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Salad of chicken livers and Italian plums.

Remember when I was all ready to sing the praises of Lorraine Pascale and Rachel Khoo, my two favorite food presenters? I had done so thinking that I’d be watching their exploits on the Cooking Channel for at least months to come (you know, until they found others to fill their slots), but then we found out a few weeks ago that cable won’t be an option at our new place. So while Michael is rejoicing at the thought of no more weekend mornings dominated by the Food Network, I’m bummed that I can’t fangirl over my two new favorites each week.

Oh well—at least I have cookbooks and online recipes to get me through this transition. It also helps that both shows have had their episodes in reruns, so at the very least I’ve been able to see them many times already and written down notes to any recipe that has caught my fancy well before we have to disconnect and mail back the cable box. Read More

Charred Lemon Gin Sparklers with Shrimp Fritters

So Thanksgiving happened, it’s now December, we’re moving very soon, and I may be feeling a wee bit stressed about it. The movers come next week, and I’ll be home on the packing day working while they box up all of our stuff. In the meantime we’re trying to get all of our things organized as best we can and cleaning everything as much as possible. We’re at the point where I’m simply anxious to be there so I can do things like quickly register my car and get a parking pass for the neighborhood as well as the more fun tasks of organizing all of our stuff and getting a few new pieces, but we still have a bit of a ways to go before we get to that stage.

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Allioli from El Taller.

Now that our big news is out in the open I can return to my previously-scheduled food blabbering. Once again I find myself two months out from our trip to Barcelona and with very few posts capturing all of the amazing food we had this time around, but I hope that a preoccupation with figuring out where we were going to live next was at least a decent reason to be distracted. With many of those details finally being ironed out, it’s time to talk about one of my top-five restaurants of all time: El Taller in Caldes d’Estrac.

We were introduced to this place by a front desk employee of Kalima two years ago: still very jet-lagged and also exhausted from twenty hours of travel to get there, I asked him for a recommendation for a good place to eat. He asked me if we wanted peix or carns, and quickly jumped at the latter. Giving me a card for a place called El Taller, he assured me it was the best place to get meat in town. The meal we had that night was exquisite, and one of our few regrets during that trip was that we weren’t able to return there for one more meal later during our stay, so when we were planning this most recent trip Michael assured me that we’d probably eat there every night we were there. Read More

Fedelini with Creminis, Guanciale, and Sage

This post marks the start of a series of experiments that can be credited to none other than Mimi Thorisson of Manger. A few days ago I came across her most recent post in which she chronicles foraging for porcinis to make the most beautiful homemade ravioli I’ve ever seen, and while initially I wanted to make the recipe she posted, I realized there were some issues:

  1. The only porcinis I can find are dried. (Not a dealbreaker, but they aren’t really in the spirit of the recipe.)
  2. The recipe also calls for pork cheeks. Pork cheeks, sadly, are not readily available near us, at least in a way that would make them easy to transport home.

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Lorraine Pascale’s pan-seared mascarpone gnocchi | The Manhattan [food] Project

For years, my normal weekend morning ritual has been parking myself on the couch and watching cooking shows while I figured out what we were making that night for dinner. There were shows I loved, those I tolerated, and others I would either tune out or treat as open season for my snarking. As the Food Network specifically has moved further and further away from its traditional dump-and-stir shows, the ratio of shows I actually love and derive inspiration from to those I mock has tipped wildly towards the latter category so when Cooking Channel was once again made available through my cable provider I was thrilled. Not only would regular reruns of Good Eats be back on our TV, but I was excited to see what new shows have come on since we last had the channel three years ago.

Admittedly, anything I’ve seen that’s been produced by the channel hasn’t blown me away, but two hosts from the BBC have left me delighted: Lorraine Pascale (currently of Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food and Rachel Khoo (Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London and Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo). Unlike certain cooking hosts out there, both Rachel and Lorraine primarily cook food from scratch without being overly fussy or precious about it, and the recipes they present are actually interesting. My one complaint is that not every recipe is readily available online (Lorraine’s are a little easier to track down) so if something intrigues me I’ll sit with my notebook and furiously write down the ingredients and instructions, but it’s also refreshing to be engaged with a cooking show again so I’m not really complaining.

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Tomato-Onion-Grana-Padano Pizza

One thing I was hoping we’d be able to do following our vacation was to make one last jaunt to our local beach, and thankfully this past weekend gave us two picture-perfect days to choose from. While everyone else in New England descended upon their favorite orchard in which to go apple picking (or so it seemed based on my Facebook feed), we spent a few hours on Saturday enjoying the unseasonably warm day—warm enough to even make a quick dip into the Sound. Even with these little heat snaps though I am only too aware that we are in a new season, as daylight is slowly becoming less and less prevalent in the evening and the notion of turning on our oven isn’t completely abhorrent anymore. So what better way to mark that shift than by cranking it to full blast in order to make some pizza? Read More

Spanish-style gintonic

Don’t let the passing of Labor Day fool you: summer is most definitely still in session through most of September and we’re about to experience the warmest temperatures we’ve had all season this week, so I have no problem promoting a refreshing, summertime beverage despite it being past the acceptable date to wear white. Besides, in just over a week we’re going to Spain, and specifically going back to Barcelona and Caldetas/Caldes d’Estrac, and while I am naturally planning many ways to eat our faces off I’m also really looking forward to indulging in a few gintonics while we’re there too. Unlike here where at most places a G&T is simply some gin, tonic water from a beverage gun and maybe a wedge or wheel of lime, but in Spain it is most definitely a cocktail

Typically served in wine goblets instead of highballs, they also tend to be made with the little single-serving bottles of tonic water rather than stuff from the aforementioned beverage gun, and good, bottled tonic water is something special. As Danny Castellano noted in the episode “The Desert” of The Mindy Project, “tonic water’s tonic water, okay? It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. It’s the tiniest bit sweet.” A good gintonic lets that part of tonic water shine, and the addition of juniper berries and wheels of lemon and lime just make the tonic all the more flavorful.

If you need further proof that the Spanish gintonic surpasses all other versions of the drink, just see the delightful standoff that took place some time ago between Mario Batali and José Andrés on Twitter:

I think José Andrés won the gintonic-off.

This is a recipe for a very simple but highly flavorful version of the G&T, and it’s worth finding a container of juniper berries in addition to a little four-pack of good tonic water (Fever Tree is delicious) to while away the remaining weeks of summer, and to embrace those rare and overly-warm autumn days. As it always does, winter is coming–let’s all take a step back to enjoy the warmth.

Gintonic, Spanish-style

makes 1 cocktail, adapted slightly from Made in Spain by José Andrés

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 200 mL bottle Fever Tree tonic water, either Indian or Mediterranean style (Michael prefers Indian-style, while I love the  Mediterranean)
  • 1-2 leaves lemon verbena (optional but awesome)
  • 3-4 juniper berries, slightly crushed
  • 1 lemon wheel
  • 1 lime wheel

In a large goblet or wine glass, combine gin with tonic water and ice and add garnishes as desired. Serve immediately.

For added effect, aerate the tonic water by pouring down the spiraled handle of a bar spoon or from a great height.

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