Archive for September, 2008

Beet carpaccio. Not a neologism. Red / white.

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Beef carpaccio is the classic dish of paper-thin slices of raw beef, invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice in the 1950′s and originally garnished with a white mayonnaise-based sauce. See the original recipe here. Variations on this theme are ubiquitous, and modern versions of the dish are often garnished with shaved parmesan cheese, olive oil, diced red onion, and capers.

You’ll find “carpaccios” of everything under the sun on modern menus, from fish to spam. However, this name is quite appropriate for a dish made with red beets and white goat’s cheese, because the name was inspired the similarity in palette to the brilliant reds and whites used by Vittore Carpaccio, a famous Venetian painter.

Here’s a beet carpaccio that uses gorgeous beets from Pachamama Organic Farm and Haystack Mountain’s incomparable goat’s cheese.

Beet Carpaccio

  1. one bunch red beets
  2. Haystack Mountain goat’s cheese
  3. 1/3 cup hazelnuts, shelled and papery skins removed, roughly chopped
  4. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel beets, rub with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Roast 1 hour until tender and allow to cool.

Slice beets paper-thin, using your mandoline of choice or your best knife. Spread out over serving plate,  dot with goat’s cheese bits and chopped hazelnuts, then drizzle with good olive oil.

The most difficult part of this dish is removing the skins from raw hazelnuts. The most obvious way is to roast the nuts about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, allow to cool, then remove the skins by hand. Others swear by blanching, about 5 minutes (some recommend the addition of baking soda!), then drain, refresh with cold water, and peel.

Sources

Pachamama Organic Farm

Haystack Mountain

The mandoline. Less is more. Essential slicer.

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

With mandolines it’s true that less is more. Classic french examples weigh a ton, cost a mint, and are perfectly capable of removing entire body parts if misused. Most working chefs favor an inexpensive alternative, the japanese Benriner (pictured left, in the queasy green color), and I use mine weekly.

Another strong contender is the all-stainless steel model made by the venerable German firm Rösle (pictured right).

What is not apparent from the picture is that the Benriner also comes with additional blades that allow it to be set up to quickly cut uniform strips for julienne and brunoise.

I find that the Rösle is easier to adjust accurately for slicing but agree with Rulhman that if you have only one tool it should be the Benriner, since the Rösle does not have julienne blades.

For wimps, hand guards are included or available with either model.

Sources

Amazon.com carries both mandolines.

Corn #3. Another Southern bellwether. Fried corn.

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Another southern preparation, here using Munson Farms corn of course.

Fried Corn

  1. 4 ears corn
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. salt and black pepper

Slice the corn lengthwise from the cob into a bowl, then scrape the cob with the edge of the knife to catch any remaining liquid. Sauté the corn in butter, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Like any true southern dish this was classically prepared with bacon drippings, caveat emptor.

Sources

Munson Farms

Spaghetti squash. Uncharted territory inside. Brown butter.

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

I have always marvelled at the spaghetti squash. This stealthy vegetable appears to be an ordinary, even boring squash but when cooked its flesh magically separates into simply uncanny spaghetti-like strands which have a wonderful texture and a surprisingly unsquash-like taste. I chose a lovely orange example (apparently this is the “Orangetti” variety) from Pachamama Organic Farm, and prepared it pasta-style with a simple brown butter sauce.

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter

  1. a firm spaghetti squash, about two pounds
  2. 3 Tb butter + a bit more, softened
  3. salt and pepper to taste

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers, pat dry. Rub the cut surfaces and pits with a little butter, season with salt and pepper. Bake cut-side down for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium flame, watching carefully until slightly browned, then remove immediately from heat.

Scrape flesh into a bowl, separating strands with two forks. Toss with browned butter and serve immediately.

Sources

Pachamama Organic Farm

Dinner party. BCO’s greatest hits. Top three.

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

We are a part of a “supper club” with a group of friends. Our turn came up, and it only seemed natural to revisit my favorite recipes of the year. The evening was fine and the dinner al fresco, featured were Pimientos de Padrón, Vichyssoise, and Blasut’s Chicken.

Ingredients came from the usual suspects: La Tienda, Red Wagon Organic Farm, and Wisdom’s; the dishes were well-received by all.