L.Nightshade's Profile

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June 2015 COTM: Nomination Thread

I'm sending my greetings from Sitka, Alaska! We'll be away again for a big chunk of June, so I won't join in the nominations, but I eagerly await the outcome and will cook along as able. My library doesn't seem to have anything that's mentioned so far, but there are always some recipes online.
And I'm sure I can squeeze in a few cocktails from the cocktail book of the month!

May 16, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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Photo Quality?

You've got a bright, high contrast image (gorgeous, by the way!). When the dish I'm reviewing is meat or mushrooms, believe me, it looks like mud. Even when it looks beautiful in a Facebook post. I'm no photographer, however, and don't use anything like Photoshop. I just feel my earlier posted photos looked better.

I've never heard about that crop size, it certainly isn't widely known, so thanks!

May 08, 2015
L.Nightshade in Site Talk

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

Wow, I can't believe all this time I didn't know you weren't eating beef.

This sounds like a dish for me. My nighttime leg cramps completely stopped once a nutritionist told me I needed more salt!

May 2015 COTM: EAT, by Nigel Slater

Here is a link with 56 Slater recipes, but I don't know which might be from Eat. Fun to look through though.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sea...

May 2015 COTM: EAT, Chapters 1-4, pp. 1-171

Agree with Pongo here. Mexican chorizo is more like a paste, not sliceable. In the video here it's very clear that it is a softer Spanish chorizo.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/hot...

May 04, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

Your plate looks wonderful! And you found pork belly with skin. I bet that makes a big difference, not in the fat content, of course, but in the crispy quotient.

May 04, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

Such brilliant, green favas, so pretty!
Nice to see you here on a COTM thread!

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

Yes. RN calls them brown anchovies.

May 01, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

PORK BELLY, RADICCHIO, AND HAZELNUTS, page 157.

I can’t believe it’s not April any longer! Well, it’s worked out OK, the next few days will be mostly cleaning out the fridge in preparation for our trip. So this is probably my last hurrah for Polpo, at least for a while.

I’m not sure what drew me to this recipe, except RN talking about it being a signature dish, and how people complain when it goes off the menu. That and my love-hate relationship to pork belly. It’s so dearly loved by so many, and there are such interesting treatments for it. But bottom line, it’s just too fatty for me.

In this recipe the pork belly is placed on a bed of thickly-sliced onions and cooked in the oven (pork belly with skin is called for, we only have access to the skinless), for about 15 minutes at 240º C, then at 160º C for another hour. Once cooked, the dripping are passed through a sieve and tossed with the radicchio and hazelnuts. A little salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar are added and everything is scrunched by hand, working the dressing through and wilting the radicchio.

So, like I said, too fatty for me (purely a matter of individual taste), but quite flavorful. The slightly bitter radicchio complements the fatty pork very nicely. Mr. NS liked it a lot.

ETA: I just realized the recipe is also online here, a ways down the page:
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

ANCHOVY & CHICKPEA (CUKE-TINI), page 26.

I’m an anchovy lover so I had eyed this recipe earlier. Tonight, I had anchovies I wanted to work on using up, a can of chickpeas, and a (less than called for) bit of parsley on its way out. No bread, so not crostini, just spread it on slices of cucumber.

The chickpea, tahini, and lemon combination sounds more middle eastern, but then the anchovies present themselves, and take it in another direction. Another very easy recipe with a nice outcome. I know I would have liked it more on toasty bread, but this worked out alright.

I have a lot leftover, it will be lunch tomorrow.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

Four our dinner? Well, you know what I mean.

Apr 29, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

Four our dinner the other night, I made a cocktail called the Blue Collar. Not a very Italian sounding name, but it went very well with the initial savory servings.

2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz Carpano Antica
1/4 oz Cio Ciaro (if you're not familiar, it's an Italian amaro, orangey and herby)
1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
2 drops orange bitters
2 drops Angostura bitters
Stir all with ice, strain, and serve in a coupe (I used a martini glass) with a lemon peel twist.

Apr 29, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

I love caperberries; I use them in martinis instead of olives.

