Nominate us, damn it!

    Okay, it’s not only that time of the the year again, it’s the end of that time of year – the very small window of time when Saveur assembles its collection of nominees for best food blogs of 2015.   We think they keep the nominating time short just to see who’s paying attention and who’s …

NEW YEAR’S BRODO – It’s all broth to me.

Brodo for the New Year-4991

Jody reminded me that we introduced people to Roquefort ice cream in our last post  that it was a new year and time for new beginnings, setting off on a healthy foot, etc.  Okay, okay, I get it.  Herewith: New Year’s Brodo (brodo, Italian for broth). Jody and I have different views of our subscribers. I envision season-ticket holder to the Circus Maximus, just slavering for the opportunity to thrust out their inverted thumbs. But Jody sees gentle souls garbed like her in moth-eaten cashmere bathrobes and fuzzy slippers waiting for a warm mug of beef tea, a good book and a place by the fire. I hope she’s right. There is something comforting about broth with shiitake mushrooms, fresh turmeric and ginger.  It’s definitely not a meal (for me), but it is solace.  As for the malcontents hoping for braised rabbit this week, I only have one thing to say: You’re about to learn to make stock, which is not the same as broth, and if you shut up and sit down I’ll tell you why.

Poached Pears and Honey Walnuts with Roquefort Ice Cream

Poached Pears with Honey Walnuts and Roquefort Ice Cream-1834

Do you remember the first time you tasted Roquefort?  Heheh.  Me too. Took awhile, didn’t it?  Roquefort, like bottarga, scotch and uni, is one of those tastes that waits for your tongue to grow up.  Ideally, you have your first Roquefort with someone who will hold your hand, steadfast as your eyes water, until sufficient sensory signals from your tongue accumulate in your brain to ignite Roquefort-appreciation synapses, and they in turn link together in a blazing neuro-culinary ah-ha moment.  Which, given the components of this week’s recipe – fat, sugar, salt – they are sure to do.  Poached Pears with Honey Walnuts and Roquefort Ice Cream, is a very easy dessert, but one for the big people.  It is also, for those hesitant about blue cheese, an excellent introduction, since only a small amount is used, and that is mashed into vanilla ice cream.

PESCE ALL’ ACQUA PAZZA–MONKFISH IN CRAZY WATER

Pesce all' Acqua - Monkfish in Crazy Water-3799

 

Back in the culinary Jurassic when fresh cod cod was actually cheap there was even less expensive fish I prized–monkfish.  All flavor, meaty texture, and almost no bones.  At the time, recently out of college, I was working at an upscale French restaurant that served lotte (as the French call monkfish) in a cream sauce for lunch.  Monkfish had not yet gained enough traction to flop atop American mainstream fish counters.  I bought my first lotte whole from a fishmonger in Haymarket Square in Boston, a toothy goggle-eyed monster that might have escaped from Beowulf’s cave.  I paid $.89/lb for it.  The seafood for this week’s Pesce all’ Acqua Pazza–Monkfish in Crazy Water costs way more than 89¢ a pound, but it’s still half the price of cod and much tastier.

This is not an apple tart – The Garum Factory slims down.

Apple Tart-9834

 

 

This past week Jody made two apple tarts.  I photographed them both and, despite their differences in sugar and salt, thought they were both delicious.  Jody did not.  “You know,” she said. “Neither of these is as good as the sheet pan apple tart.”  She was referring to this.   “We should just republish it and tell everyone what happened.  People like it when you’re honest about not getting things perfect.”  Mm-hmm.  In principle, I agree with this, but I sensed a tremor in the force.  “Maybe,” she continued, “we need to think about what we’re doing.”  Not a tremor.  A quake.   A 7.4 on the Uh-Oh Seismometer.  

