When my kids were little, I used to make them shell the peas I brought home from the farmers’ market. This accomplished several things: It kept their little hands busy, and it freed mine for other tasks. Also, it made them participants in the preparation of dinner, which I liked. My son, the oldest, used to turn the shelling into a race (he turned everything into a race). His little sister, intentionally or unintentionally, remained completely oblivious to the competitive factor and shelled at her own meandering pace.
Not much happens at a meandering pace at our house anymore. One kid is in the middle of standardized tests; the other is gearing up for finals. There’s piano and tennis and track and friends. My husband, a newspaper editor, keeps newspaper hours (which I learned long ago are nothing like banker’s hours). And I feel like I spend every waking minute (and most of my sleeping hours) working towards (and worrying about) the launch of my latest cookbook.
June 1 is the official release date of The Glorious Pasta of Italy, but really, the book is already out. Friends and readers who pre-orderd it on Amazon have emailed and tweeted to me that their copies have arrived. Pub dates are squishy dates, I know this from previous experience, and while I’m happy that my book is making its way out into the world, I already feel like I’m one step behind—as though I’ve been scooped by my own book!
So I’m just going to take a minute here to catch my breath, and to catch you up on some book-related news and events—before those dates whiz by, too. Since most of these are local, I hope those of you who are far-flung will please bear with me. I’ll be doing a little traveling later in the summer, and will keep you posted on my schedule. Also, I post all my events on my calendar, so be sure to check there. (And, I promise to get back to the peas in a minute.)
Friday, May 20-Sunday, May 22: I am participating in Eat Write Retreat, a food bloggers conference here in Washington, D.C. This event promises to be a great learning experience, not to mention lots of fun, with workshops on cooking, food photography and styling, food writing, and more. I will be speaking on a panel titled Beyond Your Blog, and will focus on my career as a cookbook author and freelance food writer. Among my fellow panelists are organizer Robyn Webb, Jennifer Perillo, Shauna James Ahern, Pam Anderson, and Jael McHenry, and I can’t wait to hear what they have to share.
Saturday, May 28, 1 – 3 p.m., I’ll be offering samples and signing books at Hill’s Kitchen, in D.C. This is one of my favorite kitchenware stores, located right near Eastern Market in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Address: 713 D Street, SE, Washington, D.C. (202) 543-1997.
Saturday, June 4, 1 – 3 p.m., I’ll be offering samples and signing books at La Cuisine, in Old Town Alexandria. La Cuisine has been supportive of my work since my first book, The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy was published in 2006. The shop has been around for more than 40 years and is a true gem for cooks. Address: 323 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA. (703) 836-4435.
Tuesday, June 7, 6: 30 p.m. I will be co-hosting a Glorious Pasta Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, in D.C. Executive Chef Nick Stefanelli, who contributed a wonderful recipe to my book, will be preparing a multi-course menu from the book, with wine pairings and a special pasta dessert, and I will give a (short!) presentation about the book and recipes. Price is $90 (excluding tax and tip) and includes appetizers and a four-course sit-down dinner, with wine pairings and a signed copy of The Glorious Pasta of Italy. This is a limited-seating event, so please call to reserve a spot. Address: 1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 216-9550.
Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., I’ll be offering samples and signing books at Broad Branch Market, in D.C. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Broad Branch is a fabulous neighborhood market in Northwest DC that has everything from fresh bread to house-made seafood sausage—and much more. Address: 5608 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 249-8551.
There’s more coming, and I’ll post those in the calendar on my News & Events page. And, by the way, even though June 1 is a squishy date, it’s definitely going to be a day to celebrate. I have something delicious planned (with the help of some friends) so I hope you’ll stay tuned for that, too.
And now, back to the peas, which actually do have something to do with this post. The other morning, when I got back from the farmers’ market I realized (again, for the thousandth time) that the kids (of course) were at school and that after school shelling peas would be the last thing on their minds. Any shelling would have to be done by me.
So I did it. And I’m glad. I’m glad because for just a few minutes I wasn’t thinking (worrying) about the book, or scheduling another signing, or writing another article, or planning another event. I was thinking about the peas, and what I would make with them, and about the kids when they were little, sitting at the dining room table with their piles of pea pods in front of them.
When I opened my email inbox a little later that morning, I took it as a good sign that the Weeknight Kitchen, the weekly newsletter published by The Splendid Table, selected my Farfalle with Salmon, Peas, and Sage from The Glorious Pasta of Italy as this week’s featured recipe. So that’s what I made with my peas.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 pound skinless wild salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed if frozen
- 1 pound dried farfalle
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.
While the water is heating, put the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan placed over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the shallot and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the shallot is just beginning to soften. Add the sage and cook 3 minutes, or until the shallot has softened. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the salmon, salt, and a generous shower of pepper. Saute the salmon cubes for about 1 minute, tossing them gently to coat them with the shallot. As soon as the salmon begins to turn opaque, pour in the wine. Let it bubble for a minute or so, or until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the cream and peas and cook for about 5 minutes, just until the sauce begins to simmer and the peas are cooked through but still bright green. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate, and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions, until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.
Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly, adding a splash or two of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed shallow individual bowls and serve immediately.