Happy New Year! Admittedly two days late from posting but better than never. I celebrated the new year with family and as usual, cooking and baking up a storm.
The traditional Chinese dishes my family always had, ever since I was a wee child, were homemade dumplings and turnip cake (lo bak gao; 蘿蔔糕). Though dumplings are traditional in concept, I changed the recipe making it a bit more upscale by adding Caviar Star‘s Beluga Kaluga caviar and shape it to a coin purse and steamed it.
The turnip cake is my grandmother’s recipe, which passed on from my mom. The ingredients in this “cake” is lots of julienne daikon (a large white root vegetable that looks like an overgrown, fat carrot), ground chicken (ground at home), dried scallops, dried shrimp, dried shiitake mushrooms, bacon, and scallions.
The cotechino with lentils is an Italian good luck dish but it’s been a tradition in my family as of the past two years, as we loved this dish. (Yes, I know it’s supposed to be eaten at New Year’s Eve but I had dinner outside of home.) It is delicious and hearty for any cold night (even though this past New Year’s, it’s unseasonably warm nearing 50°F!). The cotechino is from the artisan salumi maker, Creminelli. Their cotechino has incredible flavor and it’s highly seasoned that when you do cook it with your lentils, you don’t really need to add more salt to the dish. My simple recipe will be at the end of this post.
Moving along on the savory courses, I cooked up was fit for my hungrier family members – a tall, juicy turkey burger (ground at home), stacked with fresh tomatoes, red onions, and Unbound Pickling‘s bacon pickles. The burger was good but the pickles made it a lot better with the bacon-like flavor and the sharpness to cut the meatiness of the burger.
I baked a two items – a large pan of homemade focaccia with rosemary and fresh tomato (recipe was from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking). Chewy, crisp thin crust, puffy, and flavorful.
The other dessert was from Pierre Hermé – homemade Ispahan Paris-Brest. Ispahan (a combination of rose, litchi, and raspberry) is one of Hermé’s signature flavors and it’s definitely one of my favorites. (Frankly, I can never say “no” to his desserts and pastries, no matter how odd the flavors sound). When, in due time (as in a couple of months), I can talk about where his recipes are found.
Anyway, the Paris-Brest is pretty easy to make, if you know the general basics of making a choux pastry. The ispahan filling makes it so different than the typical Paris-Brest. It tastes (and looks) utterly feminine but it’s loved by everyone in my family – both the females and the males.
My family and I ate very well that afternoon. I hope you all had a great New Year’s celebration and a healthy and prosperous New Year! Below are the recipe for the cotechino with lentils and my slideshow of my meal.
Cotechino with lentils
Adapted from Mario Batali‘s Babbo
Makes 4 servings
8 ounces dried lentils
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
¼ cup red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large (about 2 pounds) cotechino sausage
1. In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the lentils, garlic, and thyme. Cook the lentils at a gentle boil until tender yet still firm, about 20minutes. Drain and place in a medium bowl.
2. Add the olive oil and vinegar to the lentils and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Prick the sausage several times with a pin. Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat/. Reduce the heat to a very low boil, cover the pot and cook for 1 ½ hours. Drain.
4. Spread the marinated lentil on a large serving platter to form abed for the cotechino. Slice the cotechino into 1/4-inch thick rounds, arrange over lentils, and serve.
My Flash-based slideshow is below or you may view my Flickr set: