Most people associate The Sopranos, HBO’s fabulous hit series now in its sixth and final season, with gratuitous killing, big hair, and ey-ohs. I, however, associate it with really good food. One of my nearest and dearest friends, Lindsay Pendleton, uses Sunday night Sopranos as an excuse to cook up some of the most interesting, delicious, and creative food that I have ever eaten. In fact, the past season of Sopranos was so lackluster that the only reason I came over to Lindsay’s Oakland apartment, along with eight or so friends, was to see what she was going to cook up next.
Since the first episode landed on Easter (no time to cook!), I am starting with Lindsay’s Episode II menu. It was incredible. She made an assortment of antipasto dishes, perfect for the curious grazer. As Tony struggled under the weight of his crown, we struggled under the weight of our plates, brimming with savory samplings.
Episode II Menu
Arrange on a large platter:
Sweet and sour red and yellow peppers
Cream and mozzarella Burrata (available in Italian specialty stores)
Whole caper berries
Variety of sliced meats—prosciutto, coppa, salami.
This, and the following three dishes, can be served with crostini—slices of baguette lightly brushed with olive oil and toasted.
Brandade De Morue
8 ounces boneless salt cod
1/2 cup milk
One cooked potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
One clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, pinch
Cover the salt cod with cold water and soak for twenty-four hours, changing the water twice. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
Place the milk and cod in a medium-size saucepan and add water to cover. Heat to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer ten minutes. Drain. Break fish into chunks in a large bowl. Add cooked potato, sprinkle with garlic and pepper.
Combine cream and oil in a saucepan and heat almost to a simmer. Drizzle into fish mixture, mashing together with a wooden spoon. Stir until liquid is just incorporated and transfer to serving bowl. Serve warm.
Smoked Salmon Butter
3–4 ounces Smoked salmon
1–2 teaspoons lemon rind
1–2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One large eggplant
One garlic clove
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2-1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint (optional, but adds a nice flavor)
Salt, lemon, and pepper to taste
Peel eggplant, cut into rounds and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for an hour; this draws out the moisture. Brush with olive oil and broil, about six minutes each side. Finely grind pine nuts and garlic in food processor. Add eggplant and fresh herbs and puree. Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
Mixed Greens with Asian Pear, Avocado, and Creamy Vinaigrette
Enough mixed greens to feed your guests
One Asian pear
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
One coddled (soft boiled for about one minute) egg
1–2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons mustard
Mix together greens with sliced Asian pear and avocado. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, egg, lemon juice, and mustard. Dress salad right before serving.
Bay Shrimp in Romesco Sauce with Lima Beans
Lindsay recommends making the Romesco sauce a day or two in advance to let the flavors develop and meld.
1–2 pounds bay shrimp, amount dependent on number of guests
1–2 cups lima beans
About twelve almonds
1/4 cup hazelnuts
Two to three dried poblano chilies
1/2 cup drained, canned tomatoes or four fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup mild olive oil
1-1/2 ounces peasant style bread (like ciabatta) cut into small chunks
2–3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
Heat oven to 325° F. Roast hazelnuts and almonds for about ten minutes; remove skins.
Turn oven to broil. Place tomatoes in a shallow pan, coat with a tablespoon of olive oil, and broil until caramelized but not burnt. While tomatoes are roasting, re-hydrate chilies by immersing in boiling water. After they are re-hydrated, drain, stem, and seed the chilies.
Heat the mild olive oil in a frying pan. When oil is hot, fry chunks of bread until lightly browned. Transfer to paper towel to drain and cool.
In a food processor, blend garlic and chilies. Add fried bread, almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, and blend to a fine paste. Drizzle in olive oil, paprikas and red wine vinegar, blending until incorporated. Salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for one to three days.
About an hour before guests arrive, cook lima beans in generously salted water. Drain. Reheat Romesco sauce in oven. Grill or broil shrimp until pink. Mix with lima beans and Romesco sauce. Delicious!
“The Sopranos with Lindsay” is a weekly cooking column that will run for eight episodes, or until Tony is killed. Get your menu here and watch the show on HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m.