(Un)birthday dinner for R from La Cucina Italiana – 9 November 2014

main141109Since R’s birthday fell on a weekday, we decided to celebrate with dinner on the weekend instead. He had been eying two recipes from a copy of La Cucina Italiana that he had borrowed from D. setting141109-2D and I braved the wilds of Berkeley Bowl on a Sunday to buy pork tenderloin and other necessary ingredients, and picked up a couple of cases of wine while we were both there to consider the choices (though D chooses a bunch – some have turned up that I didn’t see – great choices, of course!). Brought them home in our little red wagon 🙂

So, the recipes were pork medallions – pork tenderloin loin cut into 3cm lengths – marinated for a couple of hours in sage, red peppercorns, rosemary, one sliced shallot, and brandy (!) [pack ’em in tight – use less brandy], and cooked in butter (supposed to be clarified). We used the freshly bought 1 lb tenderloin, plus the fat center half of another that had been in the freezer since 2012 and had looked to us like not enough. (Cooked the ends next day.) prep141109-marinatingporkSeparately, small shallots are cooked in olive oil to cover, very slowly (75-80 degrees C) for 40 minutes and left to cool in the oil; and a strawberry compote is cooked, starting with the sliced shallot removed from the marinade solids after the marinade is drained; butter, and half the drained marinade are added, and cooked 5 minutes.

setting141109-1-soupcourseDid I mention this was the May edition of LCI? Well, the soup R wanted included asparagus and fava beans, so that makes it clear it was really supposed to be a spring dinner. Remarkably enough, we found favas at the Bowl, and California ones at that, in good condition. Substituted “sea beans” – salty little stalks just a couple mm thick – for the “barba di frate,” and frozen peas for freshly shelled ones. Finely diced celery (small stalk), carrot (small, peeled), and a cipolla, are cooked in 2 Tbsp olive oil  for a few minutes, 75 g each of orzo and farro are added and cooked for a minute, a liter of pre-heated stock (they use veggie, we had only chicken, but it was good) and cooked for 30 minutes. Favas were shelled, then immersed in boiling water (supposed to be the asparagus water) 1 minute and peeled. Finally a pesto was made with basil, pine nuts, oil, and grana padano. Finalizing details here (sea beans?!? barba di frate?) on 17 Dec, so I don’t remember whom to credit with all this work, but it was not I. It was a terrific “soup” even though it didn’t look like a soup – which the photo with the recipe did. R had some idea what was incorrect about the recipe, which I don’t remember, but it was really good food in any case.


bread141109D made his first loaf in months of no-knead bread, and it was really good. Glad that R’s birthday (R=Bread Person) inspired the return to no-knead bread at home.




wine141109D offered R a choice of three wines – two we’d bought that morning, and Acorn’s “Medley,” which he chose. I didn’t think it turned out to be the best match for this meal, but it’s a lovely wine. We had an excellent Eric Stauffenegger import – a Cotes de Gascogne Haut de Marin – for cooking wine and with the soup (after a bit of leftover white from lunch: a Verdejo called Duquesa).





dessert141109R made an outstanding, somewhat puddingy cake, basically chocolate with maraschino cherry liqueur.

The decoration was amazingly interesting and intricate.



lunchmain141109lunchwine141109Writing this on the 1st of December, and don’t have notes about the sandwich, unfortunately. It was a panino b/c we were making bread in time for dinner, and we were already out, so needed to fill in just for lunch. Brussels sprouts, no doubt boiled, then heated in butter, with salt and pepper. I reminded D of this wine that I remembered only from writing down that when we went to the Bowl, we should get more of it. I was right 🙂


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