Shrimp and Orange Salad with Arugula and Fennel
It’s not even August and apparently stores are stocking their shelves for Hallow-freaking-ween. I’m very much aware that holiday creep is a huge thing in retail (back-to-school seems to go back on the shelves around the Fourth) but especially after the winter so many of us had to endure this year, well, cheering on the arrival of the season of inevitable misery seems abominably cruel. It’s not like this summer has been particularly arduous here in the Northeast—we’ve had some periods of hot and/or humid weather, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far: a day or two of intense humidity have beckoned a cold front blowing through almost immediately thereafter, and otherwise we’ve had pretty pleasant weather. There have been many a weekend afternoon spent on the local beaches, and even an evening or two listening to the rain while we sit on our balcony.
In short, I’m doing everything I can to appreciate the summer while it’s here, and I will be loath to give it up because gauzy clothes and cool drinks are superior to wooly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Black Garlic and White Balsamic
Eric Ripert, like most of the chefs who end up as judges on Top Chef, intimidates the hell out of me, mainly because he and his restaurant Le Bernadin in New York embody the word “flawless” in the way that few chefs and restaurants can. Simply thinking of the season 5 episode of Top Chef in which the cheftestants visit the restaurant, have an amazing meal there, and then are tasked to recreate a dish they had enjoyed makes my stomach churn with anxiety to this day. I mean, this is the place that employs a guy whose job it is to properly break down whole fish, and he’s so good at it that when he goes on vacation, two people are required to handle the volume of fish he portions by himself and it’s still not enough to meet the demand.
Eric Ripert demands excellence and embodies it on a daily basis, and the rest of us are merely along for the ride. Read More
Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)
Yes, that’s a whole mess of Spanish and Català up there in the post title. No, I make no apologies.
This meal was a bit ambitious for us, even for a Sunday night: in the mood for some delicious José Andrés-style tapas after hearing about Michael’s visit to Zaytinya during his recent trip to DC. Picking four dishes (the three listed here, along with a variation of this salad), I made a plan to get some of the work done early in the afternoon, after my workout but before I went down the street to see the Chilean movie No at the local non-profit movie theater. I really thought that I had it all in hand: I made the sofrito for the rossejat after we got back from the store, and everything else was pretty much self-explanatory. Or so I thought. Read More
Moules à la grecque, from The Les Halles Cookbook
This one’s a nice departure from the summer-style mussel recipes so far, a dish more suited to fall or winter, or post-Labor Day New England. You know, fluffy sweaters and shorts, tourists all gone…that crisp, cool, Cape Cod light. Okay, I don’t live that way either. But it sounds good, right?
Anthony Bourdain, The Les Halles Cookbook
There are days in August especially when all I want is a nice, rich bowl of pasta; fortunately for me, I can make us a pan of Amatriciana sauce with fresh tomatoes and still count it as seasonally-appropriate cooking. It’s much more difficult to find an analogous dish in the wintertime, one that is made with seasonal produce but won’t weigh you down in its density.
Shellfish dishes have been filling this need fairly well so far this season, but moules à la grecque is quite possibly the ne plus ultra of the bunch. Relatively fast to make, easy to cook, and riddled with fennel, this is everything that Bourdain promises above: a wintertime alternative to the bright, summery dishes that beg for freshly-trimmed herbs and fresh tomatoes from the garden. If you can get it made by 5PM in late February, you can also enjoy it in the crisp, cool New England light, though shorts would only be recommended if dining indoors with good central heating. Read More
Roncal-stuffed piquilo peppers
Michael didn’t really believe me, I think, when I first mentioned that a storm was coming this weekend (and said storm has since blanketed the Northeast with a sizable amount of snow), but he willingly went along with my plan to stay in on Friday and Saturday and cook anyway. He balked a bit when I came home Thursday night laden with bags of provisions–likely thinking I was going overboard–but lo and behold, my instinct to stock up was right on the nose. That I was also able to get in and out of Fairway despite the fuller-than-usual parking lot was simply a bonus.
So while the snow fell and the wind howled on Friday night, we opened up a bottle of prosecco and got to work on a tapas spread. The one you see above was a bit of a punt. A delicious, delicious, punt.
Hawksmoor Roast Chicken
Back when Michael was in England, he was able to spend some time in London with our fabulous London friends, and during our subsequent cell phone and Google Hangout conversations he told me about this cookbook they had that from their favorite steakhouse Hawksmoor. Simply perusing the book made him feel inspired to buy it, and when I saw that it was under $30, I jumped and ordered a copy. To say that it’s a meat-lover’s cookbook is to be cliche; in fact, this cookbook is a diatribe on great English food and drink, albeit with a very heavy focus on meat. If a roast chicken recipe is an adequate barometer of the worth of a cookbook, well, the recipe here makes this one a good book to at least consider.
It may be a bit hasty to declare this when you’ve only tried one recipe, but when they get the roast chicken recipe so well, it’s only natural to assume the rest is remarkable. Especially when one is called “Beef Shin and Macaroni.” I’m looking forward to making that when it gets significantly colder. Read More
Sweet and Sour Fig Pizza with Goat Cheese, Shallots and Thyme
Do you still have “Zou Bisou Bisou” stuck in your head after last Sunday’s Mad Men? (Did I just get it back in your head after you thought you had bested that earworm? Sorry.) While it was inevitable that we were going to celebrate its return after at 17-month long hiatus with food and drink, the fact that you only rarely see any of the characters with food (with none of it looking all that appetizing to boot) meant that I wasn’t going to adhere to any strict theme, save for insisting Michael make us a round of Old Fashioneds. Certain nods to the show, after all, must be made, and cocktails have always felt far more appropriate than food.
Caprese salad and old fashioneds.
Besides: we had finally gotten a couple of new half sheet pans at Chef’s the day before, and I was in the mood for homemade pizza.
Wild King Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Shallots
After all there’s a lot in that vegetarian fine flavour of things from the earth garlic of course it stinks after Italian organgrinders crisp of onions mushrooms truffles. Pain to the animal too. Pluck and draw fowl. Wretched brutes there at the cattlemarket waiting for the poleaxe to split their skulls open. Moo. Poor trembling calves. Meh. Staggering bob. Bubble and squeak. Butchers’ buckets wobbly lights. Give us that brisket off the hook. Plup. Rawhead and bloody bones. Flayed glasseyed sheep hung from their haunches, sheepsnouts bloodypapered snivelling nosejam on sawdust. Top and lashers going out. Don’t maul them pieces, young one.
Hot fresh blood they prescribe for decline. Blood always needed. Insidious. Lick it up smokinghot, thick sugary. Famished ghosts.
Ah, I’m hungry.
–James Joyce, Ulysses (chapter 8, “The Lestrygonians”)
Happy (belated) Bloomsday, that wonderful day that celebrates the majesty and the weirdness that is James Joyce’s Ulysses and allows the people who slogged through it (self included) to feel smug for a day while they quote it! The rest of the post doesn’t really have anything to do with Joyce or Ulysses, but I wanted the excuse to share one of my favorite food-related quotes that is both delightfully hilarious and grotesque.
Onward! Read More
Beef and Oxtail Bourguignonne
[Editor's Note: Michael is filing this while at a conference in California, so he deserves a few props.]
Over Christmas, I made a point of requesting a large number of cookbooks in the name of expanding my culinary repertoire boldly into the realm French cookery. One of my first attempts was an as yet unpublished, seemingly straightforward Beef Bourguignonne. While everything seemed right on the surface, the final product was a bit too dry for my liking. I wondered if our very lean American supermarket beef was to blame for the discontinuity. We resolved to try again, this time with an ingredient that we hoped would be more foolproof. Read More
Spaghetti with Red and Yellow Peppers
Michael likes to rile me up any way he can (and I respond in kind by calling him Wrong-Way-M60 because last winter he hopped off the train and got on a M60 that took him to LaGuardia instead of home), and one of his more recent tactics to stir up my (completely not-serious) ire is to talk about how bread/pasta=poison. I’m not exactly sure where he got on this particular tangent, but as we were walking towards the A on Saturday I started quoting one of my favorite infomercials ever, nevermind that that it’s not real. It gets the “difficulty in using everyday products” scenes perfectly.
And, of course, there is this amazing bit:
Tracy: [doing commercial] Bread is one of the worst things in the world, but we’ve already needed it–until now. By burning three different types of meat together, the Tracy Jordan Meat Machine takes bread out of equation. Now you’re sandwich is all of the good stuff. [takes bite] That’s delicious!
Dr. Spaceman: And it’s healthy. Hi, I’m Dr. Leo Spaceman. I’m a working physician with a degree from the Ho Chi Minh School of Medicine.
Tracy: Dr. Spaceman, is it true that bread eats away at your brain?
Dr. Spaceman: We have no way of knowing, because the powerful bread lobby keeps stopping my research!
Tracy: Well folks, bread will never maybe attack your brain again. Because, say it with me, “Meat is the new bread!”
It’s a little scary how we can quote this show at any occasion, especially the first season, but I love to cook while having this show on in the background. I feel like Liz Lemon would approve of the food being made–the more indulgent, the better. While I couldn’t see her making this pasta dish herself, I could easily see her tucking into it because it’s that good. Read More