Monday, February 1, 2010

Spicy Broccoli Rabe, a la Giacomo’s

Serves 2-4 as a side

Inspiration: The broccoli rabe dish at Giacomo's restaurant in the South End. This is not swimming in olive oil, but it still very good.

  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3 anchovy filets, mashed to a paste
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, tough stems removed (the easiest way to do this, is just to cut off the stems below where the leaves starts, this will leave you with enough stems to keep the dish substantial, without feeling like you're eating a forest)
  • ¼ of a 15 ounce jar of hot yellow pepper rings (banana peppers or pepperoncini), drained
  • Pinch of hot red pepper flakes

Bring a 2 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 T of salt. Set up an ice bath nearby (a bowl of ice and water that is larger than the colander you will be draining the rabe into). Blanc the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 3 minutes, pour into a colander, then immediately submerge in the ice bath. Loosen the leaves, so that it cools thoroughly and uniformly in the bath.

Heat 2 T olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic and the anchovies and sauté till the garlic just starts to turn golden. Add the broccoli rabe, pepper ringes, and red pepper flakes. Saute over high heat until the broccoli rabe starts to brown at the edges. Add more olive oil if a) it needs it, or b) you want it to be swimming in a pool of EVOO as at Giacomo's (mmm…..) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

*Note* if you don't like spicy things, just do the garlic, without the pepper rings or flakes. Still very good.

Potato Gnocchi

Source: Modified from… How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman

Serves 3-4 (main course portions)

Special Equipment: Potato Ricer

  • 2 large russet potatoes (2 to 2.25 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed.

*Note* gnocchi is NOT hard. It takes about an hour, but most of that is boiling the potatoes. It is scary, because until you've done it you're afraid that you'll either make the gnocchi tough, or that they'll simply dissolve. Fortunately, you can ensure that neither of these things happens, simply by checking the dough as you make it. Give it a try; you'll be very proud of yourself!

Put the potatoes in boiling, lightly salted water. Adjust the heat, so it's not a full boil and cook until the potatoes are very tender, around 45 minutes. Drain and peel. Re-fill the pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil again.

Push the potatoes through the ricer into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add a salt and pepper to taste. Add the ½ cup flour and slowly and gently fold it into the potatoes. I find this works best using a rubber spatula and a gentle lifting motion. Add more flour until the mixture forms a dough you can handle (I've consistently found this to be the right amount, ½ cup, I've tried less, and it doesn't hold together).

Very lightly knead on a floured surface, then roll off a small ball and put it in the boiling water. If it stays together after a minute or so, you are in good shape. If not, add more flour, and knead it in. Your goal is to make this with as little kneading and flour as possible.

Using your hands, on a lightly floured surface, roll a piece of the dough into a long, ¾-inch diameter cylinder. You'll probably have to create about 5 of these "ropes," but do them one at a time. Using a knife, cut off ¾ inch sections of the rope. Be careful only to press on the part of the dough you want to cut, don't angle the knife and squish the dough. You should be creating small "pillows of gnocchi." If you have it, put the gnocchi on wax paper. Otherwise, just leave them on the floured surface. Continue doing these until you've cut up all of your ropes. You can also press them against the tines of a fork, to create the ridges that give this pasta its name (gnocchi is Italian for knuckles) but I think this is a risky step. You risk squishing your gnocchi and losing the wonderful texture you worked so delicately to create.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water. You can do this in batches if you wish, but it's not really necessary, unless you're making more than this. 1 minute after the gnocchi rise to the surface they are ready. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and plate them. Drain off as much water as possible. Add your sauce, and you're done!

Butcher Shop Bolognese Sauce

Serves 8

Source: Barbara Lynch, The Butcher Shop, Boston

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 5 ounces chicken livers trimmed and finely chopped (if you've never done this, you'll now understand the term "you'll be chopped liver"
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds ground meat; ½ pound each of ground veal, pork, and lamb
  • 1 ½ cups red wine
  • 1 ½ cups chicken or beef stock
  • 1 ½ cups chopped canned tomatoes, and juice (preferably San Marzano brand)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional—but highly recommended, at least ¼ cup)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat the olive oil in a large pot/pan, at least 4 quarts in size Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the chicken livers and sage and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the livers lose their red color, 2-3 minutes.

Add the ground meat in batches, letting it brown a little before adding more. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and cook until no red or pink color remains. Pour off most of the fat. Add the wine, and Increase the heat to high (if it wasn't their already), and boil the wine until it's almost gone, 10 – 15 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, and basil. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered until the sauce is thick, dark, and rich. This should take about 1 hour, if at 45 minutes you feel like you've got a long way to go, increase the heat. Stir in the cream, and continue to cook and additional 3-5 minutes.

Serve over pasta or gnocchi with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Wonderful, and freezes beautifully.

Middle Eastern(ish) Salad

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ten ounce package of arugula
  • Two-three 0.75 ounce packages of fresh mint, or one bunch
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds removed, and juice reserved
  • 4-6 ounces good, chalky (as opposed to creamy) goat cheese (or to taste)
  • Balsamic vinaigrette
    • 1 part balsamic vinegar
    • 2-3 parts very good olive oil
    • Liberal pinch kosher salt
    • ½ tsp Dijon mustard

      gradually whisk in olive oil with other ingredients until emulsified

Toss mint and arugula with vinaigrette; add some of the reserved pomegranate juice, if desired. Plate greens and crumble goat cheese and pomegranates over the top.

Suggestion: would also be good, and even more middle eastern tasting with medallions of goat cheese with a sesame seed or pistachio breading