Monday, July 29, 2013

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Right around this time every year, it seems that the markets explode with color, turning into a veritable sea of bright, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes of seemingly every shape and variety known to man. It's one of my most favorite things about summer. Tomatoes at the market, tomatoes on restaurant menus, and most importantly, tomatoes in my kitchen. Bowls and basketfuls of them, because I can't ever resist picking up just one more. So many of them, in fact, that I often have to give them away in a reluctant act of forced generosity because they're too many for one or two people to consume in a reasonable amount of time. Either that, or make reserves of sweet tomato sauce to stick in the freezer for a rainy day (or a snowy one in the middle of winter when the doldrums have start to set in).

For that, Marcella Hazan's famous recipe for tomato sauce with onion and butter is pretty near impossible to beat. I made it for the first time in our little kitchen in Zurich and it produced a sauce that was so delicious, it didn't even need any of the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that is usually a nonnegotiable for me when indulging in pasta. Just a quick sprinkling of torn, sun-warmed basil, and you're good to go. xo

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
2 lbs. fresh ripe tomatoes
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Sea salt, to taste

Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them up into coarse pieces. (I skipped this step, as I was REALLY eager to get my sauce on a plate for lunch, but hopefully you'll have more patience.)

Put the skinned tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook, uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.

Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.

Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Burkliplatz Market

The summer farmers' market at Burkliplatz in Zurich is beyond amazing. They've got flowers for miles and just about every type of fruit, vegetable, cheese, and freshly baked bread you can imagine. There are a few fish stands selling gleaming, healthy-looking specimens of freshly caught fish. Plus one very sweet man who makes pasta (including heart-shaped ravioli) by hand along with a killer bolognese sauce.

The days are super long and sunny and hot here these days, but my twice-weekly, early-morning trips to the market remind me of all the reasons why I love summer and that I should appreciate every golden drop while it's here. xo

There's this one stand that sells greens that are still hanging out in the mounds of dirt they grew in. Talk about fresh.

Zucchini flowers! My favorite things in the world to fry.

The shiniest, most luscious cherries I've ever seen

Loads of herbs, including some awesome-looking purple basil

My favorite stubby little carrots

These babies are HOT

The sweetest little roses that grow everywhere in Switzerland

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lake Como

We did a weekend trip to Lake Como a couple of weeks ago, and it was so incredibly gorgeous. I can see why people flock there in droves. The color of the lake alternates between a cerulean blue and the aqua green you see in the picture above, and the pasta is out of this world. We ate a lot of pasta. So. Much. Pasta.

Happy weekend! xo

Blurry picture sneakily taken by my boyfriend, but I thought I'd show you my newest pair of sunglasses. They're available HERE now, and I love them.

George? Is that you coming towards me in that little speedboat?

Seriously, WHERE ARE YOU, GEORGE. Oh, and aren't those mountains something?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thai Green Chicken Curry

When I order in Thai food, I'm pretty consistent. As in, I've probably never ordered anything but green curry with either chicken or shrimp. What can I say--I'm a loyalist. And I just love that creamy, spicy, light green sauce flecked with cloudiness and bright bits of cilantro. When they get it right, it can be downright transcendent. But when they get it wrong--yikes. It can be too heavy, have a weird consistency, too bland, too coconut-y. The list goes on.

Now that I'm in Zurich at my boyfriend's apartment, which happens to be missing one oven (...for a total of zero ovens), I've been doing a lot of deep thinking and contemplating over what I can possibly make on a stovetop that would be just as good as roasting, baking, and the like. If you know the way I cook at all, you know I'm seriously oven-dependent. If it falls within a food group and it can be roasted, in it goes. I was in one of these bouts of deep contemplation and fast-and-furious recipe web browsing, when it dawned on me that I had, in fact, never attempted to make a Thai curry (or a Thai anything for that matter). Which was a crying shame, since I love the stuff so much.

So I Googled away until I came up with a few different recipes that sounded like they could work, took bits and pieces from each, and voila! A Thai green curry for the ages (if I do say so myself). It's got the exact consistency I prefer with a good hit of spice and just a hint of coconut. Dollop on top of some perfectly cooked basmati rice (recipe HERE), and you've got a pretty spectacular dinner on your hands--minus all that chemical, MSG-like mystery stuff you always suspect restaurants sneak in there. xo

Thai Green Chicken Curry
Serves 4


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

5 green onions, finely chopped, dark green parts separated from white and pale green parts

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced

6 tablespoons Thai green curry paste

1 1/4 cups water

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

2 teaspoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips

1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil plus sprigs for garnish


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add white and pale green parts of green onions, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and garlic; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 1/4 cups water, coconut milk and fish sauce. Bring to simmer. Add  chicken and red bell pepper; cover and cook until chicken is just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in dark green parts of green onions, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and basil.

Divide rice among 4 shallow bowls. Ladle curry over rice and serve.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gwyneth Paltrow's Chicken and White Bean Chili

The last recipe I made in my old apartment in NYC was this super comforting and healthful chicken and white bean chili, via Gwyneth Paltrow's bible of guilt-free deliciousness, It's All Good. Despite the early summer warmth, I needed something a bit substantial, something that would slow me down and relax me to the bones. I was on the brink of a move to another borough, an office move, and the longest time I'd be away from New York since I'd moved there about a decade ago, and all the change was wearing me down. This did the trick nicely.

All it entails is a quick bake in the oven for the chicken, and then a bit of stove time for all the spices and veggies to meld together and make some magic. There's very little fat in the end result and it's chockfull of protein. Also, you'll have leftovers for at least a few days, which is an especially exciting bonus for this dish, as it gets better and better as the days go by. xo

Chicken and White Bean Chili
From It's All Good, by Gwyneth Paltrow
  • 3 chicken breasts on the bone with their skin (or 1 whole 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut up), at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem discarded, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon sweet pimentón
  • A 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • A 14-ounce can cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • Toppings (choose 1 or more): cilantro, lime wedges, finely diced red onion, hot sauce, plain sheep's or goat's milk yogurt

  • Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Rub the chicken breasts or cut-up pieces with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season aggressively with salt and pepper, and set them on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  • Roast until they're very firm to the touch and just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat with your fingers. Set it aside.
    Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder, pimentón, and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and another pinch of salt and turn the heat up. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and cook for ½ hour, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and lose their tinny taste.
    Break the tomatoes up a bit with the back of your spoon and add the beans and the reserved chicken to the pot, stirring to combine. Add a splash of water (about 1/3 cup) if the chili is looking a bit dry and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes before seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with whatever toppings you like.