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ITP Eating Club – 21 September 2008

I hosted the first ITP Eating Club event last night.  The theme was pintxos (a Basque genre of tapas) featuring some local ingredients and international flavors.  I was busy with the food prep and playing host for most of the event, so I didn’t take many pictures, but you can check out Cameron’s blog post and Derek’s photos.  We also live streamed the party from the webcam on my MacBookPro.  If you are super bored, you can watch the video of the party (we didn’t record audio) on my account.  Recipes after the jump.

Above: Liesje & Meredith sample the spread.  Below: Cameron and LS in the kitchen.  Photos by Derek Chung

Scallop Ceviche

Photo by Derek Chung

This is my take from an Eric Gower recipe, from the Breakaway Japanese Kitchen.

Chop up about a half pound (~230 grams) of dry diver scallops, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, 2 or 3 scallions/green onions, 1 avocado (ripe, but not too soft), and a handful of fresh parsley and/or cilantro.  Last night, I used a combo of parsley and chives because that was what I had around.

Mix everything together in a bowl with the juice of 2 limes, and season to taste with some grated ginger, soy sauce, olive oil, a bit of maple syrup, salt and pepper.

Let the mixture marinate in the fridge for a few minutes and serve.

Vegetable Frittata

Given the pintxos theme, this should have been called a tortilla, as the Spaniards call it, but it’s a bit confusing in the US, because people tend to associate the word “tortilla” with the Mexican flatbread.  Basically, it’s a glorified omelette with vegetables instead of the traditional potatoes.

In a large bowl, beat together 10 eggs and a couple tablespoons of sheepsmilk yogurt or strained Greek yogurt.  The yogurt is not in the traditional Spanish recipe, but I find that it adds some lightness.

Heat a non-stick skillet and add a few generous lashings of olive oil.  Don’t skimp on the olive oil!  Sauté some thinly sliced zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, and a clove of garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the vegetables are softened, add the egg and yogurt mixture.

Cook over medium to medium-low heat.  When the mixture is still very liquidy, stir it around to allow for more even cooking, but don’t do this when the eggs start to firm up.  Cook until you see the mixture come together and brown a bit on the sides.

If you are super ambitious, you can put an inverted plate over the skillet and flip the frittata out and then cook the other side, but I prefer to just finish it in the oven, with a few seconds under the broiler at the very end to brown the top.

Let cool, then cut into slices, put on slices of crusty bread (I got the baguettes from Le Pain Quotidien) and fasten with a toothpick.

Fromage Fort

Meaning “strong cheese” in French, this is a clever way for Frenchies to use up their leftover cheese.  I had about a pound and a half of various kinds of cheese in my freezer that I pulled out, defrosted, and brought to room temperature.  Cut off the rinds and cut up the cheese with a knife, or grate the cheese.

In a blender, put the cheese, 1 stick of softened butter (yes one whole stick of butter – this is the not-so-secret French weapon to making everything taste good), 1 small clove of garlic, a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, a handful of herbs (I used parsley and some dried herbes de Provence), and enough dry white wine.  Keeping in the locavore theme, I used a Wolffer Estate Vineyards La Ferme Martin Chardonnay from Long Island.

Transfer into a lidded container and let mellow overnight or for a few hours before serving at room temperature.  Serve as a spread for bread, or schmear onto slices of crusty bread and broil until melted and bubbly.

Salmon Pâté

This is my adaptation of an old-school Joy of Cooking recipe.  It also contains a whole stick of butter 😉

Cut a half-pound wild Pacific salmon filet into chunks.  Put in a small saucepan and cover with just enough dry white wine.  Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and drain, discarding the wine.  Remove any bones and skin from the salmon.

