Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chez Panisse Café Cookbook

Currently I’m reading the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. I thought this was appropriate since I ate at Chez Panisse last March. The book contains all the recipes from Chez Panisse Café. After reading through the book I decided to make the savory herb meatballs with spaghetti. The recipe turned out perfectly and the meatballs were to die for. On this recipe you can time everything to work together. First get the tomato sauce going and let it set for the recommended time. While it’s cooking make and form the meatballs. Next while you cook the meatballs put the spaghetti in for the recommended time. If you time it out right everything should flow nicely.

Tomato Sauce Recipe

Makes about 2 cups
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 pounds sweet, ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Bouquet garmi of parsley, thyme and basil springs

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for half a minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and salt, and add the herb springs, bundled together with kitchen twine.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the flame to low. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes; it will thicken as it cooks. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Taste for salt and adjust. For a refined sauce, pass through a food mill or purée in a blender.

Meatball and Spaghetti Recipe

½ cup milk
¼ cup soft bread crumbs
1 small yellow onion, very finely diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound freshly ground beef sirloin
Egg, beaten
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, plus 2 tablespoons more for sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
Black pepper
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
Olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 cups tomato sauce (See recipe)
¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 pound spaghetti

Put the milk and bread crumbs in a small bowl and mix with a fork. When the bread has softened, squeeze out most of the milk with your hands. Discard the milk.
Sauté the onion in a little olive oil with letting it color. Season with a light pinch of salt and set aside to cool.
Combine in a medium-size bowl the beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, 2 tablespoons parsley, the thyme, cayenne, black pepper, hot pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt. Work the mixture gently and thoroughly with your hands until it has an even consistently. With wet hands, shape the mixture into walnut-size balls. The meatballs can be cooked in the time it takes to boil the spaghetti.
Heat a skillet large enough to hold all the meatballs in one un-crowded layer. Add the red onion with enough olive oil to coat it lightly and cook over medium heat. When the onions begin to sizzle, add the meatballs, shaking the pan to keep them from sticking. Using tongs or a wooden spoon, gently turn and toss the onions and meatballs so they brown lightly. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds, taking care that it doesn’t color. Add the tomato sauce, oregano and the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Season with salt to taste. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring the meatballs to coat them with sauce. Test for doneness by cutting one meatball in half with a paring knife. Keep warm.
The dry spaghetti will take 7 to 10 minutes to cook. Boil the pasta in a large quantity of salted water. Drain the spaghetti and turn into a pasta bowl. Pour the meatballs and sauce over the pasta. Serve with more Parmesan cheese.

Tomato Sauce

Meatball Ingredients

Rounded Meatballs

Savory Herb Meatballs with Spaghetti

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cafe Provence

A few days ago I ate dinner at Café Provence, which is a French Bistro in Prairie Village. All the food had bold flavors, appetizers through desserts. My favorite dish was the Coquille Saint-Jacques. The scallops were perfectly seared atop mushrooms in a mustard cream sauce. This restaurant represented French cuisine well.

Coquille Saint-Jacques

Pan seared diver scallop, mushroom in a mustard cream sauce, bread crumb

Terrine de Foie de Canard

Duck liver and duck bfoie gras mousse, mixed greens, onion confit, cornichons

Les Escargots de Bourgogne

Wild burgundy snails, garlic and parsley butter

Saumon aux Chanterelles

Potato wrapped salmon, leek fondue, chanterelle, mushroom and beurre blanc

Poussin au Jus

Pan roasted young chicken au jus, spaghetti squash, brussel sprout

Escalope de Veau aux Câpres

Pan seared veal scaloppini, lemon butter sauce, caper, sautéed tournée yukon potato, shallot, herb de provence

Gateaux au Chocolat

Flourless chocolate cake, English cream sauce