This may be the best thing I have eaten in a week of good food. I want to call it Yowza Baby, but surely there’s a better name. This is based on a new-to-me technique for making purees. The instinct to make the frizzled scallions was my moment of genius for the month or maybe the year. I know it shows some steamed whole florets, but don’t bother. They are merely a distraction.
Green Cauliflower puree with Frizzled Scallions
Clean and chop up finely one head of cauliflower
In a pan, melt 2 or more tablespoons of butter in about 1 cm/1/4″ of water. The quantity should depend on the size of your cauliflower. Mine was small.
Put the chopped cauliflower into the pan, add salt amounting to a ratio of 1 teaspoon per pound. I used about 1/2 teaspoon.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until it is quite soft, but not mushy. Check and add hot water if needed to keep the water at the original level.
While it is cooking, slice a scallion very finely, then heat good oil in a small frying pan and toss the scallion into the oil, and then salt generously. Cook, tasting and correcting for salt, until just well caramelized and remove from the heat instantly. This is a condiment, so it must be well seasoned, remembering that butter here is salt free. If yours is not, then you should keep that in mind.
When the cauliflower is well-cooked, put it and the cooking liquid into a blender.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter. Whiz it up, stopping and scraping occasionally, until it is a silky puree, light and smooth.
Spread the puree on a serving dish, then scatter the fried scallions over it, including the oil in which they cooked. Serve hot.
When you really love something, sometimes it’s best to treat it simply. I really love Brussels sprouts. This recipe I call Korean because I met it back when I had my offices on the river in Georgetown, DC. The closest place to get a carry-out lunch was a hot and cold food bar owned by Koreans, and this was for me the best thing on it.
Do not be fooled into thinking I cooked 20 cabbages. The plate is a salad plate which makes it look like my lunch is bigger than it is. They are really tiny cavoletti di Bruxelles.
Trim and clean Brussels sprouts (I get 300 gram punnets here) and cut in half.
Bring abundant salted water to a boil. Toss in the sprouts.
Bring back to a simmer and cook 3 minutes.
While they are cooking, mince a small clove of garlic, julienne a small piece of ginger, squeeze about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over them in a bowl. A pinch of salt, a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil goes in and stir.
By now your sprouts should have reached 3 minutes. Remove them from the heat, drain and then shock them with cold water. Drain well and toss into the bowl on the dressing. Turn gently. Taste and correct for salt. Let them come to room temperature, then turn them again before serving.
They will be fine in the refrigerator for days, but bring them to room temp before eating.
I have made this three times in two days to make sure I’ve written it right, and for a change I am happy to eat the same thing over and over. It’s delicious and fits right into my reduced carbohydrate regime, but I would eat it anyway. If I could get it, I’d have braised baby bok choy with it, but in real life what I had was spinach. So I ate spinach. Spinach happens.
You should try this, because it is easy, good and made of things almost everyone can find where they live. I’m not sure I would want to make thirty of them at a time, but the recipe for two can be expanded to as many as you feel like. Buon appettito.
It’s snowing. We are at a halt in the countryside, other than the slow proceeding to town to vote by all my neighbors. They’ve been so dispirited about this election that I’m grateful that they gathered the nerve to go. I have very good neighbors.
Anyway, I have been challenged to make a dish that is something filled or stuffed. I’m still on a reduced carbohydrate diet, so many dishes were tempting but not sensible. After all, with the roads as slick as a con-man’s spiel, who would eat them before I lost my self-control? And so I am making fegatelli. Almost no one makes this dish nowadays and it’s a crying shame, because it is one of the most distinctively Italian dishes, really unlike anybody else’s food, in my opinion. I haven’t made it since 2005.
This la rete, or the net. It is sometimes called net fat in English. It’s a natural part of the pig, thin and light and stretchy, and is the web by which my recipe hangs. I’m not sure it will be accepted as a filled dish. I’m pretty sure no one will make this top on their list of things to try. That’s a shame, too. It’s just delicious. In other countries than Italy you need a butcher to ask for it and for pork liver in a piece, rather than slices. You also need fresh bay leaves, and you may for the first time discover what bay leaf actually tastes like, because here it’s a distinguishable note, not just a simmered-in part of a herbal symphony.
Assuming your liver has come from a proper vendor and arrives already cleaned of veins and membranes, start here. If it has those things you will need to prepare it yourself before beginning.
Cut the liver into chunks and the rete into pieces just big enough to fasten around them. You lay a chunk of liver on the net, then add a bay leaf and then make a gift package of it, fastening with a toothpick. Do them all.
Heat a capacious frying pan to moderate heat, and add a thin coating of olive oil. Place the fegatelli into it, then lower the heat to low. I usually put a couple of scraps of the net fat into the oil so that when they simmer I can see the pan is ready. All you need now is patience, because the fegatelli cook slowly, always slowly, and you have to turn them as the bottoms brown, using tongs. I find that they need turning when the bottom browns enough to be free of the pan, since they stick at first. It takes a bit of attention to get all six sides browned, since some want to topple. When they are nearly done, lightly salt them. It takes less salt than meat usually does, and I don’t know why.
When you surmise they might be done, after perhaps 30 minutes of slow cooking, take one out and cut it in two. It should be distinctly pink inside, but not the maroon of raw liver.
As you can see, some have just been turned and the rest are just as they were when put in the pan.
So this is what you have when you’ve finished. The rete has disappeared, melted into the olive oil and providing a delicate flavor you can get no other way. I serve them just like this, warning diners to remove the bay leaf as they cut them. While not as dangerous as dried bay leaf, these are definitely chewy and not terribly pleasant.
I would deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine, drizzle the resultant sauce sparingly over the fegatelli and serve with roasted or fried potatoes. A crunchy contract will be nice with the meaty chunks. Heck, if you’re going to eat liver cooked in pig fat why not fried potatoes, too? You can always have a nice salad afterward.
If you don’t eat them more often than every five years, I think you will come to no harm.
I was only eighteen, but it was my job to provide the eggnog. I went to the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and there it was, a recipe for eggnog that seemed perfectly easy. I went to the market and bought the ingredients. Then at home I started making the parts. But I hadn’t actually read through the whole recipe, so I made it wrong, and we loved it so much it became our favorite eggnog and no one in my family wants any other kind now. If you live somewhere that has chancy eggs, buy pasteurized ones. In Italy, if you check the dates, you’ll be fine.
For parties I make up the various parts for a double recipe and blend them in a punchbowl just before serving. I grate nutmeg over it all. I then proceed to rob the punchbowl and lose track of what else there is to do. Be warned, your other duties should be finished before filling the bowl. My kid is a teetotaler and does not add the liquor, but is a dedicated lover of this eggnog, anyway.
Judith’s Screwed-Up Eggnog
for 6-8 servings (who do they think they’re kidding?)
1/3 cup (79 ml) sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart (946 ml) milk
2 egg white
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or use vanilla sugars in both cases above)
brandy or rum to taste, start with 3/4 cup (177 ml)
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
Beat the egg yolks and the first sugar together very well, add salt. Stir in the milk. Put aside.
Beat the egg whites, slowly adding the second amount of sugar until it forms a meringue, beating in the vanilla, if used, toward the end. Put aside.
If making this ahead, put both concoctions into the fridge or out on a frosty porch, well covered.
When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream to a stiff consistency.
Put the first mixture into a big bowl. Stir in the liquor. Using a whisk, fold in the meringue. Taste to see how much liquor to add. Still with the whisk, fold in the whipped cream. Grate or sprinkle nutmeg over and serve with a ladle.
That’s it folks, the one-way fluffy road to Nirvana.