Most of my 'food'-weekdays are spent consuming leftovers from weekend cooking jags, but when I hit Saturday and Sunday again I'm ready for new adventures in the kitchen. Ramona and I scan favourite websites, check out what Lucy Waverman is writing about in the Globe and Mail Saturday edition, and go through both old or new cookbooks that happen to catch our fancy. Saturday's appetizer was truly an 'ad lib' as we like to say in the radio business. It's based on a plate of juicy, hammy, lemony, garlicky, giant mushrooms I enjoyed several years ago in a subterranean tapas bar underneath the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
All the place seemed to serve was jugs of sangria and these huge mushrooms that were griddled and stuffed with ham and garlic and lemon, if memory serves. The cooks kept pressing them down flat on the griddle with big spatulas and they were served with oversized toothpicks, you were supposed to use two at a time to pick up the mushroom in between them, kind of like miniature chopsticks. I think I just ended up using my fingers. Since then I have recreated the recipe with some success on my barbecue. This weekend I plucked the stems out of the large mushroom caps and chopped them fine. Into a hot frypan with some chopped prosciutto, garlic and then a big handful of parsley and salt and pepper and a lashing of smoked, hot Spanish paprika. Stuffed the caps, then, since I had some duck ragu left in the fridge, put a big dollop of that on top of each mushroom. Onto a very hot grill, doused a few times with lemon juice, and serve. Fantastic!
The main course was a fresh halibut fillet topped with a marinade Lucy Waverman had intended for steak, and served with fresh pineapple salsa, also a Lucy recommendation, designed for jerk pork. See how we like to ad lib?
Hey, his method works! You just have to plan your time. After simply mixing together flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl, you cover and leave it for 12-18 hours. Then dump it out, shape into a ball, leave it for another 2 hours or so in a warm place, and heat something like a Le Creuset or Emile Henry or cast iron pot with a cover in your oven. Put in the risen dough, cover, bake for half an hour, lid off, another 15 or 20 minutes and you're done. Oh, it was so good! I have never baked bread that tasted so close to what could be achieved in a real bakery.
A marinated sirloin steak came off the barbie just as the bread had cooled enough to slice. I had also stuck some wedges of fennel with seasoned salt and olive oil, and a few peeled and chopped potatoes with duck fat into foil packages onto the barbecue for about half an hour. So tender, so flavourful. Steak was grass-fed beef, also awesome.
It was all washed down with one of our favourite wines, an Australian Petit Verdot from the Pirramimma winery. It's a splurge, but well worth it. Dessert tonight? I just had to have another piece of that bread with a seldom-indulged guilty pleasure: A nicely spread layer of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread. Hope you all had as nice a foodie weekend as I did!