I don't know where I got the inspiration. Maybe it was somewhere in the magenta stems of the beautiful swiss chard I had brought home, or maybe it was the relative chill of the air conditioning in our place during this streak of humidity we've been having.
I didn't follow any recipe per se, and this being my maiden attempt of this dish my hopes were not so high. In spite of, or perhaps because of, my reduced expectations this dish was a warm charm on an overly air conditioned morning. And look - not only have I figured out how to use my macro lens, I have also discovered that there are significant advantages to taking pictures in adequate natural light. If only my urges to photograph my food came more often during the day I would receive fewer critical comments from onlookers - you know who you are!
For this, I simply sauteed 2 shallots and about half a head of garlic, chopped fine, in a couple of tablespoons each of butter and olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a couple of turns of the pepper grinder. After a couple of minutes I added about a third of a pound of diced pancetta, and let all of that cook together over medium heat for 5 more minutes or so. Meanwhile, I blanched a bunch of red swiss chard in salted water for about a minute, drained it and chopped it.
To the shallot, garlic, and pancetta mixture I added a big splash of white white - I think it was Straight Jacket Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend that I had onhand, languishing in the fridge, unloved - and let that cook down. Then I dumped in 2 cans of cannelini beans with their juice and the reserved chard. I added some grated romano cheese and some pepper and let it all come together for a couple more minutes on the heat. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of more romano went on top. I think this would be delicious with some fresh basil or parsley and some simple crostini or toast points. Next time.
This would freeze well I think, if you happen to have any left. Odds are that we won't.
In other news, I have been actively fulfilling a recurrent lobster craving that won't leave me alone. Maybe I am getting geared up for the 4th of July - I can't get enough!
Yesterday we went to Cap'n Jack's on Succotash Road in East Matunuck and I had a fantastically steamed little critter, and today I repeated the deed at Quito's in Bristol. Both Quito's and Cap'n Jack's are among my top rated places for consistently perfectly cooked lobster. Hemenway's is on the list too - it's a short list, one I am very selectively building. I can think of a handful of places I have been to in recent years that have undercooked a simple steamed lobster - easy to tell with a female because the raw roe is black, not the coral of its namesake. Twice, in two different local restaurants that I had enjoyed previously on many occasions (McCormick and Shmick's and George's of Galilee, to be specific), I had to send the same lobster back two successive times because it was still not rectified - still not properly cooked. That's just inexcusable. I guess the third time may have been a charm, but I didn't wait around for that to happen. Enough was enough. But there are places that get it right. I have found 3, and I am happy.
Quito's was really busy today because of the free Bristol Fourth of July Concert Series that are happening in the little park next to the restaurant. There will be a different concert each night this week until the 4th. Last night was John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. Tonight is David Foster & The Mohegan Sun All-Stars. They sounded really good during the sound check and rehearsal. We were digesting on the rocks and had the pleasure of listening to them (I also had the misfortune of sitting on gum). I love live music! It makes me so excited to hear it. It's such a thrill to be on stage. I miss it - it's been a while. Here's a link to their website http://www.july4thbristolri.com/concert_events.html.
Last night we strolled down to Waterfire for the first time this season. It was a beautiful night, and Waterfire was busy! We bought some almonds and cashews from the Nutty Bavarian, and then got some samosas and a stir-fry from Taste of India's booth. We took that home to nosh on while watching the very first episode of Saturday Night Live that aired last night, in honor of George Carlin who hosted it. It was so amazing for me to see how young everyone was - Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Jane Curtin. Janis Ian sang 17! She didn't look much older than 17 herself. And oh, those bellbottoms. It was aired originally in 1975, which I don't remember because I was 2. Those were the days. And these, too, are the days.