Month: January 2011

January 30

As I mentioned at Christmas, I’m not such a fan of big roasts for small families. And yet that roast–which was very good–and more importantly the ensuing Cuban sandwiches kind of converted me to this way of cooking, at least occasionally. We’re rarely lacking in charcuterie (currently there’s duck prosciutto, bresaola, and both tongue and brisket pastrami on hand, plus guanciale and lardo, AND the whole ham from John) so, especially given all the bread I’ve been baking, lavishly delicatesque meatwiches are pretty much always an option. But, you know, a true Cuban sandwich requires two kinds of pork, so this dinner is what tomorrow’s lunch demanded.

Read the Post Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

January 28

In the summer, I always just walk outside and let the garden dictate what dinner will be. I love the constant dialogue with the plants, and the tension between my desire to efficiently dispatch them all at ideal times and the realities of their own schedules. As a result, I often try to make good use of the not-yet-ready in the form of sprouts and baby greens, combined with a few thinks at their perfect peak, and something else that’s past its prime. These days? I just open the freezer. Interesting it ain’t, but easy it assuredly is. And on nights such as last, when I’m not feeling super-inspired, a package of four semi-boneless quail can make the difference between a pasta phone-in and a real meal.

Read the Post Saved By The Quail

January 27

I often encourage everyone to buy whole chickens and bone-in cuts of meat because the bones–either trimmed off while still raw, or gathered after eating–allow the luxury of meat to be enjoyed again as stock later on. As I told a recent class I taught here, stock is the single most useful from-scratch ingredient one can have in the kitchen; it’s the easiest way to make your food better and more like things you pay big bucks for out in the world. And I used a shrimp shell reduction (to make paella-flavored fettucine) in that class to illustrate the point; crustacean shells are pure gold in the stock pot the next day. But when it comes to fin fish, I often buy fillets instead of whole fish. And that’s missing an opportunity. I had this epiphanette last night as I stood over a steaming pot of beautiful fish stock.

Read the Post Sea Change

January 26

Yesterday John and I went over to Gerard’s for lunch; he busted out a brilliant array of tapas and we brought some good wine. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a cold Tuesday afternoon than eating and drinking like this.

Read the Post Power Lunch

January 25

We all love to hate the Food Network. This is of course because it sucks; much like today’s new, improved GOP, it continues to find ever-cheesier ways to continue digging the mouth-breathing corporate shill-hole deeper and deeper. But I have some good news for you, o brilliant and discerning readers of this fine site: they’re picking up their game. (Food TV, that is. The GOP? Seriously?) Why on Earth would I say such an improbable thing? Well, I have some exciting news.

Read the Post The Spanish Recipe

January 24

A dear friend’s impending birthday gave me an excuse to spend an afternoon cooking, so after I ran a bunch of errands (including picking up 12 lbs. of pork belly for bacon) I got down to business in the kitchen. In the five hours between my return home and the arrival of the guests, I made a few dishes that turned out pretty well, and one that was damn good. And the wine, courtesy of John, was a beautifully curated study in Bordeaux-type wines vinified in places that (mostly) were not Bordeaux.

Read the Post That’s More Like It

January 20

I realize that I promised something, you know, good this time, but circumstances conspired to keep that at bay for another little while. I have this totally awesome terrine I made, but now it looks like I have to save it for Saturday for a party. The terrine is a byproduct of the wonderful day of cooking we had here on Sunday, complete with Jen’s photography, but I can’t really spill the offal beans about that until it comes out. So, to tide you over, because the Internet is both a harsh mistress and an insatiable gobbler of novelty, I offer you some humble noodle soup.

Read the Post Zei Gesunt

January 19

Lately I’ve been baking bread in a loaf pan for variety and also pragmatic reasons. Kid’s lunches are more easily made with rectangular slices of bread, and when the kid himself suggests it, it’s always a good idea to listen. The semi-random fluctuations of flour types in the pantry have made for some interesting variations lately: a wheat/spelt/triticale mixture, and more recently a whole wheat/rye blend where the only white flour came from the starter. Both were very good eating; the spelt has a nice nutty flavor, and triticale is subtle, combining aspects of its parents wheat and rye. The whole wheat and rye loaf is a thing of fragrant beauty–it tastes amazing–though really more of the inner beauty variety. These rectangular loaves are practical, yes, but they lack the compellingly oblate topography of a boule.

Read the Post Homestyle

January 16

It’s not often (if ever) that I post a repeat of a given meal within a few posts of another incarnation of the same dish. But I’m doing it here for a good reason: because I can’t be bothered to post something new family values! Read on, and I promise to show you how I went from zero to Zero Mostel in 30 minutes flat.

Read the Post Tradition, Tradition

January 12

Lamb is wonderful meat, but it tends to be pricey, too, especially when it’s pastured (which is of course the only kind we eat). One solution is to buy in quanitity; I’ll be getting a half animal in the near future. Another option is to learn one’s way around the less expensive cuts. One of the most interesting of these is the neck, which makes wonderful stews and braises. Its appearance lends itself to osso buco-type treatments, and it can fill in handsomely for oxtail, too. What’s important is to give it the slow cooking that it needs to get tender.

Read the Post Osso Necko