Last Post of 2020 — December Doozies

This has been a good month for cooking, and it’s my last chance this year to post, so here are the food and wine highlights. Of course, with this title, I am showing my age. I imagine any reader under the age of 60 has not encountered the term, so here is the explanation of where the word “doozy” originated.

In reverse chronological order (in keeping with blog sequence), I will start with tonight’s New Year’s Eve dinner, a quiet, homemade affair for the two of us. It featured a simple ravioli recipe, produced with the help of a ravioli rolling pin, designed and made by a great craftsman and entrepreneur (Mike Finizio), who also happens to be a former student of mine in the graduate program at Tufts Gordon Institute.

Barbara and I decided on a filling for the ravioli, made with Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta and an Israeli Feta cheese from Trader Joe’s, enhanced with dried porcini powder and lemon zest. I made a two-egg pasta, and we followed the method from Mike’s video.

Hand-rolled sheets of pasta converted to cheese ravioli

A simple butter and olive oil sauce with basil and parsley was sufficient, although I embellished mine with chopped, peeled, seeded plum tomato with a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Less attractive, but equally tasty was the vegetable course — Baked graffiti eggplant halves, topped with garlic slices, tomato sauce and bread crumbs.

Mixed Short Pasta with Cavolo Nero

In case you hadn’t noticed before, I adore pasta. Never more than twice a day, though. We all have our limits.

This meal was made from two different shapes of short pasta, crisped-up bits of pancetta, and tender cavolo nero. It’s a pretty typical dish in Puglia, so my wine choice was Polvanera‘s Aglianico. It’s one of Jan D’Amore’s imports, and I had visited the winery with Aaron on our trip in 2012. Excellent match.

For more vegetables I blanched and then sautéed carrots, zucchini and artichoke, spruced up with herbes de Provence.

Black Pepper Pasta and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Black is also beautiful in food. Barbara had used our spice grinder to grind a lot of black peppercorns for something she made, and we had a good bit left over. It was a great opportunity to make black pepper fettucine, with my usual recipe of “00” flour, salt, egg and a little olive oil — plus lots of ground pepper for zestiness. I was excited to find fresh Black Trumpet Mushrooms while shopping at Idylwilde Farms, which were sautéed briefly with some chopped scallions and paired with a Grechetto from Umbria.

Sometimes I actually make a meal without pasta. One recent example brought together a collection of vegetables, leftovers, and two thin slices of prosciutto to create a dinner that paired beautifully with another of Jan’s wines, the Bonavita Faro from Sicily.

This by Tinrocket 1.0.2 (101) Potato Gratin | Beets | Winter Squash | Peppers | Asparagus and Prosciutto | Wild Rice Pancakes | Wild Mushroom Saute

Lunch that day was marvelous. I had made my favorite Caponata (Romagnoli’s version) the day before, so it was easy to pan-fry a slice of my sourdough, sautée a mixture of wild mushrooms, add a little leftover cooked spinach, and top it all with slices of Manchego cheese. A few minutes under the broiler and lunch was ready.

As a start I took leftover Leek and Kale soup, poured it into a coffee cup, heated in the microwave, and served it as a first course. These paired nicely with Kent Callaghan’s 2016 Claire’s Arizona red wine, enhancing the rich, earthy flavors of it all.

Leek and Cavolo Nero Soup

Vegetables for Dinner

Here’s one that started with the creation of the Leek and Kale (Cavolo Nero) soup, featured roasted Provencal tomatoes, a delicious mushroom and potato sauté, and then finished with a superb Sticky Oat Cake for dessert.

Love Tartine-Style County Loaf

I continued to bake sourdough breads every two or three weeks. These two loaves were beauties.

Baked pasta, Spanish wine, and Portuguese canned Ventresca Tuna by Lucas — made into a tuna salad on top of toasted bread were other highlights that week.

I hope you all have had a good holiday season, in spite of the constraints we wrestle with during these times. Let the warmth of our Hanukkah candles glowing on the last night be a beacon toward a happier, healthier new year ahead.

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2 Responses to Last Post of 2020 — December Doozies

  1. Geri Lawhon says:

    There were some great looking meals there. Good post.

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