Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Tomato Soup

(Recipe from a magazine, I'm not sure which one.)

Serves 8

3 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and seeded (I neither peeled nor seeded)
1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I only peeled, not seeded)
3 large stalks celery, without tops, ribs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. tarragon vinegar
10 small basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 c. vegetable stock
salt & pepper to taste

Put all ingredients except stock and salt & pepper into a blender or a food processor and process to a rough texture.  Pour into a large bowl and stir in stock (if soup is too thick, add a little extra stock).  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Serve either at room temperature or slightly chilled.

(I made this for Justin.  It's a delicious gazpacho!  No cooking!  I used heirloom tomatoes.  Make sure you like tarragon.)

Spaghetti with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Sauce

(recipe from The Wednesday Chef, online)

Serves 3 or 4

1 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
2 sprigs thyme or oregano, chopped (I used dried)
1 c. stock or water
2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, minced
6 leaves basil, sliced thinly
salt and pepper
1 lb. spaghetti

Lightly salt the slices of eggplant, stack them back together and let sit for 20 minutes.

Put the olive oil in a wide, heavy saucepan, add the garlic cloves, and set over low heat.

Dry off the eggplant, cut it into chunks.  When you start hearing the garlic sizzle a little and can smell it, drop in your eggplant and stir to coat it all with oil.  Turn up the heat a little bit to medium high and add the thyme or oregano and stir.  When the eggplant is turning translucent and softening, add the liquid, let it come to a boil, and turn it back down to medium-low.  Let it bubble for a bit and cover it, leaving a crack for steam to escape.  Stir once in a while so that the bottom doesn't stick.

After about 20 minutes or so, the liquid in the eggplant pan should be mostly evaporated and the eggplant should be soft and melting.  Mash it with a fork or spoon, and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Toss the eggplant puree with the spaghetti that you cooked al dente.  Stir in the minced tomatoes and basil.  You can drizzle on some more oil.  Serve immediately.

(Made for Justin on 8/26/11, a peace offering after our Wednesday night fight.  We ate it with a simple salad of greens, tomatoes, radishes, and mustard vinaigrette (left over from the potato salad) and some focaccia.  Justin surprised me with potato salad for my lunches.  We watched the movie Flesh & Bone and drank a lovely organic red table wine.  This eggplant sauce wasn't as flavorful as I'd thought it would be.  I used whole wheat fusilli, which cradled the sauce nicely, but perhaps the whole wheat was too overpowering for the sauce.  Also, next time I'd add more garlic, sundried tomatoes, and oregano.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spring Salad with New Potatoes and Pickled Spring Onions

(recipe from Smitten Kitchen, online)

2 lbs. small new or fingerling potatoes (a mix of reds and golds is nice)
1 lb. asparagus
1/4 lb. snap peas, green beans or other spring pea
4 small-to-medium radishes, thinly sliced

Pickled Spring Onions
3 spring onions
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar (I used honey)

Sharp Mustard Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 tsp. smooth Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with one inch of water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the tip of a knife easily pierces through a potato.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool until they're almost room temperature.  You can hasten this by covering them with cold water, and replacing the water a few times as it warms up.

Meanwhile, pickle your spring onions.  Whisk vinegar, water, salt, and sugar together in a small container with a lid until the salt and sugar dissolve.  Slice the bulbs and paler green parts into very thin coins and submerge them in the vinegar mixture.  Cover and put in the fridge until you're ready to use them; if you can put them aside for an hour or even overnight, the better.  Reserve the onion greens.

Refill the saucepan you used for the potatoes (here's to fewer dishes!) with salted water and bring it to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath, a large bowl with ice and water in it.  Trim the tough ends off the asparagus.  Once the water is boiling, add the asparagus.  One minute later, add the snap peas.  Two minutes later, drain both together then dump them in the ice bath until chilled.  Drain the vegetables and spread them out on a towel to absorb excess water.

Slice the cooked asparagus spears and snap peas into 1/2-inch segments and place them in a large bowl.  Chop potatoes into moderate-sized chunks and add them to the bowl.  Cut the radishes as thinly as possible.  If they're especially big, you can first quarter them lengthwise.  Cut the reserved onion greens into thin slivers and add them to the bowl.

