July 2013


P1160175

I’m not sure native corn is digging the weather any more than most of us have been, here in the Land of Steady Habits. First it was too cold. Then it wouldn’t stop raining. Then we had a week-long heatwave, during which I had no ambition to boil water for corn. But, finally, it’s no longer oppressively hot. And it seems native corn is here and lookin’ good. In fact, my mom tipped me off to some delicious local corn just this past week.

Ma: I bought this great corn at Tri-Town from Ferrari Farm in Glastonbury.
Me: Really, where is that?
Ma: It’s on 17 heading north. It’s near a house.
Me: ? ? ? ? It’s not near anything specifically?
Ma: No, there’s just a sign there. I saw it today. Ferrari. Or Fieri. Or something.
Me: Great. Now you don’t even have the name right.
Ma: Hey, Hopey, guess what kind of car I saw today?
Me: A Ferrari?
Ma: An Alpha Omega!
Me: An Alfa Romeo?!
Ma: Yeah, that’s it!

You can find Ferrari corn at Whole Foods in Glastonbury, too. And I was feeling so flush yesterday, I bought four Ferraris! So sad the only Ferraris I can afford have husks and are best eaten rather than driven at warp speed. 😛

So, now that great corn is available, why not take it to the casino with compound butter? If you’ve never made compound butter, you’re in for a treat. When my friend Pat told me she had made one with garlic and basil for corn on the cob, that was so good it started spinning the wheels in my head. Then I thought, what if I made a compound butter with all the flavors of clams casino (except the clams, of course!)? What is not to love about getting bacon in the mix? Let’s do it!

KATTY’S CASINO BUTTER

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1 slice red pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
1/2 a lemon, zested
1 piece of cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper

Pulse softened butter with ingredients in your food processor. Once blended, transfer compound butter to parchment paper. Form a log of butter, then roll the parchment around it as if you’re making a party favor (or firecracker!) and tie off the ends.
P1160039
And, of course, you can schmear it on toast…
P1160037
It’s fab in a BLT (yup!) or you can use it to top steak, chicken or veggies (or even sea creatures). Your luck won’t run out when you take your favorite foods to the casino. So, let’s get lucky, shall we? This is such the song of summer 2013 in my mind!
Here’s hopin’ you’ll find casino butter to be the alpha and omega of native corn as you know it! HA HA, sorry, Ma! 😀
Advertisements

P1160031

I always appreciated spending time at my aunt’s or my uncle’s house when I was a kiddo. My Aunt Pegi, my mom’s “kid sister,” was simply a cool chick: whip-smart, independent, creative, spirited, funny, slightly badass, mostly girl-next-door with a lifelong love of learning. I like to think I take after her in many ways. Like others in my family, she had serious kitchen skills, and shared her love of good food and many of life’s finer things with me. That’s my mom holding me with Aunt Peg next to her.

img169

Way back in the day, I remember AP taking us to L’Americain, a rather sophisticated restaurant in downtown Hartford–especially so for a kid. That’s where I tried steak tartare for the first time. I’ve always loved mooing meat. It was fantastic. And how cool were we kiddos eating at such a schmantzy place? We were lucky in so many ways.

Sadly, as was the case with too many of my family members, we lost AP too young–she was just 51. Today would have been her 71st birthday. Easy to remember because it’s also Bastille Day. So, as I sat watching the Tour de France yesterday with many reminders of the day to come, I was moved to celebrate AP’s birthday in a way she’d completely appreciate. I had to pull it off a day early because that’s when Meadow Meat is open, and one should source meat carefully when eating it raw.

STEAK TARTARE
inspired by Pegi Maturo
with input from Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain and The Polo Lounge (via chow.com)

12 oz. sirloin (.85 # is what they gave me at Meadow Meat), cut into very small cubes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons capers, drained
2 teaspoons coarse ground mustard
1 tablespoon Cognac
1/3 cup chopped Vidalia (or other sweet) onion
fresh parsley–I added a handful sprigs as that’s what I had growing. A bit more would be even better.
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used Ariston lemon olive oil)
More olive oil (again, I used Ariston lemon) to drizzle over top
½ teaspoon anchovy paste (I promise you will NOT taste fish!)
Salt (not much, taste at the end and maybe add just a bit)

Trim any fat and slice the sirloin into small cubes. Store in the fridge as you prep the rest of the dish.

P1160020

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, mustard and anchovy paste. Add capers (mash a bit with back of a large spoon or a fork), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and black pepper and mix well. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add the Cognac and mix again. Fold in the onion and parsley, then the meat and combine well.

"Oh, mooing meat...on my plate...you taste so great!"

“Oh, mooing meat…on my plate…you taste so great!”

Serve immediately over a bed of lettuce. We enjoyed ours with the first San Marzanos of the season, straight from the deck, and a nice glass of Pinot Noir. And to keep it real, I made mini Ore-Ida Tater Tots–drizzled with truffle oil because we’re genetically predisposed to be a little different.

P1160033

This one’s for you, Auntie Peg–you’re with me in spirit and in my heart, always! Thank you for being my good friend, my teacher and my staunch supporter. You were truly one of a kind. And whenever I hear Linda Ronstadt or John Denver, I know you’re with me, too. “Happy birthday toooooooo thouuuuuuu!” Till we meet again…

Much love,
Hopey ♥

img105

P1150971
Up till tonight, I thought my absolute favorite gelato was fresh mint stracciatella. And that is a special summertime treat. But my friend Chu suggested I make a coconut gelato. Hmm, OK. I’m always up for something new.

I love words. And I love Mounds! Yet sometimes words fail me. What words could possibly describe Mounds gelato? A coconut-infused stracciatella with buzzed-up bits of moist coconut, the lovely addition of not one, but two different rums and a drizzle of dark chocolate?

With apologies to Julie Andrews and Mary Poppins, I give you supercali-hella-licious–because I do think I have a new favorite here, amici! Rich, creamy, cool and coconutty–everything you’d expect a homemade Mounds gelato to be.

MOUNDS GELATO

1 ½ cups whole milk (Arethusa Farm these days—from Litchfield, CT–remains my very favorite, have you tried it yet?)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup Baker’s Angel Flake coconut (sweetened)
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon Malibu rum
1 tablespoon spiced rum (try Brinley Gold Shipwreck or use a dark rum)
pinch salt
¼ cup (2 oz.) dark chocolate (I ♥ Valrhona feves)

Heat milk, heavy cream, coconut and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. I used my Oxo Good Grips potato masher to press on the coconut throughout the process. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 1 hour. Discard vanilla bean.

Transfer milk/cream/coconut mixture to a food processor. Pulse to chop up the coconut. Add back to pan.

In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to milk/cream/coconut, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Do not let it boil!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl. Of course, the coconut won’t pass through the sieve, so fold that right back into the bowl. Stir in salt, rums and almond extract. Let cool to room temperature. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 10 minutes. And now, time to spin it up: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions

While your gelato processes, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. When the gelato is almost finished (aim for 5 minutes before it’s time to turn off the machine), use your spatula to drizzle the melted chocolate S-L-O-W-L-Y, carefully and patiently in a fine stream. I try to zigzag back and forth to make a continuous line. The chocolate will harden in tiny bits and streaks that make the gelato uniquely stracciatella and not just ordinary chocolate chip!

Mounds of deliciousness await you, amici! Dig in! And stay cool!

P1150985