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Archive for 2017

TIP OF THE DAY: Serve It Three Ways

One of our early food influencers was the late French chef, Jean Banchet, whose restaurant in Wheeling, Illinois was a destination for serious foodies the world over.

In the days we visited, during the last decade of Le Français, the way in which his menu was unique was his approach to showcasing foods in different ways—all on one plate.

Whether you wanted beef, chicken, foie gras, lamb, pork or seafood, he divided the portion and served it in different expressions, varying the technique, sauce, cut or other component.

The potential variations were vast. You could order the lamb, say, at three different visits, and never have the same combination.

This was, and still is, our kind of eating.

As we don’t have a brigade de cuisine, we typically prepare a much simpler presentation: the protein, simply cooked (grilled, poached, whatever), served with different garnishes or sauces.

You don’t need a special plate with different sections: Banchet use his regular porcelain dinner plates, as do we.

You can take this approach with any course: Who would turn down cheesecake with three different toppings; or pound cake with custard sauce, caramel sauce and fudge sauce?

The benefit of this approach is you don’t have to decide: Enjoy three favorites at once.

HOW TO DO IT

Depending on time and inclination, you can make this as simple or varied as you like.

  • Make one conventional, one spicy and one on the sweeter side (e.g., with fruit).
  • Vary the colors, and as appropriate, the textures.
  • If you’re really ambitious, vary the cooking technique (see below).
  •  
    Simple Versus Complex

    It can be as simple as three salsas—red, green and corn or fruit salsa; or a similar treatment with barbecue sauce—fruit, smoky and spicy.

    If you’re a devoted saucier, try three mother sauces or secondary sauces from classic French cuisine.

    Or, go international, with sauces and garnishes from, say, Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean.
     
    Simple Approaches

    Here are examples of easy approaches to favorite proteins, that simply vary the sauce:

  • For steak or a roast: blue cheese, chimichurri, horseradish cream, mushroom sauce, salsa verde.
  • For chicken: barbecue, garlic wine, peanut, salsa verde.
  • For fish: classic butter sauce, pesto, teriyaki, uncooked tomato sauce.
  • For lamb: balsamic, Dijon, mint, rosemary-garlic.
  •  

    Tuna 3 Ways

    Tuna 3 Ways

    Gravy Boat

    Mini Mousse Cups

    Here are how two restaurants approached the same fish: [1] Tuna three ways from Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico. [2] Tuna three ways from Michalangelo’s Piccolo Mondo in Sandton, South Africa. [3] In addition to the gravy from pan drippings, serve two other sauces (photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.). [4] Three flavors of mousse in mini dishes (photo courtesy Simply Quinoa | YouTube).

  • For pork: bourbon pan sauce, caramelized onions, honey-mustard, spiced sautéed apples.
  • For dessert: three different mini tarts, three different dessert sauces, ice cream with cubes of three different loaf cakes (e.g., banana bread, carrot cake, pound cake.
  •  
    Complex Approaches

    Here, the cooking technique is varied: You’re cooking three different dishes instead of making three different sauces.

  • Beef: brochette, roasted, tartare.
  • Chicken: fried, teriyaki roasted.
  • Fish: sashimi or ceviche, grilled, poached.
  •  
    The “three ways” concept works for everything from humble burgers and sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches to filet mignon and lobster.

    To adapt what a lesson from our high school algebra teacher: the permutations and combinations extend beyond our lifetime.

      

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    RECIPE: Crispy Chicken Thighs Two Ways

    Skillet Chicken Thighs

    Chicken Thighs

    Tuscan Kale

    Castelvetrano Olives

    [1] Chicken with kale and olives, recipe below, made with [2] chicken thighs, [3] Tuscan kale and [4] castelvetrano olives (photos 1-3 courtesy Good Eggs, photo 4 courtesy Maiden Lane Restaurant | NYC).

     

    Every time we see chicken thighs on sale, we load up and make recipes like these, plus a big vat of chicken soup (Jewish-style and Mexican-style chicken soup recipes).

    Chicken thighs are economical, versatile and more flavorful than white meat (frankly, we can’t understand the premium placed on white meat chicken and turkey).

