Tag Archives: parmesan

Googling for Dinner: Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan

Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan

Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan

There are many reasons to love the Internet:

  • Surfing Petfinder.com for a puppy that I should definitely not get
  • Online shopping at JCrew.com for shoes I definitely don’t need
  • Reading the NYTimes about current events I absolutely ought to know more about

But without fail…another reason for loving the good ‘ol World Wide Web is that after a weekend of a tad too much partying (thinking dancing until 3a with my lovely friend and neighbor, Ila) and not enough productivity I’m able to look in my fridge, see that for dinner we’ve got an old fennel bulb, some crimini mushrooms, and a hunk of Parmesan and immediately be offered a plethora of dining ideas.

I ended up going with the Shaved Fennel Salad from the oh-so-lovely Orangette blog by Seattle’s Molly Wizenberg. If you don’t read her…you definitely should. Just don’t compare me to her…that would be too sad.

This salad is surprisingly good and a wonderful compliment to the other things I had in my fridge and cupboard; grilled chicken breast marinated in a coconut dressing and toasted quinoa.

Make it on a Monday night when you’re wishing you had a weekend to recover from your weekend.

Shaved Fennel Salad with Criminis and Parmesan
Adapted from Orangette
Serves two with just enough left over for lunch

1 medium fennel bulb
3 or 4 small crimini mushrooms
2-3 TB good-quality olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
Coarse sea salt
A hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Prepare the fennel by chopping off its feathery fronds (I always feel sad throwing away such a beautiful part of the vegetable, but c’est la vie). Give it a rinse under cool water and dry completely. Carefully trim off any brown or tired spots, then thinly, thinly slice, preferably with a mandolin. Arrange on a large platter and top with olive oil.
  2. Wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and trim the bottom of the stems. Thinly, thinly slice (probably with a knife this time) and arrange on top of the fennel and top with the lemon juice.
  3. Coarsely grate the sea salt over and then coarsely grate the Parmesan. Top with cracked black pepper and enjoy!

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Filed under Health Conscious, Salads, Vegetarian

Carbonara Made with Farm Fresh Eggs, Topped with Pork Belly

Farm Fresh Eggs

Eggs Glorious Eggs

What is the opposite of a green thumb?

Whatever it is…I’ve got it.

A reluctant gardener at best I’ve been known to kill even the hardiest of plants. We’re talking mint…rosemary…bamboo.

That’s right. For the daughter of an award-winning landscape designer, I am a total failure in the garden.

Which is why when our friend and neighbor, Casey, told us about his new CSA, Hand Farmed Organics, I immediately panicked it would sell out (we are talking about neurotic, type-a me after all), signed up for a half-share, and started pestering him about when it would start-up.

Hand Farmed Organics

The View from the Farm

Potato Planting Party

Potato Planting Party

Well…were just weeks away now from weekly deliveries of broccoli, cauliflower, and beets fresh from the ground, but what he does already have is the world’s very best eggs.

If you buy eggs at a grocery store, stop immediately. Find a farm near you and get the real thing. There is simply no comparison.

Beautifully varied, speckled white and brown shells, these eggs (whose yolks incidentally are neon orange) are the most delicious, velvety treats you’ve had in a long time.


Hot Chick

Subsequently, I’ve been trying to think of recipes that include eggs. This carbonara topped with slow-roasted pork belly is definitely a decadent treat, but a perfect dinner for a cool spring night with friends and a good bottle of Pinot Grigio. Don’t let the Pork Belly intimidate you. Just think of it as Bacon’s wilder,  older brother.

Carbonara Made with Farm Fresh Eggs, Topped with Pork Belly
Adapted from two Food & Wine Recipes

Serves 8

Pork Belly

2 pounds boneless, skinless, meaty fresh pork belly, fat trimmed to 3/4 inch and scored
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 325°. Heat a large, deep ovenproof skillet until hot. Add the pork, fatty side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 8 minutes. Scatter the garlic, onion, celery and carrots on either side of the pork belly and cook until softened slightly, 5 minutes.

Belly Braising

Add the wine and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours, turning every thirty minutes, until the meat is very tender but not falling apart. Transfer the pork to a platter and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the meat into two-inch cubes and set aside.


12 ounces bucatini or angel hair
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
4 large egg yolks, whipped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile heat a large skillet until hot. Add the pork belly and cook over moderate heat until most of the fat has been rendered and each side boasts a nice crisp outside, 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set on paper towels to drain. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened and beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pasta to the skillet and stir to coat, 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, the 1/2 cup of grated cheese and then slowly add the egg yolks tossing constantly so they don’t cook onto the pasta. Season with salt. Divide the pasta into bowls, top with pork belly, and sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.

Carbonara Topped With Pork Belly

Carbonara Topped with Pork Belly

**All photos compliments of Hand-Farmed Organics’ Kim Sklar**


Filed under Comfort Foods, Pasta, Uncategorized

Eat. Breathe. Love. – Baked Artichoke Dip


Morning Mimosas in Walla Walla

I recently watched Julia Robert’s Eat. Pray. Love. and felt that while it was cute and moderately interesting it was not the brilliant and awe-inspiring story the critics had made it out to be. For those of you not familiar with the plot, Elizabeth Gilbert, successful NY author who seems to have it all wakes up one night and realizes she doesn’t want to be married anymore. What ensues is her personal struggle to figure out who she is, via three-month stints in Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Bali (Love).

While I can’t claim to be nearly as tortured as Elizabeth, or as glamorous as Julia, I am at an interesting moment in my life. I am soon to be completing a one year contract doing work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. However, in a move so uncharacteristic I’m questioning it myself I have NOT immediately lined up the next project. Rather, I’m hoping to take one month off before beginning my next adventure February 14th. Now, to most people taking one month off at some point in their late 20s or early 30s doesn’t seem so crazy. But, we’re talking about me here. The person who has blissfully had her life scheduled in 15 minute increments since the day I turned 14 and got my first Day-Timer. I am a person who craves order and control, and I’ve very purposely built a life on that.

So…upon assignment completion I will be kicking off my own little mini version of Eat. Pray. Love. Being a rather unsure agnostic I knew the Pray part wasn’t going to work so well, so I’ve changed it to Breathe.

Eat. – Here forth commences one month of totally indulgent cooking. I’m going to make sauces that take forever, I’m going to make so many muffins I don’t know what to do with them, I’m going to discover grocery stores in Seattle’s International District that I never even knew existed and I’m going to finally bite the bullet and try to make foie gras.

Breathe. – Does anyone else find breathing impossible? I do. I often realize as I’m falling asleep at night that I haven’t taken a single deep breath. So…I’m going to do yoga or Pilates every day and I won’t even ask the instructors if they have a speed class available.

Love. – They say that having a partner by your side makes the uncertain times that much easier. I couldn’t agree more. My lovely husband has been an absolute champion for this little adventure. What’s more…when I suggested to him that as part of this chapter I should perhaps take a cousin trip to Puerto Rico he totally agreed! So that’s how this experiment will end. One week in Puerto Rico with my lovely cousins.

Just some of the gang.

Just some of the gang.

This fall, as a sort of precursor to Puerto Rico, five first cousins set off for Walla Walla, WA. Arriving from Seattle and Portland we had an absolutely blissful weekend full of food, wine, laughter, dancing, and entirely ridiculous quotes that would make sense to no one else but us. We didn’t so much cook for the weekend as much as “melt stuff” but it was perfect all the same. This baked artichoke dip is sinfully delicious even if a bit ghetto. Make it ahead of time so that your guests don’t know what’s in it.

If bread, cheese, and artichokes don’t say “love” I don’t know what does.

Baked Artichoke Dip

1 medium-sized round loaf bread (cheap is okay)
1 can artichokes (well-drained and coarsely chopped)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded + more for topping
2/3 cup mayo (don’t even bother with the light variety)
1 TB Lemon juice

Baked Artichoke Dip

Baked Artichoke Dip

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Carve out the round loaf of bread, reserving “filling” so that you can use it as crostini later. Cube filling into 2-inch chunks.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and transfer to waiting bread bowl. Top with extra Parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until brown and bubbling. For last 10 minutes add bread chunks until lightly toasted. This is the perfect appetizer for a winter gathering.

**All photos by my lovely cousin Annie Laurie Malarkey.**


Filed under Comfort Foods, Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Screw patience: Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto


Roasted spring vegetables

Roasted spring vegetables


I have spent my entire life wishing I was a more patient person. But try as I might, I am inherently impatient and intolerant of things that move slowly.

I’m impatient with people who are slow walkers. I loath slow talkers. I despise inefficiency and elevator doors that take seconds to close feel like eons to me. Despite constant admonitions from family, friends, bosses, and co-workers to just “slow down, Erina” it’s something I really struggle with.

So, it will come as no surprise that when it seems time for Winter to be over and Spring to arrive I am as impatient as ever. I long for the days of short skirts, endless nights, swimming in the Lake after work, and reading in the back yard while soaking up the sun and drinking a gin and tonic.

Sadly, as it is March in Seattle, we are not there yet.

When my impatience for the season changing reaches its height I often find myself cooking foods that represent the season ahead.

This pasta dish was inspired by a refrigerator full of vegetables from Spud and no plan for what I was going to do with them. It’s not the quickest recipe (ironic, I know), but it’s very yummy, very healthy, totally affordable and shouts ‘Spring is here’ better than I ever could.

Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto

A very hearty, pretty dinner, good for a crowd. If you prefer a vegetarian option just skip the chicken sausage. Serve with a dry Riesling.


Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto

Roasted medley of spring vegetables served over angel hair pasta with chicken sausage, tossed with a cilantro pesto


1. Vegetables: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl (which you can later use for serving) toss a medley of spring vegetables that suit your fancy. They should be bite-size, but still substantial. If you are doing a mix of vegetables that will vary in how long they take to get tender, vary your size a bit so everything is done at the same time. For this recipe I did butternut squash (cut into small cubes), carrots, mushrooms, onions, and asparagus. Toss with just enough olive oil until glistening. Season with coarsely ground salt and pepper.  Transfer to a 9×12 glass baking dish. Pop in the oven and cook for about 1 hour (flipping each 20 minutes) until vegetables are firm-tender. If you feel like the vegetables are drying out you can add a bit of water to the bottom of the baking dish about half way through the roasting.

2. Cilantro Pesto: In a food processor or blender (you know which one I used…), blend until smooth 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup firmly packed cilantro, 2 TB lime juice, and 2 cloves garlic. Set aside.

3. Pasta: Cook angel hair according to recipe. Before you drain reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

4. Chicken sausage: In a large skillet head 2 TB olive oil until glistening. Add chicken sausage that has been cut into 1″ pieces and cook until slightly carmelized and browning. Set aside pan, reserving the oil and fat generated from cooking the sausage.

5. Assembly: In the large bowl you used to toss the vegetables originally return the now cooked vegetables. While still hot from the oven toss with half the pesto to thoroughly coat the vegetables. Add the pasta and reserved cooking liquid, remaining pesto, sausage, and reserved oil and toss until well coated. Serve with generous portions of coarsely grated Parmesan.

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Filed under Pasta, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Cupcakes Make My Butt Big

Warm Mushroom Salad

Warm Mushroom Salad

My friend’s 20-month old daughter came home from daycare the other day and declared, while having a snack, “Cupcakes make my butt big.” Half an hour later while sipping a juice she made a similar proclamation: “Juice make my butt big.”

Now, all women have clearly thought these things to themselves occasionally, and have maybe confessed these thoughts to a good friend, but the fact that they were coming out of the mouth of a child not yet even two was understandably shocking and upsetting. A quick call to the daycare determined that the staff there had undertaken a “Biggest Loser” challenge and weight was very much on the minds of the caretakers. Admittedly, weight and body image are things that everyone struggles with, and some more than others, but the demonizing of food is something I vow to try to avoid in my children, for as long as possible.

Food should be celebrated and enjoyed. A chance to get people together, where they may share the mundane reports of the day coupled with the big dreams of the year.

Which is not to say that every now and then a few low-cal additions to the meal plan isn’t a good thing.

This Warm Mushroom Salad is a wonderful mix of indulgent and healthy. Easy to make and very pretty to serve it makes both a great lunch or a pretty salad when entertaining.

Warm Mushroom Salad (adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten)

1 lb cremini mushrooms

2 TB butter

6 TB olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 bunches fresh arugula

8 slices prosciutto

3 TB sherry wine vinegar

Chunk of Parmesan

8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and julienned

Remove the mushroom stems and slice the caps to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

In large saute pan heat the butter and 2 TB of the oil until bubbly. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper to pan and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat, tossing frequently. Reduce the head to low and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, arrange the arugula on 4 places and cover each portion with 2 slices of prosciutto. When are mushrooms are cooked, add the sherry vinegar and the remaining 2 TB oil to the hot pan. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce on top of the prosciutto. With a vegetable peeler make large shaving of the parmesan cheese and plan on top of the hot mushrooms. Sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes. Serve warm.

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Filed under Health Conscious, Salads, Uncategorized