Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Let's eat in.

I've been doing a lot of cooking lately but little blogging, and there are many things I prepared recently that are worth mentioning but don't warrant their own posts - maybe some of them do, but I am eager to clear them from my blog-this list and move on. In my excitement about being able to cook autumn-y things with autumn-y ingredients I have gotten so behind in my blogging that I'm going to split this up into two posts. So, part I:

  • Linguine with cauliflower and brown butterVery good. This is a powerful argument in favor of eating in, particularly if you consider that at home the wine flows freely and at cost and there is never a wait for a table, a snotty hostess, a meathead with a booming voice at the table next to you, or a charge for packing up your leftovers.

    linguine with cauliflower and brown butter

    The recipe is here. Yes, it's a Martha Stewart recipe. Yes, you may snicker as you recall 1,001 how-to-crochet-a-cozy-for-your-shiv jokes, but I've tried a couple of MS recipes and they've all turned out well. I have to add, though, that I have a friend who worked for her once, years ago, and quit before the first day was over. (Martha whistled at her like a dog in an effort to get her to fetch or carry something). Perhaps Martha gained something in the way of humility during her time in the clink? Anyhow, if you don't have any fresh sage I think thyme or rosemary would be good in this recipe in its place.

  • Radish greens soup — Wow, this was a pleasant surprise. I picked up a bunch of organic radishes at the greenmarket and didn't want to throw away their lovely greens, so I googled around looking for a way to use them and found this soup recipe from Madeleine Kamman's The New Making of a Cook: The Art, Techniques, and Science of Good Cooking. Even without the mustard-sour cream garnish this was terrific soup. The radish greens have a bit of bite, like watercress or wild arugula; the taste is reminiscent of spring but the soup is hearty enough to be dinner on a cold night if, as Kamman recommends, you supplement it with bread and cheese.

    chopped radish greens radish greens soup

    blanched radishes
    I'm not sure of the reason for cooking the sliced radishes in water and vinegar before adding them to the soup but they were so pretty when they were done. Their texture was nice, too; they became velvety, and reminded me a bit of lotus root. And did you know that radishes are incredibly good for you? Here, read this. They have vitamin C, folate, potassium, and "sulphurous compounds that have anti-cancer properties." I'd like to try braising them soon, and maybe make some type of radish gratin or galette as well.

  • Monkfish and clams with chorizo — I saw the recipe for this in the L.A. Times dining section and had to try it right away, seeing as I already had chorizo left over from the paella below. Sadly this one looks better than it tasted because I overcooked the monkfish. I usually have excellent luck with fish by adhering to the ten-minutes-per-inch rule, and the fact that the fish here was cut into small chunks really threw me off. It was still good, though, and very much worth trying again. I don't see any reason not to use monkfish cut into fillets; it would look just as nice, if not better, and I find it much easier to cook properly.

    I used heirloom tomatoes rather than plum tomatoes because that's what I had, and I did not blanch and peel them. You could definitely use good canned tomatoes in this dish, but even if you don't it's still easy enough to cook on a weeknight. There really isn't much to do besides a bit of chopping and giving the clams a brisk scrub.

    monkfish and clams with chorizo

  • Chicken paella with chorizo and Amontillado sherry — This was an important lesson: You can make a respectable paella without a paella pan as long as you have the right type of rice. You probably also shouldn't plan on feeding more than four people; to make a larger paella I think you would definitely want the right pan because otherwise the liquids might not be absorbed before the rice gets overcooked.

    A couple months ago I foolishly ordered enough Bomba rice from La Tienda to feed an army, so we were going to have paella with or without the proper pan. (Yes, you can use Bomba for other dishes besides paella, yes I've tried some of them, and I still had plenty of Bomba in the cabinet). This is a v-e-r-y simple paella and there isn't much else in it besides a ton of garlic, but I was really pleased with how it turned out. I used a jarred Spanish garlic from La Tienda that is very flavorful but not at all sharp or harsh; if your garlic is either of those I would definitely reduce the quantity.

    paella with chicken, chorizo, and Amontillado Sherry, with Swiss chard on the side

    My recipe file says that this recipe is from The Spanish Table but I don't see it on their site; I think maybe they sent it with something I ordered.

    ¼ cup Spanish olive oil
    4 chicken thighs
    2 links chorizo [I only used one; the ones I had were rather large]
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    2 cups Spanish short-grain rice, such as Bomba
    1 cup Barbadillo Amontillado Sherry
    3 cups chicken stock

    Heat the olive oil in a paella pan and brown the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add onions and saute until wilted. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add chorizo and cook until fat is released. Add rice and stir to coat. Add sherry and bring to a boil. When sherry is absorbed by the rice, add chicken stock, reduce heat and simmer until rice is done (20-25 minutes).

    [Directions lightly edited edited again for clarity].

    That's Swiss chard on the side, and as you can see I did not throw away the thickest parts of the stems. All they need is a bit of extra cooking time; throw them into a big pot of boiling water 2 or 3 minutes before adding the chopped leaves and they'll be perfect.

    Before the paella we had Food & Wine's tuna-piquillo pepper butter spread on slices of baguette. I had high hopes for this because I made something similar a few months ago (Michael Chiarello's Spuma di Tonno) and was startled by how incredibly delicious it was. I didn't like the tuna-piquillo butter anywhere near as much, but maybe that's just my pepper issues talking. I used to love both red and green peppers and now I dislike them intensely; I was hoping piquillo peppers would be more appealing but no, they weren't.

  • Penne with mushrooms — This was good but not particularly memorable. I made this because I wanted something with mushrooms to accompany the wine we picked up that afternoon, a 2005 Chiorri Grechetto.

    Grechetto Chiorri 2005 Bianco Umbria white wine

    The Astor Wines description was irresistible: "The Grechetto grape variety is at home in the region of Umbria nestled right in the middle of Italy. This is an earthy white wine with aromas of raw honey, cannabis and sage. Dry on the palate but rich in texture and aromas. Excellent with Farro or mushroom risotto."

    oyster, enoki and white button mushrooms penne with mushrooms

    It did indeed have an aroma of cannabis, a nice one, not the aroma of my neighbor's cheap skunky crap. I didn't feel like making risotto to go with it so I sauteed shiitake, oyster and white button mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, seasoned them with salt, pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and added a package of enoki mushrooms when they were nearly done cooking. (Enokis are very delicate and don't need to cook for more than a couple minutes). Tossed with penne and grated parmesan, this was a satisfying dinner, but I wouldn't bother making it again; there are too many other pasta recipes I like better.


  1. Your autumn-y things with autumn-y ingredients look mighty fine. Radish soup sounds interesting and the paella looks delicious.

    I'm printing out the recipe for Spuma di Tonno. I like the idea of being startled by something's incredible deliciousness.

  2. i have a ton of recipes for cooked radishes at home in one of my Shaker cookbooks (it's all shaker all the time in my brain recently)
    apparently they were very, very fond of cooking the pretty little things
    I'll copy some out and send them to you if you'd like!
    what a fun roundup, can't wait for part II!

  3. lacon con grelos!!! haven´t had that for ages. But I´ve never ever had cooked radishes, that´s quite new. must try.