Swordfish with Olive Salmoriglio

Crossword puzzle aficionados will recognize Nobody ever told me as a familiar clue. The answer is LAMEEXCUSE. That’s all I can offer for why I didn’t recognize the orange slab of swordfish Jody brought home for this week’s blog. It’s called pumpkin swordfish – new to me – and the jack o’lantern color results from …

Cheddar and Chive Soufflé

Maybe lockdown is the perfect time to bring back soufflés. If you screw it up – and you probably won’t – and who’s going to complain? A few months or a year from now you can whip one up for a special night. Then, Jeez, who knew you could make a soufflé? Plus it has tons of Parmesan and cheddar in it.

Fresh Pasta Bow Ties with Lemon and Pistachio

Long ago and in a galaxy far far away – Emilia Romagna, 2019 – a band of happy cyclists with Il Tourissimo spent an afternoon at Casa Artusi, the famous cooking school in Forlimpopoli devoted to l’arte di mangere bene, the art of eating well. Eating well, in the Casa Artusian worldview, includes preserving and …

PASSION FRUIT SPONGE CUSTARD

Passion Fruit Sponge Custard-8907

This week: Passion Fruit Sponge Custard.  Not the most elegant dessert we’ve ever made, but ignore the appearance, go for the taste, like the fruit itself.  Ripe passion fruit resemble hard-boiled eggs, after the apocalypse, wrinkly red-brown ovals.  But inside, oh…  a pucker-sweet crazy delicious psychedelic orange pulp dotted with black seeds.  (You eat that goop?!  I thought nature made things in bright colors as a warning – poison! poison! poison!?  Nope.  Nature wants you to eat that goop, to, uh, carry the seeds away.)  The flavor of passion fruit hovers somewhere between orange and mango, just as sweet, but way tarter than either.  The only exotic fruit with an equal effort/pleasure ratio, IMO, is the durian, but we’ll reserve durian for another day.  In the meantime, try this sponge custard, an antique English dessert that’s not really spongy or a custard, flavored with an intense sweet-sour taste of the tropics.

SHOOTING NAKED – CHILLED CORN, PEACH AND BASIL SOUP

Chilled Corn and Peach Soup with Basil-4421

 

Not that kind of naked.  Naked as in camera-only.  No multiple lights, no radio controls, not even a tripod.  It has been a very long month–the PanMass Challenge, loved ones off to parts known and unknown–and during our single day of work in a week of vacation the last thing I wanted to do was set up lights and softboxes in our little vacation kitchen to make it look and feel transformed.  Sometimes all you can do is just let things be.  We had barely enough plenty of light coming though the windows and I thought why not dance on the edge a little?  Back to basics: camera – light – food.  This is a Chilled Corn and Peach Soup photographed au naturel. 

SEARED HARICOTS VERTS WITH WHIPPED FETA AND PRESERVED LEMON

Seared Green Beans with Whipped Feta-3531

 

This recipe is so simple I had trouble envisioning exactly what I was going to photograph, which was fine, because given the temperatures of the last couple of weeks, who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen?  Seared Haricots Verts with Whipped Feta and Preserved Lemon will have you in and out in no time and then you can devote yourself to doing what everyone does in hot weather – using the grill while quaffing enormous quantities of beer.  Or, you can simply do what Jody and I did: sit down, pour yourself a glass of dry rosé, add some sliced tomatoes and crusty bread and call it lunch.

STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH FARRO, GINGER AND POMEGRANATE

 

Eggplant with Farro, Ginger and Pomegranate-0637

I returned from Istanbul a few weeks ago with an eggplant monkey on my back.  During those brief periods in Turkey when I wasn’t stuffing myself with baklava, I was slavering over Turkish eggplant.  The aubergine highlight of my travels was a braised veal shank wrapped in eggplant, a dish so meltingly tender than it was difficult to tell from texture alone where the eggplant ended and the meat began.  The ubiquity of cooked eggplant in Turkey isn’t duplicated in this country and an eggplant lover must sometime fall back on his own devices.  Stuffed Eggplant with Farro, Ginger and Pomegranate is not nearly so complicated as the veal shank I ate, but it is tender, and so deeply satisfying that the absence of meat in the recipe seems irrelevant.

LAZY MAN’S FAVA BEAN SALAD WITH SPRING GREENS AND PECORINO

Lazy Man's Fava Salad-9496

 

Two words almost never seen paired together: quick and favas.  Yet, both apply to this week’s Lazy Man’s Fava Bean Salad with Spring Greens and Pecorino.  In retrospect, we might have called it Romantic Man’s (or Woman’s) Fava Bean Salad because it’s just the sort of thing that two people comfortable with bumping hips in a kitchen can make together for their own romantic lunch.  The salad makes 4 servings, but these can be stretched if you’re serving it as a starter to, say, grilled lamb or fish.

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