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eG Foodblog: SobaAddict70 (2013) -- La Cuisine du Marché


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Now that the cat's out of the bag, you might say I've been looking forward to this Foodblog for a long time.

The focus of this Foodblog is a little different from all the other ones. Back in 2012, I decided that I wanted to change the way I ate, cooked and shopped, from buying specific things for a specific recipe, to buying what looked good at the market, then making something using what I came home with. In doing so, I wanted to see if I could cook, shop and eat seasonally for an entire year. My cooking had become stale; I was limited to the same handful of concepts. I sought to break out of the box I had become entrapped within. By limiting myself to a specific set of ingredients for days or weeks at a time, I was forced to experiment and broaden my horizons.

That experiment, which I called The Year of Cooking Seasonally, was so successful that I've decided that's what I'll be doing for the rest of my life.

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When you are faced with weeks of POTATOES or CARROTS or ZUCCHINI or CORN, cooking in this way makes me want to dig deep within myself and really get into what it means to make something that's mundane seem interesting, exciting, delicious and enticing. It's not for everyone, but it works for me.

This Foodblog is also different from the others I've had the honor of participating in, because I wanted readers to be able to partly influence the ingredients for this week's menu and in the process challenge myself. I'm always looking to improve, to learn, to discover, to explore, to teach and be taught, and to share with others.

In addition, most recipes will be sized for one or two people, and are mostly meatless. These days, I consider myself a 'flexitarian' -- that is, someone who eats less meat than he used to. I would say I am 60% lacto-ovo vegetarian/20% vegan/20% meat.

My hobby is cooking. My life revolves around food. Amongst my friends, I am known for cooking multi-course meals from scratch when I come home from work, at least three or four days a week. Perhaps this is a luxury to some, but THIS is how I relax. When Im in the kitchen, I am able to indulge my creativity in ways that prove to be nearly as satisfying as sex.

This Foodblog is dedicated to anyone who's marveled at the beauty of life, as reflected in the passage of time and in the procession of the seasons, and in the love we share with each other in community and at the table.

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To start things off:

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Braised lettuce, with shallots, mushrooms and peas

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 head Boston lettuce or 2-3 heads of sucrine*, torn into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup champignon mushrooms or morels, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh shelled peas OR 1/4 cup frozen peas

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup chicken stock

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon unsalted French butter such as Pamplie or Beurre d'Isigny (regular unsalted butter is fine)

Gently warm olive oil in a saucepan or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the lettuce, chicken stock and thyme. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until lettuce is tender. Taste for salt and pepper.

Add peas and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in butter, then serve at once.

*Sucrine is an heirloom lettuce available at some farmers' markets. Exceptionally sweet with tender, lush green leaves, it also has a faint mineral tang reminiscent of romaine.

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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I'm about to start prep for the main tonight, then I'll be on hand to answer questions from the Foodblog preview thread and from the "menu planning" thread that Heidi posted earlier this week.

Pix coming up shortly.

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Next:

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Ricotta gnocchi, with ramps, dandelion greens and lemon

The recipe for the gnocchi is an adaptation of Suzanne Goin’s version from her cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

For this recipe, you will need the following:

1 cup flour
1 cup cow’s milk ricotta or sheep’s milk ricotta, drained
1 egg
pinch of kosher salt
freshly milled black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
extra flour for rolling

The day before you make the gnocchi:

You’ll want to drain the ricotta of any excess moisture. Place it in a strainer or colander or double-wrap it in cheesecloth. Suspend over a bowl and let it drain for 12 to 24 hours, refrigerated. Cheesecloth is more efficient as it absorbs moisture from the ricotta while gravity does the rest of the work. To test the ricotta for moisture, place a scant teaspoon on a paper towel and wait 5 minutes. If the ricotta leaves any moisture behind, it’s not ready for use.

Combine 1 cup ricotta cheese and 1 cup flour in a large bowl and mix with a fork, making sure to break up any large lumps.

Make a well in the center, add 1 egg, a pinch of kosher salt, some freshly milled black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Starting at the inside of the well, slowly fold the egg into the flour with the tines of a fork in a circular motion or until the mixture forms into a soft, pliable dough.

You’ll want to knead the dough as little as possible. Shape the dough into a ball, then divide it into four portions. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Lightly flour a cutting board or your work area. You want enough flour so that the dough won’t stick. If you add too much flour, the dough will be difficult to roll.

Take a portion of gnocchi dough and roll it out into a long, thin cylinder and cut into pieces.

You can leave them as is or run them on the reverse side of the tines of a fork to form ridges that characterize traditional gnocchi. I usually skip this part if I’m cooking for myself. If I’m cooking for a crowd, that’s a different story.

Drop a few at a time into salted boiling water. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until gnocchi rises to the top. Lift out with a slotted spoon. Ideally, your sauce should be ready once the gnocchi are done. Top with sauce and serve immediately.

The "sauce" for the gnocchi consists of chopped ramps (stalks, bulbs and leaves) and dandelion greens that were cooked in unsalted butter, along with a pinch of sea salt, black pepper and julienned lemon zest.

The gnocchi recipe above is the basic template. The picture above contains about 1/3 cup ricotta cheese to 3-4 tablespoons flour and 1 egg yolk, but you can vary the proportions to your heart's content.

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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Can't wait. Those scallops look amazing, as do the rest of the pictures.

What a beautiful beginning, SobaAddict70.

thanks folks. :wink:

from top to bottom:

peas with pancetta

spaghetti with sea scallops and Jersey tomatoes

Italian potato salad, with Bordeaux spinach, red onion and olives

poached wild striped bass, tarragon butter sauce, spring vegetables

"foursome" -- clockwise from top left: micro-tatsoi, with hazelnut vinaigrette; "quick"-preserved citrus; baked cippolini onion with green garlic; marinated olives

insalata di zucchine e pomodoro

fagiolini e patate

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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I will say folks on eG are quite perceptive. :blink::angry::wacko: I'll have to throw more curveballs next time I send in teaser pix. :wink:

in the order that Heidi posted:

corned beef sandwich from Katz's

Gibson cocktail from Redhead (plymouth gin, black pepper, pickled onions)

dim sum from World Tong (unfortunately closed)

closeup of a summer vegetable tian

samphire (sea beans) and black radish, with extra-virgin olive oil and black pepper

tomato and stone fruit (Shiro plums, mango nectarines) salad, with Spanish chorizo and prosciutto

fresh pasta with heirloom tomatoes and Spanish garlic shrimp

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So, the top picks appear to be:

Heirloom potatoes

Gold cippiolini onions

Japanese turnips

Fiddlehead ferns

Soft-shell crabs

I might not be able to obtain fiddlehead ferns. If that's the case, I'll choose one from this list:

3 votes:

ramps

butter

shiitake mushroooms

rainbow carrots

edible flowers

pea shoots

French breakfast radishes

In addition to the ingredients above, I may get other things, but all will be used in at least one meal this week, but not all in the same meal or in the same dish.

In answer to Keith_W -- I like soba but rarely make it at home because of the unpredictability of most commercial brands -- so it's something I'm more likely to have at a restaurant.

Plantes Vertes -- I'm more likely to make something meatless than with protein, or something that uses meat sparingly, but you never know.

Weather tomorrow promises to be disgusting -- with a high of 55 F and a low of 47 F. My space heater shouldn't have to be on this late in the spring.

Talk to y'all later.

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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"-----This Foodblog is dedicated to anyone who's marveled at the beauty of life, as reflected in the passage of time and in the procession of the seasons, and in the love we share with each other in community and at the table.----"

Thank you! Thank you!!.

That's why all your creations are works of art.

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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dcarch -- thank you.

rotuts -- it's my pleasure.

good morning. woke up much later than I intended to. I have to get down to USGM before it starts to rain. looks like quite an unseasonable 50 F outside right now. yuck.

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this is 1/2 cup Umbrian dried chickpeas in 4 cups cold water.

this will soak for the next 6 to 8 hours before being used in tonight's dinner.

despite what you may read on elsewhere on eGullet, :wink: using a pressure cooker to cook things like dried beans and legumes is not necessarily the best method, in my opinion. I am quite the Luddite when it comes to cooking. it's why, for instance, I don't own a microwave, a food processor or a blender.

be back in a couple of hours.

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A great start soba. FWIW I don't cook Soba at home either, but that's because I have no idea what to do with it :) I have to read some Japanese cookbooks.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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Lovely thread/food eBlog, SobaAddict.

Keith - no soba at home for you too? Hmm. I use soba at home on occasion. My favorite ones are the Japanese ones with yam included in the composition of the noodles. I often make various permutations on zarusoba or use them as the noodles in some soupy dish or other - see this post as an example.

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I'm relaxing for a few minutes before I start on brunch.

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Market basket for this week: heirloom potatoes, rainbow carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, dwarf grey sugar snow pea shoots, micro mesclun, scarlet frills, shoulder bacon, broccoli rabe, heirloom beans, herbs, gold cippolini onions, Red Russian kale, Japanese turnips. No soft-shell crabs or fiddlehead ferns though. Total spent: $45.

Brunch pix in a little bit.

Dinner menu for May 25, 2013:

Gold cippolini onions, shoulder bacon, sherry vinaigrette

Broccoli rabe with heirloom beans and Umbrian chickpeas

More later.

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A great start soba. FWIW I don't cook Soba at home either, but that's because I have no idea what to do with it :) I have to read some Japanese cookbooks.

I think I may have done soba at home once or twice. if I do Asian food, I will usually either hew to tradition or come up with something western.

FYI I loathe pasta salads, so that will never appear if I can help it.

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Lovely thread/food eBlog, SobaAddict.

Keith - no soba at home for you too? Hmm. I use soba at home on occasion. My favorite ones are the Japanese ones with yam included in the composition of the noodles. I often make various permutations on zarusoba or use them as the noodles in some soupy dish or other - see this post as an example.

thanks huiray.

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This is 1 large shallot, minced and 2 medium shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced that were sautéed in unsalted butter, and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. To that was added 1 tablespoon cow's milk ricotta cheese and some uncured Casalingo salami from Eataly.

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Two eggs were cracked over that mixture, along with 2 tablespoons heavy cream, a little more sea salt and pepper, and some chives. This will be baked at 350 F for 25 minutes.

Prepping the asparagus salad now.

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Hi Soba,

Fantastic start! I find your philosophy and approach to cooking fascinating, and although I eat a great deal more meat than you do, I am really looking forward to this.

(Also hoping that you find fiddleheads, one of my favorite things - though I'm guessing it's just a tad late in the season for them.)

re: pressure cooking legumes. I don't like this except for chickpeas, where the results are creamier than anything I've been able to achieve by other methods. On the other hand, I don't have Umbrian chickpeas... what on earth are those, where do you get them, and in what way are they different from, say, Whole Foods chickpeas or Rancho Gordo garbanzos, both of which seem very standard to me?

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Baked eggs, with shiitake mushrooms, ricotta cheese and salami

Micro-greens and asparagus salad

Asparagus salad -- Peeled asparagus briefly simmered in boiling water, then blanched in ice water, then combined with micro-mesclun, dwarf grey sugar snow pea shoots and scarlet frills, and dressed with a beer vinaigrette (1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons Belgian beer, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; whisk together, then taste for salt and pepper).

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stunning stuff. so much appreciated. but as a closet foodie voyeur ( :blink::biggrin: ) if you go back to the market and are able would you take a few snaps?

:biggrin:

for that, I'd have to get up really early before the hordes of gawkers and shoppers arrive.

today, the anti-GMO people (heigh ho, no GMO!!!) were out in force. made for a circus like atmosphere and a more crowded market than usual. (I'm anti-GMO BUT I'm also not a fan of crowds.)

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