Heather's Recipe, Jan. 2012 - Mike's B-day
The idea for this meal all started with searching for some exciting new pasta to try. I'm always intrigued by new pasta shapes that you can't always get at the grocery stores so I ordered Italian made Benedetto Cavalieri Bucatini from Amazon. It came in a two pack! I love Amazon! Bucatini is like a thick spaghetti but has a hole running through it. I made Mike open the pasta present for a sneak preview to dinner.
Italian Comfort Food
I never made a traditional bolognese and thought Mike would love a hearty meat sauce with the Bucatini. I turned to David Rocco's Made in Italy and to my surprise there was only one bolognese-stye sauce: Sugo Di Cinghiale meaning Wild Boar Sauce. Wild boar is something Mike and I would definitely like to try someday, especially after reading about them in Michael Pollan's Omnivores Dilemma and watching silly wild pig hunting shows, but I knew there was no way of finding wild boar in this area. So, I went to Palmer's and got some nice pork loin as a substitution.
I minced up the "wild boar" and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and olive oil and set this aside while I got the rest of the mise en place in order. This was a pretty easy recipe to execute because it's the way I like to cook. The soffritto (love learning Italian with Rocco: carrots, celery, and onion) was sauteed with olive oil and when soft, the meat was added and browned.
The sauce was interestingly flavored with nutmeg and wine. I know very little about wine but picked an Italian dry red that caught my eye because it had a tiny piece of grape vine attached. I know this is a terrible reason but the dish came out yummy so... who cares! It also had tomato paste that added rich tomato flavor, but the sauce was mostly wine. The sauce simmered for 20 minutes making the pork tender. The al dente bucatini was tossed in the sauce at the end to coat every strand with yummy flavor. Writing this is making me hungry and I can't wait to to come up with a plan for the next bucatini dinner!
The Cake: Simple Semi-Homemade Boston Cream Pie!
Not going to lie, I was kind of stuck on an idea for a cake this year. I almost made a lemon olive oil cake to go with the theme but it just didn't feel very special. When I gave up and just asked Mike what he wanted he said "Boston Cream" with a twinkle! He was half joking but I ran with it!
I kept it simple because I wanted to spend as much time with him instead of in the kitchen. I used Dr. Oetker Organic Vanilla Cake Mix and Cooked Vanilla Pudding Mix. I've used Dr. Oetker's cake mixes before and they had great flavor but are usually dry. However, if you compare the ingredients to normal box cake mixes, you'll understand why I continue to keep trying them. This time, between the layers, I put melted fig jam which helped to add moisture to the the cake and a lovely fruitiness that did not overpower the vanilla.
The cake was frosted with dark chocolate mousse made with 16oz Nasoya Silken Tofu, blended with melted Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips, vanilla and 2 tbsp of maple syrup. A friend gave me this recipe and it was so thick and decadent that I knew I could frost a cake with it. The frosting/moose covered the cake beautifully. No overly-sweet-powdered-sugar-frosting on this cake! I believe Boston cream pies are normally covered in a ganache made with heavy cream, butter, and sometimes oil. If you love chocolate like we do, you need to try this moose!
There of course has to be some fancy beer pairings on Mike's Special Day! Dinner was paired with Ommegang Zuur, a sour that cut though the richness wonderfully and one of Mike's all time favorite beers. Dessert was paired with Arcadia Ales Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter, which was definitely a sipper that paired well with something sweet. This dark beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels giving it a lot of flavor.
You just read one of Upstate Crumbs' monthly New Recipe posts. Every month, Mike and Heather will each make a post about a new recipe. For Mike, it will usually be an adventure in trying to learn to cook. For Heather, she'll pick something that is outside of her comfort zone in some way.
Gogh on February 5, 2012 at 8:30pm EST