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

I love grilled fennel on its own. But when you have a chance, try the anchovies. The combination is amazing.

about 9 hours ago
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking
1

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO WITH PROSCIUTTO, p. 234

I'm in total agreement with previous posters, not that I had any doubts going into this one. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes, and we love asparagus, and prosciutto. DH generally wants more of a meat or seafood component (so I draped his bowl with three slices of prosciutto).

I scaled down the recipe for two. I blanched only the asparagus tips for topping the risotto and added the other asparagus pieces (ends peeled) directly into the pot with the rice (vialone nano type), for fear of their getting overcooked. By the time the risotto was done, the asparagus was perfectly cooked (albeit a dull green rather than the bright green of the blanched tips).

The only quibble I have with the method is the covering and resting at the end. Both times I've done this, the risotto, very loose before resting, had absorbed all the liquid by the time I served it. My preference is for a looser risotto. As it was absolutely delicious, this is a minor issue. Next time, I just won't cover it.

I liked the prosciutto on top but didn't need it. DH, on the other hand, thought it really elevated the dish (but he'd no doubt vote for prosciutto on top of any risotto).

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

We don't even generally like chicken breast, but thought this recipe was just wonderful--and I will make it again.

Polpo has been one of those books that has really surprised me. I knew it was beautiful, and it looked to contain some good recipes, but my initial thoughts after buying the book were that there were (1) many things that I didn't need a recipe for (like this one) or (2) several requiring ingredients unavailable to me (pigeon, octopus, monksbeard, scallops on the shell, ox or cod cheeks). I made one very simple cicheto and put the book on the shelf--until COTM. But what a revelation! I think I've made more recipes from this than any other COTM (or it's a close second), and been very happy with almost every one. Who knew a chicken cutlet could be so delicious?

So I'm sad to see this month end too.

By the way, DK, (OT but) Chef, Interrupted arrived yesterday, and I see many recipes I'm dying to try. So far, this looks like a really interesting book. I'm glad I ordered it.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

It looks fabulous!

Apr 23, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

Yes, those olives put the baby 'chokes in perspective!

May 2015 COTM: Voting Thread

I think you will be so pleased that you'll change that to "cookbook fairies"!

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

Glad you reminded me of this one. I'm always throwing away bread. (And on a bed of arugula sounds perfect.)

Apr 23, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking
1

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

BEET-CURED SALMON, p. 130

When my husband saw me prepping this, he asked why in the world I wanted my salmon to look like raw beef when I've often remarked on the beautiful coral color of lox or smoked salmon. Add to this that the few times I've made my own gravlax, I haven't been thrilled with the results, and this may sound like a questionable undertaking. (Truth be told, I really love the color of beets and that aspect of this recipe intrigued me.) But when DH questions my sanity in the kitchen, as he is wont to from time to time, he often gets a stock response: yours is not to reason why; yours is just to enjoy the results.

And did he--did we! (So much that he went out in search of hand-made bagels this morning BEFORE his morning papers. Folks, that is something.) The result was a mildly-flavored gravlax, slightly peppery (I upped the pepper quite a bit), with vague hints of orange. I couldn't detect much beet (or dill) flavor, but I loved this nonetheless--my favorite home-made gravlax so far.

I made a half-recipe. After my 325g piece of salmon had languished in its salt-beet-orange zest-dill-pepper-vodka bath for 30 hours, it appeared to still need some time, and since I liked the way LN's looked, I decided I'd check again at 36. But I forgot about it, and it ended up curing for 42-43 hours. So it was deep red almost all the way through when I rinsed it of its cure (and looked a bit like dry-aged beef)

I am a truly lousy photographer, but, yes, those things that look like bacon strips are slices of the cured salmon. I'm also including photos of salmon pre-cure and washed, post-cure as well as one of the crostini I made with it last night.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

Zucchini [Spiral] Shoestring Fries, p. 215

Following MelMM's lead, I used my spiral slicer to make these fries. I do hate deep-frying, but I have to say that this treatment, which blue room has covered above, really transforms the humble zucchini. In fact, I think I like these better than shoestring potatoes. These disappeared very quickly.

