Cooking for Pleasure

Sometimes I just want to cook. For fun. For a long time. All by myself. This is my “me” time.

I had the house to myself for an entire afternoon last month and felt the urge to spend the time getting lost in a labor of love…

Braised sirloin pappardelle with fennel accompanied by caprese and caesar salads

IMG_2974Homemade pasta is one of those simple but time consuming things that too often seems not worth the hassle compared to pasta in a box from the store. If goal is food on the table with minimal interference with the rest of life’s business, then, by all means, grab a box at the store. I use far more dried pasta than fresh. However, if the goal is to enjoy a creative outlet with a bit of good food as the reward, then the fresh stuff wins hands down.

I used mom’s Marcato Atlas pasta maker to roll the dough. It’s old and heavy and perfectly suited to the task… like me! Ha!

I’ve never used fennel before. Seeds, yes, in charcuterie. As a vegetable, no. I used the stalks in place of celery in the mire poix for the braised sirloin. I used the sliced bulbs for the side dish, braised in butter with parmesan.


All the fuss over the homemade pasta and 3 or 4 hours of braising a sirloin couldn’t be dragged down by an ordinary salad, so I made my first ever caesar dressing from scratch. After tasting that dressing, I think everything else should be labeled “imitation caesar” or “caesar flavored” dressing. Yep, it’s that much better.

The caprese stack looked just as nice sliced and ready to eat…


The meal was a fitting and tasty end to a delightful afternoon in the kitchen with the stereo cranked up way to loud and more dirty dishes than the sink and counter could hold.



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