Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Meatless Weekend

This weeks table is meatless. I had not planned it that way, it's just the way it worked out. The focus is a bottle of wine. One of my FaceBook friends mentioned Fattoria di Lucignano Chianti Colli Fiorentini on his page. Since he has probably forgotten more about wine than I will ever know, I decided to give it a try. What goes better with Chianti than pasta.

Nick and Toni's Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola
Salad of Winter Greens

I saw this pasta prepared on Ina Garten's Food Network show. I could almost smell it. Onion and garlic are put in a large pot and softened in EVOO; red pepper flakes and dried oregano are added. After a minute or so a cup of vodka is added. The mixture is cooked down by half. Two large cans of whole plum tomatoes are drained (save the juice to be added later.) The tomatoes are crushed by hand into the onion/garlic/vodka mixture. S&P are added The pot is covered and put in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir once during cooking. Cool the mixture for about 15 minutes and put in blender until smooth. Place it back in the pot and reheat with fresh oregano, heavy cream, the reserved juice, S&P and some Parmesan cheese. Heat for about 10 minutes. Serve with cooked penne pasta. Top with more cheese and fresh oregano. This is a wonderful sauce and I was able to freeze several containers to use at a later date. The possibilities are endless.

The salad is also a product of the Food Network. Alex Guamaschelli prepared it and the process was intriguing. I'm not sure why they call it winter greens however. They are all available year round. The greens are radicchio, arugula, escarole and endive. The dressing is simple; EVOO, cider vinegar and black pepper. The chopped greens area lightly dressed and then the bowl is put in a warm oven to slightly wilt the greens. After it is removed from the oven the salad is topped with toasted pecans and McIntosh apple slices which have been soaked in bourbon. The wilting of the greens was something I have not seen done and the warmth of the greens is a nice contrast to the pecans and apples. The bourbon was an odd ingredient and when I prepared the salad on Sunday I substituted the apples with strawberries and no bourbon. I was happy I was able to purchase the bourbon in an airplane size bottle.

The wine went well with the table. Thank you Ernie for posting it. I will use it again with pasta or pizza.

Next week is Easter and as always I expect the table will be terrific.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Winter to Spring

The weekend is neither winter or spring, but a transition. Given the warmer temperatures and the sight of green shoots coming from the ground signaling the arrival of spring flowers, I decided it was time to check out my freezer for signs of things for seasonal change. I found a pork loin and decided to go with it for a couple of pork dishes to end the heavy winter season. The following are on Marilyn's Table to show the end of the winter season of heavy food and the entrance of spring.

Pork and Artichoke Stew with Avgolomono
Sherried Pork
Snow Pea-Radish Slaw
Strawberry-Mango Granita

The first pork dish is a stew with artichoke hearts and Avgolomono. The artichokes are cut up and reduced to the hearts which are placed in lemon water in order not to turn brown. The pork chunks are browned in a Dutch oven on all sides with chopped onion. White wine, chicken broth, artichokes, lemon juice, dill and more broth are added and simmered. The pork and artichokes are removed and the kept warm. The avgolemono is prepared. Combine egg, water, lemon juice in bowl. With water and cornstarch, mix and add to egg mixture. Add to pan and cook until thickened. Add pork and artichokes and simmer with dill. Serve on rice or noodles.
A serving is 7 points without rice or noodles. Very tasty.

The second dish is made with pork slices dusted with flour (I use Wondra as it is light and easy to use), browned in a pan sprayed with olive oil until lightly browned. Remove and add minced shallots, garlic and sliced mushrooms. Add chicken broth and dry sherry. Simmer with thyme and whisk until thickened. Return pork and simmer until desired doneness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. My favorite and very tasty. A serving is 6 points

Both days I served the pork dish with the same sides.

The snow pea-radish slaw was the star this week. Sliced red onion and sliced radishes are put to soak in ice water for 5 minutes. Drain and wipe dry. Add vegetable oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, dijon mustard and a bit of sugar. Stir in snow peas cut in thin slices and chill to serve. Add salt. Excellent. About 2 points per serving

For dessert I took strawberries and a mango and pureed them in a blender with water, and lemon juice. Sugar is added depending on the ripeness/sweetness of the fruit. My fruit took less than half a cup of superfine sugar. Blend and put in 8X8 dish and place in freezer. Chill at least 4 hours. Scrape into dish for serving with a mint leaf. A very nice ending to the heavier meal. About 3 points per serving

This week was a great way of cleaning out of heavier food from the freezer. Next week I will do a couple of stir frys. Have a great week and hopefully the warmer weather will continue.