Saturday, November 29, 2008

Riz basmati au cumin

Everybody has secrets. And today, I'm going to tell you one of mine: I cannot make rice. Every time I try, something different goes wrong--it's burnt, it's raw, it's soggy, it's dry--the list goes on and on. And that's only with white rice! Don't even get me started on what happens when I try to be a little healthier and make brown. It's a total disaster.

Surprisingly enough, this is the only grain this happens with. I can (and often do) make couscous, kasha, quinoa, you get the idea. So, really, I'm quite embarassed to have this rice problem. I've even resorted to using instant rice when the Boy absolutely requires that our main be served over rice. We are planning on getting a rice cooker, but first I need to clear some more counter space, so who knows when that will happen?

I had just resigned myself to a life without homemade rice (what a depressing thought!) when I discovered a new blog, eCurry, and, on it, a recipe for Jeera Rice, an Indian flavored-rice dish. I followed her directions, just altering the flavorings a bit, the better to complement the roasted turkey breast I served it with. I'm sure it would also be wonderful served under brisket. Enjoy!

Cumin Basmati Rice

Pour rice into strainer and rinse under cold running water until water comes clear. (I found the easiest way to do this was to put a bowl under the strainer to collect the water and continuously empty it when full.) Transfer rice into bowl, cover with cold water and let sit 30 minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, heat ghee over medium heat. Add cardamom, lavender, cinnamon and clove. Saute until spices become fragrant and begin to sizzle. Add rice and saute until completely covered by the ghee, 2-3 minutes.

Add cumin and salt and saute 5 more minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil 2-3 minutes, until rice is no longer submerged. Cover pan and turn off heat. Let sit 10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Enjoy!

Increase heat to medium-high.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thon saisi a feu vif

Sunday nights are usually reserved for quick and easy suppers. I sell concessions at a theatre a quick subway ride from home (and located delightfully close to Trader Joe's), so I make it home around 7.30 at the earliest and don't want to waste too much time before eating. This often means an easy one-pot meal, but some nights, when I'm feeling a little more energetic and have planned ahead enough to pick up supplies during the day in Chinatown or made a quick stop at TJ's on the way home, I do manage to make two dishes.

Last Sunday was one such day. I had ahi tuna on the brain and, early Sunday morning, set off in search of it in Chinatown, Ozzy in tow. The first fish store (and the one I most often frequent) had no tuna. The second only had frozen tuna, which, he assured me, was too hard for him to cut. The third place only had whole tuna, not something I was interested in dealing with. Finally, at the fourth fish store, I found a big hunk of tuna of which the fishmonger cut me a 1-pound piece. Because of the language barrier, and my lack of knowledge of the various types of tuna that are to be found around here, I don't actually know if this was ahi tuna , but whatever it was, it was wonderful. I promptly brought it home and tossed it into the refrigerator until dinnertime.

Once I came home, TJ's bags in hand, I recreated Elise's recipe for Seared Ahi Tuna as faithfully as I know how. I've reproduced it below, with my (minor) adjustments. Of course, if you are cooking the tuna as little as I did (since it is really raw on the inside), make sure you know and trust your fishmonger. I served the tuna with steamed artichoke hearts. Enjoy!

Seared Tuna

Mix everything but the tuna in a ziploc bag. Add tuna, seal bag well and massage marinade ingredients into the tuna through closed bag. Refrigerate and let marinate 1 hour.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add tuna and marinade when skillet is hot but not quite smoking. Sear 1 minute on each side.

Remove from pan and slice tuna on a bias, as you would a steak. Serve with cooked garlic and green onion pieces and with the reserved, minced green onion sprinkled on top. This was delicious with a pinot noir.

Links to other tuna noshes:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jarrets d'agneau avec tomates et olives

For my birthday this year, Mom and Dad got me a slow cooker, perfect for those nights when I'm working late and want to come home to dinner already-made, warm and delicious. And since neither the Boy nor Ozzy are proficient cooks, it's up to the slow cooker to satisfy me. It's also wonderful at making braises and stews--two of our favorite winter mains. So as the weather gets colder and colder, I have a feeling I'll be using the slow cooker more and more.

Thus far, I've used it twice--the first time to make braised green cabbage (I adapted the oven-cooked recipe to use it in the slow cooker and greatly enjoyed it after returning home from class at 10.30 pm) and the second time to make these delicious lamb shanks. I'm still working out cooking times and settings (the recipe times are what I'm sure would work perfectly, not exactly what I did), but I am getting the hang of it and it's wonderfully easy to use. It also means that you can cook your main in the slow cooker and still have your stovetop and oven free to make any sides--a real boon in a New York apartment. The only thing is, you can't lift the top off to check the meat or you'll add another 20 minutes to the cooking time. I already know this is going to be the hardest thing to get used to. For example, in this recipe, I didn't want to cook the olives as long as the meat, but, because I opened the top to put them in partway through the cooking process, the meat wasn't as tender as it should have been. I believe an extra half-hour would have done the trick.

What do you like to make it your slow cooker?

Jarrets d'agneau avec tomates et olives

(adapted from How to Cook Everything, my cooking bible)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown lamb shanks on all sides and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 dash lavender and 1/8 teaspoon pepper as they cook. Set lamb aside on a plate. Lower heat to medium and saute shallots and sliced garlic until lightly cooked, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Empty contents of skillet into slow cooker. Add stock, 1/8 teaspoon salt, dash lavender, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and tomatoes. Add lamb, nestling it down into tomato mixture as much as possible (this will depend primarily on how deep your slow cooker is). Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2h30. After first 30 minutes, add olives, then close slow cooker again and continue cooking, without interruption, for 2 hours. Garnish with basil and serve. Enjoy!

Links to other shank noshes:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Farfalle au limon avec cresson

For the first time in months, I was finally able to spend some time in the kitchen last night and to blog about it. However, the simple pasta I made last night was nowhere near as good as this farfalle that I made I-don't-know-how-long-ago, so the farfalle is what I'm sharing with you this evening.

One of the few problems with living down in Chinatown is that, while it's very easy to find uncommon vegetables (such as bitter melon, Chinese okra, angled luffa and fuzzy melon, to name a few), it's impossible to find any arugula. So if I want a salad green with a bite to it, my best bet is to either head up to the Greenmarket or just use watercress, as I did here.

This pasta was simple, filling and delicious--all my requirements for a weeknight dinner. It also qualifies as a one-dish meal--the Boy's favorite kind. It was inspired by a pasta dish in Barefoot Contessa at Home. Enjoy!

Farfalle au limon avec cresson

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cream, zest and juice of 2 lemons, salt, lemon pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add farfalle and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add watercress, parmesan and tomatoes. Cut third lemon into quarters and add to farfalle. Toss well and serve.

Links to other pasta noshes:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Biscuits d'anise et de vanille

Do you like licorice? I do. I love it. But it seems like most people either love or hate its flavor. Now I'm not talking about red licorice; I'm talking about black licorice, fennel, absinthe and anise, to name a few. This isn't a flavor profile that people have lukewarm feelings about, but, since both the Boy and I love it, I picked up some aniseed at Dean & Deluca. Once we got home, I set about making a cookie with this delicious flavoring.

Unfortunately, though, all the aniseed cookie recipes I was able to find where for biscotti--the one kind of cookie the Boy dislikes! Well, since I prefer soft cookies as well, I decided to just adapt my standard cookie recipe, adding aniseed and doubling the vanilla extract. Because, you see, I didn't just want anise cookies; I wanted vanilla-anise cookies.

So, you ask, how did these goodies come out? Well, they were good, but they mostly tasted like sugar cookies. The anise flavor only came out when you bit directly into an aniseed and the vanilla was no more discernible than usual. So what will I do next time? I'm planning to grind the aniseed before mixing it with the dry ingredients and doubling the amount. I'll also try doubling the vanilla extract again. Any other suggestions? I'm all ears.

Biscuits d'anise et de vanille

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, soda and salt until well combined. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add dry ingredients a little at a time until completely combined. Stir in aniseed. Drop rounded teaspoons of batter onto an aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet. (This was the perfect chance for me to break in my new Vollrath cookie sheet and it performed beautifully.) Bake 8-10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry. Enjoy!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Welcome to Chinatown!

We've moved to Chinatown, a beautiful one-bedroom apartment with a lovely (small, but with lots of counter and cabinet space) kitchen and a large (by Manhattan standards) balcony, where I can finally have my very own herb garden!