Apr 21, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

May 2015 COTM Announcement: EAT by Nigel Slater

Thanks for all the effort, MelMM. I'll be able to find at lease a few from your links that I'll be willing to give a go.

Apr 21, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

Panna Cotta w/Blackberries, Take 2, p. 270

We were having guests for dinner so we needed dessert, right? I decided to try this again and thought it worth reporting since this time the panna cotta released their molds (custard cups) quite readily and turned out as intended.

First, I made these the day before and made a half-recipe (which yielded five servings). But the main change from my first attempt was that I upped the gelatin (10g bloomed in 2 T ice water), and this seemed to be just right. (An Italian man once told me that a perfect panna cotta should jiggle just a little, "like a woman's breast." I won't share some of the comments from others present that followed.)

I didn't have any vanilla beans but used vanilla (caster) sugar and stirred in 1/2 tsp vanilla with the grappa. I used the proper amount of sugar for the proportions this time (I accidentally doubled it last time) and found that I prefer this a bit sweeter so would add more sugar next time. Made the blackberry compote as directed.

These were a hit; one of my guests insisted I give her the recipe on the spot.

This is such a lovely, easy make-ahead dessert that I'm planning to make it again next week when we have guests in town for Jazz Fest, and I'm going to omit vanilla and use orange flower water in place of the grappa for flavoring.

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

BRESAOLA, ROCKET & PARMESAN WRAP, p. 55

What a surprise hit: my husband and guests couldn't get enough of these and marveled at their simplicity.

Hardest thing about these was finding bresaola and getting the folks behind the counter to slice it thinly enough. Since it was pretty small in diameter, I had to overlap two slices and then use skewers so the rolls wouldn't fall apart. Just can't get over how delicious these were.

Apr 21, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

SPICY PORK & FENNEL POLPETTE, p. 151

I made these a few days ago, to the delight of my husband and niece. As per their request, we had them with fedelini and tomato sauce. I scaled down to a pound of pork, made 35g-ish spheres, and baked them at 425F (probably a few minutes too long, as they were a little tough), and poached them in the tomato sauce.

In Feb., I'd made and frozen a gallon of tomato sauce, using my mom's recipe, which, interestingly, is just like RN's, minus the fresh tomatoes and oregano. I defrosted a quart and added some chopped fresh oregano, and I suspect what we ate was very close to what everyone has been raving about. (I've been enjoying this sauce all my life.)

The meatballs were quite good: I liked the pronounced fennel flavor and the hit of hot pepper. But they would probably rank third in my hierarchy of meatballs (with tomato sauce).

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

Impressive!

Apr 20, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

Very. I didn't see this before I posted to Gio. We had regular visits on our porch for a while. I once told my animal-obsessed, pet shelter volunteering, chronic pet fostering friend that they were the only things I ever felt like shooting. It was in jest, but she almost quit speaking to me.

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

Seems less cartoonish when they are hanging out on your porch.

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

Americano, p. 282

I drink a lot of Campari-and-sodas during the summer, but I had never had an Americano. Another thumbs up for this refreshing cocktail!

Apr 19, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

It sure looks pretty, LN. I made this earlier, and it's curing now.

Apr 19, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

GRILLED ZUCCHINI SALAD, p. 212

Count us among the fans of this fantastic salad. It always looked and sounded good, but, this particular combination wowed us.

Nothing much to add to the previous reports. I scaled way back (to a single zucchini) since only two of us were dining. But I'll be serving it for company in the future.

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

FEGATO ALLA VENEZIANO, p. 146

What--no liver lovers here? Ha! Only one in this house. (I've always been a little freakish this way, one of the very few people I know who really enjoy calve's or veal liver once in a while. I have no recollection of where I acquired this taste as we never had this when I was growing up.)

Since I was having this solo, I scaled way back on the liver (to a 100g piece, cut into three small triangles) and 1/3 to 1/4 the other ingredients. I sautéed half a large onion (no white, so I subbed yellow), thinly sliced, in about 1 T OO, very slowly until it was golden and melty, 25-30 minutes. Separately, I heated some OO over medium heat, and when it was hot, added the liver pieces, seasoned with s & p, and four saga leaves and cooked the liver, a minute per side, and then tossed in the onion and about 20ml dry white wine. When the wine started bubbling, I swirled in butter (about 20g) and simmered another minute. That was it.

