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.

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.

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.

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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.

Red bean mochi with matcha

MatchaMochiRedBeanWe had our dear friends Yoshi and Tomomi over this weekend, along with their two kids, Kai and Kako. They were so sweet to have brought over the most delicious treat: red bean-filled mochi, dusted with matcha. I love the slightly sweet taste of the red bean paste, paired with the velvety, chewy texture of the mochi, mixed with the earthiness of the matcha powder that frosts your tongue right at your first bite. I’ve been savouring these little cakes every night after dinner, and sometimes for breakfast, too :)

[Mochi from Minamoto Kitchoan]

The best bruschetta

BruschettaT made dinner last night with heirloom tomatoes from the garden. It was easily the best bruschetta I’d ever had. Of course, I went back for…fifths.

He started with this recipe from Tasting Table’s Sous Chef series and adapted it as he went. The happiest modification came accidentally; T reached for the mirin instead of the champagne vinegar. He said it was purposeful, his new “secret ingredient” — I know better :) The mirin offered a touch of sweetness, almost like honey would have, which complemented the balsamic vinegar perfectly.

This is the ideal no-cook summer meal. I can’t wait to devour more of them as our tomatoes ripen out back.

Tomato bruschetta with avocado
Adapted from Julya Shin

Red onion, ¼ medium (finely diced)
Mirin, 2 tablespoons
Balsamic vinegar (the best quality you can find), 5 tablespoons
Ripe heirloom tomatoes, 2 medium (cored and cut into bite-size pieces)
Basil and mint, 1 cup (roughly torn)
Sea salt, 1 teaspoon, plus extra for serving
Extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons
Good quality day-old bread, cut into thick slices
Garlic clove, 1 (minced)
Ripe Hass avocado, 1 (pitted, quartered lengthwise and peeled)
Burrata, 6 ounces
Freshly ground black pepper

Add the red onions, mirin, and balsamic vinegar into a small bowl. Set aside and macerate for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, torn herbs, garlic, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, ½ cup of evoo, and macerated red onion plus 2 tablespoons of the macerating liquid. Stir to combine and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
Toast the bread, then brush lightly with the remaining evoo.
On each piece of toast, place a quarter of the avocado and smash it onto the toast with a fork.
Season with a pinch of sea salt.
Stir the tomato mixture, then spoon some over each toast.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and top with a dollop of burrata.

Field Trip: Brooklyn Crab

Brooklyn CrabThis weekend T and I trekked to Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook with a few friends and had the best time. We sat up on the roof and feasted on crab rolls, snow crabs, king crabs, and blue crab. Essentially, we recreated that scene in Forrest Gump where Bubba rattles off all the different preparations of shrimp — except with crab.

If you plan on heading over, here are a few tips I found helpful:
– Bring sunscreen and sunglasses; the view is fantastic, but it can get really bright on the water.
– Steamed crab is the way to go (as opposed to boiled) — it keeps the meat nice and plump!
– The king crab and crab rolls were our favourites.
– The restaurant is very family-friendly. There are lots of activities (mini-golf, beanbag tosses, coin rides) and a kid’s menu for pickier eaters (you may not need it though, because what kid doesn’t love beating crabs with mallets?).
– Our friends surprised us with the best key lime pie from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, around the corner. I was licking the foil clean :)

I’d highly recommend Brooklyn Crab for a fun outing. We can’t wait to go back!

Ramps and sopressata skillet

Because you can’t be a true Brooklyn Foodie if you don’t make at least one dish with ramps in the spring. RampsRamps in skilletRamps skillet with arugalaRamps skillet with breadRamps and Sopressata Skillet

Ingredients: 2 tbs olive oil 1 bunch of ramps, white and green parts divided and roughly chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup of spicy sopressata, diced 1 red bell pepper, diced 1/4 cup of fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced 5 eggs 1 small bunch of Chinese chives (also known as garlic chives), chopped into 1-inch sections 1/3 cup of Cabot cheddar cheese, grated 2 cups of baby arugula 2 tsp fennel fronds, for garnish (optional) salt and pepper to taste a few slices of crusty bread, toasted

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the white parts of the ramps and sweat for a few minutes, much like you would with onions. Add the garlic, sopressata, red pepper, and fennel and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the green parts of the ramps and cook for less than a minute, until they just begin to wilt. Crack the eggs into the pan and let cook until they set, about 5 minutes. Add the chives, cheese, and arugula and turn off the heat once the cheese melts and the arugula starts to wilt. Garnish with fennel fronds, and salt and pepper to taste (note: the cheese and sopressata are already quite salty so we just added freshly cracked pepper). Serve immediately over toasted bread — the crustier, the better.

Special thanks to Ned, from the Carlton Bears Community Garden, for sharing his chives, fennel, and enthusiasm with us.

Blueberry buttermilk oatmeal muffins

BlueberryOatmealButtermilkMuffinsFor the past few months I have been making muffins on Sunday mornings. There are few things I do with much regularity, but this is one ritual I have come to relish. My job entails creating those funny things called ‘Powerpoint decks’ so I appreciate making something tangible each weekend, and enjoying it for days thereafter. Today I used a buttermilk and oat recipe that I have been eyeing, and threw in some blueberries and sanding sugar on top.

Blueberry Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins
(adapted from Gourmet)

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
4 tablespoons white sanding sugar

In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk and let stand for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F and butter or line twelve 1/2 cup muffin tins.
Add egg, sugar, butter, and vanilla to oat mixture, stirring until just combined.
In another large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and add to oat mixture, stirring until just combined.
Fold in blueberries.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tins and sprinkle a generous pinch of sanding sugar on each muffin.
Bake in the middle rack of the oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

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