Sicilian Pizza and Arcade Games

Sicilian pizzaThumbing through Classico e Moderno for some pizza ideas I came across a recipe for a Sicilian style pie which reminded me of pizzerias back home in New York and summers of riding around with friends playing arcade games.  Just like here in Chicago, we had different types of pizza growing up; the regular pizza, flat round, awesome crust (note I do not call it NY-style as it’s just pizza to us) and the other lesser known Sicilian, which was thick and rectangular, fluffy, and you only needed one slice.  Not all pizzerias had Sicilian and not everyone likes it.  Since I’ve lived away from home for 15 years now and haven’t seen a Sicilian slice outside of New York I figured I’d have a go at trying to make some. (more…)

Florentine Onion and Pea Soup – what to do with leftover bread

Florentine Onion and Pea soupI’ve been doing a bit of bread baking recently and always end up with 2 loaves.  One of the loaves is usually eaten quickly while the second languishes a bit and gets stale.  It’s not surprising.  Fresh bread is fantastic, two day old bread is meh.  What do you do with the re-meh-ning bread?  Probably the oldest method of not letting  your stale bread go to waste is to use it in soup.  I found a good recipe for leftover bread in Carol Field’s Italian Baker; Florentine onion and pea soup.  Of course, I made a few changes. (more…)

How to Deal With a Canceled Vacation: Make Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate trufflesWe weren’t supposed to be in town for Valentine’s Day.  We were supposed to be far away from snowy cold Chicago on a Caribbean island.  However, Old Man Winter had other plans and ended up blasting the east coast thereby canceling our trip (for now).  I had to scramble for Valentine’s Day and whip up something nice without going too crazy.  Yes, I know I’ve recommended making apple tarts for a change of pace but having the beachblanket pulled out from under you requires chocolate, so I ended up making some pretty good chocolate truffles: hazelnut, sea salt (one of Cheryl’s favorite combinations), and cocoa coated.  (more…)

Saffron Stewed White Beans: Updating a Classic

white beans stewed with saffronLast Sunday I was flipping through my newest cookbook, Classico e Moderno, looking for some inspiration.  We were having roast lamb for dinner and I was searching for something new to serve alongside it.  I found a classic dish for stewed beans which supposedly is a common Tuscan side for roasts and braises and it looked to be a nice change of pace from what we’ve been having.  However, I didn’t have all of the ingredients and I wasn’t about to run out to the store on a Sunday for a few items.  No problem.  Like any cook worth his weight in butter, I improvised and turned the dish into saffron stewed beans.  I guess you could say I turned a classico into a moderno! (more…)

Tarte Tatin: A Perfect Treat for Valentine’s Day

Tart TatinWay back in the beginning when I started this blog I wrote about how the apple is a more fitting fruit for Valentine’s Day and I’m still of that mindset.  If you’re going to cook a special dinner at home for your Valentine, a tarte tatin is an impressive dessert, as well as firmly outside the heart-shaped box of standard Valentine’s Day chocolate desserts.  (more…)

Truffled Saucisson Sec: Taking the Next Step on My Charcuterie Adventure

Truffled saucisson secI don’t think I’ve arrived at the peak of home curing but I’ve definitely leveled up with this air cured sausage: truffled saucisson sec.  Who’d have thunk when I started making my own bacon a couple of years ago I’d end up turning a refrigerator in my basement into a curing fridge and making dried sausages.  I think there’s some fine tuning to do but I’m pretty happy with the way this air cured sausages turned out (and so is Cheryl).  (more…)

Blue Moon Braised Pork Cheeks Basquaise

Beer braised pork cheeks BasquaiseA few weeks back I was at the butcher shop and picked up some various pork parts, 2 pounds of cheeks being part of the haul.  They were really inexpensive at $2.49 per pound and I had intended on curing them but ended up putting the pork cheeks in the freezer to save for another day.  Last week that day came and the pork cheeks turned out to be Thursday night dinner.  Originally I wanted to make them for Wednesday Date Night dinner but we ended up going out instead.  With pork cheeks thawed and my creative juices flowing, I decided to make a kind of Basque style beer braised pork cheek.  (more…)