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Showing posts from November, 2019

Spaghetti with Creamy Clam Sauce #FoodieReads

I almost didn't finish  We Never Asked for Wings  by Vanessa Diffenbaugh*, the book that was chosen as our November Lit Happens selection. I  loved Diffenbaugh's first book,  The Language of Flowers , and started - and stopped - this book multiple times during the first two weeks of the month. Then I put it down and couldn't find it until today. Seriously. I didn't have the book in my hands until the last day of the month. Thankfully, R was busy working on college application essays; D was making felted nisser  (Danish Christmas gnomes); and Jake was working on his Christmas forest. Yes, not just a tree. You'll see soon... But all of their activities allowed me to settle in on my bean bag and read this book cover to cover while sipping mulled cider and eating gingerbread cookies this afternoon. Then I ran to the store, inspired by a dish Rick makes for Letty's Christmas party. More on that soon. On the Page As I mentioned I loved her first book an

The 'Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala' Recipes + Some Bubbles from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG #ChefsSecret

As my parents' friends trickled in for our Thanksgiving lunch, we exchanged greetings and my boys handed out glasses of Italian bubbles. Several of the group had been to our table before; but a few were new. The ones that were new had received a warning ahead of time: "My daughter doesn't prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal. But if you aren't expecting turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy - and are up for a little culinary adventure - you'll enjoy it. Come hungry," my mother cautioned. The table was set with china, linens, and each setting had my menu... On the Table But I still explained that everything I was serving was inspired by the historical fiction novel The Chef's Secret  by Crystal King*. Then we settled in for a feast and chatted about the recipes and the inspiration. I have posted almost everything and you can find the recipes on the titles to go to the original recipe post. Le Uova Le Polpette

Polpette al Forno #ChefsSecret

As the final offering of the antipasti portion of our  Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala  Thanksgiving menu, I was inspired by this passage in Crystal King's  The Chef's Secret* -  "One day I was helping Bartolomeo make meatballs when the court jester found us and, of course, the name polpetta stuck" (pg. 23). It's not that Crystal mentioned or even described an intriguing meatball dish; it's just that 'polpetta' made me chuckle as a nickname. So, I opted to make one of my own favorite Italian-inspired meatballs. These are baked in the oven, then simmered in a fragrant sauce. I did use ground venison for this version though I have also made these with lamb and beef. Ingredients makes 24 walnut-sized meatballs Meatballs 1-1/2 pounds ground venison 1/2 C organic raisins 3 anchovy fillets 2 T balsamic vinegar 1 T minced garlic 1 T capers Also needed: baking sheet, parchment paper, fresh herbs for garnish (I used fresh thyme) Sauce 1 organic on

Bejeweled Roasted Quail #ChefsSecret

When we moved to the secondi section of our  Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala  Thanksgiving menu, I was inspired by this passage in Crystal King's  The Chef's Secret* -  "She closed her eyes and savored the flavors. He himself has studded the birds wtih cloves and stuffed them with fennel.... He had spooned the pomegranate sauce over their wings, the little seeds falling onto the plate like tiny jewels" (pg. 47). I have always likened the color of the arils to a clear ruby or garnet. And we love quail at this house. So, this was an easy pick for a main dish as I haven't roasted a turkey in probably twenty years for Thanksgiving!   Ingredients  serves 4  (I tripled this for the dozen guests at our table) 4 whole quail 1 fennel, trimmed and thickly sliced 1 T smoked paprika 1 T sweet paprika 1 t ground cumin 1 t ground coriander 1/2 t ground cinnamon 1/4 t ground ginger freshly ground salt freshly ground pepper olive oil, as needed Also needed: 1

Le Uova #ChefsSecret

Ask anyone and you will get a family-favorite recipe for deviled eggs. Trust me. They are easy to make, portable, and almost universally adored. I myself have even taught a version at a kids' cooking class at a local museum when we made Cracked China Deviled Eggs . I have also shared recipes for Umami Deviled Eggs ,   with miso and picked red onions; Herbed Deviled Eggs ; and Bacon & Bleu Deviled Eggs , yes, bacon makes everything better, right?! But most versions are fairly similar and include egg yolks and mayonnaise. For the antipasti course for our  Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala  Thanksgiving menu, I was inspired by this passage in Crystal King's  The Chef's Secret* -  "I slaved over...eggs stuffed with their own yolks with raisins, pepper, cinnamon, orange juice, and butter" (pg. 200). No mayo, huh? Challenge accepted. I have never piped my deviled eggs, but I wanted these to look extra pretty. I'll probably do that from now on; they looked great an

Cauliflower-Leek Soup #ChefsSecret

For the soup course for our  Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala  Thanksgiving menu, I was inspired by this passage in Crystal King's  The Chef's Secret* -  "Soups of cauliflower, mushroom, and leeks simmered for the better part of the day. When I finally made my way home that day I was exhausted" (pg. 200). This soup is fairly easy to make. The longest process is to caramelize the onions and the leeks though it is largely hands-off. Don't skip this step, however, as it add a delicate sweetness to the dish.You can also make this soup the day before you need to serve it. Also, I was serving a dozen guests. You can easily halve this recipe to serve a family of four with some leftovers. Ingredients serves 12 2 organic cauliflower heads 1 onion, thinly sliced, approximately 1 C while raw 2 to 3 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced, approximately 1 C while raw olive oil 1/2 C half and half or heavy cream 3 C organic vegetable broth water, as needed freshly ground

Quince-Apple Mostarda #ChefsSecret

Though a cognate for what comes out of a bright yellow squeeze bottle, this relish has very little in common with that Easter egg-colored condiment.  Mostarda  is a chunky  agrodolce  (sour-sweet) sauce made with whatever fruit you have on hand and is a delicious topping for everything from cheese to roasted meats. Inspired by this passage in Crystal King's The Chef's Secret* , I added two different mostarde  to our Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala Thanksgiving menu. "'The mostarda you probably know is made with all sorts of fruits, such as figs, raisins, and pears, but in Venezia the mostarda is made with quince, which you can't always find in Roma. Bartolomeo would always lament how much better the mostarda was in Venezia'" (pg. 153). I served the two different mostarde with three different game sausages. This quince-apple mostarda went nicely with the duck and the boar sausages while my cranberry-orange mostarda complemented the venison sausages r