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Cured Beef with Watercress Salad from Hawksmoor at Home

I’m not sure what it was that made me think making salt-cured beef in the fridge was a perfect idea for a chilly January weekend, but all I do know is that when I took out our copy of Hawksmoor at Home one Thursday morning before breakfast and I flipped open to that page, my stomach growled. Audibly. It also seemed so simple and the flavors so perfect to this time of year, since you grate up quite a bit of celery root and throw in some rosemary springs to meld with the salt and brown sugar–I mean, it was practically begging me to give it a try. Michael was sold on it pretty quickly, so over lunch I went out in search of ingredients and was able to place a lovely, just-over-one-pound piece of tenderloin into the cure and then into the fridge and I could feel very pleased that half of my Saturday dinner prep was well underway.
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Home-cured gravlax with Wasa crackers, cream cheese, and pickled shallots

Another year, another New Year’s Eve in the books. Like last year our celebration was small but special as we were able to sit and nosh and chat all evening, and honestly I couldn’t ask for much more than that. I was beyond excited because it was the first time we could properly entertain in our new digs without bags of paper and flattened boxes lying everywhere, and truth be told I kind of felt like Marnie from Girls when she was fluttering about that North Fork house getting it ready for what would be the dinner party from hell.

(Fortunately our get-together did not include a choreographed dance number, not enough food for everyone who was gathered, or a drunken confession session in which everyone’s dirty laundry was aired, so really the comparison ended during the preparation stage.)

When it came to the menu we largely stuck to the edict of not serving brand new recipes, sticking with tried and true staples like hummus, lamb meatballs, and my crostini with mozzarella di bufula and serrano ham, but I admittedly did try something that was sort of new by trying Tom Colicchio’s recipe for cured salmon. It’s not the first time I’ve made gravlax, nor was this the first time we’ve tried making a cured product following a Tom Colicchio recipe, so it didn’t feel quite as much of a risk as, say, test-driving a recipe from either the Le Bernadin cookbook or even the Gramercy Tavern cookbook. 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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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 woolly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Black Garlic and White Balsamic

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)

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

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

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