Fright Night (Tom Holland – 1985) B

Funny, takes itself just seriously enough and has some cool 80’s special effects. This one of the better vampire movies and certainly uses the ‘creepy next door neighbor’ scenario very well. Roddy McDowell’s character (Peter Vincent) is especially entertaining here.

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VDP: Eggs with Roasted Peppers

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I had quiet a few more roasted peppers than I needed for the dinner the other night. To use them up I cooked them with a touch of garlic and some onions in olive oil. I then cracked a couple of eggs and let those cook leaving the yolks runny. To serve them, I topped them with grated Parmigiano cheese and some more of that green herb oil. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes and tasted fantastic with crostini.

VDP: Four-Course Dinner

Friday, March 28, 2008

We had a friend visiting from out of town, and she is a vegetarian. What better excuse to make a multi course dinner with no meat? Here is the line up.

White bean and spring onion Soup with Green herb oil.

Sauteed a bunch of spring onions and added cooked white beans and their cooking liquid. When it was done I pureed it with my handheld blender. For the oil, I blanched the tops of the spring onions, basil and parsley. I then pureed the herbs with olive oil.

Steamed Asparagus with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Simply cooked and dressed with olive oil and lemon.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Roasted Peppers and Mushrooms.

These gnocchi are not the potato kind. Instead they are made from ricotta, flour and eggs. They are exceptionally light and work with all kinds of sauces, especially lighter ones like this one.

Almond Cake with Vanilla Honey Malt Ice cream

I actually forgot to take a picture of this one. The recipe for the cake is from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking: From My Home to Yours‘ where she calls it something like Almond Visiting Cake or something. The ice cream is a recipe from Michel Richard’s ‘Happy in the Kitchen‘.

VDP: Pizza – Dandelion and Margarita

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Everyone loves pizza, and baked goods in general are one of the easiest foods to make vegetarian AND delicious. What I did here is make the dough the night before. I used a dough recipe that is fridge friendly, Peter Reinhart’s Pain a l ‘Ancienne dough from ‘The Bread Baker’s Apprentice‘. I usually always retard (keep the dough in cold conditions) the dough for pizza in the fridge, but this dough is particularly easy to handle and is designed to develop flavor overnight when made with ice water and kept cold. Retarding results in a very flavorful pizza dough and makes for exceptional texture. It is also very convenient to just have a big batch of dough in the fridge to use for whatever. This one can be kept for over a week and it’ll keep on getting better.

The topping was a quick tomato sauce made with canned uncooked San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, dried marjoram, salt and pepper. I like to keep the toppings simple, so after baking the dough with the tomato sauce in a baking pan for 5 minutes to give it a head start, fresh mozzarella cheese goes on top. I also added garlicky sautéed dandelion greens to half of the pizza. They are too bitter for my wife’s taste so her half doesn’t get any. The pie goes back into the 500 F oven on the lowest rack for another 10 minutes. When it comes out, I sprinkle it with some chopped basil and grated Parmesan cheese. This beats the hell out of any delivery pizza in the area.

I also had a bulb of fennel that I received from my CSA this week. Diana hates fennel so, I made me a small salad using the bulb and some of the fronds with lemon juice and olive oil. I love it’s taste and texture and it worked really well alongside the strong bitter taste of dandelion which was actually from the same CSA.

VDP: Quick Red Lentil Soup

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Red lentil soup (even though it looks more orange or yellow after it’s cooked) cannot be simpler to make. Sautee a bunch of onions, garlic and some chopped carrots in olive oil, add the red lentils and stir for a few minutes. I also had a half tomato, so I threw it in there. Cover the whole thing with water and let it simmer. Nothing to it, and makes for a light a delicious meal.

The other part of the meal was a recipe from ‘Happy in The Kitchen’, Braised Carrots with Carrot-top Sauce. A great dish that you can read more about here. Well, ok, it does have a few tablespoons of chicken stock. Sorry ‘bout that. I could’ve easily substituted some vegetable stock  for the chicken, but I wanted to stick to the recipe.

HKP: Braised Carrots with Carrot-Top Sauce

The Blueprint

Carrots braised in a sweet buttery broth, flavored with orange and served with a sauce made from the carrot tops.

The Recipe

The idea of cooking carrots and serving them with a sauce made from those green tops that usually end up in the bin is so damn intriguing to me. I’ve attempted to use those green tops before, I tossed them in a salad once. Unfortunately they are too tough and are not so good for eating raw. Now, blanching them and pureeing them into a sauce is genius! I am getting ahead of myself here, so I’ll start from the beginning.

I had a nice bunch of organic carrots with the tops all nice a green. I separated the tops from the carrots. I peeled and trimmed the carrots and I washed and picked the leaves from the tops. The first step in the recipe is to make some dried, pulverized orange peel to be used as garnish. Well, I did not do that. Not because I was not planning on using any but because I was on a time crunch (weekday dinner) and because I had some excellent home-dried orange peel in my pantry already. But for those who don’t the process Chef Richard outlines involves blanching the peel in boiling water and drying it in the oven for 24 hours. He does say that the drying can be done in the microwave for a few minutes and I would like to try that sometime. For now, I just pulverized some of my dried orange peel in my heavy Thai mortar, and I am good to go.

For the carrots, I simmered them in a mixture of orange juice, stock, butter, onions and some sugar. Here Chef Richard is definitely off on the timing. They took about 15 minutes longer than the 15 minutes stated in the recipe to get cooked through. They ended up soft, not a trace of a crunch, but definitely sturdy and not mushy. They ahd a bright orange color and a lovely glazed sheen, in other words perfect carrots.

For the sauce, I first blanched and shocked the leaves in ice water. Then I pureed them with butter and with the reduced cooking liquid of the carrots. Seasoned this with salt and pepper and got ready to serve. Chef Richard specifies mache to serve with these. I can see why. Mache will resemble the tops on the plated carrots, as you can see in the picture in the book if you have it. I could not find mache in a couple of stores that I visited, so I used some baby salad greens instead. I placed the carrots on the plate first, I tossed the greens in some very simple vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper) and placed them right next to the stem end of the plated carrots. The carrot-top sauce goes right on the side and the pulverized dried orange peels gets sprinkled on top.

The Tasting Notes

I am so looking forward to making this again. It was absolutely delicious. The carrots were cooked perfectly and a bit on the sweet side (that can be modified by reducing the amount of sugar). The sauce was velvety smooth and had a sharp carrot flavor that worked so well with the sweet cooking liquid in there. If you want a lovely carrot dish and are tired of the good old glazed carrots, then give this one a shot.