Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tomato Sauce and Fresh Pasta

August means tomato sauce---I can my year's supply as the tomatoes come in. Did I miss the tomato season? The box of Roma tomatoes I bought was not local and the tomatoes were a little pale and firm.

p> I decided to use Marcella Hazan’s recipe for tomato sauce II. It includes onions, celery, and carrots. For very ripe tomatoes, I prefer straight tomatoes with a little onion. But I thought that this recipe, which I haven’t used in years, would be a good choice for these tomatoes and a nice change of pace. The sauce cooks pretty quickly, taking less than an hour. The mirepoix vegetables give it additional body and makes the water from the tomatoes less of an issue.

I broke up the ingredients using my stick blender. It isn’t as effective as a food mill but it works reasonably well. I enjoy the occasional piece of vegetable in my sauce for texture.

I wanted to eat a little right away so I tried a recipe from Chef Hazan’s cookbook that combines pasta, sauce, and fried eggplants. I coated some slices of tiny eggplant in cornmeal and fried them up.

For the pasta, I used a recipe from Serious Eats. It uses more egg than I am used to using and I was curious to see how it worked. Being in a lazy mood, I mixed it in the food processor rather than by hand. Continuing my streak of non-Italian-grandmother behavior, I rolled the pasta using the Kitchenaid. I cut it by hand in wide noodles, which gives me a little more control.

Once all the components were done, I assembled everything in a pan, giving the pasta a good stir to coat it with sauce.

I topped it off with some grated Parmesan. This was a superb dish---I am indebted to Chef Hazan. The eggplant gives the dish heft and nutrition; the cornmeal coating gives a bit of sweetness to contrast with the sauce. The sauce was superb with a garden taste that spoke of bounty. The fresh pasta was extremely tender and absorbed the flavors of the sauce.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse With A Side of Pie

Of course, I wasn't going to miss the total eclipse of the sun. I drove to Lavonia GA, fighting traffic the whole way, and made it with 10 minutes to spare. I found the perfect small town event. People stood and sat around the town square and the train station. Kids rode their bicycles expectantly around town. Dogs waited patiently for their masters. It slowly grew darker, then quickly.

And then it was dusk in the afternoon. The eastern sky glowed red like a sunset.

Two and a half minutes later, the sun returned. Hooray! The dragon that ate the sun has been vanquished! Time for some pie!

I headed to Dad's just off I-85. This is very much a small town restaurant as jack-of-all-trades. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is a simple affair of burgers, hot dogs, chili and---of course---pie. Many of the dishes were sold out thanks to the tourists who descended like locusts on the area. Luckily, the pie had escaped their reach.

I went for a slice of buttermilk pie, a single-crust custard pie made with buttermilk. It hit the spot: good filling, nice crust. That pie sustained me through the traffic back to Atlanta, a good finish to a memorable day.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Yeasted Buttermilk Pancakes

I typically make multigrain pancakes for breakfast. But every once in awhile, I go with white flour pancakes, which helps to highlight the flavor of the buttermilk. These pancakes are from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook's recipe, with buttermilk as the milk and yeast substituted for baking powder. This batch has sat in the refrigerator overnight. The result is thick and very rich.

Here they are on the griddle with banana slices.

And here is the final result. I added a light layer of chocolate Nutella spread on each pancake. I kept the strawberries on the side for strategic placement. These beauties are about 1/2 inch thick. They make a great way to start the morning.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Duluth: Zion Market

Zion Market is the latest entry into the busy Asian food market on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, right next to Micro Center. It is a mid-sized market specializing in Korean groceries. It has a large produce section where I saw some pretty good deals. The seafood section was large with items ranging from octopus to fresh abalone; many of the items were on trays and wrapped in plastic. A stand with a name something like Mom's Treats offered little tiny fish that had been pickled or dried. And of course they featured a large aisle of red pepper sauce.

Yellow Cake With Chocolate Ganache

I was in the mood for a cake but, quite frankly, I didn't want to spend forever making one. I started with the classic yellow cake recipe from The King Arthur Cookbook. To prepare, I cut paper rounds for the bottoms of the cake pans. Mom used to cut these out of paper bags from the grocery store. Of course, that was back in the twentieth century when grocery stores put your groceries in paper bags.

I creamed together the butter and sugar for a good five minutes.

I mixed in the eggs and buttermilk.

After some time in the oven, I pulled out these three eight-inch layers. After they cooked, I soaked them in simple syrup.

My next step was the chocolate ganache. I poured Guittard baking chocolate coins into boiling heavy cream. I normally use Alton Brown's proportions but I decided to try Ina Gartner's. The result was much stiffer, even with some added cream. As a result, I spread the ganache rather than pouring it on.

The result looked like this.

I realized too late that I should have used fruit preserves between the layers rather than chocolate. I decided to serve the cake with cherry preserves and hazelnuts from my trip to Seattle. Overall, this was not my most successful cake. But hey, it's still a cake.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dayton OH: 4 Lb. Diner

I was in the mood for meat for lunch and 4 Lb. Diner satisfied me. It took me awhile to parse their logo and figure out their name. Inside, I found a brand spanking new version of a classic diner. I pulled up a seat at the counter and was greeted with warmth and efficiency. I enjoyed watching the cooks work.

This is my bleu cheese burger. The cheese is packed into the middle of the patty. A little more cheese would have been fun but overall this was an exemplary burger. The salad was good, too.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dayton OH: Corner Kitchen

The Oregon District is next to downtown Dayton. It reminds me a little of South Street in Philadelphia with its mixture of hip and slightly seedy establishments. Why is this neighborhood called Oregon? Beats me. And Dayton is in the Miami Valley. Go figure.

The cream of corn soup gave a nice balance of cream and corn.

I wasn’t sure how the stuffed eggplant would be prepared. It turned out to be a roasted eggplant with ratatouille, or at least the rest of the ratatouille ingredients minus the eggplant. It made a delicious combination.

This is my lemon buttermilk cake. My server suggested that I dive in and take a vertical scoop through the entire dish. That turned out to be an important suggestion that allowed me to get the lemon curd, cake, and whipped cream. The sweetness and acid balanced perfectly. And it wasn’t too big.