Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lamb Blade Chops with Green Sauce (and a recipe for Lamb Sandwich with Greens and Green Sauce)

I have many cookbook ideas, and the ladies from Food52 just wrote one of them. 

Okay, before we go too far down the path of this cookbook and this week's recipes, let's just review what Food52 is and then let's sally forth.

Food52 was begun only about 3 years ago in 2013 as a gathering place for cooks, foodies, novices, the curious to come together to talk about food every week of the year (hence the 52). From seersucker tablecloths to quince paste, soup ladles to fennel pollen, russet potatoes to food mills, this website talks about, sells, makes it all. And they're growing.  But be careful. Should you click on any of those links, I will see you in about an hour, for you will undoubtably (as I just did) find yourself going down the rabbit hole of website browsing and mouth watering. 

Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, Food52's founders, have put out four cookbooks, and this one--A New Way to Dinner--is the latest. As many of you know, I have been greatly inspired by Tamar Adler's The Everlasting Meal (which is still my go-to gift for foodie friends). Adler argues food begets food, and one should not throw out food. With a frugal sensibility, she takes tonight's dinner and then makes broth from the chicken carcass, pot pie from the leftover meat, and minestrone from leftover veggies. Nothing goes to waste. 

A New Way to Dinner has a similar premise: spend 3-4 hours cooking on Sunday and then remix your Sunday victories until they're Monday's dinner, Tuesday's lunch, and Wednesday's late-night snack. 

I spent Sunday cooking for only about two hours. Why? Because I had to scale back. Because this is what the Food52-proposed week entails:

  • Lamb-Blade Chops
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts and Raisins
  • All-in-One Lamb Salad with Horseradish, Watercress, and Celery
  • Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Green Sauce
  • Lamb Sandwich with Kale and Green Sauce
  • Creamed Kale
  • Gnocchi with Creamed Kale
  • Ricotta Gnocchi
  • Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, and Pine Nuts
  • Stuck-Pot Rice
  • Stuck-Pot Rice with Creamed Kale and a Fried Egg
  • Chewy Vanilla Spice Cookies with Chocolate Chunks
  • Coffee Ice Cream with Toasted Marshmallows
Hoo boy.  

We nixed the desserts, the gnocchi, and the brussels sprouts (and anything connected to them), so we ended up with this (I'll post links once I put them up):
  • Lamb-Blade Chops (found on this here very post)
  • All-in-One Lamb Salad with Horseradish, Watercress, and Celery
  • Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Green Sauce
  • Lamb Sandwich with Kale and Green Sauce (also found below, friends)
  • Creamed Kale
  • Stuck-Pot Rice
  • Stuck-Pot Rice with Creamed Kale and a Fried Egg
It seems like a lot, but really, there were only three main recipes and then lots of leftovers. Clearly a week's worth of meals for two.

What we were left with was the simply cooked lamb blade chops (also known as lamb shoulder chops that are so much easier on the wallet than loin chops) with a bright and fresh green sauce (perfect for late fall), creamed kale and broccoli rabe (quite simply divine) and stuck pot rice. That meant meat, a veggie, and a starch for dinner number one. And the husband and I both wanted to lick our plates. 

Okay, we did. We licked them. I am not going to lie.

The lamb is as simple as can be. In the time it takes to fire up the grill, you can rest the lamb with seasonings. In the time it takes to grill the lamb, you can reheat the kale and rice. This is a Monday-night dinner for sure.  And then there's plenty left over for Tuesday night Lamb Sandwiches.

I do have one note to keep the theme of frugality and everlasting meals going a little further: The lamb sandwiches call for a ciabatta roll (see below). The lamb and watercress salad (to be posted soon) nudges you toward rye bread. I just used levain for the sandwiches and would have used levain for the salad, but I wasn't hungry for bread.

And so, I challenge you to make this week an everlasting meal. A new way to dinner. A feast of really good, sensible, frugal food. 

And now I need to get thinking of a premise for another cookbook, because Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs have knocked this one out of the ballpark.

Lamb Blade Chops with Green Sauce

Adapted from Food 52's A New Way to Dinner

Serves 4, plus leftovers for salad and sandwiches

8 lamb blade (shoulder) chops, about 3/4 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
3 anchovy fillets
1 Tbsp capers
1 large clove garlic (optional)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (generous)
3/4 to 1 cup of olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. About 30 minutes before serving, season each lamb chop with salt and pepper and allow to rest at room temperature. Heat your grill--get the coals so hot that you'll get a good sear. So hot that you're probably using more coal (or gas or whatever powers your grill) than you anticipated. 

2.  Make the green sauce (you can do this ahead over the weekend): In a food processor or blender, combine parsley, basil, anchovy fillets, capers, garlic (if using), and crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt until the leaves are chopped up. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream until you achieve the consistency you like. Add lemon juice, and then adjust seasoning to taste.

3.  Once the grill is super hot, grill the lamb for about 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from the grill and let rest beneath foil for about 5 minutes.  Top 4 of the chops with a a spoonful of the green sauce and serve with a lemon wedge. 

4.  Put the remaining chops in a container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  You've got sandwiches to make (see below) and a salad to serve (recipe forthcoming).  That's two more nights of dinner.

Lamb Sandwich with Greens and Green Sauce 

Adapted from Food 52's A New Way to Dinner

Serves 4, plus leftovers for salad and sandwiches

Green Sauce
1 ciabatta role or 2 slices of your favorite bread (I used levain)
Thinly sliced leftover lamb
Torn greens (arugula, kale, romaine)
Potato Chips

1. Mix up some green sauce and mayonnaise. As much as you want, but mix them together in a small bowl because they make a pretty little spread.

2.  Spread this mixture over your favorite roll or bread (toasted if you prefer). Top with leftover lamb and greens. Serve with potato chips.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Infused Whiskey: 3 Ways

I got really inspired by the fine work being done by Jessica Merchant over there at How Sweet It Is. Especially when that fine work involves bourbon or, in my case, whiskey.

You see, she recently infused bourbon three ways: Apple Pie, Chai Spice, and Chocolate Orange. I made some major changes, swapped out bourbon, and stepped away from the Chocolate Orange. But in the end, I made three wonderful infused whiskeys, and I think you should, too.  

Holiday season can be your excuse. But we both know you don't really need one, do you? 

I didn't.

We don't get autumn until late in Northern California. Isn't this fabulous?

Okay, let me talk you through each one of these gems and then propose some possibilities for next steps.  Besides drink them immediately.

Let's start with the recipes first, and then let's talk about what to do with them.

1.  Decide which one to make. Or... just make all three:
Apple Pie Infused Whiskey
1 granny smith apple, sliced
1 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split
2 whole cloves
1.5 cups whiskey or bourbon

Chai Spice Infused Whiskey
1 to 1 1/2 vanilla beans, split (I used 1 1/2 because I like a lot of vanilla)
1 chai tea bag
1.5 cups of whiskey or bourbon

Winter Spice Infused Whiskey
I am not a fan of Chocolate Orange in a drink, so I swapped that out for an orange and clove. Come on, what else screams Thanksgiving and then the opening of December? Inspired by this recipe from boozed and infused, my recipe is chock-full of winter spices, including cloves and cinnamon and peppercorns. But the heaviest (and happiest) note is orange, as it should be.

1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
zest of 1 orange (peeled into large strips, only zest, no white pith)
5 peppercorns
1.5 cups of whiskey or bourbon

2.  Mix these puppies up:
To make the infusion, add the ingredients to a jar and pour the whiskey over the top. Close up the jar and set in a cool, dark place (or the refrigerator) for 2 weeks. After 1 week, taste the whiskey. Make any adjustments (more vanilla, take out some cloves, etc.) to fit your palate. Infuse for another week and taste again. If you want more flavor, infuse for one more week. 

When you're ready, strain the whiskey into a bottle or jar and label it.

3.  Choose your own adventure:
So what do you do with all of this infused whiskey?  Oh, friends, there are so many things to do:
  • A good old Old Fashioned.  (Try this with Winter Spice Whiskey. It was perfection.)
  • Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy.  (Try with the Apple Pie Whiskey and a bag of English Breakfast Tea. Yes, again, please.)
  • How about a Manhattan? (Might I recommend the Chai Spice Infused Whiskey. It was perfect for a late fall evening.)

I don't think you can go wrong. Cheers!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving Round up

Friends, I have been writing this blog for six years now. It is one of the many joys in my life. If anything, I wish I had more time to write this blog. Wish I had more time to investigate the history of a preparation technique, the science of dish, the cultural significance of a food. I wish I had more time to craft stories around the foods I make--either stories relating to my own upbringing or to the global culture that we inhabit or the connections to the literature I love so much. I wish I were out there in the world interviewing and writing about the amazing people producing and creating food in my area.

These are possible goals for my future.

And while time is finite and I certainly wish for more, I must admit I have been so grateful to have you all along for the ride for what little time we have had so far--I am so glad to be a part of your lives, if only for a moment.

With all of this in mind and given the time of year, I wanted to take some time to reflect on some of my favorite posts and to dig them back up. These are the ones that I am most proud of, that most reflect what I wish every post could be. It may be the science, the memory, the history, the literature, the photograph (but trust me, if it was from 2010-2014, it wasn't the photograph, I promise). So here they are, my top 12 favorite blog posts (so far...)

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for joining me for this lovely little ride, my friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hazelnut-Streusel Sweet Potato Pie

Sure, pumpkin pie is often trotted out this time of year, but let's not forget sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie's (usually) less-sweetened, less-spiced Southern cousin.  Simpler to make from scratch (no hassles of cutting a pumpkin in half), this velvety custard pie makes no apologies for itself and does not try to cover up its tuber origins. 

Generally, the spice profile in a sweet potato pie is a little bit toned down from pumpkin pie, which is usually just a vehicle for spice as it is. That said, I will admit, this particular recipe is a little more spiced than you'll usually find, but the spice note here is not ubiquitous "pumpkin pie" spice to be found in every latte in America right now. Instead, it is heavy on the mace, which is the sheath that covers a nutmeg kernel, and it is quite luscious and rich (blame the heavy cream in place of condensed milk).

Fully ensconced in African-American culinary history, sweet potato pie goes way back. In fact, here's an 1881 recipe from Abby Fisher, a former slave who made her way from South Carolina to Mobile, Alabama, to San Francisco post Civil War. In California, she set up a pickles and preserves shop, and encouraged (as she says in the "Preface and Apology" to her book) by her "lady patrons and friends" from San Francisco and and Oakland, she was the first African-American woman to publish a cookbook.

And here's a great article from The Washington Post tracing the history of the sweet potato pie, especially in opposition to its Northern pumpkin rival and in celebration of its deep roots in the African-American community. 

This is a pie with a story, and it's one that often gets shadowed by the ubiquitous pumpkin pie.

Just to snazz this up a bit, Greg Patent, our cookbook's author, whipped up this hazelnut-steusel topping.  Let's just admit that this topping is gilding the lily for an already wonderful dessert. However, it does add a nice sweet crunch against the smooth, spiciness of the filling. So, I caution you not to skip it. 

Gilded lily be damned.

As you get ready, my American friends, to sit down to turkey-day dinner soon, might I suggest sweet potato pie?

 I promise, even after gorging on a bird and stuffing and potatoes and salad and whatever else might be on your holiday table, the final dish will look a lot like this:

Hazelnut-Streusel Sweet Potato Pie 

Adapted from Baking In America  

4 Servings


1 graham cracker crust (see below or make your favorite recipe)

For the filling
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cups heavy cream

For the topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

1.  Make the graham cracker crust (see below).

2.  For the filling: steam the potatoes, covered, until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Cool, cut in half, scoop out the flesh, and mash with a fork or potato masher. You need about 1 2/3 cups for the filling. The sweet potatoes can be prepared a day or 2 ahead and refrigerate, covered.

3. Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

4. In a food processor, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, mace, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, eggs, and cream or about 20 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then process about 20 seconds longer, until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust.

5.  For the topping: combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs or peas. Stir int he hazelnuts.

6.  Sprinkle the topping over the filling. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the sides are puffed and set but the center of the pie jiggles a little when you move the pan.

7. Cool on a wire rack until the filling firms up, at least 2-3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve, perhaps with some whipped cream.

Graham Cracker Crust

Adapted from The New Best Recipe  and  Baking In America  

1 9-inch crust

9 graham crackers (5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar, plus more if needed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter

1. Adjust the oven rack tot he center position, and preheat the oven to 325°F.

2.  In a food processor, process the graham crackers until they are fine crumbs, about 10 seconds. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and butter and process for 10-15 seconds, until the butter is in small bits.

3.  Coat the pie dish with cooking spray and press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides. 

4.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned and smells aromatic. Let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Holiday Roast Chicken with Cranberry-Fig Stuffing

Fifteen years ago, I came to the Bay Area for the first time. The husband and I lived in two different states (Utah and Colorado, respectively), and he invited me to California for what would be my first of many Thanksgiving dinners with his family. Of course, at the time, I didn't know that.

I was a bundle of nerves, wanting to impress his family. I spoke little, was so polite I did not ask to eat any breakfast or lunch on Thanksgiving day. I minded all of my manners. I even sent a thank you note to his parents for their hospitality. And for years, his parents were concerned that I was "too nice."

Nope.  Just terrified.

During that first trip (ever!) to San Francisco and the East Bay, the then boyfriend and I did many of the requisite tourist activities, including but not limited to the Golden Gate Bridge, Baker Beach, and the Cliff House. It also included cat-sitting a 21 year-old-feline, driving around in a borrowed black Volkswagen beetle, attending a concert at the Fillmore, drinking tea on the corner of 9th and Irving in the City.  

Not bad for a four-day introduction to what would later become my home. 

This year, the husband and I have been tasked with making the turkey, for the first time. This is big. This is the handing over of the torch. 

This is a lot of pressure. Thank goodness I am over being so polite, because we might offend someone with our turkey. The worry--it will be dry, tasteless, and cardboard-like.

So we have been practicing on chickens. 

In this iteration, you have the easiest chicken ever. Smack some butter, salt, and pepper on it. Roast away. It's a particularly simple roast chicken, and the only thing making this a "holiday" chicken is the stuffing--but it is truly worthy of guests and a full sit down meal. Especially if you don't want the hassle of a turkey.

With the chopped figs and the dried cranberries next to the chicken broth and shallots, this stuffing is sweet and savory and certainly satisfying. I would add more to the stuffing if I were to make it again (which we might, but we have a sage and sausage stuffing on the docket for our next round). Perhaps some celery and mushrooms? The celery for the bright flavor and the mushrooms for more umami. Because I am not sure it's possible to have too much umami. 

We're not there yet when it comes to our Thanksgiving recipe. However, this one was well worth the attempt. Don't wait until there is a holiday.  

Just dig in. No cutlery required. 

I won't tell if you're not being polite.


Holiday Roast Chicken with Cranberry-Fig Stuffing

Serves 6

4 cups cubed (3/4-inch cubes) country bread or baguette
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, divided
3/4 tsp kosher salt. divided
1/2 tsp pepper, divided
One 4 1/2 to 5 pound chicken

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Spread out the bread cubes in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minute or until slightly dry. Cool and transfer to a large bowl. (The bread can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight bag).

2.  Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet and cook the shallots for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Pour over the bread. Toss the cranberries and figs. Moisten the bread with the broth. Stir in the egg, and sprinkle with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of the thyme, and 1/4 each of the salt and pepper.  Toss until well blended. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the stuffing for the chicken and place the rest in the baking dish. Cover with foil. (The stuffing up to this point can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance.  Do not put the reserved stuffing in the chicken until right before baking.)

3.  Place a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Oil the rack or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Tuck the chicken wing tips behind the chicken. Spread the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter over the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Spoon the reserved stuffing into the chicken cavity so that it's filled loosely. If the chicken cavity will not hold all of the reserved stuffing, add any remaining to the baking dish.

4.  Bake the chicken for 60-70 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken at the thickest point of the thigh registers 175 degrees, and the temperature of the stuffing inside the chicken registers at least 165 degrees.

5.  About 15 minutes before the chicken is ready to come out of the oven, bake the dish of stuffing alongside until the stuffing is hot and the internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees, 20-25 minutes.

6.  Remove the chicken from the oven and loosely cover with foil for 10 minutes before serving. Spoon out the stuffing, carve, and serve.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Oh my.  What a gorgeous drink from an equally gorgeous cookbook. 

When this culinary treasure landed on my doorstep, I was hesitant to drag it into the kitchen for fear that I might slop some tomato sauce or coconut oil or just plain old water on it and ruin it. This may be a book for the living room table, not the kitchen table.

Shane Mitchell, food writer extraordinaire and Saveur contributing editor, fills the pages with beautifully written essays that rival the photography of James Fisher. Each of the ten chapters focuses on global culinary narratives, from the food cooked on the leitir (the autumnal sheep roundup) in Iceland to the meals cooked by refugees and migrants in the Calais Jungle. Committed to documenting the traditions of (as she writes in her introduction) "people who are firmly rooted in their culture and landscape, in some of the most isolated or marginal communities, where keeping the food chain vital remains a daily chore," she tells stories that "focus on rituals where hospitality plays a key role."

I could use more of this in my life.

I realize that what I am about to say may sound derivative, and let's just go ahead and admit it here--morsels and sauces is a food blog. That's all. 

However, I feel the need to say something else here. I think it's more and more important to find ways of connecting, of being inclusive, of glimpsing lives that are not our own, if only for an essay or a photograph, of opening ourselves up to something bigger than our individual selves. 

This is what I like about this book. It says that there is something to be gained in rooting ourselves in place, in time, in community. And I need my place and community a lot these days.

For whatever reason, I was drawn to the chapter on potato farming in Peru, an essay you can also find over here at Saveur. And what a punch this essay is, with its simple ending and elegant description of the food for the gods, of a connection to family and place and remembrance and honor. Add to that essay those gorgeous photographs that honor a person and a place and a culture and a life. You hardly need turn the page for a glimpse of a few recipes. 

But you'll be glad you did.

For, as much as you might wish to keep this book outside of the kitchen, you must cook from it, too. From a Roast Lamb Shoulder with Mushroom Gravy (from Iceland) to Chivito (Uraguay's answer to the hamburger), from Fried Rice Omelet (from Hawaii) to Cardamom Doughnuts (from Kenya), the recipes in here beg you to cook, to mix, to grill, to roast. 

But more than anything, the essays, photographs, and recipes beg you to stop long enough to cook, to gather around a family table and relish in this gift of a book.

I started simply with a potent cocktail, in part because I fancy a potent cocktail and in part because I did declare that this here blog needed more cocktails. And let me tell you, this is one cocktail for which you may wish to heed Mitchell's advice: save it for an afternoon "when you're not going anywhere fast." While this is a perfect summer drink, and we're about to enter into the California winter, let's remember that it's almost summer in Peru.

According to others, this traditional Peruvian cocktail is the result of tweaking a drink, the Buongiorno (a mixture of grappa, lime, and ginger beer), introduced in the 19th century by Italian immigrants. When Peruvians ran out of grappa, they substituted Pisco, and a new classic was born. 

Pisco is a Peruvian grape brandy, filled with a whole host of rules (cannot be wood aged, can be distilled only once, must rest for three months). And while it is an acquired taste, it's a taste I urge us all to acquire. Apparently Pisco was once quite popular among the Californian gold-mining set, but subsequently it fell out of fashion.  Nowadays, Pisco is enjoying a renaissance and bartenders are branching out from the Pisco sour and into a whole host of other Peruvian drinks. Enter the Chilcano.

I am looking forward to my upcoming dive into this book (I know those Cardamom Doughnuts will be coming my way). But I am relishing sipping on this potent cocktail as I peruse this gorgeous book. The husband and I often sit around the kitchen table with a plate of food or a tumbler of a drink and we thumb through cookbooks. We plan menus we will never serve and some that we will. We recall dinners with family and friends and we make plans for upcoming ones. 

Even in our little kitchen, we connect. 

Let's connect a little more these days.  And this book encourages us to do more of that--even if you don't cook a single recipe from within its covers. 

Now, that's a good book. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


Adapted from Far Afield

2 Servings

Ice cubes
1/2 cup Pisco
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1-2 Tbsp simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part boiling water, then chill)
3-4 drop Angostura bitters
1 tsp rose water
Ginger ale
2 lime rounds

1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix the Pisco and fresh lime juice. Stir in the simple syrup to taste. 

2. Then add the bitters and rose water. Shake until chilled. 

3.  Add 1 ice cube to each of 2 lowball glasses, strain in the chilled mixture, and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime round.