fusilli alla vodka

From the first time I heard about their home-style but refined Italian food, Jon & Vinny’s in Los Angeles has been on my restaurant bucket list. I had eyed this fusilli recipe of theirs featured on Bon Appetit for a while now, but just decided to make it tonight. I don’t make fusilli…like ever. I don’t even think my mom used to make it. We are so set in our pasta ways, I’m telling you. We have got to branch out.

Fusilli is so much fun! Especially when slathered in an insane vodka sauce! Unlike my other favorite vodka sauce, my beloved penne alla vecchia bettola, this came together in under 2 hours- that is, 15 minutes or so. Interestingly enough, its base is tomato paste- not a whole or crushed tomato in sight! It makes for a lovely rich sauce, perfectly sweet and spicy at once. This hit the spot and quenched my thirst for Jon & Vinny’s for the moment…but I’m gonna come for ya one day!

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-Sophie

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ricotta gnudi

Otherwise known as: They Can’t All Be Winners.

Gnudi, though I wasn’t familiar with it until I searched for a recipe to use up some ricotta we had lying around, is sort of like the inside of gnocchi. A “nude” gnocchi. Much like a dumpling. I was quite excited to tackle this ambitious recipe a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, due to either my skills or the recipe, these were NOT GREAT. I used Bon Appetit’s recipe for the pomodoro sauce as well as the gnudi, and neither were a knockout. The sauce called for what seemed like a TON of olive oil– half a cup– and I ended up having to strain a lot of it off.

It was just a weird dinner. And hard to make. How the hell are you supposed to successfully transfer ricotta footballs to a pot of boiling water?? Thankfully we had a great deal of cheese and bread that day to stave off the hunger. Sorry for trying new things, family!

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However, I must soldier on! Nothing is a wasted experience! Everything adds to my life’s treasure chest! Even failed gnudi!

-Sophie

tomato-glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes

I think there’s something about meatloaf that just wigs some people out. My guess is that it’s the name meatloaf. A loaf of meat conjures up some gross things in the head. Like Deb of Smitten Kitchen, the author of this recipe, I feel a little weird about meatloaf and was very happy to see her rework it into something more palatable for those picky folks- a large meatball/tiny meatloaf ball! Something even a bit elegant, I daresay! This was so good and felt totally comfort-food-y even when meatloaf was not ever something I grew up eating. The glaze is made of tomato paste, Dijon, honey, and lots of other things. It was like an extremely amplified version of the traditional ketchup on the meatloaf. Yum.

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For being such a simple dish, mashed potatoes have been notoriously difficult for me. These were some of my best so far, though not as mashed as I had hoped. I have neither a mixer nor a food mill nor a potato masher. I started mashing with a fork and was failing until I remembered my brand new PASTRY CUTTER, which worked pretty well in a pinch. The brown butter was amazing in these potatoes! It made them smell like pastries HA. I have a happy stomach tonight!

-Sophie

 

butternut squash and caramelized onion galette

I will admit that I’m not the best at eating vegetables. But you know what makes eating vegetables easier? When they’re wrapped in a buttery pastry crust surrounded with cheese! I don’t think I had ever had a butternut squash before, and this galette was a wonderful introduction. The recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and it was just amazing!! I’m calling it and saying that this is the most impressive thing I’ve made in my apartment kitchen so far.

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I was about to use a storebought puff pastry but went with the homemade dough when my mom surprised me with a pastry cutter. And I am VERY glad I did. This was a delicious dough- flaky, buttery, and very easy to make, requiring nothing more complicated than that pastry cutter.

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I guess I like butternut squash now! Good for me!

-Sophie

garlicky chicken with lemon-anchovy sauce

When I was about ten, I cooked a chicken piccata nearly by myself. My parents praised me for it so I quickly declared it my signature dish. I was Sophie, the Chicken Piccata cookin gal! You remember her, of course, she made that chicken piccata once! I have never cooked it again, but this tangy, lemony, caper-y chicken dish reminded me of an upgraded version of what I cooked all those years ago……..

I got real obsessed with Melissa Clark of the New York Times dining section this week. The other night I watched nearly all of her videos with almost the same intensity that I did when I first started watching Barefoot Contessa. That is, a grand intensity.

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This is Melissa’s recipe (yes, I feel like we’re first-name basis at this point). They’re chicken thighs cooked in a pan sauce of lemon juice, garlic, anchovies, capers, and red pepper flakes. I served it family-style with an arugula salad all on one platter- I think it looks really pretty that way, especially because a few chicken thighs aren’t much to look at by themselves. And of course, a perfect Village Baking Company baguette to soak up those pan juices. I got a new permanent retainer today for the first time since I got my braces off (i.e. a very long time ago) and this baguette may have just screwed that retainer up already! A good baguette should ruin your jaw, and this one does- in a delicious way. Baguette plug over.

I’m talking a lot, but this was a really good chicken dish. And it didn’t help that five chicken thighs cost THREE DOLLARS AND NINETY-SEVEN CENTS. I screamed. Might only be eating chicken thighs from now on. God bless the thigh.

-Sophie

french press foam

The bakery that I work at is equipped with an espresso machine. Though I still sort of dread when someone asks me to make them a beverage for fear of screwing it up, I like that I know how to work one. And when you get to work at 6 am, it’s good to know how to make yourself a fancy, strong espresso drink. The whole thing has made me very fascinated with nice foam, but alas, our handheld milk frother at home broke long before this interest began.

I was devastated, of course–UNTIL TODAY, when I discovered that a French press creates BEAUTIFUL and nearly foolproof foam. You just pop your milk in the microwave for a minute, then pump it with the French press until it’s foamy. I concentrated the pumps near the top of the milk so I would have some warm milk at the bottom of the carafe to pour into my coffee, topped with lovely shiny foam.

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How did it take me so long to discover this? Had everyone else known this all along? I don’t even care, man, I’m excited!!!!! Game changer.

-Sophie

pappardelle pomodoro with meatballs

I am very happy to report that I have found my new favorite homemade pasta sauce recipe! Coming from the one and only Bon Appetit (quick aside to Bon Appetit- please hire me after I graduate! love you lots xoxo). This sauce is dynamite and so easy to make. I tried it for the first time last week on a linguine topped with fresh burrata from Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company here in Dallas (it was devoured before I could get a picture).

I became obsessed with pappardelle after trying the Trader Joe’s version earlier this week. I just love the shape! I want to try as many pastas as I can. There are currently eight boxes of penne in our pantry courtesy of my dad and we HATE IT! There are MANY MORE PASTAS!

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Anyway, my mom and I tag teamed this dinner tonight- I made the pasta, she made the meatballs (ground beef + pork sausage). I decided to top mine with a dollop of ricotta to try and recreate that magical burrata-meets-pasta feeling from the other night. Not quite the same, but very delicious.

-Sophie

P.S. Made an Instagram for the blog- @flymetothespoon.