Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

Long-married couples who hope to remain that way have to learn to tolerate each other’s idiosyncrasies, not least those involving food. I loved the new dinner dish I tried a few evenings ago. Tom ate a tiny portion, patiently waited while I finished mine, and made most of his meal on the subsequent cheese course.

When I first suggested trying this Carolina chicken and shrimp pilau from James Villas’ book Country Cooking, Tom was actively interested in the recipe. But it didn’t come out as he’d expected: too heavy on the chicken for him. “Arroz con pollo,” he said, resignedly. I didn’t agree, but even if I had, I also love a good arroz con pollo. (He doesn’t.)

With that little domestic contretemps as background, I’ll tell you about making this unusual poultry-and-seafood dish. The recipe gives quantities to serve eight, and I was cutting it down for just two of us. So my protein ingredients were:

  • Two chicken thighs, simmered in water with celery and peppercorns, then skinned, boned, and the meat shredded
  • Two slices of bacon, crisped in a frying pan and crumbled
  • A dozen medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

.
After a recent unhappy encounter with mediocre chicken, this time I made sure to use free-range, vegetable-fed chicken thighs. The bones and skin went back into their boiling pot, to cook with the celery and peppercorns long enough to make a light broth. The bacon’s fat I scraped into a heavy casserole for the initial cooking of the rice.

I chopped half an onion and a tiny garlic clove; briefly sauteed them in the bacon fat; added half a cup of long-grain rice and tossed it to coat with the fat. Next in went ¾ cup of the chicken broth, a little chopped tomato, ½ teaspoon of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire, several gratings of nutmeg, and a speck of cayenne. (Though Worcestershire sauce is in the ingredient list, it never appears in the recipe instructions. I figured this would be the place for it. No salt or pepper requested yet, either. I gave it some anyway.)
.

.
Stirred, covered, and brought to a boil, the casserole went into a 350° oven for 20 minutes. Though I worried that might be too long for my small quantity, it was OK – just. When I took it out, the rice had absorbed all the liquid and was clearly beginning to think about sticking on the bottom. Quickly I stirred in a little more of the chicken broth and added the chicken, shrimp, and bacon, along with more salt and pepper, though the recipe still didn’t ask for any.
.

.
The casserole went back into the oven for 15 minutes. Again, I was concerned about the time: Would 15 minutes toughen the shrimp? No, fortunately, it didn’t. (And here at last the recipe said to correct for salt and pepper, which I no longer needed to do.)
.

.
As I said above, I loved this dish. The chicken was tender and tasty, the shrimp plump and juicy, the rice gently infused with all the aromatic ingredients. The shrimp and chicken hadn’t actually mingled their flavors, but they neighbored surprisingly well on the plate with each other and with the toothsome rice. I was sorry that Tom didn’t think so too, but for me, the pilau was an excellent new discovery.

.
P.S.  That yellow hockey puck you see on the plate above is a sweet potato biscuit. I baked a small batch because Villas calls for them as a good accompaniment to the pilau. They didn’t work for me. Made only with flour, baking powder, Crisco, and a boiled sweet potato, the biscuits hardly tasted of anything. Maybe you had to grow up in the South to appreciate these.

Read Full Post »

Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year. It was only one day in advance that I realized it was here. We don’t normally celebrate it any special way, but in this Covid-confined year anything different is welcome. So I draped myself in strings of Carnival beads and changed my dinner plan for the evening.

A shrimp adaptation of a crawfish étouffée recipe in The New Orleans Cookbook by Richard and Rima Collin seemed like just the thing. It was less complicated than other versions of the dish that I’ve seen, and all I’d have to buy for it was one green Bell pepper and some scallions. It turned out to be a very good choice.
.

I did the preliminary cooking in the late afternoon. Here are all the prepped ingredients for a two-person portion.
.

.
To the right of the shrimp are butter and flour. To the left, chopped onion, celery, pepper, and garlic. In the back, salt, lemon juice, cayenne, parsley, black pepper, and thinly sliced scallion greens.

The first step, in classic New Orleans style, was to make a light brown roux with the butter and flour.
.

.
The chopped vegetables then went into the pot, to cook over low heat, stirring often, until softened. The recipe said that would take about 20 minutes, but my smaller quantities were ready in 10. Things were beginning to smell good already.
.

.
Next, I stirred in the shrimp, all the condiments, and half a cup of water, which was absorbed immediately.
.

.
The recipe wanted this cooked for 12 minutes. Now, I don’t know anything about crawfish, but I do know that my shrimp would’ve turned into vulcanized rubber if cooked that long. I gave them 5 minutes, still stirring, then turned off the heat, covered the pot, and left it on the back of the stove.

At dinner time, I reheated the shrimp mixture and very slowly added about a cup of hot water, stirring constantly to prevent the developing sauce from lumping. It smoothed out nicely and was ready to eat.
.

.
As soon as the rice to accompany my étouffée was also done, I put everything on a serving platter and added a frivolous decoration of Carnival beads. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
.

.
This was a delightful dish. The shrimp were plump and tender, cooked just right. The fragrant sauce was spicy and sweet, creamy and zingy, vegetal and seafoody, in a way that simply sang of Mardi Gras and New Orleans. In a grungy February in pandemic-restricted New York, these flavors were like a breath of life.

Read Full Post »

It’s always useful to have a few packages of raw shrimp in the freezer. They can lend themselves to any number of quick, easy preparations for a lunch or for a dinner appetizer, as well as combine with other kinds of seafood for more elaborate dishes. I’ve recently added two new shrimp recipes to my repertoire.

.

Shrimp in Dill Butter

This recipe from the Grand Central Oyster Bar’s cookbook is so simple it’s almost more of an idea than a recipe: you just sauté shrimp quickly in butter that you’ve flavored with salt, pepper, and dillweed. Never having used dill in combination with shrimp, I thought it would be interesting to try. Preparing two small appetizer portions was the essence of simplicity.
.

..
The result was pleasant enough, as long as you like the taste of dill. Which I do, but the dill and the shrimp didn’t combine to offer the palate anything beyond their individual flavors. It would have been equally pleasant to eat the shrimp simply sauteed in butter. I’d like to try it with a different herb or spice – tarragon, maybe, or toasted cumin.

..
.

Spanish Shrimp Fritters

Penelope Casas’s tortillitas de camarones, from her book The Foods and Wines of Spain, are far more than just pleasant – these little fritters are great! Apparently they’re a very popular tapa in Cadiz, but they were new to me. There isn’t a lot in them, other than the shrimp themselves. But all the flavors combine and complement each other.

The first of these are finely chopped onion and parsley, which are cooked gently in olive oil in a covered pan until the onion is tender. Then they get a dash of pimentón, the intriguing Spanish smoked paprika.
.

.
While the vegetables cook, you mix up a typical fritter batter of flour, baking powder, salt, and water. The raw shrimps then need to be finely chopped, which is a fairly sticky operation. I let my mini food processor do that for me, being careful to process only briefly, to achieve a good mince but not a paste.
.

.
When the shrimp and vegetables are stirred into the batter it’s ready to be turned into fritters, though it can wait several hours if necessary. When ready to cook, put ¼ inch of oil in a sauté pan, get it very hot, and drop in heaping tablespoonsful of batter. When you turn them, flatten them into little pancakes if necessary. As soon as both sides are nicely golden, drain them on paper towels.
.

.
Then eat them right away! They’ll be crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, beautifully shrimp-flavored, and just lightly piquant. Lovely with a glass of white wine. Or two.
.

Read Full Post »

Shrimp Pierre

At the southern tip of New Jersey, between the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, lies Cape May – famous for migratory birds and seafood. After a few days’ birding there recently (first venture away from home all year), consuming all the shellfish we could hold, we brought back oysters, scallops, clam chowder, and wild jumbo shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico.

While I love shrimp, I’d never done any cooking with jumbos before, so I searched my cookbooks for an uncomplicated recipe that would bring out the best in these oxymoronic crustaceans. I picked Shrimp Pierre, from the 1961 New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne (the name perhaps reflecting his long-time relationship with Pierre Franey). In it, the shrimp are simply to be marinated and broiled.
.

At about 15 to the pound, my shrimp weren’t exactly colossal, but big enough that I thought eight of them would do for a main course for two.
.

.
The recipe told me to shell and devein them, but once shelled, the clean white flesh didn’t show a trace of black veins; so not to disfigure the shrimps with the necessary knife slashes, I left them intact.

Then I prepared their marinade, which contained chopped onion, garlic, parsley, and basil, with dry mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
.

.
The shrimps were to sit in the marinade at room temperature for “several hours.” Carelessly, I’d started my preparations late-ish in the afternoon, leaving them only two hours for marinating. I hoped that would be enough.
.

.
The recipe’s first choice was to broil the shrimp over charcoal, for which I don’t have the capacity, so it had to be in the oven. I laid the shrimp on an unoiled baking sheet along with all the marinade components, shuffled the pieces around a little to moisten the pan, and broiled the shrimp four minutes on one side and two minutes on the other.
.

.
The shrimps were very good – tender, sweet, rich in umami, and gently flavored by the marinade vegetables. In their simplicity, among the best shrimp I’ve ever eaten. Along with them on the dinner plates were surprisingly good out-of-season asparagus and excellent German Butterball heirloom potatoes, both of which went especially well with the shrimp.
.

.
I only wish I’d given us more than four shrimp apiece!

Read Full Post »

Champagne. Oysters Rockefeller. Ham Pithiviers. That’s the eccentric dinner I just made to celebrate the eccentric digital publication of an eccentric scholarly book by my admirably eccentric spouse.

Many of my readers know Tom from his wine blog, as well as his wine and food books. He was also a university professor, with four scholarly books published before he retired. His magnum opus on allegory, on which he spent many years, unfortunately never found an academic press. Now, with all the extra time at home that we’ve had during the pandemic, we’ve taken matters into our own hands and created it ourselves as a digital book. Please take a peek at The Strangeness of Allegory.

For a tiny two-person celebration of its publication, we wanted a bottle of champagne and some interesting foods to enjoy it with. After much cookbook research and many tempting items to choose from, we settled on the two mentioned above.
.

Oysters Rockefeller

Invented at Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans in 1889, Oysters Rockefeller is a warhorse of old-style elegance in American cooking, and a dish neither of us happen ever to have tasted. No better time than this! My cookbook collection yielded nine different recipes for it. I chose one of the simpler ones, from The Grand Central Oyster Bar Restaurant Seafood Cookbook.

It calls for raw oysters in their half shells to be covered with a thick green topping made by blending sautéed parsley, shallots, celery, chervil, and spinach with fresh breadcrumbs, softened butter, salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, and Pernod. Then the oysters are bedded down in hot rock salt on metal pans and briefly baked in a very hot oven.

The topping was easy to put together (though I skipped the chervil and substituted Italian white vermouth for the Pernod). But hot rock salt was beyond my capacity. The closest I could come was to ease my dozen filled Wellfleet oyster shells into the dimples in four escargot tins and give them a longer time in the oven.

.
Definitely not as picturesque as a bed of rock salt, but it served just as well. Other recipes call for larger amounts of breadcrumbs, so that the oyster topping turns brown and crisp. This one left them a soft, beautiful intense green, which we found very pleasing. The dish is clearly a close relative of the French escargots à la bourguignonne, but the absence of garlic and the medley of aromatic vegetables made for an unusual and piquant presentation.
.

.
The Wellfleets were beautifully saline and loved their buttery green robes. We slowly savored every one of the rich little creatures, and wiped up their extra sauce with bits of crusty bread. They went very well with the champagne.
.

Ham Pithiviers

It was the mouthwatering picture of this pithiviers in Julia Child & Company that induced us to want it as the entire second course of our festivity. Years ago, when I was young and enterprising, I had moderate success with a dessert pithiviers, filled with almond cream, from Julia’s Mastering, II. I even made the puff pastry from scratch. I’m not so ambitious any more, but excellent, buttery, frozen puff pastry is available now in stores, so I bravely ventured again with this savory version.

I’m not going to show you the book’s picture, because it’ll make mine look like a big girl scout cookie, but I have to say I was nevertheless pretty pleased with the way it came out. It was only a little lopsided.
.

.
Impressive looking as the dish is, it’s actually easy to make once you have the dough. The filling is humble, everyday boiled ham gently cooked in butter with shallots, then off heat mixed with egg yolk, heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and grated Parmesan cheese.

You put a round of dough onto a dampened baking dish, mound the filling in the center, lay a second round of dough on top, and seal all the edges well. Paint the top with egg glaze twice, and then scratch a decorative pattern into it. (Julia gives detailed directions for patterns.) Bake in a very hot oven for about an hour.

And very tasty indeed it was. The pastry had actually risen as it should (my puff pastries don’t always do so) and was beautifully crisp and flaky. The filling was rich and good, though we felt a little more of it would have made a better balance with all the pastry.
.

.
Still, a definitely worthwhile experiment for an eccentric celebratory meal. The champagne liked it too.

That champagne, by the way, was also slightly eccentric, a Grand Cru Bouzy brut by Baron Dauvergne called Oeil de Perdrix – eye of the partridge, which accurately describes its color.  Bouzy is the Pinot noir capital of the Champagne zone, and this largely Pinot noir wine was big and robust as well as polished and deep, and it played wonderfully well with both the evening’s dishes. Tom considered it a perfect book-launching bottle.

* * *

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the allegory book. There’s a lot to look at on the opening screen.

Read Full Post »

My plan to make this year’s posts about previously untried recipes from cookbooks I already own is proving interesting in many ways. The recipe I chose for this week could be a textbook example of the difference between French and Italian cooking approaches.

Basically, the dish is squid braised in tomato. There are innumerable ways that this can be done. Here the seasonings include onion, herbs, and white wine – common enough in both France and Italy. But Italian approaches are typically straightforward: sauté the squid briefly in olive oil; add liquid and other flavorings; cook covered, long and slowly; serve. Not so fuss-free is this procedure from The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney.

Olney, an American expat painter and writer living in Paris and Provence, was one of the English-speaking world’s most influential proponents of French food in the 1970s, along with such luminaries as Elizabeth David, MFK Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters. He was as noted for his imperious temperament* as for his culinary skills, both of which are on display in his writing. For example, the headnote to this recipe testily informs us that the dish is incorrectly named – but “useless to rebaptize” – and then delivers a short lecture on à l’americaine versus à l’armoricaine dishes.
.

But let’s get on to the squid. Here’s ¾ pound of it that I bought from the fish store, already cleaned.

.
That’s about half the recipe’s amount, which was to serve six in the book’s elaborate, multi-course menu. Even as our only main course, it seemed like a lot for the two of us. Tom cut the bodies into 1½ inch sections and halved the tentacles while I dealt with half an onion (size unspecified): finely chopped, softened in olive oil in a small pan by itself, and set aside.
.

.
Continuing our cooperative work, we also peeled and seeded half a pound of fresh plum tomatoes, chopped a garlic clove, and readied the rest of the recipe’s ingredients.

Then I had to heat fresh olive oil in a large pan, toss in the squid, salt, and stir over a high flame until the pieces firmed a bit. (An Italian cook would have precooked the onion first in that same pan, possibly but not necessarily taking it out before adding the squid.)
.

.
Next was to pour in and reduce the alcohol: white wine, to be sure, as any Italian might use here, but first, cognac – flamed. Not at all Italian, in my experience. Those additions made the squid seriously start to tighten and shrink in size.
.

.
The final flavorings to add were the onions, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and Cayenne. While our author provides no quantities for the last five items, he kindly condescends to our frailties by suggesting we combine everything in a bowl ahead of time: “If one is unfamiliar with a recipe, the process is tremendously simplified by having 1 rather than 8 items to add at a given time.” I can’t say I regard that as a particularly onerous task, but for this occasion I did as directed.
.

.
(Which in one sense makes for double work: scraping them all into the bowl, then scraping them all into the pan with the squid.)
.

.
At this point I brought the pan to a boil, reduced to a simmer, covered it, and cooked it gently for almost an hour and a half, stirring periodically to be sure nothing was sticking. That was even longer than the recipe indicated would be necessary, but I was prepared for it. I knew that, if you don’t cook squid very fast – as in a sauté – and get it off the heat before it has a chance to turn rubbery, you’re in for a very long period of very slow cooking before that rubberiness relaxes.

Which my squid did, at last. But look how much it had shrunk!
.

.
Then there was one last step in the recipe. After removing the squid and reducing the sauce somewhat, I had to swirl two tablespoons of softened butter into the pan. Even in Bologna, I don’t think an Italian would do that with an olive oil-based seafood dish.
.

.
But, you know what? Different as it was from the Italian style, this dish was delicious – fat and luscious rather than lean and acidic, which is what Italian cookery would have given. Way more sophisticated from the brandy and the butter – and oh, that butter! It made an amazing difference to the flavors. Julia Child would have loved it. And we did too, even though we’d equally have loved the dish in the simpler Italian manner. Whatever it was, we finished it all. With gusto.
.

.
.

* “Mr. Olney had a notably prickly personality that grated on some people, like Mrs. Child. ‘I think he enjoyed being difficult,’ she said. ‘But on the other hand, he could be absolutely charming if you treated him like the genius he considered himself to be.’” – R.W. Apple in The New York Times.

Read Full Post »

The new recipe I tried this week came about because, a few days earlier, we’d opened the wrong bottle of wine. I’ll spare you the story of how that happened – suffice it to say it was dumb. But there we were, with an open bottle of a prestigious white Burgundy, Beaune Clos des Mouches 2008. We’d have to drink it, and soon. A real hardship, eh?
.

.
We’d need a dinner dish rich enough to accompany this luscious wine, but I wasn’t feeling up to any elaborate cooking just then. Many of the great white-wine dishes are big production numbers for the kitchen. I found a few simple possibilities in the Shellfish volume of the Time-Life Good Cook series. After consultation with my personal master sommelier, I settled on an interestingly minimal preparation for baked scallops. It’s a recipe attributed to John Clancy, who, back in the ‘80s, ran a renowned restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village that specialized in seafood.

.
So off I went to my local fish store to buy scallops. It had its usual good-looking sea scallops, at their usual exorbitant price. But there, nestling in the shaved ice of the next compartment, were containers of jumbo lump blue claw crabmeat, at pretty much the same price. I couldn’t resist: I brought home half a pound of crabmeat, confident that the sommelier would approve. Five years in Baltimore, long ago, left him with an abiding love of these crabs in all forms.
.

.
I wasn’t worried about adapting the scallop recipe to crabmeat. There was nothing in its few ingredients that could hurt. I sprinkled the chunks of crab with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and white wine; transferred the mixture to a buttered gratin dish; poured in a little heavy cream; added a light coating of fresh breadcrumbs; and moistened the crumbs with melted butter.

.
.
The dish went into a 400° oven for about 20 minutes, until the crumbs had turned a pale gold. That was a little longer than the scallops were to have taken, but the big crabmeat pieces were thicker than the recipe’s quartered scallops would have been.

While the crabmeat cooked, we drank our first glasses of the Clos des Mouches while further indulging ourselves with a platter of oysters, opened for us by the fish store. They were a special treat in themselves, and the wine went beautifully with them. The great white Burgundies match well with almost every kind of seafood, and they especially love shellfish.
.

.
The crab was delicious. Its simple flavorings only heightened its own lush elegance, which was counterpointed by the accompanying plain baked potato and steamed broccoli. To our taste, the meat of the Atlantic blue claw crab beats that of lobster.
.

.
And the wine? At 12 years old, it was just entering its maturity, beautifully golden, deeply scented of dried fruits (quinces and pears), with a flavor dancing between mineral and those fruits. It loved the sweetness of the crab, and the crab returned the compliment. It was a perfect match – not to mention a nice rescue of a bottle inadvertently opened days earlier.

