Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Enter my new food installation, a curated storage unit for spices, jars and artisenal products. Mi piache, molto!
But let’s be real. For a third of the price as dining out, splurge on a Porterhouse from a trusted butcher, break out that Pink Sea Salt that you have never used and decant a wine you were told you should never open. And since you are being all American about things pair it with the classics, Creamed Spinach and Scalloped Potatoes. Carve it tableside and feast like it’s an occasion.
We decided it would be fun to make freezable dinners for the days when the baby demands more time than thawing and sautéing can accommodate.
Here’s what went down…
Early in the day I assembled Strawberry crumbles.
A Strawberry and Thyme jam followed to be stored away.
Re-constituted and jarred Sun dried Tomatoes.
Assembled 8 personal portioned Eggplant Parmesan’s. No pics, but click here for remembrance.
And baked Chicken Involtini’s / Cordon Bleu’s – one with Sundried Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella, the other five with Prosciutto and Provolone.
No day is complete without a culinary bookend. Steak with the perfume of Rosemary, grilled Corn and Creamed Spinach rewarded us for a day’s worth of cooking.
Soon the little one will be greeted by the aromas of the world. I have done my small part to allow my sister’s family the joy, without hassle, of home cooked meals.
Next up, baby food!!!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
2 days prior to this miraculous event I became aware that they were in season. I began a local search for them, first the food co-op, then Pumpkins, then Union Market. No go. Being that it is early in the season, I figured next time I was in Manhattan I would go to the farmer’s market. BUT there would be no need, since they were found, growing happily on MY block in Brooklyn. I looked around (was I a thief??) and began carefully plucking them until I had enough for my meal.
And so it happened, in homage to Eugenia on the farm where I once worked and where I learned their preparation in Southern Italy, I cooked with passion and remembrance.
First, for the antipasto I stuffed the delicate flowers with Provolone & Prosciutto Cotto and deep fried them in beer batter!
A Risotto followed; my single favorite dish from the farm. I transported myself back to that tense kitchen and retraced the steps of this dish acutely. I made the 10 minute Vegetable stock, sweated a conservative amount of diced onions, allowed the white wine time to perfume the base, carefully ladled in the stock, stirred occasionally but never rigorously, added the first half of the blossoms and when ALMOST ready and as the joke goes, “when no one was looking” added butter, parsley, veal stock, Parmesan and the rest of my blossoms.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Last week I ventured to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to sample a different borough’s Italian offerings. I wandered the market, sampled Mozzarella, sipped espresso and then landed at Pizzeria Zero Otto Nove.
Sometimes, your local Pizza joint simply hits the spot! For the second time that same day (not recommended ;), I ate Pizza; this time in my trusty neighborhood at Luigi’s. Our first slice was fresh Mozzarella with Basil oil, which was bright and flavorful! A regular New Yaawk slice followed, familiarly oily orange, cheesy and succulent.
Fact is, as much as I feel adventurous and authenticated by traveling by train and bus to “The Real Little Italy”…there is nothing like home.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Ever since they took their basket of croissants off the menu and my sister moved to Westchester I have only rarely returned to Belleville. Although beautifully adorned in inviting brassy bistro décor, I have never been particularly impressed or cared to afford its offerings. Indeed, I unfairly tend to denounce local French fare as rich and pretentious. This Brunch, however, did more than deter my morning hangover, it made me fall back in love with French technique.
The meal began with a black pepper speckled Bloody Mary, bright red, pungent and spicy. All my liquid needs accompanied including strong coffee and Lemony cold Water.
A beautifully plated Pork Pate platter followed ($8.50). At first glance, I questioned its singularity. I tend to expect pate as a tasting exercise in different texture and technique, but how could I possible complain. The mustard was creamily tangy, the cornichon’s crunchy and the mixed greens conservatively dressed. Though not spreadable, the pate left me happily perplexed. Its pink hue, meatiness and form were unequivocally enjoyable. My bistro needs were further realized by the springy basket of bread. I almost forgot how much I love a good baguette.
And then it happened. Those damn eggs followed! Two pillows of perfection; a coagulated shell showcased all the different possible textures of the whites. With a light score of my knife the yolk leaked without drowning the plate, a bright yellow glistening film. To be clear, I never order poached eggs. The balance always seems off as if $12 doesn’t warrant the care. But this dishes excellence was not only in the poaching. As if beautifully seasoned soft spinach swimming in rich hollandaise wasn’t enough, a light, just-melted, cheese rested atop to make sure all of the elements stayed in place. It was as if the melted cheese had been strategically placed to perfect the plate. Heaping forkfuls followed. I loved every bite.
Strangely, the clichéd unhurried and rude French service felt justified.