Recipe: Cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce

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When I ask my mother how I'm related to Cousin Alfred, the answer usually goes: "Well..." and then there's a  contemplative silence. I can see her running through all our different relations, high up on the family tree, doing mental gymnastics to connect one branch to another. Eventually, she comes out with "I think he's my mothers, mother's cousin's"... and then, either she trails off, or my attention span wanes because, really, all that matters is that he is family, one way or … [Read more...]

Recipe: The Pope’s Fettuccine | Fettuccine alla papalina

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Before I knew about Papalina-style noodles, I thought Carbonara was the bees knees. But it turns out that Papalina is the richer version of carbonara. It uses cream, Parmesan, and prosciutto instead of the pancetta or guanciale (pig jowl) from in carbonara. One peppery bite in, and mac and cheese is a bland, happily forgotten memory. Let me be clear. My translation of the Italian is not entirely accurate. Papalina means skullcap, not pope. But I dubbed this recipe the Pope's … [Read more...]

Recipe: Green Papaya Salad

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  What do you do when you're running low on inspiration? Do you sip a cup of tea, take a walk, paint, write a poem, cook something? Or do you freeze up, unable to create? Writing a book for the last several months has had an interesting effect on my brain-space. The book is incredibly daunting and takes all my creative juices. I find myself sopping through my house like a wrung out rag. I once read that we are only capable of making a certain number of decisions each day. After … [Read more...]

Recipe: Martin Fierro

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Recipes usually evolve over a long period of time, but today we explore a recipe that one man changed forever. In the late 19th century, José Hernández wrote stories about gauchos, freedom, and love from his home, in Argentina. Gauchos are like the equivalent of the American cowboy: men who's spirits are forever roaming. His most famous character was Martin Fierro (so famous, in fact, that when the author, Hernández, died, the people announced that Martin Fierro had died, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Uruguayan Hot Dog | Pancho

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Yes, that's corn on a hot dog. Listen, friends: if  you're going to have a hot dog, you might as well have a Uruguayan one. Sure, it might just cost a buck or two, but... They're amazing. Dramatic. Game changers. If this seems like a lot of responsibility for a hot dog, that's because it is. The pancho's success is not so much about the meat, though it's true:  the "dog" is usually bigger and better than your average hot dog (it sticks out a good inch or two on either side of the … [Read more...]

Recipe: All-American Apple Pie

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Mom made apple pie all the time when I was little. It was my brother Damien's choice for "birthday cake" several years in a row. He was born in October: it just made sense. Mom taught us how to cut the butter into the flour, to make a flaky pie crust, and she taught us how to add cinnamon and nutmeg to flavor it. (In her honor, I've labeled my cinnamon jar "sin," just as she did then) Then I moved to Oklahoma, as far from New England's familiar orchards as I could get. Every year … [Read more...]

Recipe: Barbecued Ribs

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I've heard that finger-lickin' is not allowed in finer circles. Rumor has it, you should only order foods that are easy to eat during business dinners. No spaghetti, no lobster, and definitely no ribs. The same goes for when you meet your in-laws for the first time. Is this true? I don't know. But I do know that, when you find yourself face to face with a rack of ribs, you aren't getting away from them without a little finger lickin.' Barbecued pork ribs can be made any number of … [Read more...]

Recipe: Cream & Current Scones

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The first time I had a scone - a real British scone - I almost lost my mind. The small disc had a tender crumb and tasted of lightly sweetened cream. A speckling of currants brightened the flavor, giving it just a hint of color, too. The giving texture of the scone is worth further mention. I think much of the lightness stems from the fact that  real scones are made with good quality European butter. European butter is richer (averaging 85% fat instead of just 81%), so there's less water, … [Read more...]