Burnt Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Anchovy Bruschetta

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Elevensies brought to you today by Francis Mallmann’s Seven Fires, Grilling The Argentine Way. I got some serious cooking going on for dinner, so I wanted to fuel myself and my beloved with a simple, but satisfying little meal. This really fit the bill.

 

Mallman burns his halved cherry tomatoes on a chapa or a cast iron griddle until they are blackened on one side. Instead of this, which I’m certain is wonderful, I’m using the oven dried tomatoes from Ottolenghi. This way I could make more than I needed and keep the leftovers for something good later. Like any simple recipe, this one depends on good ingredients to stand pretty much on their own, so use good, fresh stuff.

 

For the sauce, chop a handful of parsley pretty fine and place in a small bowl. Add a clove or two of minced garlic and up to half a cup of olive oil and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will keep for a week in your fridge if you have any leftover. Which we did not.

 

 

For the tomatoes, cut three medium tomatoes into quarters, toss with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay them out on a baking sheet and bake at 275 for an hour. When they’re done, take them out and let them cool on the baking sheet.

 

 

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Cut a baguette into rounds, or slice in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Brush with olive oil and broil until golden.

Spread each baguette with goat cheese. Top with the tomatoes, a generous spoonful of the Parsley, Olive Oil, and Garlic sauce, and top with two or three anchovy fillets.

 

Serve immediately, to wild raves and applause.

 

 

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Namaste.

 

 

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Sweet Potato Cakes and Saffron Cauliflower

So, this is a double-header from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. 

We got the book a few days ago from Amazon, after making his Black Pepper Tofu a couple of times and falling down dead from it. Ottolenghi’s true gift is a flawless and astounding sense of flavor. He’s using the same stuff we all are, good veggies, standard spices, an oven and a frying pan, but his food doesn’t taste like anyone else’s. Every bite is a prayer to the gods of taste and goodness.

The other night the Woman on the Verge made his lentils with tomatoes and gorgonzola. It was, well, it was fucking amazing.

The oven dried tomatoes were a revelation and something I am going to steal for many, many meals in the future. Just quarter your tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, and roast in a low 275 oven for an hour and a half. It turns them into a kind of cross between sun-dried and fresh, reminiscent of pizza almost, but vibrant and fresh and rich and mellow and oh my god. And I am not a big tomato fan. These are going into any dish I can shoe-horn them into from now on.

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So, last night we’d both been busy all day. We decided to split the cooking and each do something from Plenty. Yolie made the sweet potato cakes and I took a run at the Saffron Cauliflower.

Here’s what you need:

Sweet Potato Cakes

Barely adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Serves 4

2 ¼ pounds peeled sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks

3 teaspoons soy sauce

¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon white sugar

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

½ chipotle peeper, chopped, including the seeds if you want a bit of heat

Unsalted butter for frying

1. Steam the sweet potato chunks until completely tender, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Let the potatoes drain, uncovered, until most of the liquid is gone, about an hour.

2. Toss the drained sweet potatoes with the remaining ingredients until completely combined and the potatoes have been mashed. Be careful not to over mix, to ensure that the cakes aren’t tough. The mixture should be sticky, if it is too much so, add a bit more flour.

3. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet or non-stick frying pan. For each cake, take a tablespoon of the mixture and plop into the pan, flattening into a cake with the back of the spoon until the cakes are about 2 inches in diameter and less than a half inch thick. Brown each side of the cake, about 4-5 minutes per side. Pop the fried cakes into a warm oven to keep until serving. Add a bit of butter to the pan for each round of cakes. The potato mixture will keep, uncooked, in the refrigerator for a couple hours between frying. Serve the cakes hot, with the accompanying sauce.

Sauce

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoons olive oil

Juice from half a lemon

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Salt and black pepper to taste

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Amazingly good. Enough said.

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Saffron Cauliflower

One medium cauliflower, chopped into florets

One medium red onion, sliced into rounds

1 tsp saffron threads

1/3 cup boiling water

2/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup good green olives, pitted and halved

3 tbs olive oil

2 bay leaves

handful chopped parsley or cilantro

salt and pepper

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Preheat your oven to 400. Place the saffron threads into a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Allow them to steep for a minute or two while you mix all the other ingredients except the parsley or cilantro into a large bowl. Add the saffron threads and water and mix well with your hands. Place the mixture into an oven safe dish and cover with foil. Bake for fifty minutes, stirring once halfway through, until cauliflower is soft and everything is redolent with the scent of saffron.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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This meal was astoundingly good. I’m a pretty dedicated carnivore, but I did not miss my meat here. This meal was deeply satisfying, with a rich and strange flavor profile that just kept me kind of moaning and rolling my eyes as I tucked in to another bite of goodness. The crispness of the sweet potato cakes with their creamy insides, dolloped with the tangy richness of the creamy topping was pure magic. And then the saffron cauliflower, all warmth and mellowness, with the surprising sweetness of the raisins and the salty brine of the green olives, and the matter-of-fact solidity of the cauliflower- it was like borrowing a really good wool sweater from your buddy who runs a food stand in a middle-eastern bazzar, comforting and odd at the same time.

It was simply wonderful.

Also, these meals are no-fuss, dead simple, and usually pretty quick to throw together. You need time to prep and roast the vegetables, but you can have a glass of wine or read some poetry once you’ve got them in the oven, and then find yourself getting distracted as the house fills with the wonderful smell of the food you are about to enjoy.

I don’t know of a more pleasurable enterprise than chopping up and running your hands over real good fresh food, mixing it with spices and cooking it in your own small home to feed it to people you love, yourself included.

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Namaste.

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Black Pepper Tofu

This freaking killer meal comes from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, but has been adulterated by me, mostly by simplifying the sauce, using only a single type of soy sauce instead of three. You do what you like, and if you have all three, knock your socks off. I’ll go into more detail when I go over the recipe. For now, all you really need to know is that

1. I don’t really like tofu all that much.

2. This is one of my favorite meals in the world.

There’s lots of prep involved, but the meal itself is very simple, there’s almost nothing to it. Which only reveals the genius in it. This is spicy and sweet and fragrant and unctuous and wild. It makes you want to rub it all over your body.

Okay, so, here we go.

Black Pepper Tofu (adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi)

2 14 oz packages of firm, fresh tofu
Cornflour, to dust the tofu
Vegetable oil, for frying
butter (1 stick) YES!!!
12 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 red chillies, thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped ginger
4 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
3 tbsp sweet soy sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp caster sugar (superfine sugar)
16 small, thin spring onions, cut into segments a half inch long
rice for serving- i used brown jasmine, which was nutty and flavorful. white jasmine might be better. you use what you like.
Cut the tofu into one inch blocks and toss them in cornflour, shaking off the excess. Pour in enough oil to come  half an inch up the sides of a large frying pan, and bring up to frying heat. Fry the tofu in batches in the oil, turning the pieces as you go. Once they are golden all around, and have a thin crust, transfer to a paper towel.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan and throw in the butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan are shiny and totally soft. While you wait, crush the peppercorns, using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. They should be quite coarse.

When the shallots and chillies are soft, add the soy sauces and the sugar, stir, then stir in the crushed pepper. Warm the tofu in the sauce for about a minute, then add the spring onion and stir through. Serve hot with steamed rice.

What could be simpler?

First things first:

Back to the base for debrief and cocktails!

Lemon Mint Mango Sling

2 0z. carbonated lemon drink

2 0z. mango nectar

1.5 oz frozen vodka

lime peel

mint leaves

1 0z. simple sugar

combine, muddle, stir, enjoy.

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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Okay, so take the tofu out of the package, rinse it, pat it dry, and lay it out on some paper towels. Cover with more paper towels, and put a heavy cast iron skillet on top to press the water out of the blocks of tofu. When you’re ready to cook, your tofu will be ready. The more moisture you can get out of the tofu, the better it will cook up. Change paper towels once or twice if you like.

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Chop up your veggies. Get ‘em all together. This is the hard part.

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See how easy that was?

A note on the chilies. I didn’t have any fresh ones, so I took my bag of dried chilies and put a handful of them into a bowl of warm water for fifteen minutes. I sliced them and rinsed them in the bowl under flowing water to let the seeds drift away (mostly).

Look at all that garlic and ginger!!!

Yum-bo.

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Cube the pressed tofu and dredge each piece in corn starch. I do each piece separately so I can ensure good coverage and shake off the excess, which will cloud and dirty your oil if you don’t do it. Get the oil nice and hot, and fry up a batch at a time. As the oil gets hotter and hotter, moderate the flame and also you can fill the pan with more tofu to bring the temp down and keep the oil from scorching. Don’t rush this. Don’t take the tofu out until they are browned and golden and crisp. Wait longer than you want. Take ‘em out and drain them on a paper grocery bag.

Goodness.

That’s what I’m talking about!

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Okay, time to get crazy. Throw you a stick of butter in your pan. Melt it. Toss in your ginger and garlic. Let that go a few minutes to soften up and get golden. Then add your scallions.

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This is starting to smell good now.

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Add your chilies and let this simmer for fifteen minutes or so, until everything is softened up.

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This is a few minutes shy of ready.

Now work on your sauce and grind up your peppercorns.

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So, where Yotam calls for light soy sauce and sweet soy sauce and regular soy sauce, I just used a bunch of regular soy sauce and added a couple of tablespoons of molasses. And don’t use a mortar and pestle for the peppercorns. Use a grinder, way easier.

Now, just add the sauce and the peppercorns to the pan, stir in your tofu and the scallions, and when it’s all gooey and warm, throw it on some rice and go to town.

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Get ready for the raves!

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It might be bragging to say so, but the woman on the verge said that this was her very favorite meal I’ve ever made for her.

Run and tell that, homeboy.

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This serves four easily. Don’t try to save it, eat it all.

I served this with some of the kimchi I made yesterday, and a batch of David’s roasted brussels sprouts, which deserve a post of their own. They are phenomenal.

Seriously, who knew you could do this? Just get in the kitchen and work a little bit and come out with something that makes you feel like your sorry life is really worth living, if only so you can eat some more really good food! It is crazy.

It’s like being able to make my own crack.

Only tastier and it takes longer to kill you and it doesn’t fry your brain and the cops don’t toss your ride looking for brussels sprouts and tofu, man.

Woot.

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Namaste, bitches!

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David Chang’s Napa Cabbage Kimchi

 

Here’s what David says about his kimchi:

 

 

At Momofuku, we make three types of kimchi: Napa cabbage (paechu), radish (from long white Korean my dishes or, failing that, Japanese daikon), and Kirby cucumber (oi). Our recipe has changed some since I learned it from my mom, who learned it from her mom. I add more sugar than they would. We let the fermentation happen in the refrigerator instead of starting the kimchi at room temperature and then moving it into the fridge when it starts to get funky. At the restaurant, we let the kimchi ferment for only a couple of weeks, instead of allowing it to get really stinky and soft. There’s a point, after about two weeks, where the bacteria that are fermenting the kimchi start producing CO2 and the kimchi takes on a prickly mouthfeel, like the feeling of letting the bubbles in a soft drink pop on your tongue. It’s right around then that I like it best.
Makes 1 to 1 ½ quarts

 

INGREDIENTS
• 1 small to medium head Napa cabbage, discolored or loose outer leaves discarded
• 2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
• 20 garlic cloves, minced
• 20 slices peeled fresh ginger, minced
• 1/2 cup kochukaru (Korean chile powder)
• 1/4 cup fish sauce
• 1/4 cup usukuchi (light soy sauce)
• 2 teaspoons jarred salted shrimp
• 1/2 cup 1-inch pieces scallions (greens and whites)
• 1/2 cup julienned carrots
DIRECTIONS
Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half, then cut the halves crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces.

 

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Toss the cabbage with the salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

 

 

Combine the garlic, ginger, kochukaru, fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a large bowl. If it is very thick, add water 1/3 cup at a time until the brine is just thicker than a creamy salad dressing but no longer a sludge.

 

Stir in the scallions and carrots.

 

 

 

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*Drain the cabbage and add it to the brine. Cover and refrigerate. Though the kimchi will be tasty after 24 hours, it will be better in a week and at its prime in 2 weeks. It will still be good for another couple weeks after that, though it will grow stronger and funkier.

 

 

 

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I double his recipe to make 3 quarts. Also, I make the liquid sauce with the carrots and the scallions at the same time that I chop and salt the cabbage. I let them both sit overnight, then in the morning I just drain the cabbage, pour the sauce over the top, and mix it up good with my hands and pack it into mason jars. You can eat it almost immediately without feeling bad about it at all. But like David says, it just gets better the longer it ferments.

I try to make this often enough that I don’t run out between batches, but I never make it.

 

This is such an amazing staple of garlicky goodness you can’t believe it. I put out a bowl of this any time we’re eating anything vaguely eastern in origin. Just a couple of bites of this sharp, pungent, brilliant kimchi makes a meal come alive. Its goodness is an emergent property that does not exist in any of the ingredients taken alone. Only after combining them and letting them stew in the juice of their own concocting does the miracle of kimchi occur.

 

To our everlasting benefit.

 

World without end, amen.

 

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Namaste.

 

 

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Shrimp Tagine

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Okay, I’m not gonna lie. This one is a little bit of work.

But if you put on some good tunes and pour yourself a beverage, you’ll get through it. And at the end you will have a rich, delicious mess of goodness in your bowl. This is a riff on Moroccan tagines, but we’re not using the traditional tagine clay pot and we’re not slow braising a leg or neck of lamb until it’s falling off the bone (which, by the way, would be a wonderful thing to do). Instead, we’re using fresh caught Mexican white shrimp, which has a rich flavor and very firm flesh, so it just gets a quick dunk in the pot for the last few minutes of cooking.

Everything else is pretty close to the classical Moroccan dish. Layers of sliced vegetables, a rich tomato sauce, olives and preserved lemons, all stewed together into something so rich and decadent and aromatic that you caint hardly stand it.

So, lets get started!

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What you need: (there’s more stuff after the marinade, so, don’t miss that…)

For the marinade:

A pound and a half of fresh, or thawed frozen shrimp. This is an excellent time to use Trader Joe’s red Argentine shrimp if you’ve got it.

A handful of chopped cilantro

A handful of chopped parsley

Tbs of sweet paprika

generous pinch of saffron threads, crumbled

TBS minced ginger

1/3 cup of olive oil

Juice from a large lemon

salt and pepper (generous)

Mix these ingredients in a large bowl, then add the shrimp and stir until coated. Refrigerate the shrimp for two hours or more. I like to put the shrimp into a large ziplock bag, squeeze the air out, and zip it shut. Takes up less room, and ensures everything gets in good contact with the marinade.

For the sauce:

Three pounds of plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped.

(I used fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market, but it was a giant pain in the ass to peel and seed and chop them. Much simpler to open two 28 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes, and every bit as good if you ask me.)

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed.

2 tbs cumin

salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium sauce pan on a medium flame, simmer the chopped tomatoes, garlic, and cumin until the tomatoes break down and turn from sharp smelling to mellow, about ten or fifteen minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, or leave on a low flame while you prep and chop the veggies.

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The Veggies:

Four or five good sized carrots, peeled and sliced.

Two sweet onions, sliced.

Four fist sized red potatoes, mandolined or sliced thin.

One red, one green, one yellow bell pepper, sliced thin.

One half preserved lemon*, peel only, chopped or sliced thin

Half cup (or more)- (okay, more.) A cup if you can pitted green olives, sliced or chopped. I used Lucques, which were wonderful.

*A note on the preserved lemons. See that jar of artichoke hearts? Those are my lemons. What you do is simple, but it takes a few weeks before you can use them. Slice up a couple of lemons, enough to fill the container you’re using. The small jar I had held a couple of lemons. If you use a quart jar you’ll never run out but you’ll use six or eight lemons. Anyway, fill the jar with lemons and as you put them in, pack kosher salt over them. Fill jar with lemons and salt and refrigerate. In three or four weeks they’ll be ready. When you use them, cut away the flesh and just use the peels. Chop them up or slice them fine. The flavor they impart to a dish is incomparable- bright and alive with lemony goodness. They are absolutely essential to this recipe, so don’t make this until your lemons are ready or if you have a fancypants market that carries preserved lemons you can use store bought. I just don’t have anywhere local that carries them. I guess you could order them online, too.

Also, once my lemons are started, I throw in a few new slices every time I use the preserved lemons. I use them infrequently, so by the time I pull the jar out again, whatever I put in before are ready to go.

They are like homemade kimchi. Once you get used to having them around, you’ll want always to have them on hand.

Okay, on we go:

Here’s how she goes:

Put in the carrots.

Salt and pepper the carrots and add the onions.

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Salt and pepper the onions and add the potatoes.

Salt and pepper the potatoes  and add the peppers.

Cover with the tomato sauce.

Hell, yes.

