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Ditalini and Carrots

ditalini and carrots

I haven’t done much about side dishes here, and that’s something we’d like to change going forward. Ditalini and carrots is one of those terrific side dishes that you could, under the right circumstances, make into a damn fine meal, if you really wanted to do that. And while it’s not strictly a vegetarian meal, a bit of switching the broth could even convert this dish to vegetarian.

What I like about the dish is that it has plenty of flavor, especially if you can get some fresh carrots from the local farm market, for example. And the cheese and rosemary at the end really sends it over the top. On top of that, it actually looks really nice on a plate or in a bowl. It goes pretty well with just about anything, even meat with lots of sauce like a Saltimbocca or perhaps a little barbecue, or something similar.

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Potato Salad on the Side!

potato salad

I know just about everyone here in the U.S. is headed off for a lovely holiday this weekend. And even those of us who occasionally like to hang out at home still might be looking for a little prep-ahead, do it now, and relax over the next few days. This recipe is for one of the better potato salad mixes I’ve ever encountered and it’s fairly simple to make. 

Like any good potato salad, this one relies on good potatoes, but it also includes a whole mess of eggs and a host of other wonderful things, including just a little tarragon, which gives it a light, tangy kind of exuberance that you might not find elsewhere. For my taste, I generally like a good baking potato, which gives the finished product a nice crunch.

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Codfish Salad with Guacamole (Sous Vide)

codfish salad

Some day I’d love to see a book focused only on just simple salads. And this codfish salad could go right to the top of that list. As a general rule, in fact, I probably wouldn’t even post this dish here — but for the fact that it shows how even a very straightforward little sous vide can be a wonderful addition to a meal.

The guacamole is pretty simple, but feel free to add more — including a lot of spice if you like that. The salad, with or without a little light dressing is just about whatever you have available. 

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Leek and Potato Side Dish (Sous Vide)

leek and potato side dish

Sous vide processing is mainly — at least for me — a great way to produce some amazing feasts for the table. What many sous vide cookbooks don’t tell you is that it’s also an excellent way to make some very good side dishes. This leek and potato side dish is a perfect example. Where else can you get perfectly well done leeks and similarly well done potatoes, all ready to fit into a servings dish and all at the same time.

Putting the dish together is easy to do. Lay in the potatoes, lay the leeks on top and add either a few wisps of ham or a simple dressing on top. A few little chives and you’re all set. Getting there takes a bit more effort. The vacuum-style leeks require cooking (70 degrees C at about an hour and a half) as do the potatoes (90 degrees C at about 50 minutes or so). Leeks are then split and fried very quickly as are the potatoes, both of which need more of a little bit of shine than anything.

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Morel and Ramps in Risotto

Morel and Ramps Risotto

If I handed you a nice batch of morel and ramps from somewhere up in West Virginia, what would you come up with?

The thought was actually rather easy for us here at Discovery Cooking.

What I really wanted, more than any thing, was a beautifully done risotto, with morels and ramps.  Right. Well, it turns out that if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of various recipes for risotto with morels and ramps. Yeah, I know. Not one, but generally hundreds of them (OK, maybe not hundreds, but more than you’d possibly think).

What we ended up with is something called a “sauce” that is laid over the top of the risotto and something similar, but with a little asparagus also added. I know, but there were two things about these recipes we really liked, and so rather than giving one up, we decided to make them, sort of, conspicuously. That is, we’d figure out what we liked about both and combine them in a really interesting way.

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Char Siu Fried Rice

Char Siu Fried Rice

So, a couple of days ago, I posted a recipe for Char Siu. If you haven’t read the Char Siu file, this would be a great opportunity to do that,  it calls for a BBQ-pork recipe, and while you can certainly use prepared Char Siu, it is so much better if you’re using your own. Char Siu Fried Rice is, of course, just fried rice with BBQ-pork added in — but that’s really just a starting point.

First, to place this entrĂ©e, it is pretty much a straight fried rice. Lots of peas, carrots, onions and garlic. Toss in a little fried egg and your done. On the other hand, what if you want to vary it a bit? Of course there are dozens of combinations: a little more onions, some green mung beans, a little water chestnuts, or a few edamame seeds.  It’s the extras that make it sing.

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Creamy Lobster Risotto

lobster risotto

For my money, risotto should be the national dish of Italy. As versatile as pasta may be, the many things you can do with risotto are simply endless. This lobster risotto is a case in point.

Lobster Risotto

Lobster Risotto

Three ideas drove this recipe. First, I’d seen a few risotto recipes over the past couple of years that incorporated mascarpone and that appealed to me in terms of what I though it would do for both the flavor and texture of a risotto. Second, I take part in a weekly Twitter chat that earlier this week was focused on lobster dishes (sponsored by @LobsterFromME), which had me thinking about my favorite crustacean. Finally, I’ve occasionally used tarragon with lobster dishes with good success and so I wanted to make that part of this project.

Fortunately it all came together beautifully, and on the first try — something that happens rarely. The result is creamy with just a hint of sweetness from the mascarpone and tarragon. 

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