Monday: Radicchio and Fig Salad with left-over roasted pork
Tuesday: to Naples, Florida for Valentine – Pot-Roasted Halibut with Chick-Peas and Chorizo
Wednesday: Michael T’s – great bar, blackened grouper sandwich
Thursday: Bricktop’s for lunch / Dinner at Capitol Grill with the Donahues, Careys, Cunninghams, Fridays, Gordons
Friday: U of Pgh Winter Academy / Fish night at Royal Poinciana, superb oysters, sashimi, yellowtail, American caviar
Saturday: Truluck’s – Salmon Tartare / Wedge Salad
Sunday: Eggs, Sausage and Potatoes and Toast with 20 types of jams, jellies and preserves
Before the meat of the blog (well fig and ceviche, to be precise), a few housekeeping notes:
At the end of the post, each week, you will find at least two recipes. And you can also click on the “Keepers” tab to review the top two or three recipes from each week – the list goes back to 2015. These recipes are written the way we’d like to see all recipes written – with separate notes on timing and prep and substitutes for ingredients which you may not be able to find. I ran into a niece this week who said that she didn’t always want to cook the same food for her family. Here is one answer to that dilemma – explore the keepers tab, which offers 84 weeks of recipes (about 168).
Equally important, all the way at the bottom of everything, you will find a place to comment, where you can tell me what you think about the post, or send along your own recipes, or anything you’d like that is appropriate for children and aging gourmands. And now, to the post –
The Other Naples
We spent last week with Mere and Hoddy at their wonderful home in Naples, Florida. So, we didn’t do much cooking, but we did manage to do a lot of eating. In spite of which we lost weight because we were walking, swimming and working out in one of the most beautiful places on this earth.* It is also, unlike Naples, Italy, filled with Pittsburghers and family and friends, and some other folks who are mind-expandingly wealthy. At lunch one day, I saw the following line-up at the valet stand (we parked ourselves): 1 Bentley, 4 Mercedes, and a Porsche. It is one hell of a nice place to visit. In addition to breath-taking apartments and homes, it boasts some of the most beautiful landscaping to be seen anywhere on earth. It is true that, as you move inland from the ocean, it’s good to be aware of the alligators – speaking just for myself, I would not leave small dogs or infants out at night, no matter how annoying they were.
Mere and Hoddy have a place on the shore which boasts a panoramic view of the Gulf from Naples up to Fort Meyers and, sometimes, visible as a faint line on the horizon, the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. The sea here is nearly always a shade of turquoise or aquamarine, not the bottle green of New Jersey nor the slate gray-blue of Maine. The light plays across it so that, on a windy day, you see a muddy green just near the shore, where the waves gather up the sand and break, a sort of bottle turquoise a bit further out, and bright patches of opalescent aquamarine where the sun shines on the surface. Between the beach and the houses and condos is a walk along which people even older than us toddle and lurch in the morning. It is enough to make you feel young again.
And the mornings are very fine when the weather is good. Take a walk, hit the gym and swim a few laps in the pool, then return to Mere and Hoddy’s for scrambled eggs, chorizo and potatoes cooked by Mere and Beez, Bloody Marys made by Hoddy and toast with 20 kinds of jam, jelly and marmalade. (Mere and Hoddy have a lot of children and grandchildren with different tastes in jelly). You can also sit and read the newspapers that Bill and Hoddy have thoughtfully procured from the Barnes & Noble down the road, or watch the morning news programs, or go to one of the back rooms and study philosophy with Bill.
For lunch, you can graze on the world-class leftovers from one of Mere and Hoddy’s continuous cocktail parties or dinners or head out to Brick Tops or Bayfront or . . . the town is lousy with good restaurants, and, except for our first night, we headed out for dinner. On Wednesday to Michael T.’s with good fish and a lively bar. On Thursday to the Capitol Grill where we joined the Donahues, Cunninghams, Careys, Fridays and Gordons and had good steak and great seared tuna and perhaps more laughter than was good for us. On Friday, after the University of Pittsburgh Winter Academy, Mere and Hoddy took us to Royal Poinciana Club, where we gorged on oysters, lobster and, a revelation to me – American caviar. And on Saturday we went to Truluck’s after a cocktail party at a home that was, roughly, the size of an aircraft carrier, though with more marble.
