Dinner, Duck, Lunch, Meats, Pasta

Braised duck and red wine ragu pasta

Braised duck and red wine ragu pasta

This is a very lovely meal to make for people you love very much because it takes forever. But it is very much worth it, and if there’s just two of you, you get to enjoy not one but two leftovers!

As tends to be the case with sauces, this tastes better the next day, so you can make the ragu with a full belly and then all you’ll have to do the next day is heat it up and cook the pasta. You can enjoy a quick but decadent dinner even on a weekday!

The recipe is written to be leftover friendly. Cook only the pasta you need on the day you’re having it (step 11), and combine it with as much sauce as each person desires, directly into each plate.

Also written into the recipe is one way in which to prevent the pasta from hardening and sticking together: combining it with a little bit of sauce. This is a less photogenic option than adding the sauce to the bare pasta at the dinner table but I personally think this is a photogenic sacrifice that is worth making. I’ve also heard you can prevent the pasta from hardening by running it under cold water and then under hot water again to heat it back up, which I’ve tried but was not happy with because I couldn’t get the pasta to get hot enough. And I’ve read that you can instead combine the pasta with some olive oil, but I have not tried this because I’m worried it would become too greasy. #pickyeaterproblems

This dish would be even more lovely with homemade pasta. I use the next best thing, egg pasta imported from Italy. I still use the Filotea brand that I buy from the World Market section of my local Bed Bath & Beyond. I did run out and tried a pasta that was still imported from Italy but was 100% semolina for a set of portions and I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. You likely need to add quite a bit of salt to the water when making non-egg pasta to have it taste good, and I don’t know enough about the chemistry to know how adding salt to the water affects the sodium content of the dish.

I made this first for a surprise birthday dinner for my husband and then it took a year for duck legs to come back in stock at Whole Foods so I could remake it. I loved it the first time but there’s just something about the novelty of making something that’s time-intensive for the first time that prevents me from being able to be objective. Second time around, the ragu is still delicious and since the recipe yields 6 portions, the amount of time and effort it takes feels more worth it.

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Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Meats, potatoes, Quick, Salad, Sausage

Sausage and potato roast salad with arugula and shallots

Here’s a quick, weeknight friendly dinner to try out now that it’s fall and the oven is back in commission. This salad has a very complex taste for how few ingredients it combines and it is tasty with both fingerling and colorful mini potatoes.

The recipes this one is adapted from call for a lot more sausage and shallots. I’ve made this several times and tweaked the recipe with each iteration until I finally found a balance I liked with enough sausage to be filling but not too heavy and just a small amount of shallots, enough to add a little bit of sweetness. 1/2 sausage link per person is plenty for lunch or brunch and can be increased to 3/4 of a link for dinner (and the remaining sausage can be used as a pizza topping!) I use just one shallot per person, and I peel and slice it before I roast it so it can caramelize and crisp in the pan. I try to keep as much of the basal stem in tact as I can when I separate it from the roots so the shallot layers stay together when I slice it. I keep the shallots in for the same amount of time as the potatoes because I like them extra crispy. If they look too crispy for you, they can be removed before the final stir, as noted in the instructions.

The only decision I’m still on the fence about is how small to cut the sausage before roasting. Cutting them into 1″ pieces yields pieces large enough to slice into that stay tender inside whereas cutting them into 1/2″ pieces produces crispier and bite-sized pieces that can be more evenly distributed in the salad. For the salad in these pictures, the sausage is cut into 1/2″ pieces and I used 1/2 sausage link per person.

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Dinner, Figs, Lunch, Pizza, Prosciutto

Prosciutto (fig) pizza with arugula and pine nuts

This is my new favorite pizza, inspired by one I had in Finland a few months ago. I love the way the fresh figs play off the prosciutto in spite of the fact that I’m generally not a fan of sweet and savory things. But fresh figs are hard to find, so more often than not, we end up making this pizza without them.

It’s made with the same no-knead dough recipe I’ve posted before, but this time you don’t need to make a big batch of it. This recipe will give you exactly the amount you’ll need for a pizza that fits in a 12-inch round cast iron pan. The dough takes very little effort to prepare, but it does take a long time to rise and then chill to a manageable temperature. But! It lasts two weeks in the fridge, so once you get past the two long waiting periods, you have two weeks to prepare homemade pizza in a pinch!

I added cup measurements for the flour, but the weight measurements are much more accurate so use those if you have a scale. If you do end up using the cup measurements, withhold some of the water and add it using the wet hand method described in the recipe until there are no more dry patches.

Since the tomatoes are freshly cut and do not simmer for very long, the tomato sauce does not taste quite the same as the tomato sauce you get on pizzas you order at restaurants. We sometimes replace one of the tomatoes with crushed tomato sauce and that gives it a more similar taste. It is nice with just the fresh tomatoes, too, you might just find that it’s a more acquired taste. We still add red chili pepper flakes to the tomato sauce so that the spiciness is evenly distributed. We also started adding red wine to the sauce and it adds a very nice sweetness so we almost always add it now.

As always, I’ve preemptively answered more questions you may have in the tips section. If you decide to make this or a version of this, I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to let me know so I know that this blog isn’t just my own personal recipe book. Who knows, maybe hearing from you will motivate me to post more regularly.

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Dinner, Lamb, Lunch, Meats, Side dish

Pistachio Masala Lamb Chops with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Summer is officially over, which hopefully means that even those of you without temperature controlled apartments have regained use of your oven. What better way to celebrate than to heat it up and cook lamb chops smothered in pistachios and spices.

This recipe calls for meat masala, an Indian spice mix. If you can’t find it, you can use garam or chaat masala instead. I initially got my masala spice mix when I first made chana masala, an Indian chickpea dish, and it quickly became my husband’s go-to spice when he cooks meat, fish, and even fried eggs. We sometimes put it on homemade popcorn. If you can’t find it or if you’re not convinced of how versatile masala can be, you can use a sprinkle of each of the main ingredients it contains instead: ground coriander, cumin, fennel, and black pepper.

We usually get three lamb loin chops, one each plus another to share, so the recipe yields three pork loin chops and two servings of roasted baby potatoes on the side.

P.S. Yesterday was the first anniversary of my first post!

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Dinner, Lamb, Lunch, Meats

Ground lamb with pistachios, pine nuts, sumac, and a side salad

Spicy lentil soup with sausage on alickofsalt.com

This is the most labour-intensive recipe posted here so far, but it is a delicious one. It is a Middle Eastern dish heavily adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook. It is actually the cover recipe of the book, to give you a sense of what I mean by ‘heavily adapted.’ The original recipe calls for using yields from three other recipes to make it, harissa and preserved lemon peel, and Zhoug. I use none of these here, but I bring in ingredients from all into the dish.

There are quite a few exotic spices in this recipe, the most exotic of which is sumac. Sumac is a slightly tart spice that can be used as a salt replacement. It is a beautiful purple color and the reason the lamb in the picture looks the way it does. You may have seen it in salt shakers at Middle Eastern restaurants. If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, check Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops or look for it online.

The recipe calls for ground seeds so if you have a mortar and pestle, it’s time to break it out! If you can’t be bothered, use already ground spices. We used our brand new mortar and pestle but we only had caraway and cumin seeds on hand and we used already ground coriander. Directions on how to prepare your own ground spices are below in the Tips section.

We serve it with two slices of toast and a salad with carrots, beets, avocado, pomegranate seeds (when they’re in season), and a simple dressing.

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