Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Last supper #10: Paul Kahan

This officially marks the 25% mark of Project Last Supper! Just 30 more to go between now and September. Hmmm, I'd better get cookin'! For his last supper, Paul Kahan, a Chicago-based chef, wanted roast suckling pig, homemade noodles with truffles, escarole salad, cheese and Swiss chocolate.

In lieu of the suckling pig, I made a roast pork loin alla Porchetta - it was stuffed with a yummy mixture of ground pork, fennel, onion, garlic, fennel seed, bread crumbs, etc. The loin was tied and then roasted over a bed of red onions for extra flavor. To finish it, the sliced pieces were drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. It should come as a shock to any regular visitors to my blog that I found the recipe in Molto Italiano by Mario Batali. I think this is quickly becoming my go-to cookbook for fabulous food!

I chose an escarole salad with warm bacon vinaigrette from the Williams-Somona Sause cookbook. I was a great blend of crunchy, salty and a touch of sweet from some sherry and sherry vinager.

The noodle recipe was Kahan's own and appears in the book. The handmade dough is rolled out on a pasta machine and then sliced into wide noodles similar to pappardelle. The warm noodles are tossed with truffles and a little butter. The recipe called for tarragon, but I omitted it. These were delicious - tender noodles with a smooth texture.

We finished the night with a bits of Swiss dark chocolate with almonds. Perfect ending!

Also of note, I had a guest photographer on this one. My sister came over to have dinner with us and she photographed for me. She is the first guest for one of the Last Suppers!

Next, we'll enjoy the last supper of Giorgio Locatelli.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lovely leeks

Jeff and I both love leeks so Laurent Tourondel's recipe for Leeks Vinaigrette caught my eye the first time I flipped through the BLT cookbook, a gift from my mother-in-law for Christmas. The recipe is simple, but the presentation elegant. It is listed as a first course in the book, but I served it along with our Saturday dinner of grilled steaks and twice baked potatoes stuffed with spinach and cheddar.

Find the recipe in BLT: Bistro Laurent Tourondel, by Laurent Tourondel. This is a new favorite cookbook. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

Here's how I made it (for 2 servings). The original cllas for a blue cheese such as Forme d'Ambert, but Jeff isn't a big fan of blue so I substituted an aged Crotin goat cheese. Delish!

Leeks Vinaigrette
3 large leeks
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 3 tsp. walnut oil
about 3 tsp. sherry vinegar
2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
2 ounces aged goat cheese or blue cheese such as Forme d'Ambert or Gorgonzola
Carmelized walnuts (see below)
To prepare the leeks, remove the outer layer and trim off the root ends and darker green portions at the top. Wash thoroughly and thn tie together, 3 in a bunch, with kitchen twine so they hold their shape when cooked.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the leeks. Simmer the leeks until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain and shock by plunging them into a bowl of ice water. Drain well and squeeze the leeks gently in a paper towel to eliminate excess water. Remove the strings. Cut the leeks crosswise into 3/4 inch lengths.
Arrange the leeks slices with one cut-side down on serving plates. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle the chives over them.
Place a little of the cheese on each leek. Scatter the walnuts over them. Serve immediately.
Carmelized walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup walnuts
Butter or lightly spray a cookie sheet. Set aside.
Combine the water and sugar in a small pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Then let is boil, untouched, until it turns a rich amber color. Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Allow to cool, then coarsely chop them to break them apart.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Last Supper #9: Angela Hartnett

Born in England, Angela Hartnett has restaurants in London and Florida. Her last supper was loaded with pasta - YUM! Her original list included antipasti, anolini stuffed with veal or lamb, pumpkin tortelli, pasta with truffles and for dessert, homemade zagaglione. I left out the pasta with truffles and the dessert.

The antipasti included meats from the newly opened Italian specialty shop in Garwood, NJ called Bienvenuti. We also had some cheeses, marinated mushrooms and artichokes.

Then on to pasta number 1. I rolled out fresh pasta sheets using half flour, half semolina. I used the same pasta dough for both recipes. For the tortelloni, I made the filling in the Silver Spoon, but used butternut squash instead of pumpkin. Jeff helped me cut out the rounds and then I filled and shaped these little treats:

I served them with simple brown butter and sage - and a little parm never hurt. Delicious!

The next course was the real hit though. I once again turned to Mario Batali and he came through like a champ. In Molto Italiano, there's a recipe for agnolotti which calls for chicken and sausage. I instead used ground pork and ground veal. MMM! So the filling was made from the mixture of meats, onion, olive oil, fontina cheese, goat cheese, marjoram and salt and pepper. It was all minced together in a food processor to give it a very nice texture.

I made up the sauce as I went along and I sure hope I can figure it out next time. I started by reducing some beef stock. I had a rind of Parmigiano Reggiano so I threw that in to the simmering stock (a trick I learned from Giada!). Once it reduced a bit I added a little tomato paste. It was a little salty so I stirred in some water and a little bit of unsalted butter. I spooned this into the bowls, topped it with the cooked agnolotti and some sauteed Cremini mushrooms. This was good! I delivered some to my parents too and they both gave it rave reviews.

Of the first 9 Last Suppers, this was our favorite. I wonder what the next 31 will bring...
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