Spaghetti with Roasted Broccoli & Anchovies

Spaghetti with Roasted Broccoli & AnchoviesYou see a lot of what goes on in my kitchen–the cookies, the soups, the roasts–but there’s a fair amount you miss.  Mostly you luck out: I save the ever-growing stack of dirty dishes for myself, you don’t have to burn your nostrils every time you open the fridge because of the cornichon brine that spilled all over and hasn’t quite gotten cleaned up yet, and you’re spared from having to deal with the enormous black dog that is constantly plotting his next attack on whatever edibles are on the counter (most recently, it was a ball of pizza dough…grr…).

But, sadly, you also miss some of my best meals.  I’m talking about the meals that are thrown together in a hurry when I just need to eat and can’t dream of slowing things down to take pictures and notes and think of how much I’m adding of this and that.  There are an awful lot of quick pasta dinners in my real life and not so very many present in my blog life.  

Renditions of spaghetti aglio e olio make their way to my table a couple of times a week.  Here’s a version that I thought was good enough to slow down and share with you.  It’s my basic olive oil and garlic spaghetti, but with a few extra touches.  I add a ton of broccoli that’s been roasted ’til it’s brown, crispy, and awfully irresistible.  I melt a few anchovy fillets into the oil because anchovies and broccoli are a match made in heaven.  I love the salty, subtly fishy taste of the anchovies with the almost sweet roasted broccoli.  And to finish, the pasta is sprinkled with what I consider the best thing to happen to pasta since parmigiano-reggiano: fried bread crumbs.

Sound good?  Great, let’s make this happen!

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Cardamom, Ginger & Orange Palmiers

Orange, Cardamom & Ginger Palmiers

Do you ever make a dessert only to realize your dessert could use another dessert?  I’ve found myself in this situation a few times recently–allow me to explain before you write me off as a total glutton.

I’ve been really into poaching pears this winter.  Red wine, sugar, a cinnamon stick, and maybe a splash of Grand Marnier…they’re really good, but they never quite feel like a stand-alone dessert. 

Enter palmiers.  These cookies are the perfect bite to add when you make something like a poached pear and your dessert needs a little extra something (not that they’re not delicious on their own—they are!).  Palmiers are an absolute cinch to make, just spread sugar and spice on sheets of puff pastry, roll, slice, and bake.  Boom—pretty cookies with flaky, buttery layers and a welcome hit of orange and spice.

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Polenta with Leeks, Endive, Pancetta & Poached Eggs

Polenta with Leeks & Poached EggI’ve always been a big fan of polenta, but with how miserably cold it’s been this winter, I’m turning into a complete fiend.  I think I could eat polenta morning, noon, and night until the day comes (probably sometime in late May) when I can step out my front door without seeing my breath and wearing fewer than 10 layers of clothing.

My latest go-around was a bowl of very creamy polenta topped with sautéed leeks and endive, crispy pancetta, and a runny poached egg.  It makes an excellent stick-to-your-ribs sort of breakfast, a great just-came-in-from-shoveling lunch, or an excellent I’m-going-to-find-comfort-in-this-warm-bowl-of-polenta-while-I-sit-on-the-couch-wrapped-in-an-afgan-bemoaning-the-fact-that-I-live-this-freaking-tundra dinner.

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Arugula Salad with Gravlax, Avocado & Pickled Fennel

Arugula Salad with Gravlax, Avocado & Pickled FennelThis is one of those non-recipe recipes; it’s really just a list of ingredients for a salad too stunning not to share.  Plus, it’s a good way to use up all that pickled fennel I know you rushed to the kitchen to make and soon as I posted the recipe yesterday.

So why is this salad so great?  Well, first of all it’s drop-dead gorgeous, a 10+, for sure.  It’s incredibly fresh and vibrant, not just in color, but flavor and texture, as well.  It’s the kind of healthy eating that satisfies your taste buds and reminds you that winter does have something to offer beyond squash and braised meat.  I think my jeans will be thankful for the reminder.

The salad is about half lettuce, half goodies.  Arugula is tossed with pickled fennel, then topped with sliced avocado, orange supremes, gravlax, and a few roasted pistachios.  The result is an entrée salad that you’ll be wanting for lunch everyday for all of forever.  At least that’s where I’m at.

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Quick Pickled Fennel + A Few Ways To Put It To Use

Quick Pickled FennelA few weeks back, I got off work late and stopped at the grocery store on my way home.  There I was, around eleven on a Wednesday night, walking through the store, absolutely stupid with hunger.  You know the kind of hungry where you can’t begin to make a decision and, before you know it, you end up in a trance in the pickle aisle?  You go home and end up having a dinner of sweet-hot pickles, eaten with your fingers, standing over the kitchen sink.

Yeah, these things happen.  At least to me.  And now you know, I really like pickles.

And what you’ve known for a long time is that I love fennel.  And pickled fennel?  Oh man, love is an understatement; it is so delicious!  It’s all of the flavors and textures I adore; it’s crisp and crunchy, briny and acidic, anise-y and just a tad sweet.  It’s unbelievably good with fish, excellent when added to a salad, and absolutely supreme on its own, late-night-fingers-in-the-jar style.  What can I say–old habits die hard.

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