Springtime’s favorite veggie gets a no-fear sauce
A Hawaiian-influenced recipe that brings back memories
For years, those three little words neatly summarized my feelings about Whole Foods, and made for a Flintstones-sized bone of contention between me and every food-snob I came across; where my friends and family chomped at the bit to feel good about parting with their paychecks, I saw only a business model predicated on sloughing-off expensive products of inconsistent quality, remarkably mediocre prepared foods, and egregiously priced dry goods encased in very clever branding.
Inasmuch as complex events can be said to have their roots in a single moment, I credit my first attempt at this delicious soup – an assignment for my Fundamentals of Stocks, Soups, and Sauces course at the ICE Culinary Institute some 10 years ago – with much of what I’ve produced in the kitchen ever since. I might as well call it my Butterfly Effect Soup.
I cooked this steak – with a simple red wine-honey reduction and a creamy parmigiano-peppercorn salad – in honor of one of my especially snarky fans, someone who objects strenuously every time I buy something from a supermarket for what I’ve billed as a “cooking locally” weblog. I’ll stipulate the point, but my money says I’m not the only parent in the County who’d like to serve their kids a decent, healthy steak for a few less bucks. But is it a decent, healthy steak?
Cooking with flowers has never thrilled me. Call me crazy, but not once have I thought, “You know what this salad needs? Nasturtiums!” I leave the blossoms in the garden and call it a day. Then along came a lavender bush…A guest post by Katie Githens. You can follow Ms. Githens on her own blog, Clary Sage, where she writes about the quirks and comforts of cooking and life on the West Coast.
Sometimes, it’s fun to see how much we can do, with how little. I could list the underlying moral imperatives – saving money and time would presumably occupy the penthouse suite – but in the main, I just think it’s plain fun, a sort of Sudoku with pots and pans. Case in point: How do you feed 3 persnickety kids, using just 3 ingredients, in only 30 minutes? Why 3, 3, and 30? 3 kids, because I get my wife...
I may have seen a cloud this week, but if I did, I don’t remember it. Really, our weather has been impossibly nice. And really, it ought to worry me – the lack of rain, the risk of budbreak before a frost – but it’s hard not to simply soak in it, the whole of our little wine country valley like some great, tickly bubble bath of pea shoots and sunlight.
Road Trip: Sunday night red-eye from SFO to JFK; mythical quantities of food and booze; a cumulative loss of sleep bordering on some chapter in FM 34-52, the field manual of interrogation techniques. Many of my best and oldest friends and much personal history remain rooted in the concrete canyons of Manhattan, so normally I’d say I get to go to NYC this week, but instead I’ll limp into this post with I have to be there,...
The Costco Report: Episodic observations on where to port safely, and what to avoid like a pestilence, when navigating an ocean of consumer non-durables under a sheet metal sky… In today’s edition, a pretty good deal on organic chicken, and a nice way to use your seasonal garden while you cook it. If you insist on eating strictly local products from small family businesses that hold themselves to the highest possible...
Of the many things not to like about a crappy job market, working longer hours for less money has to be near the top of the list; worse still, however, are the all-too-inevitable hours spent working for nothing, the hours spent trying to secure employment instead of actually doing something productive, like riding your bike or cooking. I say this because neither cooks, writers, nor economists of merely mortal stature obtain any...
Somewhere, in a squat little cardboard tube, lies a row of Pillsbury dinner rolls, mashed into one another as if caught in some evil baker’s version of airline seats… and each of those rolls, as it pays its Karmic debt to the gods of flour and water, thinks of one thing only: Please, please let me come back as a Parker House roll, baked from scratch in somebody’s kitchen, pulled apart by the chubby little fingers of happy little children.
My eldest daughter is one of my very favorite people in the world. Really, that’s not just a parent talking: The child has an innate happiness, a fullness of heart, and a spontaneous grace that simply disarms everyone she meets. Like her good looks, I take very little credit for any of that, but I cannot abdicate her Mr Hyde self, so we have to find ways to make up with one another, and this is what we’ve found: There is no better splint for fractured family love than the baking together of fresh bread.
So, back to school: As I mentioned last week, with the wanton optimism of the truly ignorant, I enrolled myself in a continuing ed course. Now, having survived Week 1 (technically, my first grade pending, survival remains a speculative condition), it is Week 2’s turn with the lash; the good news is, my homework has converged with my dinner, in the form of this wonderful recipe for red lentil soup with lemons, and my lemon trees are hemorrhaging little egg-yolk colored balls like some vainglorious tree at Christmas.
I confess, I’m a total sauce slut: My wife could legitimately accuse me of infidelity, if only she had thought to proscribe lustfully leering at the 5 mother sauces in our vows, and I might happily eat a shoe, if only it were first slathered with a demi glace of sufficiently high quality.
I think this is a killer one-pot dish for a dank, inclement night although, in point of fact, I’m cheating, because neither beets, nor my protein of choice – young goat shanks, from the Owen Family Farm up in Hopland – are technically in season right now. But the mild heat and smoky undertone from the chilies, together with the spicy-sweet peppery jam of the wine, seemed a natural bedfellow for dense, rich, and slightly gamy flavors…
At some point, I’ll get around to writing a longer treatise on the wonders – consisting, in roughly equal proportion, of cardiac perfidy and gustatory revelation – of In-N-Out’s “Animal Style” offerings. But not today. Today – and, if you saw my recent column on Savory Onion Jam, I guess you’d say all week – I have eyes only for condiments, and few condiments inspire like In-N-Out’s insanely caramelized onions.