Monday, March 23, 2009

Penne with Shrimp in Tomato-Cream Sauce

Wednesday March 18

Andi and Joel arrived for a conference on Labour studies. So a quick evening meal: shrimps pan grilled, removed. Asparagus in the pasta water, with a quick baptism for lots of roma tomatoes to skin them. Then a little garlic, shot of red pepper, the chopped tomatoes, cooked, the solids placed on top of the shrimp. The liquid reduced on high, plus the juice from the pan, plus cream, plus vodka, plus lemon juice. Then everybody--back in the pan with the penne.

St. Paddy's Day Squash

Tuesday March 17

Delicata squash halves from the market, baked and stuffed with mushrooms, crumbled mild sausage, and crumbled rye bread. Wetted down with some smaltzy-beef stock (you read that right). What has this to do with St. Patrick? Nothing, but the saint would have probably liked it too.

Gnocchi with Pancetta, Mushrooms, and Cream

Monday March 16

Just what it says.

Spanish Roast Pork Tenderloin with Beets and Blood Oranges

Sunday March 15

The surprising presence of blood oranges led to this: a simple beet and orange salad, with a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar. What was nice was that it was very difficult to tell which was which.
The pork loin was coated with a light crust of pimenton (smuggled across the border: can't find a supplier in St. Kits), cumin, and coriander. On the side: a quick red onion confit (in lieu of a Spanish sherry sauce).


Saturday 14 March

Today was the Brock University Archaeological Society's annual symposium, and the student organizers kindly asked that eminent professor, Dr. Holt Parker, to present a paper. Thus making their professor, Dr. Barbara Burrell, very, very happy. And at the end of a full day of presentations, both were delighted to go out to dinner with the organizers and other conference speakers at Fresco's, a Mediterranean-style bistro.
When we say Mediterranean, we mean ALL the Mediterranean, and beyond. For example, appetizers included various types of hummus, bruschette, and crab samosas (!), while the main course of citrus chicken was accompanied by two sorts of penne, roasted potatoes, various vegetables, and salads. But the end result was mainly Italian, with dessert being a very palatable tiramisú. The wine was a Chardonnay by Daniel Lenko - Katharine's suggestion, and an excellent choice. So thank you, kind students of BUAS, for an excellent conference, and a lovely dinner.

White Bean Soup with Lamb Sausage

Friday 13 March

This fortunate Friday the Thirteenth, Holt was flying in on the evening plane to Buffalo, so a quick, warming dinner would be required. So Barbara slow-cooked a batch of Great Northern white beans with some pre-sautéed lamb sausage, onions, and garlic, and plenty of sage from the kitchen bunch. All we had to do when we got home was ladle it into bowls and spoon it up.

(yet another freakin' interval)

Back in St. Catharines

Saturday 28 January

We just had time to drop in at the Farmers' Market after our drive back from London. A quicky meal of Lococo's honey-garlic sausage with onions and peppers. And the next day Holt had to fly back to Cincinnati, dammit.

Windermere's Café

Friday 27 January

After Holt's talk at the University of Western Ontario, Kelly Olson kindly took us out to a picturesque, parklike location and led us onto the terrace of the almost deserted, but still pleasant Windermere's Café.

For openers, we had crabcakes and pastrami-cured salmon (like a drier form of lox) on arugula, followed by a lovely bit of venison with a wild cherry sauce, and a slightly fatty slice of prime rib, each garnished with redskin potatoes and asparagus. We ended, by spliting the molten chocolate lava cake, and what more need be said? A very nice Inniskillen Pinot Noir and an experimental Naked Grape Cab. Sauv. So thank you, Kelly, for a lovely dinner and sparkling conversation!

Sole in caper sauce

Thursday 26 January

Barbara led a CTLET* workshop, but we didn't have veal cutlets. Instead, tasty sole fillets, pan-fried, with a quick sauce of white wine, lemon, and capers. Very nice over the roasted asparagus. 20 Bees pinot grigio (Not bad for a p.g.).

*Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies. You just had to ask.

Gnocchi with Ragu

Wednesday 25 January

Holt flew North to give a talk in London, Ontario. Barbara picked him up at 9:30 PM and drove him home, where she fed him this warming dish. The gnocchi were boiled until they floated, and coated with ragu to you, pooh pooh to you (and that is what I say) sauce, which we had made and frozen back in December for just such an eventuality.


Roast Lamb and Vedge

Saturday 21 February

It was Barbara's last day before driving back to the frozen North. We ate leftover lamb that Holt still had lots of from his Obama Inauguration party (previously frozen for your convenience). We were so miserable we didn't care.

Pork Stew Redux

Friday 20 February

It's what to do
with stew.

Steelhead and artichokes

Thursday 19 February

Barbara went shopping and returned victorious with some steelhead trout (see under trout). Trouts that go out to sea get huge, so we just sautéed one fillet and had it with these cute-cute-cute baby artichokes from the Market. Again, the secret is to snap off everything that snaps, then cut them in half, de-choke, and fry. Served with a lemon caper sauce for everything.

Osso Buco

Wednesday 18 February

Yet another smuggled meaty object from Antipastos up north. Holt was busy teaching, so Barbara got Marcella Hazan down from the shelf (and was she ever miffed at being up there!) and did a slow braise, perfuming the house with the sweet smell of sacrifice.
We had two thin circles of veal shank, with the outer skin on - it holds them together while they cook. Preheated the oven to 350 degrees, while dusting the veal with salted and peppered flour. Then browned them in oil in our Dutch oven, and set them aside. Into the Dutch oven went a knob of butter, a pour of olive oil, and a big onion, big carrot, and stalk of celery, all chopped up. These cooked until softened, then were moistened with some white wine wine, and cooked a while with two nice strips of lemon zest, about a half cup of frozen stock, a pound can of good tomatoes, a teaspoon of chopped thyme, and some sprigs of parsley. Then the veal circles got tucked under the vegetables, the pot was brought to a simmer, and it got covered and put into to the oven for 2-3 hours, where it was basted now and then (probably not as often as Marcella wanted.
The result was savory and delicious all by itself; as Marcella says, you can sprinkle gremolada over it, but why would you?

Penne alla Saffi

Tuesday 17 February

Back to standards. Grazie, Aurelio.


Monday 16 February
Comfort food.
This was the second half of a casserole Holt had already made up. Heat 'n' eat.

Absolutely Canonical Eggs Benedict

Sunday 15 February

Barbara's innocent-looking car carried not only veal but Canadian bacon. The real deal, known to the natives as peameal bacon, because it is rolled in cornmeal and isn't bacon. In fact, a type of very lean cured pork loin.
So for dinner rather than breakfast, classic eggs Benedict. Engmuffs, fried Canadian peameal bacon, poached eggs, lemon hollandaise, a sprinkle of cayenne. Plate-licking good.

Veal Chops and Braised Fennel

Saturday 14 February, St. Valentine's

Clever of Canadian universities to have the break over Valentine's Day, which began with a recently discovered Linear B tablet from the Mycenaean palace of Theobromopolis and a lickable Valentine (wipe that smile and the chocolate off your face): calligraphy done in vegetable oil (though now I think about, egg white might have been even better) then dusted with cocoa and powered sugar.
Barbara had smuggled a couple of Antipasto's veal chops past the ever-vigilant US customs authorities by claiming to be some girl named G. Had. These were loin chops, like tiny T-bone steaks. So we pan seared them and set them on a little Vesuvius of braised fennel. Champagne. And then to welcome Barbara back to Cincinnati, Graeters. Cetera quis nescit?

Barbara's home

Friday 13 February

We're back to the early days of our courtship, living for breaks and vacations. Barbara had a "Reading Week" (Canadian for "Spring Break," without the spring part so much) off. She arrived around eight to be greeted by a classic pork and porcini stew.
(A certain amount of snogging may have ensued before and after the meal, though not during).

Shiao Lan Kung

Saturday 10 January

We walked out by ourselves to a great Chinese restaurant - Shiao Lan Kung, found through the eagle scouts of Chowhound. We started with a pork and preserved turnip soup, perfect on a cold night. Then wonderful salt-baked seafood: shrimp, scallops, and squid, all very fresh and tasty. Also an excellent beef with eggplant. We hit the joint at 6:30, with accidental but perfect timing, as we were seated immediately and the place is insanely popular. No liquor license, but we were in the mood for tea, anyway. And we made up for it back in the hotel room with the finest bottle of champagne the Quicky Mart doth afford.
The next day we had to fly off to different cities together. Our blog, and our hearts, go back on hiatus.


Friday 9 January

On Friday we went out to a dinner in honor of Barbara's old excavation director at Sardis. It was at Bookbinders (old, original), and was amazingly elaborate - there were huge platters of every kind of cold seafood appetizer, including lobster, huge shrimp, both lump crab and claws, and raw oysters and clams. We didn't want to be too rude about gobbling, but we managed to polish off just about all the shellfish we wanted, which is rare, as we just love that stuff. For some bizarre reason the people at the center of the table kept falling down on the job, and we were forced to hint that if they weren't planning on eating that mussel there were those that would.
We had a fine seared tuna and grouper, which were nearly superfluous at that point. Our glasses seemed to replenish themselves of their own accord and a fine cognac followed. We dined like Lydians, and them boys knew from food.

The Return of the Blog

Thursday 8 January 2009
Victor’s Opera Cafe
After an interminable four days apart, Holt and Barbara got back together in Philadelphia, City of Romance. Does it count as a dirty weekend if you're married? Oh, yes, yes it does.
Our dear friend Helene took us to Victor's Opera Café ("The Music Lovers' Rendezvous").

Some places should never change. We used to go to Victor's back when Barbara was teaching in Philadelphia, and her Mom would come down from New York to visit. Florry would enter Victor's and greet every dusty signed photograph as an old friend. When the records (yes, youth, they had records then) played, she could "Name That Voice" within ten seconds. (Short pause to praise America. Is this a great country, or what, where a poor Jewish girl from Brooklyn could develop a life-long love of opera and an encyclopedic knowledge of the same, from the Texaco radio broadcasts, standing room tickets, and public TV and public libraries?)
The old photos are still there, the waiters and waitresses (usually young students at Curtis) still belt out an aria on the half hour, and the menu is unaltered since Caruso was a pup—a hundentenor—and a good thing too. The only change was that the elderly banks of 78s have been retired to a rest home somewhere upstate to make way for a few more tables.

For starters, we had crispy calamari and Victor's odd but tasty "crespelle," where the wrapper is prosciutto and the filling is of crabmeat. Then Vitello Picante Licia Albanese (veal sautéed with asparagus and fresh baby artichokes in white wine, lemon, butter and garlic), and Saltimbocca Baron Scarpia (with prosciutto, pineapple sage, and wild mushrooms in marsala). Victor's was the place where we first learned about putting a shot of lemon vodka in a cream sauce, for Pasta Prince Igor.
And now a short scientific digression. First, it turns out that all the alcohol does not burn away in cooking (yeah!). Second, there's a good reason for the booze in certain sauces, since some flavors are more soluble in alcohol. So that glug of brandy or whatever not only contributes its own trace elements but brings out complex tastes that would otherwise be lost. And don't try to tell us any different.
For dessert we shared the pistachio creme brulee. Thanks, Helene, for treating us to a classic favorite!