Previous month:
October 2015
Next month:
February 2016

December 2015

Hammer Time! New Cookware from Hammer Stahl


I don’t believe that one needs fancy cookware to make a fine meal. It’s more important to knows one’s cookware, to know one’s stove, to know one’s ingredients, and, of course, to paraphrase the Greeks, to know one’s self. All the same, it's nice to have good pots and pans. I cherish the Le Creuset Dutch Oven that Santa Maria and I received as a wedding present many years ago. And now I can count among my treasures a brand-new Hammer Stahl sauté pan.

The manufacturer recently gave me one to test out and write about and it is a fine addition to my kitchen. The bottom is thick and heats evenly. It has a pair of handles, which I found useful while making bacon. And it’s deep, holding four quarts, and comes with a lid, which means it can do double duty making sauces.

I used it the other night to prepare my “trusty” puttanesca. I put trusty in quotes, because in recent months the sauce has fallen out of favor with my youngest one. However, the night I used the Hammer Stahl, she ate it enthusiastically. Could it have been the new pan? Who is to say?

Through the end of the year, Hammer Stahl is making it easy for you to find out for yourself. It is offering the new, 4-quart deep pan with cover at the special price of $99.00 (regularly $229). Visit to take advantage of this offer.

And if you don’t know how to make a puttanesca, get thee to the stove and get started!

Puttanesca Sauce

  • 1 28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, crushed (or hit with an immersion blender, which is very fast and kid friendly)
  • 4 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1T capers
  • 12 or so black olives, sliced
  • herbs such as basil or oregano to taste (completely optional)

        Heat some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the garlic and anchovies and chili pepper. Saute until garlic is soft, add tomatoes and reduce.

        When the sauce thickens (in about fifteen minutes), add capers and olives and any herbs.

        Serve over the pasta of your choice.

What I Learned Today: A Beef Tagine Recipe


I’m working from home these days, concentrating on making art. Because of the delicate interplay between domestic bliss and domestic solvency, this also means I've taken on more of the tasks around the house. It's my job now to clean it.

The thing is, cooking comes much more naturally to me. Maybe it's my Irish genes, but I have a yearning to be hospitable. I can't help it. I want to feed and entertain and take care of others. I'm working on finding the joy in scrubbing the counters. It's a slow process, all of it. The making of art, the cleaning of the house, and the exploration of one's talents. I'm starting with Steven Pressfield's shrewd book "The War of Art," and I'm learning as I go along.

The lesson for today is that it’s not only difficult to clean a kitchen while cooking dinner, it’s downright impossible. Here's the recipe for my beloved Beef Tagine.

Green-Olive Beef Tagine

  • 1½ lbs braising beef
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (or much less; to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 4 shallots (or more), quartered
  • 1 large potato cut into small cubes
  • 2 large carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 28oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, sliced in half (or more; to taste)

Trim the beef and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Mix together the five spices with the garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil and the tomato puree.

Turn the beef in this mixture and leave, covered, in the refrigerator overnight (or longer or shorter—it works either way, trust me).

Heat the remaining oil in the tagine base.

Fry the shallots, potatoes and carrots until they begin to color, lift out.

Fry the marinated beef until sealed on all sides.

Salt the beef as it cooks.

Return the vegetables with the chopped tomatoes any remaining marinade and the parsley.

Cover and cook over a low heat for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is tender (I’ve done this over two days, and about five hours).

Stir the olives into the dish and allow 15 minutes to heat through.

Serve with couscous.

Serves six.