Idle thoughts about you-know-what

Years and years and years ago, I disentangled myself from The Worst Boyfriend in the Universe, and after he finally packed up and drove away I ate a Krispy Kreme donut. 

While I was eating the donut, I started crying--sobbing, actually. Not because I missed the bad guy, but because I was eating a Krispy Kreme donut, alone.  And then I started laughing because I was crying because I was eating a Krispy Kreme donut, alone. 

I bring it up because I've been thinking about the term "food porn," which I find particularly inappropriate. First, I just don't like those two words together. It kills my appetite. 

And second: the items that people tend to refer to as food porn--gorgeous art-directed photos of lobsters dripping with butter, cocoa nibs on a rustic burlap sack, a steak, an eggplant--are not the least bit "pornographic."  

I notice, however, that no one ever refers to pictures of, say, Pez or corn chips or a bear claw as food porn. That seems wrong. 

If we as a people are going to continue to use the term, we should use it properly, for objectionable food that makes us feel guilty, pathetic, lazy affection in spite of the fact that it could never love us back. Like the donut.

Or, for instance, the iconic Pillsbury poppin' fresh cinnamon bun (honestly: poppin' freshs buns?). 

I prepared a can this morning for a very close friend who loves them, who also gets a tremendous kick out of icing them with the stuff in that plastic container that arrives, also poppin fresh, in the the same can, and who would eat all of them if I let her. This, even though I am more than capable of making a proper cinnamon bun. I only had one bite. But I won't lie to you: fabulous.  


Some sexist generalizations, with recipes

While the man was away for a week recently, bringing home the bacon, I cooked a lot of fish.

In Chicago, where I live, men really, really like bacon. In fact, I received this blurry snapshot from the man after his 6 a.m. arrival in London.

Then, as he stopped through London again, I got another unsolicited blurry bacon-sandwich picture. I do not know what the sauce is. And I will not ask.

These men in Chicago? They will grab a cow carcass, tear off a chunk with their teeth and chew, then wash it down with sloshing tumblers of red wine, or a whole pitcher of beer, in one gulp. Aaaargh. Arr.

Am I making sweeping sexist generalizations? Did I just reduce the man I live with to a rabid Paul Bunyan-like character? Am I readily admitting that I do most of the cooking around here? I am. So be it.

The only problem that I can see with the arrangement is that I don't eat as much fish as I used to. It's too bad there is no such thing as a bacon fish. Then my life would be absolute perfection.

I'll admit, an overzealous treatment may have had something to do with fish falling off our household menu. But during my recent week alone, I made fish the way I want it--simply cooked--rather than dressing it up like some cheap floozie hanging around the bar on Gunsmoke, just to get the man's attention.

My standard dish is a fish en (faux) papillote. It is nothing new, but it is something quite good. 

  • I preheat the oven to 400. Take a filet of salmon or roughy or whitefish (If I'm alone, I eat a big piece: 10 ounces or so, with nothing on the side), place it crosswise on a foot-long sheet of tinfoil, top it with some thinly sliced mushrooms, some chopped tomato, chopped parsley, a few fresh herbs if I remember them (basil is always nice; tarragon), a bit of crushed garlic. Splash of white wine, splash of cream (optional), tablespoon of butter in pieces, salt and freshly ground pepper. Another good combo is thinly sliced seeded cucumber, thin onion, white pepper, some cream. Herbs if you like, but a sparing amount. 
  • I bring the two ends together at the top and roll it tightly together, then down the sides, to make a roomy envelope that will serve as a steam room for the fish. Place on a sheet pan and cook it according to how thick the fish is, in this case about 25-30 minutes. You should try to wait as long as possible before you check it for readiness (fish flakes at the thickest part when it's done), because you'll lose good steam once you open it, but don't wait too long because overcooked fish seems more expensive than perfectly cooked fish.

I like this dish because it ends up being almost like a stew, which I tip from the foil packet into a big bowl and gobble down with a spoon. Since the cooking time is pretty brief you must be sensible about the vegetables you use, unless you plan to steam them first. Don't use hard carrots, for instance, and don't use stupid vegetables either. No lima beans.

A recipe I just discovered, and that I plan to spring on the man some time soon, is straight out of Ina Garten's latest book, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (Clarkson Potter, $35), which I love so much I want to marry it. I followed Garten's recipe to a T, which is something I rarely do, but I interviewed/fell more madly in love with her not long ago (you can read my piece here) and realized that the reason her recipes are always perfect is because she is so extremely precise about the flavor she is trying to achieve. Rather than "one medium onion, finely chopped," she often suggests an exact measurement. So I see no reason to stray; this dish, for instance, is a snap to achieve (ten minutes to prepare; 15 to cook) and luscious beyond expectation.

