Saturday, February 28, 2015

Linguiça and Celeriac Remoulade

Friday 27 February
The Nice People at Findlay Market occasionally have celery root at a mere $2 a pound, a bargain, at least until Barbara plants her packet of celeriac seed this summer and we're (hopefully) up to our hips in it.  We could continue to page back to our favorite online Brit recipe for celeriac remoulade (i.e. celery root slaw), but we might as well say how we do it here, just in case it ever disappears.
So start by peeling the bejesus out of the two-pound root - get rid of all that brown stuff, and quarter the result.  Then run the quarters through your benriner or mandoline into thin long juliennes (watch out for your fingers, and try and keep the blade from bending).  Toss the resultant slaw in a sauce made of 7 Tbsp. mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, and the juice of a lemon.  And there you are.

While Holt did that, Barbara browned and braised a batch of Kroger bros. linguiça, caramelizing an onion with a drizzle of white wine and a dab of our own grain mustard in the center of the same pan.  
You could call it an upscale variation on hot dogs with onions, mustard, and slaw, and it sort of was.

Classics Club Dinner at the Istanbul Café

Thursday 26 February
Today was the annual undergraduate guest lecture, given by Daniel Levine, an eminent graduate of this very department.  After an entertaining tour of ancient sacred libraries, the undergraduate stalwarts of our Classics Club took him and about thirty of us department members out to a celebratory dinner at the Istanbul Café.
A long table for us all filled the front of the restaurant, as business on an icy Thursday in February was otherwise a bit slow.  We warmed up with some glasses of Turkish red: Villa Doluca Klasik and Kavaklidere Selection, both of which Barbara considered a great improvement in winemaking from her old days at Sardis with occasional tastes of the champagne named, seriously, "Gay Mousse."
Our starters were plates of mixed green salad - not in the best of shape - and then hummus and tabbouli with hot pita, which was better. 
We swapped main courses as usual: döner kebab, which could have done with some yogurt sauce and tomatoes instead of the rice and pallid carrots, and "grilled chicken kebab" (okay, tavuk şiş), deliciously juicy and hot, by far the best dish (though still with rice and carrots).

We then had to run, but with hearty thanks to our speaker and our student hosts, and shouts of "iyi geceler" to and from the friendly staff.

Pork Scaloppine Marsala

Wednesday 25 February

For a quick dinner after a long day, our go-to is pork scaloppine, which we cut thin from a whole tenderloin and freeze in packets of five (the two larger for Barbara, the three smaller for Holt).  
Once defrosted and seasoned (salt, white pepper, a shake of dried thyme), they pan-fry in a matter of minutes.  Then while they rest, you use the fond in the pan for a sauce; in this case, sautéed shallot deglazed with Marsala.  
A sheaf of roasted asparagus on the side, and you're all set.

Cod Veracruz on Lime Quinoa

Tuesday 24 February
What makes a fish Veracruz?  Mainly a tomato base (i.e. the half can of crushed tomatoes left from Sunday); some garlic, oregano, and jalapeño; the saltiness of pimento-stuffed green olives and capers; and a big squeeze of lime.  With that good a sauce, you can use pretty much any fish; in this case, a pound of defrosted cod collops from Trader Joe's.
You can be opportunistic, too.  We had a little tupper of fiery jalapeño salad from Whole Foods, so chopped up the carrot and celery from that, threw it in, and tasted.  The result was already so fiery, we didn't have to use any of the actual jalapeños.
You need something bland to sop up that sauce, and recently we've been experimenting, successfully, with quinoa.  It's as easy and quick as rice, but with more texture and wholesome graininess.  This time we flavored it with the zest from the lime we were juicing for the fish sauce, so it was a perfect match.

Penne with Asparagus, Caviar, and Cream

Monday 23 February

A buy on asparagus at Kroger's led to this happy combination.  It was basically our pasta with asparagus, lemon, and cream, but we left out the romano cheese; because after it was plated, we garnished it liberally with big red pearls of wild salmon roe.  
Beautiful as well as delicious.

Lamb Piquante and Zucchini

Sunday 22 February
Tonight we sliced up the last of the lobes of lamb we've been eating for our snowed-in week.  Normally we would have had some gristly bits for a lamb hash, but this leg, fortunately, had no gristly bits.
To warm up the meat without reheating and toughening it, we made sauce piquante, a recipe from Cuisine of the Sun, featuring (canned) tomatoes, capers, and chopped cornichons.

All it needed was some sautéed zucchini batons as a side veg.

Anginares a la Polita

Saturday 21 February
Another snowy day, but we had some good greenery set aside for just such a day: a box of baby artichokes, acquired last week at the Hyde Park Kroger's.  A vegetable meal was appealing after all the red meat we've been eating, so we went with Greek artichoke stew. 

It was pretty much as here, but used little whole red potatoes, some the size of marbles, we got from Findlay Market; dried dill, as there was no fresh; and lime, as there were no lemons. 
Okay, a non-canonical adaptation, but once you've traveled in Greece in the winter and had moussaka made of potatoes instead of eggplant, you know that the Greeks are practical about such things.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mushroom Steak and Cowboy Beans

Friday 20 February
Liz came over for dinner, and while we snacked on olives and cashews and drank the good Chianti she brought, we put together a warming winter dinner.
A couple of thick strip steaks went on the grill pan, then got sliced and garnished with thyme-sautéed mushrooms.
In the meantime, the rest of the red beans from Tuesday's slow-cooker batch were reheated in bacon grease in which some diced shallot had sizzled. 
Okay, the picture is splashier than even Saveur's illustrations - damn good, though.
For the finishing touch, Holt threw together a delicious compote of fresh apple, dried fig, apricot, and cranberries, mixed with some hot slivered almonds, cooked with Marsala and chestnut honey, ladled into ramekins, and topped with the last of the eggnog ice cream.  Went very well with little glasses of limoncello, a previous gift from Liz.

We were all warmed and filled, and happily, Liz made it home before it started snowing again.