Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ziti alla Papera


Apologies for the sparse posting... That pesky World Series required extensive time commitments to hang out at the ballpark and drink beer, then we were entertaining out-of-towners a couple of days, and I've been forging the frontiers of science like a mofo at my day job. I was hardly cooking, and even when I was it was quick easy ol' reliable recipes all the way. Fortunately, Farmer Dad has been plowing away (heh) at the farm. The terraces are all cut, the pond is completely dug out (and is a gorgeous teal color from the underground streams filling it) and we've just started to sow grass and cover crops for the winter.

This is another recipe discovered during my nightly bedtime viewing of Molto Mario reruns. Of note, there is no herbage or seasoning in this sauce except salt, pepper, and a little parsley at the end. I was concerned about that the first time I made it, but honestly, it's staggeringly delicious as is. I would never have guessed that half of the meat is duck, but flavor and texture wise, you can tell it clearly isn't all pork. The duck gets so soft and delicate, it brings not so much a duckyness to the sauce as a sumptuous melt-in-your-mouthy richness. It adds a lot of complexity to the simple, somewhat expected sweetness of the onion and tomato. It would really overpower the flavor profile to add any other herb than parsley (basil would be an especially bad fit, so don't be tempted). Which is not to say the parsley isn't important, I actually think the tiny hit of fresh grassyness is key.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sea scallops with chanterelles and Sherry, Champagne risotto, and roasted Brussels sprouts

Now, don't get me wrong; I love slaving away all day on terribly over-complicated and tedious recipes, but special little weeknight meals are my favorites. The speed with which they get on the table is due to simple but sophisticated flavor combinations and quick cooking techniques not employed because they are simple and quick, but because they cannot be improved upon with complication.

The recipe is adapted (based on what I had around) from Suzanne Goin's beautiful and much-blogged-about cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Although this is only the second time I've cooked from it (I made the yellow tomato gazpacho at the height of summer tomatoes and it was so good), I can't recommend it enough. The recipes are organized not only into lovely four course meals but also into seasons, based on what's typically available from a farmer's market that time of year. So cool. As much as I adore a scallop, the chanterelle mushrooms are the true stars of this dish. I found these gorgeous blue-foot chanterelles at Central Market for the bargain price of $40 a pound. [To minimize the choking risk, I suggest you resist sharing this fact with your husband after he mentions how delicious they are. Fortunately, it dislodged quickly and dinner resumed.] Fear not, you only need 6 or 7 bucks worth for this dish.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Turkey shepherd's pie


This is my light take on a classic. I substitute ground turkey for the beef or lamb, pack it full of veggies, and skip the cheese altogether (I honestly just don't think it needs it). The result is heavy on flavor, light on damage. It also reheats very nicely, making it ideal to stick in a lunchbox.

The vegetables I used on this occasion are carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini, but the possibilities are endless. Frozen peas would be pretty classic, but you could use spinach, green beans, whatever you want. You are the boss of you. Clean out that fridge.