Archive for the 'Friendship' Category

Bean & Escarole Stew w/ Spiced Pastry Crisps; Pear Tart w/ Quince Glaze

A comforting dinner for a cold winter night w/ friends.

The bean stew tasted better than it looks in the photo. There was no time for food fluffing… I had party guests arriving at any minute! Kalamata rather than Castelvetrano olives were used.  I browned some ham chunks for the non-vegetarians to add to their stew if desired. The stew recipe also called for garlic rubbed rustic bread toast which I substituted w/ the spiced pastry crisps. They’re very easy to make… just roll out some pastry/pie dough, cut into slivers and sprinkle w/ harissa spice blend and freshly grated parmesan, then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

 Bartlett pears were used for the tart although after grocery shopping I learned they are not the preferred choice for baking. Supposedly they don’t hold up well when baked, but the tart turned out fine.

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Navy Bean and Escarole Stew (recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 heads garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion – chopped

1 fennel bulb – chopped

1 1/4 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

3 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 bay leaves

3 cups dried navy beans soaked overnight, drained

8 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 1/2 cups kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise

1 head escarole, leaves torn into 2 inch pieces

Procedure:

1) Smash garlic cloves w/ the flat side of a chef’s knife.

2) Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven, add garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden (approx. 5-7 min.).

3) Add onion and fennel, season lightly w/ salt, cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and onion and fennel are browned around the edges (approx. 10-15 min.).

4) Add lemon zest, rosemary and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until rosemary is very fragrant (approx. 3-5 minutes).

5) Add bay leaves, beans, 1 teaspoon salt and 12 cups of water; bring to a simmer.

6) Partially cover pot, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer stew until beans are creamy and tender all the way through (approx. 60-80 minutes).

7) Add olives to stew, then add escarole in batches, letting it wilt slightly before adding more; simmer until escarole is tender (approx. 3-5 minutes).

8) Pluck out bay leaves, adding more salt if necessary (keeping in mind the feta is salty, so don’t over season).

9) Serve stew w/ feta and spiced pastry crisps on the side.

Yield: approx. 6 servings

Pear Tart w/ Quince Glaze (recipe adapted from About Food)

Ingredients:

Your favorite pastry dough (I made enough for 2 discs so I could make the pastry crisps for the stew)

5 pears – peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise 3/8 inch thick (I cut the slices in half so it would be easier to arrange in the tart)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup quince jelly

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Roll out 1 disc of dough so that it’s large enough to line a 10 inch tart dish. Carefully place dough into tart dish by rolling it up on rolling pin and unrolling into dish and letting it settle into corners – don’t press or stretch dough to avoid shrinkage while baking ; evenly trim excess dough from edges of dish.

3) In a bowl, add sugar and lemon juice, then add pear slices and toss so that all slices are coated w/ the lemon/sugar mixture.

4) Arrange the pear slices in concentric circles on the tart dough as neatly as possible.

5) Place tart on middle rack in oven and bake until crust is a nice golden brown (approx. 50 minutes); rotate tart in oven halfway through for even baking.

6) While tart is baking, place quince jelly and 1/8 cup water in a small pot and cook over low heat to dissolve and thicken into a syrup consistency.

7) When tart comes out of the oven, evenly brush quince glaze onto the pears.

8) Serve tart warm or at room temperature (w/ a nice snifter of Armagnac to warm you and your guests up on a cold winter night!).

Yield; 6 to 8 servings depending on how you slice it!

 

Happy New Year!!

Bruno

Lamb Ribs w/ Pepper Jam Glaze; Charred Broccolini w/ Crimini Mushrooms and Agrodolce Sauce; Baby Potato Salad w/ Chives, Tarragon, Basil and Gherkin Vinaigrette

I had a few friends over the other night and served the following menu in honor of one of the friend’s birthday (recipes furnished upon request):

lamb-ribs-dinner1 Lamb Ribs w/ Pepper Jam Glaze

lamb-ribs-dinner3 Charred Broccolini w/ Crimini Mushrooms and Agrodolce Sauce

lamb-ribs-dinner2 Baby Potato Salad w/ Chives, Tarragon, Basil and Gherkin Vinaigrette

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

 

The Gastronomique Tour: Week 2 – Switzerland

The second and final week of my tour lands me in Switzerland to sample some of its delicacies (food and drink), and more importantly, visit w/ my cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen since 2004. My home base was Delemont, the town where my mom grew up and where most of my cousins still live. It’s close to the Alsace region of France so we visited a couple of beautiful towns just across the border – Kaysersberg and Colmar. Other stops were Lucerne (famous for its covered bridge), Vercorin and Grimentz (two alpine villages in the Valais region). Grimentz is one of the best preserved Swiss alpine villages in that region. 

One of my cousins introduced me to Damassine, a delicious eau de vie made from damson plums. It quickly became one of my favorite after dinner drinks, having a great aroma and flavor in addition to aiding in the digestion of wonderful meals. One evening we sautéed 2 types of local fresh trout purchased at the Delemont farmers market and of course we finished the meal w/ a bit of cheese and Damassine!

While in Vercorin, my cousin prepared a tradition meal called Assiette Valaisanne, which typically is a platter loaded w/ local cured meats, local cheeses, butter, thin slices of a dense rye bread called seigle, sliced fruit, nuts, cornichons and tomato wedges. This is served w/ wines produced regionally. It makes a delicious meal. Click here for an example.

It was hunting season while I was in Switzerland, so most restaurants offered seasonal dishes made w/ fresh game meat. I was fortunate to sample some venison and chamois prepare a couple of different ways during some of our meals out. One chef slowly braised chamois for 18 hours and served it w/ local mushrooms, spaetzle, seasonal vegetables and fruit. Another preparation was a roulade of venison breast stuffed w/ ground venison and served w/ red cabbage and spaetzle. Both were delicious!

When in Switzerland, I always hope to eat Raclette (a Swiss specialty). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat cheese. A picture is worth a thousand words as you will see in the photos of the Raclette lunch we ate at a cousin’s home one day.

I hope you enjoy these choice photos as much as I enjoyed my short time in Switzerland!

P1010958 Kaysersberg

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P1010985 Vineyards in Alsace

P1010986 Colmar (aka – “Little Venice”)

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P1020031 Very slow braised chamois at L’Etoile in Moutier

P1020038 After dinner at L’Etoile

P1020051 Lucerne

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P1020095 Delemont (my mom grew up in the building on the right – her dad’s bakery was on the bottom level)

P1020101 One of the many colorful fountains in Delemont

P1020148 Delemont farmers market

P1020130 Our trouts for the evening are the filets on the right

P1020143 Mushrooms galore

P1020209 Downtown Delemont

P1020213 Waiting for the Raclette

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P1020214 Yum!

P1020281 Vercorin

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P1020250 Grimentz

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P1020269 Our lunch spot in Grimentz

P1020276 On the menu…

P1020271 Veggie lasagna

P1020272 Braised venison

P1020273 Venison roulade

Au revior et a bientot j’espere!

Bruno

Asian Basil Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

asian basil gelato with roasted hazelnuts1

Here’s a good recipe if you still have basil growing in your yard and don’t know what to do w/ it. You could surprise your friends at whatever Thanksgiving gathering you attend this year by bringing something unusual! In this recipe I used Asian basil to add a more pungent flavor, but any basil will work. I also tried a new technique of letting the basil steep in the gelato base in the fridge for 2 days before churning. This punched up the flavor and color.

Basil Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

Ingredients:

1 cup Asian basil leaves (packed)

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 quart half & half

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (coarsely chopped)

Procedure:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow.

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded.

3) Very slowly whisk warm half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture.

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling.

5) Once cool, pour into a food processor, add basil and pulse until basil is finely chopped.

6) Pour back into bowl, cover (I use a shower cap that fits snuggly over the top) and place in fridge for 2 days.

7) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the hazelnuts when mixture begins to thicken.

8) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container and quickly stir to evenly distribute the hazelnuts and basil.

9) Place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm.

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts 

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Bruno

The Gastronomique Tour: Part 1, Week 1- Southwestern France

How do I edit a fantastic 2 week vacation during which I snapped 670 photos?… Not easily!

To sum it up, seeing family I hadn’t visited since 2004 was so enjoyable I wish I had more time to be w/ them. I definitely won’t let so much time pass before my next visit.