Now, set your stockpot under a medium flame and cover it, letting the veggies cook until softened, about twenty minutes or so. Longer is okay, shorter isn’t so much. If the sauce is thick and you’re worried about the carrots scorching, add a quarter cup of water. It won’t hurt anything.

Once the veggies have cooked , you can add the olives and preserved lemons in a single layer on top of the tomatoes.

Now your shrimps go in.

Medium flame, let it bubble away, covered, until the shrimp curl up and turn pink. Should be just a few minutes. Don’t let them overcook or they’ll get too tough. Once they pink up, remove the shrimp and put ‘em in a bowl or plate. Let the tagine cook, uncovered, until the juices have mostly evaporated, about five or ten minutes. At this point, I peeled the piping hot shrimp because my woman don’t like shrimps with the shells on. I do that for her out of love. You might enjoy peeling them at the table, one at a time, as you eat them from your bowl, which is more in the spirit of the Moroccan ideal.

A note about love while I’m on the topic. This meal involves a lot of prep, and how you go about it is essential if you want this thing to turn out right. You should be thinking of whoever you are cooking for all the while you are chopping and peeling and mixing together. This is true even if you are cooking only for yourself, in fact, probably even more true. You should imagine your beloved tasting each morsel, each tender shrimp, each vivid little chunk of preserved lemon, each bitter green olive, each sweet onion and soft, buttery potato. Cook with love. Keep it right up there in the front of your mind.

Believe me, you can taste it.

Okay, to plate, just stir up the tagine and fill a bowl with the vegetables and sauce. Top with some of the shrimp. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread to sop up the juices. You could have a salad of arugula and figs and almonds if you absolutely had to, but this is fine standing alone.

Trust and believe that.

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This recipe is pretty forgiving when it comes to amounts of everything. Use what’s to hand and make up the difference somewhere else. And use this as a jumping off point. You could add a lot more heat with red pepper flakes and some jalapenos, and then cut the heat back with some honey. Add a handful or two of dates or golden raisins. Add some garbanzos. Figs. Do the long, slow braise of some cheap cut of meat. Use chicken thighs one time, or turkey legs. Goat, if you’ve got it. Lamb. Add more cumin and turmeric.

The main thing is the love.

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That is all.

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Namaste.

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Buchons Au Thon, roasted potatoes, and roasted sweet corn with lime chili garlic butter.

 

 

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So, these little buchons au thon. Something my wife usually makes for me because I love them so damn much. They’re from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life.

They are super duper easy, and taste both sublime and sleazy. I bought her a extra big muffin pan so when she makes them the next time she can make more. They are great with a simple salad for lunch or dinner, or I bet they’d be fantastic on a toasted english muffin for breakfast.

 

Here’s how to do them:

 

Ingredients:

11 ounces canned (water-packed) chunk-light or solid albacore tuna, drained
2 cups finely grated or shredded Gruyere cheese
2/3 cup creme fraiche
5 tablespoons tomato paste
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 14 wells of a extra big-size muffin tin with nonstick cooking oil spray.

Place the tuna in a medium mixing bowl; use a fork to break up pieces any larger than a dime. Add the cheese, creme fraiche, tomato paste, eggs, onion, parsley and salt, stirring to thoroughly combine. (The mixture will be a soft orange-pink color.)

Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin wells. Use water to fill any empty wells halfway full to prevent those wells from scorching. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops and edges of the bouchons are set.

Carefully pour the water out of the muffin wells, then dislodge the bouchons by running a rounded knife around the inside edges of their wells. Let them sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully extract them and transfer to individual plates (2 for each portion).

They will collapse a bit as they cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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Seriously, damn good eats.

 

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The corn was broiled in the Grillevator with the husks on for half an hour. The husks caught on fire and the corn kernels seared and charred nicely. While that was cooking, I melted 3 tbs of butter in a little dish and added a minced clove of garlic, juice and zest of one lime, salt, pepper, and cayenne and let that mix and meld together. For the last few minutes of cooking, I took the corn out, tore off the burned husks, rinsed the ears quickly under cold water and rubbed off any silk or charred husk, then slathered them in the butter mixture and put them back in for four or five minutes.

 

Holy crap for crap, batman!  Tasted just like summer.

 

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Roasted potatoes are small yellow or reds, chopped into one inch squares, slathered in olive oil, salted and peppered, and baked high and hot at 425 for 45 mins. Shook up and flipped a few times as they go.

 

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It were good.

