Saturday, April 11, 2009
Easter Treats, Lamb for Dinner, Pizza and Pasta
I have just read French Marilyn's blog (see link this page) which shows a couple of Easter treats from a master chocolatier in Paris. The prices are ridiculous however good the chocolate is. My $5 Lindt gold bunny is excellent value for money, good chocolate, 100 g of it and affordable. We also have some small chocolate eggs which we bought as garnish, their only decoration is the coloured foil they are wrapped in. I do miss the beautiful Easter Eggs of England. Unfortunately our dinner party is off tonight, so we decided to cook our leg of lamb - very much the way I showed in the recipe yesterday, without the rosemary. We will serve it with flat beans sliced in the French fashion and probably roast potatoes of which I will try and restrict myself to one and of course, gravy made by simmering celery, onion, mushrooms and herbs, adding wine and thickening at the end. We have been working our way through a nice piece of Brie the last couple of days, so will probably finish that tonight as well. All of this will be accompanied by a good bottle of wine, don't know which one at the moment. It could well be the Rosenblum Zinfandel which is one of my favourites. We have a 2007 bottle which should certainly be drinkable. It is a deep red wine with lots of excellent flavours and goes well with lamb, as it does with Brie. Terrible news, Chicago is famous for its Deep Dish Pizza, however, the President called in a chef from St. Louis, Missouri, to make DDPs for his guests last night (horrors). The Chicagoans are very upset. One of the anchors on GMA Weekend said it was like going to Wyoming for wine. That is difficult to equate in non American terms, but they are not wine makers there. If you would like to read an article about it click here, one of the partners, Ryan Mangialardo flew to Washington to make the pizzas in the White House kitchens. Lucky man, I wouldn't mind being let loose in those kitchens, not that I would be making pizza. That is something that has always staggered us about North America, their extreme fondness for pizza and pasta. They eat those items more than any Italian in Italy. Pizzerias are everywhere, there are 3 I can think of within easy reach of us and we rarely eat it. I think every North American housewife makes lasagna on a regular basis. I think we have made it twice. Matt once made pizza when we first came to Canada. At the time, a friend of ours, who loves pizza, went nuts on Matt's version. To me it was too rich and had too many flavours on it. Give me a genuine Italian pizza (well how they used to be anyway) with very few toppings so you could actually taste what was there. In my time over here, I have had seafood pizzas and dessert pizzas. Anything goes on top of a pizza crust it seems. After all that I should give you an Italian recipe. Its one of my gripes that real Italian cooking is very under appreciated. It is one of the great cuisines and much of what we consider typical French cooking was introduced to France by the Italian wife of one of the French kings, Catherine de Medici who, when sent to live in the French court found the food appalling so imported some Italian chefs. I thought of giving you the recipe for Osso Buco which is a favourite of ours, but it was a lot of typing. Maybe another day. Here is a basic Tomato and Garlic sauce very much used in Italy for both pizzas and various meat and fish dishes. Salsa Pizzaiola Source: Time Life Foods of the World 2 1/2 Tbs olive oil 4 oz. finely chopped onions 2 1/2 tsp finly chopped garlic (this was written when garlic was not too popular in the UK) 2 1/2 lb canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped, not drained 2 level tsp tomato purée or paste 2 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled 2 1/2 tsp finely cut fresh basil or 1 scant tsp. dried basil, crumbled 1 bay leaf 2 scant tsp. sugar 2 1/2 tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper. Heat the 2 1/2 tbs olive oil in a medium sized non reactive saucepan and cook the onions in it over a moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 7 to 8 mins. When the onions are soft and transparent, not brown, add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 mins, stirring constantly. Then stir in the tomatoes and their liquid, the purée, oregano, basil, bayleaf, sugar, salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Bring the sauce to the boil, turn the heat very low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. When finished, the sauce should be thick and fairly rough in texture. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper. If you want a smooth texture, purée the sauce in a blender. This may be served on top of beef steak, chops or fish, or with meatballs Now if it were me, I would take that basic pie shown in the picture, which has cheese on it, add some sliced olives and a few anchovies and that would be it for me. Scrumptious. Hope the rest of your Easter holiday is great.