My first stop was Southwestern France. I landed in Bordeaux and spent the first week exploring the region surrounding Agen, the city where my brother and his wife live. This region is filled w/ great food and beautiful countryside which encompasses many well preserved medieval villages.

This post and the ones to follow will provide a visual taste of my experiences…

P1010639 Agen’s organic farmers market

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P1010661 Gavaudun

P1010683 Biron

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P1010712 Monpazier

P1010732 Bonaguil

P1010739 Rocamadour

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P1010839 Foie gras museum

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P1010873 Josephine Baker’s old house (Chateau des Milandes)

P1010881 Beynac

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P1010919 Our picnic spot (Roque – Gageac)

P1010920 Decadent picnic food

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A bientot!

Bruno

 

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Here are a few photos from the Christmas feast I attended:

Signing off until next year

Wishing you a fantastic, food filled 2015!!

Bruno

Posole w/ Lamb Shanks

According to Wikipedia, pozole (more commonly referred to as posole in the United States) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico. It used to have ritual significance. Since maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. The conjunction of maize (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mesoamericans believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough).

I spotted this recipe in the December 2013 edition of Food & Wine magazine. Traditionally posole is made w/ pork, however this recipe called for lamb shanks which appealed to me because I have a freezer full of grass-fed lamb from Missouri. It also sounded like a fantastic cold weather dish. It was so good that most of the friends I had over to partake in eating this posole asked for second helpings! I served the posole w/ sautéed kale and cornmeal bread for soaking up all the goodness.  Click here for cornmeal bread recipe.

Posole w/ Lamb Shanks (recipe adapted from Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, Athens, Georgia)

Ingredients:

6 lamb shanks

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

1 large red onion, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

4 medium carrots, diced

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

8 dried pasilla negro chiles, stemmed, 4 chopped

3 quarts low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Two 15 ounce cans of hominy, rinsed and drained

One 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cilantro, sliced avocado and lime wedges for serving

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2) In a large cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the lamb shanks w/ salt and pepper. Place 3 shanks in the pot and cook over moderate heat until browned all over. Transfer to a baking dish. Repeat the procedure w/ the remaining 3 shanks.

3) Add the garlic and half each of the onion, celery and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in the cinnamon, oregano, 1 teaspoon of the cumin and the chopped chiles. Add the lamb shanks and any juices, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours until the lamb is very tender.

4) In a heatproof bowl, cover the remaining chiles w/ 2 cups boiling water; soak for 30 minutes.

5) Transfer chiles and 1 cup of the liquid to a food processor; puree until smooth.

6) Transfer the lamb shanks to the baking dish and loosely tent w/ foil. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

7) Wipe out the pot. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pot, add the remaining onion, celery and carrots, then cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Stir in the chile puree, coriander, hominy, pinto beans and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin and cook for 2 minutes.

8) Add the strained broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season w/ salt and pepper. Add the shanks to the pot and cook until just heated through.

9) Serve the posole in bowls, passing the cilantro, avocado and lime wedges at the table.

Yield: 6 servings

 

Buena Fortuna!

Bruno

Thanksgiving 2013

Here are a few photos of the Thanksgiving feast I attended at a friend’s house. I contributed the cornmeal bread as requested. Thanks for your hospitality Pamela!

Turkey

Cornmeal bread

Sweet potatoes w/ lemons

Roasted root vegetables

Carved turkey

Dressing

Fingerling potatoes

I hope you all had a pleasant holiday. I’m thankful for having such a great group of friends!

Bruno

Lamb and Mushroom Pizza w/ Sourdough Crust

Last night’s dinner w/ friends. Recipe furnished upon request…

May your stomach always be happy!

Bruno

“Green Eggs and Ham” – Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Scallops w/ Wasabi Tobiko on a Bed of Lemon Vinaigrette Dressed Frisee Salad

*click photo to enlarge

Made this appetizer w/ some friends and thought I’d share the photo that one of my friends snapped that evening. This dish used to be on the menu at Remy’s back when Ben Davis and Ivy Magruder were the chefs there. It’s a delicious way to start off a great meal! We had red wine braised swordfish w/ roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed Swiss chard for our main course. Dessert was fresh berries w/ cookies. Wines of evening were a 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac w/ dinner and a Mount Pleasant port w/ dessert. Thank you Paul and Laurie for bringing these great wines!!

Bon Appetit!

Bruno