Anthony

Ciao'd with a robust glass of red.

I don't know who took this photo. Please let me know if you know. Brilliant.   

I don't know who took this photo. Please let me know if you know. Brilliant.

 

I was at once enamored and scared of him. Completely transfixed. He was like the guy I met in a college bar who I knew my parents would never approve of. Because! Because Anthony Bourdain was a firebrand. He was the kind of guy who touched my soul in places that enlivened me, excited me, and made me feel like I could stretch beyond my expected norms. His weathered exterior masked his kind, sensitive heart.

It wasn't just about Anthony's food knowledge. He was not a cooking channel talking head. Not by a long shot. Anthony gave a master class in storytelling. His global curiosity was unmatched.  And perhaps most moving, his authentic and soulful love for real people around the world torpedoed through the television screen and into our hearts and minds. With food as his lovely, melodic instrument, Anthony united us with people in other (and sometimes strange) cultures. From Seoul to Tokyo, Hanoi to Hawaii, and so many points in between, Anthony Bourdain was #badass. 

"Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”  Roger that, Anthony.

This recipe is great, but if you choose not to make it, please read the recipe. His voice, true and exciting,  resonates. God, we need more people like this. Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain. You were a force. 

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MUSHROOM SOUP

 

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 lb (12 ounces) button mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig Italian parsley
Salt and pepper
2 ounces dry sherry

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and the remaining butter. Let the mushrooms sweat for about 8 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove the parsley and discard. Let the soup cool for a few minutes. Transfer to the blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender's lid firmly held down, and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom puree to erupt all over your ktichen?

To astound your guests with a Wild Mushroom Soup, simply replace some of those button mushrooms with a few dried cèpes or morels, which have been soaked until soft, drained, and squeezed. Not too many; the dried mushrooms will have a much stronger taste, and you don't want to overwhelm the soup. Pan sear, on high heat, a single small, pretty, fresh chanterelle or morel for each portion, and then slice into a cute fan and float on top in each bowl.

And if you really want to ratchet your soup into pretentious (but delicious), drizzle a few tiny drops of truffle oil over the surface just before serving. Why the hell not? Everybody else is doing it.

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FARFALLE WITH ASPARAGUS TOPS AND HERBS

Ciao'd with a glass of Meyer lemonade

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I planted herbs in my garden a week or two ago. They’re still spriglet babies with a shared green hue that is almost transparent. As the sun warms, and warms the herbs, too, the single diaphanous hue will deepen into a range of greens - smoky (sage), emerald (parsley), clover (basil), moss (oregano) and more.

Spring is a delicate season defined by new life. Endings beget beginnings. After a winter of muted hues, we see the emergence of color, whether it’s a patch of grass unveiled by melting snow or the flash of scarlet on a red-wing blackbird. We hear a certain buzz. I’ve never been sure about the source of the buzz, but scientific sorts tell me it emits from baby insects – bees and so forth. I prefer to think that it is the sound of the natural world awakening. We feel raindrops on our heads and shoulders and the cheering warmth of a young sun. We touch the earth as we plant seedlings on a temperate weekend. We welcome the first asparagus.

Fresh asparagus with its lovely tender tops and toothsome bottoms is one of the first vegetables to emerge in the spring. While we’ll enjoy asparagus throughout the summer, its first blush of flavor is fleeting, and that makes it all the more wonderful. And so, this recipe.

Farfalle with Asparagus Tops and Herbs is a delicate pasta dish in which the farfalle, or butterflies, float in a simple chicken broth. It’s nice to serve in the early spring when asparagus is at its peak and we’re ready for lighter fare.

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RECIPE

FARFALLE WITH ASPARAGUS TOPS AND HERBS

The trick to this brothy pasta dish is using the thinnest asparagus you can find. Serve it as a first course or a light lunch. 

Serves 4

1 pound thin asparagus
Kosher salt
1 pound farfalle (butterfly-shaped) pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut the spears on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces; reserve.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 generous pinches of salt and when the water returns to a boil, add the pasta. Cook according to package directions until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes to reduce it a bit. Add the herbs and stir to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the asparagus mixture to the pasta and toss to coat with the broth. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

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FARRO SOUP WITH BEANS, BROCCOLI, AND CHICKEN SAUSAGE

Ciao'd while nibbling peppermint bark. 

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Happy Holidaze! My fingers ache from online shopping. My feet relentlessly remind me (at 3 AM) of time spent cooking and baking. My derrière seems to expand every day, no thanks to cocktailing and celebrating at various holiday soirées. It's time for a rejuvenating, healthy bowl of soup. And this one's a winner. 

Farro Soup with Beans, Broccoli, and Chicken Sausage is just the foundational recipe. You can add other vegetables (cubed potatoes, green beans, and peas come to mind). If you are of the vegetarian persuasion (shout out to Glo and Randee), you can take that route. Simply omit the sausage and use water or vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. Go for broke and add tubetti pasta for a farro-y take on pasta e fagioli. 

I'm giving a dinner party this weekend. Rather than serving an over-the-top menu, I'm thinking of offering this soup with warm crusty bread and a salad. For real. Cozy vibes all around! 

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RECIPE

FARRO SOUP WITH BEANS, BROCCOLI, AND CHICKEN SAUSAGE

Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, complement the earthy flavor of farro. Sure you can use canned beans (use 2 cups if you opt for this route) but the texture of the cooked dried beans is so much more substantial. You can also opt to make this a vegetarian soup. Simply omit the sausage and use water or vegetable stock rather than chicken stock. This is a hearty, satisfying soup that tastes even better on the second or third day. It freezes well, too.

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup dried borlotti (cranberry) beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces fully cooked chicken or turkey sausages, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup farro
One 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
8 cups chicken stock or water, more as necessary
2 cups broccoli florets
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Place the beans in a large, heavy pot. Cover with water about 2 inches above the beans. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat. Let the beans soak in the water for 1 hour and then drain.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pot along with a ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, scraping up any brown bits of sausage from the bottom of the pan, until the onion has softened and turned translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the farro, beans, tomatoes, sausage, and stock. Bring to a boil, and then decrease the heat and simmer until the farro and beans are tender, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Add the broccoli florets and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to combine.

Serve the soup and pass the Parmesan at the table.

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THE FIX: QUICK AND CREAMY WHITE BEAN SOUP

Happy International Women's Day! Let's celebrate with a sip of soup. #BeBoldForChange

This is a great soup to serve as the season transitions from winter to spring. It's satisfying yet not overly heavy, with a lushness created by pureeing the beans. No heavy cream required. For a vegetarian version, delete the pancetta, and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 ounces chopped pancetta or bacon (about ¼ cup)
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 generous handfuls fresh spinach leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan
Finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and the pancetta is just crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and sage, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cannellini beans, broth, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, puree the soup in batches in a blender. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the spinach. Cook until the spinach leaves wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and black pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the parsley. Serve at once.

WHEN THEY FLY THE COOP, THIS MACARONI SOUP

This is the season when mothers mourn. Little ones start nursery school and bigger ones enter high school. The biggest of them take the exit ramp from as it was to as it will be. College.

Starting this week, mom bloggers will write about these rites of passage. Facebook posts will leak emotion.  The rawest and sweetest words will come from the mothers whose college-bound children will be sleeping in their beds one night and gone from them the next.

It's a song sung in the round with variations on a theme. “It seems like only yesterday I was...

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