Elizabeth Minchilli’s Puttanesca

From one of my favorite bloggers, this pasta comes together in the time it takes the pasta to cook. It is so simple and delicious! If you don’t like spice, you can make it without the red pepper paste but I am crazy about it! I am so excited to have a new favorite condiment!

Penne or pasta of choice
2 sliced cloves of garlic
4 fantastic anchovies (see photo)
1 t. red pepper sauce (preserved red peppers in olive oil-see photo-I ordered from Amazon)
sliced olives, pits removed
reserve 1 c of pasta water
extra virgin olive oil
parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the directions and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. In a hot pan, add olive oil and saute garlic, add the red pepper paste and then add anchovies and they will melt. Turn off heat-the sauce is done. Add olives and stir in. Add drained pasta and stir well, add pasta water and cook until the water boils off. Add a little extra virgin olive oil (you can use new oil for flavor) and a handful of chopped parsley.

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Orange and Star Anise Shortbread

This is an amazing cookie from the new book Sweets by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. The book is great, however, there are a lot of errors in many of the recipes and they finally have released a list online of all of the corrections . Not only does this shortbread have great flavor but it has wonderful texture which I think is from using the Italian “00: flour and white rice flour.

2 1/2 c./360 g Italian “00” flour
1/2 c. plus 1 T/70 g white grainy rice flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill brand
3/4 c. plus 1 1/2 T/165 g granulated sugar
1/8 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. ground star anise (3 whole star anise, ground in a spice grinder and passed through a fine siev
1 t. flaky sea salt
finely grated zest of 1 large orange (1 T)
scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
1 c. plus 1 1/2 T./250 grams butter, cold and cut into 3/4″ cube
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Sift both flours, the sugar, baking powder and ground star anise into a large mixing bowl, Add the salt, orange zest and vanilla seeds and mix to combine. Add the butter and use the tips of your fingers to rub it into the dry mixture until there are no large bits butter and the consistency is that of breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix gradually using your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Shape into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Cut dough in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured work surface until is just under 1/4″ thick. Using a 3″ cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Reroll scraps to cut out more cookies.
Bake 16-17 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking. They should be golden brown on the edges and lightly golden in the center. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Nancy’s Chopped Salad

From Nancy Silverton’s Mozza Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen blog. This vinaigrette makes the salad and you can find the wonderful Sicilian oregano that is so full of flavor at Amazon. Today, I varied the ingredients and it is always delicious. Iceberg is a must as it has the perfect crunch. There are endless possibilities of combinations of vegetables and meats and cheese. I used a finocchio salami that was really delicious. For two of us, I just prep the amount of ingredients that I think we will eat so you can plan accordingly.

Oregano dressing
4 cloves garlic (I use 2 as I don’t want it too strong)
1 to 2 tablespoons dried oregano (Nancy recommends 2; I got nervous and used 1, but might not have minded more)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, ideally extra-virgin

Salad and assembly
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into paper-thin rings
1/2 pound provolone (see Note about varieties), sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
1/2 pound salami, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
4 medium or 8 small pickled pepperoncini, sliced into rings
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes
Sea salt
1 head iceberg lettuce (see Note about size), halved, cored, and cut in 1/2-inch ribbons
1 head radicchio, halved, cored and cut in 1/4-inch ribbons
2 tablespoons dried oregano for garnish (optional)

Make dressing: Roughly chop the garlic and then add the oregano, salt and up to 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Chop the mixture together and use the side of a knife or a mortar and pestle to make a grainy herb paste. Transfer the paste to a large salad bowl, and add the lemon juice and vinegar. Mix with a fork allowing the salt to dissolve, then add the oil and whisk with a fork until well combined. The dressing should be thick with garlic and oregano. If you’re using a small head of iceberg, transfer 1/3 the dressing into a small bowl to be used only if needed. For a larger head of iceberg, you’ll want it all.

Assemble salad: Gently fold the chickpeas, red onion, provolone, salami, pepperoncini (including seeds and juice) into the dressing, one at a time. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt. Set aside until ready to serve.

To serve: When ready to serve, gently add the tomatoes, lettuce and radicchio to the salad bowl, along with a couple of generous pinches of oregano, and toss to combine with the dressing. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding any reserved dressing if needed. Serve immediately.

Vietnamese Braised Baby Back Ribs

From The New York Times by David Tanis. Wonderful flavors in the super tender ribs.

2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layer removed, lightly smashed and very finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as Red Boat)
1 tablespoon hot chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 tablespoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated ginger
3 to 4 pounds baby back ribs
4 scallions, slivered or chopped, for garnish
Cilantro and mint sprigs, for garnish

Make the marinade: In a small bowl, put the shallots, lemongrass, soy sauce, fish sauce, chile paste, salt, sugar, five-spice powder, garlic and ginger. Mix well.
Put the meat in a deep baking dish or roasting pan and add marinade. Using your hands, coat ribs well. Let marinate, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight, well wrapped. Bring back to room temperature before proceeding.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Add 2 cups water to the pan, cover tightly with foil and place pan in oven. Cook for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 1 hour more. When done, the meat should be very tender, nearly but not quite falling off the bone. Remove cover and return to the oven for about 15 minutes until the ribs are nicely browned.
Remove ribs from pan. Pour pan juices into a saucepan and skim fat. Reduce over high heat until somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, divide ribs with a sharp knife and pile them onto a platter.
Serve family style with steamed rice and pan juices. Garnish with scallions, cilantro and mint sprigs.

Hillstone Cole Slaw with Ding’s Pickle Relish

We love to eat at Hillstone and my husband is especially fond of their cole slaw. They quietly sell the special Ding’s relish that goes into the dressing. There are so many great flavors in this dressing. I used one batch of dressing for a half of head of savoy cabbage and it was perfect.

⅓ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons drained pickle relish
1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 teaspoons drained prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2½ cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 cup finely shredded savoy cabbage
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup finely chopped scallion greens


Whisk mayonnaise, relish, buttermilk, horseradish, mustard, vinegar, and sugar in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add green and savoy cabbages, parsley, and scallion greens and toss to coat. Taste and season again with salt and pepper.