End of December in New England. Time for snow, power outages, cold weather. Plus family, friends, and — of course — food and wine. Click on the top photo for the full size view of our driveway after I plowed Sunday morning.
The last few meals at the end of December were not complex affairs. Sunday’s dinner was driven by a few favorite ingredients and the desire to take advantage of my most effective roasting pan. As a temporizing measure while I figured out what I would be making, I caramelized a couple of thinly-sliced onions. (They’ll make anything better, even if I end up doing Corn Flakes.) They take an hour, but I had time to play.
In the meantime I made eight small red potatoes in my new favorite Salt Roasted Potato recipe, of which I’ve written a few times already. These are done at 400° F. which fit nicely with what I intended to do an hour later.
Next, I went for a seven or eight medium cremini mushrooms, trying to duplicate the thin slices from a Motorino pizza this Fall. I put the thin slice disk in the Cuisinart food processor, placed the slices in a stainless bowl, tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread them out on our old Dansk roasting pan. It turned out easier and better than with a saute pan.
Drain on paper towels and place in a bowl for next steps.
By now the meal was beginning to take form in my head:
- primo piatto: gnocchi with cremini, caramelized onions, and sauteed zucchini
- secondo: porcini-dusted tofu with salt roasted potatoes and various vegetables
Porcini dust is a matter of having very good, dried Italian porcini and a high-speed spice grinder. I cut up a block of firm organic tofu, drained and dried it (but did not press under weights this time), rubbed on a little olive oil, then dredged the pieces in a bowl with the porcini dust. I fried the tofu pieces in olive oil in a nonstick pan and then put them aside.
While the pot of water boiled for cooking the gnocchi, I cubed a few boiled beets left over from another meal, added them and the tofu to the roasting tray, and put them back in the hot oven.
Once the pot was boiling, the gnocchi went in and were done in about three minutes. They were tossed into a saute pan with the heated onions, mushrooms, and zucchini. A little pasta water made a bit of a sauce, and we ate that dish first in pasta bowls. (Sorry, I can’t find the photo for that.)
It was simple to plate up the next dish — simply array some slices potatoes alongside cubes of the tofu, accompanied by the beets, more of the zucchini and some leftover carrot sticks (added here for color and crunch).
Serve with a 1987 Nuits Saint Georges, Les Chaignots, from the cellar. Just right.