 

 

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Namaste.

 

 

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Spaghetti & Meatballs

 

 

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A classic, right? One I’d never tried my hand at. But I’ve been craving spaghetti in a real bolognese sauce since before I made that last lasagna a couple of months ago, and I was desperate for pasta and meat in a red sauce.

 

But the Woman on the Verge, she no like-a the meats. She like-a the tofus.

 

So, I decided I could make the pasta, the sauce, and have meat balls for me and the girl, and faux balls for the woman, and everyone would be happy.

 

Yay!

 

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I stole from SmittenKitchen, who stole from Ina Garten.

 

So sue me.

 

 

 

 

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Meatballs and Spaghetti
Adapted liberally from Ina Garten

Serves 6

For the meatballs: 
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 1/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 5 slices, crusts removed)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

 

For the Faux balls:

 

everything like above, just start with textured ground tofu.

also, double the egg.

 

 

For the sauce:
2tbs good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
3 teaspoons minced garlic
Big, generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup good red wine
1 (28-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving: 
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

 

Make the meatballs: Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs. (Or perhaps 24, which is what I ended up with. I’m sorry I cannot give you a more precise measure; I am sure your amount will fall somewhere in the middle.)

 

 

 

 

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Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

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Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. (The good news is that if, say, you’re still waiting for your pot of water to boil for the spaghetti when the meatballs are ready, it’s hard to overcook these. I ended up simmering ours a whole extra 20 to 30 minutes, and they were not in the least dried out. Heaven!)

Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

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(stolen photo, not mine. i was so hungry i forgot to shoot the plated meal. My bad.) This is almost what it looked like, though.)

 

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This was a wonderful meal, shared with my stepdad and with leftovers sent home with him to feed my mom, who had to work late and missed the fun.

 

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I might have had too much wine while cooking, but it seemed like the thing to do in the moment.

 

 

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The meatballs were heavenly. The faux balls met with rave reviews from the Woman on the Verge.

 

Your results may vary.

 

 

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Namaste.

 

 

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Sweet Potato Tower of Power

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So, confession time.

I am not the only palate at work here at Plate & Fork. For every dish that beckons to me with tasty salted pig parts and rendered duck fat and seared skin of something good, there is another siren song being sung by ripe roasted veggies, tempeh on the grill, cous-cous and polenta and kale chips with roasted sesame seeds.

It’s just that I get channel one, and the Woman on the Verge gets channel two.

So, for today, a recipe from Channel Two, brought to you by The Woman on The Verge.

by way of my new roots.

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Sweet Potato Tower of Power
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 giant sweet potato
8 oz. cherry tomatoes
6 oz. spinach
2 medium red onions
4 free-range, organic eggs
1 Tbsp. vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
chili flakes

Directions:
1. Caramelize the onions. Peel and slice the onions into rounds. Heat oil in a skillet, add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally (not too often, or they will not brown) until dark, soft and sweet – approx. 30-45 minutes. Do not wash pan after use.
2. Preheat oven to 400 °F/200 °C. Slice sweet potatoes across their width into ¼”/6 mm round discs. Coat with olive oil, place in a single layer on 2 baking sheets, leaving one sheet with a little space for the tomatoes. Wash and slice tomatoes in half. Place on one baking sheet with sweet potatoes, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until everything is soft. Keep in the oven until ready to serve.
3. Once the onions, sweet potatoes and tomatoes have all finished cooking, put a shallow saucepan of water on to boil, stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
4. Wash spinach, but do not spin dry, as the water will serve to steam the leaves while cooking. Add spinach to the onion pan on low heat and stir occasionally until wilted (3-4 minutes).
5. While the spinach is wilting, poach the egg.
6. While the eggs are poaching, assemble the plate: place 6-7 slices of roasted sweet potato on the bottom, followed by the wilted spinach and caramelized onions. Scatter the roasted tomatoes around the base with a drizzle of good olive oil. Place the poached egg on top of the stack, sprinkle with chili flakes if desired, and a generous grind of sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

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This meal looks incredible and it tasted like a golden summer day. The warmth and sweetness of the roasted sweet potatoes with the metallic bite of the spinach, the mellow caramelized onions, the tartness of the roasted cherry tomatoes, the gooey yolk, all mixed together into a beautiful riot of flavors on the tongue.

Don’t let her fool you, man. That lady of mine is a stone killer in the kitchen.

