It's been a busy summer for Sophia and I but we're happy to finally be back with our Twice is Nice posts! This week we made a recipe that Sophia found in a magazine- (I'm actually not sure which one, see photo to the left.)... I love smoked trout and I love leeks so of course I was excited to try this recipe. EMMA'S PREPARATION NOTES: I thought this dish was the perfect venue for my new favorite pasta shape: orecchiette. Orecchiete has a heartiness to it because the pasta is a little thicker, and it holds sauces well. I was imagining this dish along the same comfort food lines as tuna noodle casserole, except better. I roasted the leeks in a low oven for a while until they became soft and sweet- to roast the leeks I tossed them in a little olive oil and salt, and added them to a baking pan with 1/2 in of water- they cook for about 30 minutes at 350. I had a house full of hungry people so I will admit that I was a bit scattered as I prepared this dish, which led to two critical mistakes that I will not repeat. One is that I mixed the garlic crumbs into the creamy sauce so their crispiness was kind of diminished. The other is that I forgot to add dill. Neither of these mistakes were deal breakers- the pasta was still so delicious (especially the roasted leeks and lemon zest...), but I just knew that it would have been more delicious if I paid slightly more attention to the details. Ah well... I will revel in an excuse for making it again soon. SOPHIA'S PREPARATION NOTES: Rigatoni is my favorite pasta shape. When I saw this recipe I started
to drool. I love smoked trout, which you can find at the Union Square
greenmarket, and thought this looked really great. I used whole wheat
rigatoni, which always gives the dish a nice, rustic texture. I traded
in bread crumbs for panko, mostly because the breadcrumbs at the market
were all herbed and buttered, and I wanted something with a bit of
crunch. I loved the end result, because panko has a nice lightness to
it, and doesn't seem to absorb as much oil as bread does. When I was
cooking the leeks, I got distracted and they started to get too brown.
I hastily opened a jar of preserved lemon (my favorite ingredient) and
poured in a lug or so to deglaze the pan. It added a nice bitter, briny
flavor to the dish, which really complimented the fresh dill. Dill was
invented for fish and brine, which makes me wonder why there were no
capers in the recipe. If I hadn't put the preserved lemon brine in
there, I would suggest adding some capers. One other note is that I
used creme fraiche instead of sour cream. I think Creme Fraiche is Sour
Cream's snobby uncle who lives in Paris, and always use it in lieu of
creams. I would have also used labne. I think this dish will become a
staple in my repertoire, because it has all of the right flavors and
textures, plus it is unique enough to stand out when served to company.
Last weekend my mom and I hosted a fundraiser for the film I'm making about Iraqi farmers in our barn in Oregon. She donated 20% of the weekend’s rug sales to the project, and I
cooked up an interpretative Babylonian Feast. Nawal Nasrallah (you may remember her from Season Four, when we
cooked up some delicious Iraqi cuisine…) wrote about ancient Iraqi cuisine in her cookbook Delights from the Garden of Eden. Using her descriptions as a guide, I tried my hand at three dishes, talked about in a tablet from 1700 BCE. The first, and most ambituous, was a savory bird pie- the meat was cooked in milk and mashed up leeks, garlics and onions. To make the crust I soaked barley flour in milk, and added the leek/onion puree. I also made sweet and sour beet stew (honey and vinegar) and turnip stew (with lots of herb). To supplement the dishes talked about in the tablet I also made bulgur, freekeh, and an herb and chickpea salad. In college I remember some friends from my ancient Greek class and I started a short-lived "Classics Club," one of our only activities was a Roman movie night, along with a traditional Roman dish: green beens cooked in fresh coriander, cumin and lemon (it's still one of my favorite ways to eat green beens). There is something so thrilling to me about cooking from ancient documents, it could be my nerdy side coming out in full-force, but on a practical level I like it because it inspires new flavor combinations and cooking techniques. The night before the feast we had a power outage, and I was half hoping I would have to cook the whole meal over a fire, but alas-- the electricity came back on...
For awhile I have been wanting to start writing a series of reviews of delicacies that have crossed my path. In part as a fun way to share with Sophia fun new culinary discoveries while we are so far apart, and partly to encourage and celebrate good quality items. Review is not a perfect word because I am not critiquing, I wouldn't take the time to write about something I didn't enjoy, unless my dis-enjoyment was so profound and thought provoking that I had to share (or warn)... And finally the accumulation of new discoveries has reached a point that I must begin.
This delicious cheese came over the bridge to me one rainy night. As soon as I unwrapped the packaging I knew I was in the midst of something special. The fresh goat cheese is smoked in maple and then delicately wrapped in a smoked maple leaf, the smoky flavor is just right... present in every bite, but not overwhelming and the cheese still feels fresh. It's made on the Oregon Coast, visit their website to order some, it looks like they ship! Or, if you live in the Northwest, you can try any of these retail stores that carry Provvista products.
* Photo Credit: I had to use the photo from the Rivers Edge website because I accidentally ate all the cheese before I could photograph it!
Blintzes were one of my favorite foods as a child. Growing up in Pittsburgh there were diners all over the place that served them, then we moved to Oregon and suddenly there was not a blintz to be found. Last week I made them for the first time. I was in New Mexico and in a southwestern mood so I made the outside with half blue corn meal and half regular flour. For the filling I blended cottage cheese with a little bit of sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. They certainly weren't the blintzes of my childhood, but they were tasty nonetheless.
Sophia's Blintz Notes:
Emma and I had been talking about blintzes earlier this Fall, so I was excited that she chose it as our Twice is Nice. I made a basic recipe that I found online, and just cut it in half since it was onl I who would be eating them. I had quince compote and syrup, so mine were quince flavored blintzes. I found a fresh farmers cheese at the Union Square Farmer's Market at Tonjest Dairy.
Mine were a little greasy, and I had to pat them down with paper towels to absorb the excess butter. I also didn't sweeten the farmer's cheese, since the quince compote and syrup are quite sweet themselves. They were very tasty, but I think that I like going to restaurants and having them served to me instead. I also think you must dust them with powdered sugar in order for them to look nice. I didn't have that either. Maybe Kitchen Caravan has to develop our own Blintz recipe?