As you can see, we're still settling in (the Boy is currently studying for the Bar exam, so we won't be able to buy all our missing furniture until the end of next week, after the exam). I have been managing to do some cooking, though most of it has not been very exciting; just reveling in the fresh seafood and previously unknown (to me) vegetables. I can already feel my cooking style changing, becoming simpler and more focused on what's available. My food shopping techniques are also harkening back to what they were in Paris, where I shopped for basic pantry items once a week or so and otherwise only bought the necessary vegetables, fruit, protein and cheese for that night. Thusfar, Chinatown has proved a very welcome change to our eating and cooking habits and I can't wait for the discoveries we'll make.
Instead of a recipe today, here are some photos of the apartment. There first two are my five herbs (Rosemary, Silver Thyme, Italian Parsley, Oregano and Tarragon). I'd also love to add Angelica to the mix, though I haven't been able to find any. Any other suggestions?

The next two pictures are of a hutch I recently bought at a thrift store. From the late nineteenth-century, it needs a little work. I'm currently getting rid of its slight musty smell with some Baking Soda. I also plan on sanding it down and repainting the inside and sprinkling Dried Sage. And I need some Liquid Gold to rehydrate the wood. Once it's finished, I'll be able to store my plates, placemats and (as-yet-unpurchased) tablecloths inside, as well as serve from it when I entertain. And beautiful glasses can be displayed on top. It's a project I look forward to and will post pictures of its development.

And finally, because I can't resist photographing him, there's a picture of Ozzy on the kitchen floor, next to his food and water bowls. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jewish Holiday Cooking: Calling all Matzoh Brie Recipes

Hag Sameach! Happy Passover! And in honor of Passover, Mom has written a Passover post on the blog section of her website, Food Talk with Jayne. This time, her post is on Matzoh Brie and Minas, the Sephardi alternative. And, once again, she's holding a contest and asking for your ideas and recipes! Savory, sweet, whatever. All are welcome and the winner gets a copy of her book, Jewish Holiday Cooking. Good luck!

To send in a Matzoh Brie or Mina recipe, write it up in the contact form on Mom's site, or else write it up on your own blog and send her an e-mail linking to your post. Or leave the link to your post in the comments section here and I'll be sure it gets to her. Happy cooking!

For more information on Jewish Holiday Cooking, see here.

To get started on your matzoh brie and minas, here are some recipes.

Links to other delicious-sounding kosher-for-Passover recipes:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jarret de boeuf braise

Today's dish is another one inspired by an early post, this one Braised Veal Shank with Thyme, the second dish I ever published. But, when I made this last week, I realized I had no thyme. And the beef shanks at Whole Foods looked far more appetizing than the veal. So I adapted the recipe in another ways and here you have it.

I must say, especially since I haven't had much time to cook lately, this was far and above the best meal I'd made in a long while. The meat was tender and flavorful, rich but not overbearingly so. The addition of Chinese five-spice powder (my new favorite spice blend) added a wonderful hint of sweetness. Finally, this is the kind of dish you can prepare, put on the stove and then leave to cook while you do any number of other things. These days, that is a perfect dish indeed.

Jarret de boeuf braise

Preheat oven to 350 F. Rub 1/8 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, oregano and five-spice powder on all sides of beef shanks. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof pot big enough to hold shanks in one layer. Pour a small handful of flour onto a plate. Dip each side of each piece of beef into the flour. Shake off the excess and place the shank into the pot. Turn the heat down to medium and brown the beef, about 3 minutes per side. When done, transfer beef to a plate.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaf and remaining salt, pepper, oregano and five-spice powder. Cook for 12 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan every so often to prevent sticking. Add the beef on top and cover everything with chicken broth. Put the pot into the oven (preferably covered to keep it from drying out) for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Place 1 shank on each plate and cover in sauce and veggies. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding recipes that use beef shanks:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Aloyau de boeuf au reblochon

March 29 was a very exciting day--my blog's third birthday! That's right, ladies and gents, on March 29, 2005, I wrote my very first post--Filet de boeuf au livarot. I had a beautiful wheel of livarot that we had brought back with us from a weekend away in Bayeux and, not wanting to just eat it plain, I got to thinking about what to do with it. Luckily, I came up with the Rib-Eye steaks au livarot, which became a signature dish and which launched this blog.

