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Luscious Leg of Lamb and a Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 26. May 2014 5:26

Rosy slices of lamb topped with a vibrant salsa verde.

Rosy slices of lamb topped with a vibrant salsa verde.

 

Let’s face it — bones can be a bit of a pain to deal with.

Just try eating chicken wings gracefully.

Or de-boning a whole fish in front of guests without mangling it.

But bones serve a purpose in cooking. They add more flavor to the flesh as it cooks. They also conduct heat, allowing the meat to cook more evenly with less shrinkage.

So when Superior Farms, one of the largest distributors of lamb in the country, offered to let me try any cut on the house, I went for one with a bone. A big bone.

I chose a bone-in leg of American lamb because it’s not a cut you find all that easily in markets these days. Sure, you can get a boneless leg of lamb with little effort, but one that still has a bone in it often requires a real search. That’s because it’s a lot heftier to handle. It’s also more challenging to carve. But what a dramatic presentation it makes for at the table.

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Category:General, Meat, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (13) | Author:

Green Beans with Japanese Flair

Friday, 23. May 2014 5:26

Green beans you won't be able to stop eating.

Green beans you won’t be able to stop eating.

 

Planning a picnic this Memorial Day? Or a backyard barbecue this long weekend?

Then, you’ve got to make these green beans.

I guarantee they will be the talk of the table.

I first made “Green Beans with Miso and Almonds” last Thanksgiving as a novel alternative to the usual green bean casserole. My in-laws couldn’t stop eating it. Each of them kept reaching for seconds, even thirds. Now, whenever my husband sees me trimming fresh green beans from the farmers markets, he secretly hopes they’re destined for this dish.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (5) | Author:

Pancetta-fied Pasta

Wednesday, 14. May 2014 5:25

Big rings of pasta in a creamy, pancetta-fied sauce.

Big rings of pasta in a creamy, pancetta-fied sauce.

 

Sometimes I think that surely I must be part Italian.

Because I could eat pasta every week. And I do cook some form of it probably close to that often.

It was on a quest to satisfy my carb craving that I started leafing through “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy recently. The cookbooks is by Andrew Fineberg and Francine Stephens, owners of Franny’s restaurant in Booklyn, and New York Times food writer Melissa Clark. There are recipes for more than 200 Southern Italian dishes, including pastas that require only a few ingredients, making them a breeze to prepare on a weeknight.

“Mezze Maniche with Guanciale, Chiles and Ricotta” is based on a traditional Roman dish. Big rings of pasta are tossed with creamy ricotta, a pinch of chili flakes, a shower of Pecorino Romano, and a load of guanciale, pancetta or bacon. And by load, I mean 12 whole ounces or about 2 generous cups of the porky stuff.

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Category:General, Recipes (Savory), Restaurants | Comments (10) | Author:

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: