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Beggar’s Linguine for a Birthday

Having been apart on my recent birthday, my daughters informed me that we would celebrate my birthday this evening.  They had a little plan up their sleeves, about which they whispered and plotted with our dear friend and irreplaceable sitter, Beth.  I decided to make my own contribution to the evening by trying out this week’s French Friday recipe, Beggar’s Linguine, or Linguine Mendiant.

Calling for pistachios, almonds, golden raisins, and dried Mission figs, a healthy heap of Parmesan and dusting of orange zest and chopped chives, this is not a recipe that would normally catch my eye – even if the 1 1/2 sticks of butter might!  I simply could not get my mind around what it was going to taste like.  Sweet?  Fruity?  Is that really something we want for dinner?  The raisins alone gave me quite a long moment of pause.   Some readers may recall the dismay I caused at my best friend’s home when I showed up with a dessert containing golden raisins.  And a person with whom I generally share a similarity of taste in all things culinary, made a face bordering on disgust when I suggested we share a cinnamon raisin bagel one recent morning.  Would my daughters and Beth join this group of people offended by the inclusion of raisins in their meals?  (Topic for future blog:  Where to do raisins belong?)  After mulling this all over for a few minutes, I decided, “What the hell!” and made my grocery list.

A little background on where the inspiration for this pasta may have come from.  Dorie Greenspan tells us that there’s a French candy called a mendiant, which comes in the form of a chocolate disc topped with chopped nuts, dried fruit and sometimes a little orange rind.  Traditionally, the nuts and fruits represented the four mendicant monastic orders – dried figs for the Franciscans, raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustinians, and almonds for Carmelites.  So it seems that someone thought it might be a good idea to apply this idea to a pasta dish and, somewhat surprisingly, it was!

Beggar's linguine

After browning that stick and a half of butter, in go the chopped fruits and nuts, followed by the cooked linguine.  Toss that all around, pour it into a bowl, add a generous heap of Parmesan, little orange zest, and healthy handful of chives, and oh my how happy you will be!   I am, in fact, so certain of this fact that I intend to prepare this dish for each of the aforementioned raisin detractors in the very near future.

Good as this pasta was however, it couldn’t beat dessert – a birthday cake baked, decorated, and served with an abundance of love by my two beautiful daughters.


Demain à Paris!

The excitement in our home is at a fever pitch – bags have been packed, restaurants researched, and Euros secured.  Paris here we come!

Our plans include the expected – visits to the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, and Sacre Coeur.  As you know, we plan to check out Shakespeare & Co. and E. Dehillerin.  We may ice skate at l’Hotel de Ville, but will definitely eat ice cream at Berthillon.  The girls intend to bring home a few French fashion items and I intend to stash in my bag a few jars of Fleur de Sel de Guerande, pails of G. Detou Dijon, and lentils de Puy.  The macarons will be gone before boarding time.

We will (hopefully!) eat at Cafe Constant, Les Cocottes, Les Papilles, Chez Marianne and perhaps Le Gaigne or A La Biche au Bois.  We will eat crepes!  We will buy a Poulet crapaudine from the Chicken Lady at the Bastille market!  And we will wish you were with us!  (You know who you are.)

Next time – posting from Paris!

Half-day Lunch

The town we live in, and I believe most of the state as well, has a delightful tradition of scheduling 3 half-days followed by two days off from school in the first week of November.  Both working and non-working moms can appreciate the small bit of chaos this can wreak in an otherwise orderly schedule.  But as my Nana liked to say, it’s an ill wind that blows no good, and this particular wind means a break from school lunch preparation, which I must admit is not among my favorite activities.  Though my children have fairly experimental palates in general, when it comes to school lunch, we’re in a bit of rut, from which, try as I may, we seem unable to break free.

And so it is that these 3 half days provide an opportunity to prepare a hot lunch!  Yes, I know some of you are saying, “this girl needs to get a life if this is what excites her,” but I do love having a morning free of peanut butter sandwich-making, and a lunchtime seated at the table with my daughters.

Yesterday my fridge contained the last-of-the-season green beans from the farmers’ market, and my head contained a vague recollection of a recipe I had recently encountered that called for green beans, bread crumbs and garlic.  Here’s the result:

Roughly chop a clove or two of garlic and two handfuls of green beans.  Warm two slugs of olive oil in the bottom of a skillet.  Add garlic and saute over medium-low heat until soft, raise heat to medium-high and add green beans.  Sprinkle with juice of half a lemon and cook about two minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in a handful of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to taste.  When beans are cooked to your liking, add pasta (which you should have been cooking during the preceding process) and toss to coat, adding a little more olive oil, if necessary.   Serve with parmesan.
Your children will eat their green beans today.

Fast Food Dinner

Arriving home later than usual tonight, due to last-minute meeting with my boss, which resulted in a missed train, and with only moments to spare before the opening bars of “Glee” (my daughters’ favorite program, for which I must be seated beside them from start to finish else their enjoyment be apparently diminished), I made the rapid and happy decision that it would be a cheese, bread, and wine dinner for me this evening.  (Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that my daughters had already dined at their father’s home this night.)

Thanks to a cheese, bread, and salad dinner suggested by my beau a week ago, my refrigerator was the protector of a lovely wedge of Piave, a small piece of Pere Joseph, and rounding things off, a chunk of Bayley Hazen Blue (he knows his cheese, I’ve discovered…)  My vegetable, carrots dipped in Moroccan-spiced yellow pepper hummus I picked up at the Sunday farmer’s market.

With a dinner as pleasing and companionable as that, it barely mattered that “Glee” was a repeat.

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