Monday, November 24, 2008

Bread Day

Have I told you that my sweetie makes bread? I am a lucky woman as he makes glorious, fabulous, wonderful bread from scratch all winter long. Well, technically it's not winter yet, but here, when it is 36 as a high, (ok you Wisconsinites, stop scoffing!) winter has kicked in full force and yesterday he kicked in full force on the bread as well.

When we were in Vermont last month he bought a big bag of semolina flour from King Arthur and he pulled it out yesterday. He has a lovely recipe that he makes as our everyday loaf but he must have been bored with it as he grabbed the Beranbaum Bible, plunked it in front of me and said "pick 2" so I picked the seminola torpedo and the Levy rye bread which we changed a bit by adding some rosemary from the garden to the recipe as we only had 1/2 the caraway called for. (caution, do not use this book without looking at the errata on her site).

Both, as you can see from the pictures, turned out delicious and paired perfectly with leftovers from the night before.

I also began a sourdough starter. I had made one a few years back which turned out reallly good breads but I didn't "feed the bitch!"and she went away. If you're interested in a chunk, let me know.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dinner for Papa & Evelyn

Saturday night we had a 6 course tasting menu for dinner... at home. We started off with a roasted butternut squash soup with sage (yes with the leftover squash from Friday night's risotto) and then my sweetie made a wonderful dish of tenderloin scallopini from one of our Roseda tenderloins that he sliced, rolled and quickly panfried, then layered with parmesan and pancetta. I've never seen such marbling on a tenderloin.

We followed that with a chopped salad of fennel, romaine and spring onion tossed with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing. It was very refreshing

At this point we were getting a bit full but we soldiered on with a small risotto cake, made from last night's risotto milanese. Fried in the pancetta/tenderloin grease, they were a delightful taste before the main course.

I had decided for the main course that I would make a recipe I had found in a Bon appetit magazine years ago for Baked Ziti with Spicy Pork and Sausage Ragu and I managed to find it again on Epicurious as I recycled most of my magazines a few months ago. It's a good thing I started early as it took me most of the day to make this. The pork was cut up and browned in pancetta grease then a mirepoix was added to this mixture and after stewed with red wine for a few hours. (A good time to take a walk around the neighborhood) The nice thing is then I froze half this mixture for next month as it makes a good 10 servings even though they say 8. We paired this with a marvelous chianti classico riserva from Castello di Meleto and felt very very spoiled.

We finished off the evening in front of the fire with Evelyn's classic lemon meringue pie, the meringue perfectly browned, served with a lovely champagne. We rolled into bed Saturday night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Big, Bold, Beautiful.... um Fennel

It was a food-filled weekend for sure. After spending Friday night gorging myself at Renee's with cookbook club, (see Julie's post, and Elizabeth's post) what do I do but get up bright and early Saturday morning to hit the Waverly market.

I always have to start by getting my eggs (rather his eggs) and then walking all the way up to the top of the market, controlling my urges to buy right away, then I turn around and actually do my purchasing on the way back. Yes, uber organized that's me. Well, we started our walk and I almost went crazy because the vegetables were absolutely gorgeous. I desperately wanted turnips but the couscous isn't planned 'til next weekend so we passed them by (good excuse to come back next weekend!) and then I went gaga over the fennel. It was so green, so plump so very um LARGE I had to have it.

We went to a Tapas party at Tiffany and John's Saturday night (I was put in charge of Gambas Al Ajillo) thus I had to wait until tonight to utilize my beautiful bulb.

Here's my fennel, and since I seem to be on the mashed potato fetish (lunch Friday, lunch Saturday lunch Sunday), my sweetie suggests that maybe we want something other than fennel mashed potatoes for dinner tonight. Huh? Ok...

I wasn't quite able to give up the whole potato idea. We pulled out the granny bangers from the freezer that we purchased in Vermont at Singleton's store and I fried them up and made this Fennel-Potato gratin to go with them.

Here's the recipe I cobbled together from the 12 I found on the Internet.

Fennel-Potato Gratin

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

3lb white potatoes peeled and sliced thin
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 large fennel bulb with fronds, cored and sliced thin.
1 c. bechamel sauce with white pepper
1 c. heavy cream
Parmesan cheese (probably about 1/2 cup but I'm not sure as I microplaned it on)

Butter a 13x9 pan
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in the pan, follow with a mixture of fennel and onion, grate parmesan over the top, add 1/2 c. of cream. Salt to taste. Layer the second 1/2 of the potatoes, the rest of the fennel/onion mixture and top with another layer of parmesan. Pour the 1/2 cup of cream and the bechamel evenly over the top. Decorate with a few fronds of fennel. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are almost done and top has browned. (turn on convection if not adequately browned) Remove from oven and let stand 10-15 minutes so the juices consolidate. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Ok so do you hear an S theme here? It wasn't intentional, but we had a hankering for spaetzle and we had lovely flat-iron steaks just waiting to be eaten. I had a gorgeous piece of stilton that was starting to get old so I made a bechamel (no, Coralie, I didn't heat the milk) and crumbled stilton into it. We decided to make an herbed cornmeal spaetzle. Couldn't find a recipe so we invented. It turned out great, a slight cornmeal texture and just herby enough to stand up to the creamy stilton sauce. Next time though I think we'll use a bit more cornmeal to give it a bit more flavor. Here it is:

Cornmeal/Herb Spaetzle with Stilton Bechamel
1 1/4 c. Flour
1/4 c. fine cornmeal (you could add more, the cornmeal flavor was light)
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped fine (I used parsley, oregano and rosemary)

Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in the middle and add egg, combine well, add water and mix until a gloopy mass. Add fresh herbs and stir in.

What I do when I make spaetzle is put it in a pastry bag with a #12 tip and squeeze and snip. Should I call it squeeze and snip pasta? Many recipes recommend pushing through a colander or getting a spaetzle maker, I find this works fine as you can make small batches.

Wait 1 minute after the spatzele float to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and put into a colander to drain. Usually after this I put them in a baking dish with some butter and cook them for a bit, but in this case as I had the cheese sauce, I just put them into the oven to keep warm until the steaks were ready.

For the stilton bechamel, make a bechamel that uses about 1 1/2 cups milk. (I don't actually measure for my bechamel) I fried a shallot in the butter before adding the flour as well. Then crumble about 1/4 cup of stilton into the finished bechamel and whisk until smooth. Definitely a recipe I would make again. The spaetzle recipe would serve 4 with other courses. Enjoy!!!