Dinner at home

AEJ has been studying for finals this week (she’s studying philosophy at UT), and I’m doing, well, basically nothing this week, so I thought it would be nice to make dinner last night.  The menu: two recipes from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home.  The main course would be lemon fusilli with arugula, and dessert would be apple, pear, and cranberry crisp.  Step one whenever cooking at home: a cocktail.

I managed to do all of the shopping for this dinner at our local food co-op, Wheatsville CoOp. I’ve raved about this store before, with their locally raised (whenever possible) organic produce, meat, and eggs. This place rules. And unlike a lot of grocery coops, they don’t require you to actually work at the coop. The Brooklyn Coop, on the other hand, insists that all members/owners work a certain number of hours at the store every month. I think if I were a member there, I’d probably hire a homeless guy / grad student to cover my shift.

Since the timing of the dessert was less critical, I worked on that first.  Step one is to peel and chop the apples and pears.

The apples, pears, and cranberries (which, for some reason, morphed from “cran-apples” to what we’ve now termed “crapples”) go into a bowl, along with lemon zest and orange zest.

You stir all of this together with cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh-squeezed orange and lemon juice, and a little flour, and you get this sticky, yummy mess.

Ina Garten suggests pouring the whole bowl of fun into a single casserole dish, but it’s more fun to use individual ramekins. Individual desserts in your own little bowl are more fun.

Next I worked on the pasta. It’s easy, but it’s a bunch of steps. You make the sauce, which is heavy cream, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper. While that’s going, you boil the pasta.  While those were both going, I blanched some asparagus, which I’ve never done in my life (but it’s literally as simple as boiling water).

Next up: halve the grape tomatoes.

Then you just mix everything together: the cream sauce, the pasta, the tomatoes, and baby arugula.

Oops — almost forgot to add the asparagus.

That’s it! All done.  It was really pretty spectacular.  All of the lemon brightens up the cream, and the different textures of the pasta, still-crispy asparagus, juicy tomatoes, and arugula make this feel fresh and healthy (especially if you pretend the cream isn’t there).

And don’t forget dessert! You cover the fruit with a mixture of sugar, brown sugar, butter, and oatmeal, and bake it all for 50 minutes. When it’s done, you have seven of these.

Dinner was tasty. Damn tasty. Good thing, because we’re going to be eating the leftovers for days.

(Oh, and we’re pretty sure that AEJ, as usual, aced her final this morning.)


Curt Ebersole says

I'm not sure which I enjoy more -- your music or your passion for food! It's really a unique combination.
Curt Ebersole

Jennifer Jolley says

I want to go to there.

Jake Wallace says

Blanching asparagus FTW.

Nice product placement on your Epicurean. Besides my knives, it's probably my favorite kitchen tool.

Robyn says

You should have invited a family of four over to share with you. I happen to know JUST such a family, in case you find yourself in this situation again.

Looks great, by the way. I think it might be time to invest in a barefoot contessa cookbook. Which do you recommend?

Esmail says

I love the decor of your kitchen in the first picture of the Grey Goose. Looks really nice and low key. You obviously dont write your music in your kitchen :)

Ys says

What is your preferred cocktail of choice? If you ever like to go on gin adventures, allow me to recommend hunting your neighborhood liquor store for a bottle of Boodles gin. It's British and not well known in the states, but consistently gets ratings on par with Bombay and Tanqueray. It's smooth and crisp, without that sharp "pine tree" taste that most gin-haters refer to. Plus, when you inquire about it and get a quizzical look, it's fun to say, "Boodles. Like noodles with a b." Anyway, totally random but that close up shot of the vodka reminded me.

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