When you're ready to serve the salad, or an hour or two in advance, whisk the dressing ingredients and toss it with the vegetables, to taste.  (You may find you don't want to use all of it.)  Stir in as many pickled onion coins as you please.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Do ahead:  Pickles can be started in the day or days before.  Potatoes can be boiled and chilled in fridge overnight, as can other vegetables.  Vinaigrette can be made in advance as well, but you may want to wait till the last minute to toss it with the vegetables, as the vinegar, over a long sitting time, can ever-so-slightly discolor the cut edges of the asparagus and beans.

(I made this 8/24/11 with the intention of it being for my week's lunches.  Justin came over to drink old-fashioned's and watch Mad Men.  We ended up eating most of the potato salad, too.  Justin said it was the best!  It is ridiculously good, especially if you're a mustard lover like me.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Negroni Sbagliato

(recipe and story from La Cucina Italiana magazine)

"The house specialty at the legendary Bar Basso, which trailblazed Milan's aperitivo scene in the 1960's, translates as "wrong" or "mistaken" Negroni - a fitting name for a cocktail born from a happy mistake.  Maurizio Stocchetto, proprietor of Bar Basso and son of the famed aperitivo maestro Mirko Stocchetto, says one night his father was reaching for gin for a classic Negroni and grabbed a misplaced bottle of spumante by accident.  A customer urged him to add the bubbly instead of the gin.  An instant hit, the drink became the bar's signature.  The original Negroni has similar origins.  In the 1920's, Count Camillo Negroni had his bartender in Florence swap gin for the soda water in an Americano (Campari and sweet vermouth topped with soda water).  There's no telling whether the old Count would have approved of the Negroni Sbagliato, but any number of Bar Basso's stylish clientele will attest to the drink's allure."

makes 1 drink

1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce dry spumante
orange slice for garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice.  Add Campari, vermouth, and spumante, in that order.  Gently stir and garnish with orange slice.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

White Beans with Persillade (Garlic & Parsley)

(recipe from a magazine, not sure which one)

Serves 6-8.

Soak 2 c. flageolet or navy beans in a large bowl of water to cover for at least 4 hours at room temperature (or overnight in the refrigerator). Drain. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add 1 whole, peeled, large yellow onion and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Add the beans and water to cover by about 1 inch. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until beans are tender, about an hour or two. Serve garnished with a mixture of 1/4 c. finely chopped fresh parsley and 2 peeled, finely chopped, large garlic cloves.

(These beans are the bomb! Yes, the onion just sits whole in the middle of the beans. But when all is cooked, just cut the onion apart and mix in. The whole thing is creamy deliciousness. Reminds me of the white bean appetizer at Nodding Head, Colleen - remember?)

Summer Squash with Mint, Parsley, and Basil

(recipe from a magazine, not sure which one)

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. mixed summer squashes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 basil leaves, chopped
6 mint leaves, chopped
A few sprigs Italian parsley, leaves chopped
salt & pepper
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium flame. Add squash; saute 5 minutes, until tender and barely brown. (Squash should retain shape and bright color.)

Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Add basil, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Toss. Serve immediately.

(Justin made this, and continues to make it! It is light and delicious.)

Pear, Endive, and Watercress Salad

(I think this recipe is from Bon Appetit)

6 servings

3 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped shallot
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp. walnut oil
2 heads endive, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
1 large bunch watercress, trimmed
1 medium head of radicchio, torn into small pieces
1/4 c. fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 ripe pears, cored, thinly sliced
1/2 c. walnut halves, toasted

Whisk vinegar, shallot, and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in walnut oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Combine endive, watercress, radicchio, and parsley in large bowl. Add sliced pears and walnuts. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide among plates and serve.

(Made this for Justin.)

Mango Tango Smoothie

(recipe from a magazine, I'm not sure which one)

1 serving

1 c. ripe mango (I used frozen)
1 seedless orange, peeled
1/2 c. yogurt (I use coconut milk yogurt)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. water

Blend together all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve in a tall glass.

(Made this for Colleen the morning of 7/30/11. It's delicious. Later, we went to Long Island, ME. Lovely day.)

Fennel, Frisee, and Escarole Salad

(recipe from an Italian cooking magazine)

3 Tbsp. minced shallot
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 small head escarole, torn into bite-size pieces
1 small head frisee, torn into bite-size pieces
1 small fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced or shaved
1/4 cup olive oil
chopped and toasted walnuts

Stir together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toss together greens and fennel in a salad bowl.

Whisk oil into shallot mixture, then toss with salad. Top with walnuts.

(This recipe was made 7/29/11 with Colleen before the Beirut concert. We drank champagne.)