View all posts filed under 'Recipes (Savory)'

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 (15) | 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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Not Your Usual Carbonara

Wednesday, 5. February 2014 5:25

A very special version of pasta carbonara.

A very special version of pasta carbonara.

 

Yes, this one’s quite different.

And sure to become an instant classic.

“Pumpkin Carbonara with Paccheri” has no bacon. But you won’t miss it. Honest.

That’s because thin slices of onion are slowly caramelized until their golden char takes on a smokiness that almost mimics that of bacon.

Take your time cooking the onions. Don’t rush them. Be patient, because they are key to this simple, exquisite pasta dish.

The recipe is from the clever new cookbook, “Pasta Modern” (Stewart Tabori & Chang), which was gifted to me by its author, food historian and Italian food expert, Francine Segan, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to become friends with after doing some writing for her.

The book includes 100 recipes, many of them quite unusual ones that will open your eyes to the uses pasta can have if you let your imagination go wild. How about “Pasta Sushi”? Yes, big shells, the kind usually stuffed with ricotta and spinach, but here filled with raw fish, sea urchin or salmon roe. Or consider the method of boiling pasta in a pot of water mixed with cocoa powder for “Instant Chocolate Pasta with Orange-Basil Cream,” in which the noodles turn deep brown and take on an earthy flavor? Or “Pasta Pretzel Sticks” made from cooked, long strands of pasta that are coated in butter before being baked until golden and crisp?

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Category:General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (12) | Author: