Showing posts with label Melissa Clark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Melissa Clark. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Red Eye Devil's Food for the White House and Our House


I know Andrew is good, I mean really good. But his baking skills really hit an all-time personal best with the making of this sinfully rich, fudgy, bittersweet cake.  As Melissa Clark, who co-wrote “The Perfect Finish” (W.W. Norton and Co. (2010) the cookbook it came from wrote, “If this is not the ultimate birthday cake, I can’t imagine what is.”  Its inventor is a pastry chef named Bill Yosses. While his may not be a household name, in one household, he was the king of all pastries. That household was the White House, where he presided as Pastry Chef for both the Bush Family and the Obamas.  Chef Yosses trained in France and then was scooped up by Daniel Boulud and later, Thomas Keller.  From there he went on to work at Bouley Restaurant and Bakery.  Chef Yosses left the White House in June, a departure he says was “all Michelle Obama’s fault.” The First Lady, it seems, piqued his interest in the relationship between food and health. “Mrs. Obama’s quest to improve the way children eat was done “ with humor and good will, without preaching, just the way you would hope the ‘Mom-in-chief’ would do,” he said. Yosses said Mrs. Obama is “definitely an inspiring boss, a combination of spontaneity and seriousness.”  She inspired the Chef to such an extent that he’s headed back to New York to educate children about nutrition.  But I am sure he’ll be forever remembered there for his Red Eye Devil’s Food Cake alone.  Why “Red Eye”, you may wonder ?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meat Mushroom and Potato Skillet Gratin Adapted from Melissa Clark in The New York Times

         At the risk of people believing I must be going steady with Melissa Clark, I am rushing this out in advance of the latest winter storm.  Even though I just shared Melissa’s superb Pork Chop recipe the middle of last month, I could not resist posting this latest triumph from last Wednesday’s “A Good Appetite” column.  This is stuck-in-the house, freezing-cold-outside food at its finest.  It’s Melissa’s inspired combination of elements you find in a crisp potato gratin and in a cottage or shepherd’s pie.  It’s cheesy, rich and come to think of it, gluten-free!  It’s not the fastest dish in the world to cook which makes me think that if you’re going to be housebound for any length of time, it will be the perfect thing to prepare.  It also has the great advantage of being a one-pot dinner.  Well, that is unless like me and Melissa you feel it would look a whole lot better on a plate with a nice big green salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.  So what changes did I make to Melissa’s original recipe?  Don’t think I didn’t try to make the original....      

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Melissa Clark's Penne with Brussels Sprouts, Chile and Pancetta

Brussels Sprouts in Winter
on the North Fork of Long Island
As a boy, I cannot think of a vegetable I detested quite as much at the Brussels Sprout.  These nasty little cabbages were about as appealing to me as damp pair of socks. I called them every name in the book and insisted that they were a relic of rationing during the two wars that had preceeded my arrival on the planet.  I’m not sure if the cabbage-like smell was worse than the cabbage-like taste.  However, my vocal protests did not stop my mother from putting them on the table regularly during those months when Canada is a frozen tundra and there’s very little choice in fresh vegetables.  Since we were charter members of the Waste-Not-Want-Not Society, when we were served Brussels Sprouts, we ate Brussels Sprouts. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vietnamese Shrimp Sliders adapted from Melissa Clark in The New York Times


I don't know when sliders took over the world but they're everywhere. And while they may have started out as mini-hamburgers, now you can find them on all kinds of menus, stuffed with everything from Turkey to Texas barbecue.  Let's face it, their size is ideal.  In one or two bites, you get the full-on slider experience.  They're just the right size for children, for whom a full-sized burger is a challenge.  In today's post, they're made with crispy fried shrimp dipped into a salty lime sauce and then tucked into tiny brioche buns that have been slathered with an Asian inflected mayonaise. They're a gift from the inventive Melissa Clark whose Wednesday food column in the New York Times is eagerly awaited in our house. This time, Melissa has gone East for her flavors.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

