Pork chops are dry brined to keep them juicy and tender, then pan seared with rosemary. They’re topped with peaches and frisée quickly cooked in the same pan. Recipe below.
Forensic anthropologists would have a field day with my right hip pocket. It’s home to an ever shifting collection of folded scraps of paper, most covered with scribbled food notes. Some are shopping lists, folded and refolded to accommodate new lists. Looking at old lists, I can often reconstruct the meals I cooked based on the ingredients acquired.
Others are terse, cryptic notes to myself—reminders of food ideas to spark a recipe. Like this one written on a Saveur magazine subscription card: “wilted frisée.” Those two words had been inspired by three words I’d just seen, probably in an article in the Saveur from which the card had come: “charred bitter greens.” I don’t even remember the article or the context now, but I do remember making the immediate leap from those three words to the idea of pork chops pan seared with rosemary and topped with peaches and frisée quickly cooked in the still hot pan. And I could immediately taste it. The salt, rosemary and juicy, fatty meat of the chops mingling with the mildly bitter greens and sweet peach bites. [click to continue…]
Adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook, this red eye gravy gets its umami-rich, sausage-like flavor and texture from mushrooms, herbs and spices. Paired with easy-to-make drop biscuits, it creates an iconic Southern breakfast. Recipes below.
At dinner with friends the other night, one of the diners at our table exclaimed over a vegetarian entrée on the menu. I realized at that moment that I will never willingly become a vegetarian. If there are meat or seafood options on a menu, I can’t get excited about vegetarian choices. Or as I put it to our companions, “It would take a death threat from my doctor to make me turn vegetarian.”
That said, we are trying to eat less meat these days. So when I was offered a review copy of The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table, I said yes, please. Traditional Southern cuisine relies heavily on meat—bacon, ham hocks, ribs… Even pie crusts are made better and flakier with lard. I was curious to see how classic recipes would work without meat. Based on this one, the answer is deliciously. [click to continue…]
Things are a little too interesting right now at Blue Kitchen—in a good way. So rather than cook something this week, I’m taking a look at what’s cooking on some of my favorite food blogs.
1. Balsamic Roasted Cherry, Dark Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich
A common thread these days is working with bountiful fresh fruit. I don’t think anyone does it more decadently than Kevin at Closet Cooking does with this sandwich. A grilled cheese sandwich. Made with brie. And dark chocolate. And cherries roasted in balsamic vinegar. Or brandy. Or port. If you’re already salivating like I am, you’ll find the recipe here. [click to continue…]
A basting sauce of Sriracha, apricot preserves, hot chili sauce, rice vinegar and fish sauce gives grilled chicken a tangy, slightly spicy kick. Recipe below.
Looking over my four most recent posts, I realized I’d done two vegetarian dishes, a peach-centric roundup of mostly vegetarian and/or fruititarian dishes and last week’s boozitarian cocktail. It was time to get meaty again.
Flipping through Bon Appétit magazine’s July grilling issue, I came across some spicy chicken skewers basted with an interesting mix of flavors. I played with those flavors considerably, keeping the Sriracha, hot chili paste, rice vinegar and fish sauce of the original, but tweaking amounts and using apricot preserves instead of brown sugar for the sweetness and adding chopped chives for a wild green note. [click to continue…]
Gin and tonic, a quintessential summer cocktail, gets refreshed with basil, lemon juice and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Recipe below.
The artisan cocktail movement has turned happy hour into an adventure—part grownup playdate, part science fair. Bartenders are now alchemists, creating inventive, flavorful drinks from small-batch craft spirits, housemade bitters and all manner of herbs, fruits, vegetables and more. We embrace this trend. These days, we’re as likely to ask for a cocktail menu as we are a wine list, in a bar or even out for dinner. An imaginative, well-mixed cocktail just seems to amp up the fun and the elegance.
At home, this cocktail renaissance has us taking a fresh look at our classic go-to drinks. What is more summery than a gin and tonic? The original, made with gin, tonic water, lime and ice, is bracing and fresh, driven by gin’s signature juniper berry taste. But on a recent evening when I thought of gin and tonics, another archetypal taste of summer popped into my head. Basil. [click to continue…]
A fresh, flavorful take on the ubiquitous summer salad. Shaved Brussels sprouts are dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, then tossed with pistachios, thyme and blue cheese. Recipe below.
Leave it to us to find vegetarian inspiration in a hot dog joint. Not that Chicago-based Franks ‘n’ Dawgs is your typical joint. Their housemade artisan sausages (lamb, spicy beef, jerk goat, turkey & date, bay scallop…) are topped with everything from pickled green papaya to duck confit, giardiniera, Mako shark bacon and kimchi.
Besides delicious, inventive dogs, they serve up sublime sides. Lyonnaise fries (with braised pig cheek and poached egg). Truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. Creole red beans with blackened shrimp and jalapeño cornbread. And the subtle, citrusy Brussels sprouts salad that inspired this one. [click to continue…]
Kale, lemon juice and zest, pistachios, garlic and Parmesan cheese make a quick, no-cook vegetarian pasta sauce—or spread for crostini. Recipe below.
I rarely find myself ahead of the curve on trends, but we cooked with kale when it was just good for you. In fact, it first appeared in a recipe here about five and a half years ago. Kale’s coolness factor has soared in the last few years, with it showing up on upscale restaurant menus everywhere. Its mere appearance there bestows instant hipness. In May, kale salads received breathless praise in the New York Times, not in the Dining section, but in Fashion & Style. And Zazzle.com even sells a t-shirt proclaiming “Kale is the new black.”
Of course, part of fashion is being attuned to the season. And what could be more summery than pesto? Usually made with basil, this no-cook sauce is a staple of Italian summers. It can be tossed with pasta for a meal (our favorite use) or slathered on crostini for an appetizer. Here, kale sheds its winter greens identity and shows basil a thing or two. [click to continue…]
Peaches and apricots each play parts in six breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that run from sweet to savory and first course through dessert. Recipes below.
Summer is under way, and stone fruits are filling produce shelves. Peaches, apricots and numerous varieties of plums beckon with their rich colors and heady aromas. Sure, they’re delicious to eat out of hand, their juices running down your chin. But they’re also great to cook with. Here are a half dozen recipes from the Blue Kitchen archives that do just that. [click to continue…]
Mushrooms marinated in soy sauce, brandy, garlic and Chinese five-spice powder replace half the lamb in these burgers, for a healthier, umami-rich and satisfyingly meaty meal (and yes, you can substitute ground beef for lamb). Recipe below.
Tom Robbins advises us to “Breathe properly. Stay curious. And eat your beets.” I’m not sure if I do the first and I’ve only in the last few years started doing the last, but I nail the one in the middle. Sports and actuarial tables aside, pretty much everything interests me, and I want to know more. I have what I call a magpie eye, always ready to latch on to some shiny new thing.
Which leads me to another quote—one of my favorites—by one of my favorite photographers, Walker Evans: “Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” I’ve said here before that I’m not a great cook. But curiosity makes my good cooking better than it might otherwise be. [click to continue…]
Sautéing radicchio tames its bitter bite in this Venetian pasta dish. Shrimp, garlic, saffron and wine all add their flavor notes. Recipe below.
It’s another bookish week here at Blue Kitchen. This time, we’re looking at a pair of books on regional Italian cuisines, one covering Venice, the other Sicily. Most books on national, regional or ethnic cuisines aim for authenticity. These books immediately up the ante—they’re published in Italian with English translations.
The books in question are review copies we received of Venezia in cucina/The flavours of Venice and Sicilia in cucina/The flavours of Sicily, published by Sime Books. The Venice book is edited by Cinzia Armanini and Alberta Magris and filled with sumptuous, atmospheric photographs by Laurent Grandadam. William Dello Russo is the editor of the Sicilian book; Nino Bartuccio and Alessandro Saffo supply the gorgeous images. [click to continue…]