Sunday, August 17, 2014

Campanelle with Mediterranean Flavors

Friday 8 August

Campanelle are the pasta shaped like bellflowers.  For our easy Friday meal, all we had to do was toss the boiled campanelle in a bowl with diced local tomatoes, torn-up basil leaves, sliced Moroccan olives, and chunks of fresh goat cheese.  Fits in anywhere from Provence to Puglia.

Bubbly Wine Tasting at Mick and Mack's

Thursday 7 August
Sharon kindly invited us to join a party of family (Mieke) and friends for another wine tasting dinner at Mick and Mack's on the UC campus.
This one was for sparklers, so we started with an extra-dry prosecco, Bortolotti, made of 100% Glera grapes from the Veneto.  It was floral rather than sweet, and went well with the appetizers, a pair of smoked trout crostini with capers, chive cream cheese, and yellow tomatoes, which came on the same plate as the salad: asparagus, avocado, and roasted tomatoes with champagne vinaigrette (the bubbles are everywhere).
They even turned up in the name of the second wine: Secco "Italian Bubbles" a drier bianco brut made by Sorelle Casa, run by a pair of sisters (and yes, their name is Casa, so they could have called themselves the Casa di Casa) in the Piave valley.
We were then called to the buffet for the main dishes, so we hurried to miss the scrum we got into last time.  We tried tastes of both fish and meat: a champagne-poached salmon fillet with some roasted fennel (a bit dry, but that's typical of chafing-dish cuisine), and roasted baby lamb chops in white balsamic glaze with mango chutney; they too were a little overdone, but still tender, and it helped that they had been cut thick, with two or even three riblets per portion.
They came with sautéed fingerling potatoes and roasted shallots on haricots verts, all very forgiving vegetables.  And with the lamb, we had Biutiful (really, that's it's name) Cava brut rosé from Requena, a 100% Garnacha cava.

Dessert was a Champagne sabayon with strawberries and fresh mint, carrying through the theme to the end.  It was served with an Albino Rocca Moscato d'Asti: not many bubbles, but its complex fruit complimented the dessert so well that we had to buy a bottle to take home.  So thanks, Sharon, for sharing the occasion with us!

Melon Soup and Spanish Potato Salad

Wednesday 6 August
Did we say two-disparate-course meals?  The trend continues.

Number one was a cold soup, using the rest of the Indiana melon from Saturday, whizzed up in the Robot-Coupe, in this way.  Holt won a blue ribbon at the Hamilton County Fair for this soup, as well as for the version using honeydew melon.  This time, it got a dollop of crème fraîche too.
Number two: a warm Spanish potato salad, made with white and red onion and red and green pepper.  Okay, so they don't match in ethnicity.  Neither do we.

Beans 'n' Beets

Tuesday 5 August
Another meal of two separate courses, which is the best way to respond to seasonal opportunities, as well as leftovers.  Today it was both.
Our primo was a sort of Florentine bean soup, which used up the last of the Borlotti/cranberry beans, just heated in a pan of sizzled bacon and sage.
Our contorno consisted of roasted golden beets tossed with bits of scamorza cheese and white balsamic vinegar.  Wouldn't want to obscure that lovely color with a dark dressing.

Okay, so it's only two courses of the typical Italian three-course-plus meal.  We're still working off all those High Table dinners.

Albacore with Corn Salsa and Jicama Salad

Monday 4 August
You can work a lot of changes on a simple albacore tuna steak, grilled medium rare.  

This time we made it Mexican-style, with a salsa using the three cobs of corn we boiled on Saturday, plus tomato and red romano pepper roasted with sprigs of thyme and sage, and a final garnish of chopped scallion and lemon juice - actually, a combination of two recipes in the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook: corn with roasted tomato salsa, and corn and pepper relish.  So I guess it was really Californian.

But what brought the meal back to New Mexico was a classic salad of batons of jicama sprinkled with bright-orange Chimayo chile and lime juice.

Pork Saltimbocca with Pattypan Squash

Sunday 3 August
Since we obtained our whole pork tenderloin from Bigg's and cut it up in our usual way, we have plenty of setups for pork dinners. 
Accordingly, we defrosted five scallopine and made our version of Pork Saltimbocca.  We simply pounded the already-thin scallopine a little thinner, put in a layer of scamorza cheese and sage leaves (we had no prosciutto left over from yesterday, and wouldn't have used it even if we had), and folded the little critters in half.  We then egged, floured, and fried them until golden. 
On the side went a quick-simmered sauce of a few anchovies and fresh tomatoes, and some steamed UFO-like pattypan squash we got at the Farmers' Market yesterday.

The result was not traditional but still evoked memories of old-fashioned American Italian food, with overtones of veal parmigiana.