First Snowfall, Tuesday Night Dinner

Like much of the country as we begin December, we got a hefty chunk of snow the past few days.   Through Sunday evening, Monday, and Tuesday, the total accumulation here was about 12″ of fairly wet snow.  With significant changes to our logistics plans, I picked up my former student (who was our guest speaker in class for Monday) on Sunday night.  Instead of driving 1.5-2 hours to our house for dinner and overnight, we stayed in town Sunday night and were able to avoid another 2 hour trip Monday morning to school.

The class and business plan coaching sessions went very well, and I was able to get back home Monday night at 7 PM.  Lorin had plowed the driveway in the afternoon.  As always, Barbara ably handled the shoveling of you walkway, Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.  Since the snow continued to mid-day on Tuesday, I was able to run my snow thrower that morning, so the driveway was clear by 11:30 AM.

Tuesday was my night to cook dinner.  I took the easy route: main dish was a package of Kite Hill Mushroom Ravioli with Almond Milk Ricotta.  We had a bunch of Peruvian asparagus, and Barbara had the idea of making the dish with chopped egg, diced cornichons, and sautéed shallots.  That turned out to be quick and relatively easy.  Barbara had some flavorful leftover vegan bechamel from a gigantic Lasagna she made a few nights ago, so I used that for the sauce (with a little lemon juice added) for the ravioli.

One of my favorite Italian white wines has always been Greco di Tufo from Campania.  I haven’t seen that in stores for some time, but Eileen at Social Wines had a very good Greco from Fatalone in Puglia, and that was a beautiful match.

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Thanksgiving Week Meals without Turkey

Monday — SRV

This time of year, almost everyone is consumed with Thanksgiving preparations and activities.  As a result I go out of my way to relish meals that have no connection whatever to the holiday, except for the traditional meal on Thursday.  As you can imagine, that leaves a lot of alternatives to play with.  I’ll share two of those from this particular week.

On Monday night I stay in the city for dinner, instead of fighting the gruesome traffic on the way home at 5 PM.  This week I took the bus along Mass. Ave. to SRV, a good Venetian-style restaurant on Columbus Avenue.  As usual, a glass of wine began the evening — in this case, an Arneis.

For the first plate, I chose an octopus appetizer, which was fried (fritto) along with accompanying pieces of fried potato and artichoke.  The dish was attractive, but unfortunately, I found the Tempura-style batter too heavy.  It overwhelmed the flavors of the featured ingredients, so I didn’t finish it.

I was still in the mood for a little octopus, so I chose one of the Cichetti — two pieces of Octopus in Saor, with pine nuts, coriander and celery.  That was just right.

The main dish that attracted me was Risotto with White Truffles and lots of Parmigiano.  The waiter suggested a red wine, and to my delight I found the Eugenio Bocchino Barbera D’Alba on the list, which paired beautifully.  I was happy to know that it is a Giannoni Selection, imported by my friend Gemma Iannoni.

The staff responded favorably to my disappointment with the Octopus Fritto, so I was pleased overall.  They also had an excellent selection of Amari, which I considered for awhile, but since I had two glasses of wine and still has a 32-mile drive ahead of me going home, I decided to skip the digestif.

The impressionist view of the evening is best expressed with a glass of wine, rendered by the Waterlogue app on my iPhone.  Buon appetito.

Waterlogue 1.4.3 (120)
Preset Style = Vibrant
Lightness = Auto-Exposure
Size = Large
Border = No Border

 

Tuesday, Dinner — Impossible Burger at Not Your Average Joe’s

Barbara and I were both busy driving around on Tuesday, so we did an early dinner at a local restaurant with 1/2 off pricing for burgers on Tuesdays.  Plant-based Impossible Burgers hit the spot.

Tuesday, Late Night Snack — Bruschetta and Friends

I almost forgot: I had made some bread on Sunday — two loaves of overnight brown, a tasty whole wheat favorite.

So, when I was hungry at 10:15 PM on Tuesday, bruschetta was top-of-mind.  I pan-grilled a slice of the bread, and I opened a jar of a Bruschetta sauce with olives and capers, from Ritrovo, an Italian food supplier, topped it with some sliced cherry tomatoes, and opened a bottle of my most favorite Arizona wine, 2016 Datura, the 100% Petit Verdot from the Oddity Wine Collective.  That was pretty spectacular itself.

I was enjoying the wine so much, I looked around for another excuse to drink some more.  The “leftovers” drawer in the refrigerator produced a very small Honeynut Winter Squash from Small Farm.  Barbara had split and roasted it ten days earlier, so I decided to see if it was any good.  A small mouthful tasted fine, so I peeled it, warmed it up with olive oil, salt, and small cubes of feta cheese.  Adding some of the tomato spread and black olives from the sauce, I tasted the dish.  Wow!! Off the charts, delicious.  I was only sad that we had tried only one tiny Honeynut.  I could have eaten a very large one happily.

