You look like you could use a cocktail & carbs

I know many people are feeling a lot of emotions after the election. Maybe you’re feeling triumphant and excited, and you’re ready to celebrate with a gargantuan bowl of carbs, a rip-roaring drink, and a shiny new book. Maybe you’re feeling low and anxious and addled and need a dose of mellowing, homey food, a cocktail to take the edge off, and the hideaway of a book.

Viana La Place Recipe

Either way, we got you. Today, we’re pausing our regular programming to bring you all a nice, comforting meal and a stiff drink. Jarrett and I put together for you these two recipes: one of our favorite pasta recipes from a vintage cookbook and a new cocktail recipe inspired by an upcoming book.

Because, of course, both celebration and depression are improved by a good meal and a good drink.

So now that we’ve made it through, let’s all sit down to dinner together again, forget all the whacky stuff that happened this year, and focus on some really simple food, a great fall drink, and some uplifting reads. I know we can’t fix some of the hurt that’s happened this year, but if there’s anything on this planet that will heal us, it’s got to be spaghetti.

Viana La Place’s recipe for spaghetti with tomato and fresh ginger

Viana La Place Recipe

It’s so funny how we sometimes don’t know our own tastes. I was given Viana La Place’s Unplugged Kitchen by an author and didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. It doesn’t have a single photo in it; the jacket is pretty hideous (but it’s gorgeous with the jacket slipped off); and the author is very opinionated. Weirdly, I fell wildly in love with it. It’s so quiet. Quiet can feel good when you spend all day looking at food blogs and overwhelmingly gorgeous cookbook spreads.

That’s the point of the book: to unplug your kitchen and enjoy the hand-work of cooking. Viana tells readers to chuck their food processors (she says they mash rather than slice and that their sound is horrid in a kitchen); she advocates hand-tearing your lettuce and treating it more gently than we usually do with our spinners and knives; and she thinks we’re missing the point if we make simple food quickly, rather than simple food mindfully.

It’s a good distinction, and it’s a great book. It’s sadly out-of-print now (although still available used online), but here’s one of my favorite simple and slow recipes to make out of it. You’ll be done cooking in 20 minutes or so, and you probably have every last thing on hand already. So why not go ahead and slow down a bit with it, enjoying each little knife slice of garlic as it happens?

Viana La Place’s Recipe for Spaghetti with Tomato and Fresh Ginger

Viana La Place Recipe

Serves 4
Ready in 20 minutes

6 garlic cloves
1 large knob of fresh ginger
1 16-oz package of spaghetti
2 tablespoons of sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves

Place a large pot of water over high heat. While it comes to a boil, peel and finely dice the 6 garlic cloves, then peel and finely dice the ginger until you have ¼ cup of it.

Your water should be boiling about now, so drop in the package of spaghetti and 2 tablespoons of salt. Set a timer for 2 minutes less than the package indicates.

In a medium sauté pan over low heat, add 1/4 cup of olive oil, all the garlic, and ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes; add the ginger and stir for another minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and stir, smashing the tomatoes if you like it a little less chunky.  (By the way, you can store any leftover ginger in a sealed baggie in the freezer. It’ll keep at least 6 months, but I’ve kept it longer and lived to tell the tale.)

Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle with more salt to taste and grind some pepper over it. As the sauce cooks, wash and chop your basil. A chiffonade is nice, but chop it however you darn well please.

Strain the spaghetti, add it to the sauce, toss, and top with basil. Drizzle a bit more olive oil and grind more pepper over each serving at the table. Or, just eat it on the couch, in a big bowl, in your jammies, with a strong drink.

Jarrett has a great one for you:

The We’re-All-Gonna-Be-Okay Cocktail

Pear Brandy Cocktail Recipe

This election year has been something—no matter where you stand, it was a stressful and trying year for us all. But now, at last, November 8th has passed, and we can finally get back to the important things: drinking together.

I’ve got just the thing to wash away any lingering bad tastes on your political palate—this drink is strong, it’s balanced, it’s got integrity, and it’s running for president in 2020. So sit down with it now, share it with a friend, put on some New Orleans parade music, and remind yourself that we’re all gonna be okay.

Makes one drink (but tripling encouraged!)

2 oz. pear brandy (We love Catoctin’s Pear Brandy, but you can also create your own!)
3 tablespoons pear preserve
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Splash of club soda

Combine the brandy, pear preserve, and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. (It’s really important you double-strain this particular drink as the preserve creates a lot of undesirable clumps.) Top with a splash of cold club soda.

Recipe inspired by Maggie Hoffman’s upcoming cocktail book, Just One Bottle, represented by Alison Fargis at Stonesong and to be published by Ten Speed Press. Follow Maggie on Twitter here!

What to Read This Week:

15 Authors Running Fantastic Book Promotions on Instagram (Diana Urban for BookBub): I’m a big believer that authors shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel for their marketing campaigns. Instead, just find a few people in your genre who are doing it well (like these 5 authors who are killing it with authentic marketing), then observe, analyze, lather, rinse, and repeat.

