Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Week at The Majestic: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This week I had soups, stews, and sauces on the brain, so there was lots of simmering and back burner action going on. Dan and I also have friends coming in town to stay with us for a few days, so instead of cooking for two, I was cooking for four. The more the merrier, I say. Groceries were twice as much as a result, but I still managed to get in just under $100 which isn't too bad considering that I bought twice as much food as I normally do. Here's what I ended up cooking: Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup, Roasted Pork Roullade, Gregoire's Christmas Gumbo, Braised Endive, Vermouth Poached Shrimp with Homemade Tarragon Lime Mayonnaise, Ricotta and Pesto Stuffed Shells, Fennel Salad, and Ragu Bolognese.

The two soups were easy. I followed my usual gumbo recipe. For the Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup, I first roasted the veggies and then combined them with some aromatics and the last of the Cauliflower Curry that I made last week. I had to put some use to all of those expensive spices I used. I pureed everything together and reduced it down to take up less space in the fridge. Before I serve it, I'll probably stir in some chicken stock and a touch of cream until I get the right consistency. Maybe I'll garnish with some truffled sea salt too!

I poached my shrimp in a little court-bouillon made with white vermouth, fennel tops, celery, onion, and lots of salt. I cooked them in the shell to add more seafood flavor to the poaching liquid. I peeled the shrimp and stored them in the reduced cooking liquid to absorb even more flavor until we're ready to eat them. I got the idea from a lunch that I had with my mom at Pomodoro in Brookline Village this past summer. I'll serve them cold with a light salad that I made from the bulb of the fennel and onion dressed with lime juice and a simple vinaigrette. I also made homemade mayo flavored with tarragon and more lime juice to top it off. I think it will make a nice appetizer one night.

Two Italian-American comfort food classics were also fairly easy to make. I followed my memory of Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese from a Molto Mario Episode that I watched ages ago and have been meaning to try. I sweated down mirepoix veggies in my la Creuset Rondo with garlic and olive oil until they cooked down almost to a paste. I added a can of tomato paste and a pound of 80/20 ground beef. That all simmered with the cover on for about an hour and then i stirred in a little milk to bind it all together. The stuffed shells were simple too - I stuffed them with Ricotta filling flavored with truffles and pesto. I'll bake them in a low oven in tomato sauce before serving.

The pork roast last week was so good that I decided to continue the theme this week. It's something I make often and is always delicious. I like to vary it a little each time to keep things interesting. As usual, I butterflied the whole roast out, but I went even thinner than I typically do. The filling was made with pesto and a can of tomato paste. I think the tomato addition this time around will keep it a little more moist. It looks beautiful and smells better. I can't wait to eat it.

The most experimental dish this week was the braised endive. I was feeling a little creative and somewhat inspired by something the guys at work make. It's served with venison at the restaurant, but I'll probably serve it up alongside my pork roast when the time comes. I like the bittersweet savory flavor that this technique creates. Here's my recipe:

Braised Endive รก la Gregoire

4 good-sized endive, sliced into halves
1/2 stick unsalted butter
8 or 10 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white vermouth
2 tablespoon granulated sugar

  1. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toss in the sage leaves and let them fry in the butter for a few minutes to release the oils.
  2. Place the endive halves in the sage butter and let them toast for a few minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock and vermouth to the skillet. Bath the endive in the liquid until they begin to soften. This should take 5 to 8 minutes depending on how big the endive are. Remove the endive to a platter and cover with plastic wrap so they continue to cook in their own steam.
  4. Turn the heat to high on the skillet and add the sugar. Reduce the liquid until a runny caramel forms, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour the savory caramel over the endive and serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment