  7. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and brown pork evenly on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  8. Place browned pork over apples and onions.
  9. Pour apple cider into skillet and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits. Pour in roasting pan.
  10. Roast pork about 1 hour, until internal temperature reaches 140°.
  11. Remove roast, apples, onions, and brussel sprouts from pan and tent under foil for half hour before slicing and serving.
  12. While pork is resting, strain pan juices, skim fat from top, and reduce in small sauce pan. Remove from heat and finish with 1 Tbsp. butter.


Pumpkin Cake with Pecan & Cream Cheese Streusel

I’ll bake for the fun of it, I’ll bake for company, I’ll bake for you when you’re sad or sick.

I’ll also bake to bait.

Why did I bake this beautiful coffee cake today?

I’m totally baiting.

But don’t worry, this cake is for a good cause.

I’m using it to remind my boyfriend that some things are more important than going in to the office on the weekends.  Sleeping late, wearing sweaters and taking walks, spending an afternoon at the dog park, reading the newspaper in jammies while eating your favorite fall flavors baked into a cake.  Personal sanity and mental heath make the list, too.

I think this coffee cake will do trick.  Who would choose work over digging into a spicy, nutty slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese and streusel?

Time to get started.  Lots of steps, but none are difficult.

Cream cheese goodness, check.





Let’s go on the streusel.





We’d better batter.





Put it all together.





Bake and cool.  Patience, patience.


Weekend breakfast bliss.  Have another cup of coffee, do the crossword puzzle.  You can work on Monday.


Pecan & Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Crumbles
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This spiced pumpkin cake is perfect with coffee for breakfast or dessert. It would also be great for your Thanksgiving brunch.
Serves: 12-16
  • .
    For the Cake
  • 3 c. All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Cardamom
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cloves
  • ½ tsp. Allspice
  • ¼ tsp. Black Pepper
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 15 oz. can Pumpkin
  • ½ c. Buttermilk
  • ½ c. Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Eggs
    For the Streusel
  • 3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • ½ c. Dark Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. All Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1 c. Pecan Halves
    For the Cream Cheese Topping
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Light Brown Sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a tube pan.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Cut in chilled butter until crumbly. Add pecans halves. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and brown sugar until light and creamy. Add a splash of milk in nessecary. Set aside.
  4. Whisk to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and spices in medium bowl. Set aside.
  5. In another medium bowl, whick together pumpkin, buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla. Set aside.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 5 minutes on high speed. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well.
  7. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, mix until combined, followed by half of the pumpkin mixture, and repeat, mixing until just blended.
  8. Spread half of the cake batter into prepared pan and sprinkle on half of the pecan struesel. Spread the remaining batter on top and evenly dollop on cream cheese mixture and sprinkle with remaining struesel.
  9. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Allow to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes.

Sweet & Spicy Toasted Squash Seeds

I try to take time to do a couple nice things for myself everyday.  Today I drank my coffee in bed, took a walk with my camera, and made myself a tasty treat that didn’t require any trips to the grocery store.

If you’re like me, you eat a lot of squash throughout the fall and winter.  And if you don’t, you’re missing out on wondrous squash soups, squash risotto, roasted squash hash, squash puree, stuffed squash, and…

…lots and lots of squash seeds.

But those are not garbage or even compost.  Those seeds are your favorite autumnal snack!  They’re the best thing to munch with beer, contribute a little crunch to a salad, or add a little pop to your perfectly pureed soup.

Super easy to make- just clean, soak, season, and toast.




I enjoyed some of my seeds under a clear blue sky with a glass of apple cider and a good book.  What are you going to do with yours?


Sweet & Spicy Toasted Squash Seeds
Prep time
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These roasted squash seeds make a crunchy garnish for soups and salads and are a perfect nibble with drinks.
  • 1 c. Squash Seeds (cleaned, soaked in salted water overnight, and rinsed)
  • 2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ - ½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Rosemary, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Combine prepped squash seeds with oil, spices, rosemary, salt, and sugar; stir until seeds are evenly coated.
  3. Spread seeds evenly over baking sheets and bake until seeds are golden and toasty, about 25 minutes. Stir often and watch carefully as these can easily be burned.
  4. Allow to cool before serving or transferring to an airtight container.