Goodbye, Sardinia – Chicken Wings with Celery and Bottarga

Chicken Wings with Celery and Bottarga-2446

Chicken Wings with Celery and Bottarga is not a traditional Sardinian delicacy.  Bottarga and celery, yes; chicken wings, ah no.  This dish is, in fact, the love child of two different desires, Jody’s yearning for wings and my own wish to do another Sardinian recipe before I throw in the towel, tuck my shorts away in my Camp Grenada footlocker.  Sardinian wings were the result, and just in time.  A couple of days of freezing rain have stripped more than a few trees in our neighborhood of their autumn raiment; limbs are skeletal,not festive and the uncleared sidewalks resemble the killing floor in a chlorophyll slaughterhouse.  And it got cold, provoking someone in our house to violated the First Law of Yankee-dom: No one shall touch the thermostat until November 1st.  The one good thing about cold weather is that it means a new harvest of bottarga will be soon at hand.  And with this wings recipe in hand, when this season’s bottarga becomes available in mid-to-late November or early December, you’ll be primed.  While everyone else is still fumbling with their laces you’ll be burning down the track, chicken wings and celery bundled under your arm.  Nyah-nyah-nuh-nyah-yah.  And how did we make this recipe if bottarga won’t be available for another month?  Easy, we whittled down our own two-year-old chunk of umami ambergris that has been cooling its eggs in our fridge.  No lie – I ordered it online at the end of 2012.  When was the last time you consumed something from your fridge that was two years old?  Still as potently delicious as the day we bought it.  With chicken wings and celery it was a ménage à trois made in heaven.  After Jody left at the conclusion of our cooking and shooting session, I was the only one home, not counting the Lagunitas IPA’s in the fridge.  The next morning there were no wings to be found.  Draw your own conclusions.

RICOTTA, CINNAMON, HONEY, ORANGE

Ricotta Cinnamon Honey Orange-1163-2

After a week of biking through Sardinia with Ciclismo Classico, I have to say the island resists being pinned down.  Rural Sardinia puts on a deceptively simple face – sleepy villages, delicious basic cuisine, agriculture based around sheep, friendly people.  But once you start to look closely things don’t appear quite Italian.  The ghost of one culture appears and lingers just long enough for a sense of certainty to develop – oh, Sardinia is really Spanish – when it disappears, replaced by a different revenant – oh, no, it really is Italian… or Phoenician, or Roman or Greek.  Signage often appears in multiple languages–Italian, variants of Sardu, the Sardinian language, and sometimes another local language, like the Catalan dialect spoken in one part of the island. Welcome signs outside of villages typically greet visitors in French, German and English, as well as Italian and Sardu. Sometimes all you can do is take experience in, ask questions, and hope you get back.  It’s unusual for Jody and me to encounter so many new culinary treats in one place. Local ingredients we thought we knew were often combined in unexpected ways. Like this dessert of Ricotta, Cinnamon, Honey and Orange, a dish we enjoyed at Trattoria da Riccardo, a Magomadas restaurant owned by the cyclist/chef Riccardo Cadoni and his family.  It’s so good, so simple, that unless you roll with a much more travelled cabal of culinary sophisticates than I do, it will be a delightful surprise to whomever you serve it.  You can pretty much do everything at table.  Simple, delicious, and a bit surprising, a description that might sum up Sardinia itself.  Enjoy.  Ken

BUCATINI WITH RED AND GREEN TOMATOES

Bucatini with Red and Green Tomatoes-0374

 

Every pasta shape is lovable, if only it finds the right sauce.  But deep down inside, we know whom we love best.  For me it’s bucatini.  Bucatini is what spaghetti would be if it had a gym membership, and the will to pump iron until it got the girl.  I’d slurp up a bowl of bucatini slicked with WD40 just to experiences its chewy satisfactions.  While bucatini is no match for sauces that require crampons and carabiners to hold them in place, ending up with leftover sauce in the bottom of the bowl hardly seems like the end of the world.  (Pass the bread, please.)  No fear of that this week.  New England tomatoes are gasping their last, with only a few red diehards and lots of green wannnabees still about.  Together they make a great sauce that tastes of the season.  Bucatini with Red and Green Tomatoes is the pasta to eat at the gate of fall.  Blink, and even the green tomatoes will be gone.