I'm sure the wooden spoon is the traditional method. But for someone like me, a baccalà neophyte with a bad shoulder, a mechanical device would have probably worked better for slowly blending in the oil. If you didn't want that potentially over-processed texture, a stand mixer with a paddle might also work. I did put the remaining baccalà in the Cuisinart with a scant spoonful of cream. It was smoother, a bit fluffier, I guess. Mr. NS still prefers the tuna.

Hmmm. Maybe I should have added some brandy!

Apr 29, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

So elderflower syrup is non-alcoholic? Would St. Germaine have enough elderflower flavor?

Apr 28, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

That recipe looks identical to the one in the book, save for the number of servings. The same ingredients in the book are for four servings, in the link it states two servings. But that wouldn't account for your outcome if you used the same ingredients for the same number of fillets. So sorry you didn't enjoy it!

Apr 28, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

Oh boy, blue room. It's bad enough that you all have me constantly cookbook shopping, now it's kitchenware too!
Does this look like the pan?
http://www.kitchen-universe.com/Produ...

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

Wow, that is a wonderful pot! I use a wok to deep fry, so a similar approach, but I love the shape and the steep sides of that pot.

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

Historically I have cringed at crab and cheese. A friend of mine was in Chile recently, and reported on Pastel de Jaibas, a crab and cheese casserole. She found me a recipe to try, but I couldn't find crab that day so tried it with shrimp. Pretty great, and I may try it with crab someday.

I don't have much familiarity with softshell crabs, this probably being the third time that I can recall eating them (the second was at a sushi bar, fried, with a ponzu sauce, probably frozen there too). So I was willing to try them in a non-traditional way. Perhaps I'd be a bit more wary if it was a Dungeness crab!

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
1

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

Well then, here you go! With a little glass of Manzanilla to accompany.
I have to say, while it doesn't put me over the moon, it seems quite a bit better today.
Thanks for your encouragement!

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, by Russell Norman

OK, my report, such as it is, is up here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1009...

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

BACALÀ MANTECATO, page 38.
(Or, as Devo would say Whip it; Whip it good.)

This was a long process with uncertain results. (Per Breadcrumbs’ request, I’m including photos of the process.) I had about a third of a kilogram of salt cod, but had to use half the milk to cover it, so I kept the seasonings at a half rather than a third.

The salt cod soaked in the refrigerator covered with water for a bit over 48 hours. I changed the water about three times per day. Once soaking was complete, it simmered covered in milk with garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and onion. When it begins to fall apart, it was removed and flaked into a warmed bowl, and the milk was strained.

The fish, with a little (what is a little? A quarter teaspoon? A quarter cup? A quarter of the liter?) is pounded with a rolling pin, and garlic-infused oil is slowly added. With only two hands available, I had to add a little at a time. I poured a bit along the side of the bowl and incorporated small amounts, pounding, then added a bit more, pounded, etc. At some unclear point, the pounding changes to mixing with a wooden spoon. The result is supposed to be a smooth, shiny paste.

Mine did turn into something of a paste, but certainly not completely smooth, and not shiny. But my arm gave out before that happened, if it ever would have. So our baccalà had, for the most part, that slightly stringy, fishy texture. I looked at a zillion recipes and images online, and those with the smooth texture all required finishing in a food processor or mixer. A lot of them even included potatoes or cream. There were quite a few that appeared to have the same texture as this one.

So I don’t know if I was supposed to keep the wooden spoon whipping until my arm fell off, or if this particular style, unlike brandade or some other bacalao treatments, was supposed to have a fishier texture.

The kicker? Mr. NS prefers the tuna with brandy that takes about 20 seconds to make. I may put the leftover in the food processor and see what happens.

ETA: After two days of soaking the salt cod apparently needed added salt. The nibblers were happiest after some fat capers were perched atop the crostini.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

I believe you are right. In fact, it seems like I did something like this from another COTM, but without blanching the spinach first.

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

Oh my goodness! I want that right now!

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

I've only recently put a tentative foot off of the "seafood and cheese don't mix" bandwagon. This works, I think, because the batter crisps up. RN claims the crabs from Venetian lagoons dine on beaten eggs and parmesan before jumping into the hot oil. Sounds a bit like a fairy tale to me, but who knows?

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
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April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

CAVOLO NERO, GNOCCHI, AND PECORINO ROMANO, page 194.

