L and I made tacos yesterday for a couple friends. Post forthcoming on our food-centric weekend, including a Sunday afternoon replete with masa and pork butt, but here’s a taste: carnitas on corn tortillas with a trio of salsas, mango, roasted serrano, and tomato. Everything homemade–with TLC, of course. Pickled red onions, cilantro and limes for garnish. A lovely midday repast to cap off a beautiful long weekend that bestowed us with more than our fair share of sunshine and good eats.
Whether it’s a tray of lasagna or a foie gras torchon or the humblest of sandwiches, balanced flavors that are in tune with one another are key to a successful dish. Here, a slice of sharp cheddar lends an unconventional note to the classic salty-sweet combination of roast turkey and cranberry sauce. Iggy’s raisin-pecan bread adds texture (as do the greens), along with a pleasant sourdough twang to the mix. A smear of mayonnaise or a few slices of bacon would elevate this sandwich, but the foundation is undeniably sound and makes for a melodious party in my mouth.
Not much, to be honest. Even though my days at the Press are over, I spend most of my free time in the mornings at the library browsing cookbooks or other food literature, getting some form of exercise, and willing myself to start hammering out the details of my move. And I’m finally about caught up on the sleep I’ve been missing for the past couple months. I continue working at the restaurant, where I invariably learn something new every day, whether it’s a new tuber or cheese on the menu or a new method of cooking the proteins or yet another point about service I had not considered. I’ll wax about that whole experience in a separate post sometime soon.
L and I did head up to Maine for the 4th of July weekend to spend a couple days with my friend C and her fiance (congrats you two!), his family, and a couple of C’s other friends. The fiance’s family has a beach cottage along the coast about 4 hours from Boston. I was very happy for the opportunity to escape the city for the holiday weekend. We splashed around in the ocean, soaked in some of the beautiful views, showed lots of love to the family’s two dogs, and, of course, had us a feast of lobster!
*squeeeeeze* That was me giving my beloved blog a bear hug, as it’s been feeling a bit neglected of late, and not for lack of exciting food-related (and non-food-related) things in my life. For starters, L and I plowed through a stacked line-up of eats during her visit the weekend before last. It included lots of chocolate, lamb, and home-cooked love. Here are some of the highlights:
We took a Boston Chocolate Tour of the Back Bay on Saturday, weathering the cold to sample treats from the neighborhood’s chocolate purveyors. Here, a festively decorated Teuscher Chocolatier, where we tasted their specialty, a Champagne trufffle.
I cooked dinner for my family on Christmas Eve. When I’m home for the holidays, I try to spend as much time in the kitchen as possible. Of course, I have nothing against my apartment’s kitchen in Cambridge, but it’s a luxury for me to cook with sharp knives and enough counter space, so I like to take advantage of it when I can.
Plus, during the holidays we tend to go out for every other meal, to celebrate this or that or gather among the parade of family members that populate the tri-state area. That’s what the holidays are for, at least that’s part of it, but I do often end up craving a home-cooked meal.
For the lamb, I used David Lebovitz’s adaptation of a David Lieberman recipe as my guide, as I happened to have the same amount of meat the recipe calls for, if a different cut. The chops were marinated overnight with salt and pepper, then given a good sear. After deglazing the pan and cooking some garlic and ginger in there, I transferred those bits along with the meat, Chinese rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and stock, into a 325F oven for 3 hours. It was impossible to escape the smell of lamb in the house; I wouldn’t be surprised if our neighbors were subject to it as well. I tossed in carrots along with a couple heaping tablespoons of soybean paste for the final 30 mins. The recipe calls for 1 cup of hoisin sauce, which sounded excessive to me.
As hoped for, flavorful, fork-tender meat appeared after 3.5 hours in the oven. My brother is a picky eater, so I was content to hear him bestow a favorable verdict on the lamb, even if it took the form of: “yo, sis, baller.”
My experience at Oleana last weekend inspired me to prepare a Middle Eastern-themed meal, so I concocted my favorite excuse to cook, inviting some friends over for brunch. I wanted to build the meal around shakshuka, a North African dish I had had bookmarked for awhile. Isn’t that a wicked fun word to say? It’s both exotic and bad-ass, and had I not known what it referred to, I could just as easily be deceived into thinking it was a fun island cocktail or the baseline for a rap beat. Plus, it rhymes with nasty words like hookah and bazooka. Couldn’t you totally see Eminem dropping the above line? I hope he credits me when he does…though ideally not by referring to me as a b*tch or ho.
Even though I have tons of food in my fridge (lots of delicious leftovers from Thanksgiving weekend like ham and my dad’s nuo mai fan), I wanted to cook this weekend and decided to roast my first chicken. I got a nice organic 3.5 lb chicken, shoved some carrots, celery, herbs, and garlic up its arse, rubbed it with canola oil, and seasoned it inside and out. I roasted it in a cast iron skillet as The Amateur Gourmet did recently, along with some fingerling potatoes. In at 475F for 20 minutes, then 425 for another 40 minutes. Rest for 15 mins before digging in.
Out of the oven:
In case the photo doesn’t make clear, I like salt on my potatoes.
Plated with potatoes, ham, and a carrot for nibbling. So little work with such great reward! I’m tempted to do it again, and soon. Maybe after I’ve put a bit of a dent in my leftovers, now that I have even more.
Since my biological clock has not yet shifted over to daylight savings time, I woke up Monday at two minutes to seven. It was damp, dark, and dreary outside, which made me think twice about getting out of bed; but I put the extra hour to good use by making a pumpkin quickbread. Since I have David Lebovitz’s banana cake recipe ingrained in my noggin, I used that as my launching point. I swapped canned pumpkin for the banana puree and made a few other adjustments, simplifying the recipe to include just the ingredients I deemed essential.