Rewind five months. I was living alone in Paris; the Boy was still in the States. And I wasn't living in a chic one-bedroom near Place du Chatelet; I was in a chambre de bonne in the 15th, at the far corner of the city. My cooking equipment consisted of a hot plate and a microwave. I hadn't found a butcher or fishmonger and, frankly, felt silly making elaborate meals just for me. Instead, I made a lot of frittatas, simple pastas and lentils cooked with everything but the kitchen sink. I also bought a fair amount of already-prepared food.

But I dearly missed good food, even more so because I was living in Paris, where I was constantly surrounded by some of the most delectable foods I'd ever witnessed. One lonely evening, I stumbled upon my first food blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, and was instantly addicted. Every night after that, as I sat eating my lonely dinner, I stared at my computer screen, devouring whatever delicacy Clotilde had whipped up that night. And little by little, my own meals started becoming more enlightened. They were still simple, but now there were herbs and I began experimenting with vegetables and other products I'd never encountered before.

Fast-forward back to March, 2005: the Boy had joined me in Paris and we had an adorable une piece on Rue St-Denis, just off Place du Chatelet. There was an oven and a stove and, for the first time, I was responsible not just for my meals but for the Boy's as well. This new responsibility made me ever-more creative and, as I started created new recipes and more-or-less reteaching myself how to cook as I faced new ingredients and measuring systems, I began wondering how to record all this wonderful creations. So, late on the night of March 29, when the Boy was in China with his family, I created this food blog.

I know there have been lapses, and a lot has changed since that night, and, really, I never dreamed I would have kept this fascination with cooking and creating so long after leaving Paris. But, apparently, I have and I am sure that this has a lot to do with you, my readers. So open up a bottle of wine (we enjoyed a Cabernet Sauvignon) and enjoy this recreation of the first dish I ever shared with you, adapted, as it must be, for my New York circumstances. Enjoy and A votre sante. Here's to many more!

Aloyau de boeuf au reblochon

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium heat. Mash three cloves garlic with 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, pepper and five-spice. Rub mixture all over both sides of steaks. Raise flame under pan to high and sear steaks 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, place steaks on a plate and place plate in a turned-off oven to rest.

Turn the heat down to low and add the onion and the chopped garlic to the pan. Cook gently about 6 minutes, stirring every so often. Turn heat back up to high and deglaze with water and apple cider, then cook another 3 minutes, until reduced by half. Turn heat back down to low and add milk, remaining tablespoon butter and cheese. Move everything around pan, ensuring the chunks of cheese are well-distributed and just beginning to melt. Also take this time to scrape up any bits of garlic and meat that may be stuck to the pan and will add another delicious dimension to the sauce. Add piment d'espelette and remaining salt, pepper and five-spice, as needed.

To serve: spoon sauce over steaks and top with parsley. The sauce also went wonderfully with some mustard greens I served alongside. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding steak recipes:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Purim Special

In honor of Purim, today's post is from a special guest blogger: Mom.

For Cleopatra, it may have been the milk and honey baths, or perhaps those rumored snacks of pickles. But for Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, it was the legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds she ate that kept the legendary queen beautiful. Actually, she stumbled on the beauty secret by accident: married to King Ahasuerus, Esther contented herself at his fabulous banquets with plain peas and beans because she would not eat the unkosher meat at her husband’s palace.

So while hamantaschen, those luscious little triangular filled pastries, get top billing at Purim, dishes featuring beans and grains, like kasha varnishkes (kasha mixed with noodles), play starring roles on the holiday table too.

This recipe is from my new book, Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations. This deconstructed kasha varnishkes features sliced portobellos, marinated and grilled to enhance their resemblance to meat. Instead of noodles, the pasta is orzo, cooked in broth so it is flavorful and very moist when combined with the dry, fluffy kasha.

Deconstructed Kasha Varnishkes (Kasha and Orzo with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms)

Yield: 6 servings

Clean the Mushroom caps and stems with a damp paper towel. Carefully cut the stems off flush with the caps. Trim off the woody bottom section of the stems and discard. Chop the stems coarsely and set aside. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2 teaspoons of the Garlic, 1 tablespoon of the Soy Sauce, the Lemon Juice, 2 teaspoons of the Oil, and the Rosemary, if using. Add the Mushroom caps, press out the air, and seal the bag. Let the caps marinate at room temperature, turning the bag over occasionally, until you are ready to broil them.

