PAELLA THERAPY

Mr. Alpenglow needed a little therapy today. At 4:30 in the morning, he took a two-hour train to the airport for an international flight only to find that his passport had just expired. On the train-ride home, he learned that March 27th is National Spanish Paella Day. Having already missed International Waffle Day two days earlier, Mr. Alpenglow was determined to solemnly observe this holiday. There is no better dish than paella from a therapeutic perspective. You build it in layers beginning with a sofrito of onion, garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, and smoked paprika; you add chorizo, peppers and peas, followed by short-grained rice, which begins to soak up all these flavors; then a clam and chicken broth flavored with the heady scent of saffron is added; and finally, medallions of monkfish, shrimp, and briny mussels. The finished dish, a generous expression of conviviality, simply overwhelms the day’s accumulated lapses.

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SEAFOOD PAELLA
(adapted from a recipe by Eric Ripert)

3 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of clam juice
1/2 tbsp. saffron threads
1 pound of monkfish, cut into medallions
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled/deveined
1 pound of medium mussels, scrubbed clean
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 pound sweet chorizo, diced
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 cups of frozen sweet green peas
3 cups of short-grain rice (Bomba or Arborio)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup of thinly sliced scallion
1 lemon, halved
17-inch paella pan

Place the chicken stock and clam juice in a pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the saffron. Set aside. Season the monkfish medallions with olive, oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a 17-inch paella pan on the stovetop. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat until the onions are beginning to caramelize. Add the bay leaves, chorizo, peppers, and paprika. Increase heat and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Saute this for 3-4 minutes. Add the saffron-flavored stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the peas, taking care not to disturb the bottom layer of rice. Arrange the monkfish and shrimp on top of the rice. Arrange the red pepper strips like spokes on a wheel. Finally add the mussels, hinge-side down. The paella is ready for the oven (where the rice will develop a crust) when the rice looks/taste almost cooked and the liquid is not visible. Place in the oven and bake until the shrimp and monkfish are cooked and the mussels have opened, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes. Scatter scallions on top and serve with the lemon halves.

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STEAK NIGHT

Special occasions always bring steak — ideally an aged ribeye — to Mr. Alpenglow’s mind. With a side of buttery mashed potatoes, roasted garlic, and a robust California Zinfandel, one finds an extraordinarily “happy place.” Of course, for most waists and wallets, this steak-as-happiness ritual can only be observed infrequently. Here is an insanely overachieving dish to prepare on all those other nights when you need your dinner to love you back.

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ANCHOVY-CRUSTED CAULIFLOWER STEAK, SALSA VERDE 
with cauliflower purée and shaved fennel, radish, green apple salad
(substantially adapted from a recipe by Dan Barber of Blue Hill)

1 head of cauliflower
1 tin of flat anchovies
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. of ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the cauliflower in half, then (working from the inner part of the cauliflower) slice two 1-inch thick “steaks.” Set these aside. Crumble the rest of the cauliflower florets into a large pot with the milk and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Season with the kosher salt and white pepper. Set the puree aside and keep warm. Set a non-stick skillet on medium-high flame and add the anchovies (you use as little as 4 filets or the whole tin depending on your enthusiasm) along with the oil. Use a wooden spoon to dissolve the anchovies. Place one of the steaks into the skillet and pan-fry for about 3-4 minutes each side. Repeat with the other steak. Transfer the steaks into the oven in the skillet or on a greased pan to finish cooking until just tender, not more than 10 minutes. The steaks should have a nice golden brown crust. To serve, ladle some of the salsa verde onto a platter, then ladle some of the cauliflower puree over it. Place a cauliflower steak in the center and serve with the fennel, radish, and apple salad.

for the salsa verde:
3/4 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
juice from 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. drained capers
2 anchovy filets
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 garlic cloves

Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

for the salad:
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
5-6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Toss with the fennel, radishes, and apple in a bowl.

HEART OF DARKNESS

Mr. Alpenglow found some black garlic at a local market and has been brooding over its fate for days: Charred octopus with black garlic puree? Black garlic & gruyere mac and cheese? Since the days of healthful cooking are upon us, this vegetable-forward pasta shrouded in funky black garlic oil prevailed.

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LINGUINE, BLACK GARLIC OIL, ARUGULA, RADICCHIO, PROSCIUTTO
(for 2 dinner servings)

1/3 package of linguine, cooked al dente
4-5 large handfuls of raw baby arugula
1 head of radicchio, sliced and sauteed
1/3 cup of prosciutto, minced and pan-crisped
about half of the black garlic oil (below)
juice from 1/2 lemon
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the hot pasta with all the other ingredients, ensuring that most of the black garlic “sediment” in the oil is added. Season with kosher salt and (liberally) with freshly cracked black pepper. Adjust the other seasonings if necessary to achieve a bright (lemon), peppery, salty, and slightly funky (black garlic oil) flavor profile. Serve immediately.

for the black garlic oil:
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
10 cloves of black garlic, peeled
2 cloves of white garlic, peeled

Heat the oil and the  garlic over medium until the garlic is bubbling in the oil. Carefully transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small container. The black garlic oil can be sealed and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

NEW LEAVES

Spring is reportedly here and Mr. Alpenglow is turning over a new leaf. The next month or so (“set realistic goals”) will feature a batch of healthful recipes. Although the porcini doughnuts, chicken liver mousse, and fried poussin with Eggo waffles and foie maple syrup were rollicking good fun, they were far from virtuous. Fear not, reader. In these parts, “healthful” will be sublime — this salad proves it. Mr. Alpenglow enjoyed it at LA’s Hinoki & the Bird and vowed to recreate it at home. The trick is the inclusion of crispy baked kale along with the raw kale, which gives the dish an addictive jolt of texture and complex flavor.

