Scallops &

Big, beautiful scallops were the only new ingredient in this one; the sauce was leftover collards, steamed kale, a bit of spinach, a few canned tomatoes, and the last of some coconut milk. The little cakes were red quinoa and steamed sweet potatoes mashed together. I also made a pan sauce once the scallops came out with a splash of wine and dribbled it over all once plated. We opened a 2001 Volnay “Carelles” by Paul Pernot.

Burger

Back from the city, where we did some good eating (I’ll try to get to it in a future post,) and pretty tired, easy won out. Nice big burgers with shiitakes caramelized in smoked fat and spinach wilted with garlic on top, as well as just a bit of ketchup and mustard since I was too lazy to caramelize onions or make mayo. We finished the Pleiades that Christine opened while I was gone, and also had some of the Gamba zin that I brought back, also open.

Good Luck

Today I happily bought some monkfish, which we haven’t seen in a while, and wrapped it in blanched collards, then put it in the iron pan with a bit of duck fat and olive oil. While it was cooking, I peeled, cubed and steamed an acorn squash. Once cooked through, the rolls came out and a pan sauce ensued: some of the carrot/burdock purée from yesterday, juice of half a grapefruit, a pat of butter, and a pinch of thyme. Today’s good luck at market continued in the wine store next door; I found some 1997 Teófilo Reyes Ribera del Duero for a great price and we tried one with the fish. The extraordinary funk meshed pretty well with the burdock and grapefruit in the sauce, and the delicate lightness (it’s much thinner in the middle than the Remirez de Ganuza, for example) handled the subtler fish and squash without overpowering them. Not a perfect match, but fascinating nonetheless. And DAMN what a nose this wine has.

Ersatz Ethiopian

Purée #1: kidney beans, canned tomatoes, kale pesto, collards from a few nights back, coconut milk, and some extra spices to round it out. Purée #2: burdock, carrots, and ginger cooked until soft in a bit of water with ume vinegar and two dried mushrooms. Last, basil tofu with a thick nam pla/rice vinegar/ponzu sauce and lots of basil and scallions. All of this went on my patented fake enjera, made this time with whole wheat flour, (no teff in the house) Guinness, and eggs. Far from accurate, but they do the job pretty well. We drank more Guinness.

Fettucine al Cinghiale

Chris is briefly back from tour, so they all came over for a hearty winter dinner. I put a wild boar roast in the oven at 9 AM and by 6 PM it was a divine pasta sauce. Since I had a full day in the studio, I finely minced the aromatics that went into the boar- carrot, onion, garlic, dried porcini- so they would disappear in the final sauce. Once the boar roast had browned, along with the above, in some smoked duck fat, I added a splash of wine, half a shot of espresso, a bunch of fennel seeds, water, and tomato paste, brought it back to a bubble, and threw it in a 250˚ oven for 8 hours (turning it once around halfway through.)

We made fresh fettucine with the pasta machine, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and a salad with avocado and onion, and Sirkka made a blueberry-apple-dried apricot bundt cake for dessert. We drank two different 1999 Brunellos: a Gorelli “Le Potazzine” and a Ciacci Piccolomini “Vigna di Pianrusso.” Tarry, rich, and only just getting warmed up, these are those rarest of wines that can work with both wild boar and blueberry cake and then shine even brighter when the food is all gone.

Duck Soup

This has been a week of many soups; we all had the flu and tonight we sent the last sniffles packing with a nice finale. Previously, I had made minestrone from the fried lamb chop bones, then a chicken broth that began as something similar to tonight, but larded with copious hot sauce, ginger, and garlic to napalm the wretched microbes, then ended up as fridge soup a couple of days later with pasta, beans, kale, and brown rice all added in.

This one began with dashi, and soba, and seared duck breast, with blanched carrot julienne and frozen peas for color. Flavored with a little tamari, and with steamed kale on the side tossed in sesame oil, orange juice, ume vinegar, and tamari it kind of brought us gently back into the richer, deeper kind of food that the healthy get to enjoy while still being just a bowl of soup.

Impromptu Party

This is why we moved up here; what began as a casual plan to get together expanded into dinner for 6, plus two kids. Chris & Sirkka brought some lamb chops, and I coated them in egg and soba then deep fried them (it would have worked better with rib chops, but oh well) and served them with tapenade that included half of a preserved lemon. John brought some brown rice and aduki beans, and transformed it into risotto with the addition of some radicchio, water, smoked duck fat from the fridge, and truffle oil. We also roasted a kabocha and 2 heads of garlic, which Danny mashed up with lots of oil, and seared a bunch of venison loin with the espresso rub on it, and steamed some shredded kale.

For wine, we began by finishing our penultimate 1999 Kistler “Les Noisetiers” and then tried a 1990 Chinon by Raffault (we like their rosé in the summer, but this was 100% Cab Franc) that tasted for all the world like a second Bordeaux with about 10 years on it. Then came 3 Barolos: a 1997 Borgogno Riserva, a 1998 Clerico Pajana, and most delicious of all, a 1989 Ceretto Bricco Rocche Prapò. Just incredible.

Seafood Soup

A broth of shrimp shells, dried shrimp, dashi, garlic, and ginger was the base for this meal, since Christine had bought shrimp and tilapia and the harsh cold demanded something tropical. I puréed half the tilapia with ginger, sesame oil, coriander seeds, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper, then formed it into little balls. The rest of the fish got dusted with curry powder and crisped up in a pan while the balls and shrimp bodies simmered in the broth, and rice noodles softened in a bowl. All together, with scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds, and good beer, it did the job nicely.

Quick Fix

This one didn’t even get a garnish, but time was of the essence and the sauce made up for the lack of elegance. Good wild salmon, with a celtic salt/pepper/cinnamon/sesame mix, seared up nicely while a halved kabocha got nice and soft and caramelized in the oven and a pot of brown rice bubbled away. I added only oil, lemon, and salt to the squash purée, since it was so sweet already, and made a pan sauce with blood orange, soy sauce, wine, honey, and a shake more cinnamon. Very basic, but a 1998 Pommard “Les Grands Epenots” by Vincent Girardin kind of took it to another level.

Chili

Pretty straightforward, but with a couple elements that I think made it more interesting: first, using dried kidney beans which required cooking it for 3 hours, and second, a good dollop of smoked duck fat at the beginning to get the aromatics going that worked as an excellent substitute for smoking the meat. A bit of goat cheddar, scallion, and lime juice on top, and a 2003 Faugères by H&B (since I didn’t make it too hot for Milo’s sake.) Pretty damn hearty.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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