Saffron Pasta with Spiced Butter


I can’t see a pasta maker without thinking of this one painting by John Currin. The painting is of two guys, presumably a couple, making pasta together. It’s not a painting that I particularly like, but it is a painting I will never forget.

Chevrolet has recently been airing some commercials that feature diverse families: multiracial, single parents, same-sex parents. They almost make me care about Chevrolet.

Representation is an important thing. Those of us in marginalized groups grow to understand this, and either long for it or find ways of embracing our otherness. Seeing yourself reflected in the culture is powerful, it validates you. I grew up without any positive depictions of gay men—literally none. There was no literature read in high school, no characters in film or television, and I certainly did not have any examples in my own life. There were millions of examples of heterosexual love and lives. I have an imagination and so of course I was able to see myself in characters and situations that were unlike me, we all do. I identified with people like Mick Kelly in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks, and Levin in Anna Karenina.


But this identification is not the same thing, it isn’t representation. That painting of the gay couple making pasta is burned into my mind because it was the first (only?) time I had seen my life represented in painting in a literal way. Both in terms of the relationship between the two men and depiction of them in a domestic situation. Even today, when there are more diverse representations of gay men, they are rarely in domestic spaces—they are rarely mundane. The act of painting imbues the couple and their domestic act with an importance that was oddly moving and unsettling the first time I saw it. Over the years it has become iconic to me and impossible for me to separate from the act of making pasta. How odd! I don’t necessarily like this fact. It is stupid that I could feel so desperate for this sort of representation that I am forced to hang onto a painting that I don’t even know if I like.

So when Bryan and I, in a collective effort to make better use of sometimes neglected kitchen appliances, decided to make pasta, we both said: LIKE IN THE PAINTING! Because it is stuck in Bryan’s head too.

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Tomatoes with Crisp Fried Eggplant and Burrata


I’ve spent almost all of my adult life working at universities. For me, the year starts over again in September.  This time of year always feel like a fresh start to me—anything is possible! There is a chill in the air, and scarves are just around the corner. I love it.

It happens to coincide with the height of market season in the Midwest. It is truly harvest time, and the market stands are a veritable cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. On Saturday at Oak Park’s market we saw everything: apples, raspberries (and strawberries!), tomatoes, corn, peppers and squash. It is nuts. It is the closest our markets ever get to the produce section of your local supermarket. It is hard to take advantage of all of this goodness, so try to concentrate on what is important. For me, that is usually tomatoes.

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One-Pan Pasta


I am here to tell you about a recipe for pasta that you cook in one pan. One pan, people! Dried noodles, sauce ingredients, water—they all get thrown into a big pan and boiled for less than 10 minutes. You end up with a totally delicious dinner, and a party trick.

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Spring Eats


This is the best recipe for the day.

Asparagus with Parmesan Pudding and Prosciutto

It is one of those recipes that is so perfect you kind of don’t know what you did before it. It is something I will look forward to serving every spring from now until forever.

The recipe comes from April Bloomfield’s beautiful book, A Girl and Her Pig, which is a book that always makes me want to cook. In this recipe, Bloomfield brilliantly combines the eggs and Parmesan that pair so naturally with asparagus in a pudding. Add some toasted bread and thin slices of prosciutto and you have everything you need. I made this platter for lunch on Saturday and Bryan and Katie and I all ate it up while almost constantly remarking on how good it tasted. It is one of those recipes that makes it hard to talk about much else. read more+++

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions


There are as many recipes for cold Asian noodles as there are people in the world. That isn’t true. But it sometimes feels true. Versions of this vaguely Asian (pan-Asian?) dish (does anyone know the origins? or when this because popular in the states?) pop up on restaurant menus and recipes for it make regular rotations through food magazines. They always remind me of the 90’s and eating at restaurants that felt cosmopolitan because they had this or Chinese Chicken Salad on the menu (Wolfgang Puck, yo!). I love these type of noodles and am on a life-long quest to put together the perfect recipe. Whenever I find a new version to try, I consider it a research opportunity.

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Ricotta Gnudi


At the risk of sounding like an old grump, remember when you only ever encountered a handful of pasta shapes on a restaurant menu—ravioli, spaghetti, penne? Just when we’d all mastered those we were presented with agnolotti, creste, and gigli. I like to joke that when I don’t know a word on a menu, it is usually a pasta shape(I’m hilarious!). Gnudi isn’t a pasta, but it is a name that makes me think of nudie and giggle.

This concludes my Italian lesson for the day.

Pimentón Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

This is what I made for Thanksgiving dinner. It was one of the best recipes I discovered this year, and it seemed perfect for the holiday. I think it would be equally perfect for a Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Years celebrations. Consider it my gift to you, dear reader. The gift of a perfectly roasted paprika and garlic rubbed chicken that cooks on a bed of potato wedges that benefit from chicken fat and high temperatures. When it is done, you have chicken and potatoes and only need a hearty green salad to accompany them. You also have an astonishingly simple and delicious meal. Honestly, this is about as good as it gets. I’ve made this recipe twice already and am giving it another go this weekend. Consider me obsessed.


Asparagus + Tofu

I spend a lot of time waiting for spring, and feeling excited about the food that will be available in our markets. But when warm weather finally gets here I find myself wanting to sit in a park or  hang out with friends and my kitchen becomes a bit of a ghost town, at least for the first few weeks of spring. The food I do make is simple and not worth sharing here—a basket of strawberries, a salad. It takes a while to find balance in this new season and to resume taking the outdoors for granted.


Tomato Pasta

I know it sometimes seems like I don’t eat dinner. I do, it just usually isn’t that interesting.

I do what most of you probably do for dinner: throw together a sandwich, a salad, some pasta—pretty basic stuff. I save my energy for special occasion foods, the kind of foods I make to share with friends, or as special treats for myself, or that require a Sunday afternoon to prepare (let’s face it, nobody is making elderflower fritters after work).  But then sometimes a simple dinner recipe surfaces that I need to share, and it allows me to prove that I actually do eat dinner. I do!


Tomato Cobbler

I love tomatoes unconditionally. I think I am in the minority.

People have a lot of issues with tomatoes. I only like raw tomatoes. I only like cooked tomatoes. I only like tomatoes when they are in sauces. Lots of qualifications. I can proudly say I like tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, cooked or uncooked—as long as it is tomato season. Shoot, that is a qualification. But have you seen the things they try to sell you in January in the Midwest? They have as much to do with tomatoes as a tennis ball does. Well, lucky us, tomato season is here. Let’s celebrate.