One of my favorite food memories in Italy was on New Year’s Eve a few years back. I had just spent a month working in London, as part of a much needed breather from Florence during a time when I was (almost) ready to throw in the towel and give up on Italy. That month taught me a lot of things about why (for me) Italy is pretty great and that it has (quite possibly) one of the best food cultures on the planet. Continue Reading →
Main Courses (secondi)
Food and wine pairing- Tagliata steak and Chianti
Before I moved to Italy, I dabbled in food and wine pairing classes in Seattle and in certain ways I feel like it was easier to play and experiment around with food/wine pairing at home than it is here…WAITAMINUTELETMEESPLAIN!
Because in Seattle we have amazing shops that shelf a huge variety of wines including little boutiques that specialize in hand picked small selections and big mega stores that could be the mall of wine for all I know. Which means, international wines. In Florence, you can find everything under the Tuscan sun (sorry, I couldn’t help it) and maybe a few labels from other parts of Italy but a Spanish wine? A Washington wine? Forgettaboutit! I’ve been lucky to find a few international labels in wine shops here, but mostly French. So. Typical. Continue Reading →
Big hunk of la tagliata in Florence
In my last post, I ranted for about 12 hours about getting a hold of some Italian meat for a tagliata (sliced Florentine steak) experiment. I wanted to see if you could make grilled steak at home without a grill since at the time, I only had this ceramic pan. My new best friend who is a chef told me if could be done and told me how- as long as I could find a good piece of meat.
Well this is the piece of meat I found. Chianina.
Then about 3 minutes on each side this hunk of love made my house smoke
Then I turned the flame off and threw on the pan cover for about 2 minutes to let the juices set in, not dry out. The point that my chef friend told me was to let the meat rest before slicing into it to. I also remember my new best friend saying to throw on the lid or coperchio (which I thought was called copricoperchio)
Last step was the sprinkle on some “grosso” sea salt (chunky flakes). According to BFF, the heat makes the salt scioglie (melt) into the carne flesh.
Final dish: sliced tagliata on some peppery arugula with sliced parmigiano and drizzed with fresh olive oil, aged balsamic and cracked fresh pepper.
Result: Delicious. Wine pairing: Rosso di Montalcino (fancy for Sangiovese. Wine speak for red wine from Tuscany). You could taste the countryside in this flesh. It was a rollercoaster of flavor. Texture: not tough but not melt in your mouth. Realization: I should have bought the meat in advance and let the muscle fibers relax for a couple of days. FISH is what you want to use up the same day, not steak. And I should have cooked it for less time. Still tasty though. A good reminder of why eating Tuscan ranged meat is way better that the corn fed confined American crap meat. I swear I could taste the Chianti the Chianina was reared on. (Chianina do not actually fed on wine grapes, that is just my food fantasy).
For the curious appetite in everyone…
Marx food Random Recipe challenge: the winner is…
The winner is…Lady Curious Appetite!
About 2 weeks ago I blogged about making a wonderful and tasty stuffed squash per inspiration for a Food Blogger Challenge I was selected to participate in! The winning recipe can be found here:
I was so ecstatic to see that my recipe was so well received. And, the competition was fierce. In fact, I would have had a hard time choosing between carmelized pork empanadas, my wild stuffed squash AND coconut wild rice pudding too! I invite you all to read the announcement with the links to the fellow random recipe participants as well, I was quite impressed (and inspired!) by all of their blogs!
I also realized that my traffic has gone up a smidgen since the challenge and I’d like to thank every single eye ball and fingertip for taking the time to visit my blog of random food musings, I appreciate the precious time that is taken out of your important days for following up on the curious! Thank you again!
And also, check out Marx Foods! I’m dying to try their GABA Rice, which is fermented and sprouted brown rice. It’s called GABA because during the sprouting enzymatic process, GABA is a residual by-product. GABA, is not only an acronym that I can’t be bothered with GoOgGlE’ING, it is a neurotransmitter/amino acid important for starving anxiety, poor sleep patterns and stress waves away! In Japan, it is common to find rice cookers with a GABA option cook setting! GABA GABA DOO! 😛
Stay tuned for more recipes by Lady Curious!
MarxFood Random Recipe Challenge: Wildly Stuffed Squash!
I rarely blog about making food, but rather critique others who make it. Nevertheless, thanks to being a food blogger, MarxFood.com sent me some random samples as apart of a recipe contest! The much anticipated box had come with an assortment of dried gourmet goodies: black trumpet mushrooms, Japones Chilies, Habanero Chilies, Wild Rice and Coconut Sap Sugar. Hmmmmm, I thought, what to do with such differing powers of flavor! I stewed long and hard going through explosive japones chili thai soupy thoughts to Mexican habanero rasberry coconut sap jam dreams. Part of the challenge is that I would need to use at least 2 of the 5 ingredients in order to come up with some random dish. Finally after days of tossing the ingredients back and forth in my head, I realized the conception:
Wild and Foraged Stuffed Winter Squash. Baked with coconut sap and finished with black truffle oil. For this recipe, I utilized 3 of the 5 ingredients sent! What makes it wild is the wild rice, foraged dried black trumpet mushrooms and fresh chantrelles. And of course, truffle oil is pretty wild itself!
I love fall cooking, the possibilities are endless! I love the rib sticking goodness of bright carby squashes. I realized that we are also totally in mushroom season so I wanted to capitalize on the earthy pattern of the wild rice and black trumpets by incorporating further mushroom compliments: chantrelles and black truffle oil. Not to mention, the milky salty touch of ricotta salata that imparts the creamy texture of its fresh grassy ricotta sister while insinuating the briney similarities of a feta.
I took a trip down to the weekend farmer’s market to obtain the bulk of the seasonal foods at hand:
(the following images may be of extreme graphic nature and I totally blame Monica Barrett for being the official food pornagrapher and gastrocohort)
Serves 4, easily:
1 each of Carnival, delicata and acorn squash
2 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 lb of Fresh chantrelles
8 ounces of ricotta salata (cheese)
1 lb smoked keta salmon fillet
2 small leeks or 1 large
1 dry cup of wild rice
4 oz Black Trumpet Mushrooms (dried)
clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
olive oil for saute’
coconut sap sugar, for exposed squash edges in final baking phase
black truffle oil to finish
(salt and pepper to taste)
…all bought fresh, local and organic at the Farmer’s Market!
The bags you see are the little samples MarxFood sent that tied it all together! I also PAIRED the whole dinner with an unoaked WA state Ryan Patrick Chardonnay from Piccola Wine.
Now that you have the grocery list, here goes the process:
Overview: The idea is to stuff the squash with a lightly sauteed melange of foraged wild mushrooms (such as the black trumpet and fresh chantrelles), leeks and spinach with garlic and olive oil. Then mix this “melange” with perfectly tender and chewy wild rice. Crumble in ricotta salata then fill in the various squashes after they have been prebaked at 350 faced down in olive oil), sprinkle with coconut sap at the edges to brown, caramelize and bake to perfection.
1st step, reconstitute the dried mushooms in hot water for about 30 minutes. Be glad the black trumpets are dried because that means you can use the earthy umami broth to cook the wild rice in. Sit down and relax for 30 minutes. Have a glass of Zin and snack on pumpkin bread while they become “constituted.”
30 minutes later: now we drain the hydrated trumpets, ahhhh. Now you’re left with mushroom broth. And you’re going to cook the wild rice in it, trust me. I was happy to be “green” and recycle this precious water. Once the black trumpets were reconstituted, the stuffing game was on.
It’s all a time juggle. Wild rice on the back burner, squashes pre-bake in the oven just waiting to be stuffed, saute’ pan is simmering with leeks, garlic, foraged mushrooms and finished with wilted spinach.35 minutes or so later, your whole puzzle is ready to be put together. Fold in the mushroom-leek saute with the earthy aromatic Wild Rice, and then hand crumble ricotta salata over the stuffing like snow.
Use a deep spoon to scoop to stuff and mold. After stuffing, the edges of the squash were carefully sprinkled and hand pressed with coconut sap so that they could sort of be caramelized at the edges. Bake uncovered at 350 for an additional 20 minutes.
A good tip that I failed to mention before is that you need to slice the squash lengthwise, and kinda gut the squash. As pointed out to me by my faithful gastrocohort, aka the fabulous food pornagrapher of this endeavor, the seeds are totally salvagable and should be toasted with salt while the squash prebake, that way you have an interim nibble while they bake during the 20 minute finale.
Careful, don’t fall into the temptation to gobble all these up. Save some, because they make a nice presentation for the final product. My cohort had to slap my hand a couple times. This is probably the real reason I enlisted the culinary support of food pornagrapher Monica…to make sure that I didn’t drink all the wine and eat all the fixins!
Once they have cooled down, line the middle of your plate with the toasted seeds. Portion off a slab of smoked salmon, maybe lay a couple thin slices of ricotta salata atop smokey slab. Then drizzle your much aromatic black truffle oil in zig zaggy layers. It should look a lil’ something like this:
Tasting notes: Pairing the unoaked Chardonnay was a brilliant idea. It complimented the sweet onset of the squash and supported the lingering earthy umami finish brought to you by the mushrooms and spots of truffle. The mushrooms served as a true bridge to bring you a silky full mouth-feel explosion of sweet, savory and umami.
Pairing with the smoked salmon was almost too good to be true, it imparted a sweet salmon candy pop and accented lemony notes from the Chardonnay and an unassuming fruit “punch” with the ricotta salata.
Conclusion: This was quite the treat. Its worth every minute of prep and attention to detail. Be warned: you may fall into a food coma and not wanna get up.
Hope you try this at home!