Politics of the Plate

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By Barry Estabrook 

Lubricated Crab Larvae

It had to happen sooner or later. Oil has officially contaminated the Gulf of Mexico’s seafood chain.

Last week Geoff Pender of the Sun Herald, a newspaper serving the Mississippi coast, reported that scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane University had found droplets of oil in the larvae of blue crabs. While the oil’s presence is no immediate cause of concern for those craving a summer evening Cajun crab boil ,it is a harbinger of bad news. Small fish such as menhaden feed on crab larvae, and as they say, big fish eat little fish. “I think we’ll see this enter the food chain in a lot of ways,” Harriet Perry, director of the Center for Fisheries Research and Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, told Pender. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics, Seafood

Bocadillos [Help Please]

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These, according to the sign in the bake shop in Buenos Aires, are bocadillos. Vegetable-egg-rice-cheese-potato fritters, or rounded pancakes, made in many different ways, as you can see. And quite good.  

Now before you tell me that they’re not, that bocadillos are sandwiches, I know. I’m just reporting: This is what the sign said. And if I’d known that identifying them would be such a challenge I would have a) paid more attention and b) grilled the saleswoman about the weird name.  

But as I’m not going back to BsAs (as they say) any time soon, and as I’d like to make these, I’m wondering if any of you know what they are, exactly?

Posted in Mexican

From Inventory to Dinner II: Scallops, Peas, Beans and Pasta

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By Edward Schneider 

As I said the other day when a menu board outside a raucous saloon provided the magic word (“chowder”) that defined that evening’s dinner, we turned out to have bought more than one meal’s worth of scallops. There were also plenty more peas and herbs, and we didn’t use the fava beans at all. 

So we needed a dish that was the same but different: some of the same core ingredients, but new flavors and textures, and a new staple to replace the potatoes. The same options as the day before remained open: risotto or other rice variations, for instance. But on my contemplative walk home I remembered that in the freezer was a pint container of egg-pasta disks: a while before, we’d made some kind of ravioli/tortelli/dumplings, and the filling had run out before the pasta, so we’d laid the extra disks out on a paper-lined tray, froze them and stored them in the container. Never again would they work for ravioli (once defrosted they would probably get gummy), but thrown, frozen, into boiling water they’d be kind of like Ligurian corzetti, except eggier than most and without the stamped decoration. Continue reading

Posted in Produce, Seafood

Decent Food at 30,000 Feet, Seriously

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By Andrea Nguyen

[Andrea discovers decent airplane food, and converts it to an appealing recipe. – mb)

Airline food is rarely something that you want to replicate at home. On a recent press trip to Asia, though I was treated to business class flights. We kicked off our long-haul back to the States with a 2-hour leg from Hanoi to Hong Kong; it was late morning and I’d breakfasted on pho noodle soup and croissant, thinking that I wouldn’t eat until the afternoon when we reached Hong Kong.

But we were served a full lunch, and I suddenly felt hungry when I got a whiff of the meal that the flight staff was reheating. It smelled comforting — garlic, soy sauce, maybe fish sauce too. Continue reading

Posted in Chinese, Travel

Sunday Supper: 4th of July Menu

In honor of the long holiday weekend it seems only appropriate to offer up more than the usual Sunday dish–so here you go: a few ideas for a classic 4th of July celebration. All adapted from How to Cook Everything.

No-Work Smoked Pork Shoulder or Spareribs

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: About 4 hours, largely unattended

A gas grill works best here (though an oven will do for the first variation). You’ll be amazed by the ease of this low-and-slow technique and downright shocked at the result: The meat can be served straight off the grill, with no more than a squeeze of lime and a few drops of Tabasco, or with any salsa or chutney. Or your can refrigerate the whole thing, slice the shoulder or cut between the ribs, and put it back on the grill—this time over direct heat—to add a crisp steaklike char over the super-tender insides. Continue reading

Posted in American, Recipes

A Cheeseburger in a Nearly Cheese-Free Environment

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By Edward Schneider

I just had a hamburger, and I like sautéed onions and cheese on mine. Sometimes bacon too, and tomato. And ketchup. So, hamburger purists, sue me.  

There wasn’t any cheeseburger cheese, i.e., something other than grating cheeses, something like gruyère or cheddar. So when I’d cooked my sliced onion in butter, until tender and blond, I added some grated parmesan, which, bingo, made a cheese/onion sauce. It tasted good on or off the hamburger, and it could be the basis for something more elaborate now that I know it works.

Posted in American

Buttered Peas on Toast

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by John Thorne 

When I first read about this dish in Nigel Slater’s rather hypnotic Kitchen Diaries, I thought, “Where have you been all my life?” I love fresh peas as fresh from the garden as I can get them and often eat a whole bowlful at night just before going to bed. Who thought I could have them for breakfast, too? You might point out that Nigel hadn’t meant this as a breakfast dish, which is true but irrelevant. I love fresh asparagus on toast for breakfast — heat minced garlic in butter in a small skillet until softened, add half a cup of water and bring it to a boil, put in asparagus cut into short lengths, cover, and cook for 7 or 8 minutes. Make toast, butter it if you’re in a luxuriant mood, and pour over the contents of the skillet. What are you waiting for? Eat. Continue reading

Posted in Recipes

An Appreciation of Washoku

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There is a tradition of English-speaking writers effectively translating the cuisines of other countries for us, and it’s a worthy one. Those authors may be native to the country of their subject: Marcella Hazan, for example, or Julie Sahni. Or they may have been foreigners, like Richard Olney, Elizabeth David, or Julia Child. To some extent, they offered us the food of other countries in a way we could only otherwise experience by going there, because for the most part the restaurants representing those cuisines were not yet offering us the real deal.  

This is the position Elizabeth Andoh is in, and her job is as challenging as any. Ms. Andoh, an American who moved to Japan more than 40 years ago and has spent that time learning Japanese cooking (and culture, and the language, and more) and refining it for English-speaking audiences. One might argue that Ms. Andoh has written the same book several times, a book that says, in essence, “Please. It’s not as hard as you think. Let me explain it to you so you can give it a shot.” Her most recent effort, Washoku, is now nearly five years old and, I think, is underappreciated despite an IACP award.   Continue reading

Posted in Japanese

Ducking Around with Carnitas

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By Daniel Meyer 

Carnitas is (are?) one of my all-time favorite foods. Pork shoulder braised, pulled, and crisped in its own fat; a pile of tortillas, a higher pile of beers. It doesn’t get much better than that.  

Last week it almost did. I used duck instead of pork; it stood to reason in my head that braising and frying a duck couldn’t possibly be a bad idea. It wasn’t.  Continue reading

Posted in Mexican