Braving Boston

IMG_8651Quentin & I spent the past week in snow-deluged Boston, visiting my parents, who just returned from India, thus skipping the lion’s share of this awful winter. Due to a flight delay and massive amounts of snow, my elaborate Vday dinner was spent in the company of just my boyfriend and father sans my mother, kind of a shame, although none of us really care about the holiday. I did, however, have big plans for cooking and baking, and made:

Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin from a recent Bon Appetit which was really delicious although sadly my tarte tatin’s dont always end up turning out as magnificent as the picture (read: they never do) But the herby caramel and roasted veggies were lovely and perfect for eating snug and warm. IMG_8616Ingredients
SERVINGS: 4
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds [INSTEAD OF POTATO I USED BEETS]
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds [ I USED MULTI COLORED CARROTS!]
1 medium parsnip, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds
1 small red onion, sliced into ½” rounds
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 disk All-Butter Pie Dough [*I USED PUFF PASTRY INSTEAD. PIE DOUGH UNNECESSARILY STRESSES ME OUT AND THIS WAS ALREADY COMPLICATED ENOUGH!)
All-purpose flour (for surface)

Preparation
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°. Toss potato, sweet potato, carrots, parsnip, and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper and arrange vegetables in a single layer. Roast until golden around the edges and tender, 30–35 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile [WHILE VEG ARE COOLING] cook sugar and 2 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is amber-colored, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar and a pinch of salt, swirling pan to combine. Quickly pour caramel into a 9”-diameter pie pan; tilt and rotate pan to evenly coat bottom with caramel. Scatter rosemary and sage over top.
Arrange potatoes, carrots, and parsnips snugly in a single layer on top of caramel, using smaller carrot and parsnip pieces to fill in any holes. Scatter onion rings and crumble goat cheese over vegetables.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12” round. Drape over vegetables, tucking edges into pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until crust looks dry, about 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake until crust is golden brown, 15–20 minutes.
Let tart cool 5 minutes before inverting carefully onto a large plate.
DO AHEAD: Vegetables can be roasted 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.

IMG_8653A Cioppino-style Fish Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup packed sliced fennel [FORGOT TO GET IT, WHOOPS!]
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound cleaned squid, bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles halved lengthwise if large
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups seafood stock or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • 1 pound littleneck clams, soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 1/2 pound medium tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded [I SKIPPED THE MUSSELS AND DID EXTRA HALIBUT]
  • 1/2 pound skinless flaky white fish such as bass, halibut, hake, or cod, cut into 1-inch pieces

IMG_8646Mince 2 of the garlic cloves. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, fennel, celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and red-pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add squid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squid is opaque and tender and the released juices reduce, 15 to 20 minutes. Add tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add wine, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until cooking liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, bay leaves, clam juice, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, 30 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the butter, 1 tablespoon parsley, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together. Cut remaining garlic clove in half and rub the cut sides on the toasts. Spread the flavored butter on the toasts.

When ready to serve, heat the pot to medium and add clams, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and mussels. Arrange the fish on top of the stew, cover, and simmer until shellfish opens and fish and shrimp are firm and opaque, about 5 minutes more. Discard bay leaves and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons parsley.

Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls with gremolata toasts alongside.

Sacher Torte
I’d been dying to make this Viennese cake with jam and chocolate. Luckily, I’m not providing a photo, because mine was not the best specimen. It was alright, but let’s leave it at that.

On one of our rare jaunts outdoors, we ate at Catalyst, a nearby restaurant on MIT’s Cambridge campus. Our lunch was very flavorful and beautifully prepared, and I huddled with this hot toddy as I stared at the mounds of snow through the large windows. We had a winter salad and chickpea fritters among other treats:IMG_8626

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We also had some great crawfish hushpuppies, fried chicken, and grits at State Park. Due to a somewhat rowdy night I sadly don’t have any photos, but I highly recommend it!

On Tuesday night, we spent the evening with our friends at Asta and had the insanely imaginative five course tasting menu. From exploding poprocks in a parsnip intermezzo to a dish of apples, horseradish and lardo, our tongues and minds were entranced with every bite. Sadly I didn’t snap a picture of one of my favorite courses: bright, toothsome Brussels sprouts with a Marmite-butter sauce. I’m still thinking about it. I just found out yesterday that Alex, the chef at Asta, was nominated for a James Beard award—Congrats Asta and head over there, Bostonians!

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Celery with black garlic gnocchi and crispy chicken skin

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Crazy parsnip poprock cacao nib amazingness

Crazy parsnip poprock cacao nib amazingness

Catalyst
300 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 576-3000
http://www.catalystrestaurant.com

Asta
47 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
(617) 585-9575
http://www.astaboston.com

State Park
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 848-4355
http://www.statepark.is

Naptime Swordfish

photo 1

I spent this weekend at my family home in Cambridge, MA, hanging with the parents, seeing friends, and sprawling out in a house that makes my NYC apartment look bathtub-sized. (Pretty much any house will make my apartment look like a bathtub.)

My father had bought some swordfish, but decided to take an early evening nap before dinner time. Ravenous, I prepared it simply, with some olive oil, sliced lemons, and fresh herbs from the garden:

Popped into the oven at 400 degrees, and cooked for 10-15 minutes, it hit the spot squarely. photo 2

Dinner of Champions

I fear I’m getting old–preferring a Saturday of day-long feast cooking (with a few Bloody Marys thrown in for good measure) to a big night out. My friend Kara, a highly skilled cook, and I began preparations at 1pm…and sat down to dinner at 7:30. Although I spend much of my time writing, reading, and thinking about food (and eating, of course!), days entirely spent on cooking are decidedly not frequent enough.*

Sodomized entrees*Our initial thoughts were “Mediterranean” “Pork” and “Eggplant”, a somewhat scattered list vaguely reminiscent of a cooking game show. I knew I wanted to make Tzatziki (garlicky-cucumber yogurt sauce) and Kara was hankering for a labor-intensive meat project. First we stopped off at Mario’s butcher, an old school Italian butcher next door, and watched the proprietor (Mario?) skilfully slice up meat while complaining of the degree to which the neighborhood had changed since he opened his shop in 1964. After some more grocery shopping (and a short walk to my house for some extra ingredients) we got to work!

THE MENU:

Tzatziki: (3 Small Israeli Cucumbers + 1 Large 7.5 oz Container Fage Full-Fat Yogurt + 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic + Garlic Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + a dash of red wine vinegar + chopped mint)

Peelin’: DSC_0001 Scraping out the seeds:DSC_0005Draining the chopped cukes (highly recommended!):DSC_0010 Post yogurt pre-herbs:DSC_0026Roasted baby eggplant with sliced halloumi cheese (sliced eggplant briefly marinated in olive oil + thyme + garlic + salt + pepper, roasted at 350 in oven) halloumi cheese (came pre-sliced from Trader Joes, just simply rinsed it off and stuck it on a hot pan!) DSC_0059DSC_0064Garlic-and-thyme-crusted Pork Loin (expertly twined by Kara + then crusted with herbs and garlic + then roasted)–As you can see from the numerous photos of the pork, I as pretty entranced…Cooking large chunks of meat tends to scare me (shh don’t tell)
Removing Fatty Layer like a Pro:DSC_0018Twining it Up: DSC_0035DSC_0038Seasoned:DSC_0047

Finished Product:DSC_0062Couscous with shallots, feta and herbs (Cooked almost entirely in a rice cooker….Apologies for the lack of photos here)

Tomato Tarte Tatin (10 tomatoes, butter, sugar, balsamic, puff pastry).(recipe courtesy of Soa Davies from Short Stack Editions Caramelize butter and sugar, add balsamic and place peeled tomatoes cut side up (more on this to come), cook, then cover with puff pastry and bake!
X Marks the Spot for boiling, blanching and peeling the tomatoes:
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Post-Blanch Ice Bath: DSC_0030Peeling Assembly Line:DSC_0034Making the Caramel:
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Tomatoes Cut Side Up:

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Puff Pastry Shroud:DSC_0055She wasn’t pretty, but she was tasty:DSC_0058Not a photo-contest winner, but you get the idea:DSC_0067*Top Image from Salvador Dali’s Cookbook courtesy of http://mrpeacockstyle.blogspot.com