I’ve been sitting here all afternoon trying to come up with a story you’d want to read, some literary sustenance about today’s recipe. I’ve been inspired by the recent emotional and personal outpouring of my friends and fellow bloggers White on Rice Couple and Foodwoolf, but the honest truth is this: There is no story; the duck was on sale.
I don’t buy duck often, though not because I don’t like it. I find it challenging to cook, a pile of inedible fat and oily meat if prepared improperly, and too expensive to screw up. So with duck on sale at Whole Foods, and the vision of the Murcott tangerines* from Burkart Farms littering my countertops like freckled orange golf balls, I headed home—a cook on a mission. Continue reading
We all have bad habits. I’m a piler and a procrastinator. I have trouble recognizing when I’m supposed to give the “short” answer to a question. And I tend to buy the ingredients for a recipe without actually reading the directions.
This final habit has caught me more than I’d like to admit staring at a recipe an hour before dinner that tells me I should have started it the night before. Or worse, I’ve gotten half way through preparing something only to discover that I am then supposed to let it sit for three hours to set or that I should refrigerate it overnight. Mishaps like these leave me scrambling and, while they can inspire creative solutions (like packing custards on ice to set them faster), the results are usually less tasty, texturally challenged or complete failures. Those are the nights we eat frozen Trader Joe’s spinach pizza. Continue reading
The basil plant was the first to go, its fragrant leaves curling in, then turning yellow and limp. Next it was the mint. I can’t remember who told me that mint grows like a weed and is impossible to kill, but they were wrong. The only thing weed-like about my spearmint plant is the apocalyptic-looking skeleton it left behind when it died, like it was doused by a gallon of Roundup. Now you can count one dead rosemary bush among my summer’s worth of failed gardening achievements. Loved and, perhaps, a bit over-watered, I thought I’d let it dry out a bit. But then I forgot about it altogether. Now my rosemary looks like a tiny Ponderosa pine sapling struck by lightening. So much for developing a green thumb. Mine is black and blue.
The perfect autumn dish and way to use all the varieties of apples you find at the farmers’ market. I used Newton Pippins for the risotto and a combination of Spitzenberg, Red Stripe and Muutsu for the salsa.
Apple Risotto with Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Apple Salsa
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup coarse kosher salt
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 tbsp peppercorns
5 cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel seed
Combine ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Add whole pork tenderloin and add enough warm water to completely submerge the pork. Shake to dissolve sugar and salt. Refrigerate minimum 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
Heat grill. Brush tenderloin with olive oil and place on grill. Cook about 7 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees for medium rare (the temperature will increase about 10 degrees after you take it off the grill). Let rest 15 minutes before slicing into ¾-inch pieces.
Apple Risotto adapted from Silver Spoon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Newton Pippin apples, diced
4 tbsp butter
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
5 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a sauté pan. Add apples and lemon zest. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until apples are beginning to soften.
Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add rice and stir until coated in oil. Sprinkle with wine and cook until evaporated. Add a ladleful of stock, stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue adding stock a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Add apples to the rice mixture about six minutes into cooking the risotto. When the rice is almost tender, stir in the cheese and remaining butter. Season to taste.
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp chile flakes
3 apples, cored ad chopped
1 tbsp tarragon
Stir sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add a half of the apples and cook until the apples are soft. Remove from heat. Mash the apples with a potato masher or an immersion blender. Stir in tarragon and the other half of the apples. Chill for 1 hour.
Serve the sliced pork over the risotto topped with the apple salsa.
Last Sunday my dear friend Brooke and I sat on the curb underneath an old avocado tree a few blocks from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market and flipped through the Chez Panisse Café cookbook before heading into the dizzying array of farm fresh fruits and vegetables. It seemed apropos, really, looking at recipes from Alice Waters, the woman who inspired a generation to get back to cooking in season, who praised farmers’ efforts by putting their names on her menus more than 30 years ago. Continue reading
Growing up, my mother’s version of junk food was, well, limited. Unlike my friends, we didn’t have a pantry full of Kool-Aid and Marshmallow Fluff. Popsicles were made in Tupperware using real juice and the ice cream was Breyers (read: no preservatives). Fortunately, at least once a year, sometimes twice, my grandmother would bake rugelach. Even after my grandparents moved to Florida, the rugelach would come, packed into shoeboxes between layers of foil and wax paper. Even after my family moved from New York to Southern California, and after I left for college and subsequently moved a dozen or so times, I eagerly checked the mail around my birthday for the box of rugelach. When my grandparents would come out west to visit, my grandma would pack a second suitcase, filled with rugelach and mandel brot, and occasionally (and disastrously) my grandpa would sneak in some golf balls.
