Cod Baked in a Creamy Herb Sauce

Submitted by John on Sun, 09/27/2020 - 20:23
Cod in a Creamy Herb Sauce

This is a simple savory dish suitable for a work night. The sauce is simple enough that you can double it so you have extra to go over rice!

The original recipe calls for perch, but like many dishes for the flaky white fish, the same recipe works fine for cod and haddock and other fish common in New England waters. This recipe has delicate flavors, so I like it best with cod.

Pasta alla Bottarga

Submitted by John on Sun, 09/20/2020 - 18:14

Pasta alla BottargaNothing could be simpler than this epicure's favorite from centuries past - good pasta tossed with a Great Single-Estate Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and savory bottarga, like gold dust on your dinner.

Bottarga is the dried, compressed roe of either mullet (Sardinian bottarga) or tuna (Sicilian bottarga). The ancient Romans used bottarga as a salty-fishy seasoning similar to the way we use anchovies today, but the gratable form offers more culinary options. Of course, they had no pasta a millennium before Marco Polo's famous voyage of discovery, but we do now, and it's a very fine match indeed!

Eton Mess

Submitted by John on Sun, 09/20/2020 - 17:51
Eton Mess

We were in Ireland in 2016 during the time that strawberries were being harvested in Wexford. They were available all over Ireland, fresh and flavorful, and this rapidly became Lorna's favorite dessert. If I remember correctly, she had it in Kilkenny, Waterford, Bantry, Galway, Derry, Belfast, and Dublin!

You really have to make this with local strawberries, because the flavors are few and delicate, and the perfume of a truly fresh strawberry brings an ethereal specialness that you just can't get from those little plastic horrors that come from California in November.

I like to garnish it with fresh mint leaves and toasted almonds, but that's optional. 

You can make your own meringue, but drying the meringue is very time consuming, especially on a humid July day. You can buy decent meringues at a bakery and save all of that time.

Lenticchie in Umido

Submitted by John on Sun, 09/20/2020 - 16:57

Stewed LentilsHere's a humble, very traditional cool-weather dish: slow-cooked lentils.

Lentils are serious business in Italy; they are supposed the bring luck for the new year and are an indispensible part of those festivities, and in the cooler months they are served in soups or cooked like this and served with sausages - a rib-sticking dinner, as my dad would say. 

There are different varieties of lentils. These are La Colfiorito lentils from Umbria, like the Castellucio lentils from Umbria, a green-brown variety that holds its shape after cooking like the gray-green Puy lentils from France. That's important for this dish, so it doesn't become a mushy mass.

Insalata Caprese

Submitted by John on Sat, 09/12/2020 - 17:09

Insalata CapresePerfection and elegance are embodied in this simple summer salad, when it's made with fresh, good ingredients and an eye for attractive presentation. When we were in Italy in 2015, Lorna had this every day for lunch while she grew comfortable with  authentic Italian cuisine. 

Many American restaurants make up for low quality factory farmed tomatoes by drizzling it with cheap oversweet Balsamic vinegar, but this only ruins good ingredients. I only make this when tomatoes are in season locally; it's something worth looking forward to the whole rest of the long year!

Steak Pizzaiola

Submitted by John on Sat, 09/12/2020 - 16:55

Steak PizzaiolaAn amazingly simple and flavorful treatment for an inexpensive steak cut - thin-sliced and cooked in a pungent tomato sauce. Sometimes on Fridays I see steaks marked down so I grab one for lunch. One little steak makes two lunches, and it's so easy that it doesn't disrupt my day.

There are, of course, a thousand variations on this, some quite fancy, but from my reading this seems a common way, and I like it best.

Pasta with a Sauce of Uncooked Tomatoes

Submitted by John on Sat, 09/12/2020 - 13:24

Spaghetti al Pomodoro CrudoThe taste of late summer, to me, is that of very fresh tomatoes from the farm, tomatoes that never saw the inside of a refrigerator or rode on a tractor-trailer across state lines.

