Welcome to the Blue Zone – Fava Bean and Almond Soup
On the Greek Island of Ikaria a startling number of people live to be 100, or older. Dan Buetner has identified five communities with unusually long-living residents, geographic regions he calls Blue Zones@. For the next five weeks–because we don’t like New Year’s resolutions–we’re bringing you healthy dishes from the culinary cultures of the Blue Zones. First up, Sardinia, with Fava Bean and Almond Soup. Simple, easy, delicious. Oh, and you might even live to be 100.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single espresso in possession of a good head of crema must be in want of a shot of grappa. This shot of grappa “corrects” the espresso, resulting in an espresso corretto. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that a single espresso in possession of a good scoop of ice cream (which combination is known as an affogato) must be in want of a shot of grappa. This “correction” brings forth an affogato corretto. As a different writer, bearded and burley, might have observed, it’s a damn fine way to drink a damn fine espresso.
Shirred Eggs with Spinach, Mushrooms and Toast Soldiers
When Jody said, “Hey let’s do Shirred Eggs with Spinach, Mushrooms and Toast Soldiers,”* I responded with an enthusiastic, “Huh?” Something stirred in the part of my brain where meal descriptions from Dickens and Wilkie Collins rattle around with episodes of Jewel in the Crown, Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, reasonably accurate associations because Googling shirred eggs brings up the original 1896 edition of Fanny Farmer. She explains that shirred eggs are baked; the name derives from the dish used in the preparation, an egg-shirrer, a shallow gratin dish for baking the eggs. Did you catch that? …are baked …for baking the eggs.
That’s it, the whole circus? I mean, shirred means baked?
Brandade de Morue with Peppers, Olives and Arugula
I like fresh cod, but I LOVE salt cod, especially like this: Brandade de Morue with Olives, Peppers and Arugula. Brandade is what the French, who love adding cream and shallots to everything just to see if anyone’s heart explodes, is what happens when the children of Gaul get their mitts on some morue (salt cod). It has a rich satisfying flavor without being overwhelming, a great texture, and is terrific with uncomplicated red wines. Successful marriages have been based on less. It’s a standard in our house–we eat it by special request (birthdays), on Christmas Eve, and whenever somebody says, Gee, it’s been awhile since we’ve had brandade.
Slow Pork with Chow Fun Noodles and Kimchi
I don’t know what I like most about Slow Pork with Chow Fun Noodles and Kimchi–the braised pork, the chow fun noodles, or the incredible leftovers. This dish is an umami bomb–and most of it can be done in a slow cooker. Kimchi and milk for cappuccino live on the same shelf in our fridge; leftovers from Puglia rub shoulders with ingredients from North Africa or Malaysia. A little culinary polyamory is to be expected, even encouraged, especially when the result is something like this week’s recipe.
Crespelle with Lemon-Rosemary Ricotta
See the crespelle. See Ken photograph the crespelle. See the crespelle run away from Ken. Run, crespelle, run. See the crespelle run all the way to Brooklyn, where Jody cooks a Thanksgiving dinner for Ken and Jody’s son Oliver and 12 of his closest friends who had to work on the actual holiday. See Ken stuck in Boston. See Ken get his revenge. Ken makes a batch of crespelle with Lemon-Rosemary Ricotta and he doesn’t share.
Revenge, says Ken, is sweet.
Turkey Risotto with Saffron and Preserved Lemon
Making risotto with the remains of the holiday bird is tradition in our family. Thanksgiving or Christmas, turkey or goose. No matter. One decent risotto polishes off all the goose leftovers, but turkeys tend to be a bit more generous, with enough leftovers for sandwiches and a risotto, like this week’s Turkey Risotto with Saffron and Preserved Lemon, and maybe even a soup (e.g. Turkey Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Rice Stick Noodles).
Seared Brussels Sprouts with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
The idea was to come up with a side dish for Thanksgiving. But after much soul searching and a brainstorming session based on What do you do with Brussels sprouts? we decided that the world wasn’t crying out for another version of brussels sprouts with bacon.
Instead we’re offering Seared Brussels Sprouts with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce. People who do not love Brussels sprouts (me) love these.
Celery Root and Sunchoke Soup with Gorgonzola
Hey, wait, didn’t you guys make Celery Root Soup with Gorgonzola last year? Well, uh, yeah, holy crap, heh-heh, looks like we did. OMG, I’m living in Groundhog Day.
Unfortunately we didn’t realize it until after we cooked and photographed this soup. But this is different! [Insert pleading face.] Seriously. This is Celery Root and SUNCHOKE Soup with Gorgonzola.
Did you carve a pumpkin last year? Did you carve a pumpkin this year? Did you carve the exact, same face on both? I thought not. Keep reading.
Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese
“Hot-buttered groat clusters!” –Firesign Theater.
One of the pleasures of travelling is tdrawing close to the seemingly familiar only to suddenly discover it strikingly different, like this Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese. Looks ordinary. But the taste – not like barley on this planet. Many of the more forward thinking participants in Italy’s agritourismo movement are attempting to preserve regional variations on farm products that for one reason or another have fallen from grace or never gained the favor of larger commercial ventures. Barley is a case in point–in Puglia, where it’s often hulled, rather than pearled, it’s chewy.
And chewy barley is a delight.