Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

An Abundance of Oregano

Oregano is a prime ingredient in this salad dressing -- for good reason.

Oregano is a prime ingredient in this salad dressing — for good reason.

 

At this time of year, it inevitably happens: The attack of the oregano.

What started as a teeny-tiny seedling planted years ago has taken on a life of its own — growing with abandon into a dense bush that would over take everything else in my small backyard if I let it.

Sure, I’ve killed hardy cactus, gone through turmoil trying to grow healthy basil at times, and fretted over finicky tomato plants. But my oregano? It’s survived freak frosts, spells without regular watering, and downright neglect. I half think it secretly considers every other plant in my yard a wuss. After all, Mr. Oregano is a survivor. He’s the king of this domain, for sure.

It looks so innocent in my yard, doesn't it?

It looks so innocent in my yard, doesn’t it?

So, at this time of year especially, I find myself adding fresh oregano leaves to pastas, vegetable soups, tabbouleh, roasted chicken, and blistered pizzas. But no matter how much I use, there’s always more oregano where that came from, if you know what I mean.

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Presenting Carrot Tarte Tatin

A pretty -- and savory -- tart tatin to dig into.

A pretty — and savory — tart tatin to dig into.

 

It looks like a sweet. But eats like a savory.

That’s exactly what this lovely “Carrot Tarte Tatin” is.

It’s from the new cookbook, “My Little French Kitchen” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy, by Rachel Khoo. The cookbook author, who also has starred on cooking shows on BBC2 and The Cooking Channel, chronicles her travels through France through these rustic recipes that capture the ease with which Europeans cook and entertain at home. They always make it look easy, don’t they? Enjoy everything from “Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Cod” to “Red Wine Roast Chicken” to “Chocolate and Creme Fraiche Tart.”

MyLittleFrenchKitchen

Unlike a classic apple tart tatin, this carrot one is not drenched in sweet caramel syrup. Instead, it lets the purity of the carrots shine through with just a touch of honey, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme to awaken their flavors even more.

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Lemon Marmalade — Not Just For Scones

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

 

Almost every morning, I slather jam or marmalade on toast.

I’ve also used it time and again for filling batch after batch of thumbprint cookies.

And I’ve warmed it to brush on fruit tarts to give them a dazzling gloss.

But “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” (Andrews McMeel), of which I received a review copy, really opened my eyes to so many other ways you can use jam in everyday cooking. The book is by Rachel Saunders, founder of Blue Chair Fruit Company, a jam company that specializes in jams made from sustainable fruit grown in the Bay Area.

How about a vibrant beet soup made with red plum jam? Or prawn and squid paella made with nectarine jam? Or even tempeh stir-fried with mushrooms, bok choy and greengage jam?

You’ll find those recipes and other creative fare in these pages, along with recipes to make jam if you don’t want to just buy a ready-made jar from the market.

“My Roast Chicken” appealed to me because the whole bird is roasted with a lemon marmalade and fresh rosemary mixture slathered underneath its skin.

With a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, I always end up with a steady supply of this fragrant citrus that’s a cross between a Eureka lemon and a tangerine. I use them to make pitchers of lemonade, all manner of baked goods, and Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, a Bon Appetit magazine recipe that I’ve been making every winter.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

I was curious as to whether the marmalade would make a real difference or if it would turn this chicken into dessert.

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Crispy Rice Cakes for the Lunar New Year

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

 

Whether you call it the Year of the Ram, Goat or Sheep, it’s high time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which begins on Thursday.

“Crispy Rice Cakes” are not something I necessarily grew up eating on this special holiday, which is celebrated by those of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean descent. But the itty-bitty cakes looked so precious when I spotted them in “The Slanted Door” cookbook that I couldn’t help but envision how wonderful they would be alongside cups of steaming tea or sake for this festive occasion.

The Ten Speed Press book, of which I received a review copy, is by Charles Phan, owner of the pioneering Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. It takes readers on a journey from the early days of the restaurant to its multiple moves around the city to finally its smash-hit location on the Embarcadero. Regular diners will recognize recipes for their favorite Shaking Beef, Dungeness Crab with Cellophane Noodles, and Grapefruit and Jicama Salad, along with a surprising number of cocktails. Those who have never eaten there will long to do so.

SlantedDoorBook

These two-bite morsels can be picked up with your fingers or chopsticks, then dipped into soy sauce, chili oil or Sriracha.

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Two Treats in One: Cider to Sip and For Roasting Tender Pork

A perfect one-dish meal of pork, apples, cider and cabbage.

A perfect one-dish meal of pork, apples, cider and cabbage.

 

Sundays are made for dishes that bake gently in the oven, filling the house with warmth and delicious aromas that rev the appetite.

“Sunday Casseroles: Complete Comfort in One Dish” (Chronicle Books) is all about dishes like that. The book, which came out in 2014 and of which I received a review copy, is by Betty Rosbottom, a veteran cookbook author and PBS host.

Fish and chips in a casserole? You bet, when the potatoes are scalloped. Risotto in the oven? Sure, when it’s baked with butternut squash, sage and Parmigiano. Mac and cheese? Absolutely, especially in variations with lobster, lemon and tarragon or smoked sausage and country mustard.

“Cider-Baked Pork, Red Cabbage, and Apples” appealed to me because I love the combination of apples and pork, a meat which always plays nicely with the sweetness of fruit.

SundayCasserolesBook

Pork loin can get dry if cooked too long, but these emerge very juicy. They bake over a bed of tart apples, onions and red cabbage, which give everything a soft, pretty fuchsia hue.

Cider vinegar and actual cider add even more vivid apple flavor.

For me, this was also the perfect opportunity to break into my samples of the new Devoto Orchards Cider. The Devoto family makes the small-batch ciders in Sebastopol from estate-grown apples. Susan and Stan Devoto grow more than 50 varieties of heirloom apples, as well as flowers and pinot noir grapes on their 20-acre farm.

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