I’m yielding the floor to Jody this week. There’s a good story about how I lost my grip, its effects on a poor chicken, and Jody finding a solution despite the malfunction of the wheyback machine. *** Jody Notes: In February (a different world ago) I was visiting Rwanda for a close-up look at the …
I returned from Istanbul a few weeks ago with an eggplant monkey on my back. During those brief periods in Turkey when I wasn’t stuffing myself with baklava, I was slavering over Turkish eggplant. The aubergine highlight of my travels was a braised veal shank wrapped in eggplant, a dish so meltingly tender than it was difficult to tell from texture alone where the eggplant ended and the meat began. The ubiquity of cooked eggplant in Turkey isn’t duplicated in this country and an eggplant lover must sometime fall back on his own devices. Stuffed Eggplant with Farro, Ginger and Pomegranate is not nearly so complicated as the veal shank I ate, but it is tender, and so deeply satisfying that the absence of meat in the recipe seems irrelevant.
The story of these Easy Pecan Tiles begins in a Paris museum and ends a couple of hours after Jody dances atop a bar in a Boston restaurant (a groundbreaker for both of us). First Paris, then the recipe, then the bar.
Every pasta shape is lovable, if only it finds the right sauce. But deep down inside, we know whom we love best. For me it’s bucatini. Bucatini is what spaghetti would be if it had a gym membership, and the will to pump iron until it got the girl. I’d slurp up a bowl of bucatini slicked with WD40 just to experiences its chewy satisfactions. While bucatini is no match for sauces that require crampons and carabiners to hold them in place, ending up with leftover sauce in the bottom of the bowl hardly seems like the end of the world. (Pass the bread, please.) No fear of that this week. New England tomatoes are gasping their last, with only a few red diehards and lots of green wannnabees still about. Together they make a great sauce that tastes of the season. Bucatini with Red and Green Tomatoes is the pasta to eat at the gate of fall. Blink, and even the green tomatoes will be gone.
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.
Our summertime preferences for sweets run to the light and refreshing, as versus the dense and sensual. I want to rise from the table and feel as though I’ve beaten the heat and humidity, not stoked the furnace, which makes Chili-Ginger Granita with Watermelon and Pistachios the ideal dessert after a meal of grilled lamb and eggplant, or just a treat to dull the edge of a blistering afternoon.
If you’re unfamiliar with granita, think of it as the crunchy version of sorbet. Granita’s gravelly texture would seem to make it the coarse country cousin of sorbet, yet somehow it manages a rude elegance, like handmade orecchiette, that sorbet can’t quite touch. Aside from the fact that sorbet often contains egg white, and granita does not, the primary distinction between the two is that sorbet is made in an ice cream machine. The machine churns as the sorbet mixture freezes, breaking the ice crystals into smaller and smaller pieces, resulting in a dense, even texture. Granita predates the ice cream machine. The basic method begins with a frozen block of fruit flavored ice, then scraping it apart with a fork. Surprisingly, this is quite easy. A subtler approach is to stir up the granita a few times during the process of freezing, then scraping this somewhat looser product after it has frozen completely. We tried both. Both work. The freezer interruptus method results in finer crystals. Your call.
After the complexities of the Blue Zone, we thought some simple pressure-cooker* recipes would make a welcome change of pace. Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger is the first of 4 or 5 PC posts (vote with your comments!). If you don’t own a pressure cooker, no worries, all of the recipes work the old-fashioned way; they just take a little longer.
The idea was to come up with a side dish for Thanksgiving. But after much soul searching and a brainstorming session based on What do you do with Brussels sprouts? we decided that the world wasn’t crying out for another version of brussels sprouts with bacon.
Instead we’re offering Seared Brussels Sprouts with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce. People who do not love Brussels sprouts (me) love these.
Another panna cotta recipe? Really?
As well ask, Does the world need another saxophone riff? Another short story? Another poem? Of course it does. Look, if you’re filleting fugu or sautéing false morels (not advised), you want a recipe nazi with hairy calves and an I summitted K2 without O2 tattoo. But panna cotta? Ah, no. Panna cotta is a melody that invites riffing, if only because sometimes no matter how wonderful the last iteration, the simple tune of cooked cream cries out for variation, a what if . . . and because sometimes things just don’t work the way the recipe says they should, so you need to improvise. That’s how we ended up with Goat’s Milk Panna Cotta with Star Anise and Grape Compote.
Pickled Eggs 3 Ways is the final and most colorful installment in our recent trilogy of egg recipes. We made two batches of each of these eggs, a week apart, both to test the recipes and so I could photograph the process from pickling juice to finished eggs. As I write this the first batch of three dozen eggs is nearly gone–in case you’re wondering if kids will eat pickled eggs, the answer is Yes, they will. Who can resist wedges of a saffron and purple egg, child or adult? These eggs are tart, but not completely sour (note the sugar in the recipes), which makes them a flexible dining companion. Of course pickled eggs are the ultimate picnic food–festive, not prone to spoilage, and given to pairing nicely with other preserved items like cheese, smoked fish–and great beer. They stand out with mixed greens–and when combined with with wasabi mayonnaise make a killer egg salad