• BLT Pasta with Garlic Croutons

    Hello friends!! For today’s recipe, yes, you read that right, it’s BLT PASTA!! One of life’s simple pleasures is a good sandwich, and in my opinion, nothing matches the near perfection of a good BLT in the summer. The crisp bacon, juicy tomato, fresh lettuce, it’s a classically delicious combination that one would not think could possibly be improved. HOWEVER, that was before you considered this recipe. Adapted from The New York Times (recipe here), this pasta has all the best parts of a traditional BLT sandwich, as well as the addition of peppery arugula and salty pecorino romano cheese. An added bonus? The sauce practically cooks itself! After frying the bacon, halved cherry tomatoes are cooked in the resulting bacon fat and reduced to a bubbling, rich but not heavy sauce, made even silkier with the freshly grated cheese and pasta water. All you have to do is stir it all together!

    Enjoying these beautifully colored gems while I can!!

    My own version of this meal includes one extra accent in the form of crispy garlic croutons because I just really love mixing bread and pasta. Is that weird? My all time favorite pasta dish is literally just pasta tossed with garlic breadcrumbs, sometimes with some sautéed kale and a fried egg, but also sometimes not, and it’s just SO delicious. So anyway, I figured, since this dish is adapted from a classic sandwich anyway, why not bring the bread back? And boy am I glad I did, because even just a small handful on top of your pasta swirl provides the most perfect and satisfying crunch and we quickly learned, as my mother remarked while eating this, “I could eat this pasta all night”.

    I’ve been seeing fancy noodle swirls all over my instagram and quickly realized how challenging it is to get them all to cooperate with me. How’d I do?

    Before we get started, I’m bringing you 5 more things to be happy about this week, are you ready? Let’s go!

    ONE. The newly released Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – which is heartwarming, sweet, and impossible to watch just once.

    TWO. Eating a cup full of cold, cubed watermelon and feeling instantly refreshed.

    THREE. The immediate relaxation you feel when stepping into an air-conditioned space from the heat outside.

    FOUR. Playing the same song over and over while driving by yourself, with no one to tell you not to.

    FIVE. Dinners where everyone gathers around the table long after the food is finished, simply enjoying each other’s company.

    Are we feeling happy? Hungry? Let’s get cooking!!

    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Serves: 6-8 dinner portions (plus leftovers for tomorrow – or midnight!!)

    Ingredients

    2 boxes pasta of your choice (I used bucatini but any tube like pasta works!)
    12oz. bacon, diced
    2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
    10 oz. arugula, washed and dried
    1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
    ½ loaf ciabatta bread, torn into bite size chunks
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    Olive oil
    Kosher salt + pepper
    Red pepper flakes

    Steps

    ONE. Bring pasta water to boil in a large pot. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions for al dente, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water.

    TWO. In a shallow pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add crushed red pepper flakes to your liking, depending on your spice preference. I used about ½ tsp for these croutons. Add in the torn pieces of ciabatta and stir so that every piece is coated with olive oil. Toast until the bread becomes golden brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

    THREE. While the water is coming to a boil, crisp your bacon in a large skillet or pot on medium-high heat, then remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate, taking care to keep as much of the bacon fat left in the pan as possible. Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with the bacon fat, and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes become soft and begin to burst. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate the browned bacon bits into the sauce as well. Season with salt and pepper, and after about 5 minutes of cooking, add half of the cooked bacon back to this sauce and mix to combine.

    Look at these cuties doing their thing!!

    FOUR. With the heat on medium-high, add the cooked pasta straight from the water into the skillet with the tomato sauce. Add in your arugula plus ½ cup pasta water and cook for a minute until the arugula begins to wilt slightly. Stir in the cheese and an additional ½ cup pasta water, mixing everything together until the sauce becomes smooth and almost shiny, and coats the pasta. Feel free to add more pasta water as needed, until you reach the desired consistency.

    I almost dropped my phone into the pasta for this shot, you’re WELCOME

    FIVE. To serve, pile a generous helping of pasta onto a plate or into a shallow bowl, add a handful of garlic croutons, a sprinkling of crisped bacon pieces, and a heaping snow shower of grated cheese. Best enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine.

    YUM!! xoxoxoxoD

  • Cinnamon Plum-Apricot Pie with Vanilla Pouring Custard

    Hello friends! After a week’s break I am back, and I bring more summer pie! Last week, my family and I took a trip to Portland, Maine, one of our favorite places, and it was exactly what I needed to clear my head. The city was named Bon Appetit’s city of the year, and for good reason. Portland is a food-lover’s paradise, but more specifically, a baked-good lover’s paradise. Every morning I had some form of doughnuts, pie, or cinnamon rolls with some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I’m not kidding when I say that if the winters there didn’t get so cold, I would move there immediately.


