Monday, October 04, 2010

Five & ten

The other night we hosted a joint birthday party for Owen and his cousin Stella, born five years and one day apart. Although we served burgers, which are not a very Ethan Stowell "new Italian" kind of dish, I did manage to embark on the new project by making one of Stowell's appetizers.

Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen recipe #1: bruschetta with fresh ricotta and salsa verde.

 You whip the homemade ricotta with a little olive oil, spread it on your baguette toast, then top with a zesty sauce of parsley, anchovies, lemon peel, and pine nuts. Easy and great.

To go with the burgers, I fried a pile of potatoes that ended up looking like something you'd find in a coral reef.

I'd dog-eared the recipe in Aquavit years ago because I'd hoped it would make something like tater tots. You fry potato sticks as for french fries, then roll them in cornflakes and fry again, but since we didn't have corn flakes I rolled them in Total. Could that have been the problem? In any case, they were leaden and dry, altogether bad and not at all like tater tots.

I also made a variety of ketchups. Clockwise from top: Cindy Pawlcyn's ketchup from Mustards, River Cottage ketchup, Heinz, and some old-fashioned banana ketchup I canned over the summer.

I have concluded that homemade ketchup is a fool's errand. The homemade ketchup tasted "better" than Heinz -- less cloying, less synthetically smooth -- but none of it was ketchup. It was like dipping your onion ring in delicious sweet-tart marinara sauce. The banana ketchup was spicy and different enough that it was worth making and I would serve it in sandwiches, with roast pork, with pretty much anything, but Heinz defines tomato ketchup. It's a waste of time to try to replicate it when you could spend your time more profitably making things people will really appreciate, like bruschetta with fresh ricotta and green sauce. Or going to see The Social Network. Go see The Social Network!

Also at the party: my grandmother and her great grandson, born 97 years, 9 months, and 16 days apart.


  1. Try making a 19th century ketchup! More like thin Worcestershire sauce than thick, sweet tomato ketchup. There are many historical recipes in the book at the link below; search for "mushroom ketchup", which I make with dried shiitakes.

  2. Homemade ketchup recipe:

    This was in Fine Cooking around 1995-97. We made it for Xmas gifts and served it at parties. Disclaimer--I don't like ketchup. But everyone else thought it was fantastic. I'm quite sure this is the same recipe--same restaurant/chefs.

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