Saturday, May 04, 2013

I owe him big

could be lunch, could be breakfast
Our goat Natalie was supposed to kid last week and I planned a short business trip to Monterey based on that calculation. But yesterday I could either leave with the kids yet unborn or forfeit the hotel deposit. What would you have done? As I was about to walk out the door, Mark said, "I'm freaking out about the things being born while you're gone."

I don't know the details, but there were three things and at least one of them has its father's floppy Nubian ears and Owen and Mark were out there in the dark. I know this because Mark sent pictures that I found in my in-box this morning. The absence of text could mean nothing and could mean he was too furious to type at 1:24 a.m. when he pressed send.

I cooked two noteworthy dishes this week. Both are Amanda Hesser recipes.

The first was yogurt with quinoa, dates and almonds, a recipe she posted a year ago on Food52 that I knew I would one day have to make. Wednesday was the day. It's one of those strange dishes I didn't exactly love as I was eating it, but have found myself thinking about ever since. It's a little sweet and a little salty, the yogurt creamy, the dates  sticky, the nuts crunchy and the quinoa crunchy in a completely different way. The tiny amount of olive oil you drizzle on top is crucial. You should try this recipe and see what you think. My only "complaint" would be that 6 ounces of Greek yogurt was more than a delicate little bird like me could eat at a sitting.

Veal is expensive. It should be.
There's a whole category of dishes I've heard about all my life but never actually tasted. Offhand: crepes suzette, syllabub, summer pudding, steak and kidney pie, blancmange, beef Wellington, lobster Newburg, Cornish pasties. Hundreds of them!

Vitello tonnato -- cold poached veal served with tuna mayonnaise -- topped the list and because it was hot last week, I made it. Used the recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Too bad we only had half a lemon, as this is a dish that requires serious garnish.
First of all: expensive. Second: ugly. And not just when I make it. In fact, my vitello tonnato is comparatively lovely. Third: Delicious.

Sadly, the price and appearance guarantee I won't make this again.

I wonder if this is one of these dishes no one will make in 50 years. The recipe will exist forever, of course, but once people stop cooking it, the dish is dead. Few enough people make vitello tonnato now that I'd never seen or eaten it and I don't see that trend reversing, certainly not when the meat of baby cows costs $20 per pound. Plus: baby cows.

Or am I wrong? Do a lot of people make vitello tonnato and I just don't know about it?

Mark gets to choose everything I cook for the next 10 days.


  1. Doesn't Owen get to choose, too, since he was out there helping in the middle of the night?

    1. Owen signed on for this. He would have been out there no matter what. But I could be nice and give him 10 days, too.

  2. Beef Wellington is on the list of things I've always wanted to try but never have. Let me know if you try it.

    1. Foie gras. That's the barrier to beef Wellington.

    2. You can substitute duck liver pate for the foie gras if it's the ban and not the banned you are referring to as the barrier. It's an old-fashioned food like celery victor.

    3. Just FYI, I made Beef Wellington with a duxelle 30 years ago for a food show. I don't like pate at all so...

  3. Do restaurants count? They certainly often offer Vitello Tonnato in Italy....

    1. I was wondering about Italy. Probably the dish is alive and well there.

    2. As someone who lived in northern Italy for a while, I can attest that Vitello Tonnato is still popular- served at home and in restaurants. I suspect the large population of Italian-Argentinians is the reason for its popularity in Argentina.
      By the way, the kids are very cute!

  4. Lucky Mark! He will get over it, and whether or not he realizes it, it was a great life experience for him. It's a story he can tell until he dies.
    The yogurt dish sounds like one of those things I could get into the habit of eating regularly. I eat a lot of things like that, dishes that can be thrown together and have all those different textures. And what can go wrong with something that is made of yogurt, fruit, and nuts? But olive oil, really?

    1. I know. It goes against the grain to put olive oil on yogurt, but I swear it was delicious. Just a teaspoon.

    2. I put olive oil on cottage cheese, with a little salt and pepper, and it is the business.

  5. I haven't had Vitello Tonnato, but a friend made Maiale Tonnato (it seems to me that there is a Marcella Hazan recipe where she simmers the pork in milk). It was awfully good -- and less expensive.

  6. For some reason vitel tonné is very popular in Argentina, especially for New Year's Eve or Christmas (it is Summer there). I grew up with it.


  7. Beef Wellington: totally underwhelming, on the other hand crepes Suzette--will always remind me of my mom and her electric crepe maker--we were the first on the block to try a lot of "gourmet food." Kidneys=urine production to me as a healthcare provider so never in a million years.
    I am all about the yogurt dish since some smart lady taught me how to make my own yogurt (and hot dog buns).

  8. I'm voting for Cornish pasties all 10 days. Yum! Of course, I have no idea if what I make is remotely authentic. I blend ground beef, carrot, potato, onion, parsley and a little bouillon to tie it all together and put it in pie pastry. Authentic or not, they're good (hot or cold)

  9. I make vitello tonato with pork, not veal. I know, not authentic, but cheaper and easier to find nice pork loin. I served the sauce on the side to make it more cosmetically appealing. My grandmother used to make it often since it was very popular in the 1920s, when veal was inexpensive and tuna was very dear. It was a good way to stretch the then exotic taste of tuna fish.

  10. Wow--"Tuna was very dear." That's funny, isn't it? I'm sure my grandmother felt the same, but I never heard her say so. And I know veal used to be cheap. Sigh.

  11. Vitello tonnato - just the thing for a special picnic. My friend makes it. We all eat it. Yum! Often followed by summer pudding - easy, transportable and delicious. Syllabub is something for home. Cornish pasties - my middle daughters' favourite food. That's four things from your list. Are we archaic? Perhaps. Too, we're Cornish Australian - that explains the pasties if nothing else!

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