Cool weather comfort foods: Chicken cacciatore

January 9, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore

Back when the weather started to turn cool, I made a list of the various cool-weather foods I couldn’t wait to make, my comfort foods for winter 2012-2013. I promised to post a few new recipes this season, and finally, I’ve gotten around to making a few of my favorites and documenting them. The first is this terribly simple chicken cacciatore served over a creamy, parmesan-cheese-laced polenta that screams comfort food.

Cacciatore is Italian for hunter, thus this is the hunter’s chicken. The preparation is simple, with just a few items that need chopping and sauteing before you let the chicken braise in a tomato-wine sauce. (more…)

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Sunday Suppers: Venison Osso Buco & Brunello

December 2, 2012

Venison Osso Buco with La Fiorita Brunello

Two years ago, I bought a half case of La Fiorita’s riserva brunello di Montalcino. Last year we spaced those bottles out, two over the course of the year, one spring lamb meal paired with the 2001, and one late summer meal of venison and blackberries paired with the 2003. The idea being for a special wine, there must be a special meal!

Most of this year went by, and then bam! I landed some wild boar and venison shanks at the same time. Game pairs amazingly with this wine, and I couldn’t really imagine having anything else with these two meats. So within the course of a month, we enjoyed a wild boar pappardelle, again with the 2003, and then this meal. And this meal may be the hands down best wine pairing I’ve done yet. (more…)

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Sunday Suppers: Wild Boar Ragu with Pappardelle

November 18, 2012

Wild Boar Pappardelle with Brunello

A few weeks back, I decided to order some specialty meats from D’Artagnan to make a special meal for my husband. I have ordered specialty items in the past as Christmas presents for my hard-to-buy-for family members who love to cook, but it’s rare that I purchase these things for myself. So I went out on a limb and decided to try D’Artagnan, and I was really happy with their variety, shipping rates, and the overall service.

That’s how I came to have these two wild boar shanks sitting in my freezer. When ordering meats online, it seems that whatever fits into the cooler ships for (roughly) the same price. Since D’Artagnan was having a sale on their game meats, I decided to add a couple of wild boar shanks and some venison to my order, which shipped for the $20 my duck alone would have shipped for (well, okay, this is Madd Hatter math… $22 for the duck, $29 for adding wild boar and venison… all in all, we’re in the $20 range). While I’ve had wild boar often at Italian restaurants, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when cooking it. So I decided to go with a preparation similar to what I’d had in restaurants – a wild boar ragu, perfect for coating strands of pasta. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Menu: Half California Locavore, Half Italian, more than a Hint of Homemade

November 11, 2012

Vegetables from an Italian Garden

Every year when November rolls around, I start to think about what the Thanksgiving menu will look like. With so many options, though, I rarely nail down what the theme will be until a week or two ahead of time. Every year it takes one little thing to propel me direction, and last year it was the cookbook Vegetables from an Italian Garden. While I had picked up the book earlier that summer, it was the picture of baked carrots that had me fully entranced with the idea of an Italian Thanksgiving menu. But what did that even mean? Pasta and meatballs? Of course not. Instead, I decided to take inspiration from the simplicity of Italian cuisine – the best ingredients, fresh because they’re local, simply put together. (more…)

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Shaved fennel, red onion and celery salad with salami

November 2, 2012

Shaved fennel, red onion and celery salad with salami

It’s that time of year again! November. Kickoff to Thanksgiving planning. Kickoff to holiday seasons. For the first time in many years, I find myself not combing through recipes, trying to figure out what I’ll be doing this year, as the rest of my family will be taking the reins. But fear not! I still have last year’s menu to share with you, and I know I won’t be able to resist thinking a bit about new menus and new recipes, which of course, I’ll have to share!

What does all this have to do with salad? Well, last year, this salad was one of the two opening acts for Thanksgiving dinner. A couple of years ago I talked about why I now always make sure my Thanksgiving menu has a couple of appetizers, and this salad keeps the prep work simple while providing an amazing meld of flavors. (more…)

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