Orecchiette with Melon, Pancetta, Ricotta Salata & Mint

This is phenomenal.  I almost don't want to write anymore than that...just phenomenal. I know it's a bit summery for this time of year, but if you still have some melon in season in your area make this immediately.  If not, make sure to mark it down somewhere for next summer so you don't forget to make it!  It's a fresh, heartier take on the classic prosciutto with melon appetizer. The mint is a divine addition (versus the more traditional basil) and the flaky, salty ricotta salata balances the sweetness of the melon perfectly.

The original recipe from Bon Appétit can be found here.

As a shortcut we used diced pancetta instead of thinly sliced pancetta that you have to break into bite size pieces, but either approach works. We also used more melon than it called for simply because the orange honeydew we had from the farmer's market was so juicy, sweet and amazing.  Otherwise, this recipe is perfect as is. This salad would be great cold as a side dish (you would knock the socks off of your BBQ buddies if you brought this along) or warm as a main dish as we served it. You really can't go wrong with this one...make it soon and make it often!

DIY Pizza Night!

We've been making homemade pizza in the SavoryGirl household for years now…but to be honest, we make a pretty sucky crust.  Until now.  Finally!  We’ve found a no-knead pizza dough recipe that is practically foolproof and makes amazingly crisp and blistered crust.  Just the way we like it…and seriously, it’s artisan pizzeria quality right at home.  The recipe is from Jim Lahey of New York's Sullivan Street Bakery & pizza spot, Co. and you can find it here The one trick, with this dough is that it’s a multistage, overnight process as you can see below, so make sure you build in time and plan ahead.

Step 1: Mix together all ingredients from the recipe.  Tranfer to a clean, large bowl, cover loosely with cling wrap and leave for 18 hours in a warm, non-drafty part of the kitchen.  I put the bowl in my oven overnight…even thought it’s off the pilot light keeps it a bit warm in there.
Butternut Squash & Chickpea Farroto

Holy good heavens, this is a winner!  I stumbled upon this recipe in a Bon Appétit a couple of years ago and it's been on my "to be cooked" list ever since and I'm kicking myself for not making it sooner.  Now that we've had it once, it will definitely become a winter staple in our household.

If you're not familiar with Farro, it's an Italian grain that has a mild nutty taste with a nice toothsome texture...similar in texture to risotto which is why it works so well as a substitute here.  If the labor-intensive stirring of risotto scares you off then this is the perfect alternative since you get a similar textured dish without standing by the stove stirring non-stop for 30 minutes.  Farro can be a bit harder to find than other grains, but specialty food and natural food stores tend to carry it.  Italian and Middle East grocers are another good place to look.  Of course, you could also order some online and save yourself some driving around.  Trust me, this dish is worth the hunt!  
Family Recipe: Zuccarini Cookies

I recently held a family recipe contest at the call center in Peoria, IL that I oversee as a part of my day job.  I got so many amazing contributions of recipes that sounded delicious & had a fabulous back story, but there could only be one winner...and that winner was Michelle Turchi's Family Succarini (or Zuccarini) Cookie Recipe!  Just in time for me to try out for my annual Cookie Party!

So what did I think?  They're quite yummy...and remind me a lot of biscotti, so are a great "breakfast cookie."  But making them in this particular little shape and then trying to dip them in hot bubbling sugar without burning yourself is a bit labor intensive.  So I think next time I make them I'll make them larger so they're both faster to make and easier to dip.  That probably means they wouldn't technically be Zuccarinis....but hey, they'd still taste just as good!  Kudos to Michelle for making them every year...hers were much more beautiful than mine so maybe she has some tips on how to make the process easier as well!

Michelle's lovely family backstory and recipe are below...enjoy, and of course if you have a family cookie recipe of your own please share!