White Chicken Pot Pie inspired by Melissa Clark in The New York Times

It’s awfully close to putting-away-the-pot-pie-recipes time.  But this one is so good, I hope it gets in under the wire and if not, do save it for a rainy day.  It’s that good.  The reason I rushed to make it was that I’d managed to end up with not one but two half-eaten rotisserie chickens. They’re perfect for a recipe calling for cooked chicken. In fact, they eliminate a whole step.  They are a stand-in for poached boneless, skinless chicken breasts so they cut cooking time down. While you don’t end up with the poaching liquid called for in the original recipe, Chicken Broth is a perfectly suitable substitution.
Dahlia and Melissa in the Kitchen
The genesis for this recipe was an article Melissa Clark wrote about the ‘white food’ diet her 4 year old daughter Dahlia rigidly clings to.  Dahlia likes carb-laden dishes like Mac and Cheese and this Chicken Pot Pie, which would be relentlessly white were it not for an optional cup of peas.  I latched onto the peas to make some gesture to Spring’s arrival.   Now Dahlia is not the first person to embrace white food.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our 325th Post! Melissa Clark's Quick Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Daikon

         Today marks another milestone on Chewing the Fat. It’s our 325th post and sometime in the very near future we will achieve our 300,000th page view.  Not bad for a couple of self-taught cooks who just love to bake and cook and have never had a lesson in our lives. But that was the whole idea when we started: If we can cook it or bake it, you can cook it or bake it.   And although it may appear that we are whizzes in the kitchen, I can quite promise you that Andrew and I do not share our bombs—our soufflés that flop, our spice mixtures gone haywire, our cakes that didn’t rise.  We never publish anything that didn’t turn out right until it does turn out right.  I think this is why when we get comments from Mary in Oyster Bay, Kate in Alberta, Lauren in Dallas or Bubbles in Montreal, I am always so pleased that they really use the recipes we post, that their guests and/or husbands love their cooking.  So here’s to all of us who get our kicks in the kitchen, who love discovering new tastes, new adventures in cooking old favorites and new ways to please everyone who comes to our table. And one more thing:  Just when I think what can I possibly cook today? How can I find something new to share with our readers?  Along comes a recipe like today’s Banh Mi sandwich with its Pickled Carrots and Daikon.  And for the first time, I made my own pickles in all of 30 minutes flat.  And guess what? If I can make my own pickles, you can too. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sauteed Shrimp with Coconut Oil, Ginger and Coriander with Confetti Corn adapted from Ina Garten

         Last weekend, we had close friends staying with us and this dinner really hit the spot.  It took no time at all to put together. In fact the whole thing took about 30 minutes.  The delicious and mildly coconut-flavored shrimp cooked took about 10 minutes and the only time-consuming thing about the Confetti corn was getting it off the cob.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake and Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream with thanks to Melissa Clark and David Lebowitz

        It’s been a long, rainy spring here.  But true to form, we’ve gone directly from complaining about the cold to exclaiming about the heat. It hit the 90s this week which is way too hot, way too early.  Our garden, however, has never looked better and we’re ready to celebrate the end of what seemed like an endless winter.  And if anything says let a new chapter begin, it’s Rhubarb and Strawberries.  Sad to say, our local crops aren’t yet ready. But we were. And so last weekend, Andrew combined the two to create a wonderful dessert.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Melissa Clark’s Mother’s recipe for Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Mustard Croutons and Melissa’s recipe for Brussels Sprouts Salad

Melissa Clark, Author of 29 Cookbooks

Who, you may ask, is Melissa Clark?  And for that matter, who is her mother?  I can almost guarantee that once you have tasted this wonderfully aromatic baked chicken dish and its accompanying Brussels Sprouts Salad, you will be dying to know Melissa--and her mother-- better.  All that will require is a once a week visit to Melissa’s “A Good Appetite” column in Wednesday’s New York Times.  Or better yet, you can revel in Melissa’s recipe craft in her great cookbook " In the Kitchen with  a Good Appetite” (Hyperion 2010).  There you’ll find 150 reasons to love Melissa along with a collection of wonderfully written food-related stories.  
 The story surrounding this easy and delicious chicken recipe is this: Melissa’s Mother is forever reading her recipes in the Times just like the rest of us.  One day she called her daughter to say that she’d made her chicken recipe in the Times and reported that “it was terrific”.  Melissa immediately became suspicious because the elder Mrs. Clark, a psychiatrist, never follows recipes.  This seems to be a family trait.  The reason we love Melissa so much is that she takes home cooking to a new level. That’s not to say she complicates anything.  Her food isn’t fussy at all.  What she does is to let us in on new flavor combinations, new ingredients she’s discovered and new ways to serve up tried and true favorites we’ve used for years.  She tells us how she creates meals, whatever her inspiration.  She makes much of the fact that she works out of a standard New York kitchen which is generally only slightly bigger than a bread box.  But out of her kitchen come robust flavors that encourage us all to get into in the kitchen. She proves that home cooking is fun, nurturing and not at all difficult. Which is precisely why these recipes are so worth making.
Originally, Melissa’s recipe called for a whole chicken.  What Mrs. Clark did was to substitute that for cut-up chicken parts.  And then, adding another dimension entirely, she slathered the “croutons” with good mustard.  The tangy taste of the mustard not only combined deliciously with the drippings from the chicken but it also added fabulous flavor to the bread underneath which crisps while roasting.
I cannot claim to be nearly as talented as either Melissa or her mother but I too substituted chicken parts for chicken thighs, which I would choose hands down over any part of the bird.  The thrifty side of me reveled in using some days-old ciabatta bread which was superb.  Lacking a small roasting pan, I opted for Pyrex baking dish and placed it on a metal sheet pan to distribute the heat evenly.  Do make this dish.  It takes just over an hour to cook but all of about 15 minutes to prepare.  The Brussels Sprouts salad comes after.  Here are the recipes with thanks to both Ms. Clarks.

