HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Short Rib Pot Pie adapted from Bon Appetit


         Who doesn’t love a great pot pie?  Meat and vegetables and gravy under a blanket of pastry, these pies are American Classics.  But they go back in culinary history considerably longer. In the Roman Empire, the pastry was banquet fare.  Sometimes the crust revealed live birds, which must have been quite a shock to unsuspecting guests.   In 16th century England meat pies became all the rage.  The English ate meat pies of all sorts – pork, lamb, game and they were especially fond of using venison. And, like the Romans, English cooks loved their birds.  In Elizabethan time, pot pies were made using ‘chicken peepers’: tiny chicks were stuffed with gooseberries.  And then of course there’s the nursery rhyme:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pistachio and White Chocolate Cheesecake from "Baked Occasions" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito


       
Solomon and The Queen of Sheba
as painted by Piero della Francesca
Nobody seems to know why, but February 26th is World Pistachio Day.  The day even has its own website: www.worldpistachioday.com
And, as the site points out, it’s hard to believe that until 1976 pistachios weren't even grown in this country.  The nut had been imported since the 1800s. It was slow-growing in popularity until a man named James W. Parkinson of Philadelphia invented Pistachio Ice Cream at which point Pistachios took off.  Now, California alone produces 300 million pounds of Pistachios annually.  The pistachio itself is an ancient nut, one of only two nuts referenced in the bible.  The second?  The almond.   The Queen of Sheba was said to be so mad for pistachios that she ordered that her country’s entire crop be set aside just for her.   Was it greed or just good sense?  Pistachios are highly nutritious and have a very long storage life. That makes them a perfect food for travellers like the Queen who ventured from her home in what is now Yemen to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon. From the Middle East, they were introduced to Rome in the 1st Century AD.  Their popularity truly is worldwide.  China consumes almost twice as many pistachios as are eaten in the US.  But we’re hardly pikers: 45,000 tons of pistachios were eaten here last year.  So let’s celebrate this remarkable nut, whose trees can bear fruit for up to 200 years.  Let’s bake a rich, decadent cheesecake studded with pistachios over a chocolate graham crust to celebrate World Pistachio Day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rick Bayless' Authentic Pork Tinga

Photo Courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine




Do you have recipes that sit there tempting you but that look too winter-y when you discover them on the first warm day of Spring?  That’s what happened to me with Rick Bayless’ flawless recipe for Pork Tinga.  But the other day, I was going to be farther over on the West Side than usual and decided to make a pilgrimage to Esposito Pork Shop to get what I needed to make the dish, a perfect antidote to cold weather. It is warming, rich and almost chili-like.   Tiny potatoes give the dish a lot of body.  Chorizo sausage gives an amazing depth of flavor. And of course, there are the tomatoes and chipotle peppers enlivening the sauce. Served with flour tortillas, it can be used to stuff them with tinga and cheese and avocado. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Floyd Cardoz' Indian-Spiced Tomato and Egg Casserole

         
Chef Floyd Cardoz and one of his dishes from
his latest restaurant, White Street
As many of you know,  New York's winter has been not as unforgiving as the one Boston is suffering through.  But it is incredibly cold here and not expected to get much warmer anytime soon.  Times like these, I look for comfort food that will warm the body and bring a sense of well-being with it.  My thoughts turned to Indian food recently with its rich spices all of which bring a lively heat to their dishes.  The irony of India being a source of cold-weather cooking is not lost on me.  India ranks the 8 hottest country in the world, beaten out by much of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa. (Libya comes in at #1.)  But what is also true is that eating spicy foods raises your internal temperature. Your blood circulation increases, you may start actually sweating.  The effect of this in summer is that sweat, which usually starts on your face, evaporates and in doing so, cools you down.  In winter, the idea of raising one’s internal temperature certainly has its appeal.  So I turned to Floyd Cardoz, one of New York’s most celebrated Indian chefs for a recipe that I served at brunch but would make a wonderful “Breakfast for Dinner”.  It’s meatless, gluten-free, vegetarian and stunningly warming and delicious. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

French Onion Soup in a Flash!

        
King Louis XV 
Who doesn’t love a bowl of French Onion Soup?Topped with melted Gruyère cheese over crusty bread, your spoon digs into the bowl to get to the rich beef and onion broth.  It’s a classic recipe that became wildly popular in this country in the 1960s when interest in French cooking really took off.  Its history goes back a very long time before that.  Onion soups have their roots in Roman times because onions were plentiful, easy to grow and cheap.  For those reasons, they were seen as food for the poor.  In 18th century France, the modern version came into being.  There’s a legend that the first French Onion soup was created for King Louis XV. The story goes that upon arrival at his hunting party’s lodge, all that was in the larder was butter, onions and champagne.  It seems unlikely that anyone preparing for the King’s arrival would have not stocked the pantry to the hilt but it makes a good story.  But there’s another one that’s even better. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Five Biggest Food Trends for 2015 plus Fine Cooking's Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower, Currants and Pine Nuts


         Food Trends are an annual pursuit for everyone from Bon Appetit to the BBC.  The list that intrigued me most, however, came from Pinterest, the on-line picture sharing site where anyone, anywhere can post any image at all that interests them.  “Food” makes up for just over 10 percent of what’s pinned lagging behind Home Décor, Arts and Crafts and Fashion and Style.  (I was surprised that Cat pictures didn’t even make the top 10.) Pinterest developed their list of food trends simply by tallying up the most popular pins on its site. This sounds like a flawless way to zero in on what people are actually eating rather than the predictions of someone who is locked in the towers of Conde Nast or Broadcast House.  Pinterest narrowed its list down to five. And here they are:
1. Ramen, long a college dorm room staple, have risen in restaurant popularity to the point that Pinterest thinks they are poised to enter the home kitchen this year.




2. Hack the Menu.  This involves discovering ‘secret’ non-menu items that can be ordered at restaurants, coffee shops and fast food restaurants thereby assuring your dinner mates that you are a master or mistress of privileged information.  California’s In-N-Out Burger alone is responsible for 17 of these.

    3.  The Paleo diet mimic foods eaten by early humans –meat, fish, vegetables and fruits.  No dairy, no grains and certainly no processed food.  But hold onto your toque, Carbs are about to enter the picture with recipes like Paleo Waffles.  Although what the early humans did for a waffle iron is not explained.
       
4.Tequila is the new Vodka.  And 80 is the new 60…just kidding.

     





5.  Cauliflower is the new Kale.  Andrew greeted this last one with great joy having somehow missed last year’s boat when Kale was the new bacon.  According to Pinterest, Cauliflower isn’t just a side dish anymore.  It’s now a center of the plate item. There’s even a recipe for pizza crust that uses cauliflower and wouldn’t you know it’s gluten-free!

So there you have them.  A long way round to bring you to today’s remarkable Cauliflower recipe.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

12 Best Meatball Recipes of All Time


    
         New York loves its meatballs.  There are now no less than 6 Meatball Shops alone and on the Upper West Side, if you can’t get into the one there, Nicky Meatball’s “Polpette” (that’s meatball in Italian) is a couple doors away.  The meatball exists in some form or other in virtually every cuisine in the world.  They’re made of every conceivable protein from chicken to buffalo and there are a sizeable number of recipes with no meat in the balls at all.  Instead they’re made of mushrooms or walnuts or even just bread.  In the last five years, meatballs have been a staple on Chewing the Fat.  I’ve made Vietnamese Meatballs, Moroccan Meatballs, Sicillian Meatballs. I’ve made them into Stroganoff and into Soup.  And their appeal has never waned.  They’re among the most popular posts on the blog. So I thought it would be fun to collect links to our 12 Best!  Which one will you try first?  In ascending order, here goes:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Anthony Bourdain's (Cream of) Mushroom Soup


 
      
         Anthony Bourdain is an astonishingly good food writer, right up there with MLK Fisher in my book.  Before he became a familiar figure on Television and the star of his former show “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “The Layover” and his current one on CNN “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, he authored a book called “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” (Bloomsbury Books 2000).  It’s a wonder he wasn’t completely ostracized by the culinary community because the book exposed all kinds of dirty little secrets of the restaurant trade.  The book was an outgrowth of an article he wrote in The New Yorker entitled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This”.  He’s been churning out articles, essays and books ever since. He wasn’t always a writer. He was first and foremost a cook. For years Bourdain was the Executive chef at a New York bistro called Brasserie Les Halles. In 2004, he put together “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook” (Bloomsbury 2004).  This is a very long way around to tell you that this where I found this phenomenal recipe.  It’s for a mushroom soup that, were it not for a significant quantity of butter, be dairy-free and yet the creamiest mushroom soup I have ever eaten. As long as you’ve got a blender and about an hour to make it, you’re in for a treat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dorie Greenspan's Sweet and Savory Sablés: French Shortbread and Rosemary Almond Parmesan "Cocktail" Cookies




         The first time Andrew and I ever tasted a Sablé, we’d made a pilgrimage to The Essex Market where Dorie Greenspan and her son Joshua had opened “Beurre et Sel”, a tiny hole in the wall that sold nothing but these out-this-world butter-y crispy shortbread cookies. The sheer beauty of the Greenspan’s display of the cookies took us aback.  The variety was amazing too—there were sweet and savory versions. These were all tucked into tubes to take home but I couldn’t help wonder how many of them actually made it there. The cookies were that addictive and at about the size of a half dollar coin easily consumed anywhere.  They were also fairly expensive which may explain why, sadly, after 15 months in business, the tiny shop was shuttered.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Balsamic Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings and Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce


        
You may be aware that there’s a football game being played this coming weekend that is the Granddaddy of them all.  This year’s game has the Northwest facing off against the Northeast in Glendale AZ, which at this writing will still take place despite a confusing controversy over deflated balls. (Don't ask). In the history of television, the three most watched broadcasts of all time are all for this one game.  It seems quite right then that this would be called the Super Bowl.  It shuts down traffic, fills bars, taxes septic systems at the end of every quarter, and is scheduled to be watched by over 100,000,000 people.  But if you think that’s an impressive number, how about this:  On Sunday February 1st, 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed—that’s four for every man, woman and child in the entire country.  That’s in addition to the 8,000,000 lbs. of guacamole and the 28,000,000 lbs of potato chips.  With all that food, and with the high octane dipping sauce that goes along with it, is it too much to hope that the least we could do is to bake our wings rather than fry them? Well, if you’ve ever had a Balsamic Soy-Glazed Chicken Wing, you would gladly give up the fryer.  But since I am not all sure your penitent approach is natural, I have also included a recipe for the best Buffalo Wing Blue Cheese dipping sauce I have ever tasted. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Peposo, Tuscan Beef Stew

  
        
Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore 
The story behind Peposo, a rich stew that owes its flavor to just two key ingredients –Chianti and Black Pepper—is as fascinating as the finished dish.   I read it in Cook’s Illustrated, which, in its usual fashion, went to great lengths to perfect the finished dish.  I was much happier with my final version but first, this fascinating piece of food history. In the 15th century, Tuscan tile makers, working on the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, one of Florence’s most cherished landmarks, had to produce 4 million terra cotta tiles to line the dome of the church.   Their kilns practically worked non-stop to achieve their goal. For their midday meal, the men would lay cheap cuts of beef and lots of garlic cloves and pepper into clay pots. These pots were then doused with at least a liter of Chianti. Left uncovered, they were placed close to the kilns and slow-cooked until the meat was tender and the wine had turned into a rich, beefy, peppery sauce. The finished dish was then served over slabs of Tuscan bread.  I am almost as fond of a good food story as I am of a great recipe so the stew captured my imagination and I went to work making it.       

Friday, January 16, 2015

Poached Salmon with Saffron Sauce and Mussels



One night, not too long ago, Andrew asked for something light for dinner.  I shouldn’t have been all that surprised because as the blog has been laden with cold weather comfort food, so has our table. I love the indulgence of these winter recipes but I get the point. So I found a recipe from Saveur Magazine that had all the elements of a classic winter meal.  There’s the rich flavor of poached salmon and it sits in a lovely sauce redolent with saffron and fennel and enough butter to make it silken.  The mussels float on top adding to the stew-like feeling I got from this dish.  I confess that I don’t often use Saffron and until this recipe, I would have to say that I was a little disappointed every time I did. For an ingredient that is, by weight, likely the most expensive item in the entire arsenal of spices we keep, its underperformance was shocking.  This time I got it right in two ways:  I bought the saffron at Trader Joe’s which sells it for the bargain basement price of 5.99 for .020 oz.  That’s still a lot of money but when it performs as it does in this recipe, it’s well worth the splurge.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baked Pasta with Pesto, Cheese and Meat Sauce


         Here’s true comfort food that you can play with to your heart’s content.  It’s virtually impossible not to make something warming and filling out of this recipe because the recipe is as flexible as can be.  It’s also a great way to empty the fridge, use up ends of cheese and experiment with flavors you make up as you go along.  That’s basically how I put this dish together.  All you really need is 1 lb of ground beef, an onion, a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, a box of pasta of and a cup and a half of soft cheese that melts easily plus enough parmesan to sprinkle over the top.  And the whole thing comes together in under an hour.  Let’s proceed, shall we?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lamb Chops with Cucumber Relish from Chef Renee Erickson of Seattle's Boat Street Cafe


