Cauliflower purée can work as a lovely backdrop for other flavors, in this case grilled shrimp. It’s low in carbs and won’t get gummy like potatoes. I love the contrast of the tart, crisp pomegranate seeds against the creamy cauliflower and the salty shrimp. It’s an easy dish to put together and I make this dish frequently. You can make the cauliflower purée ahead of time as well as toast your nuts and de seed your pomegranate. I like to do the herbal purée within the hour I’m eating so it stays bright green.
1.5 lb shelled, deveined raw shrimp
1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons dried currants soaked in lemon juice
1/2 cup Italian flat leaf Parsley
2 tablespoons of tarragon leaves
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea Salt and pepper
8 oz cauliflower rice (this is simply raw cauliflower that has been cut into rice sized pieces for convenience. You could certainly chop up a whole cauliflower)
One lovely rainy day I found myself quite alone with nothing to do. I decided to drive downtown to see how Restoration Hardware had renovated the Three Arts Club where they are currently residing. It’s a beautiful old building and RH had managed to turn it into a retail space while respecting the buildings grace and age.
After wandering around for a while I took myself to lunch on the main floor where RH had created a restaurant housed in a beautiful courtyard with a fountain. I had this very nice salad, which combined things that I love in a creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty combination. I didn’t bother asking for the recipe. It’s elegant in its simplicity.
1lb multi colored baby carrots (purple, white, orange)
Marie-Paule is a minimalist. She uses high quality ingredients and just a few at a time. This recipe is a classic example. It is comprised of zucchini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I threw in the tomatoes for color and a bit of parsley for something fresh but neither are necessary. You could use mint as well. I love mint and zucchini.
The quality of the zucchini you use is important. It should be as fresh as possible and firm. I prefer smaller ones as they cook more evenly. The salt and pepper is also important. I like Tellicherry pepper from India. I find it extremely aromatic and a bit spiced. You can play with the sea salt. I like sea salt from the Camargue but you could use another sea salt or perhaps a volcanic salt from Hawaii. You can play with the kind of olive oil but I would recommend extra virgin.
1 lb Zucchini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I like Badia a Coltibuono)
My husband and I love to travel and one of our favorite places is Italy. One year we had the good fortune to stay with a friend of my mother in law in Volterra, famous for its alabaster. Ido graciously lent us his home and moved in with his daughter for the week.
Ido’s home was set in the Tuscan hill side amid peach and olive trees, grape vines and an assortment of vegetables. The house was rustic with terra-cotta colored plaster walls and tile floors. I distinctly remember chasing spiders out of the shower. All the beds in the house were cast iron with metal springs. The dining room table was composed of several planks of wood pegged and doweled together and it was surrounded by tippy little chairs with rush seats. However, we rarely ate in the dining room. There was a little patio on the East side of the house where we took our breakfast and in the evening we went to the patio on the West side of the house and had dinner, watching the sun set and eating Edo’s fresh peaches, soaked in his home made Chianti with a little sugar and lemon juice.
Every day Ido would drop buy bearing a small gift: some potatoes he’d just dug up, those amazing peaches with skin so thin and crisp and flesh so sweet and juicy that it was like biting into a Creme Brûlée with the crack of the sugar and then the unctuous silky cream. Ido made his own wine, olive oil and peach preserves. The peach preserves were lovely and had a distinctive flavor I had not tasted before. I sat him down one day and asked him to reveal the secret of the preserves. “Well”, he said. “I macerate the peaches in sugar and lemon juice overnight. Then I put everything in a big pot and boil it until it thickens. Unfortunately, I’m usually doing several things at the same time and it usually burns. But, I just scrape it up and put it in jars”. So, what was the secret of Ido’s peach preserves? He burnt it and what I was tasting was caramelized sugar.
Ido spoke a bit of French but often mixed it with Italian, creating new words and phrases. For example, he would often say” Va bien” in response to our query, “ How are you”. In Italian one would respond “ Va bene ” and in French one would respond “ Ca va bien”, thus Ido created the new phrase “ Va bien” which we still use with great affection when we speak of him and the enchanted week we spent in his home.
The recipe I’m going to give you is not from Ido, but it is from Lucca, not to far from Volterra and certainly in the style of Ido: excellent ingredients prepared simply. Dinner was served in the garden of a farmhouse which was up a winding rode in the hills of Tuscany. I remember two items from the meal. One was an appetizer of thinly sliced pieces of Lardo. The other a lovely carpaccio of beef. I had never seen carpaccio of beef done with anything other than raw meat so I was happy to see that this was cooked, rare but not mooing.
1 lb Eye of round roasted rare and sliced paper thin
The first time I had this dish was with my son Daniel. We were on a week long eating and walking tour of NYC. Daniel and I had both researched restaurants and pastry shops but one of the best meals we had, which was not on our list, was at Vinateria in Harlem. I ordered an amazing whole grilled Branzino and the young daughter of our friends had meatballs on a bed of Polenta. She gave me a bite and I dreamt about them for the next two days: tender little meatballs the size of a walnut on a creamy, cheesey bed of polenta with a bright tomatoe sauce. We went back the night before we left and when I returned home I vowed to recreate them as best I could.
So, here is my version and I think it’s pretty close, but it will never replace the meal I had at this neighborhood bistro with my son, my childhood friend, her lovely husband and charming daughter.
Many of these components can be made ahead of time. The sauce can be made in advance and frozen. I make a lot of this sauce in August when the tomatoes are at their peak and I can use locally grown Roma tomatoes. You will not get the same result with supermarket tomatoes. The meatballs can be mixed and shaped a day ahead of time and then rolled in flour and fried the day you want to serve. The meatballs can also be mixed, shaped fried and placed in the tomato sauce a day or two ahead. I think they actually improve with a 24 hour rest in the sauce. I have also frozen the meatnalls cooked and in sauce. They defrost quite well.