Recipe for Melissa Clark’s Mother’s Thyme Roasted Chicken with Mustard Croutons
Country bread, ciabatta or other sturdy bread, preferably stale and     sliced 1/2 inch thick
Dijon mustard, as needed
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1 (4 -5 lb) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, rinsed and patted dry
Or two skin-on chicken thighs per person
1 head garlic, separated into cloves (but not peeled)
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
1/2 bunch thyme, sprigs
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F Lay the bread slices in the bottom of a heavy-duty roasting pan in one layer. Brush with mustard, drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  1. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and place the pieces on the bread, arranging the white meat in the center and the dark meat and wings around the sides. Scatter the garlic cloves, bay leaf, and thyme over the chicken and drizzle everything with more oil (take care to drizzle the garlic cloves).
  1. Roast the chicken until it's lightly browned and the thigh juices run clear when pricked with a knife, about 50 minutes. If you like, you can crisp the skin by running the pan under the broiler for a minute, though you might want to rescue the garlic cloves before you do so they don't burn (if you don't plan to eat them, it doesn't matter so much). Serve the chicken with pieces of bread from the pan.

Recipe for Brussels Sprouts Salad
I can’t say that Andrew and I are huge fans of Brussels Sprouts.  As a child, they were often pushed around my plate and left uneaten.  Since then, we’ve enjoyed some really nice recipes using them.  So when I saw this take on them, I wanted to try it.  I enjoyed the crunch of the sprouts and the toasted walnuts, the tang of the cheese and the lemon juice.  Andrew, however, did not.  This recipe makes a lot of Salad so I had plenty left over.  Remembering a Thanksgiving recipe of Brussels Sprouts and bacon,  I revisited the salad, folding in some crispy bacon and then putting the whole thing on the stove and stir-frying the sprouts.  The results were much more appealing to Andrew.  And it sounded like something Melissa wouldn’t mind.  After all, her mother changes Melissa’s recipes all the time.

10 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed
Juice of 1/2 lemon Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1 c toasted walnuts, chopped 3/4 c Manchego cheese, grated

6 slices of Smoked Bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)

Put the Brussels sprouts into a food processor fitted with the slicing disc.  Put the sprouts in a bowl and toss with lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and toss well. Gently stir in the walnuts and cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately or let stand for one hour before serving. Alternatively, add the cooked bacon, put the ‘salad’ in a large skillet and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Serve. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Melissa Clark’s Spicy Garlicky Meatloaf and a recipe for Broccoli Slaw

