April 4, 2016 – April 10/2016
Monday: Polenta with Mushroom Ragú
Tuesday: Night out at The Cornerstone for the Pink Putter’s Stud Farm
(Cestra, McSorley, Slavish, Stewart)
Wednesday: Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables over Saffron Orzo
Thursday: Best Ever Tomato Soup / Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Friday: Spaghetti with tuna sauce – Fox Chapel Greek Salad – Manchego Cheese Bites
Saturday: Lentil Stew with Mustard Greens and Sausage
Avocado toasts with crudités and lemon zest
Lamb Barbaton – Carrots with chives – Fox Chapel Greek Salad : Cucumber, Tomato, Feta, Red Onion, arugula Salad
Ann Donahue’s Yuengling (ice cream) with Strawberries and Pastries
A lively crowd of guests assembled at Chez Stewart last Sunday: Ann and Chris, Mary Anne and Hoddy, Father Jay, Tim Hughes, Billy and, of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I.
Ann and Chris brought a spectacular Brunello Di Montalcino (Terralsole Mariobellao 2013), pastries from Gaby et Jules that were works of art (and delicious), a box of See’s Candy, Ice Cream from Yuengling’s brewery (ever had a pilsner float?), Chocolate Biscotti and bread from the Abbey of St. Vincent. They get to come back. Tim brought birthday gifts of wine and a bottle of Jameson for yours truly. We have to have more dinner parties.
For dinner we reprised the Daniel Boulud Lamb Barbaton from Easter and Jacques Pépin’s Carrots with Chives and a new sort of Greek Salad that we are fond of (see “Extra” below).
As for this week’s keeper – On Friday I met with brothers John and Greg and life-long friends Chris and Ambrose for drinks and birthday toasts at The Mansions on Fifth. (If you have not been to this little-known gem of a bar in an old wood, marble and stained-glass mansion, please don’t come – we prefer to keep it to ourselves). Heading home at 7:10, having promised Barbara that I would be home around 6:30, I wondered what we might concoct for dinner from the stuff we had at home.
We had some good imported tuna in olive oil, spaghetti and the fixings for the salad mentioned above (see “Extra” below). So we made spaghetti with tuna sauce. Sounds like tuna-noodle casserole you say? Well, in the sense that Sophia Loren looks like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, you are correct. But hey, why sneer at Ruth Bader Ginsberg or tuna-noodle casserole, without which our sainted RC mothers with their vast flocks of children would never have been able to keep us alive on Fridays or Ash Wednesdays?
Trust me, you never had a casserole that tasted like this pasta. The trick is to finish cooking the pasta for a couple of minutes in the tuna sauce so that it gets coated and infused with the flavor. You may never use a red sauce again.
KEEPER OF THE WEEK
Spaghetti with Tuna Sauce – this humble dish takes 15 minutes to cook. With a salad it is a good, quick meal and you can cook it while slightly buzzed with little danger of starting a fire or slicing off a finger – but you might want to have a spotter on hand, just in case.
Supplies: Box of Spaghetti, 3 cans of imported Italian Tuna in olive oil with the oil, red pepper flakes, 2 cloves of garlic (if you came over on the Mayflower) or 3 cloves of garlic (if you came over in steerage) finely chopped, salt and pepper
Put a large pot of water over heat to boil. Meanwhile, heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium plus heat (you’ll need a skillet that can hold all of the sauce and spaghetti together). When oil shimmers add garlic and pepper flakes and stir until garlic becomes fragrant – 30 seconds or so – Add tuna (do not drain) and cook until heated through – couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper, cover and turn off the heat.
Now cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than ‘al dente,’ and at about 6 minutes begin to reheat the tuna sauce (over medium). When the spaghetti is done, reserve some of the pasta water (about a cup), drain the pasta and add it to the tuna sauce and cook over medium plus folding it with tongs for 2 minutes or so until the spaghetti is done and thoroughly coated and flavored with the sauce (add reserved pasta water to loosen as necessary). Serve immediately with some chopped parsley
Fox Chapel Greek Salad
Supplies: Cucumber cut into quarter-moons, Cherry Tomatoes halved or quartered to bite-sized pieces, good feta (Greek or French imported), Chopped Red Onions, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, Arugula
As for quantities – it’s up to you. In general, the idea is to have a heap of cucumber, tomato, feta and onions with scanty arugula. Dress with lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, ground pepper and a pinch of salt (the feta may give enough salt by itself), toss and serve..
Why “Fox Chapel”? Well, we had no Kalamata Olives or Pepperoncini and, let’s face it, arugula simply screams Fox Chapel or Sewickley, or The Main Line, or that part of Chicago where the Obamas live. And this is not a bad thing, contrary to what Bernie Sanders would have you imagine.