Archive | February, 2006


27 Feb

Hunger can be a mighty inspiration. After slogging my way through the Barney’s Warehouse Sale Saturday, I was hungry, I was tired, I was cranky, I was hot and I was also elated with my purchases! Wandering aimlessly, trying to decide what to do next, I found myself in the Union Square Farmers’ Market in front of the Quattro’s Game Farm stand. This stand always has unusual stuff; farm raised venison, smoked duck, pheasant sausage and smoked turkey.

The final two poultry products, along with my prized tin of Pimenton de la Vera, were ultimately the inspiration for my Pot-A-Fowl. It was a very pleasant surprise that in the end, this was the perfect meal to eat while drinking our bottle of Croatian Plavac Mali from Ivo Skaramuca. The wine was light, fruity, perfectly balanced and tantalizingly floral. I thought it was going to be too light to stand up to the hot, spicy, smoky stew, but my fears were for naught. The meal was perfect.

Between the paprika and the smoked turkey, I’m surprised none of the other tenants in our apartment building knocked on the door to see what was burning. The stew made the whole stair-well smell pleasantly like a wood burning fire place. Perhaps all our neighbors decided not to question the drool-worthy aromas!


prep: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: 2 hours

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 large, Sweet Onion, cut in large chunks
  • 1 Bell Pepper, cut in large chunks
  • 1 head Garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp Anchovy Paste
  • Mixed Olives, pitted and roughly chopped (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsps Pimenton de la Vera
  • 1/4 cup Dry Vermouth
  • 12-14 large Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 lb Smoked Turkey Breast or Leg (the real thing, not Boar’s Head, search it out!), cubed
  • 4 links Pheasant Garlic Sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. Fingerling Potatoes
  • 1 bunch Kale (or other greens)

In a very large stock pot heat a healthy glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and sweat. Slice the garlic and add once the onions begin to lose their opacity. Stir and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the anchovy paste, capers and olives. Stir and cook.

Brown the sliced sausage in the onion/pepper/garlic mixture.

Add the Pimenton. Stir and cook. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the vermouth and lemon juice. Allow to reduce by 1/2, add the halved tomatoes. Stir and cook until the tomatoes begin to melt into the vermouth, then add your water.

Toss the cleaned fingerling potatoes and cubed turkey into the water. Bring to a boil. Allow to cook at least an hour, longer if possible, stirring frequently. Wash and slice the Kale or any other green and add to the pot about 1/2 hour before you want to eat. Use the lid if necessary to get the greens to wilt into the stew. When this occurs, the stew is ready to go when you are. Serve over rice or with a baguette to sop up incredibly rich liquid!

Cook’s Note: The boy and I agree that almost any green, including Mustard, Spinach, Broccoli Rabe or even Cauliflower would work perfectly in this!


Poker Widow Pasta

25 Feb

Friday night when I found myself a poker widow I decided, rather than going out, I would stay in and make myself something decadent. I had been waiting all week to try some Porcini mushroom pasta I had found and taking inspiration from Mark Bittman’s foray into puttanesca I created this luscious, silky, tangy and downright sexy pasta dish.

Poker Widow Pasta

prep: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Porcini Mushroom Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, sliced (but not too thin)
  • 1 package Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp Capers
  • 2/3 cup Dry Vermouth
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Chile Flakes to taste
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Hard Cheese (of your choosing)

N.B. ~ The timing on this meal is wholly dependent on how long your pasta needs to cook. The pasta I used only needed 4 minutes, but if yours needs longer, please start it earlier on in the sauce prep than noted here.

Place a large pot with salted water (for your pasta) over a flame and bring to a boil.

Place a small, heavy bottomed dutch oven over a very low flame. Add enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom about 1/4 inch. When the oil is a little warm, add the garlic and cook slowly, about 5 minutes, to infuse the oil with its flavor and aroma.

Add the mushrooms and mix to coat well with the garlic oil mixture. Turn the heat up a little, to about medium, really cook the mushrooms down. When they have reduced in size, taken on a little color and released their liquid, add capers. Turn the heat up again to about medium-high.

Add the Vermouth and the lemon juice and allow to reduce by about half. Season with salt, pepper and chile flakes to taste. Add the tomatoes and stir.

When the tomatoes start liquefying into the sauce, add your pasta to the water. Remember to keep stirring the sauce to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of your pan. When the pasta is done, turn off the flame under the sauce, it will most likely keep bubbling away for a few minutes.

Drain your pasta. Portion into bowls. Top with a nice glug of your very best extra virgin olive oil and your grated hard cheese of choice. Mix it all together and dig in! This is a truly delicious, earthy, sexy meal!


Blizzard Tarrasto

24 Feb

The night before the big blizzard earlier this month, we decided that the only thing to do on a snowy day was to cook something that would take a really long time, make the apartment smell really, really good, and possibly, provide a little extra boost of warmth.

After a little research two clear front runners made themselves known; Osso Bucco or Bollito in Salsa di Dragoncello. It was an easy choice in the end. The idea of a pesto-like sauce made from tarragon made me dream of spring, a very nice thought to have on a snowy February evening.

The recipe came from Leslie ForbesA Table In Tuscany. The meat was nothing special whatsoever. Boiled beef chuck and veal loin are what they are, and no matter how long you cook them and with what ingredients, they’re still going to come out of the water tasting like, well, boiled beef.
But then there’s the sauce!
What a find! Much like pesto, but with a silkier, more unctuous, even sexier texture, Salsa di Dragoncello instantly became an essential in my condiment/sauce repertoire, one the I look forward to experimenting with once fresh herbs return to the Farmer’s Market.

Salsa di Dragoncello (aka Blizzard Tarrasto)
prep: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 3 oz. fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz. fresh tarragon, large pithy stems only removed
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 5 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt

I would encourage you to start your breadcrumbs from stale baguettes. Just take the stale bread and whiz it up in your cuisinart until a nice, mealy texture is achieved.

Either way you get your breadcrumbs, place in a bowl, add some salt and then mix the vinegar in with a spatula.

Whiz the tarragon and garlic in you cuisinart until a thick paste is achieved (you can add a little olive oil if the mixture is too thick). This step can also be done in a mortar & pestle.

Mix the tarragon/garlic mixture into the breadcrumbs with a spatula. The mixture should resemble very coarse sand. Next pass the mixture through a sieve or the finest setting on your food mill.

Finally, slowly beat in the olive oil to make a thick, luscious, glistening emerald green sauce.

It’s great on meat, but seriously, it’s so good, I think you could eat this with anything. It would make a lovely sauce for chicken, or even diluted a bit more, a vibrant dressing for a green salad, or possibly a potato or pasta salad.


This recipe was adapted from Leslie Forbes’ A Table In Tuscany.

Toys That Will Never Enter My Kitchen

23 Feb

When I was Upstate visiting with the family, I went to Target. I know we have one here in the City now, but still, there’s something about the Albany Target. It’s huge! All the cool stuff is still there because people in Albany have no style! etc, etc. Anyway, I digress. While I was there I saw this Egg & Muffin 2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher. I was shocked! I mean, how hard is it to toast an english muffin and poach an egg?

On Monday, back in the office, I showed this to a few co-workers expecting them to think it was as funny and over the top in a McMansion way as I did. Much to my horror, it was the very opposite, they wanted one! My first problem with this is, it’s HUGE! Why would you give precious counter space over to this thing? I mean, the egg poacher jobbie is bigger than the one counter I have! My second problem with this (and yes, it’s a tad A.B.) is that it’s a uni-tasker. It only does one thing, and I’m dubious as to how well it even does that!

In response to my amazement that someone would even want that thing, one of my co-workers showed me this Hot Diggity Dogger, and then another admitted to owning one!

So, as a public service to my co-workers I present simple, step-by-step guides on how to poach eggs and how to cook a hot dog.

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The Magical Elixir

23 Feb

I was totally amused when I got into the office yesterday, and found the Times Dining Section was in a chicken soup mood too. I was a little surprised that general consensus maintains that chicken meat tends to dry out when it is cooked in the soup. I’ve never found this to be true, but then again, since I do not make my own stock (waaaaaay too much trouble, even if I was that ambitious, it would make too much to store in my newly defrosted teeny tiny freezer!) or roast my own chickens I may never have made “real” chicken soup that would stand up to Mr. Levine’s sophisticated soup palette. But maybe someday… In the meantime, I stand by the flavor of my Sick Day Soup and her kin. They’re delicate in flavor, easy to make, satisfying and downright tasty!

The sidebar provided a good list of places to get chicken soup here in the City, but I wanted to submit some of my favorites as well:

  • El Maguey Y La Tuna – their pozole can be ordered with either chicken or pork and is supremely divine!
  • Pho Bang – as the name suggests, this place is all about Pho, they do traditional beef parts Pho, but also a luscious chicken option.
  • Veselka – it’s not just the chicken soup here, it’s all the soups. They remind me of my grandmother’s cooking.
  • B&H Kosher Dairy – Okay, since this is a kosher dairy, there’s probably no chicken in their matzoh ball soup, but I do love every soup I’ve ever had from here. Go for the split pea, stay for the pierogis.