Archive for ‘Cooking Tips’

August 20, 2011

Simplicity from the Farmers’ Market | On the Grill

Honestly in the summer I can’t be bothered with much.  Dinner of a meat and a veg.  Perhaps a second veg.  If it doesn’t require cooking.  And if Cherub loves it.   Only then.

So if you’re like me and don’t feel up to much, stop by the farmers’ market in your town on Saturday morning and pick up two or three things for a Saturday night grilled dinner: some chicken thighs with the bone removed but the tasty skin left on, some fresh sweet corn and some grape or cherry tomatoes.

If you buy your ingredients from reputable and local farmers, you can be assured of freshness and flavor you wouldn’t normally get at the grocery store.  And if you’re a lazy cook in the summer, these are the greatest things you can buy because you have only the slightest work to make something really tasty.

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Grilled Corn and Lime Butter, serves four

6 chicken thighs, bone removed, skin left on

1 garlic clove

1 T chili powder

1 T whole cumin seeds

1 T brown sugar

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

4 ears sweet corn

4 T butter

1 t chili powder

Zest from 1 lime, juice from 1/2

Salt

Prepare grill (I prefer a charcoal).

In a mortar and pestle combine garlic, all spices and olive oil and mash to a consistent paste.  Rub onto chicken and allow to marinate from 15 minutes to two hours.

Grill chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.

While chicken is cooking, gently peel back husks to remove silk from corn, carefully replacing husks to cover back over the corn.  Mix lime zest with juice and spices along with softened (not melted) butter to create an even mixture.  Place corn in husks over cooler coals after chicken is cooked and resting and cook for approximately 10 minutes, turning frequently.

To serve, eat outside, for God’s sake.

Remove husks from corn and slather with butter mixture.  Serve with chicken.  And perhaps some of those tomatoes that you didn’t bother to cook, merely wash.  And a wine, maybe an A to Z 2009 Pinot Gris.

Playlist included Thursday, the mixtape by The Weeknd.

August 17, 2011

New Friends, New Endeavors | Baking Brioche

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I have, admittedly, had trouble baking bread.  After a couple of missed attempts, I now tend towards simple recipes that are somewhat fail proof.

I am grateful to Dave, my new friend who is quite the talented baker (and thinker, improver and eater) for offering me a lesson.   So this past Saturday morning, he opened his kitchen (and his home, quite frankly, because Cherub tagged along and she explores just about everywhere) and gave me a course in bread baking 101 (he also fed me and Cherub lunch, natch, lucky us!).

I choose to tackle brioche.  Because I mean, come on.  Butter, eggs.  In bread?  It’s heaven.  It makes the most fabulous toast.  Not to mention French toast. 

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August 12, 2011

Sharing History | Gigot d’Agneau

Sometimes a memorable meal transcends your kitchen tools and cooking techniques.  Instead, it’s a celebration that connects you to your friends, family, and culture.  That’s what happens when you cook a leg of lamb.  It isn’t particularly complicated, but the result is magical.  If you appreciate the cut and revere the process, history will carry you along.

Lamb is the centerpiece of celebrations on every continent.  And the leg of lamb is the most sought after cut.  It’s lean, forgiving, and can take on flavors through marinading, grilling, roasting, or braising.  Most importantly, though, its sublimely delicious and it makes enough to share.

I simply scored the fat in a crisscrossed pattern and arranged a handful of garlic cloves in the cuts.  After seasoning quite generously with salt and pepper, I placed it in a roasting pan with diced carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes.  About an inch of water and a bouquet garni later and the hard part was done.  Cover it tightly with foil, then its into the oven at 300F for five hours or so, checking the liquid level at the halfway point.  Then invite friends, family or both, and serve it with white beans and white wine.

But really, you should let your imagination be your guide.  It’s not everyday that you find yourself in possession of such beautiful meat (thank you dearly, Kate), so use the opportunity to celebrate and share your life.

Playlist included Rue St. Vincent, par Yves Montand.

July 14, 2011

Summer Produce | Short Ribs Braised in Tomato

This is a Saturday meal.  Not because it’s hard.  (It’s not.)  Not because it takes a long time.  (It could.)   But because if you head to a farmer’s market Saturday morning, or happen to run across some really fabulous tomatoes while you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, this is what you should make.  This time, I used some beautifully imperfect farmstand tomatoes from an unscheduled stop at a roadside market.

This is, without question, the easiest way to make a fresh tomato sauce.  And perhaps one of the tastiest.  What follows is not so much of a recipe, as a way of cooking.  Let your heart (and perhaps your tummy) lead you.

Braised Short Ribs in Tomatoes, Serves 4, inspired by Scott Conant

2 pounds of really lovely ripe tomatoes, cored

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June 20, 2011

Strawberry Week | Panzanella Salad

This past weekend, Cherub and I, along with some Slow Food Columbus members and friends descended upon Schacht Farm Market for the last weekend of you-pick strawberries.  I left with ten pounds.  Ten pounds.

I knew there would be jam, cobblers and desserts in store, but I wanted some for lunch.  And it wasn’t like I had to worry if there would be enough.  There were obviously plenty.

I quickly cobbled together a strawberry panzanella salad that just hit the spot after a morning’s work of picking.  It didn’t hurt that we had a bit of past its prime ciabatta that made the base. And growing the in back yard is plenty of basil, parsley and mint.  I sliced up some green onions I’d picked up at the farmer’s market, although I do prefer and adore red onion in this salad.  As for a dressing, a generous drizzling of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, few twists of pepper and a pinch of salt are all you need, lemon if you have it.  And of course the berries.  Lots of those.

Strawberry Panzanella Salad, Serves two (plus a little four year old)

2 c slightly stale bread, cut into large cubes (I used ciabatta)

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June 3, 2011

Friday Night Grill | Copper River Salmon

I think this stuff is fantastic.

Only available from mid-May to mid-June, this fish tastes nothing like a farm-raised salmon.  This is a fish that’s done some work swimming.  Tonight, Hades seasoned it with salt and pepper and a few drops of olive oil.  He grilled it outside on an oak plank covered with fennel fronds, parsley and tarragon.  A drizzle of tahini dressing (2 T tahini, 2 T olive oil, 1 T balsalmic, 1 T crème fraîche, 1 t lemon juice, pinch of brown sugar and S&P) finished off the fish before serving.   I added a cous cous with orange water, cumin, tomatoes and backyard mint as the side.

We didn’t even break a sweat.

Playlist included Many of Horror, by Biffy Clyro.

May 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend | Greek Mezedes

This started with my current obsession, which is oddly and plainly, roasting potatoes.

From which rose a lovely collection of small plates that we passed and shared over a couple of glasses of wine. Well, Cherub didn’t have any wine.

It was all easily pulled together a Monday night on a long weekend, Memorial Day here in America and Bank Holiday for those across the pond.  It’s a leisurely way to enjoy a meal or entertain.   It’s basically the more familiar tapas only with Mediterranean flair.  In fact many a Greek meal begins and ends entirely with mezedes.

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