{recipe} pearl couscous with swiss chard and quick san marzano tomato sauce.

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anyone who knows me well knows that I love to cook, and that we cook quite a bit around here. my favorite thing to collect is cookbooks, i read food blogs and magazines like it’s my job, and one of our favorite saturday pastimes is shopping for ingredients for a complex recipe i’ve been dreaming about making and spending the evening holed up inside getting it just right. but summer is sort of the one exception to this rule. of course, due to the aforementioned cookbook collection/food blog obsession, there’s not exactly a shortage of recipes that i’m dying to make or techniques i’d like to work on. but summer for us means less grocery store trips and less meal planning, and more farmer’s market trips and more eating straight from our garden. making something out of what’s already there.

even though i do genuinely love to cook, we all have those nights. those nights where calling for delivery seems way easier or going out for happy hour appetizers seems like way more fun. on the night we made this couscous, i was thinking all those things, but also feeling a little guilt about the swiss chard starting to wilt in my fridge and the san marzanos on the counter that i kept saying i was going to make sauce out of and can for the winter. in this particular occasion, my guilt won out and we whipped up this riff on your basic spaghetti and tomato sauce by using couscous instead and making our own what i’m calling “quick tomato sauce” with san marzanos from our garden, and adding in some greens for good measure. as is usually the case, i was happy with our decision to stay home by about halfway through cooking dinner, you know, when the tomatoes and onions started to smell like sauce and i knew this was actually going to taste good – intentional, even – and not just be your average clean-out-the-fridge meal.

which is not to say that those kinds of meals won’t happen, too. we’ve had our fair share of taco combinations and pizza toppings and they aren’t always good. even still, those weird meals bring with them the satisfaction of making something out of what’s already there. and the hope that every now and again, the stars might align, the tomatoes will be perfect, and you’ll accidentally throw together a meal for two that actually turns out to be good enough to purposely make again and again thereafter.

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ingredients

-1 tbsp. olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 medium or 2 small red onions, sliced into half moons
-4 San Marzano tomatoes (or Romas), diced
-2 oz. (about ½ can) tomato paste
-1 bunch swiss chard, de-stemmed and loosely torn
-1 cup pearl couscous
-salt, crushed red pepper
-parmesan and lemon zest to top

directions

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat, add 1 cup couscous and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all liquid has reduced and couscous is cooked through (it should be soft, but with a slight “bite,” just like al dente pasta). Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, while the couscous cooks, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and onions and sauté until fragrant. Next, add diced tomatoes and allow to cook down for a few minutes. Then, add tomato paste and stir into the tomatoes and onions. Let sauce cook for a few minutes, adding a couple tablespoons of water or vegetable broth if needed for consistency. For the last few minutes, toss in the loosely torn swiss chard pieces and let sauce continue to cook until greens become just wilted. Season with salt and crushed red pepper.

3. Stir sauce into couscous, and divide evenly among plates (this makes 2 large entrée dishes or 4 side dishes). Top each dish with lemon zest and/or grated parmesan.
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{recipe} homemade basil fettuccine with cherry tomatoes + lobster.

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making your own pasta is undoubtedly one of those labor of love things, and if you have the time and interest to devote to it, it is beyond worth it. i tried it for the first time, a while back, before my kitchen aid mixer days, and it was basically a disaster. (yes, i still ate it). but since then, i’ve procured a trusty stand mixer and the pasta roller attachment, tried (and failed) a few more times, found a recipe that works for me, figured out how to troubleshoot a few common pasta issues, and even learned how to make it by hand a little better, too. (but don’t do that if you have a mixer and/or aren’t an italian grandma). i’d even say that i’ve officially moved out of the “i will suffer through making this because i know it will taste so good” phase and into the “i actually enjoy doing this let’s pour wine and turn on the record player too” phase.

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so a couple weekends ago after just having lamented that we hadn’t made homemade pasta in a while, and that we should sometime soon, we found ourselves in whole foods, where there was a convenient one-day-only sale on lobster tails. we snatched two right up, had them butterflied in the store, picked up a few other ingredients, and started dreaming up that night’s dinner.

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we don’t really cook a lot of meat/seafood and it’s not something i consider myself good at, so when i say that cooking lobster was pretty easy and you can do it without royally messing it up, i mean it. so the next time you find yourself in the grocery store and there’s a sale on lobster tails, you should a) not be afraid, b) get some, and c) have them butterfly them for you in the store because i don’t know how to tell you how to do that.

this is such a great summer dish for a saturday night where you want to do something kind of fancy but you want to do it in your pajamas. in other words, it’s a dish for all the saturday nights. anyways, the fresh pasta with basil mixed in, colorful cherry tomatoes, and buttery lobster, all topped off with parsley and parmesan, is such an awesome combo. hope you’ll try it!

suggested beer pairing: boulevard saison-brett.

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INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

½ lb. fresh pasta (preferably homemade)
handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
2 lobster tails, butterflied
1 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
parmesan, shredded
sea salt
pepper

directions

1. If making pasta from scratch, follow this recipe, using 3 eggs (instead of 2) if dough is dry. Mix finely chopped basil into the dough. (you’ll only need half of the dough for the recipe (to serve 2), so before the rolling step, you can put the other half in the fridge and use within a couple days).

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place lobster tails on a baking sheet. Mix 1 tbsp. butter with 1 garlic clove, and spread over both lobster tails. Bake for about 10 minutes, until meat is white. Remove meat from tail and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add salt to the water (more than you think – I’ve read that you should be able to taste it if you were to drink the water). Carefully place cut fettuccine noodles into the boiling water, using tongs to separate noodles if they begin to stick together. Boil until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving a cupful of pasta water.

4. While lobster and pasta are cooking, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add halved tomatoes and continue sautéing, 2-3 minutes (if you do this concurrently with your pasta, add tomatoes at about the same time as you add pasta to boiling water).

5. Add lobster meat, drained pasta, shredded parmesan, and chopped parsley to the skillet. Add a bit of pasta water if needed. Use tongs to mix all ingredients together and continue cooking on medium-low until everything is warmed through.

6. Divide between two plates, garnish with additional parsley and parmesan, if desired, and season with sea salt and pepper. Bon appetit!

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{cocktails} the aviation.

before reading about it on food52 a few months ago, i’d never heard of an aviation cocktail, but right away i knew i wanted to try it. i mean, come on, it’s purple! i love gin cocktails, especially in the summer, and this one is particularly easy. the hardest part is probably going to be convincing yourself that you should buy the bottle of creme de violette and maraschino liqueur that you’ll need to make it, but i promise you’ll use them in enough other drinks to make it worth the splurge. we’ve been making these on saturday evenings while we cook dinner, and it’s the only cocktail i’ve made myself that i would also pay $10 for in a restaurant. see below for instructions, and hope you’ll give it a try!

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Ingredients (serves 2)

4 oz gin
1.5 oz lemon juice
.75 oz maraschino liqueur
.75 oz creme de violette

directions

shake all ingredients with plenty of ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
garnish with maraschino cherry.

cheers!
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twenty-seven.

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my twenty-seventh birthday celebrations began with oysters and spiked lemonades at one of our favorite restaurants, plank; transitioned to cake and champagne on our patio and the discovery of the timercam app, launching a full-on photo shoot complete with outtakes; and ended with watching this week’s episode of the bachelorette, even though we read the spoilers earlier this week. in other words, it was perfect. so much to be thankful for this past year, and so much to look forward to in this year to come.
cheers to 27!

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