Spaghetti with Pecorino + Pepper: Cacio e Pepe


Sitting on the terrace of the bustling Roman trattoria Dal Bolognese one sunny Sunday in May, I relished a version of this classic dish, pungent with freshly ground black pepper and enriched with a mixture of sheep’s milk Pecorino cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano. We were dining with our friends George Germon and Johanne Killeen, and George noted that this is one of the hardest pastas to get right, probably because it is so basic and appears easy. The pepper flavor should be dominant, but should not overwhelm the palate. We eat pasta at least once a week, and this is one of my “Go To” preparations, since it goes together in a matter of minutes and is such a thoroughly satisfying dish.

4 servings


A 10-quart (10 l) pasta pot fitted with a colander; 4 warmed, shallow soup bowls.


3 tablespoons coarse, freshly ground black pepper, preferably Tellicherry
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30 g) salted butter
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 pound (500 g) Italian spaghetti
3/4 cup (50 g) freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
3/4 cup (75 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving



1.    Place the pepper in a large skillet over a medium heat and toast it, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the oil and the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat.

2.    In the pasta pot, bring 8 quarts (8 l) of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite. Remove the pasta pot from the heat. Remove the colander and drain the pasta over the sink, shaking to remove the excess water. Reserve some of the cooking water for the sauce.

3.    Return the skillet to the heat. Add about 4 tablespoons of the pasta water to the oil mixture and stir to blend. Add the pasta and toss until it is evenly coated. Add the cheeses and toss until the pasta is evenly coated. If the pasta is dry, add more pasta water. Serve immediately, with additional grated Pecorino and Parmigiano on the side.


Buy the best peppercorns you can find. I favor the highly aromatic Tellicherry pepper from Malabar, off the coast of India, and love its spiciness, hint of wood, and lingering scent. The berries are left on the vines a bit longer, so they develop a deep, rich flavor. The peppercorns from The Spice House ( are fabulous and reliable. And do invest in a good pepper mill, one that will coarsely grind the peppercorns. I use a battery-powered Peugeot mill. Peugot mills are readily available in gourmet shops. (Note I have no affiliation with these brands, they are just the ones I like and chose to use in my kitchen).

This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.



Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

How can this gnarled and knobby vegetable offer such elegance? This soup deserves a pedestal, as the creamy alabaster liquid flecked with bits of brown, elicits looks of surprise from guests followed by sounds of happy pleasures.

8 servings



A blender or a food processor; 8 warmed, shallow soup bowls.


2 quarts (2 l) whole milk
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 pounds (1 kg) Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), scrubbed but not peeled
1/4 cup (30 g) salted pistachios, toasted (optional)
Best-quality pistacho oil, such as Leblanc brand, for garnish (optional)


1.    Rinse a large saucepan with water, leaving a bit of water in the pan (this will prevent the milk from scorching and sticking to the pan.)  Pour the milk into the pan and add the salt.

2.    Trim the Jerusalem artichokes, and chop them coarsely, dropping them into the milk as you work (this will prevent the vegetable from turning brown as it is exposed to the air). When all the Jerusalem artichokes are prepared, place the pan over medium heat and cook gently until they are soft, 35 to 40  minutes. Watch carefully so the milk does not boil over. The milk may curdle, but that will not alter the texture or flavor of the final soup.

3.    Transfer the mixture, in small batches, to the blender or food processor. Do not place the plunger in the feed tube of the  food processor or in the lid of blender, or the heat will create a vacuum and the liquid will splatter. Puree until the mixture is  perfectly smooth and silken, 1 to 2 minutes.

4.    Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat gently. Taste for seasoning. Transfer it to the warmed, shallow soup bowls, garnished, if desired, with pistachios and pistachio oil and serve.

This recipe was first published in Simply Truffles. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Magic Mushroom Soup

INFUSE Mushroom Soup.JPG

I call this crowd-pleasing soup my magic recipe. It is so amazing that so few ingredients – and a soup made in a matter of minutes – can have so much depth of flavor. It really is a fine example of the miracles of infusion. The dried cèpe (porcini) mushroom powder packs a maximum of fragrance and flavor and takes well to many variations: pair it with paper-thin slices of raw domestic mushrooms or seared domestic or wild mushrooms showered in the bowl at serving time; prepare with dried morel powder in place of cèpes; top with thin slices of raw black truffles; or add a dollop of mushroom powder-infused whipped cream.

8 Servings



A large jar with a lid, a 3-quart (3 l) heavy-duty saucepan with a lid, 8 warmed, shallow soup bowls.


2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons cèpe powder (see Note)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups (750 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil, or chive oil for garnish


To prepare cèpe powder, coarsely chop or cut with a scissors about 2 ounces (30 g) of best-quality dried cèpe mushrooms. Working in batches, grind them to a fine powder in an electric spice mill. This should yield about 8 tablespoons   of powder. Store the powder in a small jar, tightly sealed, in a cool, dry place, for up to 6 months.


1.     If time permits, combine the cream and mushroom powder in a jar, seal, and refrigerate for 24 hours to infuse the cream with the mushroom flavor and aroma. (Alternatively, combine the cream and mushroom powder in the heavy-duty saucepan, bring just to a simmer, cover, remove from the heat, and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse the cream.)

2.     At serving time, in the saucepan, combine the infused cream, salt, and stock and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning.

3.     Serve in the warmed soup bowls, garnished with chives and a few drops of oil.


VARIATIONS: Add sliced raw domestic or wild mushrooms to the soup and cook for several minutes; add grilled, sliced cèpes or domestic or wild mushrooms; for a decadent flourish add truffle matchsticks at serving time.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The soup can be prepare up to 3 days in advance and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

This recipe was first published in My Master Recipes. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Rabbit with Mustard + Tarragon


Tender saddles of rabbit, bathed in bright-flavored mustard and tarragon sauce is both at “at home” meal as well as festive. I’ve lightened up and modernized this bistro classic, one that deserves its place at everyone’s table. Note that generally, rabbit has the same cooking time as chicken.

4 servings   



Toothpicks or butcher’s twine; a large skillet with a lid; a 10-quart (10 l) pasta pot fitted with a colander; 4 warmed dinner plates.


4 very thin slices pancetta or bacon
4 saddles of rabbit, each about 5 ounces (150 g)
Fine sea salt Coarse, freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
1/2 cup (125 ml) French mustard
1 2/3 cups (410 ml) light cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup (20 g) minced fresh tarragon leaves
8 ounces (250 g) dried Italian tagliatelle pasta


1.     Wrap a slice of pancetta or bacon around each saddle of rabbit and secure it with a toothpick or butcher’s twine. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Brown the rabbit on all sides until well seared, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the rabbit to a platter. Wipe out the skillet.

2.     Pour the wine into the skillet. Bring the wine to a boil and boil for 3 minutes to burn off the harshness of the alcohol. Add the mustard, cream, and half of the minced tarragon. Cover, bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Return the rabbit to the sauce, cover the skillet, and simmer for 15 minutes. The rabbit should be moist, tender, and cooked through.

3.     Transfer the rabbit to a platter. Remove and discard the toothpicks or twine.  Tent the rabbit lightly with foil.

4.     Meanwhile, bring 8 quarts (8 l) of water to a boil in the pasta pot. Add 3 tablespoons of fine sea salt to the water, add the pasta and cook just until firm to the bite. Drain the pasta.

5.     Add the pasta to the sauce, toss to coat the pasta, cover, and let sit for 2 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. Transfer the pasta with a bit of sauce to the warmed dinner plates. Arrange a piece of rabbit alongside and spoon more sauce over the rabbit. Garnish with the remaining tarragon.

Wine Suggestion

I enjoy this with a southern Rhône white, the Côtes-du-Rhône Bouquet des Garrigues from domaine le Clos du Caillou. It’s sturdy enough to stand up to the mustard and tarragon but likes the tender meat of rabbit and chicken.

The Secret

A fresh, newly opened jar of imported French mustard. Freshness is the secret here. A favorite brand is Edmond Fallot, from the town of Beaune.


This is also delicious prepared with two skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Omit the pancetta, or grill or pan-fry it separately. Slice the breasts on the diagonal.  Prepare the sauce, brown the breasts in a pan and then add the poultry to sauce and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Garnish with the crumbled cooked pancetta.

This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.