And now for something completely different…

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A million years ago, when I was running my chubby little legs off as a catering director at a Boston area university, there was a defacto group of businessmen with ties to Armenia, who used the university facilities once a month. The president of the university at the time, who I adored, was a member, so they got first cabin treatment including being able to bring in their own food. So on the last Thursday of the month, a courier from a local Armenian caterer would arrive with a tray of steak tartare sans egg, a huge pan of addictive Armenian string cheese with nigella seeds, bags of choereg, the soft bread usually available at Easter and a giant, and I mean giant, jar of this perfumey giardinera type relish of carrots, celery and cauliflower. They would order up Mateus rose wine and go through the food like butter through a hot knife. Then they would eat dinner….

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Any way, I was thinking about this the other day because I found a different recipe for brussel sprouts. Not the usual roasted, glazed or steamed brussel sprouts that are found this time of year, but a giardinera with a suggested use on cold cut sandwiches or maybe on top of sliced and grilled chicken breast. Or you could add in a pita with falafel and hummus.

The recipe starts out with about a pound of shredded sprouts, a cup of thinly sliced carrots and thinly sliced shallots. I used the cuisinart for the sprouts and carrots and the mandoline for the shallots. There is also a serrano chile pepper sliced on the long side, in the mix.

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The recipe calls for sliced fennel, but I had none hanging around, but I did have this nifty tin of fennel pollen which gives you the same flavor. So I mixed in about a tablespoon. Then I added Kosher salt, mixed everything in the bowl and stuck it in the fridge to get the water out.

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Next morning, I mixed vinegar and oil, red pepper flakes and oregano and mixed together. I put the mix into a 1/2 quart jar and then poured the mix over and as you read this , the product is sitting in the back of my fridge, marinating …IMG_3528

The recipe says to let it “cook” for 3 days, so watch this space for an update!

Crunchy and Crispy

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I tasted the best cole slaw of my young life last week at a location that for the time will remain nameless.  Dead simple and anyone could make it. Here’s how.

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First I chopped a small head of broccoli and about 1/2 a head of green cauliflower ( because that was the cauliflower color of the week) in the food processor. I also added about a 1/4 of a red onion.

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Then I switched blades and sent some carrots and about 18 fairly hefty brussel sprouts to their certain doom.

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I added golden raisins and dried cranberries…(maybe 1/2 cup of each)

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Then I tossed the whole bowl with cole slaw dressing from your grocer’s refrigerator section. Quick and crunchy too. Also better after the dressing softens the sprouts a little and the flavors mesh. Enjoy!

 

Crunchy summer salad

Sorry to say that I forgot you take a picture once everything in this crispy, crunchy cabbage dis that requires no cooking. It does require you to be patient as you slice the brussel sprouts either with a paring knife or on your mandolins. You could also use the slicing blade on your food processor. Simply slice them as thin as possible


Toss the sprouts with olive oil, lemon juice, shredded cheese, salt and pepper.


Lastly, a final toss with some walnut halves! Trust me, you’ll love it!

Pudding, Part 2

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We’ve walked by this restaurant in Portsmouth NH at least 6 times in the last few years when we have stopped in Portsmouth on our way in or out of Maine. The Hubs and I have always been drawn to how lovely the outside patio looks in summer, but alas, we were never able to get a seat, it’s just too popular! So when we planned our Pudding last weekend, I put the Hubs on the case of making a reservation and he outdid himself! We had an 8:30 reservation for “bar seating” but this was the view from the bar….
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Of course we ordered the chef’s tasting menu that’s on the right of this picture and we ordered it with the wine pairing to accompany it. Easily one of the top dozen meals we have ever had. It was so fun to watch the two chefs at the stove and ovens orchestrate the meals for this cozy and unpretentious venue. We started off with a roasted beet and chevre starter that was topped with pistachio and pomegranate seeds. The best part of this was the fact that the chevre had been either whipped or foamed to become silky and soft, not crumbly. The beets were small and tender and perfect.

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A butternut squash soup followed. The bottom of the bowl was painted with chocolate and cocoa nibs were added along with a homemade marshmallow. Chocolate, really? YES, REALLY! Wow! I’ve made Butternut Squash bisque, and had it in other places and never have I gotten this silky consistency that was what we had on Saturday nite.

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Both of these courses were accompanied by a lovely white from Russian River in California.

Next up was a “salad” of pan roasted brussel sprouts and chestnuts with pomegranate served with a delicious nebbiola (rose) by La Kiuva in Italy

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There was a cider cured duck listed on the menu, but they were out, and so substituted Chickpea Fries ( not what you think….) This will be another recipe I experiment with over the holidays. It would be excellent for meatless Monday. But I digress…

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cava11Outside of the beef that followed this dish, this item was my favorite from the whole memorable meal! I know I keep using the word silky, but really that’s the consistency we kept tasting. All the food was seasoned to perfection. The Chickpea Fries coincindentally are a recipe featured in this issue of Panna the online cooking magazine that I subscribe to. Maybe that’s where they got the idea, but it worked!

They topped it with fresh tabouleh, feta, and a cucumber yogurt dressing.

This course and the upcoming beef tenderloin was accompanied by a BIG red from Saved Winery in California. It was HUGE and will be under serious consideration for a case purchase!

Next up was a sirloin of beef, accompanied by a crispy brussel sprout leaf and a roasted carrot on top and a sauce of black garlic ( there’s that silky stuff again) that was out of this world, but the most surprising note of all came from the star anise that the sirloin was rubbed in before searing and roasting…”the best friend of beef” is what Michael, our chef said. I have got to try that, just need to find some star anise….cava5 cava4

And this is when my iPhone died and I could not capture anything else, sadly. Following dinner we had an intermezzo of fresh pineapple, grilled with molasses and lime zest and then a pumpkin cake with marscapone foam. The best part of dessert was the sherry pairing! It was like drinking a liquid raisin, so rich and so layered with flavor.

More than enough food, even though a tasting menu and totally reasonable in price, it’s a place I can’t wait to go back to for another Pudding!