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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:

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 (13) | Author:

Head to Tail Cooking? Here’s a Tail To Savor

Friday, 17. January 2014 5:25

Dig into beefy oxtails for the new year.

Dig into beefy oxtails for the new year.

At the start of a new year, do look ahead. But don’t forget to look — ahem — behind, too.

At the tail, of course.

That particular part of the cow just takes low-slow cooking to bring about its brash beefiness and tenderness.

Enjoy it in “Braised Oxtail Stew,” a recipe from “Spain: Recipes From the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucia” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

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

A Zesty New Year

Wednesday, 1. January 2014 5:25

Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish to start the year off right.

Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish to start the year off right.

 

After all that belly-busting food of the holidays, it’s time for something light and bright to start 2014.

Best yet, this particular recipe makes use of any Meyer lemons you may still have hanging on your trees.

“Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish” is from the new “The Art of Simple Food II” (Clarkson Potter) by the one and only Alice Waters.

The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is filled with recipes that make the most of your kitchen garden at any time of year. Moreover, there’s even information included on taking care of your soil, building a compost pile, making compost tea and growing seedlings.

Although called a “relish,” this is almost like a salad in that it has so much delightful crunch. It couldn’t be easier to make, either.

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

Party Meatballs

Friday, 27. December 2013 5:26

Bet you can't eat just one.

Bet you can’t eat just one.

 

What’s a party without meatballs?

Kind of like watching a movie without popcorn. Or celebrating a birthday without cake. Or ending a day of skiing without a cup of hot cocoa.

Just not the same, right?

“Pistachio and Pomegranate Meatballs” have party written all over them.

The recipe is from “The Washington Post Cookbook” (Time Capsule Press) edited by Bonnie S. Benwick. The book, of which I received a review copy, is a compilation of favorite recipes published over the past 50 years in the pages of the award-winning newspaper’s food section.

WashingtonPostCookbook

These highly seasoned meatballs taste exactly like falafel — except they’re made with meat and you don’t have to fry them.

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