Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pulled Veal on Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday 25 November
After Holt's birthday, we picked all the bones and poured the juices off the vast veal breast.  The bones are destined to be roasted for stock, so the meat shreds and juice got settled in a bowl in the fridge. 
Tonight we turned out the bowl, and the juices had completely jellified on the bottom (that's why veal bones are so good for stock). 
We reheated half the meat in all that liquid, and when it was hot, piled the juicy meat on a mound of mashed potatoes. 

Then the savory liquid got poured back onto the rest of the veal shreds, which will certainly turn into a future dinner.

Tokyo Turnips and Swordfish

Tuesday 24 November

Another buy from Saturday's Farmers' Market was the last bunch of little Tokyo a.k.a. Hakurei turnips.  While balancing on the days between Holt's birthday and Thanksgiving, we're all for simplicity.  So we just braised them in water and a little sesame oil, and dressed them in salt and a little more of the oil.

For protein, we pan-grilled a couple of swordfish steaks, and mixed up a sauce of mayonnaise, wasabi, and a little ponzu.  So it was all quasi-Japanese, and also tasty.

Cauliflower Curry

Monday 23 November
On Saturday we acquired a fat, pillowy cauliflower, last of the Farmers' Market finds for this season.  Once Holt got home from Atlanta, we thought we'd combine it with some of our homegrown carrots in a curry.
The last time we did this, we couldn't remember where the recipe came from; but Holt finally found it in the first Moosewood cookbook, where orange juice is given as a possible liquid. 

...and then Sunday apart

Sunday 22 November

Holt flew off to give a paper for SBL, in Atlanta (maw of malls, maze of Peachtree Streets), and took a takeaway salad to his hotel room for dinner.  Barbara just had a hamburger, but at least it was homemade and she knew what went into it.

Holt's Birthday Dinner

Saturday 21 November
As both of our readers know, Holt likes to celebrate his birthday by making a slap-up dinner for five other people as well as himself, luckily now including Barbara (there were those Canadian years when it wasn't possible).  This year, Julie, Sonja, Kathy, and Russel gathered for the feast; the latter two also celebrate their birthday around now, so they are naturally included.

Holt's advance prep started back on Thursday, when he baked a Kentucky Butter Cake (can't see why we haven't had that Pillsbury bake-off classic since we started the blog).  Usually we soak this bundt cake in strong coffee and Irish whiskey, pile whipped cream in the center, and call it "Irish Coffee Cake," but this time Holt drizzled in bourbon with the sugar glaze, for a little local flavor.

Then on Friday, Barbara went to Jungle Jim's and shlepped home a whole veal breast (pre-ordered, now $2.99/lb.), while Holt paged through the pâtés & terrines cookbook he xeroxed completely back in the '90s. 

His choice was to make a Terrine Niçoise: fresh tuna, artichoke hearts, garden purple beans, and tiny potatoes in a yogurt-based matrix, wrapped in redleaf lettuce and topped with white anchovies and Niçoise olive dressing.
On Saturday morning, Holt started by cutting out the ribby half of the veal breast (freezing the rest), and stuffing it with a bunch of kale, a pound of tube sausage, 6 slices' worth of white bread cubes, and a ton of fresh sage, all sautéed together in bacon fat.  
The veal roasted along with a tray of shallots and carrots (white, yellow, and stubby orange, just dug from the garden - where it was so warm, Barbara picked three roses to put on the table!) basted in the oozing fat from the roast.
All that prep culminated in tonight's birthday dinner, which began with a toast in sparkling cava and appetizers of rosemary walnuts (for which we halved the recipe's cayenne and used fresh rosemary), fresh sorrel goat cheese spread, and crackers.

Then we came to the table for the Terrine Niçoise, which looked beautiful both unsliced and sliced, and tasted that good too.
The veal breast came out looking like the ribroast that tipped over Fred Flintstone's car; each guest got an unctuous rib bulging with stuffing, and the roast vegetables to spoon on the side.  

Oh, and there were various pinots noirs, including a fruity 2012 Brutocao from the Mendocino Valley that we particularly enjoyed.  We hoped that the resveratrol and antioxidants in the red wine would cut the luxuriant amounts of fat squirting out of the veal breast ("heart attack on the hoof").
And when we thought we couldn't eat any more, the Kentucky Bourbon Cake came out, accompanied by pours of good Bourbon for those who could take it. 

We are very lucky that we survived this meal, and we are looking forward to doing something like it again next year.

Red Feather, Cincinnati

Friday 20 November
Since our friends Lynne and Tom have commended Red Feather Kitchen to us, Barbara tried to reserve a table for our dinner with Jon and Lois last week, but they were all booked up.  So tonight, she took Holt out for his birthday dinner there, to see why the place is so popular. 
We were pleased by the warm and comfortable room we were ushered into.  Red Feather Kitchen, though farm-to-table, has a more sophisticated ambience than the mismatched-multicolor decor or the brick-wall bareness of many such restaurants.
From the wine menu, which features a quote from Aristophanes, we ordered two glasses of Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Rosé Brut, a sparkler suitable for a birthday toast.  With it, we ordered pork belly steamed buns - really open bao with a slice of (rather bland) pork belly, spiced up by a smear of Peking duck sauce, pickle, and pickled red onion.  We also got a plate of chorizo lobster arancini in "duelling romescos," one standard red pepper, the other hazelnut, dusted with parmesan and prosciutto crisps, and topped with "wacky peas" - or pea shoots, to you and me.  This was cleverer and better seasoned, especially the luscious hazelnut romesco.

We needed a big red for the main courses, and our attentive server steered us toward a 2009 Chateau Cap de Faugères Bordeaux - pricey, but worth it to accompany a well-crusted hanger steak with bourbon-chili glaze, shiitake mushrooms, stir-fried fennel and bok choy with overtones of hoisin, and sriracha miso butter.  Another winner was the succulent chunk of short rib topped with crunchy gremolata, in a pool of cherry mostarda braising jus on a pile of watercress potato purée, with roasted root vegetables alongside.
As you see from all the italics on the sauces, the chef takes toppings and seasonings from a host of cuisines, but they're not confused or fusion-y; each one adds to the flavor buildup of the dish, so we can see why so many people are pleased by what Red Feather is doing.

Of course, there must be cake for a birthday, so our dessert was a slab of dark chocolate hazelnut torte, so soft and creamy it could have been mousse.  
Next time we take a speaker to dinner, we'll book Red Feather well in advance.