Monday: Asparagus and Haricots Verts Salad / Joe Beddia’s Pizza
Tuesday: Suppli Classici / Vegetable Soup
Wednesday: Campizerio / Onglet Gascon with Roasted Potatoes
Thursday: Phila – St. Ignatius Gala
Ongelet Gascon with Mustard Sauce and Roasted Potatoes (Wednesday)
(Photo will be posted tomorrow)
Saturday: Campizerrio with Bana Cauda and Olive Oil / Coq au Vin with orange salad and roasted potatoes / Blueberries with lime sugar
Sunday: Crab Cake
If you have been following the blog regularly, you know that we have devoted a couple of months to exploring the set-pieces of French cuisine. Though I regret that we never got around to making cassoulet (a 3 or 4 day affair), last week we finished up our look at French cuisine by cooking two classics (see above). And then we turned back to Italy. Being a mutt myself, I prefer mixing and matching palates and tastes. (The cassoulet will have to wait for late autumn – it’s too warm to be stewing duck and beans and sausages.)
By far, the most enjoyable dinner last week was the party we had with Tim, Hilda and Julie on Saturday night. The food that night was good but old news, except for the Bagna Cauda which was enjoyed by – I think, just myself. Call me if you want the recipe. But we cooked and ate two really outstanding dishes last week the Suppli Classici on Tuesday and the superb Onglet Gascon on Wednesday. Here is a quick overview before I give you the recipes.
The Onglet Gascon is adapted from Tony Bourdain and is the last in our line of French classical dishes. It is the sort of dish that makes you want to eat it slowly and forever – unless your mind has been warped by Vegans and vegetarians.* This dish is served alongside some bone marrow. You can leave this out, but you will then miss the most profound flavor of beef you have ever tasted. Bone marrow is to beef as Einsteinian is to Newtonian physics. And Albert, I am sure, would have asked for the marrow. (Availability is no problem, marrow bones are sold at both GE and WF).
*(If that sad form of latter-day Puritanism has you in its grip, you should read The Secret Life of Trees, in which you will discover that plants feel and react, both as individuals and as communities, to the world around them and particularly to injuries – gashes in bark, boring insects. After reading that book, if you are as sensitive as advertised, ask yourself how you can pluck another terrified tomato from the vine or, even worse, harvest shrieking lettuces with a garden knife.)
The Suppli Classici is, I am informed by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill, authors of Tasting Rome, a classic Roman street food – rice croquettes with a nub of mozzarella tucked inside. It is, I suppose, technically an appetizer, but we found it filling and delicious and, with a salad, it would do for a whole dinner. This involves some deep frying (you can do it in a deep pot) which I know scares some people. But you should cook this despite your fears. I think you will find that the hours you spend scrubbing the stove, the kitchen ceiling and the walls afterward, to remove the film of grease, are well worth it. Of course, if you can get someone else to do the scrubbing the dish will taste that much better. This dish (and the book I got it from) represents a turn back to the Italian palate and cuisine which is what lured us into what the Buddhists would call ‘mindful’ cooking to begin with. Avoir, mes amis français. Bon giorno, amici Italiani.
The seared steak was perfectly pink inside – see suggested timing and don’t overcook
(Adapted from Tony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook)
Note: We cannot eat this more than once every few months, so Neandethalic and deeply, woundingly beefy is it.
Time: About 30 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 6 oz. hanger steaks (we used skirt steak which was available – get the hanger if you can – the skirt steak tastes just as good, but the pieces don’t look as nice)
Marrow from 4 beef bones (soak in cold water for 15 minutes and push out the marrow with your fingers)
2 ounces white wine
½ cup veal stock
1 tablespoon of demi-glace (not needed, but adds a deeper beef flavor)
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of oil (we used canola)
2 tablespoons of butter
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs of parsley, chopped, for garnish
Coarse sea salt for garnish
Bring the steaks to room temperature, get the marrow ready, measure out the other ingredients and chop the parsley.
Preheat the oven to 375 F
Season the steaks with salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high and add 1 tablespoon of the butter when hot.
When foaming subsides add the steaks and sear for two minutes a side. Work in batches, if necessary – you don’t want the steaks to touch or they won’t sear properly. When finished, set the sauté pan aside, but don’t clean it – you’ll be using it to make the sauce.
Put the seared steaks into a small roasting pan with the bone marrow and put that into the oven. Cook the steaks for 5 minutes for rare and 8 for medium rare and remove to a plate to let rest. Return the marrow to the oven for another 5 – 7 minutes until cooked – no pink or white remaining.
Make the sauce:
Meanwhile return the sauté pan to medium high and add the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to dredge up all the burnt bits and reduce the wine by ½ (5 minutes?). Stir in the stock (and the demi-glace, if you have it) and cook to reduce by half (6 minutes?). Add any juices from the resting steaks. Whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter and remove from the heat. Now whisk in the mustard and adjust the seasoning.
Arrange the steaks on a platter with the marrow around it. Spoon sauces over the steaks. Sprinkle with sea salt and the chopped parsley. Serve. (If serving young men – stand back.)
EXTRA Suppli Calssici (classic rice croquettes)
(adapted from Tasting Rome, Katie Parla and Kristina Gill)
Time: 2 hours (maybe 1 hour of semi-active cooking)
Ingredients: For up to 10 as an appetizer – 4 for dinner
3ounces pork sausage, casings removed and broken into small pieces (we used one hot Italian link from Whole Foods – about 4 ounces)
3 ounces chicken livers, finely chopped (The only livers I can find outside the strip come in a large container and are frozen – so make sure to thaw them before you cook, and use your best judgment as to quantity (I go overboard, since I like chicken liver)
½ Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio Rice
½ Cup white wine
2 cups beef broth, warmed (we used about 1 cup of veal stock and added 1 cup of hot water with some beef demiglace dissolved into it).
1 cup tomato sauce, warmed (we used the strained tomato sauce that comes in a bottle, seasoned with salt, black pepper, dried oregano and garlic powder)
4 basil leaves
2/3 cup pecorino romano (we used parmigiano, which we had on hand)
3 ounces mozzarella cut into 10 pieces – oblongs, rather than squares (get the low-moisture packaged mozzarella, not the fresh stuff – it works better in this recipe and you will save some money)
2 tablespoons olive oil (the good stuff)
1 tablespoon butter
Sea Salt and ground
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying (canola, grapeseed, corn, etc.) – you will need enough to fill a frying pan or pot with 2 inches of oil
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
Chop the chicken livers
Get the beef broth simmering and warm up the tomato sauce.
Cut the mozzarella
Measure out the other ingredients – you can wait until the rice mixture is cooling to make the egg wash, and put the flour and bread crumbs into bowls or plates for dredging.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and when it begins to glimmer, add the sausage and cook, breaking it up further until it is cooked and just browned. (You might have to increase the temperature slightly to brown the sausage. Lower the temperature, afterwards.)
Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken livers and stir, breaking up with a wooden spoon until cooked – about 4 minutes.
Add the rice stir to coat it with the other ingredients and cook, stirring to coat and continue until it becomes translucent – a few minutes.
Now add the wine and stir until you can’t smell the alcohol – about 1 ½ minutes.
Now add 1 cup of the broth and keep stirring for about 3 minutes – until it is absorbed by the rice.
Add the tomato sauce and keep stirring until it is absorbed – maybe another 5 minutes.
Add another ½ cup of the broth and stir until it is absorbed (about 8 minutes) – add more broth if the mixture looks to dry.
The rice is done when it is al dente (yes, Bobby, that means you have to taste it).
WHAT’S WITH ALL THE STIRRING? You don’t want the rice to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. You may find a nice temperature where the liquid is absorbed with only occasional stirring – good luck.
Now, turn of the heat and stir in the basil, the Pecorino and the butter. Season to taste – we needed a good pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper.
Now spread the rice over the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until cool – 1 hour or more.
While the rice is cooling, set up a breading station with flour on a plate, beaten eggs in a medium bowl and bread crumbs on a plate. Season each of these ingredients with salt and pepper.
When the rice is cool, form it into 10 equal egg-shaped balls. Make a depression in the center of each, insert a piece of mozzarella and reshape. Note: if the balls aren’t holding together, put them back into the refrigerator.
Dredge each suppli in flour (shake off excess), then egg (allow excess to drip off). Coat in bread crumbs.
Now, in a medium frying pan or cast-iron skillet (we used a deeper pot – we don’t like to get burned), heat the neutral oil (2 inches worth) to 350 F. Fry the suppi in batches until deep golden – 3-4 minutes each. You might want to turn them over once to ensure even browning.
Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and serve hot and enjoy the crunch and the gummy,oozing goodness.