Monday, March 17, 2008

Week of March 16

Happy Saint Patrick's Day all ye lads and lassies!

Unfortunately, I have a fairly non-observant set of recipes lined up for this week. This lovely plate, for instance, was the salad course last night. It's a salad of sectioned grapefruit laid over sliced Belgian endive. I tossed some fennel fronds over the top and then seasoned it with a drizzle of sherry vinegar and olive oil and ground white pepper. Was a nice light finish to dinner.

Menu for the Week
New York Times lamb ragu over perciatelli (tubular spaghetti)
Grapefruit salad
Green Chartreuse ice cream from The Perfect Scoop

Lentil, hearts of palm and red pepper salad (raiding the pantry)
Goat cheese on whole grain toast

Macaroni & cheese with spinach

Chili from the freezer

Green bean and almond soup
Grilled sopressata and cheese


Friday, March 14, 2008

Drink of the Week: The Harvard Cocktail

This post is dedicated to tHom and the rest of the Crimson crew.

This drink required that I add yet another bottle (brandy) to our liquor cabinet (more like large-scale liquor storage facility by this point), but it was a small price to pay for domestic harmony and tranquility.

The soda water is an atypical addition to a cocktail like this, but does create a light, drinkable (quaffable, dare I say?) cocktail. I would be curious to try a better brandy (I bought a cheapo domestic brand - maybe a Harvard graduate can afford to buy me a better bottle? :-) ).

Harvard Cocktail
  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir well in an iced mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top off with an ounce or so of cold club soda (or seltzer).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Manicotti Molto Facile

That means "very easy manicotti" (I think). This was a super easy weeknight dinner, but impressive enough for company. I followed the basic technique from Cook's Illustrated's January 2007 issue, with a few minor modifications.

The time-saver and company-impresser is the ingenious use of no-boil lasagna sheets for the noodles. Using sheets instead of the traditional tubes accomplishes two things: you don't have to boil big floppy pasta tubes, and the sheets are really easy to fill - just spread them with the filling and roll them up.

This whole dish took no more than 20 minutes of hands-on time: perfect for a weeknight. The filling I used this time was a very simple ricotta and parmesan (with some shredded radicchio and chopped scallions stirred in). I think this would be great with a spinach filling with red sauce or a baked butternut squash and sage filling, topped with a bechamel.

Manicotti MF
  • 12 sheets of no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla brand - 1 box)
  • 28 ounces pasta sauce (I used a marinara from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for topping the casserole
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • herbs or seasoning of your choice
  • 1 egg
Put the noodles in a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour two inches of boiling water over them and soak them for 15 minutes (You will need to nudge them a little every now and then to make sure they don't stick together. If they do, just pull them apart gently.).

Stir together the ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella and other seasonings. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the egg.

Take the noodles out of the hot water and lay them flat in a single layer on dishtowels or paper towels. Spread an equal amount of filling on the bottom two-thirds of each sheet of pasta. Loosely roll the noodle up to enclose the filling.

Put one third of the pasta sauce into an oiled 9"x9" baking dish. Lay the tubes into the dish and cover them with the remaining sauce (you may not need all of the sauce). Sprinkle the top of the casserole with extra parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Let the dish rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week of March 9

No good excuse for my absence last week (although it seems like every food blogger out there has been stuck by a horrifically bad flu). I am back now, nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, etc., etc.

I do owe a few of you an apology. With a flagrant disregard for protocol and propriety and consideration of the large pool of Harvardarians who troll this site (and who are my primary fan-base), I posted a Yale recipe! Egads.

I am pleased to announce that the Harvard Cocktail is next in rotation. The legion of crimson-clad folks out there will be pleased to note that the ingredient list is substantially more, well, substantial. Creme de Violette, indeed! So New Haven ...

Menu for the Week
Pseudo-Thai Night
** Larb: Beef salad
** Yam: Eggplant salad
Cucumber salad
Jasmine rice

Greek-style baked shrimp with orzo
Roasted butternut squash
Swiss chard

White chicken chili
Red cabbage and carrot cole slaw

Orchiette carbonara with leeks (courtesy of Bon Appetit)
Green salad

Yellow split pea soup

Grilled hot dogs (pushing summer, I know)
Cole slaw

Friday, March 7, 2008

Drink of the Week: Yale Cocktail

Yet another bottle has made its way into our arsenal: Creme de Violette. Haus Alpenz has recently started importing this violet liqueur into the US. It is a traditional ingredient in the Aviation and Blue Moon cocktails.

It is flavored with violets and while it tastes like flowery candy (in a good way) it isn't too sweet in drinks. There is a great roundup of Cremes on Jamie Boudreau's site Spirits and Cocktails. Since the Alpenz version is the only one available in the States, it's the one we used.

Having already sampled Aviations and Blue Moons (and forgetting to take pictures), we decided to make a Yale Cocktail instead. It actually ended up tasting a lot like a Hendrick's Martini (gently floral gin). I see a taste-off coming up soon ...

Yale Cocktail (courtesy of Haus Alpenz)
Stir in an iced cocktail shaker until well-chilled:
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/3 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/3 ounce Creme De Violette
  • dash bitters
Strain into an iced cocktail glass.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Drink of the Week: Prospect Park

Created by the talented Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, barkeep extraordinaire at the Eastern Standard in Boston's Kenmore Square, The Prospect Park is a fabulous drink. It's a riff on a Red Hook, which is based on a Manhattan (got all that?). I had one there just a week ago and Tom was kind enough to share his recipe with me.

Now that you've got your Punt Y Mes and Maraschino on hand (thanks to the Red Hook) you will need one more liquor: Aperol.

Aperol is an Italian aperitif. It's got a sweetness that is similar to Campari, but a little less bitterness. It actually distilled by Campari. Its primary flavor is bitter orange. Aperol has just recently become available in the US. It's great in this drink, but also lovely as a substitute for Campari in a Bicyclette.

Prospect Park
Stir together in an iced cocktail shaker or mixing glass:
  • 1 1/2 ounces Rye (Rittenhouse 100 proof, if you have it - I used Michter's)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
  • 1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
  • 1/2 ounce Punt Y Mes
Stir until well chilled. Strain into cocktail. If you have them, garnish with one Luxardo Maraschino cherry.
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