        
I am a big fan of the loin lamb chops that you can buy at Costco in packages of between 10 and 12 chops. They are all completely trimmed with none of the extraneous fat I often see on the chops in the butcher case at our supermarket for lots more money.  That being said, they don’t exactly inspire me to do much more than stick them under the broiler for a few minutes, occasionally drizzling Worcestershire sauce over them.  This summer, I tried a cumin rub with less than stellar results.   So I was very pleased to find a recipe from a Seattle chef that dresses up these quick and easy chops at dinnertime.   Actually, the recipe doesn’t do any more to the chops than rub them in olive oil and use a heavy hand in seasoning them with salt and pepper.  It’s the Cucumber relish that makes the meal here and makes it so easily.  The active time preparing the dish is all of 20 minutes.  Add in the cooking time and you’re out of the kitchen in just 45! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Oven-Braised Chicken Stew, Hungarian-Style from Bogre at Food52.com

        
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
Founders of Food52
Have you ever visited Food52.com?  It’s the brainchild of former New York Times Food writer, Amanda Hesser and her partner, Merrill Stubbs, a Brown University and Cordon Bleu grad who worked with Amanda on “The Essential New York Times Cookbook” (The New York Times Company 2010). The site is characterized by exquisite photography –especially of its carefully curated “Provisions” area where Food52 sells an intriguing and artful collection of housewares and pantry items.  It’s a full on-line community which actively requests recipes from its audience.   There are any number of contests to enter and readers select “Community Picks” of their favorites.  It was there that I found today’s recipe. As I often do, I started a recipe search with one ingredient in mind and one hope: to discover something hearty to do with chicken thighs for that cold night’s dinner.  And boy, did I find
This is a Bogre
according to Wikipedia
it. Its creator, 
Bogre, who describes himself as a ‘library acquisitions specialist, bartender and District of Columbian', is a significant Food52 contributor who has won one contest, been a finalist in another and has 5 “Community Picks” to his name. "Bogre", I was to discover, is a specific type of mug in Hungary.  Not being fluent in the language and relying on a web translator, it appears that a "Bogre" is also used as a measuring cup.  At any rate, Bogre's Hungarian credentials are pretty well summed up in his screen name.  That and his use of that most Hungarian of all ingredients.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Two Clarks and Porchetta for Days: An unforgettable Pork Roast and a Cannellini Vegetable Soup from the leftovers.



        
Jill Clark, Redhead and Cook 
My friend Jill Clark introduced me to Melissa Clark’s recipe for “Counterfeit Porchetta” at the dinner party she and her husband Steve threw right before Christmas.  Like Jill, I’d seen the recipe in the New York Times the week before and, like Jill, I was intrigued.  Melissa Clark explained that in Italy, Porchetta is a spit-roasted, de-boned and stuffed baby pig seasoned with fennel, garlic, rosemary and lemon. (Confession:  I wasn’t a Porchetta virgin.  I’d made a mean counterfeit Porchetta before (see http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/07/porchetta-slow-roasted-pork-shoulder.html)
Melissa Clark, Redhead and
Cook
  But the version I had at Jill and Steven’s had me hooked from bite one.  It is incredibly flavorful and juicy. The spicy, salty crust just begs the cook to pick at it before serving.  Pork Shoulder is used here.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any protein as economical as Pork Shoulder. The one I special-ordered came in at about $4.00 a lb.   It’s terribly easy to cook mostly because it’s not fat-free by any means.   The amber crust keeps the meat underneath juicy and tender.  The platter of meat that emerged from our kitchen was soon devoured and with barely any leftovers.  But there was the bone and a couple of slices of meat.  So a day or two later, I turned both into a soup so perfect for cold weather, so ideal for using fresh and leftover vegetables, that I’d make Porchetta again just so I could make it.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Melissa Clark's Girl Scout or Creme Brûlée French Toast


         If you scroll down this page, you’ll see that we show 15 posts.  What I aim to do is never to have two similar dishes in the mix. Most of the time, that’s easy to accomplish.  I just avoid cooking the same raw ingredient and I try to keep the mixture fresh by varying cooking techniques and even courses in the meal.  So it may come as a surprise to see that today’s post follows closely on the heels of one for a French Toast casserole made in October.  However, Melissa Clark knocked French toast out of the ballpark recently and the dish is so perfect for New Year’s Day breakfast that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pass it on.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Shrimp Scampi, an amazingly fast Italian American Classic and the story of the Feast of the 7 Fishes.


