Month: January 2009

Shanghai-style nian gao with soy-braised short ribs and broccoli

I dunno. I totally made this up. A few weeks ago Scott and I ate at Castagna, in the more casual cafe (we save the restaurant for fancy occasions). Scott had the cassoulet (of course) and I had their pasta dish de la saison: maltagliati […]

Split pea soup with pancetta and ham

I should just go ahead and change the name of this blog to Soup and Brekkie, cuz I’m on a fucking kick. Soup is a basic thing, though, and anyone can make excellent soup if they’re willing to keep bags of bones and carcass in […]

Minestra al pomodoro e pesto

It’s finally soup weather. We’ve gotten back to the sodden, gloomy, winter weather that makes people slit their wrists when they move here. I love it. It’s damp and moldy, and it smells like warm compost and fecundity again after all that stupid Arctic Blast nonsense. Snow and ice doesn’t make me crave soup, it makes me crave hard liquor and sweets, preferably combined. Soup in rainy weather, however, is the pink in my cheeks.

This is Soup. It is a rib-sticking bowl of salubrity that chases the hate away. I wanted a minestrone-type affair, but don’t really care about beans enough to make room for them among the sausage and tortellini. If you want a vegetarian-ish version of this, by all means, omit the sausage. But everyone knows that vegetarians will lose the fight against the zombies when the end times come, so you may as well start building your strength and perfecting your aim.

This is a soup of leftovers and fridge-purge. Bulk pork Italian sausage got browned with leftover chopped onions, red peppers and chopped mushrooms. Tubs of fire-roasted tomatoes (puree with a half a can of tomato paste and a glug of budget Syrah) chicken stock from the freezer sauced it up all brothy. Tortellinis in, and after they softened up a bit, Blue Lake green beans and choy sum joined the party. A moment later, half a tub of leftover arugula-pumpkin seed pesto enriched the broth and brought some much-needed garlic. Soup’s on.

Top with copious amounts of Pecorino Romano and a spoonful of pesto. Serve with olive ciabatta and Les Hérétiques. Buon appetito.

Pub Grub

Doesn’t this look like a happy picnic of all of your favorite fried foods, fresh from the pub, all laid out on a blanket of glee and sunshine? Don’t be fooled, it’s rainy and sardonic out there. This new lamp burns my retinas until I […]

Napoleon Complex

I get a wild hair up my ass for weekend breakfasts. I’m never in a very big hurry, and I have the rest of the day to burn off the calories, so I can really splurge on two or three proteins and as much dairy […]

Salade Niçoise on Belgian endive

I picked up these beautiful little quail eggs at Fubonn. I was thinking of what little appie I could bring over to Carolyn’s house that wasn’t crackers and dip (she was making Amy Sedaris’ Lil’ Smoky Cheese Ball) or something that would require heating in situ, so I thought about mini deviled eggs (excellent idea, but way too cumbersome) or a little salad of some type served on endive leaves. I know, 1989 called and wants its hors doeuvres back. Fucking sue me. Greta had given me some gorgeous albacore that she canned, and I had some lemons and olives, so this seemed like a no-brainer. And after all the holiday stodge, a crisp, citrusy salad sounded perfect.

This is the difference between starting your photography at 3:00 and finishing at 3:30. Night and day, innit? It gets dark early, and all of the shots of the salads in natural light were migraine-inducing blurry (I really should get in the habit of using my tripod, but like I need one more thing in my kitchen), so I had to resort to my new lights (thank you, darling husband!). Unfortunately, I broke the reflector umbrella when opening it so I’ve been directing the eye-piercing lamp directly at the food to simulate daylight, but it’s just harsh and red and obvious, even after shopping the fuck out of it. Look at the size of those shadows. Okay, stop looking.

I blanched and slivered haricots verts, cut a brunoise of olives and home-made pickles (sharp as cornichons, they are, but from full-size Persian cukes), and finely diced a boiled red potato. I added these, with minced shallot and parsley, to the flaked albacore. I loaded the whole mix up with lemon zest, and a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, anchovies and S&P. I added extra luxuriant crunches of Maldon over the top for flourish.

I forked a little of the mixture onto each endive leaf and then topped with a little softboiled quail egg. I wasn’t trying to be stingy, it was just such an extreme pain in my ass to peel each of these wee eggs and I was in a hurry (and the whole thing was getting to be waaaay too precious), so I opted to quarter the eggs instead of serving halves. This ended up being the perfect amount of egg anyway.

Tomorrow night I’m making tiny Scotch eggs and Boddington’s-battered halibut fish and chips (fagging pub grub up a little more with sweet potato fries and a savoy slaw with a creamy lemon vinaigrette).