This little dish I had at Play, Food & Wine in Ottawa a while ago was listed on the men as: Grilled Octopus with Black Rice Risotto, Saffron Mayo and Cipollini. Now, I love octopus and order it often when I see it, but in this case, I probably wouldn’t have bothered writing a post about it except for the interesting accompaniment of black rice.
The octopus itself was, sad to say, not quite up to this establishment’s usual high standard; It was, to be honest, at less than peak freshness and it had been overcooked to the point that the texture had suffered.
The Saffron Mayo, which appears as the yellow blobs in the above picture, tasted quite nice when taken alone but the flavor was so delicate that it got completely lost as an accompaniment to everything else. The Cipollini, which are a bit hard to see in the picture, were very nice, but I am not entirely sure what they were. Cipollini is a generic Italian name for small onions, but it also refers to the bulb of a particular sort of hyacinth that is also eaten in some Mediterranean cuisines. In any event, what I was served in this dish was lightly pickled and it lent a nice tangy counterpoint to the other flavors.
It was the rice, though, that stole the show for me, not the least because it is the first time I have ever tasted this black variety. It was served, ostensibly, as a Risotto, but it was quite dry and much closer to the way I cook Risotto rather than the creamy, nearly soupy, consistency it generally has. The grains were very small and short, being almost spherical, and the flavor was lovely with a rich nuttiness over a faintly earthy backdrop. The texture was also very pleasant and had a chewy quality to it that you don’t commonly get in most rice varieties. The appearance is a bit alarming, perhaps, but I thought it made a very nice bed for the rather disappointing octopus…
‘Salsa Cruda’, in Italian cookery, is simply a term that means ‘raw sauce’. As such, in can, in theory, be composed of just about anything, but the basic version is usually a blend of chopped tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and basil. You can of course, jazz it up with whatever herbs or raw vegetables you like and, for today’s recipe, I have used several additional ingredients beyond the basic.
Mostly, a salsa cruda is used as a pasta sauce, as I have done here, but it could also be prepared as a topping for Bruschetta, a side for cold cuts or raw vegetables, or even as a ‘relish’ to use in sandwiches… Continue reading “Pasta Salsa Cruda”
Today’s post is just a little dish I created using some of my home-made Ratatouille. It isn’t a particularly original idea, but the Ratatouille recipe is my own and the combination here works very nicely.
Just cook pasta as you normally would, reserving a little of the pasta water when you drain, and then sauté the pasta with a splash of oil before adding good ‘dollop’ of Ratatouille and a bit of the pasta cooking water. As the water cooks down a bit, you can form a really nice sauce. This version I made was very tasty with some Parmesan cheese added on serving, but a bit more of the Ratatouille would have been better 😊
I purchased some nice thin veal cutlets in my local store just the other day and one of the uses I planned was for a pasta dish something like a Puttanesca (but with veal added). I only had green olives, rather than the black sort I usually use, and I also happened to have some nice fresh Basil that I thought might make a nice addition. Altogether, my creation departs quite a bit from most Puttanesca recipes, but it is close enough, I think, that the name still applies … Continue reading “Pasta Vitello Puttanesca”
This is the third recipe I have presented using my home-made Ratatouille as a focal point. Her, the Ratatouille is served warmed, rather than at room temperature, as a ‘bed’ for some large shrimp wrapped in Pancetta. Bacon could also be used, but the pancetta is more delicate and goes nicely with the shrimp. As a single Antipasto, a bit of buttered fresh bread, or oil-drizzled grilled bread would be a great accompaniment… Some lemon slices on the side would be nice too.
As I had some nice fresh Basil on hand, I wanted to put together a Pesto, primarily for use as a pasta sauce. I also wanted to do something a little different than the usual Genoese style with garlic and pine-nuts and I decided to use green olives and green Jalapeno for a tangier, spicier result. The name I came up with, Pesto Piccante, has, it turns out already been used before and , when I searched the name on line I found some (mainly commercial) productions that are tomato based, and look very much to me like Italian variations of Salsa.
Well, screw it … I am going to use the name anyway … Continue reading “Pesto Piccante”
Today, I am illustrating a use for home-made Ratatouille that is a something of an Italian-Provencal fusion. Quite simply, it is little more than the delicious Provencal relish piled atop Italian Bruschetta.
Usually, Bruschetta is drizzled with olive oil (and it can be delicious with nothing more than this other than ‘scrubbing’ the grilled bread with a piece of raw garlic). Here, though, after grilling my slices of Baguette style bread in a ridged grill pan, I spread them with butter and it allowed it to melt before adding the Ratatouille. This made for a lovely snack and would also be a terrific Antipasto as part of a larger meal…
A while ago, I saw a picture of a vegetable dish comprised of Broccoli Rabe sauteed with red pepper and garlic that looked interesting and I mentally filed away the idea for latter use. Later, when I was researching Broccoli Rabe for my post of two days ago, I saw a note in the Wikipedia entry for Rapini (by which name the vegetable is also known) which mentioned that it is sometimes sauteed with garlic and chili and then served with sausages in a sandwich. Today’s dish is a vaguely Italian preparation inspired by both of the above…
To make today’s dish, I first baked some sausage (Hot or Sweet Italian ones would be great but I just used some Bratwurst I happened to have on hand), and then I sliced them after letting them cool. Then I sauteed a little minced onion in my Homemade Garlic Oil and added some blanched Broccoli Rabe. The sausage slices came next and, once heated through, I put in some slices of my own Spicy Pickled Bell Pepper. Finally, I rounded out everything with just little tomato sauce and served it all hot with some grated Parmesan. This was a great lunch…
422 Preston Street, Ottawa – Website
Date of Visit – July, 2017
Allegro caught my eye because it has a very nice menu… Quite a few classic paste dishes, a good selection of veal preparations and, more importantly from my perspective, a nice range of appetizers. The place turned out to be quite pleasant, and the service decent, but I was less impressed with the actual food… Continue reading “Review: Allegro – Ottawa”
I had this little appetizer at Diamante during a layover in Yellowknife not long ago. It was described on the menu as ‘Tiger shrimp flambéed in Sambuca and finished with honey lemon cream sauce’ and I wasn’t really sure if the that I would like the strong anise flavour of Sambuca with delicate seafood. As it happened, though, I needn’t have worried as, for the life of me, I couldn’t detect even a hint of the liqueur anywhere in the dish.
Sadly, the above deficiency wasn’t compensated for in the rest of the execution. First, the 8 or 9 Tiger shrimp I was promised turned out to be the very small (and generally tasteless) variety one usually finds in supermarket ‘Shrimp Rings’ destined to be consumed with horseradish based cocktail sauces. The butter based sauce in this particular offering was creamy in texture but it did not seem as though any actual cream was used. It had honey, though, to the point of being almost cloyingly sweet, and while this may have been balanced by the advertised lemon, this also did not seem to be included save for a small section of whole lemon sitting in the sauce.
Anyway, overall, this appetizer was pretty much a disappointment. That being said, though, I am glad I tried it as it inspired me to give the basic idea a try myself. I even brought a little bottle of Sambuca back from Yellowknife to this end and I will post my results in due course.