Spring’s Opening Act

Grilled Lettuce and Peas

Back in the ’80s, I resented the existence of Meyer lemons and anyone who championed them. Those groovy Bay Area people would write recipes calling for Meyer lemons, as if anyone could find them, and insist that a regular lemon just wouldn’t do.

Now I have a Meyer lemon tree growing outside my kitchen door. My friends come and take 10 at a time, and there are still 100 lemons left.

And actually, they are amazing, with an oily orange fragrance. But this isn’t a story about lemons. Rather, it’s about me, and Berkeley, where people leave boxes of Meyer lemons on the sidewalk because they have too many.

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Melina Hammer.

Posted in American, Recipes

HTCE Fast: Bone-In Chicken Noodle Soup

IMG_2291

Every other Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

It doesn’t take long for bone-in chicken to turn water into a flavorful broth. Start with whole pieces, don’t overcook the meat or fuss with the bones, and you’ll have real chicken noodle soup on the table in 30 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
4 chicken drumsticks
Salt
1 large onion
2 large carrots
3 celery stalks, plus any leaves
4 garlic cloves
5 bay leaves
Pepper
8 ounces egg noodles or any cut pasta

Continue reading

Posted in American, Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

The Key to a Truly Great Chicken Wing

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 11.21.45 AMAmericans are a wing-loving people. The Buffalo variety, by most accounts “invented” at the Anchor Bar in, yes, Buffalo, is the official food of our most sacred event of the year: the Super Bowl.

And though we are also a grilling people, wings seldom make the cut for some reason, being passed over for burgers, dogs, steaks, fish and meatier cuts of chicken, even boneless chicken breasts (which make almost no sense to grill, where they routinely dry out). Perhaps we associate wings with frying, or they seem like too much work for the amount of meat that they yield. This is a mistake; the grill is the perfect place for the wing.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in American

Operation: Mother’s Day

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 10.11.17 AMAttention, significant others of mothers: Breakfast in bed is a thoughtful, time-honored gesture for Mother’s Day. There is, however, an alternative to a precariously balanced tray of eggs, orange juice and coffee, all of which she eats by herself while the kids hang around watching. That alternative is a simple but wonderful dinner, cooked by you and those same adorable children, eaten together at an actual table.

Here’s a three-course meal, easy enough for novice cooks to pull off and impressive enough so that those who know how to cook will be pleased. It features a chicken dish that may become a lifelong standard and a can’t-fail version of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s warm, soft chocolate cake.

I’ve also included a comprehensive battle plan — a timeline for everything you’ll need to do in the kitchen with suggestions for the tasks to delegate to your kids. (If they’re the better cooks, they can delegate to you.) Just remember: Even though you cooked, you still have to do the dishes.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in American, Recipes, Uncategorized

Every ‘Which Way

Screen_shot_2013-01-14_at_7

For something that has almost unlimited potential, the sandwich has become staid and unimaginative. In part this is because we don’t have as many leftovers as we once did (we don’t cook as much), so a meatloaf sandwich is nowhere near as common as it once was. But it’s mostly because we’ve allowed sandwich-making to become something that is either done by someone else or a task to be squeezed in between breakfast and taking the kids to the bus.

But now and then, for a brunch or a party or a laugh, it’s worth showcasing a variety of unusual ingredients and allowing individuals to throw them together, producing post-Dagwood creations that are beyond the ability of others to imagine. Given the same array of options, you and I would surely come up with radically different creations.

It all starts with good bread, a commodity that’s easy enough to find. It continues with spreads, which need not be that out of the ordinary but should be seasoned assertively enough to not disappear. The “body” of the sandwich — which may be open-faced or not — is the key, of course, and it’s here that it pays to open the vault: not just tuna but anchovies, not just ham but prosciutto, not hamburger but beef tartar and so on.

Toppings can make a huge difference, and if you don’t have time to crisp-fry some onions or mushrooms, you can grate some radish or chop some chives or even some olives. Making sandwiches, after all, isn’t so much about cooking as assembling.

Read the rest of this article here.

Posted in American

All Hail the Sweet Potato

For more than 30 consecutive Thanksgivings — including this one — I’ve written about turkey in all of its guises. Occasionally I’ve protested, pleading with editors that although the bird in its wild form may be traditional and is indisputably indigenous, whether the one you buy is free-range, wild, natural, organic, pumped up with antibiotics or even injected with “butter,” it’s just about the worst piece of meat you can roast.

 At the hands of all but the most experienced, careful or lucky cooks, the more than 700 million pounds of turkey we’ll buy this week will wind up with breast meat that’s cottony-dry and leg meat that is underdone, tough, stringy or all three. And although a friend of mine claims that this is how people like it — “it’s exactly how our grandmothers did it, and it’s what we grew up with,” he says — I believe this explains why we waste an estimated $282 million worth of turkey each year, enough to feed each food-insecure American with 11 servings.

Read the rest of this column here.
Posted in American, Produce

The 2-D Thanksgiving

Screen_shot_2012-11-20_at_9

Believe it or not, there is more than one way to roast a turkey. First, you must ask yourself what you really want. I’ll offer you three options: A fast, crisp-skinned bird, moist and not overcooked, served with roasted vegetables; a leisurely braised bird, also with veggies; or the classic stand-up roast, presented beautifully in all its glory, prepared in a straightforward manner.

If you want speed and don’t mind a novel look, choose the flattened bird, which employs a method that goes by the quaint name of spatchcocking. It takes a little work at first, because it’s a little more physical than other techniques: you have to remove the backbone, flatten the breast and dislocate the thigh joints from their sockets. None of this is difficult, but it may be a bit much for some. The reward is a lovely roasted bird with a not-overcooked breast and perfectly done legs; it also cooks in about an hour — yes, you read that right: an hour. The downside, apart from the butchering, is that some might consider it weird-looking.

Read the rest of this article here, and get the recipes here (braised), here (split-roasted) and here (classic).

Posted in American, Recipes

Roasted, Smashed, Dolloped, Devoured

Screen_shot_2012-11-14_at_7

There is nothing new or unusual about mashed squash or about mashed vegetables on toast. (What’s new is that the toast is now frequently called crostini, but that’s not exactly revolutionary.) Still, there is such a broad range of foods that can be served on toasted bread that it’s not surprising some of these will come as revelations.

 

This squash-and-toast combination is served by Dan Kluger, the executive chef at ABC Kitchen. Something about it drives me wild: the squash is creamy but chunky, rather than puréed. There is a lot of complex sweetness, but acidity as well, and it’s lean as well as fatty. (It doesn’t take a detective to see the layer of ricotta underneath the squash.)

Put it on a nicely toasted piece of bread and you have a real winner. But it also occurred to me that the mashed squash alone would make a terrific Thanksgiving side dish.

So I asked Dan’s boss, my friend Jean-Georges Vongerichten, to show me how to put it together.

I would not have figured the dish out myself, which made this a rewarding experience. Jean-Georges peeled the squash: almost any winter squash will yield to a sharp knife and some patience, though as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, thin-skinned varieties like delicata are easier to peel or can be left unpeeled entirely. He cut the squash in half, took out the seeds and sliced it into not-quite-random pieces, mostly about 1/4-inch thick. These he roasted with oil until they were tender enough to mash; by that time, a few had blackish, caramelized ends.

To cut to the chase: next, he confited onion slices with both maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Veteran cooks will immediately get the idea: Cook the onions awhile, until they’re dark and soft, then add the two liquids and continue to cook until they’re jammy. The process could take as long as an hour, depending on the heat, your attentiveness and the water content of the onions. But it isn’t difficult.

At that point, the two preparations are simply mashed together. If you serve them in a bowl at Thanksgiving, you will be serving something on a, er, higher level than mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Otherwise, lightly toast some good bread in olive oil, spread it with a light, fresh cheese and top with the squash. Do not forget the mint; it’s not the same without it.

Watch the video here, and get the recipe here.

Posted in American, Recipes