Sage Tagliatelle

Sage Tagliatelle
First light a whole bunch of candles out on the porch . . .
  • 1 pound pancetta
  • 3 or 4 fat bunches of sage
  • About 1 pound of tagliatelle
  • Mascarpone
  • Good Parmesan Reggiano, grated
  • Fresh eggs
  1. Crisp the pancetta. Add sage in the last couple of minutes and sauté lightly.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in well-salted water and toss lightly with mascarpone and the pancetta and sage.
  3. Fry egg fast and place on top, with a little pepper and a scattering of the Parm.
  4. Each plate gets one egg on top to sauce.
  5. Sit outside and remember you chose all of this and, luckily, you are still glad you did


Karen’s Satisfying Comforting Potatoes

Karen’s Satisfying Comforting Potatoes
Going broke is fattening. This next little recipe is the kind of food you eat the day the “workout” guy from the bank shows up. You eat this the first time, and then every time you have to call him to ask him to raise the credit limit on your checking account. My friend Karen brought these over when Benjamin had ankle surgery. She brought them again one day when I was crying about the store. She brought them when we finally decided to sell the store and couldn’t find a buyer, too. Finally she just sent me the recipe. The recipe calls for 10 potatoes—I use about 6 huge ones. I also use 4.5 cups aged white sharp Vermont cheddar in the potatoes and 2 cups slightly milder cheddar on top, mixed with a little good Parmesan Reggiano.
  • 10 russet or other good baking potatoes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ pound bacon
  • ½ pound sharp Vermont cheddar
  • ¾ pound mild cheddar
  • ½ cup green onions
  • 3 eggs
  1. Bake the potatoes at 350ºF for an hour, or until fork-tender. Cool, and remove skins.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except the mild cheddar in a bowl and blend. Put in a casserole dish.
  3. Top with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30–35 minutes.


Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Loaded Mashed Potatoes
What to eat when the lady drives off with your gas pump and you’re going broke . . .
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 6 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 (12 ounce) carton sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) block aged sharp white Vermont cheddar, grated
  • 1½ pounds cooked pancetta, julienned
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut tops off garlic heads. Wrap in foil and roast for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove flesh from garlic heads and set aside.
  3. In a large stockpot, cook potatoes in enough salted water to cover for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to stockpot. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth; adding salt, to taste, pepper, butter, the roasted garlic, and sour cream. With a spatula, stir in cheese and pancetta. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Karen’s Stromboli

Karen’s Stromboli
Great for the day before, when everyone is wrapping presents, or the day after, when nobody wants to cook or sit at a table but everybody wants to nosh. This recipe makes enough for one stromboli; make extra and freeze.
  • For the dough
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for the bowl)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • For the filling
  • 1 pound thinly sliced spicy capicollo
  • ½ pound sliced provolone (You can really use anything, as long as it is not wet. The original recipe calls for jarred roasted red peppers (dried and chopped), but if using spicy capicollo, it is enough spice. If using ham or a salami, you can add spice by sprinkling with dried red pepper flakes.)
  1. Dough
  2. Pulse the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor with a dough blade. With the food processor running, pour in the oil, then the water, and process until a rough ball forms (about 30 seconds).
  3. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for another 30 seconds.
  4. Turn out into a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand to form a smooth ball (about 5 minutes), adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
  5. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
  6. Deflate the dough with your fist and turn it out onto an unfloured work surface; reshape into a ball.
  7. Spray plastic wrap with spray oil and wrap and let rest for 15 minutes before rolling and filling.
  8. Assembling
  9. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick.
  10. Place a layer of meat, a layer of cheese, and another layer of meat on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the edges with water, roll into a cylinder, pressing the edges to seal.
  11. You can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate (for 24 hours) or freeze at this point.
  12. Baking
  13. Place on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, seam-side down. If frozen, thaw before baking.
  14. Brush with egg.
  15. Spray or drizzle tinfoil with oil and lay loosely over top of the stromboli. After 25 minutes, remove tinfoil and bake another 20 minutes until golden.


