Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mahogany Steaks

Sunday June 12
This was our Long Drive west, on our way to our niece Jenny's wedding in Texas. After a long day's drive, we stopped in Tulsa OK, where Mahogany Steaks was just a stroll down from the Hyatt where we broke our journey.  
We absolutely needed a Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot 2007; Caesar salad; prime steaks, one 14 oz NY strip and one 14 oz ribeye, the latter unctuous and a mite gamey, the former beefy and big; each broiled at like a million degrees but presented precisely au point; dressed with just salt, pepper and butter; and some nice juicy asparagus with a sort of hollandaise.  So Mahogany was just the thing, if a tad pricey.

Chickpea Curry

Saturday June 11
Or chickpeas redux. We were determined to beat the little bastards, so the same batch but re-slow-cooked until they surrendered. The curry, too, was seat of the pants (and you know how painful that can be), with coriander, cumin, less powdered ginger, turmeric, and chimayo chile, with a shot of madras curry powder.  Onions, then spices, then garlic, then chickpea liquid, then chickpeas, and then cubed yukon gold potatoes. 
Served with a raita of cucumber and mint and salt and yogurt.


Friday June 10
With roasted poblanos, the steak dusted with poultry rub from the smoked turkey, panfried vidalia onions and garlic, yogurt, and some left-over Pace salsa (with crunchy black beans and corn) - the latter a bad idea.

Penne Boscaiolo with Ham

Thursday June 9
Portobello mushrooms (bought on spec), sautéed ham juliennes (a different kind of Speck) with parsley, thyme, and lots of olive oil.

Sockeye Salmon basted with soy, cucumber and mint tzaziki, fresh peas with butter

Wednesday June 8
Couldn't resist a tranche of salmon from Kroger's, or some fresh shell peas from the Northside Farmers' Market hippies, who sell by the handful. A quick tzaziki (let the salted cukes and the yoghurt both drain while prepping the fish and pea) completed the plate.

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Tuesday June 7
The base recipe is here, but scaled-down and adapted to 2 chicken breasts sans livers, sans marination.  We especially liked the step of squishing out the onion juice. 
Holt had decided that his Blues name was Preserved Lemon (Jefferson or Taft), so he was eager to make them, following the David Warda and Claudia Roden's guides. But the stone we put on top of them to hold them down in the brine turned out to be limestone, which grew and threw a crust of calcium carbonate on top.  Still good lemons, though.
Served on a bed of garden greens.

Chickpea Stew

Monday June 6
In celebration of of Sean O'Neill's PhD we had him over for a casual dinner. We started with una coppa di cava, peaches and domestic prosciutto.  We had made an interesting-looking recipe from the May Food & Wine: Ottolenghi's chickpea stew. We’ve eaten at Ottolenghi  many times in London (it’s our friend Elizabeth’s favorite neighborhood boîte and she knows from her boîtes) but the dish was disappointing. Despite having soaked the ceci overnight, and slow-cooked the bejeezus out of them most of the day, they came out very underseasoned and crunchy.  Followed with Holt's meringues (crunchy in a good way) and fresh cherries.

Dinner at Kathy and Russel's

Sunday June 5
A lovely dinner chez K & R with Julie, Jay, Jackie, and Mirta. To go with tales of daring do (and don’t!) in Mexico City, there were two surprisingly similar-looking dips, but one was puréed white bean and parsley, the other artichoke. 
These were followed by big slabs of salmon brushed with a dark savory sauce. And as our vegetarian offering this evening: baked eggplant rounds topped with cheese, also eagerly consumed by the piscivores.
For pudding, an actual pudding or rather an amazing pound cake trifle, assembled according to Sue Willetts’ mother’s recipe (in direct female line from Queen Victoria, Boadicea, and Horsa-“his wife or horse”),  topped with raspberries and almonds.

Fresh Pasta with Creamy Crab

Saturday June 4
The pasta made as here but with lemon thyme.  Great wine was Loire white, Domaine de Salvard Cheverny 2009 - lemony but not acidic. 

Grilled steak, Roasted Local Asparagus and Hollandaise

Friday June 3
The title is the recipe. With Four Vines zinfandel.

Chicken with Peas Before and After

Thursday June 2
Stirfry with pea sprouts and yellow snow peas (yeah, sounds terrible, but tastes as good as the seven or eight snap peas we got from our own garden), both from the Northside Farmers' Market, which now has more actual farmers than Findlay Market.  The recipe:

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut up into cubes and marinate in ca. 2 tsp Shaoxing wine, 2 tsp. soy sauce, dribble of sesame oil, and a grind or two of white pepper.  It's easiest to cut it up while half-frozen and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours in the marinade.

String and wash snow peas; wash and spin dry sprouts, and cut in half if long.

Mince 3-4 cloves garlic, get out some oil, rich chicken broth, Shaoxing wine, and salt, and have some oyster sauce available if needed.

In hot oiled pan, stir-fry snow-peas a minute with salt, and when bright green (ours were yellow variety, though), remove to covered platter.  Then stir-fry chicken in more oil, with salt and half the garlic, and when pink is gone, put on platter with peas to keep warm.  Finally, stir-fry rest of garlic briefly, add pea sprouts and more salt; when it's getting slightly wilted after a half minute, add a little broth and a little wine.  Stir and toss a minute by itself, then re-add everything else.  If too bland, season with a teeny touch of oyster sauce in the center and let it all reduce and get hot.

Preparation of snow pea sprouts as an independent dish: stir-fry a lot of chopped garlic in a fair amount of oil. When the garlic begins to color and smell garlicky, add the pea sprouts or shoots and a pinch of salt. When the vegetable is on its way to wilting, add a splash or two of chicken broth, then some similar splashes of Shaoxing wine. Stir and toss until the greens look -- done. 

Thai Express

Wednesday June 1
We stayed at the office, since there was a concert of Beneventan Chant later on in the lovely (if a tad airless) music library upstairs.  So we had two favorites from the best hole-in-wall restaurant, Thai Express: Chicken galangal soup (coconut creamy!) and pork stirfry with holy basil.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Crabcakes and (Potato) Salad

Tuesday 31 May
Our classic recipe, made with refrigerated crab claw meat from Trader Joe's. We didn't have quite enough panko for breading, so Holt tried to make it by making his own bran bread stale, and grating it on a box grater - fairly successfully. Crabcakes had celery and Vidalia onions in them, plus ca. 1/3 cup mayonnaise.
There was still a little potato salad left from yesterday, which we piled on top of garden lettuce with a matching Dijon vinaigrette.

Burgers and All-American Potato Salad

Monday 30 May

It's Memorial Day, and we have honored those who fought for our country by doing something very American - we drove out to the stripmall and bought a big-ass TV.

Oh, and we had burgers for dinner, cooked in a frying pan indoors - we won't grill outside, it's ninety degrees, are you crazy? - with caramelized onions. This is the only way you can get a medium-rare burger these days.

Holt made the potato salad this morning, so he could toss the warm potatoes with oil and vinegar and let them absorb for a while. Then he added all the American stuff - mayo, chopped Vidalia onion, chopped celery - plus a whack each of Dijon and whole-grain mustard. Does this mean we're French? If so, we surrender.

Pork Medallions and Collards with Cider Gastrique

Sunday May 29

Barbara planted eight collard plants this year, and this was our first harvest. You want to take the leaves from the lower part of the plant, not the growing tip - otherwise it won't grow any more leaves for you.

Collards with Cider Gastrique (and bacon and shallots and pork)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/4 lb. bacon, diced

3-4 thinly sliced shallots

a basket of collard greens (chard or kale okay too), stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

kosher salt

First, make the gastrique. Dissolve sugar in 1 tablespoon water in small saucepan over medium heat. Increase heat; boil without stirring until amber, brushing pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar and crushed pepper (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel bits dissolve. Cool.

In a big pan, fry bacon until crispy; scoop out and reserve, leaving fat in pan. Then fry shallots until brown, and reserve, again leaving bacon fat in pan. Add half of greens and sprinkle with salt; toss until wilted. Add remaining greens; toss to wilt, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until greens are tender, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry, about 45 minutes total (may be less for chard or kale; keep tasting).

In the last 10 minutes or so, we just fried up a couple of pork tenderloin medallions, each patted with salt and fresh thyme, in a separate pan. When they were done, we plated them and deglazed the pan with a little white wine; the shallots went on top of them. Then we added the collards, doused them with the warm gastrique, and sprinkled them with bacon. American as apple pie - with bacon.

