Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

September 27, 2010

The Feast of The Squab

When the doctor told me that George was about ready to come home, I decided to have a little feast. Squab, that special little bird with
all dark meat, seemed tailor-made for the occasion. I ordered the bird
a day in advance and had the butcher butterfly and whack the breast
so that the bird would cook evenly.


Broiled Squab
Baby Peas
Sliced Tomatoes
Wine: Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir, 2009
Dessert: 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate

Recipe: Squab

1 squab, butterflied
2 tablespoons butter
about 1 tablespoon, chopped Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
11/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Preheat broiler

Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add chopped parsley, minced garlic
and soy sauce. When the mixture boils, remove from heat. Brush the
squab with the basting liquid and place in preheated oven, skin side
up, and broil for 12-15 minutes. Turn the squab, baste once more with
the liquid, and broil for 5 minutes. The squab will be cooked medium
rare, which, I think, is perfect.

Frankly, the expected squab epiphany never happened. The bird was perfectly cooked, but impossible to cut. I ended up tearing it with
my hands-- which I don’t mind--but George would never tolerate.
The basting liquid was terrific. I’ll definitely adapt it for
other occasions.

Looking back, the dinner was Rabelaisian rather than festive. I'll do festive once George can eat everthing again. I am thinking risotto
with white truffles and blini with caviar.

September 23, 2010

Dinner without George

Veal Scallops with Mustard Sauce

My Wiener Schnitzel meal put me in the mood for veal and veal scallops
with mustard sauce fitted the bill. The dish can be prepared within minutes; the flavor is terrific.


Veal Scallops with Mustard Sauce
Mixed green salad with Feta cheese
Wine: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2008
Dessert: Lindt 85% dark chocolate

Recipe: Veal Scallops

½ pound veal scallops, cut into 1” cubes
Salt, black pepper, 4-5 crushed red pepper flakes
Flour to dust
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Season the veal scallops and dust them lightly with flour. Heat the butter in a skillet, add scallions and cook for 5 minutes without browning. Raise heat, add the veal, cook for 1 minute per side and remove. Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture is reduced. Whisk in the mustard and boil for a few minutes. Season to taste. Arrange the veal on a plate. Spoon the sauce over it and garnish with parsley.

I had bought ½ pound of veal and was sure I’d have enough left over for the next day. No such luck: the dish was so tasty, I finished every morsel. I’ll definitely cook it again, maybe adding piquillo peppers or roasted tomatoes.

The New Zealand Pinot Noir is the perfect veal wine—harder to pronounce than to drink.

September 19, 2010

Dinner without George

Wiener Schnitzel (veal escalope)

In my family, Wiener Schnitzel was considered a special dish, usually served when we had company. Since then, I have enjoyed Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna and at chef Kurt Guttenbrunner’s restaurants in New York, but I have never cooked it. Now, it stuck me as the ideal one person dish. Besides it would remind me of my childhood, spent in Germany.

In the morning, I had bought baby eggplants at the Farmer’s Market, the size of my pinky finger. I was eager to try them.

“Just sauté them with oil and some garlic,” the eggplant’s grower advised.


Baby eggplants
Wiener Schnitzel (Veal Escalope)
Wine: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, 2008
Dessert: Biscotti

Recipe: Baby eggplant
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
about ¾ pounds of baby eggplants, green top removed, washed and dried
Salt and pepper

I sautéed the garlic in hot oil and removed them just before they turned brown. Next, I sautéed the eggplants for about 20 minutes, returned the garlic, seasoned the dish and covered it to keep warm.

Recipe Veal Escalope

6 oz. veal escalope, pounded evenly
Salt, pepper, and Pimentòn de la Vera
Flour to dust
1 egg yolk, beaten
about ¼ cup of bread crumbs
2 lemon slices
Chopped parsley for garnish

I seasoned the veal, dusted it lightly with flour, dunked it in the egg wash, and turned it in the breadcrumbs until well coated. (This could be made ahead of time and refrigerated till ready to use.) I heated the butter in a skillet and sautéed the veal until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. I transferred the veal to a plate, poured the remaining hot butter over it, and dressed it with the lemon and parsley.

The veal was perfectly cooked, but it was shy on flavor and would have benefited from some anchovy butter. I popped the cute looking eggplants into my mouth, which was rather fun. But, they tasted nothing like eggplants and had little flavor. I obviously had missed something here and could use some suggestions.

The dinner was a pleasant experiment. The light and fruity New Zealand Pinot Noir tight it nicely together.

September 16, 2010

Dinner without George: Skate

Yesterday was George’s birthday. His brother and sister-in-law had planned a party. Alas, George is still in the hospital and we observed the day according to the ICU rules: no flowers, no food, no champagne.

A friend invited me for dinner, but I needed to be home. I cooked skate--
a fish I love-- dressed with my favorite condiments. At first, I thought
I would have Prosecco, but dismissed that as being too pretentious. Besides, as much as I like champagne or sparkling wine for an aperitif, I don’t think it pairs well with food. I decided on Wilm’s Alsatian 2009 Riesling instead.


Skate Mayonnaise
Yellow baby tomatoes
Wine: Wilm Riesling 2009
Dessert: Biscotti

Jane Grigson’s paper bag "Fish Cookery" came out in 1973. Rediscovering it among my cookbooks, I became a new devotee. Those were the days
when butter and cream reigned high and the pleasures of the table were
not measured by counting calories. Grigson gives five recipes for skate.
The one I liked best was skate mayonnaise. It also fitted into my
schedule. I prepped everything in the morning and assembled the rest
in the evening.

