Tag Archives: Cooking
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
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
by The Baker
Mango Chutney Truffle
120 grams cream
25 grams glucose
120 grams milk chocolate, chopped
150 grams dark chocolate, chopped
25 grams butter, room temperature
100 grams mango chutney, chopped
1. Heat cream and glucose in a small saucepan over medium heat. Put both chocolates into a small bowl. When steam begins to rise from the cream, pour mixture over the chopped chocolate.
2. Let mixture sit for 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula (do not use a whisk–you do not want to incorporate air into the ganache).
3. Add the butter, stir to combine, then fold in the chutney. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.
4. Form the ganache into balls (easiest method is to use a small ice cream scoop) and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
Having a spare hour or two in the afternoon, I decided to braise a whole pork shoulder for dinner. Although I run a lot, I could count on the help of a few friends—six to be precise—to finish off the beast. Pork shoulder is intrinsically delicious (oh fat, oh crispy skin, so the ode proceeds), cheap ($1.99 a pound!), and extremely easy to cook. In fact, I left the shoulder in the oven for two hours unsupervised during my evening class. No harm done. It does, however, require time, and time’s attendant, patience, for a proper preparation. Do not undertake a pork shoulder roast lightly: it is not a dish to be trifled with. Continue reading
by The Baker
Goat Cheese Brownies
10 tablespoons cold goat butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces chèvre
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking dish.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, chèvre and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes.
3. Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the whole egg and the egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Pour into the dish and bake for 25 minutes. Allow brownies to cool to room temperature before cutting.
A note I wrote in the back of Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, detailing a delicious seafood spaghetti I made for dinner Saturday night: Continue reading
While flipping scallops, fluffing rice, and keeping a weather eye on roasting broccoli, I forgot the salad—it languished in the fridge beneath plastic wrap, forlorn and marinating in its dressing. I had spotted the fennel bulb by the broccoli and brought it home on an impulse. Mixed with shallot, orange, sweet pepper, and hazelnuts, the fennel was intended as a garnish for the scallops (big juicy mamas bought at Bob’s Seafood). Between a botched attempt at supremes and an overzealous hand with the shallot, the salad looked unbalanced: thick rounds of fennel set against ragged orange segments. I decided, however, to give the recipe (of my own invention) a chance. Continue reading