Party at Kathleen and Steve's

Saturday May 28

Kathleen and Steve very kindly held a departmental gathering; their deck, with accompanying pool and barbeque grill, overlooks the valley, and as Steven observed, is a perfect party space.

Steve grilled up some local pork sausages from Kroger's at Findlay Market, and also made his famous chicken salad with caramelized onions. Barbara brought a huge bowl of garden greens (including sorrel leaves) to dress with Holt's vinaigrette. And others brought cole slaw, potato salad, two kinds of orzo salad, Israeli couscous, tzaziki, spanakopitas, blueberry cake, apple tart, and several other desserts.

Jean's Cream Tea

Friday May 27

We have raved before about the spread that Jean puts out twice yearly for a hungry bunch of classicists. Well, she did it again, this time in the now-empty former main room of the library. Here were all her classic (in several senses) home-made comestibles: crustless sandwiches of curried chicken, smoked salmon and boursin, and classic cucumber; strawberries and blueberries set to be dipped into powdered sugar; scones with and without raisins, plus strawberry jam and whipped cream to put on them; a big tipsy trifle made to the recipe of Sue Willets' mother (so really English); pistachio cake; all sorts of poundcakes; almond, apricot and raspberry mini-tarts; lemon balls in powdered sugar; brownies; TWO chocolate-frosted bûches de Noël with coffee cream, and of course coffee, tea, and pink lemonade.

And that, my friends, was dinner.

Grilled Steak and Tiny Zucchini

Thursday May 26

Daisy Mae's in Findlay Market had finger-size baby zucchini for very little more than the baseball-bat-size that the gonifs were selling. When you've got something that cute, you halve them and slice each half just short of the stem, so they can be brushed with oil and grilled.

Oh, and we threw a steak on the grill too.

On the side, a salad of garden leaves (luckily our lettuce and arugula is still unbolted) with a little tomato.

Sausage and Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

Wednesday May 25

What to do if your fresh button mushrooms are not big enough for stuffing, and you don't want to pile them on pasta. Get the (mild Italian) sausages out of their casings, chop or crumble them, and set them to browning in a little oil. When all pink is gone, add mushrooms and let them brown too, throwing in a lump of butter if it looks like it needs it. When they're tender, douse with heavy cream, and shower with sliced fresh sage leaves.

Simple and soothing.

Lidia's Swordfish with Lemon and Capers

Tuesday May 24

Once again, Barbara got this recipe from the TV show Lidia's Italy; it comes from Bagnara in Calabria. It's an odd way of cooking, but it works a treat, especially with Trader Joe's (defrosted) frozen swordfish steaks.

First, set up your cooking apparatus. You will need a small non-reactive baking pan big enough to hold the fish, a rack to hold that pan over an inch high, and a bigger metal pan that the rack can sit in, that is about 2 inches deep.

In the smaller pan, put a thin-sliced lemon, lotsa capers (2 Tbsp or more), some red pepper flakes, 2 cloves sliced garlic, salt, a big drizzle of good olive oil. Mix them around with your hands, the way Lidia does. Season swordfish steaks with salt and pepper, roll them about in the pan (with your hands, of course) and nestle them among but not under lemon mix.

Boil some water, and fill the larger pan with water an inch deep. Put the rack inside, and then the smaller pan on the rack; make sure it is above the water level. Cover the larger pan (with the smaller dish inside it) tightly with aluminum foil, and put it all into 425 degree oven to steam for about 12-15 minutes for inch-thick fish. At the end, sprinkle with dried oregano and drizzle on more salt and olive oil.


Chicken in Creamy Mushroom Risotto Sauce

Monday May 23

We still had a little smoked duck and mushroom risotto left over from 20 days ago (!), and thought that a pan-browned chicken breast in cream sauce would go well with it. At first we were going to make it tarragon chicken, but it was raining so hard even Barbara didn't want to go outside to rummage for herbs.

We browned the chicken breasts and let them cook slowly under cover in broth and wine. When they were done, we added heavy cream, and let it thicken. Then at the end, the mushroom risotto went in, and formed a yet thicker, creamy, savory sauce. Not a bad idea for something completely accidental.

On the side was a very photogenic tomato salad: sliced reds and yellows, dusted with salt and with a droozle of Holt's pesto loosened with more oil.

