Wednesday, September 1, 2010

EATALY at home, weeknight dinner done Italian

As of Tuesday at 4pm, the Italian food mecca Eataly, opened its doors to New York.  And without fail, New Yorkers streamed in (and continue to do so).  I include myself in that grouping, but will use the excuse of being in very close proximity multiple days of the week, my office is just across the street. Hopping across the street makes crowd management and navigating the massive complex a little more feasible.  Intent on leaving work at a reasonable hour yesterday evening, I popped in for some groceries for dinner along with a few Italian sundries - who can really resist hazelnut spread, seriously?  You know my motto's everything in moderation.
The morning after, here are the results of a glorious shopping trip - and then 30 minutes of cooking - that together have me lusting to get on the first plane out to Florence, Rome, Tuscany, Piedmont, Sicily, Positano - I really don't care as long as it's Italy.

rustic bread with quadrello di bufala &  fresh figs
Appetizer (above): two small pieces of Mozza chef and bread-making queen, Nancy Silverton's rustic bread with fresh figs, lightly pan-grilled.  Topped with quadrello di bufala cheese (similar to taleggio), a dab of orange honey and more fresh figs.  A simple, gorgeously fresh starter.  And can confidently say that this is the best bread I've had in years.  And no, it's not whole wheat or wholegrain if you're wondering.  But it is freshly-baked and cut in small pieces, which means it's wholly acceptable here and there.  *And if you're wondering what's underneath my app plate, it's Mario Batali's newest, very vegetable-heavy, cookbook, Molto Gusto.  Definitely one to add to your collection!

Entree (below): I will preface this recipe with saying that I am not typically a steak lover.  In fact, if my family or friends or anyone who knows me fairly well is reading this, they'd be floored to see that I purchased a piece of red meat  - particularly steak (I have nothing against red meat, ideally a lean, grass-fed, organic cut, but I happen to be very fond of steak, not sure why).  Anyhow, I was for some reason drawn to the meat counter and found myself entranced by this beautiful, bright red piece of Tuscan tagliata steak (barely a spec of marbling - fat - in sight).  Tagliata means 'slice' in Italian.  And that's precisely what you should if you get your hands on this cut of meat, after it's cooked and rested of course.  I took one bite and literally almost fell over - not being dramatic at all.  This is one incredible piece of meat though.  Serve it up at any dinner party and you have your guests vying for the recipe.  And fyi, it's typically served sliced atop a bed of arugula and sprinkled with pecorino romano shavings.  But I spotted fresh broccoli rabe an couldn't say no.  The recipe follows...

Tuscan tagliata steak with roasted mushrooms, spring onions & broccoli rabe
Preheat oven to 450 degrees - trust me, it's well-worth turning your oven on even when it's 95 degrees outside.
Sprinkle a 4oz steak (for 1, 8 to 10oz for 2) with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Brush a grill pan with extra-virgin olive oil and sear on both sides for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a baking sheet or roasting pan and pat top and bottom each with about 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary and 1 small clove of minced garlic.  Arrange a few cremini mushrooms and spring onions, cut in half, around outer edges of the sheet or pan.  Drizzle onions and mushrooms with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Bake for 17-20 minutes for medium doneness.
Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a saute pan.  Add in 1 clove minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add in washed and trimmed broccoli rabe, 1/2 to 1 small bunch along with 1 teaspoon dried red chili, minced.  Sprinkle with salt and saute on medium-high heat for another 5-7 minutes.
Serve with a big, flavorful red wine like Dolcetto, Barbera or Barolo if you're aiming to throw down a few bucks.  A glass or two and you'll be transported to Italy, at least in your dreams, in no time.

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