I made the gnocchi from this recipe when I made the Duck Ragu from page 165. At that time I made them just as written in the recipe, but I couldn’t get the dough past a rather mushy state. So while they cooked up and tasted OK, I wanted to see the grooves from the gnocchi board, which pretty much melted away. Our cooking teacher in Tuscany was adamant about never adding eggs to gnocchi, so I thought I’d try it his way. His recipe also calls for grated parmesan in the dough. However, the gnocchi made without eggs fell apart when cooked (apparently I need to go back to school in Italy). So I added a tiny bit of egg and re-mixed the dough. This batch came out fine, kept the grooves, and held together when cooked. On the other hand, one guest who had tried both versions, felt the eggier ones made for the duck were superior. I’m on the fence at this point, but I did like the addition of the parmesan in the dough.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand… I liked this “sauce,” which was an easy, and very pleasant, way to get a leafy green into the pasta course. I will certainly be making this again. As I clearly need more gnocchi practice!

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

ROCKET & WALNUT PESTO CROSTINI, page 34.
(Also, sort of, Caprese Stacks, page 46.)

I just made a few crostini with the rocket pesto left from making the beet dish. They looked rather dull, color-wise, and I was making a few caprese stacks also, so I stuck a few stacks (without the basil) onto the crostini. You really had to take them off to eat them, but the colors looked nice.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

Not having much to compare them to (I think I've only had them fresh once, in a sandwich in Maryland, decades ago), I thought they were pretty good. I know that people more experienced than I shun the frozen variety. But this prep seems to work with them.

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

FRIED STUFFED OLIVES, page 51.

I love anchovy-stuffed olives, and already had the oil going to deep-fry the soft shell crabs from page 122, so I thought I’d give this a go (in a small capacity). The recipe calls for 20 large olives, so I picked out a few large ones from a mix we got in an Italian market. They were stuffed with a mix of chopped anchovy, parmesan, sage, garlic, black pepper, and lemon juice. Once stuffed, they are rolled in egg white, then flour, then, supposedly, panko. Once I rolled the olives in the flour, no panko would stick to them, it just seemed to brush off the flour. So I dipped in egg white, flour, egg white, then panko, which sort-of worked.

Mine didn’t look like the photo in the book, but they looked pretty good. These really pack a punch, as you can imagine, with olives, anchovies, garlic, pepper, lemon. The only “calming” ingredient is the parmesan, which is also pretty sharp. I’m not sure I’d make these again, unless I was deep-frying something else. The olive stuffing process is a bit tedious. But they certainly pack a punch, and would be a nice addition to a cichèti assortment.

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking
1

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

SOFT-SHELL CRAB IN PARMESAN BATTER AND FENNEL SALAD, page 122.

Fresh soft-shell crabs are not sold here (and if you catch one, you have to throw it back), but I was intrigued by this dish, so I bought them frozen.

The batter is made up of eggs, baking soda, flour, grated parmesan, salt, and pepper. Ice water is added until the “mixture resembles, well, batter, I suppose.” Lot of leeway in there, and mine was probably too thick as the crab lost all definition once plunged in the bowl. I was reluctant to add more ice water as the recipe makes a ton of batter, much more than is needed, but it could have been thinner. Once battered the crab is deep-fried.

I am normally loathe to deep-fry, but as I said, I was drawn to this dish, and went for it. The oil was probably a bit too hot, as the batter was nicely golden while still having some mushy spots inside (our thermometer had broken).

A little mayonnaise (I used some homemade, rather greenish due to our olive oil) is smeared on a plate and topped with shaved fennel, on which the crab sits. In spite of errors, I did like this dish. The parmesan comes through in the batter, and works with the crab. I think the fennel could use a little something more, I’d like to see it with a different dressing and maybe some radishes or greens.

Since we already had the dreaded oil bubbling away, I also made the fried stuffed olives from page 51, and will report in the appropriate thread.

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

We had it as a main dish for two, and had quite a bit leftover. But we weren't particularly keen on it (partly because our beans didn't cook uniformly), and supplemented with baguette and goat cheese. For six, it would definitely be a side dish. I did notice that Eat Your Books has it listed as a side, but I don't know how they determined that, perhaps just by ingredients, or perhaps by portion size per indicated servings.

Apr 27, 2015
L.Nightshade in Home Cooking