Friday, April 15, 2016

Double Shift, or How I Know How Old I Am

This little piggy looks about how I feel.  I was up early this morning, and into the kitchen at 8:30 for the morning huddle.  Lunch this afternoon would be a spring minestrone soup, Pasta e fagioli, braised chicory, fennel and orange salad, roasted fava beans in the pods with a sun dried tomato, anchovy and caper sauce, and fruit for dessert.  This little piggy was for the workers lunch.  You can imagine my surprise a few days ago when I opened the fridge and found him hanging in there.  I came just for the morning, since I wanted to have lunch with Dr. C and then I was going back for the dinner prep and service.  (What was I thinking???)
When favas are this tender, they can be roasted in the pods, and they are delicious

This is Chef Chris Behr who is gracious enough to let me play in his kitchen

Steven is a former intern, who is waiting to go back to the states; says his first meal off the plane will be a Katz' deli pastrami on rye, and that's all I've been thinking about today!

This is McLane, blanching 16 kilos of chicory--that is a lot of greens, I helped wash some of them

When I left at 11 a.m., I went home, grabbed Dr. C. and we went to lunch across the street from our apartment.  It was awesome to have a nice quiet meal together.  I know that the dinner service would be a bit labor intensive, but was looking forward to working with Domenico again.  He is a gem to work with.
First up, Jeremy and I were to roll out the pasta dough, and cut it on the chitara, a box with strings that the pasta is cut on

Jeremy is a master with the chitara

Leah cleaning the mountain of mussels

Our main course this evening would be Tornarelli pasta with mussels in tomato sauce.  Jeremy and Domenico were on the pasta and sauce, I would help with the pasta, and watch Domenico make his incredible sauce.  Sometimes the help comes in the form of shelling the cooked mussels, sometimes it's stirring the mussel broth in a chinoise to remove the sand and sometimes it's plucking parsley off its stems. My take away from tonight was to use the parsley stems finely chopped in the beginning of the sauce---the beginning of the sauce is called a sofrito, and this is where all the flavor comes from.  A mix of olive oil, green garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the parsley stems form the base, then the tomatoes are added.  Domenico strained canned tomatoes and chopped them before adding them.  He knows instinctively to add more tomato juice, or mussel broth to get the texture just right.  This is fascinating to watch!

  Meanwhile Jeremy is going to cook the mussels so that they will open, and to get some broth for us to use in the sauce.  Starting with green garlic, and the parsley stems in a lot of oil, over a low flame, he adds white wine, and the mussels and cooks them for a few minutes.

This guy loves his mussels!

Meanwhile on the back counter, Leah and Domenico are shelling fava beans and slicing raw artichokes for the salad

Traditional flavors of artichoke, fava beans, shaved pecorino cheese, and lemon viniagrette

Plating for 50

It's show time:  time for the pasta to be dropped into the boiling salted water

a little short of al dente pasta is tossed with the mussel sauce

Look at the size of the paddle!

Ready to plate, no cheese

Ricotta tart with orange and chocolate

As the night came to an end, it was nice to know that there were 50 happy diners, who ate every bit of the pasta and mussels.  The end to another satisfying day, although I have to say I know how old I am!  Won't be doing another double for a while.  Ciao for now.

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