Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Entries in giorgio locatelli (4)

Monday
Jun252012

Animelle di Vitello in Agrodolce (Veal Sweetbreads with Sweet and Sour Sauce)

I love sweetbreads. They’re delicate in flavor, they’re versatile enough to fry, roast, or stuff into something else, and they’re cheap. If you can find them, that is. I’m surprised that many butchers don’t carry them, and the vendors at my favorite farmer’s market only have them a couple times per year. When I can procure them, I buy a few pounds and freeze them. I can't help it. I LOVE THEM.

Sweetbreads fall into the offal category, and no, they’re not a nice way of saying “brains”. They’re typically veal, and they can be either thymus gland or pancreas. Most of the time you’re getting thymus.  When I tell people sweetbreads are part of a menu, most of them go to brains. I did too—WHO TAUGHT US THIS???  It’s like we all have unconsciously absorbed this mass of false information that has no basis in reality. Like being a Tea Party voter.

But I digress.

I have two favorite sweetbread recipes. One is from the Chanterelle cookbook, and the sweetbreads are fried and tossed in a spicy, deep ginger and orange sauce – like an upscale General Tso’s chicken.  The one I’m sharing with you today is from (I know you’re sick of hearing me rave about this book) Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy: Food and Stories.  In previous blog posts, I’ve given you Giorgio’s balls.  You’ve seen the nettle risotto, and been warned about the prick if you aren’t careful with that. I’ve told you how my friend Becky came to dinner, tweaked his recipe and had a table of guests swooning over what she could do with her fish. This time, we’re going for the throat…

Sweetbreads are a bit of a pain. First, they have to be soaked for at least 24 hours, but all you have to do there is change the water a few times. Next, you have to remove the membrane from around them. Once they’ve soaked, it’s a pretty quick process. And yeah, I know it sounds gross to cook anything involving the word “membrane”. The meat sauce that goes with this dish will become your de facto meat sauce base. I promise. It’s like a quick demi-glace, and it’s incredibly rich. You can make the veal sauce and the agrodolce a day in advance if you like, and clean the sweetbreads a couple of hours ahead. Once your guests arrive, it’s a quick process to fry these up, toss them in one sauce and top with another.

The only variation I made to this recipe was to ignore the instructions for sautéed spinach, because I find it boring. I subbed in some garlicky sauteed pea vines instead. Use whatever veg you want here. The sweetbreads are the star of the show.

My copy of this book is from the UK, so the measure here are metric. I’m entering the recipe as it is given in the book, but italicizing my variations and commentary.

Animelle di Vitello in Agrodolce (Veal Sweetbreads with Sweet and Sour Sauce)

Adapted from Giorgio Locatelli

4 handfuls of spinach

20g unsalted butter

100ml extra virgin olive oil

4 large carrots

1 garlic clove

1 bay leaf

4 veal sweetbreads, each about 120g, peeled and washed

1 tablespoon plain flour

2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

8 tablespoons Veal Sauce (recipe below)

Agrodolce di capperi (recipe below)

Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Blanch the spinach in boiling salted water for 5 seconds, refresh under cold running water, drain and squeeze out the excess water. Put into a pan with half the butter and half the olive oil.

Blanch the whole carrots for a couple of minutes in boiling salted water drain and leave to cool naturally, then cut at an angle into slices about 1cm thick.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Centigrade (480 Farenheit).

Crush the garlic with the back of a knife and put into a pan with the rest of the oil, the bay leaf and the sliced carrots. Place over a very low heat, cover with a lid and gently stew for about 10-12 minutes, until the carrots are soft. Take off the heat.

If the sweetbreads are still whole, gently break them apart (They will fall naturally into pieces). Season and dust with flour. Heat a large sauté pan (that will transfer to the oven), add the sunflower or vegetable oil and put in the pieces of sweetbread. Cook until golden on all sides, turn the heat down, leave for a minute, then transfer to the oven for about 3 minutes until cooked through. When they are ready, if you press them with your finger they should be springy, like a sponge cake. Or your mom’s ass.

While the sweetbreads are cooking, put the pan containing the spinach on to the heat to warm through, and season. Then put the pan containing the carrots back on the heat to warm through.

