Will someone please tell me why it is 60F and drizzly, at the end of May, here in Sacramento? For my Memorial Day BBQ, we huddled around the fireplace, while the brave ones (or those more appropriately dressed for the weather) manned the grill. I don't want to complain too loudly though, lest some of you enduring the heat wave that's sitting on much of the country send those searing temps back towards us. We'll get our share later, I can assure you. For those of you who do find yourself in stifling heat, and are looking for something cooling, I can recommend this cucumber salad, recipe courtesy of a certain tall, dark, and handsome Frenchman. (Thank you Guy!) It's actually good any time of the year; we like it for a light late night snack while watching Poirot or the Pink Panther.
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From the recipe archive, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Originally posted 2007. See our archives for more grilling recipes! ~Elise
Tri-tip roasts are popular here in California; it's a flavorful cut, perfect for barbecuing and grilling. Triangular in shape, it is also called sirloin tip, culotte steak, triangle steak, and Santa Maria-style. The tri-tip cut is rather lean and can get tough if over-cooked. So, don't trim the fat before cooking (it will be needed to keep the steak tender), and use a meat thermometer and stop the cooking at 130F. This cut can be hard to find outside of California, though I understand that both Costco and Sam's Club carry it. You can also use this recipe with a flank steak.
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Fennel lovers, onion lovers, unite! And then take a shower in grated Parmesan, lemon zest, and chopped parsley. I'd like to say this is quick and easy, but it's not quick. It's long and easy, the sort of thing you can just put on the stove and give a stir every once in a while, as you cook the rest of the meal. The onions and fennel are only lightly caramelized. You could cook them longer if you wanted, or sprinkle some sugar on them to bring out more of the caramelization. But just cooking them down and lightly browning them, and then tossing them with everything else, works for me. Wonderful flavors. Would be terrific alongside grilled fish or chicken.
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Have you ever wondered how we humans managed to survive before boxed breakfast cereal or skinless, boneless chicken breasts neatly packed in styrofoam and plastic wrap? Or have you ever taken a walk in the woods, or along a stream and questioned what around you might be edible?
If so, you should get to know Hank Shaw. Or pick up a copy of his new book Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. More than a cookbook, though there are plenty of recipes, and more than a memoir, though the book is filled with personal stories, Hunt, Gather, Cook is an introduction to a different way of "doing" food. Hank Shaw grows, forages, hunts, or fishes almost all of his food. Remember that old Grape Nuts commercial with Euell Gibbons? ("Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.") Fast forward 40 years and you have Hank, stalking the wild world around him, foraging for wild greens, hunting rabbits, and digging for clams. Oh yes, and like Euell, eating parts of pine trees (pine nuts)!
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It all started with a book. A whimsically illustrated French children's book about cooking, called La cuisine est un jeu d'enfants, or "Cooking is Child's Play". First published in French in 1963, a version that included both the original French and the English translation was published by Random House in 1965. I first stumbled upon this book a few years ago and have been buying up used copies wherever I can find them, as gifts for my young friends who like to cook.
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I swear to you I tried to not make these. The last thing I wanted to make with my young friends (Reilly, Alden, and Piper) was something loaded with chocolate chips and caramel. But try as I might, when we got together to cook the other day, I got not a glimmer of interest for a potential kale recipe ("But girls, it tastes like bacon!) and it turns out that Reilly (13) had been hoping to make this recipe for the site for months. She had researched it, tasted versions made by her friends, and made sure we had all of the ingredients. She even suggested adding shredded coconut to the batter to make the carmelita bars less dry and more chewy. The girls also vetoed the nuts, being of the age (I'm keeping fingers crossed that they will grow out of this) that they will meticulously pick out anything that resembles a nut from a baked good.
The verdict? Wow.
I swear to you I tried not to eat these.
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"What? You've never eaten an apple peanut butter sandwich?!" declared my young friend Aldie (11) upon hearing that no, I had not, and indeed somehow that rite of childhood had passed me by. "They're so easy! And good. And good for you," she added. You know what? She's right. PB&J, move over. It's time for PB&A.
For those of us who might have any lingering doubts as to how truly easy this sandwich is to make, Alden has prepared a short video on exactly how to make one. (Food Network, watch out!)
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Another Italian classic from Hank Shaw. Enjoy! ~Elise
This is a classic dish from Venice, and it has many variations. Risi e bisi simply means rice and peas, and the dish is traditionally made with the fresh new peas of spring. If fresh peas are not available, you can easily make it with frozen peas (avoid canned). Diced prosciutto is important to this dish, although not vital; I?ve seen vegetarian versions of risi e bisi. How much to add? You could go as high as a half pound in this recipe, making the dish more of a main course. But 1/4 pound is a better proportion for a side dish. And it must be diced: Slices will not do. Can?t find prosciutto? Use any ham. Virginia ham is an excellent substitute. Remember dry cured hams are salty, so the more you add, the saltier the dish will become.
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Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted 2006.
We love lamb around here, every which way?braised, roasted, grilled, and even made into meatballs. Here is a spicy lamb stew, that is almost beefy in taste. Think of it as a spicy lamb pot roast. The recipe is adapted from The Niman Ranch Cookbook, where it is billed as a tagine, a savory Moroccan stew. Lamb shoulder pieces are browned, and then slow cooked in stock and spices such as cumin, paprika, and cardamom. Slow cooking, at a low, even temperature is important for the lamb shoulder to become tender. We cooked this stew on the stove-top, but you could easily make it in a slow-cooker or even a traditional Moroccan tagine.
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Yes, we are evil.
These tacos are evil. And the fact that we are telling you about them, and that you might get the crazy idea to make them too, means that we are definitely up to no good. Except that these tacos, made with crispy fried chicken skin as the star ingredient, are really really good. And if they weren't, we certainly wouldn't risk ridicule and disdain by sharing them. But they are worth it, my friends. Truly they are. We even made them twice. First with leftover chicken skins from a recipe, then again with chicken we bought just for the skins because not surprisingly our grocer doesn't sell straight chicken skins.
Continue reading "Crispy Chicken Skin Tacos with Habanero Salsa"
Dear chicken Florentine. I like you. I like your spinach and your cream sauce. But honestly? I don't love you. You're missing a little pizzaz. So, I would like to introduce you to my friend pesto pasta. You kinda need that punch from the pesto's garlic, basil, and Parm. Now we have the makings of love. Go forth and multiply.
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From the recipe archive, just in time for Mother's Day! First posted June, 2006. ~Elise
Several weeks ago, strawberries and rhubarb both began to show up in quantity at the store. Strawberry rhubarb pie is one of my favorite desserts on the planet. But it's a pie. And being a pie, it takes some work (if you use a homemade crust). So I set my sights on a cobbler, which is much easier to make than a pie. My father and I have now gone through three iterations of versions of strawberry rhubarb cobbler in as many weeks. The first one was too sweet and mushy (the crust based on this approach), though mom loved it. The second one's crust was dry and tasteless. This version, however, was just perfect. It's pretty tart; if you prefer a sweeter cobbler you may want to take up the sugar a notch, perhaps another 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
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Although for the most part we can get asparagus all year long, I usually only get them in the spring, when they are in season. How can you resist, when you see hundreds of them in the produce section, saluting you like bundled, upright green soldiers? "Hello m'am. Please cook me." So, we buy asparagus, and more asparagus. Here is a recipe for what to do with our long green friends, when you're tired of everything else. (Thank you Whole Foods deli section for the idea.) Grill them or roast them (grilling will taste better if you can do it), and toss them in a simple salad with marinated artichoke hearts, shallots, and grape tomatoes. Carry on...
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Mmm. Asparagus. You can steam them, boil them, roast them, but I don't think anything beats the flavor of asparagus that are simply grilled. The smoky flavor, the char marks. Tender, but still with a little crunch. Seriously good. I could (and have) eat them like French fries. Yum.
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Ah, egg salad. Is there anything easier or more unpretentious? Chop up some hard boiled eggs, add a little mayo and voil! Instant sandwich filling. Or salad fixings. Add some chopped celery for crunch, and maybe some chopped chives or green onions for, hmm, for something green! One of the easiest things to do with egg salad is to add some curry powder. Hard boiled eggs and curry? They were made for each other. Now if you really want to take the salad up a notch further, try this trick. Add some mango chutney. The sweet and sour from the chutney along with the spiciness from the curry, and our little egg salad is ready for a Bollywood premier. (Well, maybe a Bollywood premier that's really really Americanized.) Looking for an easy and interesting tea sandwich or appetizer for brunch? Spread a little of this curried egg salad onto bread or toast rounds.
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