Soak the Orzo in a bowl of fresh cold water for about 5 minutes to remove some of the starch. Empty into a strainer, rinse, and drain. Bring 2 cups of the Broth to a boil, stir in the Orzo, and cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes until the Orzo is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Keep warm and covered until ready to combine ingredients.

Preheat the broiler.

In a medium bowl, beat the Egg with a fork. Stir in the Kasha and mix until each grain is thoroughly coated. Heat the remaining 2 cups Broth to simmering. In a heavy lidded skillet with high sides or a wide heavy saucepan, toast the Kasha over medium heat, turning and breaking up the Kasha constantly until the Egg begins to dry and the grains separate, about 3 minutes. Add the hot Broth and Salt and Pepper to taste, cover, and simmer over very low heat until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Keep covered and warm.

In a 10-inch heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining Oil over medium-high heat and sauté the Onions, stirring, until they are deep golden brown. Season well with Salt and Pepper. Transfer the Onions to a large bowl. In the same skillet, sauté the reserved chopped Mushroom stems and remaining 1 teaspoon Garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoon Oil over high heat. Cook until the Mushroom edges are tinged with bronze. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Soy Sauce and Pepper to taste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes to marry the ingredients. Transfer to the bowl, keeping it covered and warm.

Arrange the Mushroom caps on a foil-lined broiler rack, and broil them, gill side down, about 4 inches from the heat, for about 5 minutes. Turn, baste with any juices (or spilled bits of Garlic), and broil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender and cooked through. Transfer the Mushrooms to a cutting board.

Add the cooked Orzo and Kasha to the Onions and Mushroom stems. Combine the ingredients well and season with Salt and Pepper, if needed. If dry, add a little Schmaltz, Butter, or Margarine.

To serve, spoon some of the Kasha-Orzo mixture onto each plate. Slice the Mushrooms on an angle and season to taste. Arrange the Mushroom slices decoratively over the Kasha mixture and nap with any accumulated Mushroom juices. If desired, sprinkle with chopped Parsley. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding Purim recipes:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Petit gateaux complets delectables

I don't often bake cookies. But when I do, (unless I'm trying out a new recipe) I use the same basic cookie recipe, with whatever additions I have on-hand and suit my fancy that particular day (chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc.) And where did I find this particular recipe, you may ask? Was it in one of my myriad cookbooks? Nope. Is it an old family recipe, passed down through generations? No again. (There are actually precious few family cookie recipes. Perhaps something that needs to change, no?) Anyway, the source of my base recipe is completely unglamorous--the back of an Arm & Hammer Baking Soda box.

Needless to say, I've tweaked the recipe a bit over time, so that it's begun morphing into something new, though still recognizable. The key thing I never change is the amount of butter used--two sticks! I know this seems like a lot (and it is), especially in our fat-conscious society, but the cookies are unmatchably moist and delicious. Also, my feeling is, if you're going to indulge, it should be worth it.

That said, when I wanted to make these cookies, I realized, too late, that I was all out of All-Purpose Flour. What's a girl to do? After some serious thinking, I decided to try them with a mixture of Whole Wheat Flour and Matzo Cake Meal. They were truly wonderful, not tasting at all "healthy." I added a chopped up Michel Cluizel Dark Chocolate Bar to the mix, but they'd be equally tasty with raisins, nuts or whatever you heart desires. And because of all the butter, they were still wonderfully moist. Enjoy!

Petit gateaux complets delectables

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, whisk together, Whole Wheat Flour, Matzo Cake Meal, Baking Soda and Salt until well combined. In a large bowl, beat Butter, Sugars and Vanilla with a wooden spoon until creamy. Add Eggs. Add dry ingredients a little at a time until all incorporated. Mix in Chocolate and Nuts. Drop rounded teaspoons of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets (there's so much butter in the dough, there's no need for extra on the cookie sheets). Bake 8 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tarte de bacon, ciboules et port-salut

It seems that tarts are in the air! Coconut Chocolate Tarts are the theme for this month's Hay Hay it's Donna Day, as Barbara so kindly reminded us. And, no, this isn't my submission; my sweet tooth isn't that far gone! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to make a sweet tart; I had to get dinner on the table. But I was planning on making a spicy soup and wanted something comforting to accompany it. I wanted something exciting and easy to eat--both for our hands and our taste buds. In short, I wanted this tart.

I had stumbled across the recipe once while flipping through my small, oh-so-convenient copy of The Weekday Cook and filed it away for future use. Well, the day I had come and I, along with my frozen pie crust from Trader Joe's, was ready.

The tart was stupdendous. So marvelous, in fact, that I am writing about it even though I was certainly not planning to when I began cooking. But once the Boy saw it come out of the oven, he began snapping photos. And once he tasted it, he told me I had to write it up. No excuses. So, without further ado, here it is:

Tarte de bacon, ciboules et port-salut

Preheat oven to 375. Cook Bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon, leaving Bacon Grease in the pan. Place Pie Pastry in round 9-inch pan, pressing down on edges and sealing any cracks, sprinkle with Bacon. Add Green Onions, Black Pepper and Smoked Paprika to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until Onions are tender, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to medium bowl. Add Eggs, Half-and-Half, Kosher Salt and Cinnamon; mix with a fork, beating slightly, until there are no white streaks from the Eggs. Sprinkle Port Salut Cheese on top of Bacon on crust. Pour Egg Mixture on top. Add up to 1/4 teaspoon more Black Pepper and/or Smoked Paprika. Place tart in oven. Bake 40 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jewish Holiday Cooking: Calling all Hamantaschen Recipes

Before I start, a disclaimer: the book I'm discussing today, Jewish Holiday Cooking, is written by my Mom, Jayne Cohen, and will be her third book. As such, I am by no means an impartial judge and would not presume to write an actual review of the book. What I can do, however, is to recommend it to all of you and to promote it as best I can.

And that is exactly what I plan to do. I have tried the vast majority of the recipes in the book and they are all delicious. Some are taken from her first book, The Gefilte Variations, and others are new additions to her repertoire. Some are family recipes (I've shared two of them), others are international and still others are of her own invention. They are all kosher, but you certainly don't need to be Jewish to enjoy them. They are arranged by Jewish holiday, but, again, you can have most of them at any time; the holidays are the excuse to make them, not the requirement.

Where might you obtain a copy of this wonderful book for yourself, you might ask? Simple--from any online purveyors or at a *gasp* bookstore. Or, if you're lucky, you can win a copy. Over on the blog portion of her website, Food Talk with Jayne, Mom has written a post just in time for Purim on Hamantaschen, those wonderful triangular cookies filled with all sorts of yummy goodness. And she's calling for your favorite Hamantaschen recipes/filling suggestions. She will post the recipes and suggestions on her site and will send a free copy of Jewish Holiday Cooking to whomever sends in the best one. So get started, and good luck!

Jewish Holiday Cooking
To send in a Hamantaschen recipe, write it up in the Contact form on Mom's site, or else write it up on your own blog and send her an e-mail linking to your post. Or leave the link to your post in the comments section here and I'll be sure it gets to her. Happy baking!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Year of the Potato: Salade riviera, 2.0

Did you know that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato? Neither did I until the good folks at Eating Leeds told me and announced a Potato Event. And what are the guidelines? Just make a dish using Potatoes!

But let's begin with a little potato information. Potatoes are one of those ubiquitous vegetables that appear in food from around the globe. It is also the most widely grown tuber crop. It originated in Peru and was then brought to Europe in the early 18th century. It was then distributed to European territories around the world. Potatoes were extremely popular in Europe, particularly Ireland, where, because they grow underground, English soldiers were unable to locate and destroy them, meaning the Irish were able to eat. In present times, Asia is responsible for growing 80% of the world's Potato crops and it is becoming an increasingly popular crop.

For my Potato recipe, which will hopefully be the first of many, I decided to revisit a past recipe, one for Salade Riviera, but try it with a different kind of Potato and see how, if at all, it altered the taste. This time around I used Yukon Gold Potatoes, which have yelow flesh and a creamy texture. They did wonders for the salad, adding a wonderful texture contrast to the sharp bite of the Endive. Enjoy!

Salade riviera, 2.0

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Toss with Dressing to taste. Enjoy!

Links to other delicious-sounding Salad Recipes:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bisque de chou-fleur et de coquilles

They say the whole is greater

Than the sum of the parts it's made of. ("Love Song," Pippin)

The above song lyrics by Stephen Schwarz refer to love, but they could just as easily have been written for this Chowder. I knew I wanted to use my Spice Rub since I hadn't in a while and I was curious how the bite of Smoked Paprika would pair with the sweetness of Sea Scallops. My favorite way to make Scallops is to pan-fry them, so I decided to do that. To accompany my Scallops, though, I didn't want to just steam some Broccoli Raab on the side or anything quite as simple as that. It's winter and I wanted soup. So, I decided on a simple Cauliflower Chowder, that I adapted from a similar soup recipe in The Weekday Cook, a small book published by Bon Appetit in the '80's that's a compilation of fast, easy recipes from their Weekday Cook column.

My real burst of inspiration, however, came when I was plating. As I took down bowls and plates to set the table I realized--why not add the Scallops to the Chowder? That way the spiciness of the Spice Rub would be dulled by the Chowder, which could use a lift anyway. The result was sublime--a definite winner. Enjoy!

Bisque de chou-fleur et de coquilles

First, marinate Scallops. Combine Spice Rub and Garlic in Spice Grinder or with a Mortar and Pestle until you have an even paste. Toss with Scallops in a glass bowl. Cover with Plastic Wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Next, make the Chowder. Cook Bacon in a large, heavy pot over a medium-low flame for 12 minutes, until Bacon begins to brown. Remove to paper towel-lined plate with a Slotted Spoon. Add 1 tablespoon Butter to pan, turn flame down to low, and melt. Add 3 Green Onions and cook 8 minutes, until tender. Add Potato, Mango, Salt and Pepper. Stir well and cook 5 minutes. Stir in Clam Juice, raise flame back up to medium-low and simmer, 5 minutes. Add Milk and Cauliflower and simmer 20 minutes, until Potato is tender.

Meanwhile, bring Scallops to room temperature. Lightly coat a saute pan with Olive Oil. Heat over a medium flame. When hot, add Scallops. Cook 3 minutes, then flip and cook 3 minutes on other side, until cooked through.

While Scallops are finising up, add Bacon to Chowder and simmer 3 minutes, stirring gently. Add whites of Green Onions. Ladle into Soup Bowls. Add 1 teaspoon Butter to each bowl. Sprinkle with greens of Green Onions. Add Scallops, divided evenly between the bowls.

Serves 2

Links to other delicious-sounding Chowder Recipes:

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Blancs de poulet et cotelettes de porc braises, avec des olives manzanilla et kalamata et des capres

Sometimes, you're at a complete loss as to what to make for dinner. You know what you have in the fridge and you know the kind of food that you want to make, but when you go to the supermarket to pick up some essentials, nothing strikes your fancy. That's what happened to me the other day. It was quite cold out, so I wanted something slow-cooked and warming. I had quite enjoyed the last braise I made, so I considered just repeating it, but that seemed rather boring. Plus the Boy announced he didn't particularly want Chicken for dinner. So I bought some Pork Chops and figured I'd braise them. Unfortunately, I didn't read the package carefully, so, when I opened it up, I realized that if I was going through the trouble of slow-cooking something, I wanted to make more than just two pork chops. So I defrosted a couple of Chicken Breasts and added those as well. It was truly delicious, the pork falling off the bones after the long cooking. Definitely something I'd make again, but with one change--because it's cooked with two kinds of Olives as well as Capers, go easy on the Salt. You really need very little (something I didn't realize until too late). Ah, well. I'll remember next time!

Blancs de poulet et cotelettes de porc braises, avec des olives manzanilla et kalamata et des capres

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour Olive Oil into large, oven-proof pot and heat over a medium-high flame until it slides around easily. Season Pork Chops and Chicken Breasts with Salt, Poultry Seasoning and Pepper. Add Pork to pot and cook 5 minutes, until browned. Turn over and cook 5 more minutes on opposite side. Remove to a plate and add Chicken Breasts to pot. Brown about 5 minutes on one side, then turn over and repeat on other side. Add to Pork Chops on plate.

Add Bacon, Green Onion and Carrots to pot and cook 2 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add both kinds of Olives, Capers, Bay Leaf, Chicken Stock, Pork and Chicken Breasts. Submerge Meat in liquid as much as possible, then raise flame to high and bring mixture to a boil. Cover pot and place to oven to braise for 45 minutes, until Meat is cooked through and Carrots are soft.

Remove from oven and return pot to stove, over a high flame. Boil 5 minutes, to concentrate braising liquid. Lower heat and cook another 5 minutes, to better combine the flavors. Serve, preferable over pasta to soak up the extra liquid. Enjoy!