March 2 – March 8, 2020
Monday: Leftover Coq au Vin with Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Cheesy Pasta with Radicchio
Wednesday: Leftover Pasta
Thursday: Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta – Fr. Drew to Dinner
Friday: Retreat – Richmond Farm
Saturday: Retreat – Richmond Farm
Sunday Olive-Oil Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Carrots – Billy and Emily to dinner
Do you know that moment when you realize that, whatever your level of skill or learning or athleticism or eloquence, you’ve just met someone who is better?
When it comes to cooking, I learn that regularly from Mere, Julie, Hilda, Katie and Dave, Annie, et. al. But this last weekend, during the retreat at Richmond Farm, I was humbled by the excellent food, produced by one cook (with a helper on occasion), not for 2 or 12 people, but for 20.
It was a spectacular week all around, with Father Drew joining us for dinner on Thursday. Father is great to cook for because he is always so appreciative – I am thankful that he hadn’t spent the previous few days eating up at Richmond Farm. And then came the retreat and the wonderful soups from scratch – mushroom on Friday, a rich Lobster Bisque filled with lobster on Saturday, and on Sunday the deep comfort of wedding soup with sizeable meatballs (not those little cocoa puff-sized things you get so often). I’m leaving out the perfectly cooked tenderloin, the pulled pork, the snickerdoodles and burnt almond torte and other wonders, but you get the idea. And, on Sunday, after returning to the ‘burgh, we had the gift of Billy and Emily joining us for dinner.
I really want to stop at this point – I’m too busy enjoying the memory of last week to write about food. But, blogs are blogs, implied promises (I will share our meal of the week with you) are implied promises, and SWMBO would not approve of my taking a week off.
Rather than introduce you to a new main dish, however, we’re going to share with you two side dishes that, if you cook them to accompany the chicken recipe from two week s ago (“Olive Oil-Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Carrots” – see “Keepers” tab above), you will impress a small number of people, in the same way that Ellen, at Richmond Farm, impresses so many.
[The rice and salad below would be a great accompaniment to any chicken dish. Here’s the recipe for last week’s chicken. Add the sides below, a starter, and dessert and enjoy.]
Stewart’s Substantial Rice
The idea here was to take bits and pieces from jewel and emerald rice recipes and adapt them for a quick side dish that would be more than filler. So, I took the things I like in a rice recipe – using chicken stock for all or part of the cooking liquid, starting with a base of softened onions before adding the rice, and then adding raisins and almonds after the rice gets cooking. I think tossing in some scallions and herbs when the rice is finished also works.
Timing: 35 – 55 minutes depending on type of rice
Rice and Chicken Stock or Water – as much as the rice you are using calls for.
½ cup of Chopped Onion for each cup of uncooked rice
Raisins – golden raisins are perfect here.
Butter (as much as the quantity you are cooking calls for)
Scallions, sliced on a bias
Chop the onion
Measure out the rice, water or stock, and butter.
Melt the butter in an appropriate-sized sauce pan over medium and when bubbling, add the onions and sauté until translucent – maybe 6 minutes. Try not to burn the onions (i.e., turn down the heat if they are beginning to brown), but it’s okay if you do.
Now add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat with the butter and mix with the onions. Add the raisins and almonds and salt and stir a bit. Add the liquid and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for the time suggested on the rice package. (Long-grain rice usually requires 20-25 minutes; other rices and some brown rices, up to 45 minutes. Note: If you’ve got the 45 minute rice, don’t add the raisins until about half-done.)
When the rice is finished, let sit for 5 minutes, then add the scallions and parsley and any seasoning it needs.
Classic Caesar Salad
(adapted from bon appétit)
Timing: 10 minutes plus 15 minutes for croutons, which can be made ahead
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan (you really want the finely grated stuff – the coarse-grated will give you a grainy dressing)
¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 anchovy fillets (oil-packed, drained)
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice – more as needed
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
Ground Black Pepper
1 small garlic clove
For the Croutons:
3 cups torn ¾” pieces country bread or baguette with crust
3 tablespoons olive oil
For the Salad:
3 Romaine hearts, leaves separated. You want whole leaves for this, but tear the large outer leaves in half, if using.
More Parmesan for serving
Make the Dressing:
Chop the anchovy fillets, garlic and a good pinch of salt together and then use the side of your knife blade to mash into a paste. You’ll need to chop and mash several times. Take your time with this, you want a true paste.
Whisk in the egg yolks, the lemon juice and mustard.
Now, drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in olive oil, then vegetable oil. Again, take your time at the start, and once you have a fairly liquid dressing, add in a slow drizzle of oil while whisking. Whisk until dressing is thick and glossy, and then whisk in the Parmesan. Taste and season with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if you wish.
Make the Croutons:
Toss the bread with olive oil on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden – maybe 12 minutes, tossing once or twice.
Assemble the Salad:
Use your hands to gently toss the lettuce, croutons and dressing. Top with shavings of Parmesan.