Food Etc.

Cooking and sharing food with friends and family has always been a large part of my life.

Some of my happiest moments have been at the table. When I lived in Nyack, my coffee table doubled as a dining table that was the centerpiece of many feasts. For the most part, I have never let my square footage negate my desire to entertain. The only exception is Thanksgiving. This is when I really do want a dining room like Mia Farrow’s in Hannah and Her Sisters. However, we have hosted several at our Montclair home which is a bit space challenged.

Before I was married, I had many moments of wistfulness whenever a friend walked down the aisle. Aside from the obvious wish for companionship, what really derailed me were the shower gifts. I especially coveted one in particular: the venerable Kitchen Aid standing mixer. To me, this was a symbol of arrival and adulthood; the official nod of crossing the threshold into your own kitchen.

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to take the plunge and submit my kitchen for statehood. I went to Macy’s and purchased the Kitchen Aid. I went back and forth on the bowl lift or the tilt-head, and finally decided that the 6 quart pro model in metallic silver (vs pewter) was the one I wanted. While excited, as soon as I brought it home I began to feel guilty and question my choice. Was I being impulsive? Could I justify spending $300+ on an applicance at this moment in time? Should I have bought the less expensive, smaller Artisan or Architecht model? I finally decided to can the deliberation and plunge in to using it. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also bought the pasta press as well, so there would be quite a bit of manual scanning before I could actually get started.

One of my favorite food blogs is The Wednesday Chef, where I have discovered all sorts of wonderful recipes and cookbooks. I think it was Mary Ellen Rae’s Pear and Cardamom Upside Down Cake that was my first creation, and that was followed by the cookies, and a Focaccia di Patate.

Focaccia di Patate with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

It was here that I learned of Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, and couldn’t wait to try her whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. My first batch came out very nicely and the only addition I would make to the next go-round would be a handful of chopped walnuts.

Kim Boyce's Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Feeling confident after my sucess with the focaccia, cake, and cookies, I screwed on the pasta press, and with my husband’s help. made our first batch of fresh pasta. Since I wasn’t sure how it would taste, I decide to saute it with olive oil, garlic, shitaake mushrooms, and pepperoncino. Delicious!

While visiting friends this weekend, I tasted a fabulous version of linguine with white clam sauce. This version is from Melissa Clark  at the New York Times, and features roasted cherry tomatoes and mint. The mint, while subtle, changes the whole game and I can’t wait to get home and prepare it in my own kitchen.

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