Do we sound smitten with Naples? Well, we are. And I think we behaved well enough to be invited back some time.
Below, we share the excellent salad we made on the Monday before we flew to Naples and a recipe for ceviché, which Mere had asked me to pass along. Even non-seafood eaters will devour this ceviche. If they don’t, put them on a diet of quinoa, whey and bean sprouts until they wise up.
RADICCHIO AND FIG SALAD WITH CANNELLINI
The deal with radicchio is that it’s pretty, but bitter. This salad balances the bitterness with the sweetness of figs, the tartness of vinaigrette, and the earthy savor of the beans. We happened to have some left-over pork which went well with the salad, but it can stand alone quite well.
As long as it takes you to slice some figs and make a vinaigrette. I suggest letting the vinaigrette sit in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so for the flavors to come together.
Ingredients: For 4 people
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained – (We drain these briefly, because we like the liquid they’re packed in.)
2 heads of radicchio chopped
8 dried figs, sliced
For the vinaigrette:
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or champagne or red wine vinegar)
3 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons of grainy mustard
Salt and pepper
Prep: Make the vinaigrette, chop the radicchio and figs and drain the beans (briefly)
Make the vinaigrette:
Whisk Dijon and grainy mustard together with the vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer.
Assemble the Salad:
Toss the beans, figs and radicchio with some of the vinaigrette. (We prefer lightly dressed salads, but drench it, if you like.) Hit it with a few grinds of pepper and serve. With a nice piece of grilled bread, this can serve as a full meal.
EXTRA Shrimp Ceviche with Lime Crema
(from a yellowing clipping from the PPG)
Timing: About 45 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4 – 6 as an appetizer
1 lb. Medium Shrimp peeled and deveined (I’d go for 35-40 shrimp and buy them already peeled and deveined)
2 tablespoons Mexican crema (if you can’t find crema, use crème fraîche or, if necessary, sour cream – sour cream is a good bit thicker, so you might thin it a bit with heavy cream)
¼ Cup fresh orange juice (1-2 oranges)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (do not use dried)
2 teaspoons diced red onion
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño (we use more)
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ – 1 teaspoon sugar (we prefer tart ceviche, and use less sugar – if you like it sweet add more than1 teaspoon)
Slice lime and cilantro or parsley for garnish (optional)
Prep: Grate the ginger, juice the orange, lemon and lime. Chop the onion and jalapeño and reserve (you won’t be using these until you finish the dish). Cook the shrimp (see below), but DO NOT PREPARE THE AVOCADO UNTIL GAME TIME.
Cook the Shrimp:
Fill a bowl with ice.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
Drop in the shrimp and cook just until they begin to turn pink (15-20 seconds for medium shrimp). YOU DON’T WANT TO COOK THIS ANY FURTHER, GRANDMA, BECAUSE IT WILL FINISH COOKING IN THE CITRUS JUICE. THAT IS THE WHOLE IDEA OF CEVICHE. IF YOU HAVE REALLY TINY SHRIMP, DON’T BOIL THEM, JUST COOK THEM IN THE CITRUS.
Drain the pan, immediately and chill the shrimp in the bowl with the ice.
Make the ceviche:
In a small bowl, combine the orange, lime and lemon juices with the sugar, salt, cream and ginger, and mix well.
Depending on the size of the shrimp, halve lengthwise (or not) and place in a bowl.
Pour the citrus and crema mixture over the shrimp.
Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes
Finishing and Serving:
When the ceviche has chilled, peel the avocado and cut ½ of it into chunks.
Gently toss the avocado, onion and jalepeño with the shrimp mixture.
Spoon into dessert goblets or martini glasses, garnish with cilantro or parsley and a slice of lime and serve to all of your guests, including Tim Slavish.