Tagliatelle with Shad Roe, Pancetta and Spring Peas
The swallows of San Juan Capistrano return to their California mission home every March 19th, one of the natural world’s cyclic wonders. Nature, however, may have had something rather less dependable in mind with the annual spring running of shadfish. Last year we posted about shad roe on March 31st. This year, we’re only a couple of weeks shy of June. Shad roe is an ephemeral treat, briefly available on short notice, then vanishing, so when the season arrives you have to stay on you toes, prepared to swing into action at a moment’s notice. I found three seafood stores had the roe… yesterday. A single purveyor* had it the day I wanted it, one day before blogging. So if you’re inclined to make this weeks’s Tagliatelle with Shad Roe, Pancetta and Peas, finish reading this and immediately pick up the phone. If your favorite fish vendor doesn’t have the roe today, he may be able to get it for you tomorrow. Next week you might still get lucky, or not. That’s the way shad rolls.
Israeli Couscous With Red Snapper and Preserved Lemon
Several months ago Tal Shofman-Schejter, a former pastry chef at Rialto now living in Israel, emailed me some questions about lenses and food photography. Last week her musician husband passed through Boston and dropped off a thank-you basket of Israeli goodies. And that’s how we ended up with this week’s dish, baked Israeli Coucous with Red Snapper and Preserved Lemon.
Eat, drink, help.
The barricades have come down, and the improvised memorials for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing have been moved to Copley Square park, but still, every day, fresh flowers…
Having your spuds and eating them too – Quick Boulangère Potatoes
Pity Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. The late 18th century polymath would be rolling in his grave in Père Lachaise were he aware of the abuse heaped upon his beloved potato by modern nutritionists. If there were ever a lobbyist for potatoes, it was Parmentier. In Parmentier’s time most of Europe regarded the potato as fit for little more than animal fodder. In France cultivation of potatoes was forbidden by law, a natural outgrowth of then current French belief that potatoes were thought to cause leprosy. Parmentier became acquainted with potatoes while fed them as a prisoner in a Prussian prison during the Napoleonic wars, but few Frenchmen were willing to take him at his word about the benefits of eating them. Determined to bring his countrymen around to his way of thinking Parmentier threw himself into a decades long campaign of public demonstrations, potato-themed dinners for the rich and influential, and public lectures. Today, as a member of the Gang of Three (along with rice and bread), potatoes stand accused of undermining the People’s waistline, usually in league with its natural allies, cream and cheese. But there’s a way of having one potatoes without taking on a wheelbarrow of calories. Enter Boulangère Potatoes.
Braised Artichokes, Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Mint
So what’s up this week? Braised Artichokes with Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Mint. Spring has arrived, and with it truckloads of fat green globe artichokes. No groaning (Oh, god, not artichokes, they’re such a pain…). No, they’re not, and if we learned anything at all from recent events it’s that the small gestures we take for granted are more precious than ever. You only know what you’ve got when it’s gone, so start snapping those leaves off.
Today is Friday. I got up at 6 this morning to cycle down to Boylston Street to photograph the improvised memorial for Marathon victims, a trip I’d managed to postpone for three days, afraid of what I’d feel once I got there. Flowers and poems and marathon medals. A visual to accompany an explanation about why The Garum Factory isn’t running our usual format.
Instead, I learn that a young MIT policeman is dead, as is one of the bombing suspects, and the city is in lockdown while scores of police attempt to locate the second bomber.
By the time you read this, it may be all over. But regardless of where we are in this narrative, I’d like to devote a moment to its beginning, last Monday.
POLENTA WITH PANCETTA, SHAVED ASPARAGUS AND AGED GOUDA
Last week Jody and I were treated to a delicious dish of broiled polenta with mushrooms at the home of friends and we immediately began thinking about a spring variation. Our first impulse, topping it with chicory and fava beans, didn’t work out because fresh favas – or a good substitute – aren’t in stores yet. What is available now is asparagus – and pancetta, and for a new wrinkle on the cheese, Aged Gouda.
A patio of one’s own – Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco
Here’s the scene: working-class neighborhood, first house, first back yard, first patio. Radical move against the local pave-the-yard-build-a-grape-arbor esthetic. We christened the patio’s finish by inviting neighbors Pam and Chris to join us for Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco. At the time, almost two decades ago, I’d heard of Romesco, the thick Catalan sauce based on roasted red peppers and nuts, but not grilled spring onions, which my wife assured me was a big deal in Barcelona. She was right. The Calçotada is a month-long Barcelonan lovefest to calçots, spring onions, which are then grilled and slathered with Romesco. Imagine a sloppy Falstaffian bender lasting most of April, involving untold quantities of red wine and masses of fragrant grilled onions wrapped in newspapers or served in inverted clay roofing tiles and eaten with your hands. Uh-huh, who isn’t down for that?
Flash in the Pan – Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Sage
Tackling your first scaloppine recipe is a bit like being handed the car keys for your first night driving solo, an event occasioning braggadocio tempered by a gruff fatherly warning, Don’t screw this up. Your skills are on display. Since the dish is cooked just a few minutes before eating, it necessarily involves a bit of brinksmanship. If it doesn’t work, well, there’s always pizzaphone. The thing is, despite appearances there’s not much chance of that happening. The risk is illusory. This week’s Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Sage is guaranteed to have you home by midnight. Plus, you’re going to look really good.
Coconut, Banana and Lime Bread Pudding – steamed in the pressure cooker
Although our trip to Haiti wasn’t about food, we had hoped to reflect some Haitian flavors in this week’s post. Plantains, for example, are ubiquitous. You can’t drive for ten minutes in the Central Plateau without passing fields of what look like bananas that fell asleep downstream from the nuclear power plant and woke up with anger management issues and a family resemblance to the Hulk. Baskets piled high with green behemoths are a common feature at every market. At some point we’ll do a piece on green plantains, which we ate every day, but we reserved this last post in our current series on pressure cooking for dessert–and green plantains have no place in a dessert.*
Ergo, Steamed Coconut, Banana and Lime Bread Pudding.