You basically ice the fish, like a cupcake. 

Then you cook it, and the sauce turns to a liquid gold, then browns.  How easy is that?

It's one of the easiest ways I know to get more fish into your life, and as Garten points out, "It's good enough to serve to the fanciest company." Or, a bacon-eater.

Mustard Roasted Fish
Serves 4

4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces creme fraich
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons dried capers

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment. (You can also use and ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  • Combine the creme fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (the fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.


Oh, no. Not again.

The house is full of apples again (and that one pear)--apples just past their prime. I love them too much, and bring way too many home. Why does the world have banana bread, but no bread for the dead apple? I'm looking for one, and in a bit of a hurry, because it's starting to look like the Collyer brothers' house around here. If the Collyer brothers had run fruit stand. 

Hallelujah! Celebrating the Good Book

The Flavor Bible ($35, Little, Brown), that is. That other Bible is interesting enough, but Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg's book (which I wrote about when I was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune's Good Eating section)  is much newer and you probably haven't heard quite as much about it. 

I explain why the book is so miraculous in more detail in my Trib piece. You should definitely click on that article to see how the book works, because it will change your life no matter what your level as a cook. And it will give you back your courage, too, especially if you have been discouraged in previous culinary endeavors. (Hmm: I love watercress, I love turmeric: how about watercress-turmeric ice cream?!) 

I like to pick up the Flavor Bible (subtitle: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs) often, for inspiration; I also like to read it in bed, which is a bit odd since it has no plot. 

Just look up the ingredient you're obsessed with (for me, right now, it's apples), and take it from there. By the way, the croque monsieur sandwich included in the Tribune piece was inspired by Ina (and don't pretend you don't know which "Ina"), and the salad, which is fabulous, is my own invention. 

Karen and Andrew are charming and brilliant; with good reason, they are particularly proud of the fact that Grant Achatz, the enigmatic and exquisitely innovative Chicago chef who created the restaurant Alinea (and whom I interviewed in his kitchen a couple of years ago for Men's Vogue), has called the precursor to this book, Page and Dornenburg's Culinary Artistry, "My most used cookbook." 

Already, this morning, I've used The Flavor Bible to decide what to do with my slightly raggedy apple surplus. I opened the book to Apple, of course (Season: autumn Taste: sweet, astringent Function: cooling. . . . Techniques: bake, caramelize, deep-fry, etc); checked out the dishes that a few famous chefs mention as favorites (Caramelized Apple Sundae with Butter Pecan Ice Cream, from Emily Luchetti, of Farallon, in San Francisco, for instance); then decided that I'm going use the apples to make a dense buttery cake, or maybe a sour cream cake, with a bit of chopped candied ginger and chopped apricot. 

At least, I think I am. I have all the ingredients here (which I'll admit influenced my decision). I may be barking up the wrong tree, but those ingredients are complementary, so I know the flavors will be nice. There is not a single recipe in this book, which is part of its charm--the possibilities seem more endless!--so the vehicle is up to me. 

And I love that task. I'm checking all my cookbooks (Sarah Raven's In Season looks especially promising) for something to base my cake on. And I'll let you know how it goes. Cheers.


Beatrice's Blender Mayo

My grandmother Beatrice, or Bea, was like the Scottish terrier of grandmothers: stout, scrappy, and she tended to stiffen up a little bit when you hugged her. But she was charmingly eccentric (she had a darkroom in her basement, a kiln, cake decorating station, and a lot of other stuff I really shouldn't discuss) and she was cool, and a great friend in the truest sense of the word, so I don't care how corny it sounds: I miss her and think about her all the time. And I've been thinking about her a lot more, lately.

She also cared about food, and always had a giant country ham on her kitchen counter in case anyone got peckish while visiting her. Rather than the cameras, the furniture, the alligator train case, one of my favorite things left to me by Bea is this recipe. If you've never made your own mayo, do so right this instant, because it's just another example of how a simple recipe can change your quality of life (and save you money, although you can't, of course, keep fresh mayo in the refrigerator for a zillion years like the stuff in a jar but this doesn't make a ton and it just takes a few minutes). I have the original, jotted on a notepad, that she gave to me over 20 years ago.

