Sunday, January 23, 2011

Friday Night, January 14,2011, Linguini Carbonara

This weeks menu was pretty simple in a way. I was able to go shopping in the morning and even the book store for an hour or two, without feeling rushed. I usually get up and start preparing parts of the menu and before you know it Tony is home and it's time for our first cocktail. I had a plan that I should be home by 1:00 to start dessert and the rolls.

Crisp Radishes with Homemade Salted Butter

This sounds a little crazy (maybe) but I have seen this a few times, and never had it. They have this in France, it seems and we (Tony especially) love radishes. What you do is just put some cleaned radishes on a serving platter with butter and salt, and you dip the radish into the butter then into the salt and just eat it as is. I took this dish one step further by making my own butter. You always see in recipes that call for whipping cream, they say..."don't whip it too much because it will turn to butter"... well I whipped it too long on purpose. After beating in the Kitchen Aid with a whisk attachment for 10-15 minutes you slowly start to see it changing to butter, all of a sudden the fat separates from the buttermilk. You have to remove the buttermilk, and the way I did that was...I emptied the mixture onto a paper towel and then put that into a dishtowel. Over the sink, I squeezed it and twisted it and it was amazing how much liquid came out, but you open up the paper towel and you've got fresh butter. I put it back into the Kitchen Aid and used the paddle attachment to incorporate a couple pinches of Flore De Sal (French Sea Salt). It was a great appetizer, the crisp crunch of the radish and the salt is perfect with a cocktail and it feels healthy at the same time. The butter was good too!

Linguine Carbonara with Candied Apple Wood Smoked Bacon with Parker House Rolls

I wanted to make this recipe from my new Eric Ripert's cookbook sometime and I figured..."why not now"?... It's different from other Carbonaras that I have made. I have seen recipes with no cream, the creaminess comes from incorporating the eggs in quickly with some Parmesan cheese and using just the residual heat of the pasta to create the "cream sauce". Other recipes use some cream along with the Parmesan and eggs, but I haven't seen Creme Fraiche being used. He also uses apple wood smoked bacon, usually it's Panchetta. It was very good. Looking back now I should have added a splash of the pasta water, just to thin out the sauce a bit, but if I remember correctly, we both polished off our plates. I thought I needed something to add along with the pasta and I thought a thick slice of candied bacon would be nice. I have done this before but I never used a thick slice like this one. Heat the oven to 325-350 and place a couple slices of thick cut bacon on a cooling rack and then on a sheet pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the bacon (maybe 1 Tbsp or so on each). Place the pan in the oven and check it now and then I think it took about 30-40 minutes in total for mine to cook. The result is a fantastically chewy and caramelized piece of MEAT! Really, it's only about 1/4 inch thick but with the Carbonara, I thought it was perfect as a meaty side dish. The Parker House Rolls I saw in one of my magazines a while ago and I thought of it for tonight's dinner, they were fantastic! It is a recipe by Tom Colicchio. It's in the November 2010 Saveur Magazine. Yummy!

Moist Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Butter cream

I had a craving earlier in the week for a chocolate cake so I had to make a cake! Since Friday Nights are all about trying new recipes I looked for new chocolate cake recipes. This three layer Devil's Food cake by Martha Stewart looked perfect, and I thought I would try her Swiss Meringue Butter cream Frosting. I had never made the Swiss Meringue Butter cream and wondered about it. I thought it would be meringue-ey but it was more butter-ey. It was good but more fattening then I wanted. The cake raised up like crazy and the three layers equaled about a foot. It was good but it wasn't the chocolate cake I dreamed of earlier in the week. That's OK, live and learn!


This time Tony stopped and got some Tuaca Liqueur, so I was able to make the same coffee from our fantastic trip to the Key's, and it was very good. I think I will have one right now...

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