Wednesday — New Recipe for Beets, Crab Cakes and Veggies

We had crabmeat that needed to be cooked, so Barbara handled that ably as always, making crab cakes.  I took care of the vegetables, with fresh spinach from Small Farm and frozen corn mixed with cooked leeks and shallots.

I also decided to do some experimentation with the Small Farm beets I bought on Saturday.  I steamed them until tender, then peeled and cooled them, while I read The Flavor Bible, with an eye toward complementary ingredients that might offer variety from the usual feta cheese and similar accompaniments.  I settled on three key ingredients that I always enjoy (lemons, Dijon mustard, and sliced shallots).  I juiced 1/2 lemon, add the grated zest to the bowl, mixed in 2 tsp. of Dijon mustard, and added on small shallot, thinly-sliced.  After whisking these all together, I poured the dressing over sliced beets, adding some delicious, crunchy Ibiza sea salt, and we ate these as an appetizer.  This was paired with an orange wine from Friuli, and the balance of flavors were most beneficent.

 

Thursday — Thanksgiving Day

No explanation needed.  Perfect traditional meal by Barbara.

Friday — Grilled Halloumi and Vegetables for Lunch, Bacalao for Dinner

(Note: this was in a separate post yesterday.  Sorry for the repetition.)

A week earlier I had found a recipe from Serious Eats that intrigued me, so I printed it out and waited for the right time to try it.  Friday — lunch — was that time.

Dinner was a chunk of desalted Cod loin from La Tienda, pan/oven roasted, and then topped with our old friend, Ritrovo Bruschetta Sauce.  It was accompanied by a simple salad of romaine, endive, and small tomatoes.  The wine was a new departure, a 2014 Pacheca Riserva from the Douro Valley on our trip there in March.  It was excellent with the rich tomato/olive/caper sauce and the fish.

That was Thanksgiving week — so far.

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Grilled Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers

I find many Greek dishes extremely satisfying: elemental, flavorful, and uncomplicated.  A good example is the recipe I made for lunch today:

Fortunately, since it’s the day after Thanksgiving, all was quiet and I had time for the prep work and cooking.  I did about half of quantities for the recipe above.  All went smoothly, and the hot gas grill did a fine job.  There were two small alterations in my version.  One was the addition of a grilled and peeled Poblano pepper from Small Farm.  I figured the grill was already hot, so why not roast it at the same time?.  (You can see it on the top right in the grill photo.)  The other was the choice of Ibiza sea salt to heighten all the flavors, which it accomplished admirably.

The wine choice was easy: we already had a white wine open in the refrigerator, I thought it would be a very good match, and it had Greek characters on the label — even though it was a 2010 Venezia Giulia from Friuli region of Italy, adjacent to the Slovenian border.  It turned out to be especially compatible with the charred pieces of Halloumi.  Who knew?

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Catching Up — Part 2

Turnip – Potato Gratin with Bok Choy

October had some pretty good meals.  The Small Farm featured in many of those.  One of the  better ones combined a Potato  – Turnip Gratin with young Bok Choy, cooked nicely in my old Chinese wok.  It was umami-heaven.

The wine for this combination may surprise you.  I chose a 2016 Domaine Ilaarria from Irouleguy, in the Basque region of France.  Outstanding wine, and a perfect match.

The next day for lunch, I added some rich Rancho Gordo beans to the Bok Choy.  We also had some leftover eggplant-tomato tapas and a packaged ravioli of Braised Moroccan Chickpeas and Carrots from Valicenti pasta in Hollis, NH.

Fall Vegetable Medley

Another variant of the use-all-the -farm-fresh-vegetables and take advantage of the hammered steel pan was this Fall Vegetable Medley.

In the meantime Autumn marched on through our town and the conservation land across the street from our driveway.

Cannelloni

One day in October we were blessed with farm spinach and fresh almond milk ricotta fro Kite Hill at Whole Foods.  Immediately, I leaped into action, making my own pasta and turning that into a vegan Cannelloni, with a side dish of roasted salad turnips and Romano beans.

Lunch at Eataly

On days when I am in the city for classes, I will often go to Eataly Boston for Italian specialties, especially sheep milk cheeses, pastas, and some produce items.  Sometimes I stay for a quick lunch, such as this one with Burro e Alici and a Mushroom Ravioli.

Other Meals, My Own and Out to Eat

Here are photos of some of the rest of October and November dining.

Fava Bean and Squash Fritter Sandwich at Loyal Nine in Cambridge

My own Celery Risotto per Marcella Hazan

Cavatelli at Catalyst

Lunch Menu at Loyal Nine

Taking out the morning’s compost to the pile

Blue Cod at Catalyst, Cambridge

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Catching Up — Fall 2019 Food Highlights

This omnibus posting is intended to fill in all the gaps in my blog since September.  Teaching two courses took most of my energy, and flat-out laziness accounted for the rest of my lethargy.  In no particular order, here are some of the goodies.

Braised Zucchini with Garlic and Olive Oil

We’ll start with this delicious treatment of zucchini from  the Greek island of Corfu.

Although it’s not Greek, I found this Garnega from the Veneto an excellent match for the dish.

Downton Abbey Exhibit in Boston

As a birthday gift for my wife and a fringe benefit for our daughter, we visited the Downton abbey Exhibit at The Castle in Boston.  It was charming; even I enjoyed it.  Of course, I went for the kitchen, and the ladies, for the clothes.

Naturally, for lunch after the Exhibit we went to Legal Seafood at Park Plaza.

Barbara’s Potato – Swiss Chard Torta

September was also a good month for our CSA — Small Farm in Stow, MA.  One of the best dishes of the season was the torta Barbara invented for a fresh bunch of Swiss Chard.  It featured Yukon Gold potatoes pressed through a Ricer, and it made great use of her homemade breadcrumbs from stale Tuscan Pane.

Bread, Bean Puree, Tomatoes, and Arugula

I love beans — all kinds.  Among the very best are Cannellini, especially Rancho Gordo’s Marcella beans, anmed in honor of Marcell Hazan.  Here was a lunch plate with this and farm ingredients.

Saloniki Greek for Lunch

Across the street from the university is Saloniki Greek Restaurant, where I often have lunch after class.  One of the best meals recently was their Impossible Burger (plant-based) meatballs with eggplant, pita bread and grains, along with a side order of Halloumi cheese with Lemon, Olive Oil and Oregano.

Another supplement will follow.

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Kitchen Sink Casarecce

My online silence since June is attributable to travels, of which I will inform you shortly.  In the meantime let’s talk about today’s lunch.

Toady’s pasta contains a list of ingredients which you would never purposefully buy with a plan to put them together.  However, since I already had them in the refrigerator, it was an easy task, and the results were just short of fabulous.

The elements:

  • Casarecce — a whole grain Sicilian pasta
  • 1/2 zucchine, cut lengthwise
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a handful of Broad Beans from Joe Raho’s garden
  • 1 cup of cooked Swiss Chard ribs
  • 1 half of a leftover roasted Provençal tomato
  • 1 rresh plum tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 of a small package of dried Italian Porcini, and 1/2 cup of reserved soaking liquid
  • 1/4 cup leftover grilled mushrooms — Shiitake and Chanterelles
  • 1/2 cup of caramelized onions
  • 2 small slices of Friulano prosciutto
  • a pinch of Calabrian hot pepper
  • fresh basil
  • grated Pecorino Sardo and Parmigiano Regiano
  • Greek oregano
  • salt and pepper

The basic strategy was to cook the pasta until not quite done, Sauté the ingredients in stages to make the sauce, then combine them all in the saucepan to finish cooking and meld the flavors.  Serve in a very large pasta bowl, accompanied by a few glasses of Torre Dei Beati Abruzzo DOC Pecorino wine (not the cheese).

Here’s what it looked like.

Pasta and suace

with grated cheese and olive oil finish

Pecorino white wine from Abruzzo

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The Glories of Basque Food

Last winter during a short visit to New York, I discovered another example of the marvels of food and beverages from the Basque regions in Europe.  The restaurant is named Txikito.  It’s a small place in Chelsea, and the food is amazing.  The chef, Alexandra Raij, is a young woman who grew up in Minneapolis in a family of Argentine Jews.  Her husband and co-chef, Eder Montero, is Basque from Spain, and the culinary world is far better from this pairing.

I bought Alexandra’s book the night I was in the restaurant.  Tonight I finally made the first dish from it, and the results were wonderful.

The first step was to roast (really char) a whole eggplant.   I did this on the gas grill, and it did a very good job.  After removing the skin, I let the eggplant cool.  After draining it well to remove bitter juices, I was left with tender pulp, which I could use for this and other dishes.

Three other key ingredients were needed:

  • high quality canned tuna fillets
  • sweet onions to be lightly pickled
  • plum tomatoes to be grated

Idylwilde Farms provided the last two items, and I had a tin of very good Spanish Ventresca tuna fillets in the pantry.  Here’s how it went together.  A Spanish white from Eileen at Social Wines was a good accompaniment.

This iOS app by Tinrocket 1.0.2 (101)
1. Grated plum tomatoes | 2. Add roasted eggplant puree | 3. Add canned tuna fillets | 4. Top with pickled sweet onions |

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