Saturday, November 21, 2015

Shrimp and Pumpkin

Thursday 19 November
We are preparing for Holt's birthday dinner party by cleaning out both the freezer and the refrigerator, to provide room for all the makings.  From the refrigerator came some slices of roast pumpkin, from Halloween.  From the freezer came a pillow-sized pound of shrimp. 

As we got home late, all we had to do was defrost, deshell, and boil the shrimp, while the pumpkin re-toasted.  One of the two got piled on a bed of arugula (for extra roughage) and then dipped into ketchup-and-horseradish sauce - you can guess which.
They were rather odd company for one another, but not bad at all.

Pork alla Modena with Brussels Sprouts

Wednesday 18 November

Last time we sliced up a loin of pork to freeze, we made a couple of packets of extra-thick medallions.  Today, as Barbara was home in the afternoon and had the hour it would need to braise, she cooked something we've been yearning for, pork alla Modena. 

Such intense tomato flavor needs only a simple accompaniment, in this case, marble-sized brussels sprouts, briefly boiled and then tossed with butter and lemon juice.

Chicken with Mushrooms and Cream

Tuesday 17 November
As Chekhov certainly did not say, when you hang a roast chicken over the mantel in act one, you have to eat the legs, thighs, and wings in act three.  (Never in act two.  It is our guiding principle not to eat the same thing two nights in a row.)
Accordingly, we got out all the bits that were left after we ate roast chicken breasts on Saturday, fried up a panful of mushrooms with fresh thyme, set them aside and reheated the chicken parts in the mushroom juices and a trickle of white wine, and then returned it all to the pan with a glugg of heavy cream and some chopped tarragon.

Another good reason why chicken should be considered parve.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Basil Butter

Monday 16 November
Back in summer, Barbara threw a handful of Long Island Cheese pumpkin seeds into the garden to see what they would do.  They sprouted luxuriant vines, and despite the late start, they even produced one little, and one even littler, pumpkin.  She picked them to serve as table decorations at Halloween, but we wanted to see if they were edible.  So one evening while the oven was hot, we halved and roasted them, and to our delight, the insides were sweet and light-flavored.

What to make with the tiny tub of pumpkin guts?  Amazingly, a few basil leaves had sprouted on the stems Barbara left in the garden after the grand pesto harvest.  So she snipped the stems, kept them in a vase, and today we had the makings of a new take on ravioli di zucca.
We ran the pumpkin through the robot-coupe with one eggyolk, a good deal of grated asiago cheese, and sprinkles of nutmeg, salt, and white pepper, instead of the usual amaretti crumbs.  We wanted it savory, not sweet.
We had also defrosted a packet of our fresh pasta dough, so we rolled it out - it was still nice and stretchy - laid out the ravioli, and filled them with the yellow pumpkin mixture.

While they boiled, we melted a panful of butter, and when the ravioli were done, tossed them in the pan and scattered them with the fresh basil leaves instead of toasted sage.

The ravioli turned out to be squirty like soup dumplings, with a pure and herbaceous flavor under the sunburst of butter and basil.  Though totally the result of garden accidents, I would expect to see this on new bistro menus at $30 a plate.

Zucchini Scaloppine

Sunday 15 November
Still trying to keep it simple, not to mention quick. 

One panful of zucchini batons was sautéed with garlic, and set aside.  Then thin pork scaloppine dusted with salt, white pepper and thyme leaves was sautéed in the same pan.  They were removed and plated with the zucchini, the pan was deglazed with lemon juice, and a few capers got tossed in for luck (and salt).

Roast Chicken and Roots

Saturday 14 November

After a late night and an also-late brunch of frittata and sausage to bolster Jon and Lois on their travels, a simple roast chicken with little potatoes and garden carrots was our soothing choice for dinner.

We let it dry in the fridge for a couple of hours, salted the skin, and roasted it all on 400º convect for less than an hour.