I was living with her in Virginia for a summer before moving north--which would change my life in great ways--during which time I drove her to North Myrtle Beach to stay for a week with her sister Gertie, in Gertie's condo. During the daytime I'd go to the beach and Gertie and Bea would hang around the pool or read or . . . I'm not really sure what they did actually. What do cute old ladies do at the beach? I took them to the hair salon, to be coiffed. They played cards. We visited with my Aunt Mariah, who was also around, while my Uncle John golfed. At night we'd cook--but only after Gertrude and Beatrice had put on their muumuus, and Gertie had mixed drinks and, on a couple of nights, put out cold shrimp with cocktail sauce.

The may recipe is from one of my favorite dinners of all time: great tomatoes from a roadside vegetable stand, slices of chicken that Gertie had just roasted, Bea's blender mayonnaise, with lots of black pepper and salt. I usually only give the recipe to people I really really like, but in celebration of life heading in a great direction again, toward doing the things I really want to do rather than silly things other people want me to do, I offer it up here for anyone who wants it.

Bea's Blender Mayo (verbatim)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup of salad oil [by this she meant Wesson]
  • Break egg in blender and add salt, mustard, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of oil. Cover and turn blender on low speed. Immediately uncover, with blender on, and pour remaining oil in slow steady stream. Cut off motor [this means "turn off" in Southern] and stir. Turn on blender briefly. Be sure blender is dry when you start.
One thing she doesn't mention in the recipe is that you should have everything at room temperature before you start. Obviously, you can use different oils, such as olive or walnut or grape-seed or peanut (just make sure it's fresh, and make sure the eggs are super-fresh, too). And you can add garlic to make aioli, or soft herbs. Don't keep it longer than two days in the fridge. And don't leave it sitting out on the counter, crazy.

Next up: my Aunt Mariah's Parker House rolls, but I'll have to call her to ask her if I can post the recipe, first.


No vegetarians here. . . yet

I have enormous vegetable love. Really. In fact, I'd like to have a scarf that looks like this picture of rainbow chard stalks (Peter Max would be my designer). I find giant fast food chains repellent and what they've turned all of us into tragic. I wish every other corner in every urban wasteland had a vegetable garden instead of a McD. While I eat cheeseburgers (and not just good cheeseburgers; I'll eat the crummy one, too), and display other frankly carnivorous habits, I think it is extremely important that we all learn to eat a lot less meat. I believe that if the world does not start cooking more, it is lost. O, lost. But I sure do wish there were a lot more good restaurants in my neighborhood. Do I contradict myself? Very well then. 

Anyway, against my better judgment and in spite of the fact that I believe myself to be a kind person at heart, it seems that I have tended to make fun of vegetarians, even though I expect them not to make fun of me. 

Which I didn't even realize until I started cooking so often  from Peter Berley's really terrific vegetarian cookbook Fresh Food Fast (Regan Books, $34.95). Berley--who, also, is not a vegetarian per se--is the former chef at the wonderful East Village cafe, Angelica Kitchen, a place I used to visit pretty frequently when I lived in NYC.

The night before last, I made a delicious soup from his book, using some ethereally pretty purple turnips, the deep green leafy tops of the rainbow chard, leeks, and some tiny white potatoes. It was so dreamy (especially since it contained an added, gigantic glug of cream in my version as well as the addition of some leftover crushed potatoes to thicken it) that I went to the Angelica Kitchen site and took a skip down memory lane. 

There I found a review I wrote about Angelica Kitchen, back when I edited Tables for Two at the New Yorker magazine. I didn't remember writing it until that moment; the piece is that old (from a quainter time, before everyone signed their pieces, so maybe 95? 96). 

The point being: I now feel like a bit of a dolt. I seemed smug, depicting the place as a kind of hippie throwback; if you look at the Angelica Kitchen site today, you'll find the place seems incredibly modern. And who could not love a place that serves a Wee Dragon Bowl? So, here, hangdog, and so many years later, I apologize for my tone, especially since I really liked the food.

Post-Angelica, Berley and his new book seem even more modern. (Caramelized bananas with blood orange and pistachio, giant arepas with aged Gouda, warm mesclun salad with sherry vinaigrette and five-minute eggs.) Fresh Food Fast has its share of wheat-heady recipes that I know I won't make (tofu, yes! seitan: hell no), and it was upsetting to realize a pressure cooker is required for quite a few of the recipes. But it is otherwise a great example of how terrifically creative and satisfying vegetarian home cooking can be. 

Now, you're probably wondering where the turnip soup recipe is. (Saunders ate 3 bowls in one night, and the next night she asked very politely if I we could make my version of another dish from the book, a spicy sweet potato, kale, and coconut milk stew, served with rice. So that's here, too.)

