July 2008

While Jamie’s Italy was the main inspiration for our meal, we did wander away from it for a few courses, namely fish and dessert. My roommate had just picked up a nice piece of salmon, and suggested that we incorporate it into the meal. We wanted something easy and flavorful and so we turned to Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food. This recipe is hidden away as a variation to her “Baked Wild Salmon with Herb Butter.” And all I have to say, is if this kind of genius is hidden in the variations, I’m going to have to start paying more attention to variations. The slow roast technique cooks the salmon perfectly: it remains moist and tender without any rawness or fishiness. We can’t wait to try this again

Slow Roasted Wild Salmon with Herbs (from Art of Simple Food)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds wild salmon fillet with skin on
herbs (we used basil, oregano, and parsley)
olive oil
1 lemon
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Oil a baking dish, and sprinkle the bottom with herbs.
3. Place salmon skin-side down on top of herbs. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until just set.
5. Make a lemon vinaigrette: combine juice of a lemon with a tablespoon of zest. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and three times as much olive oil. Adjust to taste and add salt and pepper. (I didn’t measure while making vinaigrette and Alice Waters doesn’t give a precise recipe either, just taste frequently and you will be fine.
6. Serve fish at room temperature, topped with lemon vinaigrette.

The second course, of our extravagant Italian meal, was a salad course, featuring another dish from the Almalfi coast. Jamie says that the key to this salad is to slice everything very thin, the thinner the better. Unfortunately, my knife skills are a little lackluster and I don’t own a mandolin, but we persevered anyway. This salad was a nice fresh light contrast to some of the heavier dishes with a lovely combination of flavors and textures. The vegetables are very crunchy with a strong bite, the orange has a pleasant softness and sweetness, and the vinaigrette complements them both.

Recipe after the Jump

When my friend Shannen came to visit me last weekend, we had already spent months talking about what we would cook. The gamut ran from the aforementioned croissants, to another round of homemade pasta, to a particular fried chicken recipe we’ve both wanted to try for a long time. However, when she actually showed up, it was with an early birthday present in tow: Jamie’s Italy. Suddenly, all other cooking plans dissipated and we found ourself building a menu for an Italian five course dinner. Being certifiable, we crafted the menu around noon, spent the afternoon shopping for ingredients, started cooking around 4:30, and actually managed to start eating at 7:30. We were very impressed with ourselves.

The food was fabulous, the wine was plentiful, and the company was amazing. What more can you ask of from an impromptu dinner party? In the next week, I will slowly unfold our menu, course by course. First up was the antipasti course, which involved two dishes. The first was a meat platter, which we crafted from the bountiful selection of Star Provisions. We built the platter around three meats: hot sopressata, bresaola, and pancetta. With the help of the cheese monger, we paired the sopressata and the bresaola with very different pecorinos, and we had our first dish. I believe that the pecorino we used with the sopressata was a pecorino sardo, it was mild and creamy and played well off of the spiciness of the sopressata. With the bresaola we used a classic pecorino romano, sharp and salty, shaved over the meat.

Our second antipasti dish was limoni di amalfi cotti al forno or amalfi baked lemons. We all agreed that this dish was one of the best of the evening. The cheese really picks up a strong lemon flavor and the anchovies melt away, leaving only a feint nuttiness. I had some trepidations about using the anchovies, having had a bad experience in the past. But apparently the key is getting jarred instead of canned, and splurging on higher quality anchovies doesn’t hurt either. Basil, picked fresh from my garden, and organic cherry tomatoes from my CSA finished off the dish nicely.

Recipe after the jump

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of, dare I say it, fun? Fun is a little dangerous in my world, with my PhD exams looming and a lot of reading on my plate. But it is refreshing sometimes to just let loose and live a little. Still, I haven’t been spending much time around the blog, and I realized today that I’m late to two blogging events I signed up to participate in: Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger (hosted by the Book of Yum) and Kate’s gluten-free barbecue.

When I signed up to Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, my plan was to make Naomi Poe’s croissants. Coming off of the Daring Baker challenge, croissants seemed suddenly doable. Also, Shannen was visiting me, and she and I share a love of croissants and a fascination with making them. Unfortunately, while last weekend involved a lot of food, it did not involve croissants, and I can’t bring myself to make them today. Call it sugar over-load, or just an excess of rich food, all i want to eat are salads and veggies, and I have so many leftovers in the fridge that I can’t. So I’m sorry Naomi, and I’m sorry Book of Yum, eventually I will make those croissants but not for this event.

For the gluten-free barbecue, I pulled the letter “G.” Try as I might, I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted to bring more than guacamole (perhaps with an accompanying margarita). On a very early post, I mentioned that the guacamole I grew up with, was a bit, untraditional. It involves serious quantities of mayonnaise. Most days, now, I make cleaner, more classic guacamole: avocado, garlic, onions, lime juice, tomatoes (rarely). But every once in awhile I crave my mom’s: extra-creamy, decadent version. It is great comfort food, and highly addictive. So, don’t blame me if you eat an entire bowl.

Recipe after the jump

I know my posting has been a little erratic of late, but I have lots of posts on the back burner, so bear with me, they’ll get here soon.

Tonight I have an easy recipe to share with you. I’m always looking for weeknight dinner recipes that I can pull together largely from the contents of my pantry. I’m not really the queen of meal planning, largely because I so often give into cravings. But I don’t like grocery shopping every day either. This meal was delicious, and fairly easy. The original recipe called for beef and some vegetables that I didn’t have on hand, but a few substitutions left me with a dinner I would happily repeat.

Recipe After the Jump