Friday, August 23, 2013

A Month of Intense Cooking II

Yesterday's post listed the better main courses I have made in the last month. As I said there, July and August are for fruit and ice cream, so virtually not cakes and tarts until last night.

Here are some of the best appetizers and side dishes of the past month:
  • “squished” boiled and roasted potatoes - baby Yukon golds boiled in salted water until almost done, then slightly smashed with your hand or a mallet, put on a roasting pan with a little olive oil and pepper and roasted at 400 for 45 minutes
  • heirloom tomato salad - copious quantities of tomatoes cut up, salted and left to drain for 45 minutes, then mixed with dried oregano, red wine vinegar and oil, topped with chunks of torn mozzarella (preferably di bufalo) and basil
  • melon gazpacho - chunks of ripe musk (or other orange) melon blended with coconut milk, lime juice, chile powder, cinnamon, agave syrup, diced cucumber and mint
  • 2-hour polenta (made with coarse stone ground corn meal) with pecorino and butter added at the end - the slow cooking breaks down the meal for a wonderful taste and texture
  • “rillettes” of fresh and smoked salmon, served on toasted baguette slices
  • tarragon French style (no mayo) potato salad - first wine, then a mustard tarragon vinaigrette poured over the still-hot boiled potatoes (baby Yukon Golds cut into halves or quarters)
  • Bobby Jay’s no-cream corn soup with pistachio oil and crushed roasted pumpkin seeds
I make a salad nearly every night, usually a simple vinaigrette with tarragon, chives, dill, thyme or a combination, parmesan cheese, scallions and cherry or grape tomatoes if they're particularly good. My favorite salad of the past month:
  • Mustard greens with anchovy mustard vinaigrette, scallions, tarragon, parmesan and cherry tomatoes. The bitter greens (you can substitute dandelion or other bitter greens) need a bold vinaigrette with strong flavors as counterpoint: don't skimp on the anchovies or mustard, which are what make this work.
Recipes on request.

Bobby Jay

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Month of Intense Cooking

J broke her foot while we were in Perigord and has been quite immobile for more than a month. As a result, I have been preparing nearly all of our meals, every day, with rare outings and only occasional takeout. Quite different from our normal lifestyle, where we eat out two to four times a week and never eat lunch at home during the week.

So what to cook to keep life interesting and to avoid the feeling (no matter how true) of being shut in?

Well, it's summer, so we have been eating lots of tomatoes, corn and stone fruit and berries. And lots of homemade ice cream, including ginger, matcha, kinako (Japanese toasted soy flour powder), kuro gomma (Japanese black sesame seeds) and honey-rosemary, as well as homemade yogurt, to accompany the fruit. Few tarts and cakes in order to avoid using the oven in the heat (but see below).

For main courses, an eclectic mix of seafood, poultry, meat, pasta and vegetables, as we are omnivores. Among the best dishes were some old favorites and some new discoveries (recipes available on request, subject on rare occasion to copyright issues):
  • Roast Sicilian grilled pork loin
  • Broiled miso glazed black cod
  • Grilled (well, broiled) chicken with curried whole wheat couscous
  • Peel and eat shrimp with barbecue sauce
  • Skillet grilled thick barbecue pork chops
  • Baltimore style crab cakes Pan roasted lamb chops with za'atar
  • Pork tenderloin with balsamic peaches
  • Veal scallopini with capers and lemon
  • Iraqi yellow rubbed chicken thighs
  • Ostrich burgers
  • Spanish style shrimp with toasted pasta
  • Grilled fresh Tuscan tuna salad
  • Egg noodles with pressure cooked veal breast sugo
  • Thai ginger rubbed grilled salmon (with unbelievable salmon caught by our neigbor)
  • Moules marinière
  • Spaghettini with tomato conserva, pancetta and pecorino
  • Puy lentil salad
  • Lamb burger with crumbled feta and crispy fried shallots
  • Ostrich steaks with chimichurri sauce
  • Veal involtini with prosciutto and parmesan
  • Indian style cubes of boneless chicken breasts
  • Chinese chicken salad 
People often ask me what kind of food I cook and the above demonstrates why I can't answer.

I will deal with best appetizers and sides in a later post. I can't close this post without a picture, though, even if it is dessert, borrowed from yesterday's New York Times: fig cake.

Fig Cake from recipe by David Tanis (New York Times)

Bobby Jay