Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Pastas Continued

Styling this photo shoot with Melina was so much fun! It was a reminder to pull out all my favorite napkins and plates more have fun "creating" in my everyday life. Enjoy the last two recipes!

Caserecci with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

I love, love, love this creation; there's something about the richness of the flavors and the amazingly creamy texture of the goat cheese. My mouth is watering just writing about it! Slice an onion into rings and sauté in olive oil. Add salt, pepper and a tablespoon of sugar. Cook on medium heat for approximately 20 minutes (give or take: you want them to turn a nice, brown color), stirring occasionally. I use a combination of shitake and cremini mushrooms, sautéed in olive oil until soft (10 minutes or so). Caserecci is this little gem of a pasta that adds instant intrigue to the dish. Throw everything together and douse with soft goat cheese (Petit Billy, from the Loire region, is my personal favorite). You can buy both the cheese and the pasta at Whole Foods.

Pappardelle with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Eggplant, Fresh Ricotta and Thyme

This is a new recipe, inspired by the amazingly sweet cherry tomatoes at the Union Square Green Market. The eggplant, cut into cubes, is roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes (stir when you remember). I halved the cherry tomatoes and sautéed them in olive oil until just soft and heated through. Plate the pasta and then add each element (the tomatoes should generate their own sauce, but you can add olive oil to taste). Garnish with small spoonfuls of fresh ricotta and thyme.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Late Harvest Pastas

The word had spread that I was working on a post about summer pastas and that the fabulous Melina Hammer was photographing all the yumminess, and so as not to keep you waiting any longer, voilà...the post on pasta! I must say I'm pretty darn impressed with myself for coming up with these recipes. Each dish is unique and unexpected but insanely simple to make. I think you're going to love them!

Salmon with Summer Squash and Capers over Capellini

This is my new favorite meal! The salmon (drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper) is roasted for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, julienne the summer squash (I only used the skins for maximum color) and sauté in a little olive oil. When the salmon's done, break it up into big chunky pieces and arrange over the pasta. Garnish with the squash and sprinkle with capers (a little bit of the caper juice adds amazing flavor). The sauce is just a little lemon juice and olive oil. Season with sea salt, pepper, and bit of grated lemon zest.

This pasta is fantastic warm, room temperature or cold. I made it for some friends last night and it was a huge hit! My friend Pietro brought us fresh figs for dessert, which I served with pieces of dark chocolate. It was just one of those evenings where everything came together so beautifully and organically, as if it took no effort at all (company included).

Linguine with Shrimp, Clams and Mussels

It's time to get over your fear of cooking shellfish. You're going to read this recipe and say "Oh, that's it?" The shrimp (prepped with the typical accoutrement: olive oil, sea salt and pepper) are roasted at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. Give the clams and mussels a good cleaning and make sure they're all closed (tap the open ones on your counter and if they close by themselves, they're good to go).

Me, smashing garlic, wearing that red linen apron I bought in Paris!

Sauté three cloves of minced garlic in olive oil (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup). Pour in about 1/2 cup of white wine and then add a few tablespoons of chopped parsley, sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste). Dump in your shellfish and put the lid on the pot. I like to pick up the pot and give it a good shake, a technique I must've picked up somewhere (although I have no idea what it does). Simmer for about six minutes, or until all of the shells have opened (throw out any stragglers that insist on staying closed, or you will get very ill and will be very mad at me for encouraging you to cook shellfish). I love to plate the clams and mussels in their shells; the presentation is beautiful.

Isn't Melina's photography amazing? I mean, I just want to reach into my computer screen and devour everything!

Farfalle with Pesto, Spinach and Shaved Parmesan

Everyone needs to know how to make pesto. There are a million variations and it's all about finding your own personal taste. I don't even measure...I just keep tasting it until I'm happy. Combine olive oil, basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts (or walnuts), salt and pepper into a food processor (this is like the reason you need to buy a food processor, even if it's just one of those little ones). I usually make a huge batch and just store it in the freezer.

The bow tie pasta adds a bit of whimsy to the dish. I added raw spinach (although I think arugula would also taste lovely) and big shavings of parmesan on top. It's a little hard to see, but I love how Melina put the block of parmesan on a piece of wax paper in the adds so much depth to the photo (and what a great presentation idea)!

