Tomato and Farro Soup


Tomato-Farro Soup-282-14242


Back in 2001, when we were working on our cookbook, farro was still rare.  If you went to the right restaurants, if you frequented the vortices of culinary hipness.  Italian delis, in New York or San Francisco maybe.  Specialty food stores, the occasional sighting.  How the world has turned in a dozen years!  Now you can often buy farro in grocery stores, which is a good thing if you want to make this week’s Tomato – Farro Soup.

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Fried Stuffed Olives

Fried Olives-1


Two kinds of cooks entertain at home: those who want guests in their kitchen, and those who don’t.  Fried Stuffed Olives are definitely for the former.  Filled with pork, salami, mortadella and cheese, these little bits of indulgence are best while still warm.  Out of the pan and into the mouth, with only a minute or two in between.  That means people nearby, glass of wine in hand, paper towel at the ready.  Cook, drain, eat.  Fun all round.


Polenta with Pancetta, Asparagus and Shaved Gouda-25

Last week Jody and I were treated to a delicious dish of broiled polenta with mushrooms at the home of friends and we immediately began thinking about a spring variation. Our first impulse, topping it with chicory and fava beans, didn’t work out because fresh favas – or a good substitute – aren’t in stores yet. What is available now is asparagus – and pancetta, and for a new wrinkle on the cheese, Aged Gouda.

Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio-Basil Pesto

We eat A LOT of asparagus. I see it on sale, buy an armful, steam it lightly, then use it to fill out other things–steel-cut oats and an egg, a lunch salad with cannelloni beans, a way to gussy up a croque monsieur so I don’t feel like Lonely Guy eating grilled cheese in an empty house. But Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Pesto is something else altogether. You set this platter in front of friends who aren’t afraid of getting a little messy when everyone’s standing around in the kitchen with a beer (my preference with asparagus, by the way)* or glass of wine, carrying on while you cook. Serious finger food.

Simple Sauce, Simple Eggplant Parmesan

This post had so many potential titles–Deep Purple, Heart of Darkness, Purple Monster–all inspired by this week’s recipe of Simple Eggplant Parmesan, and the challenge of photographing dark eggplants.  My favorite was from the great American writer Annie Proulx, who once depicted a character’s nocturnal torment as a “descent into an aubergine nightmare.” An aubergine nightmare.  …