Being a sports fan is a mysterious thing – a cross between love and friendship with an occasional mad spike of religious crusade thrown in. Billy and Barbara were wound tight as drums for the Penguins game on Sunday night. I may have been – I do know that superfluous conversation (weddings, the exact age of the players, etc.) annoyed the hell out of me. My feeling was that all of our attention and psychic energy should be focused on the game and cheering for the Pens. There are few things as intense as a close hockey game when you have a stake in the outcome. So we ended Sunday night exhausted, but happy. Barbara had the extra reason that “now, Billy, you can shave that beard.” (As you can see, with Beez, psychic energy shoots in all directions at once.) By the by, a friend from New York congratulated me on the Pens win, which made me feel a bit guilty – I hadn’t even grown a play-off beard.
With the Penguins playing to win the Stanley Cup and Billy and Barbara on edge and myself a bit wobbly from the great night and half-day in Boston, we decided to keep dinner simple and go with the tried and true. I think I’ve given out both of these recipes before, but hey, searching the archives isn’t fun, so just go below to get not two but three (!) recipes. Because while the Tuna Niçoise and the bruschetta with ricotta and crudités is tried and true and simple,* the three-onion tart (think of it as a pizza and you won’t be far off) is worth a little sweat and effort. So was the chard with chick-peas, as far as I was concerned, but Beez thought not and I could not muster the super-majority to overturn her veto. She isn’t called ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’ for nothing.
*Hockey fans, like players, are superstitious. So, if ever the Penguins are playing another game 6 for the Stanley Cup, we will undoubtedly resurrect the same meal.
Monday: Left-overs – Chicken, Polenta, Crudités
Tuesday: Guacamole with home-made taco chips Blue Cheese Burgers with Port Wine Sauce / Sweet Potato Fries / Asparagus with lemon zest
Wednesday: Crudités with Bean Dip Sautéed Chard with Chickpeas
Thursday: Three-Onion Tart with Smoky Cheese (a rival to pizza), Spinach Salad
Friday: Dinner honoring Dr. Ed Benz, Director of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute – Mandarin Oriental, Boston
Saturday: Brunch at MASA, Boston – Phil’s Bloody Mary is worth the trip
Sunday: Bruschetta with herbed ricotta and crudités /Seared Tuna Niçoise
Herbed Ricotta with Crudités (Cheater Version)
I’ve laid out, in a previous post, how to make your own ricotta. But if you have access to a high-quality, hand-dipped ricotta you can have something almost as good in no time. We used Maplebrook Farms ricotta which will cost you more than G.E., but is well worth it. We added in a little heavy cream to loosen it and mixed it with chopped thyme (a goodly amount), salt and pepper. For crudités, I’d slice some cucumber, halve some cherry tomatoes, pile up some small-leaved greens and – this is key – this is the sine qua non of crudités for ricotta – sliced red onion. Toast or grill some baguette (olive oil, sea salt and pepper), shove a spoon or butter knife into the ricotta, pour a crispy white wine and have at it, while watching the (interminable) pre-game show for the Stanley Cup Finals.
Three Onion Tart (From “The Splendid Table” web-site, but use our recipe for dough)
For the pizza-dough, I will refer you to previous posts. Use the recipe amount for two crusts – you’ll need it for this one. Go to keepers and scroll down to “Pizza” or click here: Pizza dough
For this tart, you’ll want to roll out the entire double batch of dough to about 1/4″ thick, into a rectangular shape, so that it fits on a large, oiled, overturned cookie sheet and stretch it further into shape with your hands. I.e., you’ll want to place this on the bottom of the cookie sheet – you’re going to slide it off at some point to brown the bottom of the crust.
Here’s the filling and how to assemble and cook the pizza.
Pre-heat oven to 450
Pizza dough (see above)
2 Cups thinly sliced onions – a mix of red, white and scallions
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra oil to oil the pan and brush the edges of the crust
2 tablespoons minced thyme
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup roughly grated smoked cheese (provolone, mozzarella, Gouda, Gruyere)
1/2 cup grate Parmigiano-Reggiano
Combine onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme and salt and toss in a bowl
Lightly oil the edges of the rolled out dough with olive oil and sprinkle with sea-salt, then layer the dough with the smoked cheese. Layer the onion mixture on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and drizzle the cream over the top.
Bake the tart for 10-15 minutes and when it is firm enough to slip from the cookie sheet, using a large spatula, slide it directly onto the oven rack and cook for 5 or more minutes to brown the bottom of the crust. Let cool for a few minutes, slice and serve. Some lightly dressed arugula would be a perfect accompaniment.
Seared Tuna Niçoise
This is the same base recipe as the Near Niçoise with Grilled Swordfish which was the keeper for November 1, 2015. But in this case, oil and salt and pepper both sides of Sushi Grade Tuna (the stuff at Whole Foods will work). Build a hot fire or heat a skillet to medium-high for a few minutes. Now cook the tuna for 3 minutes on one side and about 2 on the other. Slice the tuna and place it on the assembled salad. Drizzle with a little more the dressing you used for the salad and dig in.