    We also love the ease of one-pan cooking in the recipes that follow. You can bring the entire pan to the table and serve from there (be sure to lay down a trivet ahead of time).

    These two recipes are from Good Eggs—a terrific purveyor of groceries in the San Francisco area.

    Serve them with a green salad and some crusty bread to sop up the pan sauce.

    RECIPE #1: CRISPY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH KALE & OLIVES

    Sweet from the tomatoes and salty from the olives, this recipe features the it green of the moment, kale. If you don’t like kale, substitute beet greens, broccoli rabe, chard, collards, spinach or other greens (we used mustard greens).

    Cook time is 35 minutes.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, or 2 whole chicken legs with drumstick
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, de-stemmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 handful Castelvetrano† green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks—or—2 cups diced canned tomatoes, drained*
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
  • Fresh thyme or oregano stems, leaves removed
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM a 9-inch cast iron pan inside an oven preheated to 425°F. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs on both sides. When the oven is hot, carefully (carefully!) remove the pan from the oven and add the thighs, skin side down. Place the pan back in the oven and cook the chicken until browned and the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 30 minutes.

    While the chicken cooks…

    2. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more as needed) in a second skillet (you can serve from this skillet). When the oil is hot, add the garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. When the cloves are lightly browned…

    3. ADD the tomatoes, thyme and olives and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook until the tomatoes have released their juices and the sauce has a nice consistency, about 15 minutes.

     
    4. ADD the kale to the tomatoes and combine with a pair of tongs. Cover the pan for a few minutes to let the greens wilt, then uncover and stir again with the tongs. Cook the kale and tomatoes together over low heat until the chicken is ready.

    5. PLACE the cooked chicken on top of the greens and serve in the skillet.
    ________________

    *We use canned San Marzano tomatoes when fresh tomatoes are out of season.

    †Castelvetrano olives from Sicily are the “greenest” green olives. Not only does the color look great, but these meaty olives have a unique flavor that makes them our favorite. Here’s more about Castelvetrano olives.

     

    RECIPE #2: CHICKEN THIGHS WITH CHERRY TOMATOES

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2-4 chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 475°F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; let it rest until it reaches room temperature.

    2. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more as needed) in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the chicken thighs skin side down. After 3 minutes, decrease the heat to medium high and cook the chicken for another 12 minutes. After another 5 minutes…

     

    Skillet Chicken With Cherry Tomatoes

    Here’s the recipe from the New York Times, which adds shallots and Dijon mustard to the recipe.

     
    3. ADD enough cherry tomatoes to fill in the gaps between the thighs and rearrange the chicken as needed to make sure all the tomatoes are getting equal heat. Add a few sprigs of thyme and the garlic. When the 12 minutes is up…

    4. USE a spoon to roll the tomatoes around in the chicken drippings, flip the thighs skin side up and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook for another 13 minutes.

    5. REMOVE from the oven and check the chicken for doneness by making sure internal temperature is 165°F (or the juices run clear). Remove from the heat and let the chicken rest for a few minutes for the juices to settle.

    THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CHICKEN

    Bet you can’t name them all! Check out our Chicken Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Green Tobiko For St. Patrick’s Day

    Green Tobiko Gunkan

    Oyster With Caviar

    Caviar Potato Bites

    Grilled Salmon With Caviar

    Substitute green tobiko for roe of other colors. [1] Green tobiko, the eggs of flying fish roe, in sushi (a gunkan maki—photo courtesy Toria Sushi.[2] Oyster with caviar (photo courtesy Rebelle NYC). [3] Caviar potato bites; the same concept works with potato chips and cucumber slices (photo Fotolia). [4] Top grilled fish (photo courtesy FishStar). [5] In a simple butter sauce (photo KN Studios | Fotolia).

     

    Ready for some culinary adventure on St. Patrick’s Day?

    We look forward to our annual green bagel and corned beef and cabbage, but needed to find something green for hors d’oeuvre and a first course (not guacamole, not spinach dip, not green bean salad, but something special).

    Browsing through the market, we came across a large jar of green tobiko caviar and began to play with it.

    Tobiko (flying fish roe) is a popular sushi ingredient, as both a garnish and in a gunkan-maki or “battleship roll” (photo #1).

    The roe, or caviar*, if you will, comes from the flying fish of Iceland and the Pacific Ocean. Naturally orange in color with a delicate nutty taste (no fish flavor), it has eye appeal and a crunchy texture.

    Over the past 20 years, the roe has been colored black, gold, green or red—for colorful garnishes beyond the sushi bar.

    It can also be flavored; for example, spicy orange tobiko, green wasabi-flavored tobiko, yellow citrus- ginger-and yuzu-flavored tobiko and pale red ume (plum) tobiko.

    We’ve even had brown truffle tobiko!

    So garnish we will! Here’s what we came up with for green tobiko with everyday dishes, nothing haute cuisine.
     
    BREAKFAST

  • On eggs any style.
  • On plain yogur.
  • On a bagel and cream cheese, with or without the smoked salmon.
  •  
    APPETIZERS

  • On potato chips, a dab of sour cream or crème fraîche; or on cucumber slices.
  • Baby potatoes (cut in half, top with sour cream and garnish with tobiko—photo #3).
  • On eggs and deviled eggs.
  • On fish and seafood, from a plain grilled filet to ceviche and shrimp cocktail.
  •  
    FIRST COURSE

  • Caviar Martini (small Martini glass layered with guacamole, sour cream, and tobiko on top).
  • Ceviche or crudo.
  • Oysters on the half shell (photo #2).
  • Savory crêpes.
  •  
    DINNER

  • On scallops or fish fillets (photo #4).
  • In sauces (photo #5).
  • On mashed potatoes (you can garnish or mix it in).
  • Baked potatoes and sour cream, even chives.
  •  

    TOBKO VS. MASAGO: THE DIFFERENCE

    Even if you’re a sushi bar habitué, you may not know that there’s a difference between masago and tobiko.

    Both are small beads of roe, both are naturally orange in color.

    However, the do differ:

  • They are the roe of different fish: capelin for the masago, and flying fish for tobiko.
  • Tobiko has larger eggs. We find them to be ore flavorful and crunchy, and the eggs are larger.
  • If you tasted them side-by-side, you’d taste a difference; but since their roes are used mostly for color and crunch…
  • Tobiko is the roe that is most often colored (green, red, yellow, etc.) and flavored.
  •  
    ________________

    *For centuries, “caviar” referred only to sturgeon eggs; all other fish were “roe.” However, the barriers have broken down, and no one should look askance at you if you call tobiko, ikura, and any other fish eggs “caviar.”

     

     
      

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    RECIPE: Green Bloody Mary With Tomatillos

    Gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to try a Green Bloody Mary. Yes, can green it up for St. Patricks Day, with the tricks below.

    The first GBMs of our experience were made with the green tomatoes and yellow tomatoes of August—more legit than this St. Patrick’s Day version, since puréed tomatoes equal the tomato juice of a traditional Bloody Mary.

    But those tomatoes are around for just a few weeks of the year, and months away from St. Patrick’s Day.

    So we went a-looking, and found this recipe from New Orleans bartender Jimmy Syock, who made it as party of the Bloody Mary Bar at Atchafalaya Restaurant.

    He uses what’s typically a year-round fruit: the tomatillo (yes, it’s a botanical fruit; all about tomatillos).

    We adapted Jimmy’s recipe a bit, although we kept his party-size measurements. You’ll get 12 Collins glass-size drinks, and more if you use an Old Fashioned/rocks glass.

    Recipe #2 is a much simpler to make, and just four servings.
     
    RECIPE #1: JIMMY SYOCK’S GREEN BLOODY MARY

    Ingredients For 12 Drinks

  • 2-1/2 pounds tomatillos, peeled and seeded
  • 2-1/2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-1/2 English cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 jalapeños, trimmed and seeded
  • 1 bunch celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3 cups vodka (plain or infused, e.g. lemon, lime, pepper)
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Garnish: see below
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except lime juice and salt in a blender; process until smooth. Strain to remove the pulp and any remaining seeds.

    2. STIR in the lime juice and add salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

    3. GARNISH as desired from the list below.
     
    GARNISHES

    We’ve omitted the standard celery stalk and lemon or lime wedge. When you go green, you upgrade your garnishes.

    Some ideas:

  • Fresh veggies: bell pepper circle (sliced horizontally), celery stalk, cucumber or zucchini wheel, dill spear, fennel stalk, rosemary sprig, scallion, yellow cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • Pickled veggies: asparagus, carrot, dill pickle spear, dilly bean (green bean), garlic, gherkin/cornichon, jalapeño, okra, olive, onion, pepadew.
  • Proteins: bacon strip, boiled or grilled shrimp, cheese cubes, crab claw, ham cubes, jerky, mozzarella balls, salami or sausage slices.
  • Rimmers: celery salt or other seasoned salt, dried herbs (thyme, oregano) or a mixture of the two, cracked black pepper with a hint of nutmeg, coarse salt mixed with lime zest, Old Bay (mixed with something else here for a milder taste).
  •    

    Tomatillo Bloody Mary

    Tomatillo Bloody Mary

    Tomatillos

    [1] Jimmy Syock’s Tomatillo Bloody Mary, via Garden and Gun. [2] Here’s the recipe from The Kitchy Kitchen, which includes the option of infusing your vodka with vegetables. [3] Tomatillos from The Chef’s Garden.

     

    You might enjoy putting an “antipasto pick” together with choices from each group; for example, a cheese cube, grape tomato, ham cube, and gherkin.

     

    Bloody Mary Crab Claw

    Garnished Bloody Mary

    [4] Garnished with a crab claw, dilly beans and a riot of pickled green vegetables (photo courtesy Orange County Register). [5] Fully loaded, from The Wayfarer | NYC.

     

    RECIPE #2: GREEN TOMATILLO BLOODY MARY

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 6 ounces vodka
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • Green hot sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Garnish: choose from the list above
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the tomatillos and cucumber in a blender or food processor. Add the vodka, horseradish and a few dashes each of green hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon celery salt and a pinch of kosher salt.

    2. POUR into 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish and serve.
     
    KNOW YOUR BLOODY MARYS

  • Bloody Mary History
  • Bloody Mary Recipes: the classics plus Danish, Mexican, Scottish, Russian and Spanish Marys
  •  
    MORE BLOODY MARYNESS

    These recipes use traditional red tomato juice, but you can switch to the green blend as you prefer.

  • Bloody Mary Drink Bar Or Cart
  • Bloody Mary Ice Pops
  • BLT Bloody Mary
  • Deconstructed Bloody Mary
  • Michelada (with beer)
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Congee, China’s Favorite Breakfast

    Many Asians start their day with a warm bowl of congee.

    If you’re a fan of Cream Of Rice or Cream of Wheat porridges, you’re a lock to enjoy the rice-based Chinese version.

    This traditional Chinese dish has evolved from gruel to porridge* to a porridge mixed with bits of protein (chicken, pork, shrimp) and vegetables (green onion, peas) to a spread of “DIY congee,” where the table is laden with dishes of condiments to tailor the dish to one’s taste.

    Congee can be as simple as a plain bowl of porridge, or as complex as the condiments and toppings allow. More luxurious versions cook the grain in chicken broth rather than water.

    It is easy to digest and very simple to cook.

    Plan to make it for breakfast or brunch, lunch or late dinner; serve as a DIY spread for a special meal (see the garnish options below); and reheat any leftovers on subsequent days.

    THE HISTORY OF CONGEE

    Congee (CON-gee with a soft “g”) is an ancient dish, made in China for thousands of years from uncooked rice and boiling water.

    The Book of Zhou (published 636 C.E.) says that the mythical Emperor Huang Di (2698–2598 B.C.E., mythical dates) was first to cook congee made from millet—or, we guess, his cooks did it, since we can’t imagine an emperor standing over a stove. This is considered the earliest reference to congee. [source]

    Tobie Meyer-Fong, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University who researches late imperial China and Chinese cuisine, has found references that date congee to the Han dynasty, circa 206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, author of Chinese cookbooks, maintains that congee dates to approximately 1,000 B.C.E., during the Zhou dynasty. [source]

    Today it is eaten throughout Asia (known by different names), in Burma, China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Tibetan, Vietnam and elsewhere.

