Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Got to Go to Volt.

That is all...for your viewing pleasure-- I got to go to Brian Voltaggio's Volt in Frederick, Maryland.
Let's start with the Amuse Bouche-Beet meringue with foie gras, a twist on shrimp and grits and arctic char with Meyer lemon (loved loved loved)
Course 1. Pickled huckleberries. Daikon. Umm. Country Ham...and stuff...oh, ramps?? I need study notes.
Course 2. Maitake mushrooms w steel cut oats and a foam of beer and yeast. I think. (see comment above about needing notes...

Course 3: Arctic char with rye crumbs, caramelized cabbage..and..NOTES PLEASE! Here's what. The fish was awesome. Silky smooth, perfectly cooked. Awesome  dish.

Course 4: Pasta. Calamari Bolognese..Bacon. Mmm.

Course 5: Lamb. I think this was my fave, even though I thought I was done w the savory dishes...fried kale, too.
Course 6: Are you still with me? Frozen chocolate mousse. Ice cream. Crunchy brittle...Homemade marshmallow.
Are you full yet? Too bad. Because you get petit fours:
And  tasted each one:

Then I PAINTED them...(okay.  I lie. I did that today...)

and then? Then they sent us home w mini coffee cakes. So we could wake up and eat at Volt at Home...

The end.
It was pretty wonderful and very special.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Smashed Roasted Potatoes OR Another Reason to Use Duck Fat

I love potatoes. And I love luxurious things like duck fat. Duck fat I can buy already rendered and in a jar. I like this as a side dish to a nice turkey dinner...oh, and hey. Just in time for you to work it into your (American) Thanksgiving dinner menu. (Sorry to you Canadians--missed you by a day.)

So for a bit (okay, a lot) of indulgence, I decided to roast red potatoes WITH duck fat. Win win, right?

And these are simple.

1. Cook potatoes until just tender. I tried to buy very evenly-sized potatoes so they all cooked at the same rate--I bought slightly large potatoes and cut them in half--more surface area to get all nice and toasty, duck-fat-brown. Now heat oven to 425F.
2. Let potatoes cool slightly. Place in bowl with duck fat (enough to coat them all and then some, okay?).
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Pour potatoes out onto baking sheet, shaking them into one single layer, cut side down if you had to cut your potatoes (if the potatoes are small enough, you can just cook them whole). Smash each potato just enough to break the skin and reveal some of the good insides.

If you want, drizzle a smidge more duck fat onto the open potatoes. Salt generously.
4. Roast until the potatoes start to turn golden brown.
5. Eat too many.

Any questions?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Most Requested Dinner...

When I ask Bryn what she would like for a special dinner, it is always "Eva's Lasagne," which happens to be real Italian lasagne, which I happen to make from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking...I just don't do the spinach noodles. Eva made it with plain noodles the first time Bryn tasted it, and that is the way she remembers it..

So Friday, I made Marcella's bolognese. Added silky bechamel to it.

I made my own lasagne noodles--rolled to #8 on the Atlas pasta machine, so thin you can read through them. I precooked them the way Marcella says to (this was the step I whined about the first time and brought Marcella herself to my blog to say: suck it up buttercup. Why would you want to do it less than the right way?? I paraphrase, of course.)

 I made a lot of layers. A lot.

And it was good.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marcella's Chicken Marches Style--Egg and Lemon

How fitting I learned of Marcella Hazan's death on Facebook--my first interaction with her was a whine after making her lasagne bolognese--couldn't I please skip the step of par-boiling the noodles? She was the first comment:
Marcella Hazan said...
NO! You are doing so well, why backslide?
I practically did back flips--I bragged, I made people go read her comment (more than the blog)..then I went and friended her on Facebook, where I followed her over the next three years. Just last week she invited people to weigh in on the merits of homemade "extruded" pasta (think...penne and rigatoni ...tubular stuff...). She didn't like homemade versions and preferred to get top quality dried--(not noodles, mind you: homemade all the way). 

I worked my way through other recipes of hers..they all stressed simple methods, great food. Don't overdo things. (I mean, LOOK at that lasagne. Noodles, sauce..parmesan. And it's awesome.)

Tonight, I knew I wanted simplicity and I knew I wanted it to be from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This dish, fricassee chicken with lemon and egg, Marches style, was it. The ingredients list is short: butter, onion, chicken, stock, egg yolk, lemon juice. The method--melt the butter, add onion to skillet and cook until golden. Add chicken, seasoned with salt and peper, to skillet. Brown the chicken very well. Remove chicken breasts, leave thighs and legs in skillet. Add stock to skillet, cover skillet (lid ajar) and let simmer about 40 minutes. Uncover, return chicken breasts to skillet, and cook, simmering at least 10 minutes, then turn heat up some, and continue cooking, turning chicken from time to time, until sauce is almost gone. Remove pan from heat. Whisk yolks (2) and lemon juice (1/4 cup, about 2 lemons) together, then stir into sauce in skillet, stirring to combine and coat chicken (the yolks cook and thicken with the heat)..

The end result is chicken that was so tender, it almost just fell apart and it was full of flavor. This is a classic example of simple Italian cooking at its best. At Marcella's best. Tonight's dinner was for you, Marcella.

Here's the recipe from a group that cooked its way through the entire book. Good idea, folks.