Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Nik Sharma’s Beef Chilli Fry with Pancetta

An easy flank steak stir-fry with the unexpected addition of pancetta.
An easy flank steak stir-fry with the unexpected addition of pancetta.

Nik Sharma is not a triple, but a quadruple threat. And we’re all the better for it.

Writer, photographer, recipe developer, and food scientist, he does it all. And those talents are on big display in his new cookbook, “The Flavor Equation” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

Born in Bombay (Mumbai), Sharma studied molecular genetics at the University of Cincinnati, before getting a a full-time research job at Georgetown University‚Äôs Department of Medicine. His creative side soon took hold, though, as he started cooking his mother’s recipes, as well as developing his own, which he chronicled on his award-winning blog, A Brown Table.

That led to his first cookbook, “Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food” (Chronicle Books, 2018). His follow-up makes use of his science background even more, along with his always beautiful food photography.

Through more than 100 recipes, he teaches how certain techniques or ingredient additions can heighten brightness, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, savoriness, fieriness, and richness — the flavors that make food taste so good. Sharma also delves into how sight, sound, mouthfeel, aroma and taste all play into how we react to food.

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Sage and Walnut Tagliatelle

An easy pasta made luxurious with a copious amount of browned butter.
An easy pasta made luxurious with a copious amount of browned butter.

If Julia Child were still with us, no doubt she would heartily approve of “Sage and Walnut Tagliatelle.”

That’s because it is a total butter bomb.

In the best of ways, of course.

This simple pasta dish, egg noodles get coated in plenty of browned butter infused with sage leaves turned crisp and aromatic, and tossed with crunchy toasted walnuts.

The recipe is from the new “Old World Italian: Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Mimi Thorisson, a former model — yes, apparently not all models subsist on only mineral water and chia seeds. The creator of the food blog Manger, she lives in France with her photographer-husband (who took the winsome photos for the cookbook) and their young children.

This transportive book will make you wish you were staying in a pensione right now, and exploring all the local trattorias — or best yet, having a nonna cook for you such mouth-watering dishes as Thorriso’s versions of “Oven-Baked Eggs with Bottarga and Parsley,” “Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter, Chestnut, and Sage,” “Roast Pork with Balsamic Vinegar and Red Wine,” and “Lemon Meringue Cake.”

What I love about this pasta dish is that it comes together in minutes and doesn’t require a special trip to the grocery store, especially if you have a well-stocked pantry, and grow sage in your yard like I do.

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Pork Cheeks Braised in Tomato Wine Sauce

Have you tried pork cheeks? If not, you are missing out.
Have you tried pork cheeks? If not, you are missing out.

This is one of those no-fail, largely hands-off, wintery main courses, in which the oven does all the work.

In fact, the only real heavy-lifting you’ll have to do is procuring the pork cheeks, which is not an easy find at most supermarkets. Nor is it a necessarily inexpensive one, either.

I lucked out in buying mine from California’s only commercial Iberian pig operation, Encina Farms. What makes Iberian pork so sought after is the fact that the pigs are finished on acorns, giving their meat incredible richness. In fact, in Spain, this is the pork that’s cured into luxurious jamon Iberico.

Encina Farms does sell out of pork cheeks fast, especially since there are only two cheeks per pig, of course. But if you are serious about buying some, fill out its contact form online, and the farm owners will either alert you when the cheeks are available or save some for you.

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Roasted Delicata Squash with Smoked Paprika-Herb Sauce

Crescent-slices of delicata squash get beautifully roasted in the oven until tender and sweet.
Crescent-slices of delicata squash get beautifully roasted in the oven until tender and sweet.

Unless it’s baking pizza, the very bottom rack of my oven seldom gets used.

But thanks to America’s Test Kitchen, I now realize that it’s the perfect position to get deeply browned and caramelized undersides of potatoes, squash, and other veggies.

That’s exactly what I ended up with when making “Roasted Delicata Squash with Smoked Paprika-Herb Sauce” from the new cookbook, “The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook: 500 Inspired, Flexible Recipes for Eating Well Without Meat” of which I received a review copy.

The book, by America’s Test Kitchen, is ideal for anyone, especially those looking to incorporate more plant-based dishes into their diet in this new year. Even if you’re an avowed carnivore, you’ll still find plenty to like, especially if you enjoy these dishes as an accompaniment to whatever meat protein you prefer.

Recipes run the gamut from “Carrot Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal,” “Pinto Bean-Beet Burgers,” and “Creamy Cashew Mac and Cheese” to “Overstuffed Sweet Potatoes with Tofu and Thai Curry,” “Turkish Eggplant Casserole,” and “Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding.”

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Quac ‘N Cheese with Tillamook Maker’s Reserve Aged White Cheddar

Move over mac and cheese; make way for "Quac 'N Cheese.''
Move over mac and cheese; make way for “Quac ‘N Cheese.”

Picture a tantalizingly golden crusted, ooey-gooey mac and cheese.

Now, swap out that elbow pasta for rainbow quinoa instead.

Stay with me, stay with me.

Right about now, you’re thinking what an awful idea that is. Why in the world would you switch the classic tried-and-true pasta for something so healthful, and which frankly, always looks to me like a wool sweater that’s been put through a meat grinder?

Because my friends, it’s actually really, really good. And with the amount of cheese that goes into this dish, believe you me, it’s as far from health food as it gets. So there.

Tillamook's just-released Maker's Reserve Sharp Cheddar in 2015, 2016, and 2017 vintages.
Tillamook’s just-released Maker’s Reserve Sharp Cheddar in 2015, 2016, and 2017 vintages.

“Quac ‘N Cheese” is worth your while. If made with Tillamook Maker’s Reserve White Cheddar, it’s guaranteed to boast an impeccable cheesiness, too. I had a chance to try samples of the reserve cheeses, which are now available in stores, and are worth seeking out.

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