Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tuna (Steak) and White Beans

Friday December 12
One of the classic cold Tuscan salads is white beans with sage and canned tuna, and we enjoy it in the summer.  But now it's winter, so when we found that Lauren could come to dinner, we decided to make a special "deconstructed" hot version, with grilled albacore tuna steaks standing in for the canned stuff.
We began by soaking white Northern beans the night before, and started them in the slow cooker the next morning.  After a couple of hours, we whizzed up a couple of garlic cloves with a dose of salt, a quartered onion, a small stalk of celery and its leaves, and eight or nine baby carrots that were the last from the garden in the robot-coupe, and stirred the minced vegetables into the beans.  Then we buried some whole sprigs of sage and a one or two of parsley deep in there, and let it cook undisturbed all day.
As for the tuna steaks, we marinated them in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and chopped parsley, and left them in the fridge.
When we and Lauren got home from a celebratory end-of-term happy hour at Myrtle's Punch House (with Steven, Daniel, Michael, Ari and Jennifer, Duncan and Liza - and too few chairs, but just enough fishhouse punch), we threw the tuna steaks on the grill pan, took the lid off the beans, removed the various sprigs, and added fresh chopped sage leaves and lots of salt.  Sometimes the quickest meal is the one that has simmered the longest.

For dessert, we had sandwiches made out of Holt's halloween gingerbread and the leftover filling from his birthday blintzes, plus some applejack to wash it down.  For something made completely out of tag ends, it tasted surprisingly well-planned; which goes for most of our meals.

Linguine with Parsley and Anchovy

Thursday Dec. 11
Despite several hard freezes, the parsley plant in our garden is still hanging on.  Whenever it defrosts and perks up, we pick a big bunch and put it in the fridge for later; tonight we used it for Laurie Williams' invigorating recipe, both as instructed here.

Barbara forgot to use twisty pasta, but the linguine actually held the greens pretty well; and Holt forgot that you have to use the entire bunch of parsley, so the amount he had hand-chopped cooked down to about a spoonful.  Luckily he was able to throw the rest into the robot-coupe, and there was little difference between the greens that had sautéed for ten minutes and those that had only five.

Chicken and Mushrooms à l'Angevine

Wednesday Dec. 10
We already had a bag of mushrooms from Findlay Market, and a pint of cream.  So we defrosted a package of chicken thighs to make this favorite Larousse recipe.
One of our variations is to flavor the chicken with tarragon, which in winter is done with a cube of the tender herb that Barbara froze in olive oil; and since it toughs out almost any weather, fresh thyme went in with the mushrooms. 

Luscious, as usual; and we'll spare you a picture of our sloppy plates.

Classics Holiday Party

Tuesday 9 December
Kathleen and Steve most kindly opened their home to the Classics Department yet again, for a last-minute potluck holiday party.
There was a groaning table of savories in the dining room, and another in the kitchen groaning even more with desserts and sweets (must have been the caloric level).
People brought a dizzying array of foods, including samosas and pakoras from Elephant Walk restaurant, various trays of barbecued, fried, and baked chicken, lentils with sausage, Daniel and Jun's shrimp cake, Lauren's sweet potato and vegetable pie, a casserole of cheesy pastitsio, curry with rice, pigs in blankets (according to Steven, the Australians call these "little boys"), savory Swedish meatballs, cherry tomatoes with feta, a sort of caprese of golden beets with mozzarella, and many other savory specialties.  Holt had made two of his famous focacce, one Christmassy with green rosemary and red salt, the other slutted up with caramelized onions and Moroccan olives.

The sweets table had many pies, including Chris' lemon meringue, cupcakes that turned everyone's tongues pink, Sarah's homemade buckeyes, palmiers, and lots of Christmas cookies.  So a happy and filling time was had by all, even the long-suffering host and hostess.  Thanks, Kathleen and Steve!

Roast Beef and Curried Potato Salad

Monday 8 December
Tonight we had the heel of the roast beef we've been nibbling on for most of the week.  Still delicious.
Since Barbara was working at home, she could whip up a little potato salad in advance, inspired by our usual dressing for crudités.
Curried Potato Salad
5 medium yukon golds, boiled and cooled
cut up and sprinkle with salt and a little rice vinegar.
Mix up:
1 Tbsp. curry powder (adjust depending on heat and age)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. diced red onion
a handful of cilantro (both leaves and stems, for crunch), chopped
Toss with potatoes; season with salt & pepper.

A nice accommpaniment to the rich slices of beef and their juices.