black and blue

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A simple dinner, just grilled steak and salad, but both parts were experiments. Jon tried a new method for the steaks, first cooking them with indirect heat until they reached 115°, then setting them over a very hot flame for a final sear, and I made an attempt at a blue cheese dressing that would go with both meat and greens.

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We had moderate success – the steak was a tad overdone, although far from inedible. It had a nice crust on it. The technique’s definitely worth revisiting, but with a little less actual flame during the final sear.

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My dressing came out pretty great, in spite of not having buttermilk on hand – I mashed a nice soft and stinky gorgonzola with a splash of milk, some mayonnaise, a clove of garlic and some white wine vinegar. The only problem was that I went totally overboard with the quantity, so after eating nearly a whole head’s worth of fresh green lettuce (and the steak) we were rather gorgonzola’d out. I’ll do this again, but make maybe half as much. Or save some for leftovers.

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Memorial day lunch

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Lazy rainy day at home after a weekend with friends. Went for a run, pulled some weeds, brought in some fresh young lettuce from the garden to go with salmon cakes for lunch. Quick sauce of mayonnaise and Momofuku pickled mustard seeds.

Spanish pork and greens

image Recovering from the Easter brunch carb overload, I went looking for something interesting yet digestible to make for dinner. I ended up with an impromptu combination based on a couple of recipes in a Penelope Casas book. Two pork tenderloins cut into medallions, then marinated in a pesto of fresh parsley, garlic, salt and olive oil, and pan seared in a skillet, were easy and bright tasting. To go with I sauteed a bunch of Swiss chard in olive oil then added a little slurry of ground cumin in red wine vinegar. It was great – next time I might try the full recipe of sauteed bread mushed up with the cumin and vinegar. image

cauliflower fritters

fritters

For once in my life, I opened a new food magazine and actually made something out of it right away. I don’t know what came over me – the Ottolenghi cauliflower fritters on the last page of Food & Wine just sounded too good to pass up.

fritter batter

I made them more or less as written – I did leave out the shallots, because I really didn’t feel like chopping shallots, and I substituted ground coriander for the cinnamon, because I know from personal experience that there are very few things I like cinnamon in and cauliflower is not one of them. The recipe was easy to throw together, and really delicious. Leftovers were good, too, although no longer crispy.

yogurt lime sauce

I also made the yogurt sauce with lime juice and zest that the recipe called for. It was pleasant, although it gave the dish an overall Caribbean effect that I thought was a little strange. We preferred dipping the fritters (and accompanying lamb kebabs) into the curry mayonnaise that was left over from our starter of steamed artichokes.

lard for Christmas

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Last year (by which I mean 2012, I guess), we had tourtiere for Christmas Eve dinner. I didn’t make it, it was a frozen pie left over from a cooking class we helped with, but it was wonderful and we decided that, although none of us is French Canadian, we would have tourtiere at Christmas from then on. So this year when the holidays came around, I realized that to do a really proper meat pie I needed lard for the pie crust. Fortunately I had some pork fat on hand.

pig fat Continue reading

double Thanksgiving

porchetta

Happy December! How was your Thanksgiving/Hanukkah weekend? We had one Thanksgiving dinner at home, another with friends, and a fantastically successful breakfast of leftover stuffing pressed into a waffle iron. It was a good holiday.

Last year we discovered how great a pork roast can be instead of a turkey. It goes with all the traditional sides, but cooks relatively quickly and and is very little fuss. I used David Tanis’ porchetta recipe, coating the pork with loads of garlic, fennel and fresh rosemary, and it worked perfectly once again.

potatoes and spinach

I had another go at making Aunt Mary’s creamed spinach, but left out the cream of mushroom soup. It didn’t seem to matter at all, I just had to add some extra salt to the mixture. I also pre-cooked the onions, which I think improves the texture. My father made his famous buttermilk mashed potatoes, because you just have to have mashed potatoes. And we also made a simple salad of raw, thinly-sliced fennel in lemon juice and olive oil, as a foil for all the other gooey, dairy-rich foods. Continue reading

chowdah

salmon chowder

Last weekend I was craving oysters, so we picked up a couple of bags at Taylor Shellfish and invited some friends over. The quandary with oyster nights is what to serve for a main course – you don’t want something too heavy, but it needs to be interesting enough so you don’t just skip it and fill up on nothing but oysters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In any case, this time I tried a recipe  for salmon chowder from Becky Selengut’s book Good Fish. The base is classic chowder, with celery, onion, potato and cream, but it also adds tomato for color and extra flavor, and the salmon (in this case, a piece of wild sockeye) is cut into small pieces and added just before turning off the stove so it cooks in the residual heat.

chowdah

It turned out great. I often like the idea of chowder more than the reality, but this was what chowder should be: creamy and flavorful but not gluey, and the salmon was perfectly cooked and not at all fishy. We ate it with some addictive buttermilk rosemary crackers from Offshore Baking in Maine (owned by Neal and Kathy Foley, our hosts from Duckfest, who recently did an Indiegogo campaign to help pay Kathy’s medical bills – the crackers were our perk, and I highly recommend them).

bourbon and a cookie

For dessert there were chocolate chip/malted milk ball cookies from the freezer and glasses of good bourbon, making for a perfect winter evening by the fire.

 

Bhel Puri

plateful

Last weekend we squeezed in another supper club get together. This one was a South Indian theme, so we had a nice spread of curries.

the spread

We served all the main dishes family style. There was rice, Goan shrimp curry, Keralan chicken, a pot of mixed vegetable curry with sweet potatoes, and our contribution, a coconut milk curry with cauliflower and fresh spinach. We also brought several chutneys, which were made for our appetizer, bhel puri, but also worked nicely with everything else. Continue reading