Pirate Pete

OK, me harty’s. If you have the strength and courage to make a full dinner from the beginin’ to end fer the loav of yer lives, hare it is: And why am I talkin’ like Pirate Pete? Because for Valentine’s Day Ferdinand said to me, “hare you go Pirate Pete; this should make you feel better.” And he offered me his treasure chest.
I always wanted to be a fairy princess but instead I’m Pirate Pete.
Don’t be intimidated by the length and girth of the recipes. If they start to overwhelm you, do what you feel like doing, and kick the rest to the curb. I’d be just as happy with cheap chocolates and good champagne.

Risotto with Asparagus

Risotto takes a little time, patience, and love. If you can muster up pure feelings of tenderness, as you are stirring your rice, you will end up with a much better dish. Start by making a stock. It doesn’t have to be a chicken stock, but chicken stock is usually my stock of choice because of its versatility. It adds a richness and complexity to the flavor, but still lets the more delicate vegetables come through. A good stock begins with a pound of raw chicken backs and wings (or whatever parts you have on hand), and a stock pot of cold water. Bring the bones to a boil, and then dump out the water, rinse the bones, and start again. This time, add an onion, a piece of celery, a half of a carrot, some parsley, thyme, a clove of garlic, a few peppercorns, and if you are so inclined, a tiny piece of fennel, and bit of a tomato. Cook this for at least an hour, and up to four hours. It freezes beautifully. Bring to a boil, a saucepan full of water, along with a clove of garlic, a little salt, a piece of lemon zest, and a bit of leek. Add a pound of asparagus, and cook until the asparagus is al dente. Drain the peas, and shock in ice water. Sauté the whites and pale green of two leeks in butter. Add 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, and then 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice. Stir around until the rice is translucent, about half a minute, then begin to add hot stock a generous ladle full at a time, stirring until the stock is absorbed, before adding more. Do this over relatively low heat. Continue until the rice is a few minutes away from being al dente. Add the asparagus to the rice. Stir in a good few Tablespoons of fresh basil, a half a teaspoon of lemon zest, and about a Tablespoon of mint. Add 2 Tablespoons of vermouth, a half cup of parmesan, and a few Tablespoons of butter. Shave on some parmesan, and serve.

Baked Whole Fish with Aromatics

You can use a number of different kinds of fish for this, including salmon, but I like sea bass or red snapper. Use a six pound fish to feed six people. Cherry tomatoes work the best. Just slice about one cup of them in half, along with two or three shallots, and a clove of garlic. Slice a whole lemon into rounds. Use a few sprigs of fresh parsley,about four of thyme, and either a few cuttings from fennel, or a sprinkle of coriander seeds. Make sure that you have cleaned the fish of all of its scales with a knife or paper towel. Oil a pan large enough to hold the fish, with good quality, extra virgin olive oil. Salt the fish inside and out, and sprinkle with a little freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little of the same oil, and fill with half of the aromatics. Layer the rest of the aromatics on top, and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, loosely covered, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Not overcooking fish is critical. You want the flesh to be opaque, but just. Serve with the pan juices.

Salsa Verde

This recipe can be changed according to your tastes, and I think there must be about a million different ways to make it, depending on where you are in the world, and what you have in your larder. The idea is to have something green, with a little zing to it. Start out with a whole bunch of parsley, the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, about four to six basil leaves, the juice of half a large lemon, an anchovy, eight capers, a half a teaspoon of dijon mustard, and a quarter cup of fresh bread crumbs. They have to be fresh. Throw that can of dried bread crumbs in the garbage. Use a good quality olive oil, I would say about a half a cup. Mix all of this together with some freshly ground black pepper, and salt to taste. If you only had parsley, crumbs, oil and lemon, that would be fine. It should be the texture of pesto.

Watercress and Nicoise Olives with your favorite kind of Creamy Goat Cheese
Toss all this with a little lemon, extra virgin olive oil and salt

Chocolate Truffle Cake

This is the easiest chocolate cake you will ever make. The secret is to use the best chocolate you can find. If it is in your cupboard, throw the Baker’s chocolate in the trash. Melt 500 grams of bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler, making sure that the pan with the chocolate in it, doesn’t touch the simmering water below. Whip 250 grams of heavy cream just until soft peaks form. If you go too far at this point, your stiff cream won’t incorporate well into the chocolate. Take the chocolate off the water. Fold in about a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold in the rest of the cream. Spoon onto a platter with a bit of a bowl to it. Sift dutch process cocoa over the top, and serve with more whipped cream.

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