Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Paula Wolfert’s “Unforgettable” Duck You Can Eat With A Spoon

With crisp skin and flesh so tender you can cut it with a spoon, this duck by Paula Wolfert is a masterpiece.

With crisp skin and flesh so tender you can cut it with a spoon, this duck by Paula Wolfert is a masterpiece.

 

She is not a star of the Food Network. She doesn’t own a four-star restaurant that has a three-month wait for reservations. And she doesn’t write pithy food articles laced with expletives and bro-talk that everyone feels the need to read, dissect, and re-post again and again.

But Paula Wolfert should be as revered and renowned as any of those folks. More so, even.

She is one of the most influential cooks of our time — a woman who has dived deep into authentic Mediterranean cuisine long before most of us ever knew what a cassoulet or tagine was.

Over the years, she published eight seminal cookbooks. But when her friend, Emily Kaiser Thelin, a former editor of Food & Wine magazine, pitched the idea of writing a biography of Wolfert, no publisher would give it the green light.

So in a modern-day version of a barn-raising, Thelin rallied her friends and colleagues to the mission, recruiting photographer Eric Wolfinger, designer Toni Tajima, and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen to do editing duties. They mounted a Kickstarter campaign, which more than 1,100 folks supported, including yours truly.

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The result is “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life” (M&P) by Thelin.

The title has dual meanings — and hints at why Thelin and her team were so driven to put Wolfert’s life and recipes down in perpetuity. Wolfert was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. The woman who once prided herself on studying up on almost a dozen languages in order to converse with cooks around the world, now finds most of those once familiar foreign phrases elusive. Even reading in English now and retaining its contents is difficult for her.

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Bowled Over by Nordic Nicoise

A Nordic Nicoise bowl to cozy up to.

A Nordic Nicoise bowl to cozy up to.

 

I sometimes chuckle that avocado toast has become a thing.

Really? Ripe avocado smeared on bread — haven’t we been eating it for ages? Why did it all of a sudden become a hip thing to nosh?

Same with food in bowls. Have we not piled food in bowls to dig into since we can remember?

Still, I can see why both appeal. There is something comforting about them. There’s the flex factor, in that you can put most any ingredients together on that toast or in that bowl, and come away with it being pretty tasty. There’s also something exciting yet satisfying in the fact that every bite is a little bit different from the last.

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Bay Area food writer Molly Watson has captured that irresistible attraction in her new cookbook, “Bowls!” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

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What The Halibut — And A Food Gal Giveaway

Halibut cooked in olive oil -- a lot of it.

Halibut cooked in olive oil — a lot of it.

 

Yes, this recipe uses a lot of olive oil.

Yes, you’ll wonder what to do with all that oil afterward.

Yes, you can strain it, store it in the fridge and re-use it.

But yes, it may taste fishy.

That’s because you’ve poached halibut in it, creating a warm, bountiful bath of olive oil to cook it gently and slowly until the flesh is moist and incredibly silky. Best yet, it’s almost impossible to overcook the fish with this oven method.

If you’ve never tried olive oil-poaching here’s your chance with this dish of “Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Chermoula.”

Bathed in olive oil.

Bathed in olive oil.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Home and Away: Simple, Delicious Recipes Inspired by the World’s Cafes, Bistros and Diners” (Arsenal Pulp Press) by Darcy and Randy Shore, of which I received a review copy.

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Sweet on Sweet Potatoes — All Year-Round (Sponsored Post)

Sweet potato roasted in ash.

Sweet potato roasted in ash.

If you think sweet potatoes are only for Thanksgiving, think again.

This Easter, make sweet potatoes the centerpiece of your spring holiday with this easy, dramatic and mesmerizing dish: whole sweet potatoes buried in ash, and roasted until blackened on the outside, and sweet, smoky and luscious within. Forget the colored eggs; all eyes will be on this beauty when it comes to the table.

Spread the flesh on warm tortillas with a dollop of creamy chipotle sauce enlivened with fresh orange zest, because we all know just how wonderfully sweet potatoes marry with sweet citrus.

This simple, sublime dish will make you look at sweet potatoes in a whole different light. It’s sure to become a year-round indulgence, whenever it’s grilling weather outside. It’s even vegetarian and gluten-free, to boot.

After all, California’s envious climate allows for sweet potatoes to be available year-round, according to the California Sweetpotato Council. They are grown in the San Joaquin Valley’s naturally sandy loam, cured in the ground first, before being harvested and cured in sheds.

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Cuban Pork Chops with Warm Grapefruit Vinaigrette

A taste of Cuba in an easy dish.

A taste of Cuba in an easy dish.

 

These days, Cuba is on everybody’s mind and itinerary, now that travel restrictions have been loosened, allowing Americans to travel to the island nation more easily.

For those of us who haven’t yet jetted there, we can at least take our palates there, thanks to “Cuba!: Recipes and Stories From the Cuban Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press), a new cookbook by photographer Dan Goldberg, art director Andrea Kuhn, and food writer Jody Eddy.

The timely cookbook offers an inside look at the everyday food and culture of this mesmerizing country. Included are 75 recipes for classic Cuban dishes such as “Crispy Pork with Mango Salsa,” “Fresh Corn Tamales with Poblano Sauce,” and “Cuban Coffee Flan.”

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Because Cuba has been isolated for so long, food shortages have been a regular occurrence. In particular, chicken, beef, and pork are still considered luxuries. Beef is especially scarce because all cows are considered state property.

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