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Namaste.

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Blue Cheese & Scallion Drop Biscuits, scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes

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Blue Cheese & Scallion Drop Biscuits

from SmittenKitchen.

These are everything a good drop biscuit should be; super speedy to make (one bowl!), with a golden craggy crust and soft interior.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in blue cheese and scallions. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Drop dough in 12 equal mounds about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet, or one lined with parchment paper. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 16 to 20 minutes.

Lots and lots of stank-ass blue cheese.

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Ready for the oven.

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Ready, steady, GO!

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That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

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You got to get a little pig to the table now, don’t you?

Yes, you do.

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Family breakfast on a rainy Saturday morning.

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So, you know, a rainy Saturday. Everybody kind of bleary eyed and wandering around, the baby getting passed from one set of hands to another, the dog padding softly under foot, couple of cups of coffee already downed, and I got it bad, man. I want to mess up some fucking food! I saw these drop biscuits on SmittenKitchen and I knew I had a big old hunk of blue cheese in the back of the fridge, and I just had to try them. My first shot at biscuits.

They were super easy and they filled the whole house with the bitter ammonia tang of the blue cheese and the warm yeastiness of the baking dough so it like to drive you mad. Add a bunch of bacon, some roasted potatoes, and a platter full of scrambled eggs, and you have heaven on a plate.

It’s super cheesy, but as everyone gathered around the table and mounded good food onto their plates and there was all this soft talking, and the clink of sliverwear against the plates, and the drinking of hot, dark coffee, I was filled, and I mean filled  with the sweetest feeling of love and warmth for all of us and the simple joy of sharing a meal together. My wife and daughter, her boyfriend, little Kaleb, the damn bulldog, all of us just hanging out and chowing down, laughing, chatting, an old grandpa just crying into his eggs.

 

It were good enough for me.

 

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Namaste.

 

 

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Ps-

 

Proof that dishwashing = love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tortilla de Papas with salad of spicy wild greens

 

 

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Often, simple things are the best. It helps if your eggs are farm fresh free-range eggs and your olive oil is wonderful and your greens are fresh picked and varied. This is a simple meal that is dead easy to throw together and just astoundingly good on a weekend when breakfast was hours ago and you’ve still got the day ahead of you to get through and you want something substantial, but quick.

 

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I set the cast iron skillet on a high flame, preheat the oven to 400 and quickly scrub four or five yellow potatoes. Dry them off and slice them thin, or be lazy like me and run them through the mandolin set at 1/8th inch. Pour in enough good olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan to an eighth of an inch or so and let the oil get hot. Add the potatoes and cook for about twenty minutes, turning occasionally until they are soft. Salt and pepper them liberally.  I like to let them get a nice crust on them, so I turn them infrequently. When they are done, remove them from the skillet and set aside. Dice a large yellow onion and sautee in the pan until soft, about ten minutes under a medium flame. A couple of minutes before they’re done, add two minced cloves of garlic to the onions and stir.

Now bring the potatoes back into the skillet and cook another five minutes, stirring so the onions coat the potatoes and get in the cracks between them.

Crack six eggs into a good sized bowl and beat until uniformly combined. Chop up some parsley or cilantro and mix into the eggs. I salt and pepper the eggs, you don’t have to. Pour the eggs into the skillet, shaking the skillet to make sure the eggs fill in everywhere. Leave it on the flame to cook for about five minutes. Grate some parmigiano or asiago or whatever hard cheese you’ve got over the top of the eggs, and pop into the oven to finish. When the eggs have set and the top is golden brown, remove from the oven and let it cool.

 

I had a great mess of greens we picked up the day before, so I threw them into a sink full of cold water and dunked them, spun ‘em dry, and plopped them into a couple of big bowls. I toasted some pine nuts and sliced a scallion and tossed them into the greens. A quick vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, minced clove of garlic, and half of a diced shallot, poured around the sides of the bowls and then tossed into the salad. Crumbled some blue cheese into the bowls for good measure. Toasted up half a loaf of rye onion bread spread with olive oil to go with everything.

 

Couple of slices of the tortilla, a big bowl of spicy, wild greens, a mug of hot coffee, a plate of hearty toast, god damn.

 

It were good.

 

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Also, this is a perfect busy weeknight meal. I love breakfast for dinner always always.

 

 

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Namaste.

 

 

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