Asparagus and Ricotta Ravioli with Favas and Sage Brown Butter
Never mind that the recipe was probably one of the easiest I’ve ever followed. A year ago, if you asked me whether I ever thought about making my own ricotta cheese I would have laughed, crinkling my brow like a concerned mother in a movie, and said plainly: no, never.
As frequent readers of SpicySaltySweet can attest, I do like making dishes from scratch. In fact, I get quite the kick out of deconstructing things I used to take for granted. A few years back I made a soupy mess that was my excuse for Greek yoghurt. I’ve made my own butter. I make fresh pasta almost weekly now. But cheese? Cheese is something spiritual—a vehicle for transcendence that no mere home cook could possibly concoct in her kitchen.
But when I stumbled across Julia Moskin’s article about ricotta in the New York Times two weeks ago, I became convinced that making my own would not require divine intervention.
Last Thursday was the Vernal Equinox, the day in the Northern Hemisphere when the night and day are essentially the same length. It is also the official start of spring and my second favorite time of year after fall. But living in Southern California, it’s easy to get a little detached from the seasons—the daffodils, cherry blossoms and tulips started blossoming at the end of February and I’ve returned to wearing flip flops most days—but I find that cooking always keeps me in time with the earth’s clock. Feeling springy, I decided to host “Easter” dinner for a few friends, a slightly surprising turn of events since I’m Jewish. Yet no sooner was the guest list confirmed than I found out I was supposed to work Sunday brunch at the restaurant I’ve been moonlighting at. Rather than cancel I decided to pick a simple menu, prep Saturday and have Neal do a bunch of the cooking while I was at work.
Egg Papardelle with Bagna Cauda, Wilted Radicchio and an Olive Oil-Fried Egg
I’m a culinary masochist. It’s taken me awhile to come to terms with this, but a few recent cooking endeavors have made the truth difficult to avoid. The facts are, perhaps, best exemplified by my new favorite cookbook: Nancy Silverton’s A Twist of the Wrist. Nancy’s book is designed to help home cooks create gourmet meals using the bevy of high-quality pre-packaged ingredients lining the grocer’s shelves. Sounds great, right? Used correctly, these jars, boxes and tins are timesaving complements to Nancy’s delicious, well-thought-out recipes. But in my DIY-addled brain I see Nancy’s timesaving devices as the opportunity to try making other, more time-consuming components from scratch. At my house, a meal from Nancy’s book that’s supposed to take a half an hour suddenly takes three— Continue reading
Butternut Squash, Asiago & Walnut Ravioli with Brown ButterRavioli Dough:
3 cups semolina flour
½ tsp olive oilMound the flour on a wood cutting board, creating a well in the center for the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the eggs, oil and flour, slowly pulling in more flour as the ingredients are blended. You’ll need to continuously reshape the mound to maintain the integrity of the well shape.
Once about half of the flour is incorporated, you should be able to start kneading the dough by hand. Once it’s all come together remove the dough from the board and scrape up any leftover bits and discard. Reflour the board and knead the dough for about six minutes; it should be elastic and a little sticky. Ball up the dough and wrap it in plastic. Let it rest at room temperature for a half an hour.
Butternut Squash Filling:
1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp hot chile flake
1 ½ tsp honey
¾ tsp coarse sea salt
5 oz fresh grated asiago
Peel and seed squash and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Combine squash, walnuts, olive oil, chile flakes, honey and sea salt in a bowl. Toss ingredients until completely coated with oil. Pour out onto baking sheet and cook in 350-degree oven for a half hour, stirring every 10 minutes.
Turn temperature on oven up to 500 degrees and cook squash mixture for 10 minutes more or until squash are tender. Let cool.
In food processor, combine squash mixture and cheese. Blend until ingredients are almost smooth. Scoop squash mixture into a pastry bag or Ziploc, cutting off one corner to squeeze out filling.
Cut your dough in half, forming each segment into a ball with your hands. Wrap one in plastic and set aside. On a large, lightly floured surface, roll out your pasta dough into a rectangle until it is about ¼-inch thick. Fold in half and roll out again. Repeat this four more times, rolling dough out thinner each time. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. Pipe filling out onto dough strip at 1-inch intervals, about ½-inch in from the edge. Fold the ½-inch of dough over and press to seal edges and individual filling pockets. Cut ravioli with a dough scraper–you may want to trim the edges with a kitchen scissor–crimping the edges closed with a fork. If you have a pastry roller, you can separate the ravioli using that, too. Put finished ravioli on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal until ready to use. You can also freeze them.
To serve: Bring a large pot of seasoned water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook for about five minutes or until ravioli are floating at the top. Drain.
In a sauté, melt ¼ cup of butter, allowing it to foam. As the bubbles dissipate the butter will brown, remove from heat.
Ladle six ravioli into a dish. Top with 2 tablespoons brown butter and finish with fresh-grated asiago and a drizzle of walnut oil.