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Dinner, 5 November 2006

Table Salsa

It was time to clean out part of the fridge.

Not so good plum tomatoes, lemon, jalapeno peppers, shallots.

This is a variation of the usual. The basic recipe is tomatoes, onion, lemon (or vinegar for brightness), cilantro, jalapeno, salt, pepper.

This salsa had sweet rice vinegar, kosher salt, cilantro, Tabasco in addition to the pictured ingredients above. I eat a lot of salsa and make a batch that typically lasts two or three days.

When I took pix of my abysmally small kitchen (though to be fair, I do live in a studio), I didn’t take one of my spice cabinet…reason being was that it wasn’t as well-stocked as I’d like.

It’s not there yet but at least now I have something to show you.

Left to right: Peppermint tea, artisanal strawberry jam, brown mustard seeds, whole cloves, Pomi chopped tomatoes, yellow mustard seeds, green cardamom pods, canned chicken broth (for emergencies), soy sauce, kosher salt, black pepper, Goya red kidney beans, honey, sesame oil, sweet rice vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, whole mixed peppercorns, whole black peppercorns, paprika, cumin, dried basil, grater, tunafish.

I recommend Kalustyan’s for spices. Never again will I get McCormick’s at the local store.

* * *

Penne with Bolognese Sauce

Ok, there are a million ways to make this sauce — some more authentic/traditional than others.

This is my version.

Clockwise from top left: milk, riesling, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), ground pork, ground beef, pancetta, unsalted butter, tomato paste, chicken stock, Italian parsley, carrot, celery, chopped tomatoes. I usually use beef stock but didn’t have any on hand. For something like this, I won’t use canned if I can help it.

Not shown: fresh nutmeg, mortadella.

Melt 1 T. unsalted butter in 2 T. EVOO over low heat.

Cook pancetta until lightly colored, about 3-4 minutes.

Add aromatics, and cook slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Keep heat on a low setting.

At this point, add ground meat and mortadella.

Break up chunks. Add a bit of salt.

Add wine and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add milk and nutmeg, cook for an additional ten minutes.

Dissolve 2 T. tomato paste in about 2/3 to 3/4 c. stock.

Transfer meat mixture to a saucepot, add tomato paste/stock mixture and bring to a low simmer. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook over an ultra-low heat setting, partially covered for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.

When done, add 1 1/2 T. unsalted butter. Stir. Season to taste with either white or black pepper.

This is nice with tagliatelle, although I had penne on hand. Usually have it with Parm-Reg. cheese.

* * *

Stuffed Poached Pears with Biscotti and Custard Sauce

Clockwise from top left: milk, cornstarch, unsalted butter, pears, lemon, egg, ginger, chocolate and almond biscotti, riesling, honey, sugar.

Peel and de-seed pears. Sprinkle lemon juice to prevent discoloration and place in a saucepan, hollow side down.

1 c. water, 1/2 c. riesling or sherry, 1 piece fresh ginger, 3 T. honey.

Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until pears are semi-soft. Transfer to a baking dish and reserve poaching liquid.

For the custard:

1 egg yolk, 5 T. sugar.

Whisk until creamy.

Add 2 T. milk and 1 T. cornstarch. Whisk to incorporate.

Place saucepan over medium-low heat and gradually add 1 c. milk, 1 T. lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Stir frequently or until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You have to watch it closely or you might end up with sweetened scrambled eggs. If the mixture lumps up too quickly, add more milk.

For the stuffing:

2 T. golden raisins, chopped
crumbled biscotti cookies
2 T. custard sauce
1 T. reserved poaching liquid
1 T. vin santo

Mix thoroughly.

Tip: Chill the raisins first to facilitate easier chopping.

Assembly: Plate pears, add stuffing, top with custard sauce, pair with biscotti and serve immediately.


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