We have a tradition in our house of making a huge batch of meat sauce in the fall and freezing it for use all year. The recipe is a combination of the recipes we grew up with, both of which have a tomato base. My mother's recipe involves a combination of beef, pork, and lamb; along with garlic, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, red wine and Italian spice blend. My mother-in-law's recipe is similar but uses only beef, no bell pepper or olives, no wine, and dried basil instead of Italian blend. I have merged these two recipes to form my own - I use a combination of beef, pork, and veal (which can be found in stores already mixed as "meatloaf mix"); yes on bell pepper and wine; no on mushrooms and black olives (Jasper doesn't like them); and I use both dried basil and Italian seasoning blend.
My sauce is American style, tried and true, and best served on spaghetti with Parmesan. But this month when the hankering for pasta came on, I decided to try some new things and see what would happen.
One of the many things that I love about my neighborhood favorite, Chef Geoff's Tysons, is that the menu changes seasonally. The Fall menu that is being featured right now is pretty fantastic. Some of the standouts are:
The duck confit appetizer - a nice big piece of duck on the bone, served over spatzle in a whole grain mustard cream sauce. The meat can be a bit difficult to cut off the bone, so just pick that sucker up and gnaw on it rib style. The spatzle is perfect - light with no hint of gumminess - and the mustard sauce is nicely balanced.
The apple and butternut squash bisque - this is your classic fall soup combo, with some unique garnishes in the form of ginger crème fraiche and crispy, fried, sweet, and a little spicy lotus chips.
The duck confit pizza - with roasted pears, blue cheese, and balsamic caramelized onions. It's a great balance of sweet and salty, and they are not fooling around with the confit - there is a TON piled on there. This is definitely a two-person pizza.
The pear and gorgonzola agnolotti - with Swiss chard, in an Amaretto butter sauce, topped with amaretti (Amaretto cookie) crumbles. I am crushing on this dish in a major way - I long for it. The agnolotti are fantastic, of course, but I want to talk about the chard - drenched in that sweet butter sauce with chunks of pear and the crunch of the amaretti cookies. Oh my goodness, I have honestly never had better tasting Swiss chard. I want to develop a recipe for this sauce just so that I can use it with chard.
There a few great looking dishes that I haven't had the chance to try yet: a burger topped with barbequed short ribs, Havarti, and green tomato; a butternut squash risotto with Taleggio; a rabbit bolognese with black pepper pappardelle, fennel, and grana padano. I will update this post after I have eaten more of the Fall dishes!
And let's not forget the drink menu - CG's is always coming up with great new cocktails. The Fall standout is the Saint Rosemary Sour, combining my favorite liquors - Pisco and St. Germain - with fresh lime juice, egg white, house made citrus syrup, and rosemary tincture, and topping it off with bitters and a rosemary sprig. Absolutely fantastic.
This was our last week of the CSA - I'm sad that it is over, but at the same time it's nice to have a break from the constant rush to cook and eat all that produce before it goes bad each week. I'm glad we did it this way for our first time, it really pushed me out of my cooking comfort zone and forced me to use ingredients that I wouldn't normally buy. I'm really grateful for the learning experience, but next year I think we will do a half-share.
I literally dreamed about making this right after we got back from Vegas. I woke up and decided I had better make it for dinner since my subconscious was telling me to.
Simple. Easy. Tasty.
In the crate this week:
2 Korean Melons
While picking up my CSA crate at Whole Foods - I noticed that they had a new product at the cheese counter - Burrata cheese. Burrata is a fantastic variation of fresh mozzarella that is stuffed with cream, making it much softer. I knew that I must have some so I snatched it up.
I topped the cheese and bread with the tomato salad, and drizzled everything with balsamic vinegar. Spreading the soft cheese onto the bread was sort of luxurious; and the tart pop of the tomatoes, sweet tang of the vinegar, and freshness of the basil were the perfect accompaniments.
For our 2nd week of the CSA (click here for week 1) we received the following:
1 head of butter lettuce
1 head of Romaine
a big bag of spinach (10-15 oz)
a bunch of asparagus
4 green/spring onions
a pint of hothouse strawberries
5 tomatoes on the vine
a bunch of large radishes
2 hothouse cucumbers