Wednesday, June 11, 2014

gratin de poireaux

recipe is in James Peterson's <i>Vegetables</i>:

trim dark greens from, split lengthwise, rinse the grit from

1 bunch of leeks

line in oblong tian or gratin dish, the pour over

1 c heavy cream

sprinkle with


bake in oven 375F for 1 hr, taking out now and then to tamp down and moisten with the boiling cream. i imagine it'd be good with creme fraiche as well.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tomatillo salsa

To commemorate the Denver Bronco's record-breaking fifth super bowl loss, I have invented the following salsa.

Cover with boiling water in a bowl

about 1lb of tomatillos, husks removed.
(3) big jalapeños

Let sit five minutes. This step is designed to remove any bitter flavors in the skins. You can skip it if you are unscrupulous.

Cut the seeds and veins out of two of the jalapeños, and the stem off of all of them. This step is designed to get more jalapeño flavor without making the salsa too hot. You can skip it if you don't care how hot the salsa gets.

Place jalapeños and tomatillos in a small stock pot with

1/2 med. onion
(2) cloves garlic, crushed
1 t salt
1 T oil
about 1/2 c boiling water (i actually don't know how much water i used when i made it)

simmer over med-low heat for 45 minutes.

set a coarse-meshed sieve over a bowl. remove with a slotted spoon, and then using a pestle, mash the tomatillos and the one jalapeño with seeds in it through the sieve. the purpose of this step is to remove the seeds but keep all of the pulp and fiber, which has flavor. you could use a food mill for this step if necessary. you could also skip this step entirely but then i no longer warrant the results.

place the jalapeño-tomatillo puré back in the stock pot. add:

2 T olive oil
2 t vinegar

blend it all with an immersion blender. i introduced this step because the salsa was too thin when i made it. it turned out to improve the flavor and texture. i was going to add vinegar anyways to balance the tomatillos.

it should be smooth and glossy and somewhat thin for salsa. adjust the salt as necessary.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pasta e fagioli

I have tried multiple versions of this recipe and this is the one I currently like best. I am writing down a version I cooked based on notes taken during the PBS show Lidia's Italy in America. I ignored, mis-transcribed or contradicted some points of Lidia's recipe, so the one she cooked will look quite different from mine. Also she didn't give amounts and I didn't use measuring cups; measurements are approximate. I write the way I cooked it the first time, and in parentheses mention how Lidia cooked it and how I cooked it the second time.

Mince (Lidia processed to a paste but I just used a chef's knife):

4 cloves garlic
about 1T fresh rosemary
about 4 oz. bacon

warm in a heavy pan and let fat render. Chop (again, Lidia used a food processor and I a knife):

2 carrots
1/2 large white onion

add to the pan and fry until onions translucent. now add:

a little salt
(1) anaheim pepper, chopped (Lidia used pepperoncini; 2nd time i used a handful of little pickled pepperoncini, and had more from the jar as garnish)
(1) 22 oz. can italian plum tomatoes (Lidia instead used tomato paste, so her soup was much less tomato-like)
1t white vinegar (Lidia didn't add this, but i added it to balance the tomatoes; 2nd time i put 2T of brine from the pepperoncini jar instead of vinegar)

bring to a boil and add:

4 c hot beef stock (Lidia used boiling water)
1c (dry basis) white beans cooked in water with bay leaves, and their cooking liquid (Lidia put rehydrated but raw beans; 2nd time i used 2c)
(2) medium potatoes, peeled and cut in big dice
black pepper

meanwhile boil in as little water as possible a pound of

1lb pennene (like penne, but smaller [Lidia used ditalini; 2nd time i used elbows])

when potatoes are done, partly mash the soup with bean masher. remove pasta from pasta water when al dente with a fry basket and set aside. there should be about 2c pasta water left. dump this into the soup. Lidia just put the dry pasta in the soup to cook. i consider my method superior because you still get the texture benefit of the pasta starch but pasta does not expand in the soup while storing.

serve bowls, putting pasta to your liking.