                                                       

Scampi

 I first wrote this post a year ago. But I thought I would repeat it again this year because it's a wonderful explanation of an Italian tradition that many Italian Americans will uphold again this Christmas Season. And the recipe follows my mantra for the season: Get 
something on the dinner table in no time and impress one all with a wonderful dish for all to savor. I had some 20-25 count Shrimp and started poking around for a recipe that had not appeared on Chewing the Fat.  Since there have been no less that 41 shrimp recipes published here, it amazed me to discover that the Italian American restaurant classic, Shrimp Scampi, had never made an appearance here.  How clearly I remember Scampi from my first forays into an Italian restaurant in Montreal.  The overtly garlic-y, buttery sauce was a sensation—especially if you teamed it up with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.  Later, when I went to school in Italy and learned the language, I was surprised to hear that ‘Shrimp Scampi’ is rather like calling something Chicken Poulet.  Scampi is the ingredient “langoustines” -- an Italian version of shrimp.  But this dish itself is pure Italian American cooking, plain and simple and incredibly easy to make.  I was astonished that the whole thing took under ten minutes to make. In fact, it’s so speedy, you feel like a one-armed paper hanger juggling the cooking of the shrimp, with the 3 minutes it takes the angel hair pasta to cook.  But this is a winner from start to finish and before the feasting begins tomorrow, it’s a perfect thing to serve the night before the night before Christmas.  Except, perhaps, if you’re Italian, because your Christmas Eve Feast will satisfy your hunger for seafood for quite a while.   I’ll take you through the Scampi recipe after introducing you to The Feast of the 7 Fishes.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Carla Hall's Spiced Lamb and Potato Pie

        

Who can forget Carla Hall? Twice a contestant on Top Chef, she was voted “Fan Favorite” her second time around, which is equivalent to being named “Miss Congeniality” in the old Miss America days.  She was lots of fun to watch and never an unkind word came out of her mouth, a trait sadly missing from Top Chefs most of the time.  She made it all the way to the finals, her recipe for Chicken Pot Pie landing her an appearance on Jimmy Fallon.   Sadly she suffered major equipment failures in the finals and was bounced off the show.  But talk about bouncing back.  She is now a fixture on ABC’s “The Chew” where she enlivens the proceedings with her philosophy of ‘Cooking with Love’ which became the name of her first Book subtitled ‘Comfort Food that hugs you’ (Simon and Schuster 2012).   Since “The Chew” is taped within walking distance of our New York apartment, I was not surprised to see Chef Hall in our local supermarket where she greeted one all with her fabulous smile.  My next encounter with Carla was in Food and Wine’s “Chef’s Easy Weeknight Dinners” (Time Affluent Media Group 2014).  Her contribution to the book is a Mediterranean influenced riff on Shepherd’s Pie.  And it’s well worth the 45 minutes it takes to make the whole thing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Brunswick Stew with Rotisserie Chicken


Costco's $4.99 Chicken 
 
In our continuing series of quick weeknight dinners leading up to Christmas, I couldn’t ignore the charms of Rotisserie Chicken.  I cannot go into Costco without buying one of their birds, beautifully cooked and an amazing bargain at $4.99.   I’ve made this chicken into sandwiches and salads and I’ve sliced off parts to eat all by themselves when I am all by myself.   Last week, I brought one home and searched around for a recipe that would fall into our dinner-on-the-table-in-no-time criteria.  Almost immediately, I came upon a recipe labeled “Brunswick Stew”.  To be honest, it landed squarely in Sandra Lee territory but it fit the bill.  Rotisserie chicken is skinned and shredded.  Everything else came out of a can or the freezer and the mixture was then seasoned, stirred into a Dutch oven, brought to a boil then simmered on the stove for 45 minutes.  Just enough time for a Cocktail!  Or a look into the origins of Brunswick Stew.  It must be named for Brunswick Georgia, I thought to myself. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Evan and Sarah Rich's Grilled Strip Steaks with Green Bean Chimichurri



