Forces of Nature

2 10 2011

I had a lot to do; many errands and tasks to complete in the brief respite we know as a weekend. Yet, October had arrived. And with that arrival the very first coolness that is autumn.  Despite official decrees adhering to the equinox, autumn does not arrive until you can feel her, a cool caress; and hear her, a soft rustle and bustle as wind makes its way through wood; and see her, a patchwork of bright colors peering from within a monochrome curtain of green; and smell her, faintly earthy and dirty in a deliciously naughty way. The only thing left is to taste, and for that we made a dinner resplendent with the flavors and feel of fall. Yes, there was a lot to do and now there remains the same, but only a fool denies the forces of nature when she beckons….


Bolognese Sauce (served over home made roasted beet root pasta)

  • 8 ounces finely chopped pancetta
  • 2 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup madeira
  • 4 ounces red wine
  • 1 Tbs. anchovy paste
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • Bouquet garni (6 sprigs oregano, 6 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley, 2 bay leaves)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can pureed San Marzano tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Basil, chiffonade cut for garnish

In a separate small sauce pan reduce the cream by 1/3 over medium low heat. Render the pancetta in a large stockpot over medium heat. . Add the beef and veal, season with salt and pepper and brown the meats. Add the garlic, carrot, celery and onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the anchovy and tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the Madeira and red wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni and allow to simmer for about 3 hours. Periodically check and as the liquid evaporates add the milk until it is fully incorporated. After all the milk has been incorporated add the cream. Serve over pasta with basil garnish.


Fall Flavors

27 09 2011

One of the great fall flavors I remember is lobster. Visiting Maine in the fall after the other tourists have left gives you the feel of a wilderness getting ready to rest. The leaves have changed and a jacket is definitely required after sundown. The air is damp and heavy with a mix of salt and earthy pine. You walk the streets after dark feeling the isolation, a feeling that everyone is out somewhere else having fun and you are here-alone. Then a noise grabs you and a light beckons. Soon you are out on a wharf surrounded by music, lights heat and steamed lobster; sweet and succulent. When my good friends at the fish market had a lobster sale-really ridiculously cheap this fall flavor was on the menu. This pan seared lobster was served with some incredible butternut squash gnocchi and a sage champagne sauce.

Let’s Get Re-tart-ed

12 09 2011

Fall brings many wonderful things, both black-eyed peas to eat and their music -hence the title. It also brings some amazing fruit harvests. My thanks to my friends at Moran’s Organic fruit farm (link is here:  Moran’s Organic Fruit Farm) for some delicious and wholesome produce. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better persimmon. As a fall treat consider something like this little pear and persimmon tartlet; from scratch flaky and tender pie crust, delicious pear and persimmon slices layered with some caramel and a dab of whipped cream and lime zest. That’s reason enough for everyone to get re-tart-ed!

Roasted corn and black-eyed pea salsa

30 08 2011

With Labor Day quickly approaching, fall is around the corner. Time to put away the whites and welcome the festive fall flavors. Here is a topping we used with the ropa veija that features the last bounty of summer, with fresh garden-ripened tomatoes and welcomes fall with hearty black-eyed peas and roasted corn.

To the basic salsa recipe (see under recipes in the side bar) add 1 pint of roasted grape tomatoes, 8 oz. of cooked blackeyed peas, 1/2 finely chopped roasted red pepper and the kernals from 2 ears of roasted corn