What Barnes & Noble Doesn’t Get About Bookstores (David Sax for The New Yorker): “The key question for Riggio now is figuring out what purpose Barnes & Noble serves today. Amazon dominates the industry with low prices and a vast selection, and is even flirting with brick-and-mortar bookstores, having opened two in the past year. Independent bookstores—once assumed to be on their way to extinction—own the romantic notion of a bookstore as a place, like a church or a social club, where communities are nurtured. Barnes & Noble is stuck in the middle, a giant saddled with hundreds of huge stores, and an image of corporate sameness in a market that has increasingly come to treasure defiantly independent bookstores.”

17 Literary Home Accessories Every Book-Lover Should Own (Sadie Trombetta for Bustle): Christmas is coming! If you love a book lover, I highly recommend the library-scented candle and the books-shaped plates. Also, that Kate Spade collection with the watercolor books? Be still my leaping heart.

The Making of the Sqirl Cover, an Illustrated Story (Ali Slagle for Food52): Ever wondered how many iterations of a book cover happen behind-the-scenes before it’s released? This is a great illustrated look at how covers evolve and how competing opinions can be carefully managed. (P.S. This cover is so eye-catching!)

Plenty of Room on the Island (Seth Godin): “…it turns out that the real competition is inaction. Few markets have expanded to include everyone, and most of those markets (like books and music) have offerings where people buy more than one. This means that if there’s more good stuff, more people enter the market, the culture gets better, more good work is produced and enjoyed, more people enter the market, and on and on. So encouraging and promoting the work of your fellow artists, writers, tweeters, designers, singers, painters, speakers, instigators and leaders isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart as well.”


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Linguine with Olives and Parsley Recipe

Linguine with olives and parsley recipe

I was flipping through a copy of Bon Appétit a few weeks ago, when I spotted this recipe. Don’t ask me what issue it was, because I don’t want to have to admit how many months I fell behind this summer. It was a 2015 issue, though. So, almost okay.

But I saw this recipe and I knew, right away, that this was The One. The One is that recipe that you think about for days and weeks until you finally scratch the itch and cook it and eat it and revel in it.

There’s been a lot of reveling over this recipe in our house. I cooked it two weeks back-to-back, and I may be bold and cook it AGAIN next week. I know, big stuff!

Read More

Easy Garden Frittata

Late August is a cook’s favorite time of year. Especially if you happen to know a gardener with an overflowing veggie patch.

We’re out on the farm this week, and we were so lucky to get baskets and baskets of gorgeous produce from a neighbor. We had insanely delicious heirloom tomatoes, corn, every color and shape of pepper, leeks, fresh dug potatoes, cantaloupes, lacinato kale, curly kale, purple beans, and cukes. Man, it is good to be in with a gardener.

photo (78)

But the best part of all was the farm fresh eggs. Oddly shaped, blueish, orange-yolked eggs.  I dream about these eggs all year. No matter how much I spend on cage-free, organic, humanely raised, pampered and petted eggs from the store, they never come close to these. You just can’t buy this kind of freshness.


The only thing to do with a bounty like that? Garden frittata! We sautéed the peppers, leeks, and tomatoes in butter with s&p, added some store-bought chopped portobellos, and then covered the veggies in beaten egg with a splash of half and half. I like to cover the pan so the top can cook, or you can just pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to cook the top.

I meant to take a picture, but Jarrett ate the whole thing too quickly. That’s how most of our meals end.

Hope you have delicious meals and relaxing days ahead of you over the long weekend! I’ll be back next week with more book news and thoughts on publishing.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

Maria Pasta

This is my very favorite minimalist recipe. It’s a spin on an Italian cacio e pepe recipe, but it’s so much more than the sum of its parts.

It’s also the easiest recipe I have ever made. And one of the most delicious. You’ll be surprised by how these humble ingredients work together to make such a luscious, rewarding pasta. And did I mention that you’ll have dinner on the table in under 10 minutes? This recipe is that perfect mix of insanely easy + crazy delicious + so very affordable that will make it an instant weeknight staple.

As Mario Batali says: “Food, like most things, is best when left to its own simple beauty.”

Lemon Pepper Pasta Recipe
aka cacio e pepe con limone

Maria Pasta 1

Serves 4

1 package of spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large lemons
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan (ideally Parmigiano Reggiano)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the package indicates. Strain the pasta, return it to the pot, and place over very low heat. Drizzle olive oil over the pasta until thoroughly coated (you’ll need at least a ¼ cup and likely more) then juice the lemons into the pot. Grind a lot of black pepper onto the pasta—you’ll want each strand of spaghetti to have multiple flecks of pepper on it. Sprinkle a hearty pinch of salt and grate as much cheese as you like over the pasta.

Serve onto four plates and top with an extra drizzle of olive oil, another grind of pepper, and more cheese at the table.