Over the years I’ve acquired many, many Spanish cookbooks but one of my eternal favorites was one I bought way back in the day on a whim at Crate and Barrel: Spanish Country Cooking. (Yes, I paid retail for it.) I’ve written about it here before in singing its praises for inspiring one of my favorite soups and a fantastic bass recipe fried in pancetta, but probably my favorite recipe to cook from it is a simple garlic chicken number that I’ve loved for years but never shared with you. Well, that stops today, because it’s too good not to enjoy, and when paired with a side salad you won’t feel like you’ve abandoned your resolve to eat a little lighter if you so choose. Read More
Back when spring was easing into summer, I really didn’t fully appreciate just how much we had planned in the first few weeks of the season, and here we are in the middle of July. One thing I resolved on doing this summer was to spend some time revisiting my favorite Catalunyan dishes since we wouldn’t be making our biennial trip over to Europe this year, what with us buying a house and me buying a new car, but with everything we’ve been up to it’s been awhile since we could devote a couple of days to anything more fun than a typical weeknight meal.
With a weekend looming on the horizon with no plans but our own, I decided to give us a chance to relax and give ourselves a mini Caldes d’Estrac vacation, at least with food if not in beach time. Rosado would be poured, caftans donned, and my hope was each dish would bring us back to those warm days we would spend along the Mediterranean coast. Read More
If the galettes were a foray into the unknown, the following week was a retreat into the familiar and easy. Initially my plan was to have dinner planned for three nights, but Michael’s schedule changed and I ended up only needing plans for two, so one of my favorite meals alone–ricotta dumplings with arugula–had to wait until lunchtime on Friday. Oh well.
Still, I ate very well: Tuesday I made Rachel Khoo’s delicious fig and liver salad. I wrote about this salad last year when I first read about it and felt compelled to make it, but Fairway didn’t have any fresh figs at the times so I subbed in some Italian plums instead. Thanks to Whole Foods I was able to make it as written, and I even splurged and bought some organic chicken livers. I’m not one to get up on soap boxes to sing the praises of organic foods, but I’ll make an exception for chicken livers. Since they are organs that filter things, the fact that they come from chickens fed an all-vegetarian diet means that they definitely taste way better than the super-cheap ones I’d find at the grocery store. They still don’t break the bank (a pound of them cost me $4) but the difference is extremely notable. Read More
While this summer has been filled with rosé and vermouth, I couldn’t let it go completely by without making at least one sangria, no?
You know those weeks that all but guarantee to be intense and rough and you know you can get through them but it’s going to suck the entire time? Last week was like that for me, and I’m happy to report that I actually did make it through most of it not much worse for the wear. It helped that we had plans over the weekend to serve as a motivator to stay focused and as an incentive when the work was done, but in the meantime my intentions to post about this sangria had to take a backseat while I tackled the task at hand. Read More
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
Last week was not particularly enjoyable: besides being grey and kind of cold for August, a succession of events left me feeling pretty damn defeated by the end of the week. In an effort to boost our spirits halfway through, I did what I usually do when in need of some self-care: I poked around on the internet for some recipe ideas. I didn’t need to look for that long, as a fellow blogger had that day posted a recipe from Tom Colicchio for a salad of squid with burst tomatoes from the latest Food + Wine.
Michael was all for it when I sent him the link. But to be completely honest, I kind of didn’t care at that point, because in my mind I was determined to make it. (Given his love of squid, I really didn’t think this would be much of a hard sell in any case.)
There isn’t much to this dish, aside from chopping garlic, slicing squid, and plucking about a cup’s worth of basil leaves. The tomatoes you leave whole, as they will slowly cook with the garlic in the oil and begin to fall apart, and then the squid follows and cooks for another five minutes. Michael expressed some concern that the heat needed to go up to avoid it turning tough, but honestly, it really didn’t: the squid was perfectly tender when served. Chef Colicchio finishes the dish with the basil and some white wine vinegar, but I was in the mood for a splash of white wine instead. I also upped the garlic amount specified because it’s what I like.
On its own, it’s spectacular, but I think it would make an excellent summer pasta sauce if you were so inclined.
Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
adapted slightly from Tom Colicchio’s recipe for Food + Wine
Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb cleaned squid, with ears removed from bodies and tentacles sliced in half
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 cup basil leaves, washed and dried
Add the olive oil to a large, heavy skillet and bring the olive oil to moderate heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about 4 minutes or until they begin to burst. Add the squid and cook over moderately low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for another minute or so, and then stir in the basil. Season well with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Lobster and pasta: it sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And doesn’t it sound like the epitome of the springtime or summer meal, something to enjoy after a nice day at the beach, perhaps served with a refreshing beer or glass of white wine?
Oh, were it so simple. The truth of the matter is that this is a dish that demands patience. Not only does it take some work to get all of the components ready, but it’s one that requires you to wait until the ingredients are in season because anything otherwise would result in a less-than-stellar meal. I knew this when I first saw the recipe in Made In Sicily months ago, so I abstained from even thinking about it. But then Memorial Day weekend came, and Michael was home after a long week in England, and Fairway had lobster on sale. Even the tomatoes smelled delicious, despite it not quite being peak tomato season just yet in our neck of the woods.
In short: I waited long enough to have this, and to borrow a phrase from Alton Brown, my patience was going to be rewarded. Read More