February 10, 2014 § 3 Comments
In my last post I described the comfort I find in frying chicken, and a before that I waxed rhapsodic about brown butter. Now let’s turn to food with a lower fat content. Here is a recipe that is virtuous and delicious: a wild rice salad. It took me a long time to overcome my reluctance to cook with whole grains and I still stubbornly refuse many whole grain alternatives that I know are good for me. But I have embraced salads made with chewy, nutty grains like farro, barley and wild rice (which is actually a seed). These dishes make sense to my mouth in a way that whole wheat pasta never will.
January 30, 2014 § 6 Comments
As Superbowl fervor has grown and game day snack recipe ideas are trumpeted across the land, I cannot get my mind off of chicken wings. I have no idea how football and chicken wings became so dearly intertwined, but they certainly are and we have been hearing about wings nonstop for the last month. How could I not fall prey to this tempation? Two weeks ago I made a batch of chicken wings that was very well received. They were marinated, baked, then broiled and they were a fine, healthful rendition of hot wings. But my itch, it was not scratched. My true desire was to fry wings. So inconvenient, so smelly, so time consuming. Today, as I type I have a slight sheen of grease on my forehead, my hair smells like fry oil, and I have a smile on my face. Beside me sits a sheet tray with row upon row of beautiful fried chicken wings, cooling. I haven’t even eaten these wings yet and I know it was totally worth the trouble.
Sometimes we cook to relax, to recall, or to meditate. For me, frying chicken is all of those things – the ultimate in comfort cooking. You need to stay right there, stand by your stove and watch the oil bubble and the chicken turn golden. You can’t walk away and help the kid get that thing down from that place, or write an email. Must stay with chicken. The sound of the gurgling oil is kind of mesmerizing, and when you lift the chicken from the pan, if all has gone well, it looks just like store bought. I find that strangely satisfying. For years my husband has tried to talk me out of frying chicken at home. We have a few very decent fried chicken joints in our neighborhood, why bother going through all of this effort? Our little house smells like a fry basket by the time I’m done, and we have to open the windows, and close off the bedrooms. But I will not be dissuaded. Where is the love in fried chicken that somebody else made? Accept this chicken as a token of my love, light a scented candle and quit yer moaning. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 27, 2014 § 6 Comments
Let’s see,where was I…. It has been a year and a half since I wrote here. But I’ve missed documenting recipes and writing about my successes and screw-ups in the kitchen. And right now I have the luxury of time, so I thought: Heck. Revive the cooking blog. So here we are! Thanks for reading.
Today I will share with you a very simple recipe that produces an extraordinary little nut. A nut that is elevated, better than all of the other nuts. It is the brown butter pecan. Mother nature does not create these beauties without the help of human hands, because Brown Butter Pecan Trees would be irresistible. Men would wage wars over them and empires would fall, tragedy would ensue. But you can create these objects of desire in your own kitchen. And you can eat them all and not share a single one, because let those other folks make their own damn brown butter pecans. I would not know about these tasty morsels if my friend John hadn’t told me; he’s a great chef and I take his cooking advice whenever he gives it to me. So when John told me to coat toasted pecans in a copious amount of brown butter and a bit of salt, I did it. And dang, they were GOOD. In retrospect, they were obviously destined to be delicious: a toasted nut, slicked with nutty butter, and a sprinkling of sea salt. Yeah, it makes sense.
May 23, 2012 § 4 Comments
I’ve been wanting to write this post all winter, but I needed to wait until parsley season. I didn’t know parsley had a season until I started making Parsley Sauce. When you eat tablespoons of Parsley Sauce straight off the spoon you notice that sometime around October the quality of parsley takes a dip. And one necessity for this recipe is a decent bunch of parsley. But very soon farmers market tables will be covered with big fat freshly cut bunches of the stuff , and parsley will be selling cheap. The time has come. I am here to tell you about Parsley Sauce, The Wonder Condiment. I became enamored of Parsley Sauce when I realized my six year-old would eat anything coated with it.
ME: Sweetie, I see that you’ve stripped the chicken of all of it’s delicious crispy skin. Now will you please eat the bland, bare meat?
ME: Why don’t you dip the unappealing meat into an emerald green pool of nutrient-rich Parsley Sauce?
HER: …scarf scarf scarf scarf….
Drizzle it on roasted meat or vegetables. Stir it into risotto. Add a dollop to soup. Dip bread in it. Drink it from a mug. There’s nothing fancy about Parsley Sauce – it’s mostly parsley & olive oil. But there are two ingredients that make people cock their heads after a taste and wonder ‘What is that..?” It’s tarragon & fennel seeds. They don’t make a fuss, but they somehow boost the parlseyishness of Parsley Sauce. Another selling point: Parsley Sauce will keep in the fridge for three weeks or more. And you can freeze it. The Wonder Condiment in name and deed.
May 1, 2012 § 2 Comments
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? For my family, it was definitely the egg. We are the beneficiaries of friends’ and neighbors’ super-productive hens. It seems like right now my urban farmer friends have more eggs than they know what to do with, so they put those eggs in my greedy little palms. Each February I consider getting chickens, but by May I realize I can have many delicious eggs and no chickens at all. I’m such a lucky freeloader!
I may have a hard time figuring out what to do with hard-boiled eggs, but super-fresh fried eggs fire me up. They are magnificent on fried rice, smashing in a tortilla with some salsa & cilantro, and splendid on pasta. My favorite egg/pasta combo used to be spaghetti carbonara, but that recently got bumped. Now I think frying a small egg and laying it on top of pasta is perfect. The runny yolk becomes a golden, silky sauce. The texture of the crisped egg white is lovely with bites of pasta. This version is all about springtime, with English peas and arugula, but the dish will be easy to reinvent in the autumn with sturdy greens. As long as the chickens are still laying, this will be at the top of my weeknight quick dinner hit list. If you can manage to boil the pasta, cook the veggies and fry up the eggs simultaneously (and I know you can), dinner will be ready in a flash. Ka-pow!
April 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
For my family, the surest sign of Spring is mangoes. Heaps of perfectly ripe mangoes, delivered with love by my mother-in-law each week. So many mangoes. My children love them, which is why their Lola (grandma) brings mangoes by the dozen. But, like all precious things that suddenly arrive in immense quantities, mangoes become a bit less desirable as time passes. Consumption slows and I am faced with a fridge full of fruit that is on the brink. It’s the saddest thing in the world to toss them out, and this year I won’t let it happen. Each time I cook I will ask myself: where do mangoes fit into this meal? Can I add cubed mango? Pureed mango? Dried mango? Because we have 17 of them, and they’re not getting any younger. Last night I came up with a delicious idea, a meal where mango was perfectly at home, I think. My daughter felt otherwise and asked for salad without mango. I didn’t serve her mango at dinner, but she had to eat three for breakfast. We all need to contribute in this household, young lady. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
I am a woman who loves dyeing eggs, but hates eating them. In my family we don’t have the fine motor skills to dye blown out eggs, so we end up with heaps of hardboiled eggs each Easter. I’ve never been able to stomach deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, or (shudder) plain old boiled eggs with salt. Mercifully, I have found a recipe that I don’t just tolerate in order to rid my fridge of dozens of stinky boiled eggs. I love this recipe. In the future, I may boil eggs just to make Sauce Gribiche. It’s delicious spooned onto toasts or over grilled meat. It will be a knockout drizzled over the spring vegetables that are just about to burst forth. Roasted asparagus with sauce gribiche… the very thought makes me crave a boiled egg. Unthinkable. « Read the rest of this entry »