I had invited Priscilla for her birthday, but I was a little cooked out and couldn’t come up with anything to make. I started dreaming about the ingredients I knew she’d love – a stew of shrimp, chicken and sausage kept popping into my mind and making me hungry. So I considered what would go well with this rather unconventional trio. The cuisine of the seafaring Portuguese and hearty southern stews seemed apropro, as did capers, some wine and of course my herbs. I wanted this stew to be hearty and full with some heat from Italian sausage, a hint of sea brine, and those perfectly pink shrimp and deep brown chicken thighs.1 Comment » Keep reading »
Meatballs in my family make their own meal. They’re palm-sized and ever so tender nestled in tomato sauce with rarely a carb in sight. You could bake them in the oven – yea you could – but we like them simmered until they are just barely held together. Mom recently bought half a whole hog which she split with her good friend Priscilla who lives up the road. They’ll be cooking everything save a few offal, including the head, which are illegal to ship outside state lines. She’s still waiting on the cured bits, but ground pork, raw sausage and chops have graced our table in the last few weeks. It’s damn good pork, out of a small farm in Maine. Today we broke out the ground pork and some grass fed beef.3 Comments » Keep reading »
In the words of my father, “Darlin, you really went to town on lunch.” Well, not exactly. What he was referring to was our lunch today of mushroom barely and chicken soup with focaccia. The focaccia was made last night by Matt in a baking frenzy – or as much as rolling out pizza dough and topping it with rosemary and goat cheese and little slivers of onions can be considered a sudden impulse. Yet focaccia does lend itself to a certain spontaneity and resulting crusty satisfaction. And we had mom’s post fresh in our heads to fuel the fire. While the dough was being rolled I stuffed a chicken in a pot, covered it in water and made the fixings of a good stock. After an hour or so of ever so carefully simmering the contents – which on mom’s stove requires a ton of finagling of knobs and peeking under the cocked lid to make sure the bloop, bloop is constant – we took the chicken out. I had started to feel the kind of crappy where your head is stuffed with foam and your kidneys hurt and you just want to lay on the floor in the kitchen and moan. So I lay there, perfectly useless, while Matt pulled apart the steaming chicken with a fork and a thumb. I did emerge a few times to pull dark chicken meat from the bowl and pop it in my mouth. I think boiled chicken may still rival the roasted kind in my book. Then we threw the bones back in and continued to barely simmer the stock, for what was supposed to be two more hours. At this point you’re aiming to get all the gelatin out of the bones. Well, unsurprisingly, we fell asleep somewhere in there and woke up at 2am to find the stock had been going strong for three long hours. It was down to about 2 inches in the pot including bones and vegetables and such. Ooops. It smelled divine, but we effectively had the essence of chicken stock, boiled down to very little. Matt strained it while I wobbled around, brushing my teeth, thinking about stock and getting into bed.4 Comments » Keep reading »
Cabbage is a satisfying vegetable to grow in the garden like carrots and parsnips. It is relatively undemanding and available from July on in the garden. In the fall after hard frost, when you have harvested everything from the garden, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month. We consider it a staple, like carrots or onions, that we almost never have to buy.
Cabbage, by many, is considered a poor man’s vegetable and thus there are millions of recipes from around the world for wonderful cabbage soups. The following was inspired by the Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, with my adaptations.10 Comments » Keep reading »
When Anjuli and I get together in a kitchen it is like the improvisation that goes on between jazz musicians. She has an idea and it sparks me, I enhance on it, back and forth we go until, from these sparks, a dish is created. It just flows from mind to mind and heart to heart with no effort and no ego. It is quite amazing to me. I used to sing in the 60s with a partner. Sometimes we would hit a perfect note together. The feeling of the perfection of the note would make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It had a life of its own. When Anjuli and I cook together sometimes we create a dish that feels like that. We can just feel that it is right.5 Comments » Keep reading »
Anjuli has been inviting me, her mom, to post on her blog. I am a little old for this sort of thing, but I will give it a shot. I certainly love her blog. I feel honored.
Ramani, Anjuli’s dad, has been bothered by spicy food lately. He grew up in Bombay, so this is not something we take casually. This is up on the level of Greek tragedy. He strongly felt that without heat there can be no flavor. Poor guy. But yesterday he had an epiphany. We created a dal with herbs, garlic and onions and he loved it. I don’t mean he sort of liked it, it was ok. I mean he loved it.4 Comments » Keep reading »
It’s a mellow Sunday and one of the first gorgeous days of spring. Outside thousands of New Yorkers are tucking into baked eggs and already on their second Bloody Mary.
My mother, Matt, and I are inside discussing the flavor whereabouts of a certain Potato-Leek soup we’re attempting out of The America’s Test Kitchen. We’ve decided that the recipes in the book are deliberately more about technique than flavor, partially because we love Cook’s Illustrated and want to give them props and partially because we can’t imagine why the soup is soo bland. The traditional Vichyssoise and this hot adaptation may be mild, true. But while my mother rightly pointed out, “it is potato and leek soup, so it’s not like it’s going to kick ass,” we’ve spent the brunch period building some elegant flavors out of these potatoes and leeks.3 Comments » Keep reading »