potato and kale pan pizza with ricotta

True new potatoes — freshly plucked out of the ground, their skin flaking off like a sunburn — are another one of those seasonal foods that come into your life for a fleeting moment. They delight you with youthful sweetness and tender delicacy, then quietly disappear into the horizon like the memory of a summer love.

I’ve been stalking that moment, pouncing on the first farmer’s market stand I saw displaying a bin of dusty, misshapen nuggets. I love baby potatoes all by themselves, simply steamed and doused with plenty of good olive oil or melted butter. But I also crave potatoes as a topping for pizza or flatbread. That particular combination of creamy starch and crisp dough is a carb-lover’s dream.

Traditionalists (and my 16-year old son) may reject pizzas with potatoes on them as some kind of blasphemy. That’s fine, I get it. But I believe they’re missing out on something delicious. And did I mention that leftover slices of this pizza make an amazing breakfast with a fried egg on top?

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prosecco pears and vanilla bean ricotta

You know what they say about fruit. It’s a gamble, especially now in these last (and not a little brutal) days of winter.

I’m always glad to meet and eat a pear, though. They hold up much better in cold storage than apples, and seem to be created for poaching, their flesh turning silky smooth and luscious.

Wine-poached pears are a great winter dessert, and kind of sexy too. You have to admit pears have the most graciously voluptuous outline in the fruit world, with the possbile exception of peaches and figs.  [Read more…]

lemon ricotta cake with mascarpone

lemon ricotta cake with mascarpone

I’ve been in my basement sorting through boxes of books; hundreds of them.

Which ones are keepers and which go bye-bye? My mission is to downsize and it’s no time to get sentimental…

I’m approaching the task as if purging a closet – keeping the classics and moving on from the rest: if a cookbook hasn’t been cracked open in more than 3 years, out it goes. It gets tricky though, when the temptation to browse strikes. There was a reason a book made it into the pile in the first place; all it takes is a little reminder — hold on, don’t I need this recipe for Double Chocolate Angel Food Cake…that food memoir of the British Raj, those well-researched words on the world history of wine??

lemon ricotta cake with mascarpone

It seems easier to resist volumes that speak loudly of culinary moments in time, the ones that turned into passing trends. Like a pair of high-waisted jeans, books that call for blackening Cajun-spiced fish Must Get Donated.

The Julia Childs, Marcella Hazans, Elizabeth Davids — stay. They’re the equal of a vintage Chanel handbag you hand down, timeless and essential. I don’t have a Chanel bag, but I have a pair of faded Levi’s jeans I wore in high school — high-waisted and all —  that my teenage daughter now wears. She thinks they’re the coolest thing ever.  [Read more…]