I discovered my friend Molly’s blog, through a mention on another website, shortly before her first book came out. Her storytelling made me laugh out loud; her recipes were terrific; she loved food as much as me. She often wrote about Seattle, also my home. I had an instant crush on her. We met in person the day A Homemade Life was released. I barely made it in time for her book event; my friends Sherri and Leora saved me a macaroon (she made macaroons for the occasion!!!) and a seat in the front row.
Months later Molly and her husband Brandon opened a restaurant, Delancey. After our first visit, Abbott was so inspired by their efforts he set up his own restaurant.
Best of all, a series of conversations at the restaurant led to becoming fast friends with Molly.
Last summer, I had the privilege of reading the manuscript of her second book, Delancey, which was officially released today. Molly and Brandon's story is proof that hard work and determination pay off. Delancey is about marriage and community, and incidentally contains excellent recipes. It is funny and humble and joyous; I hated for it to end.
I started cooking from the manuscript as soon as I got it. I’ve made the Penne alla Vodka most often due to Alexi's regular requests.
Penne alla Vodka
from Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
One 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, strained, juices discarded
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for cooking the pasta and finishing the sauce
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
pinch of dried oregano
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
2 ounces (55g) pancetta, chopped
Half a medium yellow onion (about 125 g, finely chopped)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup (120 ml) vodka
½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
2 grinds of black pepper
¼ cup (14 g) packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
12 ounces (340 g) penne rigate
2/3 cup (55 g) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar, and dried oregano, and blend until smooth. If it tastes flat, add a bit more vinegar; if it’s sour or bitter, add a bit more sugar.
Set a large pot of well-salted water over high heat.
Warm a Dutch oven, or other wide pan with a capacity of about 5 quarts, over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it has melted and is beginning to foam, add the pancetta. Cook, stirring, until the pancetta begins to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, and add the vodka. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cream and black pepper, and simmer to thicken slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and the basil, and simmer briskly for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the sauce has simmered for a few minutes, put the pasta into the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes.
Drain the pasta, and add it to the pot of sauce. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste for salt, and adjust as needed. Serve immediately.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings