Been meaning to write this up for a long time now, but a few months ago I decided to make this grape bread again. This time, I used a different recipe, one that caused it come up much more like a flatbread, rather than something puffy. I also used actual concord grapes (seeded of course).
Really excellent served with a sharp goat cheese and some additional grapes on the side. Because this recipe is much crispier – or at least came out that way for me – and because it has a much more savory flavor, brought about the heavy rosemary usage, it was a great appetizer course.
With an herb-wrapped goat cheese and more grapes.
Crisping in the oven.
Served with homemade crackers and wilted zucchini ribbons.
I like to make things from scratch, especially when they involve learning about a new process or technique that I didn’t know about before. I have a great, reliable cracker recipe from Alton Brown, and I was looking for another course for an Italian-ish meal I was making for friends in New York. So, I figured this would be a good opportunity to try making ricotta cheese.
Oysters with tarragon and butter.
Yellow pepper soup.
As part of this meal, I made a few other courses. Two of those other courses were a simple oyster course (oysters in a sauce of tarragon and butter), and a pepper soup that I’ve made a number of times.
This was an interesting meal because we could only cook a very limited amount of it at the house of the friends we were cooking for. As a result, we had to figure out how to serve things that (a) we could bring up from Philadelphia, or (b) make quickly or simultaneously with several other dishes. The pepper soup fit the bill well, since I was able to put it in some mason jars and bring it up with us for serving.
Oysters, of course, also require almost no preparation. One thing they do need is shucking, which is a useful skill to have. This basically means just getting the shell open. It’s a little bit like lockpicking; you need to position the shucker exactly so that the oyster’s adductor muscle (which holds the shell closed) is cut and the shell pops open.
The recipe I used calls for reserving the liquid within the oyster shell, mixing it with butter and tarragon, then heating the oyster through on a grill with the aim of melting all the butter. The tarragon and butter add a bitter sweetness that goes well with the oyster’s saltiness. I didn’t add the hot sauce that the recipe calls for, I like the flavor of oysters, you know?
The dish just before being served. It's braising in a Dutch oven.
The Barolo that we drank with the dish. Great pairing. Particularly full body.
Here’s a great osso buco I made for some friends last fall. The context for this meal was that for our wedding, we asked friends to buy bottles of wine for us instead of wedding presents. When possible, we tried to share those bottles with the purchasers, and maybe even cook for them.
Frequent readers of this blog (or eaters of my cooking) will know that I have a strong inclination toward braised dishes, especially coq au vin, which resembles osso buco in the cooking. Osso buco is one of these, but it has some twists that I hadn’t experienced before: the use of a bouquet garni, the presence of veal, which I’ve never cooked with before, and, finally you get lucky because your guests get to enjoy the veal marrow after they’ve finished the main dish. For some reason you get credit for this as the cook.
I’ve always been a little intimidated by osso buco, just because I didn’t know how similar the techniques for it were to other dishes I’ve made. Though the sauce was a little watery – I should have spent more time reducing it – it generally came out great. Braised dishes are difficult to screw up, so that wasn’t too surprising.
I served it with a side of cheesy polenta and baked asparagus. The Barolo that went with it stood up well to the rich flavors of the dish; Barolo and osso buco is a pretty typical pairing in the US.
Hello! I’m Lilli, Justin’s wife and an avid eater of Justin’s cooking, an occasional sous-chef, and a DIYer. I want to share this tea towel project with you because it is easy, impressive, and useful. You can make them for yourself or they would make a nice wedding or house warming gift.
DIY Tea Towels
Cotton twill cut into pieces measuring 20" by 28"