Read Full Post »

You might think some computer virus had ridiculously scrambled the words of my title above. But no: That’s the name of a new-to-me Thai dish that I made this week. I found the recipe in The Original Thai Cookbook, by Jennifer Brennan. A 1981 paperback, with much interesting historical, cultural, and culinary information about Thailand, it bills itself as “the first, complete, authentic, Thai cookbook published in America.”

The recipe’s English title is Fried Pork and Long Beans. I’d have given it a name with a different emphasis, because (a) it’s not what we in the West mean by frying but stir-frying, (b) it uses as much shrimp as pork, and (c) the beans are definitely the largest component. So, Stir-fried Green Beans with Pork and Shrimp. By any name, it’s a good dish and very easy to make.
.

.
Acknowledging the limited availability of Chinese “long beans” in American markets, the recipe promptly allows using conventional green beans, which I did. And, as is truly essential for the speed of stir-frying, I measured, prepped, and set out all my ingredients before beginning to cook. In addition to the shrimp, beans, and pork, here’s garlic, nam pla (Thailand’s ubiquitous fish sauce), granulated sugar, freshly ground black pepper, and cooking oil.
.

.

Into the hot, oiled wok went first the garlic, just long enough to color; next the pork, for a few minutes to sear and seal.
.

.
At that point I had to make a change in the recipe’s stir-frying sequence. The shrimp were to have gone in next, for one minute, and finally the long beans, for only two minutes. I knew that wouldn’t be enough time for my green beans to soften, so I tossed them in with the browning pork and gave them three more minutes together before adding the shrimp.
.

.
Even my shrimp took more than one minute to lose their translucency. No size was specified for them, so possibly mine were larger than anticipated by the recipe. However, they still didn’t take long, and I was soon able to stir in the fish sauce, sugar, and pepper to finish the dish. I must admit, the green beans were still almost raw – very firm and squeaky – but that really wasn’t too bad.  In fact, it may have been ethnically authentic. They made a nice textural contrast with the other ingredients.
.

.
What really completed the dish was the nam pla. On its own, this liquid from salted and fermented anchovies, much like the garum of ancient Rome, is extremely pungent – not to say stinky. But mixing with other ingredients here moderated its intensity and delivered a pleasing dose of umami, giving the dish a deliciously different set of flavors from my more customary Western cooking style. I must try it in other Thai recipes.

Read Full Post »

Today marks my completion of a decade of writing this blog. The culinary adventures (both successful and not so) about which I’ve told stories each week have given me great pleasure. To celebrate my tenth anniversary, this post will be a retrospective of some of the dishes I’ve most enjoyed making, eating, and writing about – one for each year.

You’ll notice a strong Western European emphasis in the choices here. That’s a reflection of Tom’s and my general eating preferences, but I’ve actually written about dishes from 24 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. I could have featured many of those others among these favorites.

Clicking on an image below will open the full post about the dish.
.

2010

Prosciutto-wrapped Broiled Shrimp

My first blogging year was devoted to one new recipe a week from one of the 200+ cookbooks in my collection. This one, from Ada Boni’s classic Il Talismano della Felicità, makes as good an appetizer as it did a main course.

 

2011

Plum Cake Cockaigne

From my second year, I began including posts about recipes I’d previously known and loved. This one, from Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking, has been a late-summer favorite in our household for more years than I can remember.

 

2012

Traditional Paella Valenciana

I found recipes for this relatively simple paella in two cookbooks: Penelope Casas’ Food and Wines of Spain, and Teresa Barrenechea’s Cuisines of Spain. Both looked good, so I drew steps from both recipes.

 

2013

Bluefish Gravlax

 

Here, I adapted a salmon gravlax recipe from the Cooking of Scandinavia volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World series for local bluefish. I also made the book’s cucumber relish and mustard-dill sauce.

 

2014

Tripe in Golden Fontina Sauce

This is my own version of trippa alla valdostana, from Tom’s and my book The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen. It makes a remarkably rich, mellow, elegant dish – if I do say so myself.

 

2015

Pheasant Pie with Noodles and Mushrooms

Under this pastry crust is faisan à la vosgienne, made from an Alsace recipe in Anne Willan’s French Regional Cooking. Pheasant, noodles, mushrooms, sauce, and pastry were all lavishly endowed with butter.

 

2016

Chickpea and Cuttlefish Stew

Penelope Casas’s book La Cocina di Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain provided the recipe for this Andalucian dish intriguingly spiced with hot red pepper, sweet smoked paprika, and garlic.

 

2017

Poulet Marengo

Anyone familiar with my food preferences will know I couldn’t let this retrospective go by without including at least one chicken dish. This is a classic from Robert Courtine’s The Hundred Glories of French Cooking.

 

2018

Veselka’s Borscht

The Ukrainian restaurant Veselka, in NYC’s East Village neighborhood, serves the best borscht I’ve ever tasted or can imagine tasting. Making a batch of it from the place’s own cookbook was a major accomplishment for me.

 

2019

Apple-Stuffed Pork Roast

Apples, bacon, butter, mushrooms, onions, sage, a pinch of sugar, and a touch of wine vinegar made a delightful stuffing for roasted pork. It’s a recipe I clipped from Saveur magazine and pasted in my big recipe binder.

*

So:  10 years, 512 posts, recipes from 120 cookbooks, as well as a few from magazines, newspapers, and the internet. I’ve learned a lot about food and cooking from all this. Now I plan to take the month of January off, to think about how I’d like to position my blog for the coming years.

Read Full Post »

Before Tom and I went on the Douro river cruise that I wrote about here last week, we spent two days in Lisbon; the first time there for me. It provided only the briefest taste of the city, but we made the most of it – especially gastronomically.

We had two delightful lunches there that were the very essence of serendipity. At the end of the first morning’s strolling, we happened upon a little street entirely filled with tables set for lunch.

.
Checking out the establishments along the route, we stopped at one called Bebedouro, which had a chalkboard menu posted on the wall.
.

.
The list of tapas was irresistible. We didn’t even look inside the door; just grabbed one of the little tables on the street. Not sure how big the modestly priced dishes would be, we started by ordering just two. A good thing that was, because they were large: what the Spanish would call not tapas but racions. Both were fabulous.
.

Octopus in confit of peppers

.
Potatoes fused with cheese and mushrooms

.
The wine list featured flights of three wines for €16. We chose one of the red flights and received generous-sized pours, all from the Douro region and all new to us.
.

.
They graduated quite interestingly from light and fruity to bigger and more complex and made interesting matches with the food. (Tom has written more about the wines we drank in Portugal on his blog.)

.

That perfect little meal made us so happy that we returned to Bebeduro for lunch the next day. We chose from the fish tapas this time, both of which were just as delicious as the previous ones.
.

Roasted tuna in tomato sauce with hummus

.
Sardines in olive oil

.
This time we tried one of the flights of white wines – again, all from the Douro. They varied from each other and matched with the tapas just as interestingly as the reds had done.
.

.

The four dishes we had at those lunches were so good that I’m determined to try recreating some of them in my own kitchen. The only one that I could do immediately was the sardines. That’s because we were so impressed by the quality of the Portuguese sardines available in their home territory that we brought back five cans of a recommended brand.

.
So here is the tapas plate I made with them just the other day. Not as pretty as Bebedouro’s, but definitely in the ballpark for tastiness.
.

.
Even the olive oil from the sardine can was so good we slathered it all over our bread. (I brought home three bottles of olive oil, too.) Next I’ll be trying the potato, cheese, and mushroom dish because I’ve found a recipe online that looks as if it would work. After that, on to tackle the octopus!

*

P.S. Though we had no idea of this at the time, I’ve learned from my back-home Web research that Bebedouro is very well known for both food and wine. It seems to be listed in at least one major guidebook and has an enormously enthusiastic online following. Perhaps I should have titled this post “Lucking Out in Lisbon.”

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »