Showing posts from December, 2014

Sesame and Soy Pumpkin

As you may know from such features as my "about page," this blog is about to become officially five years old. Five years?!  Yep.  In celebration of 2015 and of five full years, I am going back to my original impetus for the blog.  Five years ago, I cooked page 210 from every cookbook I owned (given that the probability of finding a 2010-page cookbook, while not impossible, seemed tricky). I cooked things I had never cooked before and discovered that I like liver, boar, duck, andlamb but not squab. I made mistakes. I made very simple recipes with absolutely atrocious photography. What fun all that was.

So, for 2015, I am cooking page 215 (unless the cookbook has fewer than 215 pages, and then I am cooking page 115 or (in the case of one little soup cookbook I have) page 15). If there is no recipe on page 215, then I am cooking whatever comes closest to page 215.  And indeed, I am getting an unofficial jump on the new year--in part because I have more than 52 cookbooks now (…

Duck Liver Pâté with Pepper Pears

Oh, pâté, how I love you. We have had a relationship for years, mostly because first I ate you in your truffled form, thus establishing a love of you in your most expensive state. Then I ate you in your country form, thus establishing that I love you any way you come. Then I just ate you whenever I could, while still trying to exhibit some restraint. Consequently, when Christmas Eve dinner rolled around and I saw you staring back on me from the pages of Donna Hay's Entertaining, I knew we were destined for one another.

I couldn't find duck livers for you--in part because of my poor planning on the day before Christmas when everyone and their neighbor happened to be at the grocery store purchasing their last-minute supplies. Instead, we had to go with chicken livers. I think we did alright in the end.

Then, I needed to purchase cognac, a liquor that I know little about. However, a very nice, very young man at the liquor store told me that cognac is simply a very specific grape…

Ottolenghi's Curry Rice

Isn't this pretty?

Once you serve it, it looks like, well, plain old rice. But it is oh-so-pretty on the table if you serve it with all of its spice-accouterments. Seriously, this would work on any holiday table (except the one I am about to sit down at, given that we're having a pretty traditional roast pork; okay, not any holiday table).

Curry leaves are the key here. This herb has no relation to the jarred (or perhaps self-prepared) spice mixture that you can find on the supermarket shelves. Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in southern and west-coast Indian cooking (although certainly they make appearances in Cambodian and Sri Lankan cuisine): they have this pungent, lemony flavor that is not really able to be replicated by another spice or herb. Seriously. If you cannot find curry leaves, skip this recipe. Sure, you could substitute with makrut lime leaves, which would probably be quite tasty; however, it would not be this recipe.

If you see some, grab a whole bu…

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette

Another vegetarian cookbook, you say?  The husband brought this cookbook home last month as a surprise from Market Hall, our favorite European-styled market in the neighborhood.  Also the only one.

You may remember Mollie Katzen from your dog-eared copy of The New Moosewood Cookbook (1977). You also may not have opened this cookbook for a decade, as you have moved to lighter fare rather than the hearty vegetarian fare of that disco decade. Katzen shares in this lighter approach to her recipes--and in a lovely article from The New York Times, she reveals her recent interest in the simpler way of cooking (she even admits one of her favorite things to eat is a pairing of cut peaches and tomatoes whose juices are sopped up with good bread). Certainly Katzen has been publishing a multitude of cookbooks since 1977, but it is nice to have one of her new cookbooks in hand.

This cookbook is definitely not twee. You'll find nothing precious here: asparagus with ginger and soy; root vegeta…

Ottolenghi's Squash with Cardamom and Nigella Seeds

Oh, I may have mentioned the abundance of squash from the CSA box. And still, still I cook on. The squash never seems to diminish, and that's a good thing for, indeed, I do love it. This fall I have wrapped it in pastryroasted it with dates and thyme, and pureed it into soup. However, this recipe catapaults squash into a new dimension. Sure, one could serve this dish as a side to a more elaborate meal. However, I served it as recommended--with a side of curry rice (recipe forthcominghere)--and hoo-boy.  What a meal it was.

Yes, this is another Ottolenghi recipe (from Plenty More, no less). Yes, it is a bit of an addiction.  However, when his cooking is just so good and it uses my plethora of squash, I have to keep on keeping on. 

Let's focus on what makes this recipe distinctive: the nigella and the cardamom seeds.

Nigella seeds do, indeed, add a distinctive flavor. If you can, avoid substituting them. (However, if you must substitute, try celery seeds, cumin seeds, sesame see…

Ottolenghi's Braised Fennel with Capers and Olives

In a move that should surprise exactly no one, I bought the latest in Ottolenghi cookbooks, Plenty More. In fact, I pre-ordered it, and I have been cooking from it non-stop since its arrival two months ago.

This cookbook has much going for it. Not only is it yet another in a slew of vegetarian cookbooks that I have come to love, but it is also the fourth in (what I hope to be a much longer) line of wonderful Ottolenghi cookbooks. It's true. I like the rest of the world am fully buckled onto the Ottolenghi bandwagon.  However, it is for good reason. His recipes are surprising in their flavor profiles, his meals are fresh and satisfying, and (let's face it), he's a darned good writer (not only of recipes but of headnotes).

In fact, in the headnote of this very recipe, Ottolenghi reports that fennel is resplendent. Resplendent!  That's a lot of praise for a mere vegetable that grows on the side of the road 'round these here parts.

And indeed, if you find yourself nea…

Safardjaliya (Tagine of Lamb with Quince)

I have already waxed poetic about the quince, one of my favorite fall and winter fruits. I have already sung the praises of lamb, an addition to my diet that I truly celebrate. I have already lauded saffron, that fancy spice that is replete with poetry. Thus, it only seemed natural that I make something that put those three together. How could I not?

While I did make this recipe last month (and it has just taken me some time to type it up here), it is one that I believe I will be coming back to again next fall. The rosy smell of the quinces while they boil and the savory sizzle of the lamb as it sautes are a perfect marriage of the senses. Once you combine the meat and the fruit in a pan with the mellowed ginger and the bitterness of saffron, this dish needs only a side of couscous or rice to make it pure perfection.

Finally, it's the Bay Area's equivalent of a snow day here. It has been raining and raining for hours. Admittedly, we thought it would rain a little harder, and …