Frank Bruni, top left, with his family
“When my mother believed in something, she was dogmatic about it,” Bruni told us. “And she had firm ideas about what belonged in pesto, and what didn’t. Walnuts instead of pine nuts—that was apostasy to her. She also really frowned on cheeses that were too mild. No low-grade supermarket Parmesan; the cheese needed to be saltier than Parmesan, anyway. It was Pecorino Romano for her.”
In Born Round, Bruni writes about a later pesto period, when he was a reporter at the Detroit Free Press in the early '90s, working with his editor and friend Renee Murawski. As he writes, “Renee is always making pesto, and it's a damned fine pesto, nearly as good as Mom's, and pesto happens to be one of your Top Five Most Beloved Ways to sauce pasta, especially if the pasta is fusilli.... Renee often uses fusilli.”
Renee's pesto might be great but Bruni deems his mother's pesto better. After trying it in the Food & Wine Test Kitchen we agree that it's fabulous: It's powerfully cheesy and garlicky, with lots of bright basil flavor, too.
For F&W’s September issue, I wrote about an incredible dinner party that London-based ceramicist Peter Ting hosted at the country house he shares with his partner, Brian Kennedy, and his friend Rachel Lamb. Ting gave F&W an exclusive look at his new Hachi tabletop collection for Royal Crown Derby and also shared some of his best recipes. Though he is an excellent cook, Ting's true passion is baking. He recently launched a London-based group called the Cake Committee that meets every other month (Oct. 18 and Dec. 13 will be the next dates) in Pullens Yards. A minimum of 10 amateur and professional bakers bring at least one cake, pie, tart or brioche to sell by the slice to raise money for charity. I sent Peter my favorite F&W recipe for red velvet cake, which he made for the committee’s inaugural meeting.
The third season of the AMC series Mad Men, which revolves around a cast of hard-drinking ad execs in the 1960s, debuts Sunday night. What to expect, according to the New York Times: more historically accurate booze. For a Mad Men–themed cocktail party, we offer the following drinks:
Vanilla Old-Fashioned A muddled vanilla bean adds a twist to creative director Don Draper's drink of choice.
Limoncello Collins This updated take on one of tortured housewife Betty Draper's favorite cocktails calls for limoncello, an intensely flavored Italian liqueur made from lemon peels.
Mai Tai Department store head Rachel Menken drinks the classic rum cocktail when out with Don. This version borrows from the recipe by Ernest Beaumont-Gantt (a.k.a. "Donn Beach," the father of tiki culture), and calls for dashes of Pernod and Angostura bitters for complexity.
© Cedric Angeles
For those lucky enough to get their hands on a ripe, juicy tomato, we offer tomato recipes here. We also offer recipes for other seasonal produce, like corn, eggplant and watermelon.
© Cedric Angeles
The whole food universe has gone a little mad for Julia Child with the Friday release of Julie & Julia, and we're no exception. In our August issue, as one of 10 whimsical ideas for summer gatherings (from a bikini party to a We Love Julia party), we're running the recipe for an amazing bacon-and-leek quiche, inspired by one of Julia's favorite foods. Today on our website we're featuring some of our favorite recipes from French Masters, and a few of our best Julia-worthy French desserts (like François Payard's Triple-Decker Macaroon Cake). Tomorrow, on Etsy.com, F&W Editor in Chief Dana Cowin will share Julia-inspired style finds (here's a preview). I think this should all tide me over until Friday, when I can watch Meryl Streep embody the greatest TV chef of all time, the queen of all Francophile foodies, and my own epicurean raison d'être. That's the hope, in any case. If not, I can always read the pages-long recipe for French bread in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Saffron Cucumber Pickles (amazing with grilled food, pictured here).
F&W Best New Chef 2009 Linton Hopkins’s Bread-and-Butter Pickles (crunchy, sweet and tangy).
F&W’s own Grace Parisi’s Winey Briny Quick Pickles (total prep time is only 20 minutes, plus overnight brining).
OR these 13 fantastic pickled vegetable recipes.
I hadn't cooked for my kids for more than two weeks, but all that changed when they returned from camp yesterday. Maybe I was out of practice, maybe I was feeling a bit defiant or maybe I was just hoping for a change, but given how much I enjoyed superspicy broccoli rabe last week, I wanted it again. There were sweet Italian sausages in the fridge, some homemade focaccia buns in the freezer and, of course, broccoli rabe—all ready to come together. I thought about sautéing the broccoli rabe, chopping it and kneading it into the sausage meat, but that would've been too cruel to my kids, not to mention self-defeating (I would surely have wound up making PB&Js). To satisfy everyone, I sautéed the broccoli rabe with garlic and so much crushed red pepper flakes all our mouths were vibrating, grilled the sausage patties (and the buns) and sandwiched it all together. A little aioli with olives, capers and herbs from my garden finished the dish. Malcolm, my 7-year-old son, passed on the aioli and broccoli rabe, but my 12-year-old daughter, Pia, ate it all.
© Sarah Kaufmann
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
2 dashes rosewater
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Grand Marnier, grapefruit juice and rosewater and shake lightly. Strain into a chilled coupe and top with Champagne.
Don't get me wrong—I love my kids, and I love eating with them. Some days I challenge them with unusual foods, but mostly I take the path of least resistance. But since they've been away at camp, I've rediscovered the joys of eating whatever and whenever I want (if at all). Tuesday's dinner was a bowl of cereal (Chex, granola and Grape-Nuts), Wednesday's was a peach, Thursday's was a PB&J (natural peanut butter and homemade berry jam) and Friday's was sautéed broccoli rabe with anchovies, olives and so much crushed red pepper that my mouth was vibrating. Maybe someday, my kids will appreciate stinky, spicy and bitter foods, but right now, that's a challenge I'm not ready to take on. Till then, I'll seize every opportunity to satisfy my own appetite.