    The name in Chinese, which means the watery one, derives from the Tamil language of India, where kanji refers to the water in which rice has been boiled.

    It can be part of a meal, but is most often served as the main dish of the meal (and often, the only dish).

    Congee can be made in a pot or in a rice cooker. Some rice cookers even have a congee setting, for households who want to cook the rice overnight.

    RECIPE: SIMPLE CONGEE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 5-½ cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine or long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into 4 slices
  • 3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken (e.g., from a purchased rotisserie)
  • Optional garnishes: chopped green onions, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, julienne-cut peeled fresh ginger, soy sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the water, broth, rice, salt and ginger in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    2. REDUCE the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 40 minutes longer, until the porridge has a creamy consistency, stirring occasionally.

    3. REMOVE from heat the and keep warm. Discard the ginger pieces. Stir the chicken into the soup. Serve garnished with the green onions, cilantro, julienne-cut ginger and soy sauce, or let people garnish their own.

    You can serve congee family-style, from a casserole-type dish, or bring individual bowls to the table.
     
    CONGEE GARNISHES: CREATE YOUR OWN CONGEE MASTERPIECE

    For a party, offer as many as you like. At home, serve half a dozen options (including the soy sauce); but keep rotating them each time you serve congee, so it’s never the same dish.

    Traditional

  • Black sesame seeds
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Chili oil, sesame oil
  • Dried shrimp, cuttlefish, fish, scallops
  • Fried garlic
  • Julienned or shredded ginger root
  • Preserved eggs, quail eggs
  • Sautéed bok choy or other greens (Chinese broccoli, napa cabbage)
  • Sliced scallions
  • Soy sauce
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Youtiao (Chinese crullers)
  •  
    Non-Traditional Garnishes

  • Asian chilli sauce
  • Bean sprouts or other sprouts
  • Black pepper
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chinese sausage or chicken sausage
  • Chopped prunes or dates
  • Cooked shrimp, cuttlefish/squid, fish, scallops
  • Cracklings
  • Crispy shallots
  • Green peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, edamame
  • Grilled or fried shishito peppers, fresh sliced jalapeño
  • Kimchi, Japanese pickled vegetables, sliced radishes
  • Parsley, shredded basil or shiso
  • Peanuts or cashews, raw or salted
  • Sautéed greens (chard, collards, mustard, spinach)
  • Seasonal: asparagus, corn, fiddlehead ferns, ramps, scapes
  •  

    Simple Congee

    Congee With Pork & Scallions

    Ginger Chicken Congee

    Seafood Congee

    Congee With Boiled Egg

    [1] Simple congee looks just like Cream Of Rice, except it’s served savory, not with milk and sugar! Here’s the recipe from The Spruce. [2] Congee With Pork & Scallions (here’s the recipe from The Woks Of Life. [3] This Ginger Chicken Congee is made with brown rice. Here’s the recipe from Honest Cooking. [4] Seafood Congee. Here’s the recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook. [5] A soft-boiled egg, crispy shallots and cilantro top this congee. Here’s the recipe from Sprinkles And Sprouts.

  • Proteins, diced or shredded: chicken, lamb, ham, pork, pork belly/lardons, rare sliced beef, tofu
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Soft-boiled egg
  •  
    Plus

  • Try it with other grains, such as brown rice, Cream Of Wheat, grits or cracked grains (bulgur, couscous, polenta. Or, do as Emperor Huang Di, and try millet.
  • Be creative and enjoy!
  • ________________

    *Gruel is a cereal—based food—typically made from oats, rice, rye or wheat—boiled in milk or water. It is a thinner version of porridge. Some gruels are so thin that they are drunk rather than eaten. It is a food that is eaten every day, easy to digest, and thus also used during an illness. It is usually the first non-milk food given to infants, a food for the elderly and those with dental or stomach problems, and above all, comfort food. Some people call congee a soup.

      

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