Sunday, October 28, 2007

Corsican cuisine in Davis

I just cooked my dinner of Corsican cuisine on Tuesday, and it turned out amazingly well. We started with some home-made giardiniera, not Corsican at all but I guess you can't be too picky.
The first course was soupe de poissons, of course, made with only two kinds of fish (butterfish and cod). I actually made it once already, with three kinds of fish, but I don't think it made much difference to have only two. I chop up the fish and toss it into a pot with potatoes, carrots, onions, LOTS of garlic, and herbs, boil it for a while, blend it, then pass it through a food mill. I think I'm doing something wrong, though, because it never gets very smooth, and in fact stay chunky enough that it doesn't pass through the food mill very easily. My main goal is to get the bones out, which isn't always successful.

I made rouille, which was more successful this time than the last as well. Last time, I tried crushing dried red pepper and mixing it in, but it didn't turn out that well ... some bites were spicy because they had a big piece of pepper, and others were bland, with no pepper. This time, I added a bit more garlic, whipped up some aoili, then added some saffron and powdered cayenne pepper. Perfect! And stuck it in the fridge overnight, which helped it thicken. It was the perfect color, taste, and consistency. I was a happy woman. Served with sliced and toasted bread and grated ementhal cheese, it was delicious in the soup. Two of my guests had second or third helpings and finished everything.

The next course was stuffed eggplant, which I hadn't tried before, and came out really well also. I used eggplants from my garden, which I sliced length-wise and boiled. I wasn't clear on the boiling time, and I'm still not sure I picked the right amount of time. It was tough to scoop out the flesh without breaking the skin, and I mangled a few of them. I soaked the inside of some white bread in milk while this was going on, and when I had my eggplant pulp in a bowl, I drained as much liquid as I could, then I added the drained bread, garlic, basil, eggs, butter, and cheese - tomme and parmigiano. Mashed this together, stuffed it back into the eggplant skin (even the mangled ones), then fried both sides in a skillet. That was a bit weird, but it turned out just fine, and gave the top of the stuffed side a nice, golden color and texture. In the meantime, I cooked up a tomato sauce with onion, garlic, and red chili pepper, which I put in the bottom of a baking dish, set the eggplants on top, and stuck it in the oven to stay warm until dinner. I would definitely make that recipe again, it's not as hard as it sounds.

Last we had a dessert, fiadone. It's basically a brocciu cheesecake, although of course you can't find brocciu here so I used ricotta instead. Mix that with eggs and sugar and lemon or orange zest (I used lemon juice), stick it in a pie or tort dish and bake. That's it, it's easy and really delicious.

The only thing we didn't think of was a nice rose wine to go with the dinner, but white did just as well, along with a moscato for dessert. I can't help smiling when I think of that meal.

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