    If you’re planning a visit any time soon, here are the top three places from me:

    ONE
    . Tandem Coffee Roasters (above right photo): a bakery/ coffee shop in a refurbished gas station, aka the most aesthetically pleasing and delicious place in the world
    TWO. The Holy Donut (above left photo): the only thing you need to know about this place is that the doughnuts have MASHED POTATO in them!!! The result is the most tender, pillowy doughnut you’ll ever have (my favorite is the maple one!)
    THREE. Two Fat Cats Bakery: the pie here is UNBELIEVABLE, and the inspiration behind today’s recipe. (ALSO, I was told they now ship their pies, you’re welcome!)


    Something that I like to do with my friends and have been trying to do more of recently is occasionally make a list of 5 things to be happy about, just to keep things in perspective, so before we get started, I’m going to share some with you as well!

    ONE
    . An unusually cool day in the summer, giving you a preview for the Fall season ahead, and a reason to sit on the porch with a hot cup of tea.
    TWO. Finally finishing that book that you’ve been reading for months.
    THREE. Freshly baked cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning.
    FOUR. Lying in bed listening to thunder outside as you fall asleep.
    FIVE. That one TV show that you know front and back but never get tired off. (For me it’s Pushing Daisies!!).


    OKAY now that that’s covered, some quick notes about today’s recipe. This beautiful pie is brought to you by The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (buy it here!), which covers truly every question you could ever have about pie. This one in particular originally featured only apricots, but since I had such a difficult time finding apricots around me, I had to improvise without abandoning the recipe all together, hence, the plums. Technically, the fruit I used was an apricot/ plum hybrid called an Aprium, which I had NEVER heard before. They tasted more like plums than apricots really, but both fruits would be spectacular with the cinnamon and vanilla custard. Also, the thickening agent in this pie is potato starch, which I had never encountered before but am now in love with. According to the book, it’s easier to find than tapioca and more effective than cornstarch, which leaves a gritty texture often. I used one from Bob’s Red Mill and was so happy with how the filling came together in a way that was thick but not gelatinous, and certainly not soupy. Finally, this pie was designed specifically to pair with the Vanilla Pouring Custard, so I would highly recommend following through with it. However, this custard can go on so many things- cakes, other pies, ice cream, straight from the pot to your mouth (??), idk, I’m not judging here. Now quick, let’s get baking!

    Adapted from: The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
    Makes: 1 double crust pie + approximately 2 cups custard

    Pie Ingredients

    Pie Crust recipe for 1 Double Crust pie, found here
    1½ lbs. apricots/ plums (or both!)
    2 Tbs lemon juice
    ½ cup white sugar
    ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
    1 tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    3 Tbs potato starch
    Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbs water)
    Demerara sugar

    Pie Steps

    ONE. Before starting your filling, prepare your pie dough following steps 1 through 4 of this recipe here. After the 30 minute chilling period, roll out half the pie crust and line your pie plate, then roll out the other half and chill both halves in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

    TWO. Wash your fruit and cut in slices (in half, then in half moon slices), removing the stones. Toss the fruit with the lemon juice to prevent browning. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and potato starch, then add this sugar mixture to the fruit. Stir until everything is evenly combined.

    THREE. Pour this filling into the prepared pie shell, then place the top crust over it. You can do whatever you’d like here, whether you feel like a lattice or a full top crust! Brush the top with egg wash, and remember to cut some air vents if doing a full top crust. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and place the pie on a sheet pan (with raised edges), to catch spills and drips.

    FOUR. Bake the pie at 425º for the first 20 minutes on the bottom most rack of your oven. When 20 minutes are up, turn the oven down to 375ºF, then bake for another 30 minutes. Keep watch for the crust, specifically the edges, which can burn, and cover with tin foil or pie crust protectors as necessary. Allow the pie to cool completely (to set the filling), before reheating and serving with Pouring Custard!

    Vanilla Pouring Custard Ingredients

    2 cups whole milk
    4 large eggs
    1 tsp cornstarch
    4 Tbs white sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
    1 or 2 Tbs dark rum (optional)

    Vanilla Pouring Custard Steps

    ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it’s just about to boil, but doesn’t quite yet. Keep an eye on it, it heats up faster than you think!

    TWO. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar until pale yellow. Carefully and VERY slowly, drizzle some of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly so as not to cook the eggs. This tempers the egg mixture and allows you to add it back to the milk without accidentally making scrambles.

    My baking setup is usually this chaotic, I spy an espresso maker cluttering up this counter!

    THREE. Add the tempered egg mixture to the rest of the milk in the saucepan and cook on low, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the consistency is slightly thickened and coats the back of the spoon. *It took me a long time to get the custard to thicken, but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up too high because that tends to curdle the mixture. Just be patient!

    FOUR. Place a sieve over a medium bowl and strain the custard to remove any lumps and give you the smoothest product. At this point, stir in the vanilla (and rum if you’re using it!). This is best served still warm, and trust me, there is no limit to how much you can pour on one slice of pie.


    YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxD

     

  • Eggs In Purgatory

    You know when you love breakfast foods, but you’re also really lazy? Um, hello, that’s me. In college, I got so used to scheduling all my classes at 11am or later, just so I could stay up until 2am but also get a reasonable amount of sleep (healthy, I know), but NOW, even after a full year of adulthood in the workforce, I am so unprepared for how tired I feel during the week. As a result, Saturdays are my sacred sleeping late days, and I take them very seriously thank you very much. With this being the case, I am not often awake early enough for breakfast, which is actually a real bummer given how many breakfast recipes I want to try. I’ve always wanted to be a morning person and have been trying to push myself not to sleep so late on the weekends, but it’s slow going for sure.

    I was super proud of this presentation, I’m not gonna lie…

    That being said, I think I may have just found the key. It all started when I got a copy of Cook’s Illustrated magazine for my birthday (thanks Anne!!). This particular copy was the “Special Collector’s Edition” of All-Time Best Breakfast & Brunch Recipes. A dream come true, right?? It had every recipe you could possibly imagine, complete with detailed notes on the testing of each one so that you could be sure you were getting the best results. However, the recipe that really caught my eye was the one for “Eggs In Purgatory”. Similar to Shakshuka, Eggs In Purgatory is essentially baked eggs in a tomato sauce, this time with Italian flavors. As a fake Italian, this was really what drew me in (for clarification, I’m not Italian at all but I just really wish I was).

    The key to this recipe is cooking the eggs two different ways to ensure they are properly cooked without compromising the overall dish. This means that you first make the sauce on the stovetop, crack in the eggs, cook for a bit, and THEN bake, and the end result will be the breakfast dish of your dreams. An added bonus? Every step of this meal is cooked in one pan (not counting the toasting of the bread), so you can spend more quality time with your guests (or yourself, if you make this whole thing for you I will not judge, it’s called self care!!). *Disclaimer* The recipe technically serves 4 figuring that each person will eat 2 eggs, baked in a 12 inch skillet. However, I only have a 10.5 inch skillet, so I used 6 eggs. It still fed 4 of us, but I’ll let you decide how hungry you are. Let’s breakfast!

    Serves: 4-5 people
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Eggs In Purgatory Ingredients
    adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, by Cecilia Jenkins

    1 loaf Italian bread, cut into thick slices
    7 Tbs olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    ¼ cup grated onion (about half a medium onion)
    1 Tbs tomato paste
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    ½ tsp dried oregano
    1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more chopped for garnish
    1- 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
    6-8 large eggs (depending on your pan size and crowd)
    Parmesan cheese
    Salt & Pepper

    Eggs In Purgatory Steps

    1. Start by moving one of your oven racks to the middle slot. Arrange the sliced bread on a large baking sheet and brush each piece with olive oil. Flip to the other side and repeat so that both sides of the bread are oiled. In total, this should be about 4 of the 7 tablespoons of olive oil, but you can eyeball this as well. Broil the bread until the tops turn golden brown and crisp, turning each piece over to ensure even browning on both sides. Don’t wander too far while this is happening, things can go from lightly golden to very burnt in the blink of an eye with your broiler!! Set the bread aside and preheat your oven to 400ºF.

    2. In an oven-safe skillet (I used a cast iron one, but it’s up to you!), heat your remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to brown it too much (browned garlic is very bitter). Stir in the grated onion, tomato paste, salt, red pepper flakes, and oregano so that everything is well combined. Continue to cook this mixture until the tomato paste has turned rust-colored, or a deep, reddish-brown, as this will unlock the caramelized sweetness of the tomatoes. (It should take about 5 minutes.)

    3. Toss in the basil leaves and stir, cooking for 30 seconds, or until they begin to wilt. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until it has slightly thickened. Remember to stir occasionally!

    4. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool for 2 minutes before adding the eggs next. Crack one of your eggs into a small bowl. Using a rubber spatula, clear a large hole in the sauce, deep enough that you can see the bottom and wide enough to fit the whole egg without spilling over. Pour the egg in, making sure to keep the whites contained so that they don’t spread entirely over the surface of the tomato sauce. I found myself sort-of pushing some of the sauce up to create a little barrier if the eggs were large enough that some of the white was spilling over, and it worked out okay! Remember also that practice makes perfect, and even if some whites spill over, it’s going to taste SO. GOOD.

     

    5. Repeat with the rest of your eggs, evenly spacing out the pockets around the perimeter of the skillet, with the final egg right in the middle. Season all the eggs with salt and pepper, then cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, until the whites are just setting but still a little watery. Remove the lid and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes for runny eggs, or 6 for soft yolks, rotating the skillet once during cooking.

    6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan and chopped basil, then serve with the toasty bread and just TRY to keep yourself from scooping up every last bit of sauce with that bread.

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoD