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Baccala alla Vicentina - Meatballs&Milkshakes

This year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes is probably going to be reduced by a couple courses to maybe 5 or even just 3. The important part of the Feast is that it’s an odd number of courses. The most traditional of my courses is the baccala alla vicentina, which is one of my favorites. After a long soak in water, the rock-hard dried cod is magically transformed back into fish and then gets cooked with potatoes and blended into an amazing spread. It’s not pretty while it’s cooking and the whole process is pretty smelly, but it turns into an amazing dish.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Next up, bay scallop crudo with tangerine and sea salt and a bowl of shrimp bisque. The sweet bay scallops are slurped down with a tangerine juice reduction and some fruity extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt over the top. The bisque gets it’s flavor from sherry or marsala and if possible, homemade shrimp or seafood stock.

Spicy Crab Pasta - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I will most likely round out my Feast of the Seven (or Five) Fishes with some baked clams and a spicy crab pasta that has become a favorite. I’m hoping to get some really delicious dungeness or some other special crab to really take this one over the top for the holidays. Maybe I’ll even experiment with some lobster. Happy holidays!

For more Feast of the Seven Fishes ideas, check out last year’s menu.

And just to let you know, I’ve started a new Facebook page for Meatballs&Milkshakes, so you can follow the blog there! “Like” Meatballs&Milkshakes to keep up to date with recipes in your feed!

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Baccala alla Vicentina - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I must say, this is definitely a fantastic recipe so I’m not surprised it came from Babbo. It’s also incredibly easy, and on a night when I’m doing 7 fishes, the fact that it’s entirely make-ahead is a huge plus. In effect, this is the same dish that Spanish and French cuisines call Brandada or Brandade. It was so good that everyone wanted seconds and thirds. I will definitely be making this at other times of the year, because it’s too good not to. And because it’s such a simple recipe, it really makes sense to make the fresh breadcrumbs because they make such a difference in the final dish.

Baccala alla Vicentina

1 pound salt cod, reconstituted by soaking for 1-3 days in several changes of water

2 anchovies

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1.5 cups milk

2 cloves garlic

5 red creamer potatoes or 3 Yukon gold potatoes

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs

Cut the drained cod into pieces and put in a pan with the milk, wine, garlic, anchovies, potatoes, and a bit of the olive oil. Simmer for an hour, until the cod and the potatoes have softened.

Using an immersion blender, blend the cooked mixture into a paste while drizzling in the remaining olive oil. It should be like the consistency of oatmeal, so you may need to add more or less olive oil depending on how much of the liquid cooked off. Stir in the parsley. Spread into a baking dish and top with the toasted breadcrumbs. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until the top is browned. You can serve with crostini or toast, or just eat it plain.

Baccala alla Vicentina - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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As you may know by now, I love to roast things. You put them on a sheet tray and forget about them, and then you pull them out and they’ve got lovely, browned flavor. It’s so easy. And the flavors get concentrated by the nature of roasting. Potatoes work really well for roasting, and I do them with many different variations. This one was delicious and relatively quick. The key is to make sure you start to develop some brown color, then you know you’re done.

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Parmesan

1 pound small potatoes sliced into rounds 1/2 inch thick, red or gold

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons rosemary

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Toss the potato slices into a bowl with the olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to season. Toss them around to make sure they are well coated. Lay them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Pour any remaining olive oil and rosemary over them.

Bake them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. If they have not started developing color, finish them under the broiler for a couple minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and serve.

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