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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

Some books make you want to be a better person, a little more quiet, and a little more kind. The kind of person who knows that size and strength are not the same thing. A Man Called Ove is one such book. At first encounter, […]

Welcome to Novel Fare!

Welcome to Novel Fare!

Today was a pretty spectacular day. My house was exceptionally clean—which is always awesome; the weather was gorgeous; I got to take my fancy new Catch Surf beater board out for her maiden voyage; I started reading a new book; and my amazingly-significant-other and I had a picnic on the beach that consisted of some refreshing brews and tofu focaccia sandwiches.

If you’re thinking:

  1. it doesn’t get much better than that, and
  2. that was an incredibly long opening sentence (especially for someone whose parents are both copy editors…),

then you’re absolutely right on both counts.

I was feeling pretty proud the next day, too. This blog has been a persistent, niggling thought in the back of my mind for months, so finally publishing it feels great. Now, imagine my incredulity the very next day when things got even better and I bought my first copy of Julia Child’s* Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

A little backstory—

So, there I am, Monday afternoon, feeling accomplished and walking around on my lunch break when I see a baby bunny hanging out in an alley next to Ceres Bakery. My first thought was, that thing is adorable, which was immediately followed by my second thought, in no scenario does that poor babe not end up getting hit by a car. I went down the alley to shoo the bunny into a nearby garden, it hopped into a shrubbery, all was right with the world.

I turn around and see a sign—Sheafe Street Books. I love used bookstores (the older, the better) and I love cookbooks. Naturally, every time I go into a used bookstore I look for Mastering the Art of French Cooking. When I go inside, the first thing I see is the book I just finished that I was thinking about buying, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. The second book I see? MAFC for TWELVE DOLLARS ($12)!

I bought it, told the proprietor that this exactly the book I was looking for, and he said that I was lucky because the only other person in the store had just put it back on the shelf a moment before I walked in.

That’s not luck, that’s kismet

Then, I took my purchase and got a delicious piece of pesto pizza from Ceres—perfection.

Anyway, this isn’t about pizza, it’s about focaccia.

The focaccia sandwiches my SO and I enjoyed on the day this site launched were modeled after the focaccia sandwiches from my youth, made by Susty’s Bakery in Northwood, NH.

Susty’s is this adorable, cottage-like, vegan cafe that sits adjacent to Northwood’s little stone library and a historic cemetery; eating there is an idyllic and delicious experience. Back in the day, Susty’s used to keep some odd hours, but my Mom would take me there whenever its business hours happened to coincide with our schedules.

They still make this amazing focaccia sandwich—the bread is pleasantly chewy, the tofu is firm, and somehow (despite the complete absence of cheese or dairy of any kind) it takes like lemony pesto pizza.

I didn’t find it in a book and I can’t take credit for it, but here’s the focaccia sandwich recipe. I hope you enjoy it, thank you for your time, and welcome to Novel Fare!


Susty’s Focaccia Sandwich

INGREDIENTS

Focaccia

  • All Purpose Flour (AFP), 2 c + more for sprinkling
  • salt, 1 tsp
  • sugar, 1 tsp
  • yeast, 1 tbsp
  • dried oregano, 1 tsp
  • dried basil, 1/2 tsp
  • garlic powder, 1 tsp
  • ground thyme, 1 tsp
  • dried rosemary, 1 tsp
  • olive oil, 1 tbsp
  • water, 3/4 – 1 c

Pesto

  • spinach, 2 c (packed)
  • olive oil, 1/2 c
  • lemon juice, 2 tsp
  • salt, 1/4 tsp
  • garlic cloves, 2
  • nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp
  • almonds, 1/4 c

Seasoned Tofu

  • extra-firm tofu, 1 block (pressed & drained)
  • olive oil, ~1/4 c (enough to coat pan bottom)
  • garlic powder, 1 tsp
  • salt, 1/2 tsp
  • pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • paprika**, 1 tsp
  • tomato sauce***

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Focaccia

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Add in the oil & water, stir well to combine.
  3. Kneed the dough on a floured surface until elastic. If dough is sticky, knead additional flour into dough.
  4. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn it to thoroughly coat. Cover the dough with a damp cloth & let rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450°F, punch down the dough & (on a greased or parchment-papered baking sheet) form the dough into a half-inch thick rectangle.
  6. Brush with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

For the Pesto

  1. Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Add in all remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed.

For the Tofu

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl to make a dry rub and set aside.
  2. Press the tofu to squeeze out as much excess water as possible.
  3. Slice the tofu into half-inch thick pieces.
  4. Sprinkle tofu with dry rub and gently rub in with you fingers.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Fry the tofu on each side for roughly 3-4 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove tofu from frying pan and allow to cool to warm.

Putting it All Together

Once the focaccia has cooled, cut in into four segments and slice each segment in half. One the inside of one half, smear a spoonful or two of pesto and on the inside of the other half, tomato sauce. Layer on a couple pieces of tofu and form a sandwich and enjoy!

In a Nutshell

Focaccia Bread

August 13, 2017
: 8
: Easy Peasy

A versatile, chewy, well-seasoned bread that's quick and easy to make.

By:

Ingredients
  • All Purpose Flour (AFP), 2 c + more for sprinkling
  • salt, 1 tsp
  • sugar, 1 tsp
  • yeast, 1 tbsp
  • dried oregano, 1 tsp
  • dried basil, 1/2 tsp
  • garlic powder, 1 tsp
  • ground thyme, 1 tsp
  • dried rosemary, 1 tsp
  • olive oil, 1 tbsp
  • water, 3/4 - 1 c
Directions
  • Step 1 Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Step 2 Add in the oil & water, stir well to combine.
  • Step 3 Kneed the dough on a floured surface until elastic. If dough is sticky, knead additional flour into dough.
  • Step 4 Place dough in oiled bowl and turn it to thoroughly coat. Cover the dough with a damp cloth & let rise for 20 minutes.
  • Step 5 Preheat the oven to 450°F, punch down the dough & (on a greased or parchment-papered baking sheet) form the dough into a half-inch thick rectangle.
  • Step 6 Brush with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Spinach Pesto

August 13, 2017
: Easy Peasy

A zesty, lemony pesto made with spinach instead of basil that's both economical and simple to make.

By:

Ingredients
  • spinach, 2 c (packed)
  • olive oil, 1/2 c
  • lemon juice, 2 tsp
  • salt, 1/4 tsp
  • garlic cloves, 2
  • nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp
  • almonds, 1/4 c
Directions
  • Step 1 Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely chopped.
  • Step 2 Add in all remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed.

Seasoned Pan-Fried Tofu

August 13, 2017
: 6-8
: Easy Peasy

A golden, firm, well-seasoned tofu that mimics the texture of chicken and is perfect for sandwich fillings and as a salad topper.

By:

Ingredients
  • extra-firm tofu, 1 block (pressed & drained)
  • olive oil, ~1/4 c (enough to coat pan bottom)
  • garlic powder, 1 tsp
  • salt, 1/2 tsp
  • pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • paprika*, 1 tsp
Directions
  • Step 1 Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl to make a dry rub and set aside.
  • Step 2 Press the tofu to squeeze out as much excess water as possible.
  • Step 3 Slice the tofu into half-inch thick pieces.
  • Step 4 Sprinkle tofu with dry rub and gently rub in with you fingers.
  • Step 5 Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Step 6 Fry the tofu on each side for roughly 3-4 minutes or until golden.
  • Step 7 Remove tofu from frying pan and allow to cool to warm.

*Mastering the Art of French Cooking was co-authored by Simone Beck & Louisette Bertholle.

**I’m a big fan of spicy food, so I usually use cayenne and not paprika, but cayenne is strong and should only be used in a VERY well ventilated area, so paprika is a much safer bet.

***I usually make my own sauce but when I’m short on time I go for Newman’s Own Organic tomato sauces. The roasted garlic is particularly good and all of the profits go to charity.

Rosemary’s Cheese Sandwich

Rosemary’s Cheese Sandwich

I respect all of you too much to explain how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich a second time, so I’m not illustrating this post. Also, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t super excited about making this sandwich. For one, the ingredients are: bread […]

Thai Iced Coffee

Thai Iced Coffee

While I wouldn’t recommend drinking it on a daily basis due to the sugar content, thai iced coffee is a delicious and easy once in a while treat. It’s sweet, refreshing on a hot day, and goes exceptionally well with chocolate chip banana muffins. I […]

Rosemary’s Baby: Spaghetti & Clam Sauce

Rosemary’s Baby: Spaghetti & Clam Sauce

There’s a scene in Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby that reminds me of my Dad. That’s strange, I know, but spaghetti with clam sauce is his favorite dinner and we had it once a week when I was a kid. In the book, right after Terry Gionoffrio “jumps” from the seventh story of the Bramford, Rosemary and Guy have cold spaghetti and milk. I don’t remember if it was ever accompanied by milk but I do know that my Dad was a fan of cold leftover spaghetti with clam sauce and it’s always been a favorite of mine as well.


Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • garlic, 3 cloves (minced)
  • clam juice, 8 oz
  • minced clams, 2 cans (drained)
  • parsley, 1/4 c (minced)
  • black pepper, 1/4 tsp
  • red pepper flakes, 1 tsp

Instructions

  1. Prepare the pasta & set aside

    I’m fairly confident that if you’re reading a food blog there’s a good chance you like to cook and probably don’t need to be told how to cook pasta but we’ll cover the basics just in case. In a large pot,
    bring enough water to cover the pasta to a boil and throw in a little olive oil and a dash of salt.

    Cook the pasta until it’s tender (~8 min), drain it, and set it aside.

  2. Sautee the garlic until golden

    In a large pan over medium heat, cook the garlic in a little olive oil until it’s golden (~3 min).
    Some people like to add in some minced yellow onion as well. I’m not a fan of onions personally, so I don’t include them but, if you’re going to, now’s the time.

  3. Stir in the clam juice & bring to a boil

    I like Bar Harbor clam juice and it comes in a convenient 8 oz bottle, so all you need to do is uncap it and pour it in. Bring that to a boil (~3 min).

  4. Stir in the clams, parsley & peppers

    This is the part where I veer away from tradition. I’m not a fan of parsley so I use oregano instead, and generally dried oregano at that. Also, I like my food spicy so, while I do tend to measure out the black pepper, I add considerably more than the recommended 1 tsp of red pepper flakes and I highly recommend it.

    We have three fuzzy idiots that can hear a can opener from anywhere in the house and will eagerly demand their share of clam juice when it’s time to drain the clams.

  5. Serve over spaghetti & enjoy!

    This is the easy part. I love topping the dish off with freshly-grated parmesan cheese but the pre-grated “shaker cheese” as my little brother used to refer to it works well too.

Spaghetti & Clam Sauce

June 11, 2017
: 4-6
: Easy

Hot or cold, spaghetti with clam sauce is garlicky and delicious especially when topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

By:

Ingredients
  • spaghetti, 1/2 lb
  • olive oil
  • garlic, 3 cloves (minced)
  • clam juice, 8 oz
  • minced clams, 2 cans (drained)
  • fresh parsley, 1/4 c (minced)
  • black pepper, 1/4 tsp
  • red pepper flakes, 1 tsp
Directions
  • Step 1 In a large pot, heat the water—enough to cover the pasta completely—to boiling. Add in a drizzle of olive oil and salt.
  • Step 2 Fully submerge the past and cook until tender, then drain, and set aside.
  • Step 3 In a large pan over medium heat, drizzle some olive oil and cook the garlic until golden (~3 min).
  • Step 4 Stir in the clam juice and bring it to a boil (~3 min).
  • Step 5 Stir in the clams, parsley, and peppers.
  • Step 6 Serve the sauce over the spaghetti and enjoy!
Thai Deviled Eggs

Thai Deviled Eggs

I haven’t yet found these mentioned in a book yet but that doesn’t mean they aren’t noteworthy and, if I ever write one, I’ll certainly be referencing them in mine. Even though there’s no mayonnaise in these they’re still considered deviled eggs because the rice […]

Big Little Lies: Banana Muffins

Big Little Lies: Banana Muffins

I started reading Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies in anticipation of summer. It takes place in a fictitious coastal town in Australia and the descriptions of the beach always make me think of warm weather and clear, blue water. It’s one of those books that’s […]