Sunday, October 26, 2003

I need a bath. I just finished my third double at Liuzza's. Today's recipe is dedicated to Dusty Dara Whittington. Dusty D, who is cooking dinner for ME tomorrow.

Dill Potato Soup

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" chunks
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup minced Italian parsley
1 gal chicken/veg stock*
4 Tbs dill weed
salt, black and white pepper to taste

1. Boil potatoes, strain, and set aside.
2. In a larger pot, saute the celery, onion, and green pepper in just enough olive oil for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic for 1 minute more. Add the carrot and simmer until onion is clear.
3. On a low flame, add just enough white flour to make a paste. Stir constantly until flour turns light golden. Slowly add the stock and bring to a low boil. Add parsley and season till slightly salty.
4. Add the potatoes to the broth. Simmer on a low flame for 20 minutes. Add 1 pint heavy whipping cream(optional).

*I prefer a turkey stock with celery tops, carrot tops, onion skins, and pepper tops for this recipe. A good mushroom stock can be substituted, but completely changes the taste.

If you really want decadence, try adding 1/2 cup crumbled crispy bacon.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Today's Menu: Pecans, Figs, and Guineafowl.

My mother and her girlfriend visited for my 32nd birthday last week. Among the many gifts they bore was a bag of pecans picked up from a friends yard in Misssissippi. I didn't think much of it at the time, compared to the other gifts they brought. Later, having poured them into a blue glass bowl for the kitchen table, I put two of the nuts into my palm and cracked one against the other. The taste brought back so many memories of a different life, of lazy days in the orchard of my matriarchs, of a black lab named buck and bream caught with cane poles, and water mocassins. It's funny how closely tied smell, taste, and memory are. I have had similar moments with perfectly ripe figs and the sound of a guinea hen potracking on a nature documentary. The first recipe of Test Kitchen is dedicated to my Great Gran, Ludie.

Guinea Hen with Fruit and Pecans

One medium Guinea hen
2 plums, pitted and halved
2 cups very ripe figs
1 cup grapes (muscadine or scuppernongs are ideal)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup toasted pecan halves
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Rub the butter on the hen, inside and out. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Add half the nuts and fruit to the cavity and tie legs with string.
2. In a black iron roasting pan, roast the hen for 15 minutes. Baste the hen and roast half an hour more. Add the remaining fruit and nuts, baste, and continue roasting until hen is done, about 20 minutes. More basting means more cooking time, but it is well worth it.
3. Transfer the hen to a serving dish. Just before serving, release the fruit from the cavity and discard the string.

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