Monthly Archives: June 2011

Turning Trapanese

Upon her return from Sicily , a good friend of mine coined the summer of 2011 as being “all about Pesto Trapanese”. After hearing a recommendation of that caliber, I had to try it. Plus, adding yet another recipe to my cooking repertoire that combines two of my favorite summer ingredients – tomatoes and basil? Yes, please.  Although I was already on a pesto kick for the summer and have certainly added a tomato or two to some of my previous pesto dishes, I had never mixed my ingredients quite like this.

So once I got home from work, I put my apron on and started my favorite part of the day.


Pesto Trapanese, taken from both Serious Eats and Sippity Sup:

  • 1 pound of spaghetti (in my case orrechiette)
  • 1/4 1b of almonds, skins on or off (I toasted them lightly)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled (I added 2)
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 large handfuls of basil
  • 5 oz of grated parmesan cheese
  • good olive oil (i used 1/2 cup total)
  • 1 lb of cherry tomatoes, blistered in a dry skillet (unable to find cherry, I used grape)

Bring a large pot of salty water to boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Meanwhile, toast the almonds lightly
Add the basil, garlic, tomatoes, almonds, salt, and chili flakes with two tablespoons of oil to the food processor,
blend (I pulsed a total of 14 times, adding only a tablespoon of olive oil at a time). Remove from the food processor
and transfer to a large bowl. Let the sauce sit for a few minutes before tossing with the pasta.

 


have a glass of wine

fini

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Sunday night miso

I have a binder full of recipes. It’s a mix of family and friend’s recipes, recipes that were copied down on napkins, tear outs from magazines and newspapers, and old/new recipes I have yet to try. Sundays are usually my menu planning and grocery shopping day (although today was also coupled with yard work). Although I was feeling tired, hot, and not very hungry, I was hungry enough to eat dinner. So I took this recipe out of the binder – Traditional Miso Soup, which was given to me by my friend Kris about 10 years ago. The only change that I made is that I used Oyster mushrooms instead of Shitaki and I added soba noodles for a little more substance.

Taking a break from meat this week; this was a good start.

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Cochon de lait

I traveled to Brattleboro, Vermont last weekend in celebration of the birthdays of my friends, Marco and Shawn. I went up there with 2 major things in mind – to celebrate birthdays and to roast, in the ground, a pig (and eat it). There were many things to be done prior to the party and pig roast, such as shopping, cleaning, decorating, and painting signs. We all knew that there was some work ahead of us, just not how much.

First we swam in the nearby lake, drank a few beers, bar-b-qued, and made fennel and arugula salad. We played lawn games, giggled with babies, watched dogs play, and talked among one other. It was after all of this that Marco, our host, and Nick, the farmer from TBA Farms who raised the pig (a 59 lb. Tamworth cross, a heritage breed) ventured out to find a spot for roasting. With rain in the forecast they chose a spot under some trees that seemingly had enough of a canopy. Then one by one those of us from the party ventured into the wooded spot and started to join in on the big dig.

Once the digging started it was promptly realized that there was an intricate system of roots not far beneath the surface, making our dig a bit more work than expected. Where there weren’t roots there were rocks. We dug and dug until dark, when we finally reached our goal – one foot (slightly over). Next step in the process was squaring out the corners but, as it started to get darker, we decided to stop working and light a fire in the pit to clear our excess root debris and to dry out the hole. We lit the fire, sat back, and enjoyed our workmanship along with some whiskey.

A 50% chance of showers turned into an all night long pounding rain storm. Upon waking, a few of us from the digging party found our newly dug hole to be a large muddy puddle. As a result, the first task of the day (which was supposed to be prepping the pig for the pit) turned into hanging tarps, scooping water, and trench digging.

Eventually, we did get to the prep, which to some may have seemed utterly grotesque, but for those who were involved it was like we were paying homage to the pig we would later eat that day. First, the dry rub was applied to the hog that had already been marinated with brown sugar, vinegar, and paprika. The pig was then sandwiched between two metal grates that were wired together from all sides. Marco, Shawn, Joe, and Nick then picked up the mass of pig and steel and gave it a flip before placing it on the charcoal pit. The temperature was expected to rest around 275 degrees for the duration of the roasting (around 8 hours).

Despite the rain, the roasting station quickly became the central location of the party during the rest of the extremely wet afternoon. As our Tamworth cross roasted, there were collard greens cooking, coleslaw and salads being assembled and cakes being baked. After the pig was taken off the pit, it rested for about a half an hour in the shed outside of the kitchen in which we were all cooking, drinking, and socializing. This was the only time during the entire process where I felt a tinge of sadness for the creature we were about to feast upon. However, when I went inside the warmth of the cabin with all of the guests who were cooking, plating food and drinking, the sadness dissipated. Perhaps it was just exhaustion.

Our final meal of roasted pork, pesto with pasta, tomato and mozzarella salad, coleslaw made with yogurt, collard greens made with the cured ham from the pig, pickled onions, and a baguette was exceptional. It may have been one of the best meals of my life, so far.

Must not forget our dessert: strawberry rhubarb pies and orange cake with lemon butter cream icing.

I loved Vermont.

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A Sunday shower

This weekend was the beginning of the wedding festivities for our friends Rebecca and Dave.

Today we threw them a shower.


The question was… what to cook for 40 people on a budget? We solved it perfectly.

We wanted our menu to be simple yet delicious. Since it was a brunch time shower we decided upon a vegetable frittata (potatoes, eggs, spinach, red peppers, red onions, cheese, garlic).
A very minimal but very flavorful salad of mixed greens and vinaigrette.
For dessert – cream biscuits with vanilla ice cream and strawberry/rhubarb compote.
To drink – homeade bloody marys garnished with olives and pickled jalapenos.
It was all quite simple yet very colorful and delicious.
We ate, drank, and were merry.
Cheers to the both of you.

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