Lobster Mac ’n Cheese

Lobster Mac ’n Cheese
I make these ahead in little ramekins and freeze them. Throughout the holidays, anytime someone drops in I can thaw them in the microwave and bake and it seems like I am a kitchen genius. These are also great for the day after.
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 16 ounces cream or whole milk
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 6 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces mascarpone
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese
  • 1 pound lobster meat, shredded (You can order lobster tails from your fish market in prepackaged bags. You may need to shred it more thoroughly)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 big shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring salted water to a boil and add macaroni. Cook 8 to 10 minutes (do not overcook). In a double boiler, combine the cheddar cheese, 4 ounces of the Parmesan cheese, the mascarpone, and Gruyère cheeses and heat until well blended. I gradually add the milk cream mixture along the way so that it is really smooth. Mix with the pasta.
  2. Pour into ramekins and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top with the leftover Parm.
  3. Bake at 350ºF till bubbly.


Cheese Ball

Cheese Ball
This is practically right out of The Brady Bunch. It is such a bad-looking thing and it is absolutely compelling. Guests sneer a little and pretty soon they taste it and then they can’t stop. If you are over forty, this will make you very happy. If you are younger than that, rent some DVDs of ’70s TV sitcoms like Love, American Style and The Partridge Family to get yourself in the mood.
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar
  • 1 jar of Spanish olives, finely chopped
  • Some celery seed
  • Some garlic powder
  • A little celery salt
  • Several splashes of Worcestershire
  • Pecans, finely minced
  1. Mix all and roll into a ball before rolling in the minced pecans.
  2. Chill for about four hours before serving with basic Ritz crackers for authentic 1970s party food.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
make these over and over every year in December. You simply have to have them for Christmas Adventure weekend. Eli and all his friends always want these every day after school just before the holiday break. And I love to accommodate them. We have to have a pile of them when we wrap presents, and every year at our big winter party, if folks don’t see them they will ask. Plus, of course they have to be on the table on the actual day, and there had better be plenty for the next week too. One year, during the worst of the HQCS, I gained nine pounds in December alone. I credit these delicious little menaces. They are not complicated. But they do take time. Worth it, though, since the people you make them for will worship you.
  • A pound of peanut butter—I prefer all creamy. Some people use half crunchy, half creamy.
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies—these must be fresh. And I think they’re essential. They add a bit of depth.
  • 1 package chocolate chips—semisweet
  • ¼ bar of paraffin wax—or you can use just a bit of Crisco if you don’t have (or prefer not to use) paraffin. If you’re gifting these, paraffin is kind of essential. If not, you can really leave it out and be okay. It won’t be as pretty, but you don’t have eyeballs in your stomach! If you use only ¼ bar you will not taste it and they will look lovely.
  1. Mix together the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, and Rice Krispies. Stir, stir, stir. Form into small balls. Smaller than Ping-Pong balls. Maybe about bouncy-ball size. Put them in the freezer.
  2. While the inside is becoming a hard little middle of love, get out your double boiler, choco chips, and paraffin wax. (No double broiler? No problem. Fill a big pan with water and set a smaller pan on top. Voila! You have a double broiler.) Melt the chocolate and paraffin together. Without the paraffin wax, the candy won’t get quite as hard and therefore will become somewhat of a messy disaster when you eat them. Which is no big deal if you are just eating the batch yourself.
  3. Take out the frozen balls and use a wooden skewer to dip the peanut butter goodness into the chocolate deliciousness. You may want to keep about half of them in the freezer—otherwise they get a bit soft and the dipping becomes more like dropping them into the pot and picking them out with a spoon. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)
  4. After you’ve dunked each ball, let it sit on wax paper for a while and harden. You can speed this up by putting them in the fridge. You’ll probably eat a few while they wait and that is okay. You are just testing them for the fam.