With the exception of New Year’s Day lunch which I’m hosting, I was a guest most of the holidays. The proverbial blogger/cook’s day off. But I did carry out 6 side dishes: the first 3 for holiday parties I attended and the last 3 for Christmas Day dinner.
First, the party carry-outs.
I like this photo which I took in optimum conditions before I left the house. I do not like a couple of the photos that follow which I took onsite when I was excited (means: had a few drinks, rushed to get a shot so people could eat, bad light, poor position, etc...).
I apologize for that because I strongly believe the visual is as important as the recipe. As Rick Perry said, oops!
While this is not the traditional Pascualina found all over Buenos Aires (many are spinach-based and include whole cooked eggs), it’s pretty close. I used a frozen ready-made pie crust imported from Argentina which I found in a Latin supermarket. You can make your own if you’re so inclined, but the Argentine pastry is really delicious…I suspect because it’s made with lard and other things I don’t want to know about.
2 lbs broccoli rabe chopped, cooked, drained very well and brought to room temperature
3 ozs pancetta shredded
3 beaten eggs
garlic, nutmeg, black pepper
15 ozs whole ricotta
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella shredded
1/3 cup grated parmesan
• Cook the broccoli rabe and drain very well, set aside (can be done day before).
• Mix cheeses, spices and pancetta and add broccoli rabe (chop first).
• Layer spring form with bottom layer of pastry, spread filling, add top layer of pastry and crimp.
• Egg wash top, prick a few holes and bake at high temp till top is brown and glazed.
[My spring pan was a little deep and I had to dig down to crimp the top pastry to the bottom layer, but I like the rustic look.]
Cazuela de Garbanzos y Chorizos
1 bag garbanzos cooked and drained (reserve about a cup of the liquid)
3 fresh chorizo baked and chopped (dried works too)
2 tablespoons (est) fat rendering from chorizo
1/2 small onion minced
1 large clove garlic minced
1 fresh tomato chopped small
Liquids: white wine, chicken broth and/or liquid from beans (I use all 3)
• Bake chorizos whole. Reserve rendered fat and juice.
• Saute onion and garlic in large skillet with the rendered fat.
• Add chopped tomato.
• Add chorizo broken up, garbanzos, and a little cooking liquid.
• Add generous amount of oregano (it’s the only spice).
• Cook together on low heat at least one hour; it only gets better.
• Keep adding liquids as needed so that it doesn’t dry out. That’s where the wine and chicken broth come in.
I make caponata really often. I vary finishing touches and occasional inclusions, like celery or a drizzle of balsamic syrup both of which I did here. It depends on what I have on hand — but it’s basically always this (with the exclusion of the boccocini and pasta).
Tip: Caponata is delicious but it’s not too pretty being all dark and mushy. What I did for this party was to add a topping of grated cheese, fresh parsley, chopped toasted hazelnuts and orange zest just before serving. Looked pretty and tasted even better!
A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!
I've always been a culinary improvisor which means I get my kicks out of recipe development. In the FOODalogue kitchen each meal is an adventure and the journey is as exciting as the destination. My favorite kitchen tools are imagination and intuition. I rarely look at a recipe, not even my own!
On these pages, I suggest food pairings and techniques to be experimented with...in your own kitchen...to your own spice levels...and to your preferred portion sizes.