Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smoked Duck Breast with Green Garden Salad and Mango-Orange Chutney


Saturday April 30

This was the first full sunny day we've had in all this rainy month. Time for some outdoor activities. While Barbara gardened, Holt got out the smoker, which he'd been longing to do for weeks. He fired it up with charcoal, put in some mesquite chips and lots of clippings from our thyme plants, and smoked a turkey breast and a whole duck, one above the other - the duck fat dripped on the turkey, which kept it moist. So the day passed pleasantly, with an occasional sip of wine and some intermittent lounging on the patio.

We had the duck breast for dinner that night, and broke the rest up for various meals.

We had gotten some mangoes at Findlay Market, so made a chutney to go along with the savory duck - using half a jalapeno from our homemade escabeche, which made it plenty hot.

As for the salad, it was just the new little leaves of lettuce from the garden, dressed simply with olive oil and white balsamic.

Spanish Potato Salad

Friday April 29

We did this much as we've done it before, but tried to use Russet potatoes. No good - they break down and fall into mash. Still tasty, though.

Stuffed Mushrooms in a Zucchini Nest

Thursday April 28

Holt had bought ten large stuffin' mushrooms, and then Barbara had a Vision: what if we had the stuffed mushrooms as eggs in a zucchini "pasta" nest? This was the result.

Clean mushrooms, remove stems and mince, also mince half an onion fine.

Sauté mushroom and onion bits in oil and butter; drizzle mushroom caps with oil and put sprigs of fresh thyme in them, bake in oven at 375 for 10 mins.

In the meantime, grind up 2 slices of Holt's tsoureki (or other good bread) in the robot-coupe. Meld 4 oz. goat cheese, ca. 2 oz. grated parmesan, a handful of toasted pine nuts, 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, and (eventually) the fried mushrooms and onions in a bowl. Add breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper. Make 10 small balls out of this cheezy stuff.

When mushrooms have baked 10 minutes, put one ball of cheese mixture into each, bake 10 more minutes. When the mushrooms look tender, put the pan under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until browned.

In the meantime, run a big zucchini through the square-pasta making blade of the Benriner. Salt and let the green ribbons drain, as here.

To serve, use zucchini pasta around edges of warm plate as "nest," nestle mushrooms in center. Prettier than a pretty thing, and tasty to boot!

Stir-fried Shrimp with Asparagus

Tuesday April 26

This is an excellent quick stirfry, especially when asparagus is in season and cheap (like now). We always keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer just in case.

Defrost the shrimp by dumping them into cold water, and when they are pliable, remove their shells. Marinate them with a teaspoon of grated ginger, a tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, a grind of white pepper, a little sesame oil, and salt. Chop up the asparagus in slanting slices, separating stems from tips; stir fry the former, then the latter, in oil with a sprinkle of salt, until bright green. Lower heat, cover, and let steam with a dribble of water or chicken broth; remove. Reheat and oil wok, stir fry shrimp on high, add oyster sauce and stir in center to thicken, put asparagus back in, and reheat. Serve with a drizzle more sesame oil, for the tastiest and simplest Chinese style meal.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chicken Salad with Caramelized Onions

Monday April 25

This time, the chicken version of Steve Matter's recipe, made from the scraps from Saturday's broth.

Easter Dinner at Eleni's

Sunday April 24

Eleni kindly invited us (and Junko and Daniel) to come over for a traditional Greek Easter dinner. She is an expert chef (even her apron says so), and served forth all the traditional foods.

We started with mageiritsa, the thick Easter soup that usually contains the innards of the lamb who is roasting on a spit outside. Luckily, this one was made of lambshanks and rice with lots of lovely dill.

Then, of course, the centerpiece - a succulent roast leg of lamb. Accompanying it were potatoes with lemon and rosemary, two kinds of tzaziki - one with sour cherries and walnuts, the other dill - and a giant, refreshing salad. And of course there were red eggs for tsougrisma, the battle of egg-tapping, which Eleni won.

Holt baked tsoureki, Greek Easter bread, which he braided like a giant challah; it sometimes has a red dyed egg embedded in the top, though not this time. It's flavored with exotic things like orange peel and mahlepi, an aromatic made from inner kernels of the pits of St Lucie Cherry; it smells like a combination of bitter almond and cherry. We got the spice suggestions from the blog of Sam Sotiropoulos.

though the recipe itself came from Holt's classic Best of Baking cookbook, by Wolter and Teubner. It was not as sweet and moist as the tsoureki of Eleni's memories, but more like a Christopsomo, which is also traditional. Maybe we'll try the other type next time.

Dessert was just chocolate eggs, which is all we could absorb, and at the end we staggered home and collapsed, which is an Easter tradition as well.

Lois Kain Memorial Chicken and Rice

Saturday April 23

We made this while cooking up a big pot of chicken soup and baking tsoureki. Did we mention the coriander forest out in the garden?

Crockpot Beans and Hambone

Friday April 22

Any Friday is Good with this bean dish. Wholesome but unrepentant.

1 lb great northern beans, rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight and drained of water

1 Schad's ham bone; reserve whatever fat and meaty bits you can chop off it

water

1 bay leaf

1 big sage sprig

1 large yellow onion

1 large stalk celery

1 carrot

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Put beans in crockpot. Add fresh water to cover plus a half inch. Nestle ham bone, meaty bits, bay, and sage among them. Get the crockpot going on low.

