On the road to Marrakech – Preserved Lemons, Limes and Kumquats

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Preserved lemons may never be as commonplace to American cooks as pesto, which was once unknown outside of immigrant Italian homes.  But who can say?   A salty, fragrant ingredient with a hint of sweetness.  Stranger things have happened.  Maybe the day will come when the thought of dark greens brings preserved lemon trailing behind.  And not just with greens, how about a chilled crab salad with preserved lemon?  Or as a contrapuntal note in risotto with guanciale.  That day has already arrived at our house.  Once upon a time most Americans venturing into the world of these strange, salted citrus fruit needed a culinary anthropologist like Paula Wolfert to tell us what to do with them.  No longer.  Any time we need a bright, sharp flavor accent with something floral, we think preserved lemon.  For seafood, for pork, for chicken, for lamb.  Oddly, about the only thing we don’t have with preserved lemon is beef.  But I’m open to suggestions, if you have a good one.  In the meantime, if you’re someone who’s always wanted to make your own Preserved Lemons, Limes and Kumquats, this is the post for you.

Print this recipe – Shrimp Scampi with Orange Bitters

Food bloggers and their readers tend to be a supportive, upbeat, crowd (“Kale!  Wow!  Double thumbs-up!”).  We don’t get many complaints, helpful suggestions for improving the site, but every few months this plea arrives: “Can’t you do something so we don’t have to cut and paste your recipes?”  Never let it be said The Garum Factory …

Glazed and Enthused – Spanish Mackerel, Saffron and Honey with Blood Orange – Fennel Salad

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Spanish Mackerel, Saffron and Honey with Blood Orange – Fennel Salad.  If you make nothing else from us this year, make this.  It’s crazy delicious, one of my contenders for the tastiest thing Jody’s cooked in the past year, and it’s easy. Contrary to what you may think, the recipe doesn’t involve filleting your own mackerel.  Unless you want to.  If so, have it.  That’s what we did, but only because the whole fish were so gorgeous I couldn’t bear not photographing them, so I spared our fishmonger the hassle of filleting them for us.  You’ll also notice that there are three fish and only four fillets, when you’d expect six.  That’s because we roasted the third mackerel whole.  If Spanish mackerel’s around, we can’t get enough of it.  Make this dish.

Dutch Babies with Blood Oranges

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Jody cautioned me not to create any titles with “babies” and “blood” in them.  Then she made the tactical error of going to work.  Herewith Dutch Babies with Blood Oranges.  C’mon, like you wouldn’t have done the same thing?  Besides, after last week’s Attack of the Devil Baby* prank on New Yorkers, I figured you could handle it. What’s a little shudder when these “babies” taste so good, when the payoff is having a hot air balloon collapse in front of you, its final gasps scented with vanilla, cinnamon, orange and lemon?  What name would you choose for this wheezy pastry–Dutch baby or German pancake, the main alternative?  Dutch babies sound playful, easy, maybe even good for you.  German pancakes, whatever their other virtues, convey an air of seriousness. “Time for German pancakes!” could be a euphemism for “Let’s build a railroad through the Black Forest.”   So what’s your choice?  Light-cuddly-easy?  Or Heavy-serious-Hans-Henry-was-a-steel-drivin’-man?   Right.  Dutch babies it is. And don’t forget the blood oranges.

Glazed and Confused

Hi, Everyone– For some reason a teaser for a post we haven’t yet published went out awhile ago.  Take my word for it – there’s no post there. Sorry for the bother.  We will have a new post tomorrow – but it won’t have anything to do with glazing, or seafood, or confusion.   Ken

The one that got away – Lentil, Pepper and Escarole Soup

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Shouldn’t Prairie Home Companion have a folksy sponsor like the American Soup Council to tout this most comforting of all dishes?  Imagine the catchphrases: “Soup – we’ve got your back,” or “Soup – a mom in every bowl,” or even, “Soup – at least the barn didn’t burn down.”  That’s how I feel about this week’s spicy makeover - Lentil, Pepper and Escarole Soup.  I just had a bowl.  It was all the things soup should be – tasty and warm and reassuring.  It certainly dispelled some of the gloom attendant on my losing this week’s photographs.

That’s right, I lost them.

On a night not fit for man nor beast – Salted Butterscotch Custard

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As I write this (Thursday) the Big Bad Wolf howls about our house, a slavering gale sniffing out chinks, probing for weaknesses.  The temperature is expected to plunge to 5 or 6 above zero by morning, with Boston adrift in over a foot of snow before the blizzard subsides Friday evening.  In our current larder we have bread, sweet potatoes and bitter greens that Jody made tonight, chewy papardelle noodles with smoked goose and tomato sauce–the last hurrah of our Christmas birds–and a few precious survivors of this week’s post, Salted Butterscotch Custards.  We couldn’t be snugger.

Sadie’s Gingersnaps

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If you’re looking for something homemade this weekend but are ready to give elaborate cooking a rest, here’s a treat, Sadie’s Gingersnaps.  The eponymous Sadie is the grandmother of our great friend and traveling companion, Bette Ann (BA) Harris.  Several weeks ago BA arrived for dinner at our house with a plastic bag of these oversize ginger snaps.  Score!  There’s an embargo on our house for cookies, unless we make them ourselves.  It ensures quality control and minimizes temptation.  You can have a treat… as long as you make it yourself.  We do, however, issue culinary visas to all friends bearing baked goods.  After all, how often do friends show up at your door with homemade cookies?  These were definitely worth the wait.

The L Word: Lobster-Andouille Stuffies

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A “stuffy,” just in case you don’t know, is the Rhode Island term of art for a baked stuffed clam, although I can vouch for its use as far north as southern Massachusetts.  Typically, buttered and seasoned breadcrumbs do-si-do with chopped clam, usually but not always) atop a quahog on the half-shell and baked.  It’s a filling, poor man’s seafood treat, which is not to denigrate it, just to note that it may not be the place to go if you’re looking to sate your bivalve love.  Jody’s stuffy climbs up a notch on the menu, subbing lobster for clams, and adding andouille sausage and green pepper for a Cajun twist.  Lobster-Andouille Stuffy – the stuffy for our times.

Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano

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I met my first leek in high school.  I was a senior and the leek was in Julia Child’s Vichyssoise.  I wanted to be an instant convert, but it just wasn’t happening for me.  Potatoes, these funny sci-fi onions, cream, the cold temperature–it was just too far off the map.  Three years later I gave leeks another try.  This time I was a student in Switzerland and the leeks were baked in a gratin with cream and Gruyère.  Whammo!  Direct hit.  The Swiss also love potato-leek soup, hot and cold, so I got plenty of opportunity to endear myself to this long allium.   As a young householder I braised them with chicken stock and cream, while Jody has always been a bit more restrained, using evoo.  As I get older I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to Jody’s side of the fence, ergo this week’s post, Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano.