A friend and neighbor bought a white truffle at Eataly on a recent Wednesday, since apparently every Wednesday is “truffle day” there – meaning they’re slightly on sale. Her truffle was $6.50/gram instead of almost $8/gram. She invited us over, made a very simple risotto with homemade chicken stock, shaved the truffle over it and served immediately. The aroma from those little shavings in the risotto was powerful, I can better understand how dogs and pigs can find the ripe truffles under the ground! The white truffle risotto had a wonderfully rich and savory taste, earthy in an appealing way, and we cleaned our plates as thoroughly as table manners would allow. One of Piedmont’s stellar contributions to cuisine!
Archive for December, 2010
I thought persimmons had to be ripened until they were very soft, and then eaten with a spoon like custard. But I recently found out there are multiple kinds of persimmons, when I bought one at my local market and was puzzled to find a little sticker on the bottom that said, “eat like an apple”. So I looked it up and found that there are astringent and non-astringent persimmons. The non-astringent (which is what I bought, called a fuyu persimmon) are sweet even when firm, and I did slice and eat it like an apple. The color was lovely but the flavor was a too mild for my taste, really almost sugar water. I’m guessing an astringent persimmon ripened to custard-like consistency will have a stronger flavor, so I’ll go for that next – they are a beautiful winter fruit, I can understand why Italians love them. -Jillian
The other night I cooked a Moroccan lamb tagine, so-called because of the pointed ceramic Moroccan cooking pot you make it in – courtesy of a friend from Zingerman’s who had a tagine! I hope to buy a tagine on the tour there in March, though exactly how I will carry it home I’m not sure.
I love the spices that go in this dish, especially the freshly ground cardamom seeds (removed from their green pods). And the toppings I had on hand were wonderful too, cilantro, preserved lemon, black olives, and also some Tunisian spreads – harissa and preserved orange slices.
First I browned the meat in a few batches, removed it, and in went the onion and carrots. After a few minutes, I added fresh ginger and garlic, then added the lamb back in, with tomato paste and a small amount of broth, and let it simmer over low heat for about two hours.
It was a wonderfully tender and tasty dinner. Served over quinoa instead of couscous for gluten-free.
One more detail – this tagine had a small hole in the top to let steam out, perhaps most tagine do. Not all the lamb and veggies would fit in the tagine so I actually cooked some in my large heavy Le Creuset dish too, fully covered, and when we taste-tested them both we all agreed that we preferred the flavor of the lamb that had been cooked in the tagine with its steam hole. The meat was a little more tender, the sauce a little thicker and darker. -Jillian
In preparation for our end-of-March Zingerman’s Food Tour to Morocco, I’ve been playing with Moroccan cooking – I love the spices and combinations of ingredients. My latest dish was Kefta – Moroccan meatballs made with beef and lamb. Saturday we had a potluck holiday party to go to, and this was a perfect dish to bring; easy to make, and easy to eat! For the sauce I used home-grown Roma tomatoes and garlic. The meatballs called for 1 lb beef and 1/2 lb lamb, half a grated onion, and some spices (paprika, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, salt, pepper). The tomatoes and garlic are simmered for a few minutes with some olive oil and more spices, and then the meatballs are added and cook quickly too, so the whole dish was ready in only 20 to 25 minutes. The meatballs were tasty and tender, and we heard some good reviews from the party-goers! A few photos follow. -Jillian
During my visit to Eataly last week I snapped this photo of white truffles; priced at $7.80/gram.
Per Wikipedia, the most ever paid for one white truffle was $330,000 for a 3.3 pound (1.5 kg) specimen! But most truffles are much smaller than that, as you can see in the photo.
Where do white truffles come from? Piedmont, Italy! We will be leading a Zingerman’s Food Tour to Piedmont in October, 2011, together with our friends at Attavola. Piedmont is famous for these flavorful, unassuming-looking little lumps of fungus, and is one of only a couple places in the world where they grow. I’m excited to try my hand at truffle-hunting with a local while we’re there. (Though I’m sure their trained dog or pig will do most of the work!) I have eaten white truffles once, shaved over a simple pasta to let the flavor of the truffle shine. It really was delicious, and I can understand why white truffles are treasured in northern Italian cooking. -Jillian
On Monday I had enough time to visit Eataly, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s new, and huge, Italian food venture in Manhattan, before catching my flight home. The classically Tuscan wood-fired-oven pizza my sister and I split was perfect, with a thin, crispy crust and fresh toppings. It was really fun to just wander the many stores and counters, look at the gorgeous food displays, and taste things, too! The hazelnut and chocolate gelato wasn’t too shabby either. -Jillian