Steak Tartare alla Roscioli

Ready?  Come on let’s go.

Let’s twist and turn our way through old streets of Rome until we find a spot for dinner.

Right, left, straight, through the piazza, right, right, oops we’re down a dead-end alleyway.  Admire the beautiful geraniums spilling off the balcony and continue your mission.  Dinner, looking for dinner.

Hmm…this place looks interesting.  Roscioli.  It’s a beautiful deli in front and a cave like dining room in the rear.  There’s an unkempt, surly looking man running the cash register, gorgeous cured meats in the deli case, and huge bowls of Roman artichokes.  This’ll do.

You’ll order quite a bit here.  How couldn’t you?  You are forced to examine everything in the case while the surly guy deliberates over which table to bring you to.  He double checks to make sure you’re both americani.  Check, check.  He shuffles papers, you gasp over the mortadella with a two foot diameter.  Holy baloney!  Your table is ready.  You can stop eating with your eyes and get down to serious business.

Like I said, it’ll be hard to not eat a lot here.  Everything just looks so fresh, so good, so Italian.  You want it all.  You order several things to share.  You eat, you enjoy.

Four months later, you remember this meal.  You remember how happy you were this night, still in the beginning of your two week-long vacation.  You remember how much more pleasant it was to have feet that ached from walking miles over old cobblestones than from wearing bad shoes on a twelve hour shift.  You’ll remember the cool wine cellar you snooped around in (discreetly) while you waited for the restroom.  You’ll remember all of this.

But four months later, only one dish will haunt you.

The steak tartare.  So simple, so fresh, so Italy.  The meat was from a very special herd of cows, of course.  As if you’d want to eat just any cow!  What else?  Ripe, red as the meat, diced tomato.  Fruity olive oil.  A mound of beautifully creamy, oozy Burrata.

So Italian that maybe I shouldn’t even try to recreate at home in the Midwest.  Maybe I should just cherish the memory.

No.  I’ve got to do it and I’ve got to do it now while I can still find a decent tomato in these parts.  This is crucial.  This dish is only going to have a couple ingredients so they had all better be the best I can find.  Go to the butcher for the meat.  Splurge, you only need a little.  Is there a nice cheese shop nearby?  Head there for the freshest, imported Burrata.  Farmer’s market for the tomato.  Wow, even shopping for this dish makes me feel Italian.

Chop the meat.  Peel and dice the tomato.  Grate a little shallot.  Drizzle the oil.  Sprinkle some salt, a pinch of pepper.  Mix and make it look pretty.  Top with a bit of Burrata and serve with a few crostini.



Talk.  Reminisce.  Plan your next trip to Italy.

Steak Tartare alla Roscioli
Prep time
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Total time
Use only quality beef from a trusted butcher. This recipe will serve 2 as a main or 4 as an appetizer.
Serves: 2-4
  • 8 oz. Lean cut of Beef (I use tenderloin)
  • 1 medium Ripe Red Tomato
  • 1 small Shallot
  • ¼ Ball of Buratta
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
  • Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • Baguette
  1. Place beef in freezer for 10-15 minutes. This will make it much easier to cut.
  2. Thinly slice baguette for as many crostini as you feel necessary, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in 400° oven until golden and crunchy, about 10 minutes.
  3. Peel, seed, and dice tomato. Place in medium bowl.
  4. Dice chilled beef, add to tomatoes.
  5. Grate shallot over tomato and beef mixture. Stir to combine. Season with extra virgin oil, salt, and pepper.
  6. Mound tartare on serving plate, making an indent to hold the Buratta.
  7. Gently cut a wedge of Buratta and place in indentation.
  8. Serve with crostini.