      I am always surprised at what the most popular recipes are on Chewing the Fat.  There’s no real common denominator at all.  I’d let you guess but since we are now onto post number 158, it might speed things up if I cut to the chase. 
The number one recipe of all time is for Doughnut Muffins. At 567 page views it comes in so over the top it doesn’t have any real competition.  Coming in a very distant second is Mario Batali’s take on Pasta Primavera.  But close behind that is the recipe for Sicillian Meatballs from the guys at Frankie’s Spuntino.  Now I have to admit, the meatballs are fantastic and a garlic lover’s dream.   They’re loaded with the stuff yet light as air and unique in their use of pine nuts and raisins.  So when I came across Melissa Clark’s recipe entitled Spicy Garlicky Meatloaf and read how she incorporated some meatball basics into it, I wanted to try it. Meatloaf is one of my favorite things.  It was one of my first posts and this will be the third recipe for it.  So you know it must be good.  And along with it, I served a very easy-to-make salad that's very healthy and crunchy and delicious. Its key ingredients come from Trader Joe's.  
I could do a complete story on my relationship with Trader Joe's which opened not too long ago very close to us in the city.  I know my daughter-in-law does a fantastic job of putting meals together using Trader Joe's marinated meats and prepared dishes.  I admire her so much but it's not my kind of cooking.  What I love about TJ's are the prices for organic foods and salads.  I'm intrigued by some of them as I had not even been aware of some of them until now.  Into that category, I would have to add Broccoli Slaw.  
  Broccoli is a super food and loaded with anti-oxidants.  Here it comes so ready-to-go, it’s irresistible. So when I found a recipe in Bon Appetit that was centered on the stuff, I had to try it. And at the risk of sounding like Sandra Lee, it’s so simple to use and a really nice contrast to the very garlicky meatloaf.  

Garlic was not something I grew up with.  My grandmother Stewart positively whinnied whenever garlic was mentioned. My father tortured her every Sunday by claiming it would be the main event at our family dinners.  My grandmother was born in a small town in New Brunswick where I doubt there was much exposure to the bulb. Since her father was the member of Parliament for the district, she spent over half the year in Toronto when the legislature was in session.  Now Toronto may be a reasonable place to eat now, but I can quite promise you it certainly was not then.  So where this loathing of the ‘stinking rose’ came from I’ll never know.  I certainly didn’t inherit it.  That being said, Melissa’s meatloaf is best left to garlic lovers.  And even then, you might want to cut back a little.  Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Spicy, Garlicky Meatloaf courtesy of Melissa Clark.
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped

1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dried bread crumbs

3 tablespoons chicken stock, heavy cream or milk

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional).

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, garlic, scallions, jalapeño, sage, salt and black pepper.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together bread crumbs and stock, cream or milk. Let stand five minutes.

3. Add pork, beef and soaked bread crumbs to egg mixture. Knead ingredients together until just combined. Press mixture evenly into an 8- or 9-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together the tomato paste and olive oil. After meatloaf has finished baking, brush top with glaze; sprinkle with pine nuts, if using. Bake 15 minutes more (glaze will be thick and a meat thermometer should read 160 degrees). Let meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Yields: 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe for Broccoli Slaw courtesy of Bon Appetit

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons white miso

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 12-ounce bag broccoli slaw

3 large green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk vinegar, miso, ginger, and oil in small bowl. combine slaw, green onions, and cilantro in large bowl. toss with dressing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Braised Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Fennel

        For some bizarre reason, we have not one but two almost completely full bottles of Pernod in our liquor cabinet.  Pernod is that close cousin of Pastis, that liquid licorice that you drink quantities of whenever you’re in Provence and then never drink again when you come home.  The cause of our having two Pernods on hand was likely a recipe calling for a tablespoon of the stuff and not checking our supplies before heading to the liquor store.  Given my thrifty upbringing, it kills me not to be using it for something.  So the minute I saw Melissa Clark’s recipe for Chicken with Caramelized Fennel, which calls for, yes, a tablespoon of Pernod, I leapt into action.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Twice Baked Cherry Pie

        To be honest with you, Andrew is a superb baker with one tiny exception.  His cookies are crazy good.  His cupcakes, nirvana.  His cakes are sensational and he sends everyone into the stratosphere with most everything else he bakes.  But…he’s never been really comfortable making pie crust.  That is until this superb method appeared in Melissa Clark’s “A Good Appetite” column in the New York Times.  Now we love Melissa because she inspires us in everything she does.  She also tells it like it is:  Fruit pies, she says, suffer from dough that sometimes doesn’t even appear to have been baked and can be soggy, unappetizing affairs. 
The Essential Cherry Pitter from Williams-Sonoma

Friday, April 16, 2010

Duck Confit, the easy way.

While we were making our Duck Confit, we got a call from Andrew’s sister, Lauren, asking us how we’d describe the difference between duck and chicken.  We didn’t really have an adequate answer until we finished cooking this recipe and tasted this wonderful result.   Duck cooked this way is richer, meatier and has so much more character than a chicken leg ever could.