Gentleman's Relish and meyer lemon salsa

gentleman's relish

meyer lemon salsa

Looking for something new and fun to do for a dinner party, I cracked open my copy of Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. I had a really lovely piece of locally caught halibut and she has a recipe for a fresh herbal meyer lemon salsa to serve with halibut, so I thought I’d try that. Then, a few pages away, I found a recipe for Gentleman’s Relish. A Victorian-era spread once thought unsuitable for ladies’ palates, it’s really just an anchovy herb butter – and that just sounded amazing. So I made that, too, to spread on pieces of sourdough baguette before dinner. Both things went over well.

butter

Any recipe that starts with a bowl of butter is fun to make.

anchovies

This was also a good excuse to buy some new anchovies (we were out). This jar should last us a while.

fresh garden herbs

Both the relish and salsa are perfect things to make this time of year, when the chives are coming up and the mint is beginning to explode out of the ground. The salsa calls for savory, which I don’t currently grow, but Goin recommends substituting with equal parts fresh thyme, mint and rosemary, so I did that. The result, with the spicy-tart meyer lemons, was quite fabulous. I liked it with the halibut, but I liked it even more spread on pan-fried rainbow trout the next day. I wonder what else it would be good on – chicken, maybe?

The Gentleman’s Relish was amazing, too – I played a little loose with the quantities, but I think it could have taken quite a bit more anchovy. We put the little bit of leftover spread on steaks a few days later, which was absolutely all right. Also on steamed asparagus. Although it rapidly becomes all to easy to eat a vast quantity of butter this way. If you think that’s a problem.

Gentleman’s Relish

from Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table by Suzanne Goin

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp minced anchovy
  • 2 tsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp minced parsley
  • 1 tsp minced chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Let the butter soften, then add all the other ingredients and mash it up together. Serve at room temperature for easy spreading.

gentleman's relish

Meyer Lemon Salsa

from Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table by Suzanne Goin

  • 2 meyer lemons
  • 2 Tbsp minced shallot
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced savory (or equal parts thyme, mint and rosemary)
  • 1 Tbsp sliced mint
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

Cut the rind off the lemons and remove the membranes from each section, keeping any juice that is expressed. Set aside the lemon sections, cutting them into smaller pieces if you like. Put the reserved lemon juice in a bowl with the shallots and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the lemon pieces and other ingredients.

supreming meyer lemons

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rosemary-lemon chicken

ready for the oven

We’ve had a big influx of new cookbooks in our household this week. This was partly our own fault, as we used my husband’s birthday discount at Village Books as an excuse to go a little nuts in the food section. Then a friend who’s in the midst of serious decluttering offered me some of her books, and I never can say no to a cookbook. So we have nine new books to find space for on our bulging shelves. Not to mention cook out of.

the cat and the cookbook

They all have possibilities, but the one I’ve been glued to most is David Tanis’ new book Heart of the Artichoke. I don’t own his previous work, A Platter of Figs, but I checked it out from the library so many times it felt as if I did. I love his approach to food and the way he puts meals together, plus I adore the shadowy, evocative photographs that accompany his work. I will always be grateful to him for turning me on to parsnips roasted in butter, something I love so much I tend to eat the whole pan’s worth while it’s cooling on the counter.

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braising a bunny

dinner

I really don’t know why Americans don’t eat rabbit. There’s definitely a factor of “oh, it’s too CUTE to eat” which is part of why we don’t eat much lamb as a nation, either. But it’s really hard to find rabbit in grocery stores – we asked once at our usual market and I think they could special order it frozen for us if we gave them enough notice, and it cost an arm and a leg. Weird.

So when a friend of ours, a local farmer, asked if we wanted to take one of the rabbits she’s been shooting to keep them out of her vegetables, we said Definitely. Even before we received the rabbit, I started looking through my British and Mediterranean cookbooks for possible recipes. We haven’t had much experience cooking wild game of any sort, so I wanted to get a feel for the most common treatments. Rabbit isn’t a strongly gamey meat, but it’s still liable to be stronger-tasting than, say, a farm-raised chicken, and the meat is very dense and low in fat, so it requires some care in preparation.

rabbit

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olive and lemon chicken

lemon-olive chicken

Somewhere along the line, North African cuisine has become one of my personal comfort foods. There’s something particularly wonderful about tagines with couscous, when it all blends together to create a bowlful of chewy, starchy, meaty deliciousness. The flavors are often pungent, but balanced, often with a good hit of fresh herbs, and I just find it so comforting on a cold evening. Last week I had a real craving for couscous with chicken and preserved lemon, and I must say it did the trick.

Of all the variations I’ve made of Moroccan chicken with preserved lemon and olives, this turned out to be a favorite. I found a recipe by Paula Wolfert that happened to use the sort of olives I had on hand and the right amount of lemon, and it was very successful. I particularly liked how it calls for braising bone-in chicken parts in aromatic broth, then taking out the pieces and roasting them until the skin crisps up and serving them with the reduced sauce. It prevents that soggy chicken skin problem that usually keeps me from braising skin-on pieces.

I didn’t marinate the chicken ahead of time (not my preference, just disorganized) and I left out the mashed chicken livers that the original recipe called for (partly because I didn’t have any, mostly because I don’t care for liver flavor). We served it with Israeli couscous. It was very rich with schmaltz, but sharp with lemon, olive and parsley. The last bottle of viognier from the basement was a perfect match. Continue reading

pork and carrots and cabbage, oh my!

carrot dip

Last Saturday we cooked up quite a storm. We were kind of stuck at home, since Jon managed to throw his back out a few days before and was still on a fun variety of medications and spending most of his time on the couch. So why not cook?

To start, I made up a batch of carrot dip. I made this for friends a week ago, and it was so good it vanished instantly, so I wanted to do it again just for the two of us. It’s just roasted carrots pureed with olive oil, salt, fresh mint and a pinch of caraway or cumin seed, served with a sprinkling of feta cheese, and it is great. Plus it did a fantastic job of using up the six-pound bag of carrots we bought at the last farmer’s market.

braised cabbage

Then I threw together another recipe from good old Art of Braising, which is rapidly becoming one of those cookbooks that I want to make every single recipe out of. I had tried the “Best Braised Cabbage in the World” already, but I saw a rave about the “Savoy Cabbage Gratin with Saint Marcellin” on Orangette that made me head straight out to the co-op to look for French triple-cream cheeses. I ended up with Delice de Bourgogne, which I thought worked splendidly [huh. I just realized that’s what Molly ended up using, too. Weird]. The final dish was smooth and sweet, with a delightful funkiness about it from the cheese. Leftovers have been singularly tasty. Continue reading

lamb tagine soup

lamb tagine soup

This was another one of those dishes that, although it was delicious in its first incarnation, was even better as a gussied-up leftover. It makes sense, of course, since a tagine is a braised dish, which tends to be best on its second day. But this, I think, was particularly splendid.

preserved lemon

Usually when we’re in the mood for tagine we make our standby, lamb with dried apricots and chickpeas. This time, though, I decided I really wanted to try an old favorite, a tagine of lamb with preserved lemon, peas and olives, which we hadn’t made for ages. We had to drive all the way to Bellingham for the preserved lemon, because I keep forgetting to make some, but it was worth it. Besides, it meant that we got to eat falafel and schawarma at Mediterranean Specialties for lunch that day. Continue reading

chicken & sausage & lemons, oh my!

chicken and sausage bake

I’ll admit it right here, I like Nigella Lawson. I think she’s a great menu planner and hugely entertaining to read (I’ve never seen her on TV), and I own several of her books. Strangely, I sometimes find her recipes disappointing (such as a nearly flavorless chocolate cake), but I generally forgive her the details because I like her general concepts so much.

One recipe of hers that stuck in my mind when I saw it was a sort of mishmash of chicken pieces, sausages, lemon, onions and sage, squished together in a pan and baked. I don’t know why I found the idea so fascinating, but I’ve been just waiting for my chance to try it. So on Saturday I combined the chicken and marinade, and on Sunday J put it all in the oven while I was at work. We were a little short of vegetables in the house, so I cooked some frozen spinach to go alongside.

The verdict? I liked it. It’s not going to be my go-to comfort meal from now on, but it was fun and simple. If I make it again I’ll add loads more sage to it, and maybe use hot Italian sausages instead of sweet, and serve it with a big salad or lots of green beans or something to cut the richness. The chicken did have a really nice sharp lemony flavor and the skin was beautifully crisp, and the onions were lovely combined with bites of sausage. We had a lot of leftover Portuguese white wine with a definite barnyard edge to it, and it went really well with the chicken. So it was a successful dinner. And the leftovers were even better the next day. Continue reading

Lemon-poppyseed Brussels sprouts

shredded brussels sprouts

In my wanderings around the food blogosphere, I found a couple of discussions (at Smitten Kitchen and Orangette) of a particular approach to cooking Brussels sprouts. I love sprouts cooked my usual way, but I’m always interested to try something new. I had intended to copy out the recipe, but then I stumbled across a copy of the Union Square Cafe Cookbook in a used bookstore and figured it was kismet. We tried it a couple nights ago alongside a roast chicken.

lemon poppyseed brussels sprouts Continue reading

lemony pork chops & sweet potatoes

pork chops and sweet potatoes

You ever have something in your fridge or pantry that’s really old, not very appealing any more, but not nasty enough to just throw away? I have this problem with preserved lemons – not the lemons themselves, I usually use them right up – but the syrup that they come in. Even after the lemons are gone, that juice is still good! But then you forget to use it, and it gets shoved to the back of the fridge, and you feel guilty about it but never quite want to toss the jar and buy a new one…at least that’s what happens to me.

So anyway, I wanted to do roasted sweet potatoes this week, so we went to the store looking for something to go with them. Pork chops sounded nice, and we were suddenly struck by the notion that we could use some of our leftover lemon goo on them! We used to roast pork blade steaks with preserved lemon and garlic, but hadn’t thought of it in a while.

cooking lemon-garlic pork chops Continue reading