Take the sweetbreads out of the oven and let the pan cool down slightly, put it on the hob (“What the fuck is a hob”, you ask? It’s a stove top burner. Not to be confused with a hob-knocker, which is an entirely different thing. Look that one up on urban dictionary.), pour in the sauce, and heat through. Toss the sweetbreads in the sauce to coat. Take off the heat and carefully beat in the remaining butter, taking care not to smash the sweetbreads.

Spoon the spinach into the middle of your warmed plates and arrange the carrots around. Lift out the sweetbreads and spoon on top of the spinach. Then pour the veal sauce over the top. Finish with a tablespoon of agrodolce over each plate.

Basic Sauce for Meat

Makes 750ml to 1 liter

2-3 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

400g meat trimmings (chicken, veal, pork, lamb, beef, venison, duck, pigeon, partridge, your neighbor’s cat, feral children,…). Note: I didn’t have meat trimmings so I just bought a cheap cut of veal on the bone. Don’t spend a lot of money on this—it’s just to caramelize and give depth of flavor.

1 carrot, diced into roughly the same size as the meat (make sure the dice are the same size so they cook evenly)

2 garlic cloves

1 sprig of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 shallot, diced

20-30g butter

1 teaspoon flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1.5 liters good stock (chicken, veal, etc., depending on your meat,) For this dish, I used veal stock, but really anything will do. It’s flexible.

400 ml (A little more than half a bottle) Chianti or other red wine. Note that this is optional for the basic meat sauce described here, but for this veal sweetbread recipe it adds amazing depth of flavor.

Preparation:

Heat the pan to medium-hot, then put in the oil.

Just before it starts to smoke, put the trimmings into the pan a few at a time, making sure they all touch the bottom of the pan. Leave these to roast without touching them for 2-3 minutes, until they start to become golden underneath. Turn them until they are golden and caramelized on all sides, another 5-10 minutes.

Add the carrot, garlic and herbs, and leave to roast for another 2-3 minutes, then add the shallots and roast for another couple of minutes.

Turn down the heat, add the butter and let it foam without burning. If adding wine, add it now and let it reduce until some of the alcohol has evaporated – I let it go 10-15 minutes.

Add the flour and tomato paste, turn up the heat again, and cook for a minute or so, until the temperature of the pan has come up again.

Add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil, skim, turn down the heat and cook for about half an hour.  

Put through a fine sieve and reduce until you have a sauce consistency.  I let this baby simmer and reduce for about 2 hours until it was a thick, deep, decadent sauce

Agrodolce di Capperi (Caper Sweet and Sour Sauce)

5 tablespoons white wine vinegar

70g caster sugar

100g capers in brine, drained, washed and dried

100ml extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Make the agrodolce sauce by putting the vinegar and sugar in a small pan and letting it bubble up and reduce to a clear syrup.

Hand-blend the capers, very slowly, adding the syrup (as if making a mayonnaise), then blend in the oil (again very slowly, so that the sauce doesn’t split) until creamy. Transfer to a small pan and keep on a very low heat, without boiling, for about 15-20 minutes, until any excess liquid disappears and the sauce is very thick. Leave to cool.

Sunday
Apr292012

Ramacche (Prosciutto and Cheese Fritters)

I don’t think it’s a mystery to anyone how much of  a Giorgio Locatelli fanboy I am. Of my hoardish cookbook collection, his original book Made in Italy: Food and Stories remains my #1 desert-island book, and the one I most heartily recommend. I love how he writes. I love that the recipes are surprisingly simple for the most part, and convey restaurant-quality results while being targeted to the home cook. He has 8 pages on making the perfect risotto, and after reading it, you will never make risotto the same way again. (I wrote about his stuffed cabbage and nettle risotto last year. That nettle risotto is the first thing we make when the weeds hit the Farmers’ Market in the Spring.)

This past fall, his latest book, Made in Sicily came out. I was so anxious to get it in my greedy hands, I bribed a colleague in the UK (it was released there first) to buy it and shlep it to Spain with her, where we were meeting for a business trip. I could barely remember to greet her cordially before ripping it from her hands.

This book is brilliant.  As with his previous books, the recipes are clear, straightforward and unpretentious. He gives you enough of an overview of the region and ingredients for you to absorb some of the hows and whys behind the cuisine, and builds anticipation where you just have to try making the dish. I thought caponata was a ubiquitous Sicilian staple. I had no idea there were so many seasonal varieties (he provides recipes for 5 different variations, including a Christmas version).

The recipe I decided to try first was his recipe for Ramacche, which are prosciutto and cheese fritters. Giorgio’s balls are crispy on the outside, creamy and salty on the inside. They practically explode with flavor once you pop them into your mouth.

……

What? You guys are sick.

Ramacche

Prosciutto and Cheese Fritters

Serves 4

30g unsalted butter

a small pinch of salt

150g plain flour, plus more as needed

3 large eggs

150g prosciutto crudo, diced

100g caciocavallo or pecorino cheese, grated

2 tsp parsley and garlic*

sunflower oil for deep frying

*For the parsley and garlic, crush 1 clove garlic on a cutting board with the flat of your knife to make a paste. Add about 4 handfuls of flat leaf parsley and chop through the parsley and garlic to intermingle the flavors.

Put the butter and salt into a pan with 220ml of water and bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Put the pan back on the heat and work the mixture continuously with the spoon until it comes together in a solid ball of dough. Take off the heat again and let it cool, then put the dough into a food mixer with a paddle, add the eggs one by one and mix until they are all incorporated.

Add the prosciutto, cheese and the parsley and garlic, and continue to mix. The dough will be quite soft.

Heat several centimeters of oil in a pan (make sure the oil comes no higher than a third or the way up). It should be 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Farenheit). If you don’t have a thermometer, test that the oil is hot enough by dropping in a little bit of the dough. If it sizzles, the dough is ready.

Moisten a dessert spoon with water, then scoop out little mounds of dough, slide them carefully into the oil and let them fry gently for about two minutes, turning them so they are golden on both sides, and reducing the heat if they start to brown too quickly. Remove the ramacche with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper, and serve hot.

 

Thursday
Mar222012

Giorgio Locatelli's Branzino alla Vernaccia in Crosta Di Pomodoro (Sea Bass with Tomato Crust and Vernaccia Wine)

As the two of you who read this blog know, I have a crush on Giorgio Locatelli. His cookbooks completely rock my world. Our first cookbook club we ever hosted? Locatelli. The restaurant I must visit whenever I’m lucky enough to be in London for work or pleasure? Locatelli. My go-to for amazing Italian recipes, stories and inspiration? Locatelli.

Get it?

We had friends over this weekend and made a big Italian dinner for everyone. After obligatory appetizers, we started with a nod to it being St. Patrick’s day--a Corned Beef and Cabbage Strudel with a mustard sauce. It was great, got my Irish obligation out of the way, gave us a reason to switch wines, and had everyone sated enough to provide some cooking time to finish the other plates. (Let me know if you want the recipe and I’ll post it).

My Poodle Becky came over and graciously offered to help with the fish dish. I am a pretty confident cook. But when your friend is the author of a sustainable seafood book (Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast) AND was just nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook award AND you are trying a dish with fish you haven’t cooked before, you swallow your pride and cry, "uncle." Or at least whimper a bit to get the bitch to help.

Oh, and by the time we got to the fish we were about five bottles in. But I digress…

Becky rocked it. She finished filleting the fish, removed the bones and scales the fishmonger missed, and made this amazing dish while I worked on the next course. (Recipes for that to follow: gnocchi Bolognese; braised fennel with orange, sambuca and chile; and a sweet and sour eggplant dish similar to a caponata). The caramelized onion and artichoke puree is decadent, the tomato crust on the fish provides an indescribably sexy, crunchy tang, and the wine reduction provides the necessary acid. It all comes together seamlessly.

Note: The Branzino was really small so I subbed in a rockfish instead. Any firm, white fish will work but be sure to get a thick fillet so it doesnt overcook when you try to crisp the skin.

This is one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever had, and next time, I’ll do it all on my own.

Sea bass with tomato crust and Vernaccia wine

Branzino alla Vernaccia in Crosta Di Pomodoro

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tomatoes

3 tablespoons diced green olives

1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

4 thick sea bass fillets(each about 7 ounces)

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

160 ml Vernaccia (or other spicy dry white wine)

3 tablespoons fish stock

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

salt and pepper

For the artichoke puree:

2 large globe artichokes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 white onion (thinly sliced)

160 ml cup white wine

3 tablespoons heavy cream

3 pats of butter

Blanch the tomatoes, skin, quarter and deseed, then cut into dice about the same size as the olive dice.

Put the sun-dried tomatoes into a food processor, process them quickly, then add the bread crumbs and whiz again until the tomato is absorbed into the bread crumbs and it looks a bit like a crumble mixture. Spoon out onto a tray and flatten down. Leave in a warm place in the kitchen for an hour or so to dry out.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and take your sea bass out of the fridge so that it can come to room temperature. Squeeze the lemon juice, put half to one side and add the rest to a bowl of water. Have this ready before you start preparing the artichokes for the puree.

To make the puree, snap off the artichoke stalks and discard them. With a small paring knife, starting at the base of each artichoke, trim off all the green leaves and put the artichoke into the bowl of water with lemon juice while you remove the leaves from the next one. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Using the same paring knife, begin to trim away the white leaves from each artichoke until you are left only with a few tender ones surrounding the heart. Put back into the bowl of water and continue to trim the other artichokes, putting them into the water as soon as they are ready, so that they don't discolour. Cut each artichoke heart in half, scoop out the hairy chokes and discard them. Leave the remaining hearts in the bowl of water until you need them.

Heat a saucepan, add the olive oil and then the sliced onion. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured. Thinly slice the artichoke hearts, add them to the onion and cook for another 5 minutes, the add the white wine. Allow the alcohol to evaporate completely (about 15 to 20 minutes) and then add half a pint of water. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the artichokes are soft and all the water has disappeared — keep an eye on the pan and stir as the water evaporates, to avoid the artichokes catching fire and burning.

Transfer the contents of the pan containing the artichokes to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Put the cream in a pan and boil it to reduce it by half. Add the artichoke puree and let it cook for a few minutes. The resulting puree should be soft but firm enough for the sea bass to sit on top; if you feel that it is too wet, let it cook a little longer to dry it out. When it is ready, season to taste, cover and keep to one side.

Take an ovenproof nonstick frying pan big enough to fit all the fillets comfortably and get it hot on the burner. (If you don't have a big enough pan, you will need to cook the fillets in two batches.) Lightly season the fish on the skin side, put a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan (it will heat up instantly) and add the fillets, skin side down. As the heat goes through the fish, it will turn from translucent to white and opaque.

As soon as the fillet has turned white halfway up the fillet, turn it over (the skin should now be crisp and golden) and sprinkle with the dried breadcrumb and tomato mixture. Pour the wine into the pan (around, not over the fish) and transfer to the oven for a couple of minutes. The bread crumbs will crisp up and become darker in colour.

Take the pan from the oven and lift the fish onto a warm plate. Put the pan back on the heat, add the olives, tomatoes and fish stock, and bubble up so that it reduces by half. Then put the sea bass back into the sauce, crust upward, for a minute or so to heat through.

At the same time, put the artichoke puree back on the heat to warm through. Stir in the butter and, when the puree is hot, spoon it onto your plates and put the fish on top.

To the pan in which the fish has been cooked, add the reserved lemon juice, the rest of the olive oil and the parsley, then spoon this mixture around the fish and serve.


Sunday
Apr102011

Giorgio Locatelli's Mondeghini (Stuffed Cabbage) with Nettle Risotto

We had friends from work over this week for dinner and I went with an Italian theme, relying heavily on recipes I love from Giorgio Locatelli. With a cookbook collection approaching 1,000 books, his book remains my #1 go-to inspiring book. We’ve used it for cookbook clubs, I’ve leveraged his recipes heavily for catering gigs, and every single recipe turns out to be pure gold.  One of our first courses was his Mondeghini (Stuffed Cabbage) served with stinging nettle risotto. Nettles are just starting to be available in Seattle this time of year, and this recipe is one of my favorites.  

Remember to use gloves, especially when touching the nettle stalks…that’s where you will get stung. Once the nettles hit heat, either blanching or frying, the sting disappears and leaves you with a really green, springtime flavor.  We’re thrilled when we see nettles at the Farmer’s market, because this risotto is what comes next. 

The Mondeghini are something I tried at Locanda Locatelli when I was in London a few weeks ago on business. They were our favorite course we tried from the menu so I was dying to make them at home. I’ve adapted the mondeghini recipe slightly because I like it less bready than the recipe calls for. The stuffed cabbage is a little time consuming to make, as you have to form little golfball-sized sausage balls and then individually wrap them in blanched savoy cabbage leaves. Once you get the technique down it gets faster. It’s all about how adept you are at cupping Giorgio’s balls. Cup-n-twist, ladies…cup-n-twist. But be gentle...

Mondeghini (Stuffed Cabbage)

Ingredients:

1 large Savoy cabbage

350g sliced white bread, crusts cut off (Note: I only used 200g to make it less bready)

175 ml milk

400g good quality plain pork sausages, skin removed

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped (I used 6 because—hello, it’s garlic. More is better)

Sprig of sage, finely chopped

Sprig of rosemary, finely chopped (Ok, screw subtlety…..I used 4 sprigs of rosemary and 6 of sage. It could still have taken more. The herbs REALLY came through in the restaurant version)

1 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

½ glass of white wine

20g butter

Salt and pepper

 

  1. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and choose 8 fairly large inner ones. Blanch them in boiling salted water until just soft then drain, rinse under cold running water and pat dry.
  2. Soak the bread in the milk. Put the skinned sausages in a separate bowl and mix with the garlic, sage, rosemary and parmesan. Squeeze the bread and add to the sausage mixture. Season and roll into 8 balls, each about the size of a golf ball.
  3. Lay the cabbage leaves out flay and cut out the stalks with a sharp knife. Now you need to make little balls of cabbage-wrapped sausage meat. To do this, hold a cloth in one hand, put a cabbage leaf on top, and then a ball of the sausage mixture in the center. Close your hand so that the cabbage wraps itself around the sausage meat. Turn your hand over and, with the other hand, twist the bottom of the cloth so that it squeezes the cabbage into a tight ball. Unwrap the cloth and trim the cabbage of any excess, leaving enough to enclose the sausage  meat completely. Repeat with the rest of the sausage meat and cabbage leaves. If not using straight away, keep in the fridge.
  4. After you have started making the risotto (recipe below) and cooked for about 10 minutes, begin cooking the Mondeghini.
  5. Heat a pan large enough to hold all the cabbage balls. Put in the vegetable oil and add the cabbage balls, smooth side down. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, turn them over, then add the white wine. Cover with a lid and cook for another 15 minutes, very slowly, adding a little water (or chicken stock if you have it) if the liquid evaporates. Remove the cabbage balls from the pan and keep warm. Let the liquid in the pan reduce a little, then add the butter to make a slightly creamy sauce. Take the pan from the heat.
  6. Spoon the finished risotto onto a serving plate and top with two cabbage balls. Garnish with fried nettle leaves. 

Nettle Risotto

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of young nettle leaves
2.5 litres good vegetable stock
50g butter
1 onion, chopped very, very finely
400g vialone nano rice
125ml dry white wine
salt and pepper

 

For the mantecatura:

about 75g cold butter, cut into small dice
about 100g finely grated Parmesan

 

  1. Blanch the nettles in boiling salted water for 30 seconds, drain and put into a food processor. Pulse to a purée, adding a little water if the mixture isn't moist enough.
  2. Bring the pot of stock to the boil close to where you are going to make the risotto, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer. Cook the onion and rice in exactly the same way as in the previous recipe. Carry on cooking for about 15-17 minutes, adding the stock continuously. After about 10 minutes, add the nettle purée and bring the risotto back up to temperature. Carry on cooking for another 5-6 minutes until the rice grains are soft, but still al dente, adding more stock as necessary. The risotto shouldn't be too soupy when you add the butter and Parmesan at the end, or it will become sloppy. The risotto is ready when the grains are soft, but still al dente.
  3. Turn down the heat, to allow the risotto to rest for a minute, then, for the mantecatura, using a wooden spoon, vigorously beat in the cold diced butter and finally the Parmesan, making sure you shake the pan at the same time as you beat. Season to taste and serve.

If you dont have this book yet, GET IT. You won't be sorry.