Roast Beef Hash

Sunday May 22

Chopped the onions by hand before they went into the pan to sauté, but whizzed up the Yukon Gold potatoes (into pan ditto) and then the leftover roast in the Robot-Coupe. The roast and some chopped fresh parsley went into the pan at the end, and then we ran it under the broiler as usual. No sweat.

New Mexican Backyard Feast

Saturday May 21

We had Anne (who is defending her dissertation in a couple of weeks), Allison, Joe, and little Gregory over for dinner, and luckily the weather was benign enough to dine out on the porch while gazing into the cilantro forest in the garden.

Started by snacking on tomatillo salsa and chips; the salsa contained a fair amount of cilantro, but you couldn't see a dent in the forest. And of course, Dos Equis beer. We also had a slaw of grated jicama and carrots, dressed with lime juice and the sun-dried Chimayo ground chile that Phoebe brought us.

The main course was also provided largely by Phoebe: blue corn posole, which we had soaked the night before and cooked in the crockpot all day. Ingredients were as usual, but the method changed due to crockpot cooking. We fried the cubed pork and onions, but immediately threw them into the crockpot to stew for a couple of hours with the posole. The chile component was again roasted poblanos, put in toward the end with some drained canned regular white posole for bulk and contrast. The big bunch of cilantro leaves and lime went in in the last half hour, and more fresh cilantro was stirred in at the last moment - still no dent.

Dessert was Holt's home baked meringues (which you see above with a tray of macaroons that he also snuck in there), topped with local strawberries - which Gregory's family calls strawbabies - from the farmers' market.

Party at Archie and Sharon's

Friday May 20

Archie and Sharon threw an off-the-cuff party for twenty or thirty people, which just shows what great entertainers they are. They cooked an amazing spread of home smoked salmon, tenderloin of pork with garlic and spinach, gussied up guacamole, and varied breads. There were also some tasty guest donations of baked brie, biscuit twists, and pecan pie - made with walnuts.

Archie presided over a tasting of local and exotic wines - we brought one from Indiana. But one of the best was widely available: Apothic Red. Chocolaty!

So thanks, Sharon and Archie, for a lovely summer evening!

Roast Beef with Salsa Verde and Colorful Salad

Thursday May 19

You can't lose with a giant chunk of rare roast beef, sliced thin and brought to room temperature. Any relish will do with that (we love ketchup), but Holt whizzed up a lovely salsa verde with fresh herbs and capers to drizzle over the beef (can you say, kick it up a notch?).

The colorful salad was made of red, yellow, and orange tomatoes with fresh from the garden lettuces.

Greek Artichoke Stew

Wednesday May 18

We made this before, but wrote it up so wrong.

Anginares a la Polita actually goes kinda like THIS:

12 fresh baby artichokes

1 lemon for acidulating water, another lemon's worth of juice, and keep a third lemon ready for squeezing at the end

cold water in a bowl, deep enough to cover cleaned artichokes

3 carrots, cut in thick slices

4 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in chunks

3 scallions, chopped (separate whites from greens)

a big droozle of olive oil (NOT 3/4 cup!)

1 teaspoon salt

grind of pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 big sprig dill, chopped


Squeeze two lemons; reserve the juice of one, and put the other's juice, plus both squeezed-out rinds, into the bowl of water. Clean the artichokes: snap off the leaves without remorse until you have just the pale colored heart. Trim stem and top, cut in half. Rub each artichoke half with lemon as soon as it is trimmed and immediately put it in the water, to prevent them from turning black; set aside until ready to use.

In a soup pot under low heat, sauté the scallion whites, carrots and potatoes in the oil until for a few minutes. Add the artichoke halves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and parsley. Add enough acidulated water to cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes, until vegetables are all tender, checking water level occasionally.

In the last 15 minutes, open the pot to let any extra water boil off, and add scallion greens; taste, and add about a half a lemon's worth more juice, salt, and pepper if necessary. Stir in fresh dill, and serve.

NOW we're cooking in Greek.

Gnocchi with Fontina and White Truffle Oil

Tuesday May 17

Back when we lived in Rome, we ate gnocchi with fontina sauce and sliced black truffles at the restaurant Paris. This is our try, not to duplicate it, but to remember it. While the gnocchi boiled, we melted grated Fontina in a pan with butter, cream, and a little parmesan. The cooked gnocchi got rolled in the cheesy sauce, and white truffle oil was drizzled on at the end.

