Burst tomato pasta with mint, pancetta, and ricotta

Burst tomato pasta with mint, pancetta, and ricotta // curfuffled.com

I had a serious craving for mint last week and needed an excuse to throw a large handful of it into something. Of course, a bourbon drink helped with that — but what else? Enter this mouth-watering recipe from The New York Times.

Who doesn’t love the combination of bacon, butter, and cheese? Throw in some veggies (tomatoes) and green things (mint) and the whole thing becomes a balanced meal…right?

Burst tomato pasta with mint, pancetta, and ricotta
By Melissa Clark, for the The New York Times

1 pound fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, preferably thick cut, diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed
1 quart cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
3 cups whole mint leaves, torn
4 scallions, preferably red scallions for color, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, to finish

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 15 seconds, then add the oil and heat until it thins out and easily coats the pan when swirled. Add pancetta and cook until it starts to render its fat, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they burst, turn golden at the edges and shrivel up slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add pasta to pan and toss with tomato-pancetta mixture; if the mixture looks dry add a little pasta cooking water a few tablespoons at a time. Cook over high heat until the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce. Add the butter and toss until it melts and coats everything.

Divide pasta among warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with dollops of ricotta, if desired, and top with a generous mound of fresh mint and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and more pepper before serving.


Entryway // curfuffled.com

Slowly, steadily, we’re settling into our new home. Oh, who am I kidding? We have two-day bursts of hyper-productivity followed by week-long stretches of sheer and blissful neglect. Isn’t that how it always goes?

Last week we finally got around to hanging some shelves in the entryway. We were in desperate need of a catch-all spot; one more rain-soaked jacket flung onto the couch and I was going to freak out! I was originally planning on putting up a narrow ledge and some pegs, like this, but then I found these awesome shelves at West Elm. Bent wood and S hooks? Yes, please.

A few questions I found helpful when tackling the entryway (and any design decision, really):

- What do you need? For us, the priority was a place to toss our keys, coins, and coats. This helped us narrow our options. For instance, a storage bench was out.

- Along a similar vein: what are your constraints? Our front door abuts a wall, which means only shallow shelves will fit. Deep drawers or a console would have kept the door from swinging all the way open!

- What would be a little unexpected? Personally, I am drawn to functional pieces that have a bit of an edge, something surprising. These shelves fit the bill. I love the contrast of the blonde wood against white walls, the unusual U shape of the ledge, and the mix of materials and textures.

- What would make you happy? The most critical factor! Each of the little knick knacks on the shelves has a story, and each of those stories puts a smile on my face every time I reach for my keys. Isn’t that how a home should always make you feel?

There’s so much work left to be done, but we’re getting there! It’s hard to remember, sometimes, that you’re making progress. I think we’ll take on the kitchen next. All of our cooking utensils are rattling around in a market tote in the living room (!) and it’d be nice to finally have a place to put them.


Quick-pickled jalapeños

Pickled jalapenos
When T and I lived in Brooklyn, one of our favourite things to do was to amble around the borough on weekend mornings. He’d tuck the Times under one arm, me under another, and off we’d go in search of food and coffee. One Saturday we ended up at Brooklyn Sandwich Society (now reincarnated as Martha). We ordered a mushroom skillet, which was delicious, but the real standout was a small jar of pickled jalapeños that our server set down on our table. Not too spicy, slightly tangy, and with just a hint of sweetness…by the end of our meal, we had consumed two jars worth.

I’ve since pickled countless pounds of jalapeños and eat them with everything, including nothing at all. I feel like one big Brooklyn stereotype! We may have moved out of the borough now, but every time I reach for a jar of this stuff I think, “You can’t take the borough out of the girl.”

Quick-Pickled Jalapeños
Adapted from David Chang’s masterpiece: Momofuku

This recipe is as adaptable as it is easy. Add a squeeze of lemon, some coriander seeds, a couple cloves of garlic — anything, really. The one non-negotiable, though, is unseasoned rice vinegar. Avoid the distilled white stuff; it’s just too caustic.

Also, wear gloves when handling hot peppers! I always forget — that is, until I take my contacts out at night. Believe me, you’ll wish you had remembered then, too!

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
3 jalapeños, thinly sliced

Combine the first three ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar and salt dissolve and the solution begins to bubble. Pack jalapeños into an air-tight glass container. Cover with brine, close lid, and refrigerate. They’ll be ready in an hour, but will taste even better if you let them sit for a few more. Most will keep for up to a month, if you have that much self-restraint.

Doing something about it

I’ve wanted to learn how to sew for years, but always had an excuse not to.

“I’m too busy.”
“I’ll just take it to the dry cleaners.”
“A sewing machine is too bulky to store.”

I finally pushed pretenses aside and took my first sewing class today.
In a matter of hours I made a custom pillowcase and liner — hidden zippers included!
That linen checkered bolster is now one of my favourite things.
And the best part? Fabric and supplies cost me less than $15.

It’s like a whole new world has opened up to me. And what an exciting world it is. xo

It’s starting to feel like home

BottleRainbowT unpacked some glassware and placed a few bottles by the windowsill.
Every afternoon, the sun catches them and casts the most beautiful rainbow against the wall.

I’ve been missing my old apartment lately – a sentimental stronghold, or something.
I never imagined I could get so attached to a physical space.

But then, I look over to that little corner of colours. In our new little corner of the world.
And I think to myself, “This place is starting to feel like home.”

Linguine with sautéed ramps, toasted breadcrumbs, and pecorino romano

LinguineRampsWe’re currently unpacking two apartments into one. In other words, it takes twenty minutes to find the pepper grinder and somehow, we have three pasta servers. Naturally, I think this is the best time to cook.

So off I went to the market to find some ingredients to make a mess with.

I had never tasted a ramp until I moved to New York and you know what they say: there is no zealot like a convert. Ramps taste somewhere between garlic and leeks, but milder. They are among the first greens to pop out of the ground in the spring and only appear for six to eight weeks. They’re also mostly foraged. Of course, New Yorkers scramble to pay $20/lb for them. As my friend aptly noted, “You had me at garlic”.

So when I saw ramps at the market, I knew they were the perfect thing to cook in our new place. Our first homemade meal (!) — and just the thing to make our new apartment smell like home :)

Linguine with sautéed ramps, toasted breadcrumbs, and pecorino romano
Adapted from One For the Table

12 oz linguine
2 bunches ramps, white parts separated and leaves roughly chopped
4 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (plus more for serving)
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs (I just tossed regular breadcrumbs in a pan for a few minutes)
a few wedges of lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.

Warm olive oil in a 12″ sautée pan over medium-high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, remove pan from flame and add ramp whites. Cook until the whites start to blister, about 2 minutes, then return pan back to burner. Sautée ramps another 3 minutes, then add garlic. Once the garlic starts to smell nutty but before it browns, add ramp leaves and cook until just wilted. Make room in the pan and add pasta, pasta water, and cheese, and combine well. Stir in breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with wedges of lemon and extra cheese.

Note: I forgot to add chili flakes — ok, I couldn’t find the chili flakes — but the addition of a half teaspoon would provide a welcome kick.

A familiar perspective

OgilvyViewNYC Tomorrow marks my last day at my first job out of college. I snapped this photo a few weeks ago from the 9th floor of our office. This view is one of the things I’ll miss most about the joint. Morning, noon, and night, the scene is quintessential New York to me: brownstones, skyscrapers, hotels, little boxes, little people, all squished together. In the summers it reminds me of this photo by Jamie Beck. In the winters chimneys puff white smoke into the air and it feels so cold, so bleak. On the other side of the building you look out onto the Hudson and the Intrepid and the Penthouse billboards, and when the weather warms, you hear the loud horns from the Disney cruise ships beckoning the mini-mice back onboard. And by god the sunsets. And the gloamings. And that dusty rose light that gleams off the brick buildings to the north. It makes me love New York. It makes me want to go home. It’s the view from the 9th floor of the office — and one of the things I’ll miss most about the joint.

Squid with tomatoes and peas

SquidPeasFor my birthday this year, my dad gifted me with Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Doesn’t he know me so well? :)

To inaugurate the cookbook, I decided to make Marcella’s Squid with Tomatoes and Peas recipe. While I’m no stranger to preparing seafood at home — shrimp, fish, and mussels are regulars in my rotation — I hadn’t introduced squid into my kitchen. Boy, was I missing out! This dish is so easy and bursting with flavour. I was nervous about handling squid, but we bought pre-cleaned ones from the market and had them all chopped in a matter of minutes (fyi: this is a good step-by-step guide if you buy whole cuttlefish). So, in just one hour and with a single pan, we were enjoying what I swear is the best squid dish I’ve ever had.

2 1/2 lbs small to medium whole squid, or 2 lbs cleaned squid, sliced into rings a little less than 1/2 inch wide
1 1/2 tbsp onion, finely chopped (about half a small onion)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garlic, finely chopped (about 2 cloves — but we live by the rule of always doubling the garlic :) )
1 tbsp chopped parsley
3/4 cup fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped, or canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 10-oz package frozen peas, thawed (or frozen, if you’re lazy like us :) )

Wash squid rings in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with cloth or paper towels.

Put the onion and olive oil in a large saucepan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes a pale gold, then add the garlic. When the garlic becomes lightly coloured, add the parsley, stir once or twice, then add the tomatoes. Stir thoroughly to coat well and cook at a steady simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the squid to the pot, cover, and adjust the heat to cook at a slow simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt, a couple grinds of the pepper mill, and stir thoroughly.

Add the thawed peas when the squid is tender (taste a ring to be sure it is fully cooked!), stir thoroughly, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Taste and transfer to a warm, deep serving platter, and serve promptly.

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