Leek and Turnip Soup with Potatoes and Chard, adapted from Fresh Food Fast, by Peter Berley
Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons butter
2 large leeks, white and tender green parts, cleaned, cut lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces 
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (don't overdo it)
2 pounds small turnips, peeled if necessary, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 pound small red or yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch of Swiss chard, trimmed and leaves roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream or half and half or 1 cup milk
Optional: Any leftover mashed or crushed potatoes you have. I used about 2 cups. 

  • Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, a pinch of the salt, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, caraway seeds; saute for 3 minutes. 
  • Add 6 cups of water, turnips, potatoes; bring to a boil over high heat. Add remaining salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Add chard and simmer until wilted, about five minutes. If a thicker soup is desired, use a potato masher a few times, right in the pot of soup. 
  • Optinal: Add leftover mashed potatoes if you have them. Simmer 5 more minutes until heated through. 
  • Lower heat, slowly stir in cream or milk if you'd like. Adjust salt and pepper to taste; a lot of pepper is really good with turnips, FYI. 

Spicy Coconut Sweet Potato Stew with Kale, adapted from Fresh Food Fast
Serves 4

With the coconut milk (which makes everything wonderful, but has 900 calories in a 14-ounce can, like some kind of crazy tropical lard), not to mention jalapeno and lime, this stew puts you in a trance. You can't stop eating it. Substitute light coconut milk with little ill effect.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onion (2 medium)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, or more to taste
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks (about 5 cups)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, with seeds, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground, or 1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 lime cut into wedges
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

  • Heat oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onion, pinch of salt; saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add sweet potato, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, coriander, turmeric; saute for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water, coconut milk, remaining salt; raise heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
  • Add kale; cover and simmer until kale is tender, about 10 minutes. If too soupy, continue to simmer until thickened. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with a large spoonful of jasmine rice, garnished with cilantro and lime slices.


Hello, gorgeous

If any of the noses in Grasse created a cologne that smelled like raw turnips (horseradishy, tonic) I'd most certainly wear it. Call it Eau de Root Cellar, please.


Barley + Sheila Lukins' New Cookbook = Love

Somewhat perversely, I hankered for barley. It was a vague hankering. This was about a month ago. I'm not sure I'd ever cooked barley, and may not have actually
seen any since my last can of Campbell's Scotch Broth, a thousand years ago (barley is an ancient grain). 

As much as we brag in Chicago about the great food, we do not mean the grocery food. Or, I don't. My local grocery is a cruel place that never has anything I want. In fact, not long ago there was no broccoli, no sweet potatoes. Many times there has been no basil. Many times.

No Basil: A One Act Play, by Emily Nunn
Me, to produce manager: Excuse me, sir. Have you any basil?
Produce manager: No! Leave us!
[She exits]

So they didn't have any barley. I looked all over. I found pearl barley--this means the bran has been removed, and the grain has been steamed and polished, according to the Food Lover's Companion; imagine polishing barley for a living--far, far away from my home. I bought it. I treated it like sack of Magic Beans, a treasure. And for a long time, just owning it was good enough for me. Also, I didn't know exactly what to do with it.

Then I found the cookbook "Ten: All the Foods We Love and Ten Recipes for Each" (Workman, $19.95), by Sheila Lukins, which has quickly become a favorite, because the recipes are simple but elegant; they seem like celebration food. She is after all a Silver Palate lady. 

Here is Lukins' recipe for Butternut Barley Risotto, which, if you have not tried it, may not sound like a dish to trot out for a party. But that's because you haven't tried it. I've made it 3-4 times, and we ate it for breakfast, recently, too. At the suggestion of Saunders, who is 9. It's that good. And it makes you feel virtuous.

Butternut Barley Risotto, from "Ten," by Sheila Lukins
Serves 6

1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade, or more if needed.
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup diced seeded ripe plum tomatoes (I used canned once;  it was fine)
1 cup of pearl barley, rinsed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. 

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil Add the squash and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • While the onions are cooking, pour the broth into a saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and keep the broth hot. 
  • Add the tomatoes to the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. 
  • Stir the barley into the onion/tomato mixture, coating it well with the oil. 
  • Raise the heat to medium and stir 1/2 cup  of the hot broth into the barley mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed into the barley. Continue this process, 1/2 cup at a time, making sure each addition of broth is absorbed before adding the next, until barley is tender and most of the broth has been used, about 45 minutes. 
  • Carefully fold in the reserved butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Cook to reheat the squash, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with remaining parsley. 