Food and Wine has just come out with another of its compendiums of recipes, this one titled “Chef’s Easy Weeknight Dinners” (Time Inc. Affluent Media Group 2014).  There are all kinds of recipes here from soups to seafood, side dishes to desserts.  What strikes me is their overall simplicity.   Apparently, Chefs are every bit as time-pressured as the rest of us.  Or perhaps more so.  Can you imagine cooking all day and then going home and doing it all over again?   That’s likely why the book is loaded with recipes none of which take over 55 minutes to make, the majority even less than that. So in keeping with my promise of pre-holiday meals that are full of flavor and not so full of effort, today’s recipe is for a main dish that’s hard to beat for simplicity.  It’s Steak and it takes all of 35 minutes to get on the table.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lazy Man's Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese


        


At our house, we seem to have gone into high Christmas gear this week. So I have decided to feature posts from now until the big day that minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize the flavor you get out of some terrific recipes all that come together in under an hour at most.   The first is a Lasagne recipe that knocked me out. I have to confess to having been a terrible Lasagna snob.  I think true lasagna is rich in béchamel sauce, with a ragu that’s been melding flavors for hours in an all-afternoon of cooking and reducing and tasting.  My kitchen has been draped with crinkle-edged lasagna noodles parboiled on the stove more times than I can remember.  And I still make lasagna that way.  Not for me the Americanized versions that I’d been subjected to at some long-ago student dinners.  The version I found most awful was the one with cottage cheese.  But I was craving a baked pasta dish when I came across a recipe in Bon Appetit that gave a prep time of 45 minutes and then baked for another 45.  This sounded very do-able on a weeknight.  But believe it or not, I managed to cut the time down to a little over an hour!  And this lasagna, while hardly authentic Italian, is absolutely terrific.  It’s so good, it should be emailed to everyone in the family who says they can’t cook.  It’s so good, it would convince a girl to marry the guy who made it.   And since this recipe is for 4 servings, you won’t be left eating a huge pan of lasagna until Spring.  Served with a green salad, it’s a dinner not to be forgotten.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pappardelle with Braised Chicken and Figs Adapted from Chef Kyle Bailey in Food and Wine Magazine

   

         Who isn’t always looking for fresh, new ways to cook that workhorse of the kitchen, the skinless chicken thigh?  That’s why I was intrigued by a recipe in October’s Food and Wine Magazine that was said to be “Spanish-inspired pasta”.  First of all, although no authority on Spanish cuisine, I had to wonder about pasta being authentic to Spain.  And the research I did backed me up.  There is really only one ‘pasta’ that is cooked with any frequency in Spain.  And wouldn’t you know it’s used in making Fideuá, which is very similar to paella only Fideuá substitutes a noodle about the size of spaghetti for the rice in every other paella.  There’s a interesting piece of folk history about how this substitution of noodles for rice happened. According to what I read, Fideuá was first created by a cook onboard a fishing boat.  Joan Batiste Pascual, better known as Zabalo, made many a meal of paella.  The skipper of the vessel he worked on in 1915 loved rice and would always eat so much of it that the crew never got their fair share.  So in order to stop the skipper from eating everyone else’s portion, Zabalo decided to substitute pasta for rice.  Unfortunately for the rest of the fisherman, his plan didn't go too well.  The captain devoured the pasta with as much gusto as he did rice so Zabolo’s plan was thwarted.  But he is still a hometown hero.  His village, Safor, holds a Fideuá cooking competition each year.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cottage Pie with a hand from Tamasin Day-Lewis in Saveur Magazine

        
Growing up in Canada, the Sunday Roast was a tradition in our house.  An enormous piece of beef would appear on the dinner table and our extended family would dig in.  And it was almost always beef because my parents had no great affection for lamb or, heaven forbid, pork which could cause a disease called "Trichinosis", the very sound of which sent shivers up our spines.  So beef it was. In the week after the roast, my mother would make Shepherd’s Pie, which is what she always called it.  This is a really old English recipe.  The first time it was printed was in an anonymous writer’s cookbook in 1737 called “The Whole Duty of a Woman”. (Can you imagine the response that title would arouse today? )  Shepherd’s Pie has evolved since then. In the Victorian era, the hand-cranked meat grinder was introduced so that turning the leftover roast into minced meat was infinitely easier. Mixed with onions and, sometimes, leftover vegetables, the filling was then topped with mashed potatoes and reheated in the oven.  I loved it.  And it was a good thing because it was a weekly staple in our house for years and years.  But when Andrew and I got together he cringed at the very thought of Shepherd’s Pie.  Apparently when he was in school in England, in his own words, ‘you can just imagine how badly it could be made’.   But having already made hash with some leftover prime rib, I still had leftovers. I decided to prove him wrong.  But first I had to correct something wrong about my mother’s Shepherd’s Pie.