Cooking with Fabio: Drunken Red Spaghetti

Has anyone else missed Fabio Viviani? I know I’d take his crazy Italian ramblings over this year’s boring Top Chef-testants any day. Well, not to worry—I just stumbled upon his new web series, in which Fabio and his disturbingly hot mom cook up drunken red spaghetti—pasta doused in red wine and smothered in pecornio, walnuts and caramelized pancetta. I love this dish because he doesn’t add just a little bit of booze. Uh-uh. He adds enough wine to turn those noodles purple! Now that’s Italian.

Also – check out his nickle-and-dime pasta serving size trick at 2:40!

This Week at the Farmers Market: June Strawberry Salad

I spent Father’s Day weekend with dad at my parent’s country house near the Adirondacks, mowing, weeding, trimming overly eager tree branches, sweeping out the cobwebs, vacuuming the pool, and generally sprucing the place up in anticipation of summer. After our hard work we treated ourselves to a some fresh produce from the neighboring farms… not sure if you’ve heard but strawberry season is in full swing and THANK GOD, because strawberries are one of those fruits, like melons and blueberries (coming soon!!), that are basically bland and tough in the off-season. But holy mother, in June there’s nothing better.

Of course, juicy strawberries are superb on their own, topping off ice cream, boiled down for homemade jam, or baked into a pie. This weekend it was effing hot and I didn’t feel like turning on the oven, plus I wanted to try something a bit more savory to go with our dinner of grilled salmon. The farm stand down the road also sells local cheeses, meats and greens, so we picked up a bag of big, leafy spinach, and a small wheel of goat cheese, wonderfully named “Purple Haze,” and this salad was born.

June Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Fresh Spinach, and Lemon Vinaigrette

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Endless Ice Cream: Fig and Candied Walnut

I never ate a fig that wasn’t in Newton form until I was 28. Then, I picked up a pint for a dollar while grocery shopping one warm October evening. I gingerly bit into 0ne (it was oozing and I was scared), and proceeded to inhale the whole pint in about 30 seconds.  I love figs. I dream about them when autumn rolls around and I can anticipate their arrival at the supermarket. But in the meantime, I’ll settle for this ice cream. Dried Black Mission figs are simmered and pureed with a bit of hard liquor (which keeps it from freezing solid). Walnuts are candied with butter and brown sugar, then chopped and added to a creamy custard-based ice cream. The fig puree in swirled in at the end. A quart of this in the freezer should help tide me over till fig season.

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Revenge Served Cold: Nettle Pesto

Growing up in England nettles were a large part of my childhood, whether I liked it or not — and I generally didn’t. This wretched plant caused many a tear in my household, its stinging leaves leaving immense pain that lasted for hours, with little sympathy from my parents as I was usually up to no good in the garden or local park, causing said sting.

When I saw nettles at the local farmers’ market here in D.C., I jumped at the chance to fight back, to serve justice to this leafy plant once and for all. There’s very little you can actually do with nettles, the most obvious was soup, but in these late spring months it seemed a tad too warm for that. I settled on pesto, a simple and versatile sauce that I could use in many dishes.

We’ve cooked basil brownies and avocado milkshakes, now it’s time for the nettle pesto.

 

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A Very Uniq Salad

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I want you guys to meet my new friend Uniq.  Say hi Uniq.  Aww, he’s a bit shy.  But in fairness if you were the ugly duckling in the family, you may not always warm to strangers either.  Give Uniq a break next time you see him on the produce isle, he kinda looks like shit, but this little guy has some really excellent goodies inside.

The Uniq fruit hails all the way from the island of Jamaica where someone that had very recently smoked a dubie had an epiphany about marrying a grapefruit with a tangerine.  Amazingly, this idea lasted past the munchies phase and Jamaica began harvesting and exporting the fruit by branding it with the tragically fitting name, the Ugli fruit.  Shockingly, the orders for the exotic ugli fruit were not overwhelming.  Fortunately for us, some marketing exec (also probably after smoking a dubie) pushed to have the fruit rebranded as the Uniq fruit.  That’s right Uniq, you’re not fat, you’re just big-boned.

Still suspect?  Maybe a little jump will change your mind..

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