Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Recent Cooking and Dining During the Pandemic

Lunches often use ingredients from previous dinners, generally sandwiches with left over chicken, pork, or lamb.  For a change, we pull out the panini press and grate some sharp cheddar cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Grilled cheese

We make chicken/duck stock every few weeks with the leftover parts from meals we have served.  This inspires us to prepare soup often, this time one of our favorites, Italian wedding soup, with meatballs baked with ground white and dark turkey (mixed with bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, pecorino romano cheese, parmesan cheese, milk, and an egg), onion, carrots, celery, dill, ditalini (small tubular pasta), and spinach.  What a great combination!

Italian wedding soup

We dine out for the first time in months, eating at an outside patio at Trabacco Kitchen & Cocktails, sharing beet risotto and ravioli con coda (house-made pasta stuffed with braised oxtail, au jus, and pecorino pepato).

Beet risotto, ravioli con coda

Back home, we prepare another old favorite, saffron risotto with butternut squash.  The butternut squash is peeled, cubed, and roasted until tender.  The risotto is made with saffron, onion, and sautéed pancetta.  The dish is completed by adding the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese.

Saffron risotto with butternut squash

On a clear, cool evening, we grill skirt steak.  While the skirt steak is marinating in a mixture of basil, scallions, thyme, garlic, peperoncini, and lemon zest and juice, we prepare appetizers of pizzettes with anchovies, tomato/mozarella, and mushrooms.  And, to accompany the skirt steak, we grill asparagus.


Ready to go, on the grill

Served with a Pomerol, this is another favorite meal (or even without the Pomerol)!

Grilled skirt steak

Heading back to JP Seafood, we pick up some halibut for basil-rubbed halibut with puttanesca relish.  We grill tomatoes, a jalapeno pepper, and an onion until charred and, when cool, dice them and add them to a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, anchovy paste, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  We brush the halibut fillets with basil oil (blend canola oil, basil, salt, and pepper until smooth), grill them until slightly charred, and serve them with the puttanseca (tomato/jalapeno/onion/vinaigrette) relish and rice.

Making the relish, plated and served

For our last meal of this series, we try a new recipe [to us]:  spatchcocked chicken with herbes de Provence butter.  We have the butcher spatchcock (butterfly) a whole chicken and we then rub it (over and under the skin) with herbes de Provence butter made by mashing together 1/2 stick of butter, garlic, parsley, assorted herbs (thyme and rosemary from our garden and other spices that we have left over from recent meals), herbes de Provence, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.  We roast the chicken in the oven and serve it with a dab of the herbes de Provence butter on top, accompanied by potato salad and avocado salad.

Chicken, potato salad, avacodo salad

We're continuing to enjoy our pandemic cooking and pause, in the next few blogs, for another journey to a far-away place.  As you might imagine, with travel seriously restricted for the past 6 months, it's becoming more challenging to come up with new places to highlight!  We have few more to share, then we may go back and look at some of our favorites over the past years.

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