On assignment, I have been privileged to spend some time with Zak Pelaccio, his wife Jori Emde, and their crew as they prepare to open Fish & Game, their new restaurant, in Hudson. As part of my diligent, thorough, and extremely professional research, just like a real journalist would I went ahead and obtained a copy of his recent cookbook from the publisher, because getting occasional review copies of cookbooks from publishers is one of the few perks in the fast-paced, glamorous world of food writing; they’re the in-flight reading as I flit and glide through the rarified atmosphere of culinary relevance like Dumbo one of those dinosaur things the Nazgûl rode a wounded TARDIS.
I like his book a lot; it’s personable, usable, and does a good job of communicating his unique and prodigious gifts for turning good ingredients into the kind of great food that makes a person want to have a lot of sex. If you read this blog, especially more than once, you should buy it.
Keep reading Whole Chili Fish Tacos…
When it’s hot, it’s hard to cook. But the cravings of children (besides ice cream, that is) rarely correlate with the ambient temperature. So it was that I ended up cooking the other night, albeit as little as possible.
Keep reading I Believe I Can Fry…
So that paella? Was but foreplay for this, my original idea. I’ve been basing dinner on strategically deployed leftovers for so long now, I’ve started to think backwards. See, I took a small square camembert from a recent batch and cold-smoked it back when we did the photo shoot for the DIY article. I figured that if I was going to fire up the actual cold smoker, then it would behoove me to use it to good and photogenic effect. So I popped the camembert in there to bask in the fragrant smoke of cherry chips and some grape vines I had pruned.
Keep reading I’ll Give You Something To Fry About…
Since there’s some sort of sports game event on the Teevee today, I thought I’d post about some of the high-end junk food I’ve made recently.
Keep reading In My Time Of Frying…
Today was sort of stressful. I actually had a pretty sharp idea for dinner, and was excited to make it. But by the time I was in the kitchen trying to get it going, I was tired, and grouchy, and the kid was making an unholy mess with flour and water and a bunch of other things, and I messed up my idea, which was yam and nettle dumplings stuffed with braised pork.
What we actually had, as a result of poor attention to detail, was a truly half-assed save that nonetheless managed to taste OK and used up some of the leftover french fry oil from the other day. The dumplings started off well enough, with steamed Japanese yam puréed with just-picked and blanched nettles from the edge of the yard. The result was a gorgeous, velvety, deep green. But then, distracted by Milo, I cracked in a whole egg instead of just the yolk, and that’s where it all went to hell. Some flour, leftover brown rice, some more flour–there’s no way to bring this kind of soggy mess back to a stiffness without steaming a whole other yam. And there was neither a whole other yam nor the time to deal with something else. So I dumped the pork in, too (minced loin seasoned with garlic chives, sesame oil, ramps, soy sauce, and rice vinegar) and made the whole gloppy mess into little cakes that I dredged in panko and then fried until crispy and brown.
The pile of greens . . . → Read More: I Ate Fried Food Again
So dinner yesterday was not soup, actually. It was steak. The roads improved a bit, so the family set off to buy a Christmas tree. And returned with strip steaks. (And a tree, sure, but let’s concentrate on the important stuff). There were also maitake and brown birch mushrooms. Instead of just making sweet potato fries, I busted out the saladacco and spun a tuber into lovely thin strips which I then double-fried into appealing tangles of sweet, crunchy orange joy. To the steaks I gave what is by now standard procedure when there’s no time for sous vide: brown them in butter and then grate homemade lardo over them while they rest. Then I gave the mushrooms a quick sautée in the steak skillet and deglazed with a little wine. That little grey mound next to meathenge is a mixture of grated daikon and black radish mixed with salt, pepper, truffle oil, and kimchi brine.
I should have taken the picture a minute later, after I added homemade red onion-habañero pickles and a fat dab of mustard to the plate. Lest anybody reach for their pearls at the dearth of greenery- that little thyme sprig only highlights it, really- there was a big bowl of lovely winter mesclun also in attendance. These fries need a tetch of tweaking to attain perfection, but they’re close. And I should have made a post-mushroom pan sauce since they bogarted most of the wine I poured in. To make up for it, I poured some . . . → Read More: Yes We Can! As Long As Joe Lieberman Says It’s OK!
Tasting, that is, though not something we do very often. Plus, it’s annoying to clean up after. But the ingredients spoke, and would not be denied. I made another batch of pimentón mayonnaise and used it as a binder for the leftover halibut which I had flaked apart with forks. I used my brand new hexagonal cookie cutters to shape them, then dipped them in curry-seasoned panko and browned ‘em up. While that was happening, I took washed and dried squash flowers (our winter squash are going fully apeshit on the compost pile with all the rain), stuffed them with mozzarella, and dredged them in a made-up batter of egg, flour, baking powder, and wine. All the fried goodness made a pretty circle around another splendid ragout de jardin. Extra mayo may have been used for swabbing of aforementioned fried goodness. There was . . . → Read More: Fried Food Is Good Food
You know those precooked chicken sausages that hang out in the freezer section? The organic ones with 1990s-era flavor combinations like sundried tomato and porcini mushroom? Well, because our grocery options up here are limited, occasionally my wife goes a little crazy from the limitations of a couple of small stores and grabs at anything that we don’t normally buy. And so it was that these things were in the fridge.
Because they’re pre-cooked, and they have the cellulose casings, grilling them is a disaster; they end up as rubbery little logs with no moisture. Chopping them up into a pasta sauce is really the only thing they’re good for (beyond just heating and eating on bread with mustard and kimchi while standing over the sink; they do the job, but only just).
So I figured that with some tinkering they might make a decent wonton filling. I had seen some skins in the freezer and the idea of both frying and hiding the sausage seemed to be win/win. I chopped them fine, adding copious ginger, garlic, preserved yuzu, nam pla, cilantro, and a little kimchi juice. Wrapped ‘em up. Fryed ‘em.
It looks like a delicious little Magdalena Abakanowicz, doesn’t it? I made the quick dipping sauce with soy, vinegar, sriracha, and a drib of agave, and served them on spicy baby greens (radish, mustard, mizuna). We also had sautéed crimini mushrooms with wine and garlic, and a heaping salad. And rosé. On the screened porch. The sun actually came out for . . . → Read More: Lipstick On A Chicken
Normally I avoid featuring the same ingredient twice in a row, with the exception of no-brainers like summer tomatoes or corn. But I just couldn’t get the lamb idea in its original form out of my head. It loitered, obdurate, mocking me, and demanded satisfaction. Fortunately, Fleisher’s was open, and I had an appointment at the gallery, which is only a mile away. So I chatted with Josh, and bumped into two friends (I love small town life) and stocked up on chickens for the party on Saturday, brisket to make into pastrami, marrow bones, double-cut pork chops, and four beautiful lamb rib chops.
Upon return home, I trimmed the chops of all fat, vacuum-sealed them, and dropped them in a 51˚ C water bath for an hour. While they did their sous-vide thing, I pressure-cooked some Christmas lima beans with onion and guanciale, caramelized parsnips in a little olive oil, steamed our giant red mustard greens with fenugreek, cumin, and mustard seeds, and browned (in a little lamb fat with bits of guanciale) the 30%/70% feta/ricotta gnocchi I made yesterday, bound with 1% activa and piped onto parchment paper to set up in the fridge overnight.
Once the meat was ready, I puréed the greens and strained them. I added the parsnips (which had been off the heat) to the gnocchi, and also some peas just to warm through. Each chop got liberally brushed with a harissa tapenade (fresh harissa I made with toasted spices . . . → Read More: But Wait… There’s More!
Today was a whirlwind of appointments, errands, and a meeting, but the sun finally came out after two solid days of much-needed rain. Among my stop was a local market, which has an adequate (if limited) fish counter. I got haddock, because it was fresh, and a little different from our normal choices. I’ve been chafing against our limited seafood choices up here, so yesterday I talked to our friend who teaches fish at the CIA and ordered some primo salmon for Christine’s birthday. Milo and I spent some time in the garden, which resulted in some planted seeds and some picked greens for a salad: spinach, galia endive, and two lettuces- all from last winter.
We had burdock in the fridge from some overeager digging the day before, so I peeled and sliced it and then cooked it the way we like, with soy sauce and vinegar. After about 45 minutes, the root coins were pleasingly savory, earthy, and al dente (right, Claudia?) I crusted the fish with coarse local polenta, garam masala, oregano, salt, cardamom, and chilli powder and crisped it up in a bit of oil. Meanwhile, I reheated the kabocha purée from the other day and washed and dressed the salad. It came together pretty well; as with most meals recently, I had to scramble to get it together and it fell short of what I had in mind. The nights where it all meets my expectations are . . . → Read More: Falling Short, But Better Than Fish Sticks