Bar Bocce

I don't know if there's anywhere in the world I'd rather be during the Fall than in the Bay Area.  Fall in San Francisco is always spectacular, and this year has been no exception.  Bar Bocce, in Sausalito is one of the best places to experience this phenomenal weather.  Grab a glass of Prosecco from the bar and play a round of bocce on their water-front court while you wait for a seat on their great big outdoor patio and you have yourself an afternoon!

If you happen to get to Bar Bocce a bit later in the day or didn't hit it on one of our spectacular fall days have no fear...they have a great big fire pit and cozy fleece blankets for you to wrap around yourself while you stare wistfully at the shimmering water and idyllic house boats.

So...how's the food?  Well, Robert Price of Buckeye Roadhouse and Bungalow 44 is in charge of the kitchen so you're in good hands.  But like so many restaurants with amazing spaces and views, the food doesn't quite live up to the ambience.  It's good food, but not great food...but the spot is so fantastic that I do always find myself coming back for more.  Some of our recent samplings from the menu...

Homemade Pici

I learned how to make this super simple, rustic & traditional Italian pasta at one of the 18 Reasons Noodle Labs (see my post on the class here) that I attended in the Mission here in San Francisco.  If you've never attended an 18 Reasons class, I strongly recommend doing so...super fun, laid back and informative! What I love about this particular pasta, though, is that it forces you to slow down, use your hands, and enjoy some quality time (and wine!) with friends while making it...don't try to make this pasta alone!  It wouldn't be nearly as fun and you'd end up stuck at a table rolling out the pasta for an hour to get enough for two by yourself.  But don't let that scare you off, I promise it's super easy, just a bit manual, but the resulting pasta (and traditional breadcrumb topping that goes along with it) is so worth it.  I know it's going to feel a bit odd for some to not have a sauce and instead just have the pasta with the breadcrumb topping...but trust me on this one, the Italians know what they're doing!
Perfect Homemade Gnocchi

We’ve tried our hand at making homemade gnocchi a few times now and I have to say that Mario Batali’s recipe and instructions are by far the best and most consistent.  The only change I would make is to add a bit more salt than the recipe calls for...so maybe 2 pinches, but otherwise perfect.  We used our gnocchi in one of our favorite Eating Well in Season summer recipes - Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter. Your first time making homemade gnocchi?  Here are a few step by step tips:
Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese & Figs

I made these delicious & easy little suckers from the November 2010 Bon Appétit for Thanksgiving last year and they've been a go-to appetizer in our house ever since...well at least when we can find fresh figs (although I've also used fresh dates...if you do that you can skip the jam/preserves though). They are so super easy to make...mostly assembly and since you can crisp up the pancetta in advance.
Zero Zero

Continuing on my pizza theme this week, time to talk about Zero Zero!  Now I know Zero Zero has been open almost a year now, but somehow Christian and I just haven’t been able to get there until now. What was the occasion?  My best friend’s husband was in town for work and staying at the W so we wanted a good place nearby...enter Zero Zero, yippee!

The risk?  Our friend Jeff is a New Yorker, born and raised...so he knows his pizza.  Given all of the hype and positive reviews I was confident in our choice (although I did find myself wishing that we could take him to Una Pizza Napoletana where I 100% knew he would have been impressed! But we were just there and I have weird rules...I digress).
Una Pizza Napoletana

Pizza is a hot topic in this city...we’re always disparaging ourselves against the East Coast, but to be honest I’m racking up so many amazing pizza places these days that I’m considering hosting a “Margherita-Off” sometime soon to truly determine who my favorite is!  Una Pizza Napoletana has without a doubt joined my growing list of faves...

If you haven’t heard of this place give it a quick Google and you’ll quickly see that there is a lot of hype and back story...but the one key piece of information is that Anthony Mangieri, the owner and pizza maker, developed a cult-like following when he had his original pizza shop in NYC.  That’s right, folks, the New York pizza crowd loved his pizza...intriguing to say the least!    So Christian and I went and tried it out this past Friday and while we’ve only been once, here is what we found: