The past two weekends saw Beatriz and I in Canada and New York City, respectively. Two weeks ago we were in Niagara on the Lake for some close friends’ wedding, and last weekend we were in New York taking care of some business. While I did have the opportunity to eat plenty of good food the past two weekends, needless to say I did not have the opportunity to make any good food, much less blog about it.
After two action-packed weekends (and hectic intervening work weeks), I really enjoyed this past weekend of just chilling out at home (it is Sunday night as I write this). In celebration of our weekend at home I made some very simple but tasty food. For the first course of our dinner Saturday night, I made a simple tomato and basil salad, but instead of the usual mozzarella cheese I used my new favorite ingredient, burrata. Burrata is a cheese made mostly from mozzarella cheese and fresh cream. It is about the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. My favorite restaurant Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink has been serving a burrata and heirloom tomato salad and it was eating this salad (twice in the past 10 days or so) that gave me the idea to make it home.
Prior to this weekend I had never seen burrata at a store before, but luckily my old mainstay Laurenzo’s had plenty in stock. The burrata was kind of pricy at $9.99 for an 8 ounce package, but that’s plenty for two hungry people (and well worth it the price for this burrata addict). The salad was very simple to prepare. I sliced two tomatoes which I overlapped on the outer edge of a plate sandwiching individual leaves of basil between the tomato slices. I then placed our star, the burrata on the plate adjacent to the tomatoes. I salted the tomatoes with kosher salt and drizzled the tomatoes and burrata with olive oil and seasoned the whole dish with cracked black pepper.
For the main, I went with an old stand by I like to make. Braised clams with sausage. While I was shopping for the burrata I found some amazing cherrystone clams they had and some great italian sausage. Here is the recipe:
2 dozen cherrystone clams (you can certainly use little necks or any other bi-valve you like)
1 lb. italian sausage
1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
7-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 leak, cleaned and chopped
4 oz. white wine
1 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes
4-5 leaves of basil, torn
1-2 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4-5 tbs of chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying/sauteing
1/2 cup of cornmeal for cleaning clams
Cleaning the clams: 30 minutes prior to cooking, place clams in large vessel of cold water with 1/2 cup of cornmeal. This will cause the clams to expel any sand or grit they have in them. Remove the clams and rinse under cold running water
Heat large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Brown sausages until almost done (still slightly pink in the center). Remove sausages. Add onion and leek and saute (be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan). Add garlic and crushed red pepper and stir until garlic is fragrant. Add wine and bring to a boil. While the pot is heating up, slice sausages into bite sized pieces. Add tomatoes, sliced sausage, and all remaining ingredients except the clams and parsley and bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning and add clams. Cover and heat until clams open. Upon the clams opening add parsley, stir and serve immediately with your favorite crusty bread.
For dessert I made a really nice chocolate pudding (another MGFD fueled obssession). I found a simple recipe on Epicurious that I doctored up. I made the pudding with just the ingredients I had on hand in the house. For instance I didn’t have whole milk and I used a combination of skim milk and evaporated milk. I also had most of a 1.8 oz. bar of 90% cocoa chocolate and bits of some 70% cocoa chocolate I had left over from a previous dessert (mascarpone parfaits). Since I didn’t have the 4 oz. of chocolate the recipe called for, I added 2 tbs of cocoa powder and one shot of espresso (and a little extra sugar). The pudding really came out rich and delicous despite the fact whole milk wasn’t used. The espresso really made the pudding complex and added an extra dimension.
There are no weekend trips planned until our vacation to France in August, so I expect I’ll be doing a lot of cooking (and blogging) in the coming weeks. I might have a 4th of July grilling (faux bbq for apartments is what I’m thinking) blog post coming up next week.
We are going to be home the next 8 weekends or so until we go to France. I wonder what I can come up with next? I suspect there will be a 4th of July post coming up so stay tuned for that.