Recipe Skate Mayonnaise

Instead of poaching the fish in court-bouillon, I poached it in white wine, spiked with bay leaves and a bouquet garni. As suggested, I dressed the poached fish with a little vinaigrette, made with lemon juice and olive oil.

In the evening, I seasoned Kiwi mayonnaise with lemon and added a lot of
capers. I put some lettuce leaves on the place, arranged the skate on top
and poured the mayonnaise over it.

I lapped it all up. At the end I made little mayo and lettuce sandwiches. The Riesling did the rest. Only George was missing.

September 12, 2010

My Dinner without George

Cod with Mustard Butter

It looks like George is going to be in the hospital for quite some time. My dinners have been sporadic and not very good: store bought, dried chicken, overpriced and underdressed Cobb salad,  tough roast beef Tartine, and a boring Pad Thai.

I went to the Farmer’s market this morning, essentially to buy plums and
cherry tomatoes and ended up buying sweet red baby peppers and a beige colored cauliflower not larger than a man’s fist. I remembered the fantastic taste of these cauliflowers from last year: superior to any cauliflower I had tasted before. I waited a year to experience that taste again. When I bought a piece of cod from Long Island  fish vendor I knew I was going to cook tis evening after my return from
the hospital. The very thought made me feel good.


Cod with Mustard Butter
Roasted sweet baby red peppers
Yellow tomatoes, sliced
Wine: Vin de Savoie, Appremont 2008
Dessert: Biscotti

Prep: Sweet Red Baby Peppers

I removed the green stems  from the peppers, brushed them with oil, and baked them in the preheated for about 25 minutes. When done, I scooped out the seeds of which there were few.

Prep: Mustard Butter

I combined 2 tablespoons of softened butter with 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and seasoned  the mixture with salt and pepper.


6 oz. cod

I brushed the cod with clarified butter and sautéed it in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes on each side. (Cooking fish, I go more by feel than by timing).

I had already placed the red peppers and yellow tomatoes on the serving plate and put the cod in the center, napping it generously with the mustard butter. The cold mustard butter melted when it hit the warm cod. . The dish could have used some boiled potatoes, but I couldn’t be bothered and was just as happy to soak up that sauce with chunks of bread.

I savored the meal and raised a glass of wine to my absent George. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t stand up to the dish. Buttery and macho, it demanded an equally rich, and mighty wine.

Tomorrow I’ll cook the cauliflower and have it with a skirt steak

September 6, 2010

Dinner at the Hospital: Chicken Breast with Rosemary Broiled over Bread

George is in the hospital with pneumonia. He had been coughing and had difficulty breathing for about six weeks. We saw two doctors. The first messed up our appointment; the second suggested a nose spray. George ran no fever and had a fairly good appetite. Who knew?

The first night we didn’t eat at all because George was in the emergency wing where they had run out of food. When a bed finally became available at the hospital, they moved George to the ICU to a room that overlooks the East River.

The first dinner didn’t look great. In fact we couldn’t tell what it was. But, the meat was tender and surprisingly tasty. Beginner’ luck or hunger is the best chef.

Next day’s dinner offered “Pork Roast with Gravy.” The pork was overcooked; the gravy stuck to the plate and wouldn’t budge.

George’s appetite had returned. Time for action.


Deviled Eggs
Chicken Breast with Rosemary Broiled over Bread
Chickpea Salad
Dessert: Wedge of Camembert

I hadn’t made deviled eggs in decades and realized, once again, how terrific eggs are. I buy mine at the farmer’s market and don’t worry about the bad wrap they have received. The chicken could have been warmer. It didn’t really matter because this was more of a picnic than a formal dinner. I brought colorful plastic plates, attractive paper napkins, and regular cutlery.

Recipe: Chicken Breast

½ large chicken breast with skin, boned, cut in two portions
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Some lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 slices of bread

Preheat the broiler.
Line the broiler with aluminum foil. Trim the bread to fit the chicken pieces (I used Pane Francese), and brush the top of the bread with olive oil. Brush the chicken breasts with oil, season with salt and pepper, dab with some of the lemon juice and sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Place the chicken breast, skin side down, on top of the bread. Broil for 10 minutes
Turn the chicken, skin side up, brush with additional lemon oil and remaining rosemary. Broil for an additional 8 minutes.

When the chicken had cooled slightly, I wrapped them in aluminum foil and packed our dinner into a basket and took it to the hospital.

“Too bad, we can’t have some wine,” said George.

I knew he felt better.

September 1, 2010

Too Hot to Cook? Get out of the
Kitchen and into Beef Carpaccio.

In restaurant jargon there is an expression: “If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out.” Meaning, if you can’t work in a professional kitchen, it’s not for you. After days of sweltering heat, that’s exactly how I felt. I got out of the kitchen and into Beef Carpaccio. However, beef carpaccio cannot be bought at the spur of the moment because the beef has to be frozen first, thinly sliced, and brought up to room temperature. Ottomanelli had my order ready the next day.


Beef Carpaccio with Pecorino Gran Cru
Small grape tomatoes
Thyme-cured, pitted green olives
French dried figs
Wedge of Fontina
Wine: Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina
Dessert: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia

I lightly brushed the paper thin beef slices with olive oil, added a touch of lemon juice, shaved Pecorino Gran Cu over it, and wrapped the whole thing over the Grissini. Since George doesn’t care for Grissini, I rolled his carpaccio into small packages and secured them with toothpicks. I placed these on a long platter, together with the tiny tomatoes, green olives, French figs, and wedges of cheese.

“Looks great,” said George.

Tasted even better.

Don't ask me to pronouce the name of this libation. But, this exuberant, youthful Basque wine, with a light spritz, added to the enjoyment of this perfect hot weather meal.