In any case, happy times need to be shared, and so do luscious recipes. I’m using a few photos here submitted by guests (notably, photographer Francis Hammond), because when I’m the cook, I am concerned with one thing – getting food on the table in good order!
I’ve had so many requests for the Romanesco with confit of garlic that I’m posting the recipe, as well as the stuffed jack-be-little squash (French pronunciation: Jack-be- Leetle). I make these recipes “au pif,” by tasting, smelling, and adjusting as I go, so they’re not exact, nor formally tested. You can trust them, however, and do a little “au pif” yourself to make them your own!
JACK-BE-LEETLE’S WITH LEEKS
18 jack-be-little squash
Fine sea salt
2 cups (500l) creme fraiche
6 ounces (180g) slab bacon, trimmed and cut into small dice
1 bay leaf, fresh if you can, otherwise imported
The white part of 6 large leeks, rinsed well, diced
3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the top off of each squash and, using a soup spoon, carefully scoop out and discard all of the seeds and strings inside. Lightly salt the squash, place the top back on, and place in a baking dish. It is fine if the squash are touching, but they shouldn’t be overcrowded.
- Pour 1/2-inch (1.25cm) water around the squash and put them in the center of the oven to bake until they are tender, which can take up to an hour and a half. They need to be soft through, but not mushy, as they need to keep their shape.
- Remove the squash from the oven and lightly salt and pepper them on the inside. Replace their tops so you don’t get them mixed up.
- While the squash are baking, place the cream and the bacon in a medium-sized saucepan and bring almost to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit until you need it.
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet. When it is foaming, add the leeks and stir, then cook, stirring occasionally so they don’t brown, until they are tender through, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from the heat.
- Evenly divide the leek mixture among the squash. Taste the cream for seasoning, then pour over equal amounts of cream, spooning the bacon along with it into each squash. Replace the lids, and about 15 minutes before you want to serve the squash, return them to the oven to finish baking.18 servings
STEAMED ROMANESCO WITH CONFIT OF GARLIC
I like to steam and serve the romanesco whole. It makes for drama and intrigue, always good at the dinner table!
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, green germs removed, very thinly sliced
2 romanesco, stems trimmed, left whole
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the oil and the garlic in a small, heavy pan over low heat. Heat the oil until it is very hot but not boiling, and let the garlic cook until it is just the slightest bit golden, about 10 minutes. You really have to watch this – garlic cooks at different speeds depending on everything – and you don’t want it to brown, or it will be bitter. When the garlic is slightly golden, remove from the heat and let it sit.
- Heat water in the bottom half of a steamer. When the water is boiling, set the romanesco in the steamer. If your lid won’t cover them, cover them with aluminum foil so that the steam doesn’t escape, and steam until they are tender, which can take up to 20 minutes.
- Transfer the romanesco to a warmed serving platter. Pour the garlic and oil over each, then season generously with salt and pepper. It’s a cinch.
6 to 8 servings