In a pan, start salvaged ham fat rendering in a little oil to get it started.

In a food processor, chop onion, celery, carrot, and garlic fine, with a little salt to sop up the juice. Add to pan and cook in ham fat until onions are transparent, 4-5 mins. Pour it into the crockpot, deglazing the pan with water, and stir it all together. Add water to cover if necessary. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

When beans are tender, remove meat from bones and return meat to the pot. Stir to combine and break up ham pieces. Taste and see if it needs anything - salt and pepper of course, but consider molasses, a dab of tomato paste, a fresh sprig of sage, whatever you like. From this point, let it cook open to thicken, stirring occasionally and stopping when you're ready to eat.

At that point, discard bay leaf and sage sprig; to thicken more, smash some of the beans on the side of crockpot. Thick and extra-beany.

Tuna Steaks with Spring Vegetables

Thursday April 21 - Rome's birthday!

Grilled the tuna steaks, but can't remember right now what the vegetables were. Asparagus, probably, since Kroger's has been having a run on it. With a really nice Masciarelli 2009 Trebbiano d'Abruzzo.

Asparagus Pork Bundles



Wednesday April 20

We had 7 asparagus spears and some extravagantly long-tailed scallions from Findlay Market, but no sole for Bundles Of (Trader Joe's, what are you thinking?). Holt wanted to try Bundles of Pork instead.

Using fantastic knife skills, he butterflied a couple of thick pork tenderloin slices, and whacked them thin between two saran wrap sheets. They ended up looking quite obscene - they're the other pink meat. But we covered that up with a mashup of 20 sage leaves, a little lemon thyme, half a lemon's worth of zest, salt, and black pepper.

He parboiled the asparagus and the long scallion greens, wrapping the pork around the former and binding them with the latter (and a long peel of lemon, to boot). It roasted in the top of the oven at 400 degrees, which was a bit too long, but it actually browned and held together.

Served with asparagus risotto rewarmed on the same pan for 5 minutes, it was pretty tasty.

Sausages with Beets 'n' Sweets

Tuesday April 19

Mild Italians from Trader Joe's, and the leftover beets and sweets rewarmed in the same pan.

Spring Vegetable Stew

Monday April 18

Yes, it's the first seder night, but for us the promised land is Spring.

We've already written about this recipe adapted from Food & Wine but this time we'll write it down more like we actually did it.

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths, tips separated

1 bag fresh fava beans in pod (shelled, maybe a half cup)

1/2 lb. tiny purple potatoes or fingerlings, whole

extra-virgin olive oil

5 thin scallions, chopped, whites and green parts separated

1 pound mushrooms, quartered

Salt

2 turnips, peeled and cut into wedges

2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch-long sticks

2 cups chicken stock

Two zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick

1 lemonsworth finely grated lemon zest

1 lemonsworth lemon juice (from zested lemon)

1 tablespoon chopped chervil

1 teaspoon minced chives

Get a big pot of salted water simmering. In it, cook the asparagus butts, then tips, over moderate heat until tender, 3-4 minutes total. Using a handled sieve, transfer the asparagus to a BIG bowl (just wait till you see what goes in). Add the favas to the water and parboil about 2 minutes. Remove with sieve, chill under cold water, and remove whitish husks, revealing vivid green beans within. Put beans in bowl with asparagus, while husks go in the compost (there's lots of that tonight). Back in the simmering pot, throw in the potatoes and cook until tender.

Meanwhile, in a heavy enameled soup pot, heat some of the olive oil. Add the scallion whites and cook over moderate heat until barely tender, about 1 minute. Transfer the scallions to the bowl with the asparagus. Add a generous slosh of the olive oil to the pot and brown the mushrooms, seasoned with salt, until dark and tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer them to the bowl.

Heat more olive oil in the casserole. Add the turnips and carrots, season with salt and cook over moderate heat for a minute; then add the stock, cover, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until edible. Add the zucchini and simmer until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Finally add back the whole big bowl of vedge, along with the scallion greens, lemon zest and lemon juice, and reheat. When hot, sprinkle in chervil and chives, stir them around a few times, and ladle the stew into bowls.

Holy Ravioli

Sunday April 17

We haven't been to Holy Ravioli at the Sacred Heart Church for a while, and this was a special occasion: the hundredth anniversary of the Italian Dinner. There was a band outside and a Sinatra impersonator inside, which made the whole thing even noisier than usual, if that's possible. But we came with a great group (Julie, Kathy, Russel), and as usual had a wonderful time meeting the people, pouring the wine, and soaking up the atmosphere as well as the ravioli. But there was such a rush today that they were out of the boxed ravioli to take home. Ah, well, gotta go back in October.

Baked Ham, Beets and Sweets

Saturday April 16

Since Krause's at Findlay Market had no first cut ham, we just got a 3 1/2 lb. slab of Schad's ham from Bender's. Baked it in the same roasting pan as the following, which Holt was inspired to make by seeing something similar in one of the new prepared-food places at the Market.

Beets and Sweets

4 medium beets (we roasted these ahead of time)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

kosher salt and freshly grated pepper

1 tablespoon honey

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. To prepare beets, cut off greens to be used in something else, and wrap whole beets in two separate aluminum foil packets. Let roast for an hour, until almost tender. Open the packets, let cool a bit, and then the skins will slip right off if you rub them. Chop the beets into chunks.

While (or after) beets are baking, place peeled and chopped sweet potatoes, olive oil, garlic, coriander, salt, pepper and honey into a large bowl. Mix together till all of the sweet potato chunks are coated with the mixture. Place onto hot baking sheet and let roast for 45 minutes. Check every 15 minutes and flip to ensure even roasting. When done and edible, stir together with warm beets in a bowl.

The sweet potatoes broke up a bit too much when you tossed them with the rest, but the combo was quite tasty.

Steak and Risotto Cakes

Friday April 15

Holt made Friday tea for the department today. It was an early start on Passover baking—coconut macaroons and amaretti piemontesi (almond macaroons): no flour, all kosher—plus a little torta rustica (walnuts and espresso), not kosher for Passover.

With all those sweets in us, dinner had to be simple: NY strip steaks with herb butter, and asparagus risotto cakes, breaded with panko.

Asparagus Risotto

Thursday April 14

For a long time, we made risotto like this. But Barbara has been watching Lidia's Italy as an accompaniment to her lunchtime yogurt (an exercise in self-control, to say the least), and she wanted to see if the risotto would take a shorter time if you used hot broth, which turned out to be true. We live and learn.

So, Asparagus Risotto

1 pound asparagus, bottoms snapped, cut into 2-inch lengths, tips separated

2 cups chicken broth (about)

1 cup wine

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 minced shallots

2 cups arborio rice

4 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Some fresh grated lemon zest (optional - unfortunately Barbara forgot)

Blanch asparagus pieces in pot containing about 3 cups boiling, salted water: first stems 2 minutes, then add tips and boil 1 min. With a slotted spoon or sieve, lift asparagus out and let drain, but reserve water in pot.

To asparagus water, add chicken broth and a cup of wine and bring to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep broth hot. Heat olive oil in heavy-bottomed large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir 4 minutes, until hot but not brown. Then start adding, a ladelful at a time, the liquid from the pot, stirring almost constantly, 20-25 minutes. Continue cooking until rice is tender but still slightly firm in center and mixture is creamy. Add blanched asparagus pieces and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper. Add butter in pieces and stir until incorporated. Remove from heat. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese and lemon zest.

This makes a generous amount; gotta have some left over for risotto cakes later.

Pork Cutlets with Pear Pan Sauce and Blue Cheese

Wednesday April 13

The recipe came from Caprial and John's TV show (which Barbara sometimes watches when she's lunching at home), adapted by America's other culinary fun couple.

5-6 ounces pork cutlets (we had five thin-sliced cutlets, from a pork tenderloin)

Salt and black pepper

butter

flour

1 big pear, peeled and diced

2 Tbsp pear brandy (okay, cognac)

1/4 cup white wine

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Salt and black pepper

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese for garnish

Season some flour with salt and black pepper in a bag. Heat butter in a sauté pan, shake the cutlets in the bag and place in the pan; cook each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

To prepare the sauce, add the pears to the pan. Add the cognac, flame, and then add wine; cook until about 1/4 cup of liquid remains. Add the garlic, vinegar, parsley, and the butter, and whisk. Season with salt and black pepper if needed, pour over the warm cutlets and garnish with blue cheese.

We had this with a bottle suggested by the guy at Findlay Market Wines: Massarosa Frascati Superiore 2008, with delicious lemony flavors.

Tuna Steaks with Salsa Verde

Monday April 11

This is just the tomatillo salsa from last Saturday on grilled 'ahi tuna steaks from Trader Joe's.

Corn and Chorizo Ravioli with Goat Cheese Cream and Chile Drizzle

Sunday April 10

This recipe comes from the Southwest Tastes cookbook that JoDee gave Holt some years ago. It is all one complicated dish from Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, which we simplified.

First, we cooked a big batch of the chorizo the night before. What we weren't going to use we froze in tuppers, because it's great in chilaquiles or with huevos revueltos. Mexican chorizo is loose like sloppy joe, not sausage-y like the Spanish kind.

New Mexican Cinnamon Chorizo

1 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground chuck

water

oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 Tbsp. ground ancho or New Mexican chile (Hatch if possible - if you use commercial "chili powder," delete cumin, below)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground arbol chile or cayenne

2 pinches ground cloves

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tsps. kosher or sea salt (half that for table salt)

Moisten the chopped meats with a tablespoon or two of water. Heat a thin film of oil in the pan and cook, crumbling the meat fine, on medium low until it's no longer pink but not brown. When almost done, add garlic, spices and salt, stirring and toasting a minute or two.

Add water to just about cover meat and simmer on very low heat, stirring and checking occasionally, 2 hours until very soft and all water absorbed, but still luscious and juicy. Done!

If you're going to stuff this into ravioli, take about a cup and whizz it fine in the food processor.

Corn Pasta (24 ravioli)

1/2 cup masa harina

1 cup unbleached flour

pinch of salt

2 large eggs

2 tsps. olive oil

2 tsps. water

Whizz up dry ingredients in the food processor and then add wet ones until mixture just begins to form a ball. On a lightly floured surface knead dough for a few minutes. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and let rest in fridge at least 15 minutes, preferably more.

Divide the dough into 4 parts and roll each through the pasta machine from lowest setting to high (5). The pasta was very friable, but we kept refolding and rolled it through several times on each number of the roller, and it came out okay: four sheets, so two trays of 12 ravioli each. But don't press the ravioli impresser (you know, the thing that dents the bottom layer to hold the stuffings) in too hard, or it pops the fragile pasta. Holt succeeded in patching them, and stuffed each raviolo with a modest spoonful of chorizo.

We had a pot of boiling water ready to boil them ca. 2 mins, until they floated to the surface and could be delicately fished out and drained. We had also gotten together our two sauces:

Goat Cheese Cream

Pour about a half cup of heavy cream in a saucepan, bring to boil, and let reduce 5 mins. Crumble in 2 oz. mild goat cheese and whisk smooth, then add a couple of pats of butter. Use this to fill the (heated) serving plates.

Chile Drizzle

In a tiny saucepan, combine 2 tsps. of adobo sauce from a can or jar of chipotle chiles with 2 Tbsps. of water. Simmer and stir on low heat until reduced to saucelike consistency.

Put the cooked ravioli on the cream-filled plates, and drizzle with a spoonful of chile.

Labor-intensive, but worth it.

Pork Scaloppine al limone with Roasted Baby Artichokes and Asparagus

Saturday April 9

We got a package of 13 baby artichokes for $2.79, from Kroger supermarket!

Did them very simply, like this; but you might as well throw in the squeezed lemon halves to make the parboiling water more lemony. And we roasted them at a slightly higher temperature.

Also, we skipped the aioli. Instead, we had a few of these scaloppine to hold body and soul together.

Penne with Zucchini, Salami, and Cream

Friday April 8

It's been a long time since we had it.

La Poste again

Thursday April 7

It was wonderful to see our friend Giuseppe; when he was last here as a Tytus fellow, we had him over for dinner and served him his first corn on the cob. After his stimulating talk, we went back to La Poste.

This time, our starters were crabcakes (okay), and mussels and clams in caraway cream sauce, which were excellent.

For mains we risked the seared duck breast on root vegetables. Holt had previously (somewhere among the interviewees, below) gotten a duck breast that was seriously undercooked, but this time we asked that it be just beyond pink, and it was delicious. And the special: halibut cheeks, with sweetbreads (which tasted a bit more innardsy than usual) and some kale and cabbage. A bit bland for all the foofaraw.

Still, a pleasant dinner.

Stuffed Portobellos, Blue Cheese Potatoes, and Asparagus

Wednesday April 6

The inspiration was here. Didn't bother with the soy sauce, but used marsala for the marination of 3 huge mushroom caps (stems went into the spring soup, below). We winged the stuffing: sauteed red onion, sorrel, parsley and oregano from the garden, and crumbs from Holt's cornbread, frozen. A little dollop of goat cheese and some romano on top held it together.

Beside it went baked russet potatoes, mashed on the plate with blue cheese butter, and roasted asparagus.

As Wordsworth would have said, "to be young was veggie heaven."

Floyd's Chicken

Tuesday April 5

We were going out on the town (well, Cincinnati) with Deborah to hear the Takács string quartet, so we celebrated with a pre-concert dinner at Floyd's, the king of spit-roasted chicken. We each had a half of their classic chicken, with lima beans (really canellini, but with lots of good garlic and parsley flavors), hummus, good dolma, pickled vegetables (too salty even for Barbara), and tabbouleh; sadly, they were out of their excellent baba ghanouj (best in town).

We picked every bone clean.

Roast Beef Hash

Monday April 4

Made from the scrappy ends of the great rib roast. Whizzed them up in the robot-coupe, while microwaving four small Yukon golds for 4 minutes and mincing up an onion or two.

Browned the onion in oil, cubed and added the nuked potatoes (hey - saves steaming them), generous showers of fresh thyme and chopped parsley, and a ladelful of chicken broth to integrate. Added salt and pepper for each ingredient as necessary.

Then when everything was tender, broiled in the oven until brown on top.

Spring Vegetable Soup

Sunday April 3

This time we used favas, asparagus, portobello stems, and sorrel. We never do it the way they first suggested on Epicurious anyway.

Exquisite bowl of springtime.

Poblanos Rellenos with Tomatillo Salsa

Saturday April 2

These were the least wilted of the tomatillos and poblanos we could find at Findlay Market. We roasted, peeled, and stuffed them with monty jack, ground coriander and cumin, as here, but without the goat cheese.

The tomatillo salsa was extra emerald, from the freshness of the lush cilantro from the garden.

Linguine with Crab and Asparagus

Friday April 1

This is an excellent thing to do with the other half of the pound can of crab you used for crabcakes.

Chop 8 or so asparagus into inch lengths, separating the tips, and cook first the stalk parts, and a minute or so later the tips, in a pot of boiling water. Scoop out and drain, and use the same boiling water to cook the linguine.

In another wide pan, sauté a tablespoon or two of chopped red onion or shallots in butter with a drop of oil. Gently heat crab, cream, a couple of grinds of nutmeg and white pepper, and a sprinkle of cayenne. When it thickens, add asparagus, and toss with drained linguine.

No fooling.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dinner at La Poste, Clifton

Thursday March 31

Though Holt has been going here pretty frequently with various interviewees (search "bleah" below), it was Barbara's first time at this newest avatar of our old local restaurant Tink's. The room is not much changed, except for some big white banquettes and a little wine room that would be nice for a small party. Because this building apparently used to be a post office, they play a lot on this theme, as with the blue napkins folded up into envelopes.

The wine service is interesting, if overpriced. For example, when we ordered one pinot noir, the sommelier offered us a different one at cut rate; it had a barnyardy nose, but good taste, and was oddly chocolatey.

The service is otherwise very attentive and considerate, and we soon got an amuse-gueule of hummus and fried wonton-style "pita triangles."

Our appetizers were: hot bacon scallops, i.e. two (good for sharing!) succulent scallops on a bed of baby spinach with a sort of hot bacon coulis and a foam of gorgonzola cream; and a fine crabcake seasoned with the classic Old Bay on a bed of greenery, with a dip of citrus vodka aioli and quartered pickled grapes, plus a slice of candied dried grapefruit that made for a piquant nibble.

The mains were a special of haddock, which I don't recall too well now; and a standard of veal shortribs in tomatoey sauce, nice and tender, piled on savoy cabbage and lapped with porcini cream, with luscious slices of fried sweetbreads and a sprinkle of currants.

We shared a forkful of two desserts with the rest of the table: a splendid cherry and white chocolate bread pudding and a slim slice of flourless chocolate cake (with some elusive spice) adorned with chocolate mousse, some dried strawberry slices, and Graeter's double-chocolate ice cream.

On the whole, more sophisticated than Tink's, and we're happy to have La Poste in the neighborhood.

Roastbeef and Vedge Redux with Baked Potatoes and Horseradish Cream

Wednesday March 30

The leftover horseradish cream from Monday kept in the fridge pretty well, as did the last of Thursday's prime rib, which we reheated with whatever was left of its vedge and jus. Since the oven was on, we baked a couple of russet potatoes, and were they good just smashed on the plate with that horseradish cream!

Leftover Chicken with Mushrooms and Cream

Tuesday March 29

What to do with the legs and thighs of the roast chicken from Saturday. Reheat gently in a little chicken broth and wine, while in another pan you fry up some sliced mushrooms in butter with minced red onion (instead of shallots) and tarragon (not up in the garden yet, but we chopped up some fresh stuff last year, put it under olive oil, and froze it in the ice cube tray - just pop one out when you need it).

Cold Roast Beef and Watercress Salad

Monday March 28

We still had loads of prime prime rib leftovers from Thursday, and there's nothing better than having it just cold - lukewarm, really, if you remember to get it out of the fridge ahead of time.

The Nice People at Findlay Market sold us a bouquet of watercress that made us feel that it was almost spring - almost. So we decided to do this but used more vinegar - cider vinegar for choice - and no honey.

Barbara had an envie for horseradish sauce with her roast beef, and tried to get the recipe from "Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen" website. But they won't let you look at anything unless you give them your e-mail address and subscribe to their lame-ass website for recipes we have tried and found wanting - and they will start charging you for it after 14 days!

So here is the recipe for horseradish cream sauce FOR FREE.

Start with an amount (say half a cup for 4-6 people, though the two of us need less) of heavy whipping cream. Whip it with a whisk until it thickens - Cook's says 1 or 2 minutes, but unless you're a chef and have iron wrists, manual whisking takes at least 5-7 minutes. When it's thickened, season it with about a half teaspoon of salt, and - I'm going out on my own here - a couple of grinds of white pepper, which is far more subtle than black and goes better with cream sauces.

Now, Cook's says to add an equal amount of prepared horseradish to the amount of cream, and this is amazingly stupid, even for them. Prepared horseradishes differ radically not just according to how they're made, but how long that particular bottle has been in the refrigerator (in fact, most foods differ, which is why Cook's "tested to be perfect" recipes seldom are). I used Mr. Gene Green's Hot Horseradish bought fresh on Saturday, and if you used the amount they said, it would crisp your nose hairs. SO fold in a couple of tablespoons of prepared white horseradish, and taste. Keep adding until you like it, and then stop.

The beef went on the dressed watercress, and the cream was dabbed on it ad lib. Pretty damned good.

Porco com Cominho

Sunday March 27

Just the same situation as before - in 2007!

Saturday Roast Chicken

Saturday March 26

Our standard roast chicken with a lemon up its butt, in a pan alongside some yukon gold potatoes and carrots. These days we are roasting the chicken at 350 until almost done, and THEN turning up the heat to 425 to brown the skin. It works pretty well, actually.

Crabcakes and coleslaw

Friday March 25

Yes, having made coleslaw just a couple of days ago at JoDee's, we came back to find the half-head of raw cabbage that we didn't use in our own corned beef dinner there in the crisper, and what could we do? Make the same recipe again (though no bell pepper, because we didn't happen to have any).

The crabcakes were from our standard recipe, not too loose, with sieved panko, small crumbs inside and the big crumbs outside; only enough mayonnaise to bind. Perfect texture.

Roast Prime Rib and Vegetables

Thursday March 24

Lynne and Tom came over for dinner, and in their honor we got out a beautiful prime rib that we'd been saving for a rainy day (almost every day is rainy, these days).

We started with some wine, crackers, goat cheese whipped up with fresh herbs from the garden, smoked salmon, and our usual relishes and pickles.

We did the prime rib like this, surrounded with lots of sliced onions, cubed potatoes, carrots, and some parsnips. They really loved the parsnips, which got all sweet and caramelized as usual.

And we had Laura's coconut-chocolate-chip cookies for dessert. We can't let Lynne get away without giving her chocolate.

Lois Kain Memorial Chicken

Wednesday March 23

There is a Monet-size haystack of cilantro flourishing in our back garden, and the only way we can keep the house from being overshadowed is by cooking this chicken with tons of cilantro, this time with the original lemons instead of our usual limes.

Gnocchi ai Tre Formaggi

Tuesday March 22

This time with one fewer cheese: just gorgonzola, pecorino romano, and fontina. The gnocchi come from Trader Joe's, as usual.

Corned Beef Hash

Monday March 21

Leftovers from our early St. Patrick's Day, done in the finicking everything-cubed-up way, with Yukon golds, onions, and fresh parsley and thyme from the garden.

Red beans and Rice and Ham

Sunday March 20

After our drive home, some welcome leftovers from our late Mardi Gras, fleshed out with a little julienned Schad's Ham, warmed up, and served with nice hot rice.

Pork Tenderloin and Roast Vegetables

Saturday March 19

JoDee happened to have two pork tenderloins sitting around - which shows she's a woman of taste and style. Holt dusted them with coriander, cumin, and chile, and let them marinate. We cubed up redskin potatoes, skinned some sweet potatoes and cubed them too, and added a couple of sliced onions to the mix. Tossed the vedge with oil and salt, and put them into a high oven to roast first, followed by the pork.

At our leisure, we shredded up the half cabbage left from Thursday and made a cole slaw with shredded carrot, juliennes of half an orange bell pepper, salt, mayo, red wine vinegar, and lots of celery seed.

Popular with the whole family, who are also persons of taste and style. Especially Laura, who made coconut-chocolate-chip cookies for dessert.

City House, Nashville

Friday March 18

Chosen by our friends A.J. and Jay, this is obviously the hot place for dinner in Nashville. It was quiet when we entered, but hopping as we left, and they do a sort of all-local nose-to-tail cuisine.

We started with a great plate of roasted vegetable salad with Pecorino, featuring sweet butternut squash; some terrific octopus with fennel breadcrumbs and field peas “sott’olio”; and a taste of Jay's beef heart salad and A.J.'s house-made sausage.

Our mains were linguini with mussels and chickpeas (okay, but sort of bland and small) and crispy-skinned Carolina trout stuffed with breadcrumbs, peanuts (which B. ate, as H. doesn't care for them), and raisins. A sweet little fish.

We got a few desserts for the table: a wicked caramel custard pie, some mascarpone crema, and some salt-and-pepper pecans; and some of us tried some high-alcohol whiskies. Luckily Dad was driving.

It was fahhhn.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Thursday March 17

We arrived at the family manse in Smyrna TN on St. Patrick's Day, and found that JoDee had made a festal dinner of... you guessed it. But hers was different, as it was slow-cooked in the crockpot, and she used stout (and carrots) in the mix. Probably like this.

We could eat this every day.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Wednesday March 16

We'll be traveling tomorrow on St. Patrick's Day, so we had this a day early. Simmered the giant beef according to package directions, for about 3 hours, along with the included packet of spices (no, take the spices OUT of the packet). In the last hour, added small yukon gold potatoes; and in the last 15 minutes, a couple of wedges of green cabbage.

Irish eyes were smiling, especially at the prospect of cold corned beef leftovers.

Stir-fried Pork and Vegetables

Tuesday March 15

The pork was scrappy stuff from the freezer, cut into strips and marinated with the usual - 1 part Shaoxing wine to 2 parts soy sauce, sprinkled with a little sugar and a grind or two of white pepper, and a clove of minced garlic in the mix.

While it marinated, the vegetables went into the oiled wok and got stir-fried: first sliced onions, then some minced ginger, sliced celery, chopped bok choy, and finally sliced mushrooms.

Once everyone was tender, they were removed and the wok reheated to high for some meat stirfry action. When the pork was cooked, deglazed with a spoonful of oyster sauce, added the vegetables back, and warmed it all up again. Anointed with some sesame oil, you might think it was something on a real Chinese menu instead of clean-out-the-crisper night.

Sausage and Peppers

Monday March 14

And onions, of course - just like San Gennaro, except fried rather than grilled, and you don't have to stand as you eat them. Trader Joe's mild Italian sausages aren't bad, either.

Fifteen-Minute Chicken with Bok Choy

Sunday March 13

It's fifteen minutes according to Rose Cheng's Chinese Cookery, but since we used whole chicken thighs, it was more like a half an hour. You quickly brown up 4 chicken thighs in a pan lightly skimmed with oil; add a tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, another of chopped garlic, and a teaspoon of minced ginger, stir quickly for a couple of seconds, and then add a third of a cup of soy sauce and a couple of baby bok choy cut lengthwise into quarters. You can also add a driblet of water, then slap the cover on and let it simmer the aforementioned thirty minutes. Uncover, test everything for doneness, and if it's too liquidy let it steam open for a while.

Pork Medaillions with Creamed Mushrooms


Saturday March 12

Inspired by Julia in The Way to Cook, who makes chicken and creamed mushrooms with a squirt of lemon.

In this case, some half-inch-thick pork tenderloin medallions were patted with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves, then browned in oil and removed to the warming oven. In the same pan went butter and sliced mushrooms, a tablespoon each of lemon juice and more thyme leaves, and when they were darkened and juicy, a big splodge of heavy cream. The juices from the meat were poured into the mushrooms, and cooked until thick and creamy.

Julia is right - but then, you knew that.

Tomato-Olive Bucatini


Friday March 11

This was the result of Barbara monkeying around with some leftover tomato puree. The sauce contained half a shallot and two cloves of garlic, minced, which caramelized in a pan with oil while the bucatini water boiled. Then a little tomato paste and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes went in. Then the tomato puree was added to simmer and reduce, plus a little too-sweet white wine we had sitting around, in lieu of the usual pinch of sugar. Then a handful of chopped black Moroccan olives; and since it was still a mite bland, another handful of chopped sundried tomatoes in oil, and as many fresh oregano leaves as could be gathered from the garden without putting on a sweater (it was raining). It ended up overthick, despite the water retained in the holes of the bucatini even when you drained it. Good with lashings of pecorino romano, though.

Leftover Pot Roast


Thursday March 10

Last Friday's, chopped up and reheated with its vedge, served on a bed of freshly-mashed potatoes.

Red beans and Rice


Wednesday March 9

We couldn't have Mardi Gras last night, so we did it on Ash Wednesday, on our principle of "All of the Feasts, None of the Fasts" (take that, Lent!).

Though our normal Red Beans and Rice has been, believe it or not, from the Frugal Gourmet's first cookbook, we adapted this one from the horse's mouth of New Orleans, or as Anthony Bourdain calls him, "that fuzzy little Emeril."

Red Beans and Rice

1/2 pound dried red beans, sorted and rinsed

1 tablespoon oil (Emeril used bacon grease, and I would too if I had any)

1 big yellow onion, chopped

1 or 2 stalks chopped celery

1 chopped green bell pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 big pinch cayenne

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 mild and 1 hot andouille sausage (or 2 smoked sausages)

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce to taste

1 cup cooked white rice

chopped scallions to garnish

Place the beans in your crockpot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak overnight. Drain, add water to cover by a half inch, and set to simmer on low in the crockpot as soon as you can - mine started at 11 AM, as we like our beans tender, and were using small red beans, which we hadn't tried yet.

In a large pan, heat the oil and brown sausages if fresh; if smoked, just split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add onions, celery and bell peppers to pan, with more oil as necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and sausage if smoked, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add everything (including whole fresh sausages) to the beans in the crockpot and simmer until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (If the beans become too dry, add a little water.)

Halfway through, remove sausages and split and cut as above. Toward the end, with the back of a heavy spoon mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot, then re-add sausage. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with hot sauce as necessary. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions.

We're still aiming for the melting red beans and rice as served at happy hour at the Columns Hotel in New Orleans. But this was close.

Red beans and ricely yours,

H&B

March 7 and 8


Monday and Tuesday Holt had to go out for interview dinners - and the latter was Mardi Gras, no less. Throw me some bleah, mister!

Leftover chilaquiles


Sunday March 6

From last Monday - we always make enough for two meals, probably because that's what size the casserole is. Stodgy but still good, cut into wedges and reheated by many rides in the microwave.

Fresh Tuna Salad with German Potato Salad


Saturday March 5

When you've got a whole thick grilled tuna steak (left over from Wednesday), you can flake it gently to make the most elegant tuna salad ever, just using mayonnaise, chopped red onions, chopped celery, and a bit of sweet pickle relish. Make up a quick German potato salad to go with it, and you have the equivalent of a diner plate lunch - in heaven.

Pot Roast with all the trimmings


Parade Day - Friday March 4!

Kroger's had thick beeves laid out in its butcher section much more nicely than its packaged ones. So the classic recipe.

With all the rude vegetables we had - potatoesturnipscarrotsparsnipsandonionsofcourse.

T-bone Steak with Asparagus


Thursday March 3

Both from Kroger's, not our favorite supermarket, but they were pretty good steaks over an inch thick, grilled using the frequent flippage method, one minute on each side until done; asparagus was roasted with oil and salt at 500 degrees; and on top went Holt's bearnaise sauce, made with our own tarragon vinegar and a shallot.

Tuna Steaks Niçoise and Scrippelle (and two kinds pickles)


Wednesday 2 March

Our friend Billur from Turkey has to go back soon, so we wanted to have her over for a friendly dinner.

We started with some rosé wine and crackers with salty appetizers, mainly homemade, except for the olives (which we can't do ourselves); Holt's cornichons, and two kinds of pickles that Barbara made back on Sat. Feb. 5. Here are the recipes.

Dvorah's pickled turnips

Bright magenta pickles that are served at every good Israeli felafel stand.

4 big turnips (6 small in this case, 1 lb. 12 oz)

2 beets (also smallish, 10 oz)

salt (kosher, what else?)

2 stalks celery, sliced to jar size

white vinegar

Peel and cut turnips in half, slice thin, about a quarter inch thick. Pile in colander, salting each layer. Then peel and slice beets in half, boil in water to cover until half-soft.

When beets are done and cool enough to handle, slice them too; reserve juice. In two quart jars, put half of each stalk of celery on either side. Roughly rinse turnips, pile in jar in layers, packing down in alternation with beets. Fill jar with beet juice, then water if needed almost to top, then vinegar. Taste to adjust salt and vinegar. Let sit 2 days to a week; after that refrigerate.

Joel's Pickled Daikon

Joel told us that these are both simple to make and addictive, and he was so right.

2 cups daikon or radishes (8 oz.),

sliced into quarter-inch-thick bitesize wedges

1/2 cup rice vinegar

a scant 1/2 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

Place daikon slices in a jar. In a bowl stir together vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Pour over daikon. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight before serving.

But back to dinner. The main course was sort of a Salade Niçoise but made with whole grilled tuna steaks, on a beautiful green salad with potato and green beans and black olives, slathered with an anchovy-flavored vinaigrette.

As for dessert, it was inspired by Lidia's scrippelle ribbons with fruit sauce (fiocchi di scrippelle all'arancio). Essentially, these are crespelle, but rolled and cut up to look like ribbons of thick pasta. Our arancio was the tail end of a jar of 5-citrus marmelade, loosened with some triple sec, which made a lovely flame, and then a very elegant ending.

Bye, Billur! Come back soon!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Penne alla Saffi


Tuesday 1 March

Again, already.

Chilaquiles

Monday 28 February

This is always made of miscellaneous Mexican scraps, and this time was no exception. It happened to be meatless. Its core was some roasted poblanos from Findlay market, but also oven-dried sliced Roma tomatoes, a little crushed tomato from Wednesday's cacciatori, all the cheese scraps from the fridge, including goat, cream, and 8 oz of monty jack, some chopped onion, stale tortilla chips, and lots of garden coriander (and may I remind you that it's still February).

Scallops in Cream Sauce over Linguine



Sunday 27 February

The simplest of preparations for the rest of the scallops we scored on Friday.

While the linguine boiled, just seared the scallops in an oiled pan and set aside in the warming oven. The pan was deglazed with a dribble of white wine, then a big glugg of heavy cream, a sprinkling of pink peppercorns, and some chopped scallions. When the linguine was done it got tossed in the creamy sauce, and platefuls were studded with scallops and anointed with more sauce.

Just beautiful.

Murray Lecture Celebration at Andy's Mediterranean Grill

Saturday 26 February

We did the normal Findlay Market shopping in the morning, and found something at Krause's that we wish we'd known about for Valentine's Day - Black Kassel Salami d'Amour. We had it for an antipasto-style light lunch, with Holt's homemade cornichons and Barbara's pickled daikon and turnips & beets.

In the afternoon, Holt gave the Robert J. Murray Lecture at Xavier University on "Popular Sex and Popular Culture in Antiquity" - and was it popular! There was standing room only in the back of a room that seated about 150, and at the reception afterwards the appetizers disappeared so fast that neither of us got any of the famous Xavier meatballs.

Shannon Byrne, who organized the whole deal and was also celebrating her promotion to Full Professor, booked a feast for 15 people in the back room at Andy's Mediterranean Grill. Appetizers of every sort - dolma, hummus, baba ghanouj, olives, salads - appeared from everywhere and traveled all over the place. Wines was Lebanese, Chateau Kasara Prieure. Our mains were Chicken faroush (tasty but the breasts a mite dry) and two skewers of excellent lamb "kabobs," accompanied by the traditional pilafs. The meal ended with a taste of baklava, and a blonde belly dancer. An excellent time was had by all, so thanks to Robert Murray, Shannon Byrne, and Xavier University!

Seared Coriander Scallops with Bok Choy and Hoisin

Friday 25 February

Giant scallops were on sale at Kroger's supermarket, and Barbara managed to buy out all the defrosted ones at rock-bottom prices.So we ate scallops every (other) day. This recipe was on Epicurious.

The baby bok choy we had (also from Kroger's, surprisingly) were half of the size of the recommended ones, so we used eight, quartered lengthwise, Chinese-style.

Simple, succulent.


Grilled Steak and Salad


Thursday 24 February

Put together quickly after an AIA talk by Cori Wegener, a soldier/museum curator/savior of cultural property from Iraq to Haiti (Barbara got hopped up enough to don battle-rattle and join the Blue Shield).

We came home to a slightly-undefrosted steak (improved by slathering with Worcestershire and butter) and a fresh salad of Boston lettuce, sliced zucchini, artichoke hearts and red onion, dressed with a little oil and white balsamic.

Chicken and Sausage Cacciatori


Wednesday 23 February

We had a few already-cooked parts from Monday's bird, but not enough to make a full meal, so we decided to make a cacciatori but flesh it out with two Trader Joe's mild Italian sausages.

Browned the sausages in oil, and following Marcella Hazan's guidelines, thin-sliced and threw in half an onion, half a stick of celery, a green pepper and a small carrot. (Some recipes also add mushrooms, but we stick with Marcella on all things Italian, and we didn't have any anyway.)

Deglazed with a shot of white wine and added about 14 oz. crushed tomatoes, nestled the chicken parts in, and let it simmer under cover for about 20 mins. Surprisingly authentic-tasting Italian, for chicken that started out French.

Chili and Corn Bread


Tuesday 22 February

Leftover chili, and Holt's new favorite recipe for cornbread, with all the extra vegetables left out.

Homey.

Chicken dinner with Eleni


Monday 21 February

Mondays can be tough, especially in dreary February, so we distracted ourselves and Eleni by having her over for a spur of the moment dinner.

To warm up, we started with some brie, crackers, and olives to share as we cooked. The wines came from Cork & Bottle's sales shelf: first a Château de Ségriès 2009 Côtes du Rhône.

Then there was a 2007 Domaine Robert Chevillon Bourgogne-Aligoté to go with our main course, Poulet Célestine, beside a mound of mashed potatoes with cream and butter.

Dessert consisted of Graeter's super-dark chocolate heart candies and a Fonseca Bin 27 port. I guess you can call that heart-healthy.