DH declined my offer of a bite as he ate leftover baked oysters. To me, it was delicious, just as I remember it tasting in Venice.

May 2015 COTM: Voting Thread

Well, I haven't seen the book, but now I'm really curious so I can't wait 'til it gets here. (If I'm hearing you correctly, MelMM, it sounds like MC went for simplification of process rather than ingredients.) Over at EYB, I saw several things that jumped out--LlM's list as well as several others. I'm not turned off by a book because it has recipes that contain precious ingredients. Most have many recipes I'll never make for various reasons. But when I discover even a handful of keepers or learn or perfect a technique, the book is a success.

Of course, without COTM, I'd rarely explore a cookbook in any real depth. With this cohort of enthusiastic cooks/cheerleaders/support group, I find myself pushing myself. Although there are many books I'm not going to buy, I try to stay open-minded about the books. So many have surprised me.

That said, I did consider buying EAT, but when I took a "look inside" at Amazon, I was immediately put off by the recipe style of embedding ingredients into the method of prep. I have a number of recipes written that way (some by me, when I'm rushing), and I inevitably forget an ingredient or a step. I know my limitations, and I'm not organized enough for that style! I need a distinct list of ingredients and another of steps. But if Eat wins, I'll look at which recipes are available online, and if something appeals, I'll try it.

Like-minded as we all are in our love of cooking, we all have different concerns, needs, tastes, aversions, restrictions, etc. But COTM offers everyone ample opportunity to participate--if not in the current month, in its very diverse archive.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

There was a very similar recipe in "Small Plates," but I didn't see that either you or Gio had posted about it. But maybe in one of the other Italian books? Or Med. Harvest?

Apr 18, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

I don't know. I'm just curious about these things. I keep my (relatively heavy) pizza stone in the oven (mostly out of laziness), but I've often wondered if it affects how the oven performs, whether it interferes with confection, etc.

I'm assuming your steel is used primarily for pizza, then?

Apr 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

May 2015 COTM: Voting Thread

Interesting. I haven't seen the book yet, but I saw several intriguing dishes on the EYB list (three foie gras recipes notwithstanding) that caused me to go ahead and order the book (well, that, and the super low price).

Apr 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

I was actually surprised at how brown my meatballs got. I attributed it to the high heat, but looks like BC gets good browning at 375. I did turn them once, as directed, and that seemed necessary to get them browned on top. (And when I took them out to turn them, they were actually sizzling.)

Apr 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

You know, BC, those meatballs looked "fried" when they came out of the oven so I don't see the point of the old way. Did you do these at 375F? Or did you go with the higher temp in this recipe? Because your meatballs look very nicely browned.

Apr 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

May 2015 COTM: Voting Thread

I wasn't going to vote, but since I will have some cooking time in May, I went ahead and sprung for a used copy of Chef, Interrupted (a whopping $5.40), so will cast my vote for it.

Apr 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

I taped Mad Men and was planning to watch it this afternoon. Maybe an early Americano would be in order!

Apr 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

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

Glad you liked it. I loved this sauce. I'm going to try this again with bucatini.

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

Lamb & Pistachio Polpette, p. 154

These were the star of the five small plates I made for last night's dinner, but I went into it pretty confident after the reports here (and because we've never met a disagreeable lamb meatball). I scaled down to a pound of lamb and skipped the tomato sauce since I'm planning on the pork & fennel polpette with the sauce this weekend (and, to be honest, I've never loved the combination of lamb and tomato). Since I wasn't braising in tomato sauce, I left them in the oven for an extra 5 minutes, but probably could have taken them out a bit sooner. These were pretty small, more polpettine than polpette.

DH raved (and ate a huge number), commenting that all that would improve these would be a yogurt sauce.

Excellent meatballs--and much easier than my usual. I do love that they are baked rather than fried (and I couldn't tell a bit of difference. I think I will bake all meatballs from now on).