Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dashing Bitters

Michael over at a Dash of Bitters, has posted the Mixology Monday #9 roundup. Get mixing.. these entries look great!

Monday, November 13, 2006


These little nuggets of tender goodness are polpette. Meatballs. To the average Calabrese, they generally contain a good portion of pork and maybe a little beef or veal.

I have to ask the butcher to only pass the pork through the grinder once as opposed to the two times he normally would. Completely mashed pork will a tough meatball make.

To about 500g of ground (not too fine) meat, I add 2 large eggs, a smashed clove of garlic (smeared with salt to make it very fine), finely chopped parsley, a handful of breadcrumbs, fresh grated pecorino romano, a splash of water and season with salt and pepper. This is mixed by hand. Gently but throughly.

I always give the meatballs a quick blanch first. As soon as they rise to the surface of a pot of rapidly boiling water, I remove and let them drain for a minute and then straight into the sauce to finish. The blanching may sound odd, but it gives a meltingly tender meatball. This simple simmering sauce is a favourite over pasta and the meatballs eaten with bread and salad afterward.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

MxMo #9

Mixology Monday #9 has arrived.. I re-discovered this blog event while I was looking to substantiate my case in an arguement that a friend and I have been having ALOT lately. He would drink wine all the time and thinks that there is a wine for everything. Now, while I love (would elope with a great bottle in Fiji..) I mean, love wine, I also think that sometimes variety is indeed the spice. Beer and cocktails always have a place at my table.

What better to accompany a spicy daal soaked up with naan than a hoppy Emerson's 1812 IPA? Or tortilla wrapped barbequed lamb and salsa verde with an Emerson's Organic Pilsner? Then there are rich meat pies.. while Valpolicella is nice, without a stout, beer suits as well. Classic pizza and Peroni? And although I like a moderately chilled Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc as much as the next person, a champagne cocktail aperitivo, or a tasty flavoured vodka concoction are both great celebration drinks.

Maybe not so common although I think they are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.. are gli amari. Bitters. Ranging from mildly bitter to downright sour.. in the right balance these have the potential to taste great and quench thirst like nothing else.

As for a cocktail, one of the nicest and accompanied by an equally nice memory.. was an afternoon and time out for a few drinks in the courtyard at Non Solo Pizza in Auckland. To forget, if only for a moment, the impending separation of a loved one about to board a flight bound for halfway round the world.

Aptly titled 'Ignorance is Bliss'.. 2 ways

Martini style - Shake the following with ice and strain into glass.
Serve with slice of lime.
1 shot citrus flavoured vodka (Ketel One Citroen or Absolut Mandarin)
1 shot Campari
1 shot Passionfruit syrup
1 shot pressed Apple juice


my take on the Non Solo Pizza Style - Serve on ice in collins or sling glass
1 shot Absolut Mandarin
1 shot Campari
Fill with Apple juice and juice of half a lime (to taste)
Top with shot of Passionfruit syup.
Garnish with citrus slice.


Martini recipe courtesy of sauceguide vol.4
Non Solo Pizza provided the inspiration for the long drink (theirs is fantastically more-ish!)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Is there anything as delicately delicious as ricotta? Meaning 're-cooked' in Italian, this was how ricotta was traditionally made. After cheesemaking, re-cooking the whey coagulates the remaining milk solids so they can be skimmed from the surface. These fragile curds are then placed in a form or basket until they drain enough to retain their shape.

Care needs to be taken with today's supermarket offerings of poor quality ricotta frequently made with partially skimmed milk. The texture can be overly grainy and wet and other ingredients, such as gums and gelatin may be added. Although some of these may be substituted in baking, most spell disaster when trying to use it in a traditional recipe.

When freshly made, this creamy comfort cheese is a favourite of mine straight from the pot and into a bowl, still warm. I also like it in a baked cheesecake with the typical cream cheese and a little sour cream to add tang.

But in a simple ricotta tart with eggs and cream as the minimal treatment, it is a rich finale to a weekday meal.