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Shrimp scampi via Alton Brown.

Few dishes scream “I was big in the nineties!” like shrimp scampi, maybe because even writing words takes me back to a table at a Red Lobster with a plate of butterflied fried shrimp and shirmp scampi before me, with the latter drowning in too much butter and probably some crappy white wine. It was so ubiquitous (to the point of nauseatingly generic) that it served as symbol in the ’90s romantic comedy Only You* that a shared love of the dish was a superficial connection at best.

So color me surprised when a few weeks ago I was flipping through the remainder of my cookbooks that I had yet to use and I found myself flagging a recipe for shrimp scampi in Alton Brown’s first cookbook I’m Just Here for the Food. There was no butter involved here–just a couple of tablespoons of olive oil–and not even a mention of wine. Instead, the idea is that you broil the shrimp with the garlic and some seasoning (salt, pepper, and some Old Bay) for a couple of minutes, and then stir in some lemon juice, panko breadcrumbs, and parsley, and put it back in the broiler to let the shrimp cook through and the breadcrumbs attain a lovely golden color. Intrigued, I put it on the list of things to make for dinner this past week. Read More

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Ham and egg tapa from The Book of Tapas

One of the objectives of this whole cook-through-my-cookbook-bookcase experiment was to reconnect with cookbooks I used to use all of the time but have since…well, not abandoned, per se, but haven’t referenced as much as I’d like to. The Book of Tapas is one where I have a handful of recipes that have entered our regular rotation—I’m particularly fond of the lemon-garlic chicken wings—but a few Fridays ago I decided to finally try a recipe I sort of half-assed back in New York and then never attempted to make again: the ham and quail’s egg tapa. Read More

Chargrilled mushroom salad

As I’ve learned to love and appreciate a good salad over time, I’ve been trying to add more of them to our rotation, saving the more complicated ones for the weekend, or for days when I’m craving something simple and light during one of my sabor de soledad sessions. There’s one recipe from Alton Brown’s new cookbook that’s been an early favorite, but given that strawberries feature heavily in it, I’ve been waiting for them to come into their peak season before writing about it. This recipe, on the other hand, is relatively season-agnostic* and what I like about it is that in the winter it helps you think of warmer days and in the summer the grilled mushrooms add substance without weighing the dish down on a hot day. Read More

Israeli Salad Water Martini from Zahav.

One of the things I always lament about getting cookbooks in the fall and then later in winter during the holidays is that inevitably I’m going to find a whole host of recipes that sound amazing but I must wait to make them until better weather arrives. While flipping through Zahav back during Christmas I did exactly that not far into the book–not only did the Israeli salad featured look both fantastic and simple, but then Michael Solomonov went and did one better and add in an Israeli salad water martini that looked damn refreshing as well. Read More

Lamb-herb meatballs with yogurt-lemon-herb sauce.

It is unequivocally spring around here, and every day it’s as if there’s something new to savor: longer days, warmer weather, the trees finally budding back to life and offering some gorgeous color. I try to keep reminding myself of this while I’ve been struggling with some writer’s block recently for a variety of reasons ranging from being busy with social engagements to feeling ennui in the spring, and the latter feeling is totally bullshit. Spring should be the last season in which ennui should be able to take hold of me, because for once everything I love is coming back: the light, the lush greenery, and the better produce. How can I struggle with existential crises when spring onions are back in the market? Read More

Spring Onion Frittata on Toast

Do you have those recipes where you have them flagged for seemingly ever but never bother to make them? On my list of those was a spring onion frittata from Franny’s meant to serve over toast. The primary reason why I held off on this, I think, was poor timing–whenever I would happen to flip through the book looking for meal ideas spring onions would never be in season, and while the recipe claims you can use scallions in their place, it didn’t feel like the same sort of recipe at all. Fortunately, Michael made a stop at the Teet on his way home from the airport two weeks ago to get some groceries for dinner that night, and was very excited to show me that spring onions were finally back in season. Finally remembering this recipe at the appropriate time, I bought another bunch the following weekend because by hell or high water, I was making this dish, goddamnit. I even made a special trip to Dawson’s by my office the day I planned to make it to get some good bread and actually make toast to serve with this. Read More

Wild mushrooms with egg yolk.

Wild mushrooms with egg yolk.

[Editor’s note: to echo a phrase from very sage person Caitlin at Fit & Feminist, it’s very weird blogging about food right now, but self-care is important in order to not lose one’s mind. If you’re as horrified by the actions taken by the current administration this past weekend as I am, please consider donating to the ACLU or the International Refugee Assistance Project if you can to help those who are affected.]

Deconstructed dishes are not the kinds of recipes you expect to find in a cookbook focused on country cooking until you consider that deconstructions almost work best in the country, given that you’re able to find fresh produce and the like.

The idea of deconstruction as a technique both intrigues and infuriates me; on one hand, it’s fun to play with the idea of, say, deconstructing a cheesecake and then bringing it all back together in a different way which I did a couple of years ago…and then there’s things like Ina Garten’s deconstructed lobster roll from one of her traveling shows in which she presents her husband a cooked whole lobster, some rolls, and some dip on a platter and invites him to “dig in!” Read More

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