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Showing posts from July, 2013

The Best Shepherd's Pie

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I have just returned from the land of heat:  Illinois.  I am back in my own element now: the fog, the cold, the sweater in July.  Oh, it is good, good, good to be home again.


It has slowly been happening, the metamorphosing into a Californian--the ache for sea and fog, the smell of salt in the air--but it has happened, indeed.  Yesterday to get my fix of water and fog, I took the niece, who is visiting for two weeks, and the husband to the Berkeley Marina for a short walk.  The bay was littered with boats, more so than normal because the America's Cup is here this year. Someone was flying a red kite with multicolored streamers and four smaller kites (that looked like puffer fish) attached to the main line.  The wind was strong, and admittedly cold, but I linked arms with the husband and the niece, and we walked along the rocky embankment with barely a view of the city because of the fog.  Oh, the fog.  Ah, Northern California in July.  Welcome home.





But this was only a quick fix, as…

American Potato Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Sweet Pickles

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I am here to change everything you think you know about potato salad (via the wisdom of the cookbook we call the Geek Cookbook, for it gives you everything you need to know via a scientific breakdown).  Even if you don't use this recipe (which, respectfully, I would say you are fool not to), just follow one instruction, and your potato salad days will have a clear demarcation of Before and After.

When the potatoes are cool enough to cut but still warm, cube them into 1/2-inch chunks and then pour 1/4 cup red wine vinegar over them and season with salt and pepper.  Let the potatoes cool completely.  Then do whatever else you tend to do with your potato salad, be it mayo or capers or celery or cucumber or herbs or bacon.  


Now the next step, if you're willing to take it, is to no longer use pickle relish.  Chop your own pickle, sweet or otherwise.  Now, the title of this recipe nudges you toward the sweet pickle, which I would, respectfully, tell you to ignore.  Use di…

David Lebovitz's Peach Amaretti Crisp

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Peaches.  Oh, it is peach season, my friends.  Sweet, sweet peaches that we should all dare to eat. Gobble up in fact.  Grill them, puree them, spin them into ice cream, but eat them, eat them all.


This take on the classic crisp is lovely.  First, it gives you an excuse to pick out eight of the sweetest, ripest, prettiest peaches you can find.  You need to peel them up, slice 'em up, and then coat them in a little flour and sugar.  But then comes the most important, and inspired part:  make the crisp.  But this time use amaretti cookies instead of the regular-old oats.




Amaretti, you ask.  First off, in Italian, it means "little bitter thing" (perhaps a pet name for one you love?).  These are lovely little Italian meringues that have that truly bittersweet taste of almonds and sugar.  (However, here's the trick--they are not made with almonds; instead they are made with apricot kernels.)  You know that taste, even if you haven't had one of these cookies--as you get …

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Corn-Bacon Relish

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For the Fourth of July, my dad came to visit with his wife, my aunt and my uncle.  After going to the Coliseum to watch the A's (and the Cubs, and I cheered on the losing Cubs, as is usual), they all came over to our place for a backyard barbecue of pork tenderloin, potato salad, and a tossed salad.  It was quite pleasant, sitting in the backyard hearing stories of their growing up.


As the husband tended the pork on the grill, my uncle and my dad told stories of my grandfather who commanded performances of delight and surprise for the home movies as his children came down the stairs at Christmas.  Should my father not seem delighted or surprised enough, my grandfather would send him back up the stairs to recreate the moment.  To be honest, my father insisted on a full family portrait on the stairs of his suburban home when my brother, sister, and I were young.  The apple did not fall far from that tree.  I do not make the cats pose on Christmas.  It's my gift to them.

For a w…

Cucumber-Basil Egg Salad

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It's true.  I am giving you a recipe on how to make egg salad.  But it's a really tasty egg salad, mostly because of the basil and cucumbers.  Plus, it makes a fine stuffing for sandwiches and a fabulous topping for toast.  And it's a perfect summer lunch.  What could be worse?


 Now, I will tell you that this is not light as in low calories (but it is light in terms of how you feel at the end of eating it), and I generally like to make my egg salad with a mix of yogurt and mayo if not entirely with yogurt;  however, for the sake of science and adherence to the recipe, I was happy to try it this time with straight mayo.  Admittedly, I couldn't tell the difference (maybe it was a little tangier than it would be yogurt), so the next time I make this number--and there will be a next time, trust me--I think that some fat free yogurt will do the trick.  For, you see, it's not the mayo that is the superstar in this recipe.  It is the lovely combination of basil and green…

Cucumber Crush

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Cucumbers are delightful.  In fact, I seem to be a fan of cucumbered alcoholic drinks, as evidenced here.  And this little refresher comes just at the right time because, baby, it's hot outside.


This drink is relatively easy, given that my mother once insisted to me that I had insisted to her that I wanted a juicer.  I have no recollection of having ever wanted said juicer, but I am glad that she gifted it to me nonetheless.  Then, to boot, my cousin once insisted I needed martini glasses; I was young, I insisted that I didn't like martinis.  I looked at her aghast.  She returned the look.  Then she kindly gifted me that which I did not know I needed.  But now I am glad I have them, too.


So as I mentioned, I have been away for a week (and have been nursing a hell of a cold for two and a half weeks and counting) at Stanford studying the Great Depression and World War II as part of the Gilder Lehrman Institute.  I got a good deal out of the program, even though I am no history …