Monday, May 31, 2010

Mediterranean Potato Salad

Delicious, different, and definitely more adult than its mayonnaise-based cousin: Mediterranean Potato Salad.

2 pounds new potatoes
1/2 cup reserved cooking water from the potatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 ounce salt-packed capers, rinsed
4 ounces pitted kalamata olives, chopped
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
salt and pepper

The recipe requires a warm dish to hold the potatoes in prior to serving. Accordingly, preheat the oven to 350. Place a casserole dish with a cover inside the oven. Let the dish get hot.

Next, clean the potatoes, but do not peel. Boil the potatoes in water until done.

When the potatoes are done, take the casserole dish out of the oven and place it on a trivet. Turn the oven off as it is not needed any further for this recipe. Place the cooked potatoes in the warm casserole dish and add the reserved cooking water. Quickly add the remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. Cover the dish and allow the flavors to mingle for approximately 30 minutes. Serve.

This is good; enjoy!

Adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eating Seasonally: Rhubarb Crisp a la Mark Bittman.

Rhubarb is not an ingredient that I've used much in cooking. However, when I last visited my mother she served rhubarb pie with a meringue topping. Thinking it was lemon meringue, I ate it. Not lemon, but good. Darn good.

Inspired, I purchased rhubarb at the Farmers' Market and, as fate would have it, Mark Bittman published a recipe for rhubarb crisp in his New York Times column. I served it tonight for dessert. Fantastic!

I made two addition of ginger to Mr. Bittman's recipe. First, to the mixture of rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice I added two tablespoons of finely diced crystalline ginger. Second, to the crisp topping I added one teaspoon ground ginger. Finally, I kicked-up the amount of lemon zest in the crisp. Bittman's recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of zest. I added a tablespoon.

A crisp for dessert is easy, comforting and delicious. It is a perfect Sunday night treat.

Rhubarb Ginger Crisp.
Adapted from The Minimalist by Mark Bittman.

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pan
2 1/2 to 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, tough strings removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 to 6 cups)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons crystalline ginger, finely chopped.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9- inch square baking pan. Combine rhubarb with white sugar, crystalline ginger, lemon juice and zest, and spread into the buttered baking pan.

2. In the work bowl of a food processor, place the 6 tablespoons butter, the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt. Pulse until it looks like small peas and begins to clump. Add oats and pecans and pulse to lightly combine.

3. Crumble the topping over rhubarb. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until golden and beginning to brown.


Saturday, May 15, 2010


I'm baking a lazy pizza tonight: All of the ingredients, including the crust, come from our local Italian food store, Fraboni's . The crust started as a frozen ball of dough made at a neighborhood Italian restaurant and for sale at Fraboni's. I've defrosted it and will stretch it into a 12-inch pie. The remaining ingredients - meat, cheese, olives, sauce - all come from Fraboni's fabulous deli.

With great ingredients, I need good tools and technique. Two essential tools: 1) A pizza stone. Ya gotta have one! 2) A pizza peel. We make pizza frequently and the process is easier (and safer) with a peel.

The key technique for pizza is a hot, hot oven. I figured this out after trying a pizza recipe that appeared in the NYT. The oven, with the pizza stone on the rack, is preheated an hour before baking to 550 degrees. Yes, that's right: 550 degrees. The pie bakes for about 10 minutes; I start checking it after seven minutes have passed.

Think about how many times you've had pizza delivered and found it overpriced and not very tasty. With some simple ingredients and a few tools, you can easily make fabulous pizza at home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Via Serious Eats: Mario Batali's Garlic Soup.

It was a cold, dark, rainy spring day today; perfect weather for soup. And what a perfect soup we had: Mario Batali's Garlic Soup. This soup is easy, delicious, and fun to make and eat. The fun comes from adding a perfectly poached egg to the hot soup after it is poured into individual bowls. Poached egg on garlic soup? Wonderful!

Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 pound stale bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
4 cups chicken stock
3 poached eggs (I follow the Betty Crocker method. See below).

Over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in a sauce pan large enough to hold all of the remaining ingredients. Add the bread and cook for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Cook until the bread is lightly browned. Add garlic, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not burn the garlic.

Add the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.

Poach the eggs.

Ladle some soup into a bowl and top with a poached egg.

I served this meal with a side of olive bread and a glass of white wine. Yum!

Poached Eggs as Betty Taught Us to Do.

Fill a sauce pan with 2 - 4 inches of water.
Bring water to a rolling boil
Reduce water to simmer
Crack an egg into a small bowl or coffee cup. Slide the egg into the simmering water. Repeat.
Cook for 4 minutes (Four minutes because this egg is being added to soup; I might cook these eggs for slightly less time if this was an egg-on-toast recipe).
Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel.
Add egg to soup bowl at the appropriate moment.

Serious Eats

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When Should You Buy Organic Fruits and Veg?

Check out this useful, and cute, chart listing the dozen types of produce that should be bought organic because they are most prone to pesticide residue. At the same time, check out this story from the New York Times on the the five best foods to buy organic.

No time to read the links? Remember this: Buy organic apples.