View all posts filed under 'Recipes (Savory)'

The Comfort of Curry

Wednesday, 9. April 2014 5:26

A spice mix not to be without.

A spice mix not to be without.

 

My spice drawer collapseth over.

Try as I might to keep the jars and tins in neat alphabetical order, there are just far too many for all the cuisines dabbled in to do so.

In my parents’ kitchen that I grew up in, though, that never was a problem. Their spice collection snuggled neatly in one metal pan in the cupboard that held barely a dozen in total. Cloves to stud the Easter ham. Cinnamon for baking oatmeal cookies. White pepper to sprinkle into rice porridge. And that all-important jar of curry powder that my Dad would reach for whenever he made lamb curry.

Nowadays, I keep a jar of curry in my pantry for many uses. But when spring hits, I can’t help but think of lamb curry first and foremost as my Dad so often did.

His lamb curry was made in a pressure cooker, the kind that sat on the stovetop with a metal knob screwed into its lid that hissed and whistled like mad. He’d cut up potatoes, carrots and onions and throw them into the pot with chunks of lamb with plenty of chicken stock, some spiky star anise, and a few generous shakes from that curry jar — and let it all bubble away under that locked lid.

Sometimes I’d have no idea what he was making for dinner. But the moment he lifted the lid off that pot, that unmistakable aroma would fill the house, letting me know it was curry lamb night. The fragrance is so recognizable — pungently earthy, musky, even a tad sweet, and with the promise of something a little exotic.

My Dad’s version was golden and brothy — meant to be eaten with mounds of fluffy rice. All it took was one mouthful to warm you deliciously from within.

Tadashi Ono's lamb curry.

Tadashi Ono’s lamb curry.

My husband who is Japanese-American also grew up with curry and rice. But the type he is accustomed to is far more gravy-like. It’s a deep, dark pool of sauce, so thick you can barely discern what’s below until you really dig a fork into it. It’s also delicious. And like the version my Dad used to make, quite tame on the heat spectrum, compared to Indian curries.

In New York Chef Tadashi Ono’s newest cookbook, “Japanese Soul Cooking” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, is full of home-style dishes, including ramen, tonkatsu, tempura, and donburi. It also includes a curry dish that marries both of the styles my husband and I grew up on. The sauce is a little thinner than what my husband is used to and with a scant more weight than the type I favored as a child.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (8) | Author:

Endive — Your New Best Friend

Wednesday, 2. April 2014 5:25

Endive braised with gorgonzola that can top so many different things.

Endive braised with gorgonzola that can top so many different things.

 
Every winter, when I get a “bouquet” of endive from California Vegetable Specialties,” it’s always a welcome delivery.

That’s because it makes me rediscover how versatile this year-round vegetable is.

Europeans consume as much as 15 pounds per year of endive. But Americans? We partake of a mere ounce a year.

I admit I often don’t do much better than that, myself, reaching for the slender white or red chicory occasionally to spiff up salads for company.

The Rio Vista company is the only producer of endive in the country. And yes, that’s “on-deev,” in the French manner, which are grown in the dark.

But there’s so much more you can do with endive than just separate the leaves to toss into salads.

“Braised Endive with Gorgonzola” is one example. This incredibly simple recipe is from “Vegetable Literacy” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Deborah Madison, former chef of Greens in San Francisco, and expert on vegetable-based cooking. It includes more than 300 recipes for 12 different plant families. She gives fascinating insight into what vegetables are related to one another, how to use the entire vegetable, and best flavorings to use with each.

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Category:General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (7) | Author:

A Pork Cheeks Pig-Out

Wednesday, 12. March 2014 5:27

A.O.C's pork cheeks -- made in the comfort of your own home.

A.O.C’s pork cheeks — made in the comfort of your own home.

I’m not going to lie: This recipe takes a commitment.

To spend many hours cooking. To be willing to use a load of pots and pans, as well as multiple burners plus the oven. And to go the extra step of actually sourcing some pork cheeks in the first place.

If you do all that, though, you will be richly rewarded. Not only with a comforting dish boasting layer upon layer of flavors. But with the pleasure of enjoying a unique cut of pork, which when braised patiently, results in meat so succulent, sweet and tender that it can be eaten with a spoon.

“Pork Cheeks with Polenta, Mustard Cream and Horseradish Gremolata” is from the new “The A.O.C. Cookbook” Alfred A. Knopf), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Suzanne Goin, chef-owner of Lucques and A.O.C. restaurants in Los Angeles. Lucques is all about sharing food and wine with friends at the table over small plates and family-style dishes.

If you already have cooked from Goin’s first cookbook, “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” (Knopf), you know her recipes are lengthy because of the meticulous directions she gives. As a result, you approach the book knowing that if you take the time, you can’t fail because she’s described the dish step by step with utmost care.

AOC Cookbook

After falling head over heels with beef cheeks when I cooked them recently, I couldn’t help but zero in on her recipe for pork cheeks. Of course, there was that pesky question of how to get my hands on those piggy cheeks. John Paul Khoury, corporate chef of Preferred Meats, Inc. in Oakland, became my go-to source. After having read my blog post on beef cheeks, he said I absolutely positively had to try cooking pork cheeks next.

So Preferred Meats, which sells wholesale to top Bay Area restaurants, including SPQR in San Francisco and Hopscotch in Oakland, offered to sell me pork cheeks at an unbelievable wholesale price. Not just any pork cheeks, either, but ones from heritage-breed Durocs from the Beeler family’s ranch, which has been raising pigs for five generations in Iowa.

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Category:Chefs, General, Meat, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (14) | Author:

A British Columbia Mussel Flexes Its Muscle in the Bay Area

Wednesday, 26. February 2014 5:25

A simple pasta dish made extra special with new Honey Mussels.

A simple pasta dish made extra special with new Honey Mussels.

 

There’s a new mussel in town.

And is it ever extraordinary.

You can’t find it in retail stores yet. But you can enjoy it at some of San Francisco’s most discriminating restaurants, including Rich Table, Bar Tartine, Parallel 37, Foreign Cinema, and Ragazza.

The Honey Mussel is so named because of its amber-hued shell. It doesn’t taste of honey per se, but there is a hint of natural sweetness about it. It’s also impressively sized — with its meat taking up almost the entire interior of the shell. Even after cooking, there’s little shrinkage, as I found when I had a chance to cook a sample at home in a simple pasta dish. Indeed, it’s probably the plumpest, most tender mussel I’ve had the pleasure of eating.

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Category:General, New Products, Recipes (Savory), Seafood | Comments (10) | Author:

The Surprise of Chocolate, Thanks to Alice Medrich

Wednesday, 12. February 2014 5:26

Coq au vin -- with the surprising addition of chocolate. Perfect for Valentine's Day.

Coq au vin — with the surprising addition of chocolate. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

 

Love has a way of lurking in unexpected places, where we least expect to find it.

So, too, does chocolate.

Take coq au vin, that classic stew of chicken simmered in red wine. Leave it to the Bay Area’s baker extraordinaire Alice Medrich to create a version that adds unsweetened chocolate.

It’s from her cookbook, “Seriously Bitter Sweet” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy. It’s the new paperback edition of her 2003 book, “Bitter Sweet.”

The little bit of chocolate adds a subtle earthiness and meatiness, as well as body to the sauce.

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Category:Chefs, Chocolate, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (8) | Author: