Recipes from the dinner party, such as they are, after the jump.
Stuffed peppers with goat cheese
Buy some piquante peppers from Mr. Hamoodi at World Harvest. Buy some some French goat cheese while you’re at it, or snag some from Goatsbeard Farm. Stuff peppers with cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Grilled prosciutto-wrapped figs
Buy some thin prosciutto (I think Hoss’ has the best in town) and figs from World harvest. Slice figs in half and roll them up in the prosciutto slices. Grill for two minutes a side or until lightly crisped.
500 grams of flour
Pinch of salt
Random tasties for filling
Mix first three ingredients well and knead for ten minutes. Then wrap with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour (this step may be omitted). Roll out into sheets and place filling in middle at reasonable intervals. Lay another pasta sheet on top and press together all around the filling of each ravioli. Cut and trim into individual ravioli.
For filling, I used roasted acorn squash, goat cheese, chives and sauteed mushrooms and onions. An egg too. You can’t really go wrong here, just add stuff that tastes good.
Boil ravioli for three minutes and serve. I topped them with a cream sauce I made in a pan that had just crisped up bacony guanciale.
Moroccan Lamb Koftas (adapted from the excellent Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook, by Shannon Hayes. Recipe provided by Jack Knorek, Oak Moon Farm, Michigan)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2-3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons paprika
1.5 teaspoons cumin, coriander, cinnamon and salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and black pepper
2 pounds ground lamb
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Form into little sausages (or balls, if you are eternally twelve years old like me). Grill 3-4 minutes each side, breaking one open to check for doneness. If it’s red, cook more. Slightly rosy pink is ready to go. Try hard not to overcook.
Potatoes au Gratin (started out as a recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Layer thin-sliced potatoes with swiss cheese, butter and salt and pepper in a Pyrex pan. Leave a 1/2 inch of space from the top of the pan and pour on some cream, half and half or (if you must) milk. Pour until liquid reaches roughly halfway up the side of the dish. Bake at 350 for an hour, or until browned on top and cooked in the middle.
Oxtail Butcher’s Style (from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano)
This was really good, and probably would have been even better if I’d followed the last stage of directions. Hey, what are you gonna do, it was hectic in there. I got the oxtail from Sho-Me Farms out by Deer Park. Hy-Vee carries their meat but it’s worth the drive out there when their market is open.
3 pounds oxtail, cut into 1/2-pound chunks by your butcher and rinsed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cut into lardons
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 bunches Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/2 cup
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup dry white wine
5 stalks celery, ribs finely chopped, leaves removed and finely chopped
Pinch red chili flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon, for garnish
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add the oxtails. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook 10 minutes. Drain the oxtail, reserving the broth, and set the meat aside. Measure out 2 cups of the broth and discard the rest. Dissolve the tomato paste in the 2 cups of broth and set aside.
In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown. Add the oxtails, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, and brown on all sides. Add the chopped carrots, half the parsley, onion and garlic and saute until vegetables are browned. Add the 1/2 cup white wine reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the wine is reduced by half. Add the remaining wine and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the tomato paste-broth mixture over the meat. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the celery ribs and cook, covered, for 15 minutes more. Remove from heat. Make a salad with the chopped celery leaves, the remaining parsley, the chili flakes, cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. Divide the oxtails evenly among 6 warmed pasta bowls and top with salad.