Friday, February 20, 2009

Fine Cooking Issue 97 Challenge: Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad with Hazelnuts and Shaved Parmigiano

Last night my friend Debbie came over to check out the new kitchen. I was running a little late so she arrived before me and opened a bottle of Napa Cellars Napa Valley Merlot (2006).

I had the ingredients on hand for the Fine Cooking Challenge Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad with Hazelnuts and Shaved Parmigiano, even though I was a little taken aback by the $7 per pound price tag for Radicchio at Giant Eagle. I think the little head I bought was about a half a pound, and the recipe also called for butter lettuce, hazelnuts, blood oranges and good parmesan, so it's pretty pricey for a simple salad.

For dinner, I hadn't really made a plan, so we did a raid the fridge pasta dinner. I always have pancetta on hand, plus there was a head of fennel that needed to be loved, a small package of arugula, shallots, garlic, a small zucchini, as well as some really yummy portobello truffle sauce that I picked up the last Mustard Seed Market sale and a bottle of diced tomatoes. I pulled the ingredients and put Debbie to work while I worked on the salad. She requested a can of cannellini beans and I delivered.

So we ended up with a delicious sauce which we served with Orecchiette and a side of white beans with pancetta, arugula and shallots. We seasoned the beans with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and good sprinkling of Penzey's Mural of Flavor and they were absolutely delicious.

And we got an action shot of me tossing the pasta with the sauce. I remember the first time I attempted pan flipping at a class at ICASI , let's just say it wasn't pretty. But after personal cheffing for two years, I've really come to appreciate the art of tossing ingredients in the pan. It's easy once you get the hang of it, and there are less utensils to wash. And hey, if something lands on the floor it's no big deal.

We enjoyed dinner with a bottle of Black Mountain Vineyard 2005 Pinot Noir. I think I picked this one at Trader Joe's; it was pretty good for probably an under $10 price tag.

Good food, good company, and one more recipe done for the challenge.

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