Recipes From The Heart 2021: No. 2

The pleasures of the dinner table make possible interludes of joy each day.  Days may be short now, but spring approaches methodically, inevitably. Let’s resolve to celebrate life and love with good food and wine. Good times, long postponed, return soon.

Caesar Salad

The refreshing and always delicious Caesar salad.

Dressing:

3 to 5 anchovies packed in oil, depending on taste

2 medium garlic cloves

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup neutral oil (like grape seed oil, safflower oil or avocado oil), plus more as needed

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Croutons:

4 cups torn or cubed day old bread, about 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs like rosemary thyme, oregano and Italian seasoning, optional

Salad:

2 hearts romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped or torn into small pieces

Parmesan cheese shavings

Directions:

Using a chef’s knife mince the anchovies and garlic into small bits. Using the side of the knife mash them into a very fine paste by pushing and pulling the mound of anchovies and garlic across the cutting board. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice and mustard together until frothy. Placing a dishcloth underneath the bowl helps to steady it as you whisk.
Get into a comfortable whisking position and while you whisk with one hand, slowly stream in the oil with the other hand. You are looking to add the oil in tiny drips and will notice that as you whisk in the oil, the mixture in the bowl will start to lighten in color and thicken.
When all of the oil has been added, check the consistency. If it’s too thick, whisk in a teaspoon or so of water. If it’s too thin, continue to whisk and stream in a little more oil.
Finish by whisking in the mashed anchovies, garlic and parmesan cheese. Taste and generously season with salt and pepper. Store, covered in the refrigerator. Dressing can be made a day in advance.

Preparing Croutons:

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium bowl, toss the pieces of bread with olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add dried herbs, if using, and toss well.
Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until crisp and light golden around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and then store in an airtight bag for 2 to 3 days.

Assembly:

Toss lettuce with a few generous spoonfuls of the dressing. If the salad looks dry, add a bit more dressing. Scatter over a few handfuls of the croutons and finish with parmesan cheese shavings.

Winter Bouillabaisse

The great fish stew from Provence

Broth:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 shallots, coarsely chopped

2 leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped

1 medium fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped

1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon tightly packed saffron

3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 pounds non-oily white fish bones and heads

4 thyme sprigs

4 parsley sprigs

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Rouille:

1 baking potato (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

2 large egg yolks

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 roasted red pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon harissa

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Soup:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 leek, white and tender green parts, finely diced

1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice

12 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed

16 mussels, debearded

8 large shrimp (1/2 pound), shelled and deveined

1 1/2 pounds snapper or monkfish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons chopped basil

8 thin slices of baguette, brushed with olive oil and toasted

Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, leeks, fennel and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the fish bones and heads, 3 quarts of water, the thyme, parsley and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for 45 minutes.
Strain the broth and discard the solids. Return the broth to the pot and boil over high heat until it is reduced to 6 cups, about 20 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper.
In a small saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the potato until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. With the machine on, add the egg yolks, chopped garlic, red pepper and harissa and process to a puree. With the machine on, add the olive oil and process very briefly until it’s just incorporated. Scrape the rouille into a bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, leek and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the potato and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the clams and cook over moderate heat until they start to open. Add the mussels, shrimp and fish and simmer until all of the seafood is just cooked, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and basil; season with salt and pepper.
Spread the baguette toasts with some of the rouille. Spoon the bouillabaisse into 4 large, shallow bowls and serve with the toasts and lemon wedges. Pass the remaining rouille at the table.

teau au Chocolate

Ingredients:

2 teaspoon softened unsalted butter

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

8 ounce good-quality bittersweet (about 60%) chocolate, such as Ghirardelli 12 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into a few chunks.

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup sifted all-purpose flour

Whipped cream

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch springform pan with the softened butter. Dust with the cocoa powder; tap out excess.
Break up chocolate into a medium microwave-safe bowl. Add butter chunks. Zap in the microwave 1 minute. Stir with a flexible spatula. If need be, zap another 30 seconds to melt. Stir until smooth.
Crack eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed, gradually cascading in sugar and salt, until pale, thick, and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes. (Lacking a stand mixer, use a handheld mixer and coordination, or a balloon whisk and upper-arm strength.)

Madeira is a divine accompaniment with chocolate dessert.

Pour chocolate mixture into egg mixture; beat on low to combine. Sprinkle in flour; beat on low just to combine. Mix in any renegade specks of flour with a flexible spatula. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake until puffed and surface is dry and a toothpick jabbed in center only just comes out clean. (Begin checking at 35 minutes.) Don’t fret over any cracks in the top. Cool on a wire rack 20 minutes; remove sides of pan. Enjoy warm with whipped cream.

Sir Verde

Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestions: Cru Chablis from Burgundy. Madeira, the glorious fortified wine, loves chocolate.

Stay safe. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.

Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. www.thegourmethighway.com | doclawrence@mindspring.com

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