Category Archives: Recipes
Zach B., Yale University
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie:
After my brother roasted our chicken upside down, resulting in crispy legs and butter-sodden breasts, I recycled the white meat in a pasta sauce. When we failed to eat the whole pot, I dreamt a lazy lunch. Five tablespoons of powdered peppers and tomato sauce switches to chili. It’s a quick-change act that relies on illusion: realer, righteous chili requires a more rigorous (though possibly less alliterative) approach. Nevertheless, a close approximation of Texas, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Washington, etc. can be achieved with a passive raffle through the spice cabinet.
We needed beans, so we walked to the corner deli. I have been buying Caribbean groceries with the mania of a bomb shelter visionary; I want to work my way through a goat carcass, sample every brand of ginger beer, and bake my own sweet rolls. Last night, I settled for a simple substitution: peas for beans. Instead of kidneys or pintos, I bought pigeon peas, more commonly found in Caribbean renditions of “rice and peas” than heartland chili recipes. Firmer and chalkier than my usual bean choices, the pigeon peas were a striking contrast to cooked tomato, shredded chicken, and soft garlic. At work, I ate the “chili” out of Tupperware and picked chicken neck bones off my tongue. None of my co-workers looked twice. Continue reading
After ten days of intensive carnivorous activity—a staged and carnivalesque Atkins diet, pounds and pounds of barbecue, stretching from Kansas City to Lockhart, Texas—I needed my fruits and vegetables. Gazpacho seemed like an appropriately fibrous choice, although my approach is less than traditional: a pile of tomatoes, a blender, a knife, and happenstance chopping lead to cold chunky soup. Served with starchy garnishes and seafood, my gazpacho fakes its way to detox. Continue reading
Needless to say, supermarket strawberries and their fresh-picked counterparts are of entirely different material: the first, a watery ectoplasm, the second, a thick honey. In the fields, strawberries grow close to the ground, buried under their own leaves and hay. Hence the German word Erdbeeren, or earth-berries. Yet, strawberries taste more celestial than chthonic; they are a blood spatter of sunlight cast into fleshy gems. Warmed by the sun, a fresh strawberry looks translucent and tastes like a heady breath of perfume. In St. Louis, we pick fist-sized berries, not fragile fraises des bois. Whereas the biggest supermarket berries often taste the weakest, the most mature specimens on the farm contain the most concentrated flavor: size does not signify dilution. We worked for an hour and harvested 15 pounds; thus far, we have canned eight jars of jam, baked two pies, and churned a few quarts of ice cream. With berries so sweet, I decided to add Greek yogurt to the recipe, retaining a few egg yolks for richness. I love the harsh scrape of strong yogurt against an almost cloying mouthful of fruit. The following recipe only works with the best, freshest berries, so be satisfied with pictures if you lack a local strawberry patch. Continue reading
Despite the muggy weather and relative absence of olive groves, I like cooking with Mediterranean intent when I’m home from school. I’ll spin some Grateful Dead, decompress, and put a yellow onion on mellow simmer. Without the usual time constraints of college cooking, I can tinker with technique and ingredient proportion. For example, I enjoy working with salmon, but have struggled on previous attempts to achieve pork-cracklin-crisp skin. Thursday night, I let the cast iron pan reach truly incendiary temperatures before laying down a fillet. The skin tightened into a sheet of pure crunch. I served the salmon over an orzo salad—I mixed a stew of onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and olives with the warm pasta. If cooking fish is a matter of precision, pasta salad is an issue of instinct. Be careful seasoning the salad, because its individual components already contain salt. I thought about adding anchovies or anchovy paste, too, but alas, the cupboard was lacking any little fishes. No lies: I have no emotional connection or special interest in the following recipe. It just tastes good, which ought to be argument enough. Continue reading
Zach Bell, Yale University
Back in December 2010, I baked a raisin pie and commented on its usage as a “funeral pie.” Upon some further research into a variation, the sour cream and raisin pie, I found that it also originated among Mennonites settling in the Great Plains, quickly spreading to other local communities. Funerals in the mid to late nineteenth century were opportunities for the community to gather and express hospitality. This hospitality often arrived as edibles, and especially as dessert. Guests and relatives would bring food to show their sympathy and condolences. A funeral staple was the raisin pie (and other improvised variations) , a dessert that could be quickly made out of readily available ingredients.