I think three recipes will keep you busy for now! Try one tonight and let me know what you think. I'll be posting more pasta ideas tomorrow. Buon appetito!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hamptons Style

I just came back from a short stay in the Hamptons and have fallen in-love with the easy-breezy style that epitomizes this special place. Correction: I've fallen back in-love, as my personal aesthetic has always been inspired by the simple design philosophy of Long Island's East End. I love the clean, white palette, accented with elements from nature (shells, drift wood and hydrangea). Sisal and jute rugs add texture and a sense of organization. The untamed quality of the outdoors is given clean lines with black and white photography and crisp linens. I really think that's all a home needs: a balance between structure (sthira) and softness (sukha).

Sag Harbor has a fantastic antique/home store called Bloom (43 Madison Street) which is seriously the most gorgeous store in the universe (wow, that was a bold statement).

I love the look of the natural wood in the farm table above. The hand-blown glass hurricanes look sophisticated, yet imperfect. The wood and glass work so well together. Notice the black and white photograph by Michael Dweck in the background...the white mat and frame keep it casual.

Black and white metal canisters are like pieces of architecture when arranged on a shelf above the front door.

Built-in white armoires filled to the brim with glass hurricanes.

My dog, Ellie, shopping at Bloom. She's not for sale.

Nellie's in Amagansett (230 Main Street) is my other mecca for antiques. They had so much ironstone I was weak in the knees upon entering but, alas, I need another piece of ironstone like I need a hole in my head. Nellie's has great furniture and seems to be a haven for long, wooden benches.

Don't you just love those framed bathing suits hanging on the wall?

I went home with these cutting boards. The old ones are so hard to find.

"Step away from the ironstone plates", I repeated to myself.

After you browse the goodies as Nellie's, you must pop over to Jack's Coffee (Amagansett Square). Best coffee ever. I'm usually a straight-up cappuccino kinda girl (iced lattes in the summer) but I got hooked on the "Happy Jack", which is steamed soy milk, honey, cinnamon and espresso. It was like a coffee chai. Yessiree, that did the trick!

The moral to this little Hamptons love story, you ask? Keep it simple. Layer different colors and textures of white and accent with items from nature. A big chunky piece of coral set on top of a stack of hydrangea in an old mason and white images framed in white or silver: it's about juxtaposing relaxed with timeless. If your home sets the stage for your life, then surely a balance of sthira (strength) and sukha (comfort) is a good place to start.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pitta Overdrive

This summer has been a doozie and I, for one, have been struggling to beat the heat. It's Pitta season, folks, and us overachievers are most likely feeling it the worst. Ayurveda (meaning "science of life") is an ancient Indian system of natural healing whose aim is to treat the whole person. According to Ayurvedic principles, we're born with a specific proportion of the five elements and can maintain health and balance in our life if we live in tune with our constitution. The elements are combined to create the three doshas: Vata (air and space), Pitta (water and fire), and Kapha (water and earth). Lost? Think about the airport. Vata types hope to arrive early but get there late because they lost their passport. Kapha types are relaxed and happy, despite the fact that their plane has been delayed. Pitta (oh, Pitta) people arrive early (having printed their boarding pass from home) and are fighting with the airlines to wave the $20 baggage fee.

My friend and fellow teacher, Jeanmarie Paolillo, is my go-to Ayurvedic guru. Whenever I feel my pitta in overdrive, I email her in desperation. "During the Pitta season, all the qualities of Pitta are amped up. Tension, anger and irritability are all signs that the Dosha is elevated in your system," says Jeanmarie. When balanced, Pitta types are perceptive, independent, and friendly. They're natural leaders in every way, but turn up the heat and you'll have an overly competitive, angry, control-freak on your hands (back away slowly).

Thankfully there are ways to cool off and the yoga mat is a great place to start. "Taking the active practice down a notch and bringing in more cooling poses will aid greatly in balancing out Pitta," suggests Jeanmarie. Skip the chaturangas and long standing sequences in favor of seated forward bends. Inversions are important, even if it's just Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), as they can help minimize fluid retention and drain lymphatic fluid from the lower extremities. Jeanmarie's recommendations go beyond the physical: "Leg go of any competitive thoughts, both with the people around you and (more importantly and often more challenging) with yourself!" Amen.

Pitta can also be balanced through our food choices. Stick to a cool menu of fruits (think melon, apples and grapes), veggies (raw is best) and grains. Stay away from spicy, acidic or fried food, and avoid meat and (brace yourself) coffee. Dammit (that's the Pitta talking). Eat in a peaceful environment and engage in calming activities, like walking or swimming. Wearing cool colors like blues, greens and whites can help to turn down the heat. Jeanmarie suggests daily meditation and encourages us Pittas to get in touch with our emotions through introspective activities such as journaling.

Parting words to all Pittas: slow down, eat well and be nice. Fall is right around the corner!