Monday, June 18, 2007

I had a job in the great Northwest, working as a cook for a spell......






Pictured, left to right.....Mixed Green Salad, Panzanella, Ravioli with a wild mushroom crostini, Pepperonata. (am utterly hating bloggers inability to wysiwyg
pics at the mo...)

Pictured above, a quick sample of some of the food made for the recent
birthday celebrations of the Gorgeous C. With incredible luck, the weather broke
from torrential rain, to clear blue skies, and a gorgeous sun that lasted from
afternoon through to sunset. Beautiful, allowing us to dine al fresco in the
gorgeous valleys of the great northwest.

Not pictured - the gorgeous C. homemade pesto, homeade ovendried tomato pesto, potato and chilli salad...

A fantastic weekend, filled with chilled Bellinis, friends, and beuatiful weather.

Recipes...

Mixed Green salad.

There is a recipe for this in 12, by Tessa Kiros, but I went with what I had in the larder. 2 apples and one pear, cored and sliced, and reserved in acidulated water - water with a spot of lemon juice, to avoid discolouration.

Roast some pine nuts - until they just hint at turning brown. Normally I do this on a cast iron pan, and then spill them out into a cooled dish to halt their cooking. Chopped fresh walnuts, skinned. I dumped about half the walnuts as too bitter. Broad beans - podded, and then stripped of their bitter, outer waxy skins. Raw. Fresh (the pods should be shiny, flexible, and wet if you snap them open). Delicious. Roughly ripped/chopped lettuces - I think I went with Kos, Iceberg and.....sorry...can't quite remeber. These were all mixed together, and then doused with a balsamic vinigarette - 1 to 1, and served immediately.

Panzanella.

A kind of Tuscan bread salad, quite simply made using two or three day old bread. My version screwed up somewhat badly - I used the wrong kind of bread, and overtoasted it, as it was fresh. Still, heres a rough and ready version...

Dice some 3 day old ciabatta, and roast quickly, drizzled with some olive oil and fresh thyme in a 180 C oven on a roasting tray. While thats roasting - for no more than 10 minutes - roughly chop some tomatoes - about halt a kilo - into quite small cubes, salt them lightly, and leave them to drain in a colander - 30 minutes or so is good.

Roughly chop a single small red onion.

Mix the bread, tomatoes, and red onion in a salad bowl. Make up the salad dressing - roughly 3 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar, and sprinkle over the salad. Serve immediately.

A little black pepper, and its ready.

Some recipes call for chopped, raw garlic, and chopped capers in addition, or roasted peppers.

Ravioli (recipe here), with just butter and lemon, and filled with spinach, nutmeg, black pepper, and the best of friends homemade goats cheese. Superb.

The crostini are simply made - some crusty white bread, rubbed with raw garlic and grilled over wood coals. Then drizzled with olive oil. Beforehand soak dried porcini in warm water for 20 minutes. Remove - reserving the water for stock, and sqeeze dry. Heat butter and oil in a cast iron pan, and flavour it with dried chilli and thyme, some salt and pepper - I use quite a bit of salt. Cook up for as long as necessary on a low heat - I cook for 12 to 15 minutes to really concentrate the flavour, and tip out onto the grilled bread. Drizzle with olive oil and then parmesan. I mixed in some standard field mushrooms to bulk it all out. I forgot my stock of dried.


Pepperonata.
Simple dish, requiring garlic, dried chilli, salt. black papper, roasted peppers (3), 1 large tomato, and diced onion. I also, occasionally, add white or red wine.

Roast your peppers - or singe over a roaring gas ring, or a grill/bar-b-q. Skin them. This is important, although its perfectly possible to make without skinning the peppers, but the intense sweetness is diluted if you don't(I didn't). Cook the peppers for longer if your are not going to skin them. Saute the finely chopped onions in some olive oil until the are just shy of lightly browning. Add some chopped garlic - 2 cloves is about right - finaly chopped, and heat sharply for 60 seconds, tossing in the oil. Add a little salt, and mix in your slice roasted peppers, cover, and put on a very low heat, stirring often for 20 minutes (30-35 if not skinned). Add a roughly chopped tomato, and stir it in, and leave, covered, on a low heat, for 20 minutes. Add a little red or white wine about 5 minutes into this is you like - a very small amoint will suffice. Uncover, mix once more, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Shred in some fresh basil. Serve.

A superb meal, sunwashed, and in the company of friends. The taste of food and heat and light and sun still linger with me, the memory of it sweeter than stewed peppers and sweet basil. Sweeter than the hyper chocolate madness we inflicted on the later cake, Sweeter than peach cocktails, and sparkling chilled prosecco.



5 comments:

Deborah said...

Looks and sounds wonderful. Will be trying a few of those! Glad the weather cooperated and you had a nice day!

Abulafia said...

Thanks. I wish I'd photographed the pestos too. Still.

That said, I'm nothing like as prolific as the recipefest yopu've been churning out over at hh.

BTW....enjoy Spain, eh.

Laura said...

Wecome back Abulafia! Any longer and a MIA e-mail would have to be sent out! But as you were cooking up a storm all is forgiven.
Great recipes and it's cool to see some photos too.
P.S. I need a sorbet recipe sent my way for a blog event, shameless of me I know, but you did mention a while ago that you wanted to make ice-cream again!

Caley said...

Just found your blog (sucked in by the tagline, haha).
I'm an American food writer/blogger moving to Dublin in the fall. Excited to read Irish food blogs like yours.

Might I suggest this for the Panzanella: Bergamot Vinaigrette

Abulafia said...

Thanks Laura. Been travelling around a bit as well. Got some more time off coming up, so I might pick up Ruhlmans Charcuterie and experiment again.

And workimng like crazy.

BTW, that Italian sausage sandwich looked delicious.

Caley...welcome to Dublin. Missing New York sushi yet?