Arrivederci, Roma.

Leftover Roastbeef with Mashed Parsnips and Onions

Monday May 16

Leftovers from Saturday, with the beef left at room temperature and the vedge mashed up with cream.

Shrimp, Mango, and Jícama Salad

Sunday May 15

We just happened to buy two champagne mangoes and a jícama at Daisy Mae's at Findlay Market. That made us have all the ingredients to make this recipe.

But instead of pineapple "vinaigrette" (how can you call it that without vinegar?) we put lime juice and fresh pineapple directly into the salad.

Also we made the court bouillon using the shrimp shells and squeezed-out lime halves, to get more flavor.

Result: sparkling fresh tropical flavors.

Roast beef with Parsnips and Onions

Saturday May 14

A huge 6 1/4 pound round roast, rubbed with oil, salt, thyme, and rosemary, roasted first at 400, then at 300, for two hours total. The last hour, threw in the chunked parsnips and some Vidalia onion wedges to roast and sweeten alongside.

Tuna Steaks with Orange and Orange

Friday May 13

Panfried the steaks, set aside, then added to the pan (in this order), red onion, halved orange segments, scallion, cilantro and finally mounted with butter.

Served with the mango-orange chutney we made a while ago.

Five Guys Burgers

Thursday May 12

We were staying late for a show at CCM, so we wanted to have a quick meal at a place close by. We'd heard that Five Guys was a decent chain burger, and we are big burger fans (of big burgers). So we had two of their normal double burgers, Holt's with everything, Barbara's without mayo and tomatoes. But we found them bland and overcooked. What is wrong with this country, that you can't get a medium rare hamburger any more? Costa Rica probably has more stringent food rules than we do!

But the fries were good.

Smoked duck ravioli

Wednesday May 11

We still have some broth and a few little meat scraps from the smoked duck, so we just repeated it the way we have done before...

Soooooo gooooood.

Penne Carbonara

Tuesday May 10

Just a quick return to normal. A quarter pound of frozen bacon, defrosted, chopped, and fried up crisp with a half an onion, chopped. When it got cool, it was added to a bowl with two eggs, lotsa pepper, and lotsa grated parmesan. Tossed with the cooked penne, and that's it.

Just Steak and Salad

Monday May 9

...with gorgonzola butter, a colorful salad with cukes, zukes, a red pepper, orange tomatoes, red onion, and all the salad greens we could gather outside. In honor of Meredith's graduation with an MA in Latin, and Phoebe's visit to celebrate it.

Dessert was Holt's southern nutcake with Graeter's chocolate almond coconut chip.

Pork Medallions and Kale Crisps

Sunday May 8

We couldn't believe that this simple recipe makes crispy greens as addictive as potato chips. We and Phoebe sat and snacked on them while they were fresh and hot, then followed it up with the main course: pork medallions sautéed with thyme and garlic, topped with some leftover horseradish-cream jazzed with a spoonful of grain mustard.

Kentucky Derby Celebration

Saturday May 7

We love to gather a few friends for our traditional Kentucky Derby party on the first Saturday in May. And of course, mint juleps are the obligatory drink.

Mint Syrup for Juleps (makes about 1/2 cup)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 bunch mintleaves, preferable tip leaves, no stems

In heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Increase heat slightly, then simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take pan off heat, add mint leaves, bruise them in the syrup, and allow to steep an hour. Strain, then refrigerate syrup until cold, at least 3 hours. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead; cover and keep refrigerated.)

Fill the julep cup with shaved ice, pour in one part bourbon to two parts syrup, and add a mint sprig as muddler.

We also had varied beers and wines, including Julie's yummy Cupcake sauvignon blanc.

For appetizers (and to take up whatever potables we were drinking), Stephanie and Steven brought bocconcini and smoked salmon salad on brown bread; Archie brought dolmades and avgolemoni that he and Sharon had made (she later told me with cilantro instead of parsley); and Julie brought shrimp wrapped in bacon.

After the race, we served Holt's big crockpot of venison chili, made with onions, pintos, and just the kiln-dried chile de Nuevo Mexico that Phoebe had brought us. Didn't even need any tomato.

We ended the evening with sliced fresh pineapple and strawberries, plus tastings of Buffalo Trace and Old Weller bourbon. How Kentucky is that?

