By the end of the last post, I had figured out that one of the prominent flavor notes in lovage is quite similar to fenugreek. If you cut some, or, better, tear it, your hands will become insistently perfumed with the persistent aroma of the plant. When people dismiss it with variations of the “it’s like celery” line, that’s a cop-out on par with the “tastes like chicken” descriptor so loosely applied to things as different as mushrooms and alligator. Lovage doesn’t taste like celery, though it approximates it visually, up to a point. It’s much closer to fenugreek, with a whiff of caraway and a citrusy tang.
Keep reading A Zoo In My Lovage…
A trip to the market yesterday for some fish yielded a couple dozen beautiful mahogany clams and, at the behest of the child, a lobster. He loves to peer into the tank and tell the fish guy which one he wants. The clams were twelve cents each, which is wonderful, so I was OK with shelling out (get it?) about thirteen bucks for a lobster we could all share. And the chowder I had decided to make as soon as I saw the clams would welcome the addition of lobster to make it a fancier Sunday dinner.
Keep reading Fuck The Yankees…
There’s nothing more useful than stock. Apart from the fact that it makes maximally efficient use of all your leftover bones—cooked or raw, depending on what you made—and that it can be tweaked and inflected every which way based on what you want to make next, it allows for so many options come dinner time. Soup, obviously, is pretty straightforward, but risotto is also only about twenty minutes away if you have stock on hand and some rice in the pantry. Sauces, reductions, gravies, stews, braises, and deglazing all require or at least benefit greatly from the application of a little or a lot of it.
Save the week’s bones in a container in the fridge or freezer and then give them a simmer with some aromatics every Sunday afternoon. Strain and freeze the result in quart containers and you’ll be set for any weeknight culinary eventuality that presents itself. Case in point: this dinner.
Keep reading Swinecraft…
Leftover soup extraordinaire:
Stock from (Asian-inflected) chicken wing and (Mediterranean-inflected) lamb chop bones plus lots of ginger and garlic
1/4 of a roasted kabocha, spooned into curly dumplings
Leftover pumpkin risotto, with plenty of al dente pumpkin lumps to double down on the cucurbitaceous xanthousness
2 beaten eggs, stirred in for that inimitable (and light yellow) egg drop filigree
Cubes of tofu
Mixed garden greens (kales, chard, tatsoi, etc.)
Yellow curry powder
White . . . → Read More: My Yellow In This Case Is Not So Mellow
This soup is one of the great peasant dishes of all time, I think, transforming a bunch of humble roots into a profoundly satisfying bowl of complex and nourishing pleasure. It’s fun to imagine the first starving farmer who had nothing but a bag of onions, some stale bread, and a heel of cheese and came up with this miracle of frugal virtuosity. Some good beef stock obviously helps, but it’s not necessary. Before I returned to carnivory, I made this using mushroom stock and it was a beautiful thing.
Keep reading Soupe À L’Oignon…
I’ve been sick as a dog, so all the festive autumnal posts I had planned will have to wait until I catch up with articles and other stuff that I’m behind on. But rest assured: I have binders full of awesome posts just waiting to be unleashed upon you at a moment’s notice. Meantime, I’ll tell you about this wonderful soup we had the other night, which was made entirely from homemade and homegrown things. It had the deep and vivid flavor of food that you eat on vacation in another country, which imprints itself upon your memory forever as being both emblematic of the place and the definitive version of that dish; you are forever after disappointed by the pale imitations at the restaurants back home, and your own efforts always fall short. This humble bowl of soup was like an Italian vacation in a bowl. Nothing was missing. It was perfect, and it transported me back to the osteria in Florence where I first had white bean and escarole soup.
Keep reading This Is Our Hill, And These Are Our Beans…
The induction burner I bought to cook on during the kitchen renovation a while back is another great technology for summer cooking, since it doesn’t give off any heat apart from the food and it’s highly portable. The presence of this device in our house has also meant regular clamoring by the resident small person for shabu-shabu since he loves interactive eating. The garden currently offers very many things one would want to dunk in hot broth, so with some meat from the freezer, some noodles from the cupboard, and a quick stock from random leftover bones we were in business.
Keep reading Powers Of Induction…
A lot of my posts are just descriptions of a single meal, which is a logical format for a blog, especially if one is diligent enough to document them regularly. Ahem. Moving on. I thought that this time around I’d show a little more about how unlike my actual approach to cooking the concept of an isolated, free-standing meal really is.
Keep reading Because You Can’t, You Won’t, And You Don’t Stop…
I make ceramics because it’s relaxing, and because I make the plates and bowls that I want. It’s the same reason I paint; the images I want to look at are not in the world so I need to make them if I want to see them. It’s not complicated. That simplicity is important, and I try to always keep it in mind. What happens to the work after I make it is largely out of my control (though that fact chafes sometimes) so I try not to worry about it too much and trust in the process of making. It has not let me down so far.
I like the daily practice of cooking; it’s easy to get better at something when you do it regularly. And since I’ve been back in the ceramics studio a bit lately, that familiar feeling of climbing the learning curve has been a welcome part of the process. I unloaded a kiln today, and unpacking all the work back here got me excited to make a dinner worthy of the new pieces. My plates make me cook better.
Keep reading Plate Tectonics…
Speaking of essentials–like the pressure cooker mentioned previously–it’s hard to beat having a few containers of smoked chicken stock on hand in the freezer. As much as I love smoked chicken (and mine enjoys a pretty good reputation in these parts) I almost love the stock more. It’s like liquid barbecue, yet weightless and fat-free, so it has an Ali-esque butterfly/bee dichotomy going on. It’s mighty for cooking beans, stews, gravy, or anything else that enjoys a good smoky note, and in a pinch it’s superb as a noodle soup base with a little or a lot added on top.
Keep reading Smoke In The Water…