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KALE, CRISPY & RAW, CURRIED ALMONDS,
PECORINO, RED WINE VINAIGRETTE 

(recipe based on a dish by David Myers at Hinoki & the Bird)

2-3 bunches of young green/purple kale (for 4 servings)
1/2 a cup of curried almonds (below)
1/4 cup of red wine vinaigrette (below)
a handful of shaved pecorino
zest from one lemon

Wash and dry the kale. Tear the kale into smaller pieces, discarding the stems. In a bowl, toss half of the kale with a bit of olive oil to coat evenly. Transfer to baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes until uniformly crisp. Remove from oven. Put the raw kale into a large mixing bowl and drizzle the red wine vinaigrette to generously coat the kale. Plate the dressed kale first, adding the crispy kale on top. Garnish with the curried almonds, shaved pecorino, and lemon zest.

for the curried almonds:
1 cup of almonds
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and spread the almonds onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Let the almonds cool. Taste them. Add more curry powder if you desire stronger curry flavor.

for the red wine vinaigrette:
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk the ingredients together and chill the vinaigrette before use.

COCKTAIL HOUR

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 BOURBON RENEWAL
(by Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common)

2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. creme de cassis
.5 oz. simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain onto fresh ice into an Old Fashioned glass.

HI/LO

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FRIED POUSSIN & EGGO WAFFLES w/ FOIE MAPLE SYRUP 
(adapted from recipe by Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon)

for the poussin and waffles (4 servings):
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon espelette or aleppo pepper
1/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt plus more for sprinkling
4 semiboneless quail (substituted here with 2 poussin)
kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
canola oil for frying
4 Eggo waffles

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the butter, the pepper and the Maldon salt and set aside. Season the quail/poussin with kosher salt and put it in a small bowl with the buttermilk; set aside to soak. In a large bowl, combine the flour, bread crumbs, paprika, mustard powder, nutmeg and one tablespoon kosher salt. Drain the quail/poussin well and coat evenly with the flower mixture. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a cast-iron pot. Heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the quail/poussin. Turn down the heat to medium and fry until the quail/poussin is browned and cooked through to medium (2-3 minutes on each side for the quail and 5-6 minutes for the poussin). Set the quail/poussin aside to rest on a wire rack. Toast the waffles. Spread the butter and espelette pepper mixture over the waffles.
 Arrange the waffles on a platter with the quail/poussin. Drizzle the foie maple syrup on top. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and serve. (Served here with blistered shishito peppers which have been flash fried and sprinkled with Maldon salt and lime juice)

for the foie maple syrup (3/4 cup):
6 ounces foie gras, cubed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the foie gras with the maple syrup until the mixture is thick and sticky, 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully strain the liquid, discarding the foie bits and reserving the syrup. The syrup will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

RAMOS GIN FIZZ
(PDT / Modern American Drinks 1895)

2 oz. Plymouth gin
.75 oz heavy cream
.75 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
5 drops orange flower water
1 fresh egg white

Shake all the ingredients without ice, then shake vigorously with ice for 2 minutes. Strain into a chilled Collins glass. Top with 1 oz. club soda.

FOR THE SOUL

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TOASTED QUINOA PORRIDGE w/ HEN OF THE WOODS MUSHROOMS
(serves 4; adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller)

1 stick unsalted butter
4 shallots, minced
3/4 cup white quinoa
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup of shredded young Gouda cheese, packed
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 fist-sized clumps of Hen of the Woods (Maitake) mushrooms
3 tablespoons cognac
1/4 cup white vinegar
4 large free range eggs
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves

In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat and add half the shallots. After 2 minutes, add the quinoa and toast it until it smells intensely nutty, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken stock and milk and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Add 5 tablespoons of butter and the shredded Gouda and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm. Next, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet and add the remaining shallots, cooking until softened. Add 4 sage leaves and the mushrooms (broken down). Pan fry the mushrooms until they are nicely browned and beginning to crisp. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cognac and cook until evaporated. Remove from heat. Finally, bring 1-1/2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into small bowls and slide them into the simmering water one at a time. Remove them with a slotted spoon after 4-1/2 minutes and set them on a paper towel to dry. Trim them if necessary. To serve, spoon the quinoa porridge into a bowl. Top it with a serving of mushrooms, a poached egg, and fried sage leaves. Slice the yolk so it runs into the porridge.