Roast some peppers with just a spoonful of aromatics inside. Result: tasty, squishy-soft peppers that genially pair with burrata… and some great leftovers.
Squint at this dish of roasted okra with guanciale and peppers and you might mistake it for an Italian bagna cauda. Except that okra doesn’t register on Italian culinary radar. Which is not to say that it can’t work with an Italian sensibility. Think of this as American trying on an Italian sport coat. Unexpectedly, …
Not that kind of naked. Naked as in camera-only. No multiple lights, no radio controls, not even a tripod. It has been a very long month–the PanMass Challenge, loved ones off to parts known and unknown–and during our single day of work in a week of vacation the last thing I wanted to do was set up lights and softboxes in our little vacation kitchen to make it look and feel transformed. Sometimes all you can do is just let things be. We had
barely enough plenty of light coming though the windows and I thought why not dance on the edge a little? Back to basics: camera – light – food. This is a Chilled Corn and Peach Soup photographed au naturel.
This recipe is so simple I had trouble envisioning exactly what I was going to photograph, which was fine, because given the temperatures of the last couple of weeks, who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen? Seared Haricots Verts with Whipped Feta and Preserved Lemon will have you in and out in no time and then you can devote yourself to doing what everyone does in hot weather – using the grill while quaffing enormous quantities of beer. Or, you can simply do what Jody and I did: sit down, pour yourself a glass of dry rosé, add some sliced tomatoes and crusty bread and call it lunch.
Two words almost never seen paired together: quick and favas. Yet, both apply to this week’s Lazy Man’s Fava Bean Salad with Spring Greens and Pecorino. In retrospect, we might have called it Romantic Man’s (or Woman’s) Fava Bean Salad because it’s just the sort of thing that two people comfortable with bumping hips in a kitchen can make together for their own romantic lunch. The salad makes 4 servings, but these can be stretched if you’re serving it as a starter to, say, grilled lamb or fish.
Chicken Wings with Celery and Bottarga is not a traditional Sardinian delicacy. Bottarga and celery, yes; chicken wings, ah no. This dish is, in fact, the love child of two different desires, Jody’s yearning for wings and my own wish to do another Sardinian recipe before I throw in the towel, tuck my shorts away in my Camp Grenada footlocker. Sardinian wings were the result, and just in time. A couple of days of freezing rain have stripped more than a few trees in our neighborhood of their autumn raiment; limbs are skeletal,not festive and the uncleared sidewalks resemble the killing floor in a chlorophyll slaughterhouse. And it got cold, provoking someone in our house to violated the First Law of Yankee-dom: No one shall touch the thermostat until November 1st. The one good thing about cold weather is that it means a new harvest of bottarga will be soon at hand. And with this wings recipe in hand, when this season’s bottarga becomes available in mid-to-late November or early December, you’ll be primed. While everyone else is still fumbling with their laces you’ll be burning down the track, chicken wings and celery bundled under your arm. Nyah-nyah-nuh-nyah-yah. And how did we make this recipe if bottarga won’t be available for another month? Easy, we whittled down our own two-year-old chunk of umami ambergris that has been cooling its eggs in our fridge. No lie – I ordered it online at the end of 2012. When was the last time you consumed something from your fridge that was two years old? Still as potently delicious as the day we bought it. With chicken wings and celery it was a ménage à trois made in heaven. After Jody left at the conclusion of our cooking and shooting session, I was the only one home, not counting the Lagunitas IPA’s in the fridge. The next morning there were no wings to be found. Draw your own conclusions.
Local Massachusetts peaches seem increasingly old-fashioned to me, meaning that you make a mess when you eat one (unless a nearby vendor gives you slices) and while they taste sweet they also have a faint counterpoint of tartness. This makes them the ideal companion for salty prosciutto. I suppose we could have left it at that, but we also had a raft of mint and some pistachios, so Jody upped the ante with a pistachio-mint pesto that doesn’t require much more than a quick buzz in the food processor. Fresh mozzarella makes it a sumptuous enough to stand in for lunch, if that’s where’s you want to go. You’ll also be relieved to know that local cherry tomatoes, now at their spectacular peak, don’t require peeling. This is the easiest antipasto you’ll even encounter, especially on a hot day when instead of cooking all you want to do is savor the last days of summer.
Fat. Let’s not beat around the bush, shall we? Fat’s probably the best place to begin a discussion of Chicken Rillettes with Preserved Lemon and Summer Savory. Au debut, as the French say, in the beginning, rillettes meant one thing – pork. Or rather, pork and fat. Rillettes was pork that had been salted, cooked slowly in pork fat, shredded, then preserved in the same fat, and served at room temperature, usually spread on toast. Rillettes* are now found all over France, and while pork is still popular, in the Southwest, the Midi-Pyrenees, extending down to the Spanish border, the technique is more often seen with duck or rabbit. Today rillettes of salmon, tuna or other fatty fish, or even mushrooms are not uncommon on pricey menus. It’s hard to argue with that–what doesn’t taste good when cooked slowly in fat and salt?
As the work-at-home dad, I used to pick up our son Oliver from preschool. We discovered a Tibetan restaurant a short walk away, and you know what they say, If you give a mouse a Tibetan restaurant… he’s gonna want a momo to go with it. Momos are exquisite little dumplings, the go-to item on a Tibetan menu. You may order other things, but you will always order momos. For Oliver and I, and later our daughter Roxanne, momos became a regular Friday treat.
Fast forward, ten years. We continue eating momos, when we find them, but have never tried making them. Then I met Tenzin Conechok Samdo, a new bartender at my wife’s restaurant, TRADE. I thought I’d get an insider’s view on on who made the best momos locally. After I photographed a series of his remarkable cocktails he began asking, “Hey, when are you going to invite me over to make momos?” He knew about The Garum Factory. Make momos? At our house? Um, how about this Friday? Herewith, Tenzin’s Sha Momos with Sepen. Beef Momos with Chili Dipping Sauce.
When our son Oliver was seven or eight and we lived within shouting distance of East Cambridge I used to take him with me to visit Courthouse Fish Market on Thursday afternoons to pick up seafood for dinner. Courthouse is an old-school establishment. Glass cases filled with ice and gleaming fresh fish–sardines, tilefish, snapper, salmon, flunder, bluefish, squid, swordfish and several varieties of clams, including the large razor clams you’ve seen here before. Opposite the fresh fish display a freezer holds frozen octopus, Alaskan king crab legs, squid and fava beans and wooden cases stacked nearby contain salt cod. On Thursdays Moray eels came in from Portugal. One of these arm-sized monsters, dark gray with brilliant yellow spots and a ferocious set of teeth in its gaping jaws usually occupied pride of place in the front window. We stood in front of the window and stared. People ate that? We no longer live within hailing distance of this venerable Cambridge institution, but when I pass through the neighborhood I try to stop by. For this week’s Sardines with Ramps and Rhubarb Agrodolce I made a special trip.