Almond, Citrus & Currant Biscotti

Currant, Almond & Citrus BiscottiThere was a winter, quite a few years back, when I was rarely without a jar of these biscotti on my kitchen counter.  I was a total addict, eating them every morning with my caffè latte, cleaning up crumbs mid-afternoon, dunking them into my bedtime tea.  And then, my morning coffee habits changed and they fell off my radar.  But only temporarily.  Thank goodness.

I’m back to drinking milky coffee in the morning, thanks to the miracle of a stovetop frother I gave Matt for Christmas (a totally selfless act, of course), so it was only natural for my beloved biscotti to return as well.  They’re everything I want with my cappuccino: crunchy and dunk-able, with a bit of cornmeal bite, plenty of almonds, bursts of bright citrus, and little hits of sweet here and there from dried currants.  With a jar of these on the counter, I always have a very good reason to get out of bed…scratch that, leap out of bed.

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Poached Cod with Tomatoes & Escarole

Poached Cod with Tomatoes and EscaroleEvery time I make fish this way, I find myself asking why I don’t make dishes like this more often.  It’s incredibly simple, quite healthy, and way quick.  And, don’t worry, it’s also totally delicious–I still have my priorities straight.

This is cod that’s been poached in a tomato and white wine broth with garlicky sautéed escarole.  The fish cooks up moist and flavorful, flaking apart in buttery chunks.  The broth will amaze you with how good a can of tomatoes can taste with just a few nudges.  You’ll be slurping it up with a spoon and contemplating just how soon you’ll make it again.

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Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Ricotta Pizza

Italian sausage, broccoli rabe & ricotta pizzaAbout a year ago, my life changed in a big way.  I discovered this recipe for no-knead pizza dough that yields my favorite kind of restaurant-pizza crust, right out of my home oven.  It’s thin in the middle, chewy and bubbly around the edges, and a total cinch to make.  I’ve been talking it up to friends and family (come on, Dad–try it!  I know you’ll love it!), but somehow we haven’t talked about it here since my initial discovery.

Well, let’s change that!  Let’s talk pizza today.  We’ll definitely use my go-to dough and I’m thinking some garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe, spicy Italian sausage, and ricotta cheese sound like awfully good toppings for this chilly evening.  A bottle of red?  Maybe a movie?  Good, I’m glad you’re on board.

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Braised Celery with Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Bacon

Braised Celery with Tomatoes, Chickpeas & BaconIn December, cooking demands a lot of you.  You’ve got to plan ahead, come up with elegant menus for holiday entertaining.  You’re making a million trips to a thousand different grocery stores for just the right ingredients and forcing yourself to bake cookies uniform and cute enough to be giftable.  

Then January rolls around and it’s time to start demanding a lot of what you’re cooking.  You want a dinner that provides comfort from the cold while being relatively healthy, something simple that won’t require dirtying a stack of pots and pans or hours of time in the kitchen, and meals that can be thrown together without a trip to the supermarket.

Believe it or not, this dish fulfills all of our needs!  It’s an adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s recipe for braised celery I saw a while back, that stuck in my head.  It sounded odd to me at first–celery braised with tomatoes and bacon until tender–but I was intrigued and found myself making it one night when fridge was nearly barren, but I couldn’t bear the thought of running to the store.  It ended up being everything that I wanted: warm and comforting, pretty healthy, 1 pot, very little hand-on time, and made with staple ingredients I almost always have even when it seems like I have nothing.  

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Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna BologneseReal-deal homemade lasagna is a wonderful thing.  Imagine thin sheets of homemade pasta, layered with silky béchamel and rich meaty Bolognese sauce, stuck together with melted cheese…what could be better?

Of course, all of that deliciousness comes at a price–lasagna is a serious time commitment!  There are 2 sauces to make (one of which cooks for hours and hours), plus pasta to mix, roll, and boil, cheese to grate, and then comes assembling the whole mess.  You get the picture–it’s a labor of love.  The good news is, everything can be done ahead of time so by the time you eat it, you are relaxed, your kitchen has been cleaned up, and you actually get to enjoy it.  

I served this lasagna to my family for our Christmas Eve dinner and (excuse the shameless tooting of my own horn) it turned out to be a great plan!  I got it all put together the day before and just popped it in the oven before people started to arrive.  My house smelled great and, for once, my kitchen wasn’t a complete bombed-out mess when my family came for dinner.  I even managed to comb my hair and slap on a little lipstick.  Talk about a Christmas miracle.

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