turned out really, really well, if i do say so myself. the timing was spot-on on with everything - i was searing the last pieces of veal just as momma and poppa d showed up at the door. the veal saltimbocca was medium inside, chewy, salty and delicious. i wrapped the veal cutlets in proscuitto, secured with a toothpick, with a few pieces of sage in between the two meats, then i dredged it in seasoned flour and pan-fried it in a butter/olive oil mixture. the crostinis were a touch too crunchy, but overall, very very tasty and the favas were well worth it. the bittersweet chocolate pots de creme were luscious, smooth, rich, and off-set nicely by the dry, crunchy, almond cake that i brought back from ital-towns and served alongside. all-in-all, a homerun, me thinks.
preparing favas is a labour of love. first you have to take the beans out of the fleshy, fuzzy-lined pods. then you have to blanch them, then you skin them AGAIN. i ended up with maybe 3 c. of
shelled beans (i forgot to get a shot of the final, pitiful yield). it takes a long time, but it's so worth it. when i was young and stupid i used to try to get away with not doing the final shelling. it was a terrible mistake. the skins are surprisingly tough and what you're really after when all is said and done is the sweet, nutty little flesh inside. i shaved some of the aged pecorino i brought back over top and added some julienned mint (we're having major mint-conquest garden issues at the moment) to the fava, cream, sauteed onion and garlic mixture. i love beans and mint.
momma d also brought me this lovely little serving dish that i guess used to belong to grandpa. isn't it the sweetest thing you've ever seen? the pattern is so me. i'm slowly in the process of replacing all my plates with all-white ones, and getting serving platters. i'm such a sucker for white plates.
cooking from the hip has been going well so far. i don't know what to make for dessert tonight. i was planning on doing that meringue semifreddo but it's a little humid and the meringues aren't super crisp. i also have some strawberries in the fridge so i was thinking of maybe chunking up the meringue and layering it with some lightly cooked strawberries mixed with fresh, chopped strawberries and whipped cream in parfait glasses (an eton mess, i believe this kind of dessert is called), or taking the strawberries and making a strawberry tart in a hazelnut crust (i have a disk of hazelnut dough frozen) with some kind of nut streusel. i've got the meringues back in a low oven to see if i can dry them out some more...but as of right now, i'm leaning towards the eton mess. it doesn't really go with the italian theme i've established for myself but i guess i'm okay with that. kinda (in my anal retentive heart of hearts, not really, but cooking on the fly seems to necessitate me being ever-so-slightly less control freak-y about this kind of stuff).
bwong went to nyc this week so i treated myself to some prezzies in the form of a new japanese sword and a knife bag (my other knife bag was rotten from restaurant abuse and was held together with my crushed dreams of kitchen glory and duct tape) from korin. with the dollar so strong, i'm not getting ganked quite so badly and not having to pay shipping basically cuts the cost of the knife in half. i went western-style because the japanese style knives generally are sharpened with an edge on one side, and because i'm left-handed, i need the knife-master to re-sharpen the edge for me. it's a pain when you're sharpening it at home because if you over-favour one side, your knife slants and doesn't cut straight down. even though it's "sharpened" on one side, it just means the percentage of the angle is more heavily weighted to the right or left-hand side...so when you're doing it at home, you have to try to maintain the 75-25% balance or whatever it is. too much trouble!
another thing that's making dessert tonight a pain-in-the-arse is that we're having my ex bf and his gf over. C (the girl) is lovely and she's great. C (the guy) can be a bit of a mooch and a pain. he actually emailed me and said something along the lines of, "i was wondering if you were planning on making dessert for dinner on saturday because it's C's birthday on tuesday and if i buy the ingredients i was wondering if you could bake her a cake or something" !!!!!!!!!!!! who does that?!??? he's such a weirdo (yes, i'm talking to you, chief). first of all, regular readers of this blog know that i HATE taking requests that are phrased in a certain way where it makes me feel like a freakin' short-order cook. hate it. hate it. hate it. secondly, regular readers know i ALWAYS SERVE DESSERT WHEN I HAVE PEOPLE OVER. thirdly, wouldn't the gf prefer that her BOYFRIEND bake her a cake, rather than having her BOYFRIEND'S EX-GIRLFRIEND do it on his behalf?!????? even if the cake didn't turn out amazing, it's such a cute gesture. lord knows the two times the dotytron has baked something on his own initiative i was over-the-moon happy. the first time was in 2001, when he made these brown sugar-fruit squares. the second time was in 2007 when he made me those chocolate orange cookies. see! i remember that kind of stuff!!!
it's like some people really don't get that cooking is MY THING. some people totally take it for granted. like it's not work, or effort, or the output of my love. when we were in italy i was volunteered to make dr. rei's aunt and uncle a dinner the first full day we were in florence and we were running late to the market (mercato centrale - their version of st. lawrence but a billion times better...it closes at 2pm) and i was having a major internalized meltdown because i didn't know the kitchen, didn't know what tools dr. rei's aunt had, didn't know what i was going to make, and didn't know the market. it was VERY stressful (especially cuz dr. rei [bless her bffff heart] had talked up my skills) and at first dr. rei and the dotytron didn't get why i was being a stressball about it. so i put it to the dotytron like this: "it's like me telling you [the dotytron] to put together a composition in an hour, with an instrument you're kind of familiar with but don't really know how to play (like a mandolin instead of a guitar), for people that you really want to please, after i've told them that you're the most amazing musician ever." then he got it. it's like you can't ask me to not put 100% of myself into the food i serve and not treat the food i serve as a reflection of me. the meal ended up going off fine once i came up with a plan at the market, but i'm still kind of stewing over the fact that i overcooked the pork roast.
anyway, tonight we're having a pasta with pancetta, caramelized onions, black pepper and pecorino. that radicchio, fennel, romano bean salad again. that chicken liver crostini that you get everywhere in tuscany, and dessert tbd. we're also seeing "iron man"...i'm SO SO SO pumped for that.