If you can't make this with farmer's market fresh tomatoes, don't use supermarket tomatoes! Canned tomatoes were at peak freshness when they went into the can, but supermarket tomatoes are bred for shippability and picked unripe, then artificially "ripened" in the truck with ethylene gas. Of course, artificial ripening is artificial, away from the sun, and it's the sunshine that the plant uses to make the fruit sweet.

Trota del Nera

Submitted by John on Fri, 09/04/2020 - 00:28

Trout in the River Nera StyleWe got lucky a couple of times this summer when our favorite fish market got in some fresh trout. Here is an Umbrian recipe for trout cooked in the simple style of the anglers who pull them from the tumbling mountain waters of the River Nera and grill them with fresh rosemary and parsley over a campfire. 

In my dreams, there's a bottle of Frascati chilling in a quiet pool of the river, and a few branches of dried old rosemary in the fire! 

Cod Braised in a Ligurian Style

Submitted by John on Wed, 09/02/2020 - 00:28
Cod Braised in a Ligurian Style

I got this recipe from a delightful blog out of Genoa, but of course I had to substitute cod for sea bream, and I used my braising pan instead of the somewhat messier parchment because it does almost the same thing. 

The key thing, in any event, is the seasonings. That's what makes this a Ligurian-style recipe: fish cooked with capers, pine nuts, olives, and plenty of fresh herbs all feature prominently in the cuisine of this little northwestern-most coastal province, home of Genoa.

Pasta with Peas and Shrimp

Submitted by John on Tue, 09/01/2020 - 23:29

Pasta with Peas and ShrimpThis is one of those homey recipes that can be great for kids but that is also easy to dress up for company. 

When I was a kid, my mom used to put peas in everything, I suppose as a way to get us to eat a green vegetable. To this day I am still suspicious when I see a perfectly good dinner with peas lurking inside... But this really is a good recipe. 

This is also traditionally made with salmon, and of course salmon and peas are a famous combination, but  it takes a little more care to cube the salmon and cook it without breaking it all to pieces, so I like this version for a weekday night.

Sole with Mushrooms

Submitted by John on Tue, 09/01/2020 - 22:31

Sole with MushroomsHere's a delicious way to serve sole, one of my favorite fish!

The fish is dressed with a fine egg-yolk-thickened sauce and served over sauteed mushrooms.

If you have never tried an egg yolk thickened sauce, there's nothing to be afraid of, and this is a good recipe to practice on because even if it goes badly you still have the sole and mushrooms for dinner!

Haddock with Shallot Sauce

Submitted by John on Tue, 09/01/2020 - 21:59

Haddock with Shallot SauceThis is another simple 30-minute dinner that relies upon top-quality ingredients that are, fortunately, readily available in coastal New England for most of the year. 

The original for this recipe calls for hake, a different flaky white fish, but haddock cooks the same way and the flavor goes very well with the shallots and lemon juice. So this is an Italian preparation made with local New England fish. It's not that hake is not local to our waters; you can sometimes find hake at bigger fish markets, but it's not nearly as popular as haddock, which you can get everywhere around here and it's every bit as good as or even better than hake in this preparation, in my opinion. 

Haddock with Leeks

Submitted by John on Mon, 08/31/2020 - 11:58

Haddock with LeeksThis was yummy and simple, just pan-fried fish served with tender cooked thinly-sliced leeks. The mild flavors complemented each other nicely. 

In the photo here, the leeks are closer to you, and the red onion beyond is Cipollata Calabrese, which made a nice contrast both visually and in flavor, while staying in harmony. 

Halibut with Clams in a Saffron Sauce

Submitted by John on Sat, 08/29/2020 - 19:36

Halibut with Clams in a Saffron SauceHere's a wonderful dish suitable for company and a beautiful table. The halibut sits on a bed of pureed seasoned potatoes and is surrounded by littlenecks and dressed with a savory saffron sauce. It's exquisite!

There's a lot to this recipe, both ingredients and steps, but none of it is particularly rare or difficult; you can make this any time that halibut is available, and after the first time it is really not hard.