The Shakshuka at Morgan & Company

Recently I’ve fallen in love with poached eggs. When made well, the whites are tender and creamy. The yolk should be runny and slowly ooze its golden goodness into, and onto, whatever it’s paired with when pierced. The combination of delicate albumen and rich vitellus, make for wonderful textural and flavor contrasts, and are but one reason why eggs are a cherished food the world over.

More and more I’m of the mindset that poached is a better way to eat an egg. As such, I’ve been seeking out dishes that incorporate poached eggs. The North African dish of Shakshuka—eggs poached in a spicy tomato based sauce—has become one of my favorites.

I’m also a big fan of the Italian corn porridge better known as polenta, similar to the southern staple grits, it’s hearty, homey, and comforting. When made by expert hands, it’s swoon-worthy.

Morgan & Company has combined shakshuka and polenta into a filling and flavorful dish. It’s an Italian-African mashup if you will, and on a recent trip to Glens Falls, I stopped in to try it.

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Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese – A Study in Fat

Do you have any Marcella Hazan cookbooks in your collection? If you don’t you should. She is without question the Grand Dame of Italian cooking. Or perhaps I should say she was the Grand Dame of Italian cooking, as sadly, she passed away a few years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with who she is, and the huge impact she’s had on Italian fare in America, please read the wonderful bio/obituary the NY Times wrote just after her death.

If you don’t have any of her cookbooks, you should pick up what is probably her best collection of recipes, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”. It’s chock full of great Italian dishes, of which I’ve made more than a few, and they never disappoint. Plus there’s instructions for cooks of all levels on things like how to make pasta, risotto, and other classic Italian dishes. As well as information about herbs, spices, and cheeses used in Italian cooking.

The other day (and it takes almost a whole day) I decided to make her bolognese for the first time, and what I discovered, is that it’s a dish that’s all about fat.
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Morocco by way of India, via Pakistan, with a stop in NYC

India, Pakistan, NYC, Morocco. That’s quite a journey. But the journey doesn’t end there. It ends in Schenectady.
Humble Schenectady of all places. And how blessed the Electric City is because of it.
I find it interesting that the small North African nation of Morocco (with a population of just 34 million) is ingrained into American culture. After all, one of the greatest films made, arguably, is Casablanca, set in the eponymous Moroccan coastal city.
“Here’s looking at you kid.” What American over the age of 30 doesn’t know that line?
Then there’s the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young hit Marrakesh Express. Love that tune. And according to Wikipedia, the song is based on an actual train ride Graham Nash took to the city of Marrakesh while vacationing in Morocco.
I was surprised to learn that Tara Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team of Indian, and Pakistani descent. She lived for a time in NYC. He, a transplanted Pakistani living in Morocco. When she was vacationing there, they met, fell in love, and married. It’s a fascinating story, and I recommend you read it.

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Sauce from the Garden

As everyone knows, there’s just nothing better than fresh veggies and herbs picked from a backyard garden just moments before you eat them. Each year, for the last 3 years, my wife and I have planted a garden.

We don’t have a lot of space, and our garden is small, so we have to be judicious about what, and how much we plant, and each year we’ve planted something different than the year before, with two exceptions; tomatoes, and basil.

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Hidden Gem

My wife and I had an evening without our little one. Usually we eat out when we don’t have our daughter, it allows us to eat anywhere we want without worrying if the restaurant is kid friendly, and whether there’s something she’ll like on the menu.

We had a hard time trying to decide where to go. It was a beautiful evening, and my wife suggested we eat somewhere that has a patio. So the search began. I remembered All Over Albany has an outdoor dining map. Unfortunately, their list is getting out of date, and none of the restaurants on there appealed to us that night anyway.

What I really wanted, was to eat someplace a little unique, someplace small and out of the way. We racked our brains and bandied about some ideas, but came up with nothing. I turned to yelp.

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Quick! Sauce

Mmm, pasta. Who doesn’t love a big steaming hot bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, tossed in a savory, slightly sweet, and herby tomato sauce? Or a giant slice of lasagna, loaded with ricotta and sausage?

Examples of pasta have been discovered in China dating back some 4,000 years ago, millennia before the Italians are credited with popularizing it. But some suggest the Chinese version is technically a noodle and not pasta. Apparently the two are not the same.

No matter. Whether created by the Italians, or the Chinese, pasta is delicious, and is as much a part of American culture as pizza, hot dogs, or apple pie.

There are as many different sauces as there are pasta shapes. Bolognese, Alfredo, aglio e olio (garlic and oil), the list goes on. But none are as popular, and arguably as delicious, as the classic tomato sauce.

Today I want to convince you to make your own tomato sauce and skip store bought jarred sauce.

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