At the stunning Harbor House Inn situated on a bluff over the ocean on the Mendocino Coast, Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer takes pride in foraging all that he can from the sea to star in his minimalist dishes full of finesse.
That includes making his own salt from seawater and incorporating seaweed in the house butter.
But you don’t have to go to that extreme to enjoy his “Kombu Roast Chicken with Kabocha Squash and Daikon” in your own home.
Instead, this dish by the chef who received his first Michelin star last year just takes stopping at a Japanese market to pick up some kombu. The dried kelp, so full of umami, is pulverized and mixed with softened butter, garlic and lemon zest, then smeared gently underneath the skin of a whole chicken before roasting.
Tomorrow ushers in the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rat. But truth be told, this Chinese dish is so easy and winsome, it’s perfect any day of any season.
The poetically named “Phoenix Tails in Sesame Sauce” grabs from the get-go with a quick, arresting sauce heady with the deliriously deep taste of roasted sesame seeds.
This side dish, appetizer or first-course is from the new “The Food of Sichuan” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019), of which I received a review copy.
The 495-page treatise is by Fuchsia Dunlop, a true authority on regional Chinese cuisines. The London-based food writer speaks, reads and writes Chinese. Her many cookbooks spotlighting Chinese food are must-reads for anyone who desires a deep-dive into the differences and nuances of each culinary region.
“The Food of Sichuan” is actually a revised and updated edition of her classic cookbook, “Land of Plenty,” which was published in 2001 when Sichuan cuisine was still little experienced in this country.
The new edition of the book contains more than 50 new recipes. Yes, Sichuan dishes are known for their liberal use of chiles and lip-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. But there are plenty of tamer dishes, too.
And if you haven’t yet read her newest memoir (Random House), of which I received a review copy, you ought to pronto, especially if you were a fan of the dearly missed Gourmet magazine.
When she was the restaurant critic for the New York Times, Reichl was offered the top job at the country’s oldest epicurean magazine. Initially, she actually turned down the job as editor-in-chief of Gourmet. But she eventually reconsidered, realizing the strong pull the magazine had on her since she first leafed through its pages when she was 8 years old.
The book takes you behind the scenes of the iconic magazine, recounting how Reichl turned it around from a publication that had grown stale with ladies-who-lunch fare to one that was ground-breaking in design and text. It thrilled and surprised — until it was no more, shuttered because profit margins weren’t high enough.
I was a long–time subscriber to the magazine. But I had forgotten just how pioneering it had been. It was illuminating to revisit the topics it covered, enlisting some of the country’s best writers — not just best food writers — to pen stories never seen before, including the plight of the Immokalee farm workers in Florida, who picked the industrial tomatoes that flood supermarkets, under conditions that verged on modern-day slavery.
Or the shocking fall-out that occurred when Reichl dared to put a gloriously whimsical cake covered in cupcakes on the cover of the magazine, which somehow ended up offending a number of readers. Go figure.
With recipes for 47 different spice blends, plus 139 recipes, your taste buds won’t know what hit ’em.
Sure, it’s easy enough to buy jarred spice blends at the supermarket. But when you make your own, you can customize them to your exact specifications and taste. Plus, when you grind and mix your own from whole spices, you’ll get a fresher, more vibrant and pungent blend that can wake up any vegetable, poultry, meat or seafood just like that.
Learn how to make flavored salts, robust rubs (like “Jerk Rub,” spice-infused oils (such as “Chipotle-Coriander Oil,” and spice-steeped extracts (homemade “rose water”).