Smoked Turkey Slices, Asparagus, and Smoked Duck Risotto Cakes

Friday May 6

Simple slices off the smoked turkey breast, served with asparagus that had been rolled in olive oil and roasted at 450, tossing halfway through, for about 20 minutes total, until tender. And just like before, part of the reason for going through the smoking of a duck and the making of broth from the carcass is making smoked duck risotto cakes, breaded with crunchy panko.

Smoked Duck Enchiladas

Thursday May 5

Our third day in a row of smoky duck, but we are really ringing the changes on it.

This was our Mexican feast, for Cinco de Mayo. We based the recipe on the deluxe Enchiladas de Pollo from Barbara Hansen's Mexican Cooking (don't know where she got her chops, but the recipe seems pretty genuine).

So we gathered up the scrappy duck meat from the soup-making, plus a few crispy skin scraps (love that crispy duckskin) and mixed it with a minced half an onion, a cup (4 oz) of grated Monterey Jack cheese, and a couple of Tablespoons of grated Romano cheese, plus salt and white pepper to taste.

Then we heated the oven to 350, oiled a baking dish and got four flour tortillas ready (which is more New Mexican than Mexican in enchiladas). We divided the duck mixture into four, rolled each portion into one tortilla making a compact roll, and placed them seam side down in the baking dish.

We had already grated the Monty Jack in the food processor, so we then grated an equal amount of marbled colby/monty jack to have it ready for the next step, and set it aside.

In the processor again, whiz up 4 or 5 fresh tomatillos, a small (4-oz) can of green chiles, and a quarter cup of cilantro leaves. Put them in a sieve and let them drain, or if you're hungry, press them down. In the same processor (no need to clean it, it's all going in together), whip an egg and about a half cup of heavy whipping cream together. Put the drained tomatillos back in the processor, and give it all a final whiz.

Pour the cream mixture over the enchiladas, and shower the grated colby/monty jack over it. Put it in the oven and bake 30 mins. or until bubbly and hot right through.

All we could say as we ate this was "unbelieveable." It would be fine to do it with chicken, but the smoked duck flavor made it amazing, and it went well with Dos Equis dark beer.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! (can't do that other upside-down exclamation mark.)

Smoked Duck Legs and Baked Potatoes

Wednesday May 4

In our smoked-duckstravaganza, we had the legs and thighs, just cold on a plate. To warm things up, we baked some potatoes, and whipped up some horseradish cream for da spudz.

Smoked Duck Risotto with Mushrooms

Tuesday May 3

We boiled most of the smoked duck carcass for stock yesterday, along with a sliced onion, parsley, sage, thyme, and white peppercorns (didn't want to make it too like our usual chicken broth, which is flavored with celery tops, bay leaf, and black peppercorns). Once it had simmered for three or four hours, we picked the bones clean and reserved the duck meat. The soup was strained and settled in the pyrex pitcher in the fridge overnight, and we lifted the cold duckfat off the top to use in the risotto today.

Holt had the clever idea of nuking the broth in its pyrex pitcher to get it hot for the risotto. That way we could re-nuke as needed, and also eke it out with white wine and water.

In the meantime, we used the duckfat to fry a pound of sliced mushrooms, then set them aside and fried 2 shallots in the same wide pan. Then 1 2/3 cups of arborio rice went in to whiten for about 4 minutes, and we started the process of risotto-izing.

The mushrooms, duck meat, and a Tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme went in to re-warm at the end.

This smoky, creamy risotto went beautifully with a Clos la Coutale 2007 Cahors, 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot. Pretty elegant.

Smoked turkey breast

Monday May 2

Lush slices of the monumental turkey breast Holt smoked on Saturday, which he left slightly underdone at that time so it could be brought up to perfection in the oven today. The turkey had been treated to a dry rub of salt, pepper, sugar, cumin, and lots of sweet pimenton de la Vera, both inside and outside the skin. It sliced beautifully. We deglazed the roasting pan with a little white wine for gravy, and served batons of zucchini sautéed with garlic alongside.

We are smokin'!

Fusilli with Pesto

Sunday May 1

Unfortunately, Holt was sick on May Day, and was thus unable to rally for the unions while dancing around the maypole, as is our wont. This was light fare for his sore stomach, using the pesto he himself had made and put up last October.