Pastalaya, crawfish frittata, buffet at Pancho’s

The Hank Williams classic updated for 2009, which is a roundabout way of saying I spent last weekend visiting family in Des Allemands for my nephew’s 7th birthday. The food was terrific (as usual), and the company even more so, though the birthday boy completely ignored his auntie. Oh, well. That’s a little boy for you.

I didn’t take many pictures this time around, but did manage to snap this one, which is quickly becoming a favorite:

My new cousin, who couldn’t quite decide about me.

While I was away, Gil and The Ambassador stopped by the farmers’ market to pick up a few things for me, but I didn’t have a chance to use all of the spinach and arugula during the week. After getting fresh supplies this Saturday, I decided to use the week-old produce in one shot with a pesto to go with some leftover whole wheat pasta. It was all very free-form, but here’s how it went.

I toasted two handfuls of walnuts until they were warm and fragrant, then put them in the food processor to cool while I worked on the the rest of the pesto.


After they’d cooled somewhat, I pulsed them with a clove of garlic until the whole thing smelled like heaven, assuming your idea of heaven is warm walnuts and garlic.


I added about one part spinach to two parts arugula, filling the bowl of the processor twice before pulsing; that’s the amount of the greens I had on hand, but you can adjust to taste.


There was also quite a bit of Parmesan, good olive oil, zest from 1/2 lemon, and salt & pepper, all blended together until I was left with a satisfyingly bright green mess.


Which, when tossed with leftover whole wheat pasta, became an easy, light lunch, perfect for the oppressively humid day.


Rufus after the jump.

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Spring has sprung


On a cool and rainy Monday afternoon, it’d be easy to grumble a bit and wish the vestiges of winter would just leave for good already, but memories of our perfect weekend weather keep my emotions in check. The sun and warmth had such a curative effect on my doldrums that I BAKED, people — and if that isn’t a testament to spring’s power, then I don’t know what is.

So welcome, Spring, and please don’t rush off so quickly. Perhaps I could tempt you to hang around with a nice lemon tart or two…


Pucker up!

recipe after the jump

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This weekend, Gil and I made a quick and early excursion to the farmers’ market (Rufus overheats easily), but still managed to return home with bags bursting from the beautiful fruits and vegetables and pickles and pies and herbs on display. I was unable to resist much, so I’ll be doing a lot of cooking (for one) this week before the greens wilt and strawberries turn to mush.

The very first things I put to use from our haul were sugar snap peas and asparagus. I sautéed them lightly in butter and olive oil with garlic and reconstituted morels, then steamed them till tender with a little of the morel liquid. I topped the vegetables with chives and thyme from my herb garden and was very happy, indeed, until I had the bright idea to serve it with red snapper fresh from the freezer. And quelle surprise! the fish wasn’t so great, but it’s finally convinced me of the need to find a good fish market in the area. If anyone out there knows of a good one in Passaic or Bergen county, let me know.

Because I have real trouble letting anything go to waste, it was a happy day when I saw a recipe for chilled pea pod soup at Chocolate & Zucchini. I plan to make this until the market runs out of snap peas; it was light, delicious, and refreshing, especially topped with a spoonful of crème fraiche and more chives from my herb garden. Yum.

Once de Mayo

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter P. You may recognize it from such words as Parsley, Pecorino, and my favorite word of late, Procrastination.

Last weekend’s kitchen adventures were spent in the service of Cinco de Mayo with a chicken and hominy soup and a recipe for beans that took the better part of a day to make, but were worth every last stinkin’ second.

But by the time the fifth rolled around, I just couldn’t bring myself to post anything about it.

What’s that word again? Oh yeah, Procrastination.

Which brings us to today.

The aforementioned soup.

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Ramping it up

Make this.


I used dough from our favorite local pizza joint and a bit more cheese than I’m entirely comfortable admitting to, and it was still so good I’m considering purchasing a bigger pizza stone just to make more of these at once.

Why are you still here? You should be hunting down ramps and grating fresh mozzarella!


It’s Spring up in here!

Finally found ramps at the farmers’ market. Hot damn.

I’m convinced Spring is here now that I’ve seen the herbs and ramps at the Union Square Greenmarket — let allergy season commence! Despite feeling like a kid in a candy store, I kept my purchases reasonable and only bought some winter baudolino and cave-aged cheddar cheeses from Bobolink Dairy and two bunches of ramps.

Just in case you missed it — ramps! They’re here! (They’re queer! Get used to it!)

Last weekend’s Seder was a success; Miriam did most of the heavy lifting, and the only thing I really screwed up was overcooking some asparagus, which I put into the fridge for later comsuption. Heidi‘s recent post on plump pea dumplings convinced me that we needed to have them in our lives, and I thought the asparagus would be a natural addition to the filling. Alas, it was not meant to be, as I am lazy. After work, the last thing I wanted to do was slave over wonton wrappers and spilling filling, so the asparagus languished too long and turned in a way that only asparagus can.

:: shudder ::

So I made the dumplings Saturday using my greenmarket find. I cooked one bunch of the ramps in some bacon fat (yummmm) and mixed it with about a cup and a half of peas, lots of black pepper, and two teaspoons of sumac instead of lemon rind; my lemon was nearing its final journey to the afterworld and I thought it should arrive complete with the rind that saw it through its full life on earth. Otherwise, I stayed true to the original recipe.

The easy part, she is over. Now the sealing must begin.

OK, not as bad as expected. And they even held together as they cooked.

I fried them in just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and they were really something — creamy, fresh and vegetal, like Spring in a bite-sized wrapper.

But we have lots of filling left over, which gives me an idea for another dinner…