Monthly Archives: September 2011

Falling for Fregula

One of the best things to come out of Sardinia as far as I’m concerned is fregula (or fregola).  It is a toasted semolina pasta and it is similar in size to Israeli Couscous.  They are chewy, toasty little pearls and this is one of my favorite recipes for days when I need a little extra something.

I happen to live in a predominantly Italian neighborhood, so finding this isn’t difficult but if you aren’t that lucky you can find it online (or have a friend mail it to you!).  Another option if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, is to ask them to start!  Most stores are happy to oblige if they know someone will buy it.

The first time I had fregula was in culinary school and I was instantly hooked.  The pasta is unlike anything else. It has a dense, chewy texture that you just don’t get with regular pasta.  It holds up very well with hearty ingredients making it perfect for an autumn meal.

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Farmer’s Market Finds

Everyone knows the behemoth that is the Union Square Farmer’s Market
I love it, but sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming for me and getting all of my treasures home on the train is less than ideal.  
So,  I opt for a smaller, more familiar Farmer’s Market closer to home.

This market may not offer the variety and sheer volume of vendors that the Union Square market does,  but it suits me just fine. 

There is one particular vendor there that I make a bee-line for as soon as I step into market territory.  They make some of the best bread, cookies, pies and knishes I have ever had.  Their chocolate chip cookie makes my eyes roll back in my head.  The bread is crusty on the outside and soft and tender inside and the pies taste like they have a Midwestern grandma in the kitchen. But what I really go there for are the knishes.
(oh the knishes…)

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Autumn Minestrone

While I am not a fan of cooler weather,  the one thing I can appreciate is the comfort food that is ushered in with the chill in the air.   I love one-pot meals, mostly because I am lazy about washing dishes, but there is something rather “warm-fuzzy” inducing about a big pot of soup bubbling away… 
The great thing about soups and other meals of this sort is they are fuss-free and that is a prerequisite during my hectic fall schedule  (besides the fact that my beloved Buckeyes are on every Saturday and I’m not one to miss a game).  Another added bonus is you can make a big batch and freeze it for days when you just can’t fathom the thought of breaking out a saute pan.

The variations on this are endless…  because it is fall I am using some root vegetables in the soup, however these vegetables can be changed out for any that you like.

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No Bones About It…

10 weeks old

Now that the “dog days” of summer are over, I find myself baking treats for my canine companion.  She loves sweet potatoes almost more than any other thing on earth,  so it was essential to incorporate them into her treats.

For those of us that love our pets like we gave birth to them,  making something special for them is not out of the ordinary…  but for those of you that may not be pet-lovers I suppose it may seem a bit odd.

Our dog Cleo used to love these treats when my Mom would make them for her,  so she sent me the recipe so I could make them for my little one.  They are pretty quick to get together and not complicated at all, so the whole process is pretty painless.

Considering all of the unconditional love they give us and never ask for anything in return,  making our beloved pets a special treat every now and then is a pretty good trade-off.

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From Market to Mouth

Every summer when I see zucchini blossoms at the farmer’s market,  I have an uncontrollable desire to make this dish.  The flowers are so beautiful that I just can’t resist them.

The finished plate is quite striking and it works perfectly for a dinner party or special occasion at home. 

The biggest decision you have to make really is which cheeses to use.  Buy the best quality cheese that you can afford.   If there is one particular cheese you love,  make that the star of the show,  but remember it is all about balance.

Each cheese brings something special to the plate:different textures, different levels of salt, one might melt better than anotherwhile a different one will help bind everything together.
Sadly, summer is coming to a close so get these while you still can.