Pappardelle Pasta with Mint, Basil & Pistachio Pesto

Pappardelle with Mint, Basil & Pistachio PestoFresh, homemade pappardelle pasta speckled with fresh mint, basil, and crushed pistachios, glistening and calling your name.  You want a bite, don’t you?

You should have a bite.  You should make a batch tonight and have a whole bunch of bites.  I know, I know; you think homemade pasta is too much work and you really just want to come home and relax, not get involved in some sort of crazy kitchen disaster/mess.  Can’t have it both ways.

Uh, yes, you can.  This isn’t overly complicated like rocket science or tortellini, it’s pappardelle. Pappardelle couldn’t be easier to make, especially a small batch like this one, and won’t completely destroy your kitchen.  A couple of measuring cups, 1 bowl, and a fork are all of the extra dishes you’ll have to do.  Plus, the dough doubles as a stress ball.

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French Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)


It’s way too easy to get caught up in a project and forget why you ever started it in the first place.

Take blogging.

You start a blog about cooking because you really like to cook.  Then you become some weirdo who risks eating lukewarm pasta because you just really, really want to shoot a good pic for your website.  You start being a little crazy about numbers, checking your site’s analytics 5 times a day to see how many hits you’ve gotten.  You set up an adsense account, make 2 bucks, and think you’re going to take over the world.  You make a really delicious onion soup and you almost don’t share it with your readers because you haven’t reinvented the wheel.

Like I said, it’s easy to get lost.  Also, it’s easy to get crazy.

I don’t want to be nuts though.  I just want something good for dinner and I want to share it with you. Sometimes I make stuff up.  Sometimes I’m revolutionary (uh…), other times classics are where it’s at.

Tonight, it’s all about a classic: French Onion Soup.  You know it, you love it.  How couldn’t you?  It’s covered in melty Gruyere.  Caramelized onions.  Cognac!  Soul-warming broth.  It’s a bowl of hugs, afghans, mommies, fuzzy slippers, good memories.  Nothing new, but nothing you’ll ever tire of.

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Mushroom Bolognese with Mascarpone Polenta

Mushroom Bolognese Sauce over Creamy Mascarpone Polenta
For the record, I didn’t set out to make a vegetarian ragù that would masquerade as the king of Italian meat sauces. In fact, I’m normally a little annoyed when people disguise vegetables as classic meat staples.  Hot dogs are not supposed to be vegetarian.  Nor is bacon and meatloaf is simply not meatloaf when it does not contain meat.

But for this sauce, I’m willing to make an exception.

This sauce looks very much like the real-deal Bolognese sauce.  Other than the quartered Crimini mushrooms, it is very finely textured and velvety.  It smells of earthy, woodsy Porcini mushrooms, reduced red wine, tomatoes, and rosemary.  It doesn’t exactly replicate the taste of a meat-based Bolognese but that is not its main objective.  It’s main objective is to satisfy and comfort.

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Easy Preserved Lemon

Preserved Lemon

The holidays are over and it’s back to regular life.  Real life.  Mundane life.  It’s time to tackle all those little projects that have been haunting you: the chipped paint, peeling caulk, the enormous pile of laundry.

Let’s start simple.

Let’s start with preserved lemon.

Why start with here?  How are these for 2 good reasons?

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