Heat about 3 tablespoons worth of the stick of butter along with 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Add the salmon and flake with a spatula in the pan.  Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes; do not let it brown.  Add 2 tablespoons of Sortilège maple syrup-infused Canadian whiskey (Cognac, brandy, or regular whiskey would work here too).  Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Let the mixture cool slightly, then bash it up with a mortar and pestle along with the rest of the stick of butter, a peeled hard-boiled egg, the a bit of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, and some chopped dill and chives.  Transfer to a container or bowl, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

To unmold the pâté, dip the bowl in some hot water and then use a rubber spatula to loosen and then invert onto a plate for serving.  Garnish with some more fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice.  Serve with good bread.

Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini

Arrange the oven so that 2 baking trays will fit in at the same time.  Preheat to 400 degrees.

Cut the 1 large zucchini and 1 head of cauliflower into bite-sized chunks.  Mix in a large bowl with some roughly chopped garlic, the juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon or so of powdered turmeric, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Transfer the mixture to a foil-lined baking sheet.

In a dry saucepan, roast 2 small dried chili peppers (seeded) and 1 teaspoon each of whole cumin, coriander seed, caraway seed, black pepper, and cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of whole cloves and half a stick of cinnamon.  When the spices start to pop and get fragrant (be careful not the burn the spices), bash up using a mortar and pestle with a handful of fresh garlic, ginger 1 small onion (chopped), and plenty of salt to form a spice paste.

In a large bowl, mix the spice paste with 2 pounds (900 grams) of ground lamb, 6 ounces (170 grams) of sheepsmilk yogurt or strained Greek yogurt, a splash of olive oil, a bit of caramelized onions, 2 handfulls of bread crumbs or flour, a handful of chopped parsley, and 1 egg.  Mix well and form into balls with your hands.  Place meatballs onto another foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake the vegetable mixture in the meatballs for 30-40 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook.  The vegetables are done when they look wilted and slighly browned.  The meatballs will look dry and browned on the outside when they are done.

To assemble, skewer a meatball to a piece of cauliflower and zucchini and attach to a baguette slice.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Duck Confit with White Bean Purée and Frisée Salad

Ok, I cheated a little for this one.  I didn’t actually make the duck confit from scratch.  I bought some Hudson Valley duck confit from FreshDirect.

Drain 2 cans of white beans with a strainer and rinse well under running water.  Transfer to a casserole and top with 4 legs of duck confit and a little bit of olive oil.  Cover with aluminum foil and warm in a 400-degree oven.

Remove the skin from the duck confit and set aside.  In a blender, purée the duck skins, the white beans, half a bulb worth of roasted garlic, one onion worth of caramelized onion, the juice of half a lemon, a couple shakes of dried herbes de Provence or thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  The beans are already salted, and the confit is salty too, so go easy on the salt.  You might have to stir the mixture a bit with a spatula between rounds on the blender to get the mixture fully incorporated.  You can also add some more olive oil or some stock to loosen the mixture if it is too thick, but it should be about the consistency of hummus.

Shred the duck meat off the bones.  In a bowl, make a dressing out of the juice of half a lemon, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, black pepper, and 2 handfuls of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and chives, but chervil would work well too).  You probably won’t need more salt, but taste anyway.  Add the duck meat and some torn up frisée.

To assemble, spread some of the white bean purée onto a baguette slice, then top with some of the duck and frisée salad.

Mashed Kabocha Squash with Sautéed Shiitake

Half a kabocha squash and scoop out the seeds.  Place in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.  Cover tightly with foil and roast in a 425 degree oven until soft (about 30-45 minutes).

In the meantime, sauté 7 ounces (200 grams) of sliced shiitake mushrooms in a mixture of butter and olive oil with some chopped garlic and 1 small chopped onion.  Season with freshly ground black pepper and red chili flakes.  Add a splash of mirin and soy sauce and continue to cook until the mushrooms are browned.

When the kabocha is done in the oven, allow to cool slightly until it can be comfortably handled.  Remove the skin from the squash and mash together with 1 stick of butter and 2 tablespoons of white miso (or enough to taste).  Add the mushroom mixture to the kabocha.  Before serving, mix in 2 handfuls of chopped parsley and chives or scallions.

Serve as a side dish or spread on slices of crusty bread.

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