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mushroom marsala

Posted in vague recipes with tags , on December 29, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

Here is a recipe that I made for Christmas Eve dinner with Lilli and her grandfather in mind:


1 lb of mushrooms (any really, but I used creminis) 

1 small onion

several cloves of garlic

3/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup cream

1 cup dry marsala                                                                                     

1 jar of artichoke hearts in water

butter, olive oil, bacon fat if you have it



pasta of your choice: I like the little shells or orchetti since they can hold the juices.

One of the reasons that I love cooking with mushrooms is because they are so musty, earthy, even a little meaty. I love the way that the knife slices through them, I love that you don’t wash them, you brush them clean, I love that each mushroom has its own color, flavor, and texture. And when cooked long enough with any type of liquid most mushrooms seem to absorb flavors and then add a richness and depth that is all their own.

For this recipe you simply dice up the mushrooms, onions and garlic. These go in a pan to sautee with a little olive oil. I also added some bacon fat that we had on hand, mostly because I wanted to make sure that it got used and also because I thought that it would add a nice flavor to the dish. You could also add some butter to sweeten the pot. While the mushrooms and onions and garlic were cooking away, I was warming the cream with about a palm-full of rosemary. Shane told me that if you infuse your creams with herbal flavors they become more pronounced in a dish. He’s right. When all of the liquid cooks out of the mushrooms, add the cup of marsala. Cook out the marsala, then add the cream, and then stir in the parmesan. Keep the heat on medium low for this process and add the cheese slowly so it will become incorporated and won’t melt too quickly and stick to the bottom of the pan. Finally add the drained and sliced artichokes. Finish with salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of parsley. Serve with your choice of pasta.  You can cook the pasta until it is al dente, seriously al dente, and then add it to the sauce to finish cooking or you can serve the sauce over the pasta.


pasta bolognese

Posted in delicious stories, vague recipes with tags , , on November 23, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

One of the first things I did when I moved into Philadelphia was set up my kitchen. The apartment that I had found for myself was a studio sizeable enough to have a kitchen apart from the bedroom. The morning sunlight comes in over the window by the sink and there is enough room for a real table. I thought that even though I would be living by myself, this kitchen could still hold guests and it was with visions of sloppy, long, loud, delicious dinners, that I signed the lease.

Visions of dinners were also the reason I decide to by the tome of a cookbook, the Silver Spoon when I saw it for sale at a used book store not long after I had moved in. The Silver Spoon is one of those cookbooks that is filled with useful information, inspiring photos, and recipes that you have to look at once before you can set to the chopping of garlic and mincing of onions.

Unfortunately, life and nursing school moved in pretty quickly after I moved in and I never got around to those great feasts and the Silver Spoon sat unopened for most of the fall. But this weekend, Lilli and I decided that it was time to throw a dinner party. Pasta was going to be the featured dish.

I had a distinct craving for pasta with a bolognese sauce so I cracked open the Silver Spoon and found the recipe there in all of its simple glory:

9 oz ground beef

minced carrot, celery, onion

tomato paste

water if needed and salt to taste.

Really? I thought to myself, That’s really all you need? Well okay.

Recipe in mind, it was off to the Italian Market. Halfway through walking up and down the vegetable vendors and past the butchers, I remembered that there were some vegetarians dinning amongst us so I scooped up some squash and broccoli rabe along with my pound of ground beef, ignored the tantalizing figs, but did not pass up the persimmon that was practically bursting out of its skin.

After purchasing pasta and some other sundries, Joe and I trooped over to Lilli’s place. We had decided that since my place is small and the number of people we wanted to feed was large that we would have the feasting at Lilli’s.

As Joe and Lilli chopped onions, smashed garlic, and chopped up broccoli rabe, I roasted squash and sauteed enough onions and garlic to stink up Lilli’s place for a respectable amount of time.

Almost gone...
the bolognese post-devouring.

The final menu included:

Spaghetti squash with Pesto (inspired by a candlelit dinner that Annie had made before she took off on tour)

Orchetti with broccoli rabe, garlic, red pepper, and parmesan

Rigatoni with bolognese

Roasted Acorn Squash with onions stewed in cider.

As dinner was cooking I kept tasting the bolognese. Something wasn’t quite right. It was the first sauce that I had put on the stove and had been slowly simmering and stewing all day long but the tastes were not quite there. I added some pepper and rosemary and some salt and had Lilli taste it. More salt? We tried a little more salt but it wasn’t until Alex and Ben showed up with a bottle of wine that I realized what we were missing. While everyone carried dishes of food into the dinning/living room, I poured a  tea cup of red wine into the sauce, stirred, and tasted.

That was it.

And it might have been because I was hungry only for the pasta bolognese but I think that it was that dish that turned out particularly well.

We filled the table in Lilli’s apartment with food and people and wine. Michelle brought a delicious chocolate cake with spices and as people filtered in and out we shared plates, picked off of other people’s plates, ate with our fingers, bumped elbows, and drank out of teacups and mason jars and lay with full tummies on Lilli’s futon.


the devourers

and then they came for the squash...

It wasn’t a dinner unlike any other, but it was a moment when I could feel the pressures of school and working and generally Getting Stuff Done, shift back into perspective. I think that’s also why I have wanted to write more these days—I have some more room to think and negotiate my way through the day and I love the feeling of being able to sit down and type out a moment that three months from now I will be able to remember so much better because it has been put down into words. I guess too, if you have enough friends who are writing and you hear them talking about the act of writing and documenting and untangling and exploring you can’t help but want to put metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper.

Anyway. Enough with Waverly murbles. I mostly wanted to write about the pasta bolognese but have managed to tangle in all sorts of other things. As usual.

Off I go on this rainy Monday,


Posted in delicious stories with tags , on October 23, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

that is how we felt at waverly’s house for dinner.

nothing like a monday dinner party. i don’t think i’ve ever had one, and i have to recommend it: saturday dinners are great, with full-day prep and great debauchery promised, but monday dinner, monday, gray monday after school and work and running around and thoughts all mussed up, to creep up winding narrow stairs with heavy bags, hungry, brain buzzing, and be welcomed into a small warm apartment full of warm yellow scents of oil and garlic and  simple food, pasta with butternut squash, grated gorgeous unnameable cheeses (wave can name them, i just don’t remember), cooked food that took actual time and thought to make, on beautiful stoneware plates hand-thrown by a friend, and to let that scrunchy eraser-mark feeling float away and be replaced by a glowingly happy tummy and a glass of wine and watching waverly do something she really loves, which is to feed us, that is very very delicious indeed.