Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Sicky Soup

Yup, I went to the bodega and got canned chicken soup.

Your soundtrack for this entry: me sneezing.

The Za'atar Lamb Chops and Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts

I came so close to making fish. Then it was almost another pasta. Then I figured just because I love pasta, you dear readers would think that's all I could make. Bah! The lamb caught my eye and the lamb's what I made. My arteries probably hate me now, but who needs them?

So, what's za'atar? Until a few months ago I didn't know either, but the Thrifty Sifter made some of her own and conveniently left it at my place. Essentially it's a Middle Eastern equivalent to salt and pepper in that it's the spice. Serious Eats has a more in-depth za'atar description. It goes great on meat, as I proved to myself last night.

Overall this was an extremely simple dinner to make.

Ingredients for lamb chops:
- lamb chops
- fresh ground pepper
- salt
- za'atar

Ingredients for brussels sprouts:
- brussels sprouts
- olive oil
- salt
- pepper
- shaved parmesan

To paraphrase Heidi Swanson, whose golden crusted brussels sprouts entry I perused, this isn't much of a recipe. Hell I would barely consider the above a list of ingredients. You can essentially follow her directions for the brussels sprouts. The only change I really made was using shaved parmesan.

Also, you should take her advice about using small sprouts. I'm battling a cold and don't feel so hot, so I rushed through the grocery store produce section instead of hitting up my regular United Bros. Fruit Company across the street. Some of my sprouts were on the large side and, yes, they burned and didn't make it to the final plate.

The lamb chops are a simple affair, too. Sprinkle salt on both sides, grind pepper on both sides, and dust both sides with za'atar. Let sit for 15 minutes or so, then sear them in a skillet over medium heat to desired doneosity. Let them rest a few minutes and serve. 

And yeah, even though I'm sick, I had to have a beer with dinner. That's a Hop Noir from Peak Organic, a black IPA. NOM!

Your soundtrack for this entry: Ghost - Ritual.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Late last month the Thrifty Sifter and I took off to Tuscany for a week of fun in the hills and walking the streets of Florence. We also made a pit stop in Ferrara to see some old family friends. I'll do a feature on some of the food we had there in a future post.

Of course, I brought back about ten pounds of Tuscany near my middle and still had a hankering for pasta. It's also the case that I eat entirely too much pork and beef and wanted something non-chicken. Enter the desire for a clam sauce.

This recipe was adapted from the May 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. About the most difficult part of it is waiting for the clams to open.

- Kosher salt
- spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (I used my own dried chilis.)
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine
- 2 pounds of littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons of flat leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped

First hint: really scrub those clams under cold running water. I worked in a seafood restaurant for several years and I can tell you this is hugely important. You want to get all the nooks and crannies so you don't end up with grit. Who likes grit? Not me!

Here you can plainly see I went and used way more than two tablespoons of parsley. I like parsley. While you're prepping this, bring about 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a 5 quart saucepan. If you don't know the measures, put enough water in a big one to cover the pasta. The cooking time will vary, but boil the pasta for about six minutes, which is a few minutes from tender. This is your second hint: really do this. Otherwise you'll overcook the pasta. Then drain and keep a half cup of the liquid in reserve. 

These are my temporary scrubbed clam friends hanging out in a coffee mug. No grit. No brains, neither.

While you're boiling up the pasta, you should get started on the clam sauce. Pre-heat a large skillet on medium, add three tablespoons of the olive oil once it's piping. Add the garlic and stir until it's on the golden side of golden brown. Then add the red pepper flakes and stir for another 15 seconds or so. Add the wine, then the clams, and crank the heat up to high. Cover and cook until the clams opens to release their briny juices. That's probably about six minutes. As the clams open and give up the ghost, use some tongs to pull them out and set aside. 

Here are several other things you can do with tongs

Hello clams!

Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta liquid to the skillet, bring it to a boil, and add the pasta and continue to cook on high. Toss the pasta to coat thoroughly while it cooks until the pasta is al dente and absorbs some of the flavour of the liquid. 

Put the clams back in along with any juices and the parsley. Combine thoroughly. If it seems a little dry, add some more reserved pasta liquid. Transfer to bowls and drizzle with remaining olive oil. 

I'm quite pleased with this dish. 

Your soundtrack for this entry: Garbage - Big Bright World

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Time I Made Breakfast

This one's actually a bit of a mistake on my part, though well-intentioned. On hand were:

- three slices of prosciutto coated in fines herbes
- two slices of rye bread
- rhubarb preserves from France (courtesy of the Thrifty Sifter)
- a fresh jalapeno

Don't give me that look. Jeremy loves hot food and the jalapeno sounded good at the time. In practice, though, it was simply overwhelming for the dish. Next time I'd probably both seed it and maybe puree it into a second layer and less toxic spread for the toast. However, without this was still quite tasty. 

Your soundtrack for this entry: Teenage Fanclub - The Concept.

And yes, I've made breakfast way more than once.