Emily's Product Korner

May I just say, without sounding like an advertisement: Trader Joe's has some rockin' raisins, the Jumbo Raisin Medley, which consists of "Seedless Golden Light Raisins, Flame Raisins, and Jumbo Raisins, Sulfur Dioxide." They're so good I don't even care about the word "dioxide."

 I am not a raisin person. In fact, I grew up thinking of raisins as a kind of culinary buckshot, that ruins perfectly good food: why is this lump in this lovely muffin? And it probably didn't help that my grade-school cafeteria, which was like something out of "Oliver!" (children filed through a garbage alley/garage that led past the sad dishwashing station into a giant room/prison with high windows that we couldn't see out of), served a dish that had no name but that I presume was meant to be a "raisin pie." Basically a giant casserole filled with brown bloated raisins, surrounded by a nondescript raisin-pie sauce, with a crust on top. You'd have had to chloroform me to get me to eat it. But, as my mother would say, some children had no raisin pie at all

That said: I really like these raisins and you should try them. I have them on oatmeal, which I eat 231 times a week, with honey and almonds. They come in a bag, not a box; are tart like apricots, tender yet chewy, and discrete (i.e., they don't stick together like those crappy little boxes of raisins that people feed their children as snacks). 

Please examine this raisin picture closely: I think it will convince you. 


Come on in, the door is open

I've been thinking about cooking 
Canis lupus again.

Meaning, of course, the snarling beast at the door, the one that M.F.K. Fisher conjured in her famous book “How to Cook a Wolf,” written during the intense economic impoverishment of the Second World War.

It’s a wry book, so full of grace during truly horrible times that it breaks your heart.

For the lucky ones (i.e., you and me), The Wolf
is less about poverty, and more, perhaps, about disappointment or despair or sadness or anger, a broken heart, a fear of the unknown. He's a cartoon character, who sniffs around everyone’s house occasionally, looking for a place to settle; I imagine him in giant striped shorts, for some reason.

Do I qualify as hungry enough, in either sense, to cook a wolf, though? I'm not sure. So I plan to invite him in, trick him into sitting down at my table, then feed him an exploding blueberry pie. It’s going to be fun. And I know it's going to make me feel better.

But since the animal Fisher was writing about--the real, vicious one, with sharp teeth, glowing eyes--seems to be making a return, I also want to help show more people how easy cooking can be. Never mind how incredibly happy it can make you.

Because the idea of being an organic sustainable
locavore is surely going to seem more absurd and cartoonish than my imaginary wolf-in-shorts, especially to all the people in the world who have no idea what to do with a butternut squash or a cabbage. Never mind the number of people who live in neighborhoods filled with liquor stores and fast food chains but not a single grocery store, much less a farmer's market.

So, hey! Sorry if I've 
harshed your mellow. On a brighter note: let's all cook! And let's all teach someone else to cook, while we're at it. Here's a good place to start helping, by the way: http://www.healthyschoolscampaign.org/event/cookingupchange/2008 

And to soothe any such undue harshness, I offer a recipe that gives new meaning to the words "comfort food." It requires that you slice many onions, then caramelize/smother them--which means you get to weep openly for a few minutes (like Holly Hunter, in Broadcast News) then sit on the couch and watch American Idol as they cook. Which is exactly what I did last night. 
I first made this dish about 10 years ago, when I was living in NYC, where, of course, I had a kitchen the size of the desk I'm sitting at right now. I  can't remember where I found the recipe (a Marcella Hazan cookbook?), but I do recall that I liked it because it was cheap (my apartment cost more than half my monthly salary) and required one pot. 

It makes a dreamy, luxurious, but unattractive mess; you might want to double the recipe, especially if sliced pork tenderloin with caramelized onions on toasted rye sounds good to you. Use red or white wine; both work.

Caramelized Onion and Walnut Sauce for Pasta
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pound onions (6-8), peeled, cut in half, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 pound spaghetti or other thin pasta
  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with the oil; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Raise heat to medium high; cook until onions begin turn light brown, about 10 minutes. 
  • Stir in garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary; cook, covered, over medium low heat, for 15 minutes.
  • Add half the wine and cook, uncovered, until reduced, about 5 minutes. Add remaining wine, cook until reduced, five more minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter, walnut pieces. Serve over pasta, topped with Parmesan and parsley. Or, you can do what I do and mix the sauce, pasta, and cheese, according to how much sauce you like, together in the pot. You'll probably still want to sprinkle more parmesan on when you add the parsley.