Make This Tonight: Joyce Goldstein's Samfaina

Categories: Brody, Recipes

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M. Brody
Goldstein, serving chunky gazpacho -- but when does she sleep?
​A real treat: an intimate dinner chez Joyce Goldstein, aka the hardest working woman in the food business. Goldstein, veteran of Chez Panisse and her own San Francisco restaurant Square One, is the author of 26 cookbooks, and a restaurant consultant specializing in recipe development, menu design, and staff training. Oh yes, she has a blog, too.

And she still loves to rattle those pots and pans. When we arrived at her Cow Hollow home for a little supper this weekend, the table was set with hand-painted Portuguese plates (the ones from Square One), an array of room temperature foods were waiting in their cazuelas alongside pottery jars of freshly made alioli and romesco sauce, and the wine was open and ready to be poured. Joyce, a miracle of organization, grilled large skewered shrimp and asparagus on a stove-top plancha at the last minute, simultaneously sautéeing scallops with almonds and white wine.

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M. Brody
The ratatouille-like samfaina (recipe after the jump).
​We began with chunky hand-chopped gazpacho poured over bread cubes -- as Joyce and one of her guests, Indian chef and restaurateur Suvir Saran (a colleague from shared teaching gigs at the Culinary Institute of America), scoffed at the uniform texture of blended gazpacho -- even, sometimes, strained through muslin! In addition to shrimp and scallops, there were grilled padrone peppers, mushrooms stuffed with chorizo and orange peel, clams cooked with large white beans, a potato and onion tortilla, and a wonderfully fresh-tasting ratatouille-like dish called samfaina.

Afterwards there were slices of a homey raspberry-buttermilk cake served with panna cotta. (Credit where credit is due: "It's Delfina's recipe," Joyce said. "Perfect texture, with a touch of lemon juice that makes all the difference.")

All the recipes (except for the gazpacho and desserts) came from her latest book, Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain (Chronicle Books, $22.95), which came out earlier this summer. After the feast, Joyce sent her guests out into the night with Bronx grapes, figs, and more cake. On the morrow, she was canning with a friend in the morning (mostarda and tomato jam), then cooking dinner for her children and grandchildren.

Here's the recipe for the delicious and versatile samfaina, which can be added to a tortilla, served hot or warm along grilled fish, used as a braising sauce for chicken, or served atop grilled bread for a simple tapa.

Samfaina
From Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain, by Joyce Goldstein

1 pound Japanese or globe eggplant
Salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, cut into ½-inch dice
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)
½ pound zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)
2 small green or red bell peppers, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)
1½ pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice (2½-3 cups)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. If using Japanese eggplant, trim but do not peel and cut into 1-inch pieces. If using a globe eggplant, trim, peel, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt on all sides and place in a colander set in the sink. Leave to sweat and drain for 20-30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and paprika, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes longer. Add the tomatoes and, if using, the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until the vegetables are tender and the mixture is thickened and similar in texture to chunky applesauce, about 25 minutes.

3. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. Taste and adjust with more paprika, if you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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