Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ tag
It’s summertime, so grilling season is upon us. This recipe harkens back to my days as my fraternity’s “Grillmeister”. It was handed down to me by the presiding Grillmeister, a Southern gentleman named Ben Patch. Ben taught me many things, including how to make my own barbecue sauce from scratch. Being appointed as Grillmeister gave me the perfect opportunity to elevate the fraternity barbecue from burgers and dogs to something more interesting. During the two years of my tenure, I cooked whole sides of marinated swordfish, grilled New Zealand mussels, smoked pork shoulders cooked in pits dug in the front yard (with considerable help and inspiration provided by Mr. David Weiss, who is a frequent reader of this blog, and a great cook himself), roasted Thanksgiving turkey on a tripod, and every manner of side dish we could think of. These grilled stuffed tomatoes have become a favorite, because they are so incredibly easy, and the “wow” factor is a great bang for your buck in terms of prep time. Over the years I’ve realized that if you have an oven at your disposal (which I did not in college) it’s easier to make these in muffin tins and bake them. If you’re grilling them it can be tricky to keep them from falling over, so you need to make little tinfoil “life preservers” to keep them standing upright. Roll a 1-ft long piece of tinfoil into a cylinder and form a ring. Place the ring on the grill and the tomato on the ring, and proceed from there.
Today when I went to the store and saw what was available, I felt obligated to create a dish using the two freshest, most indulgent and seasonal ingredients I could find: fresh morels, and live soft shell crabs. What emerged is my springtime take on the classic crab stuffed mushroom, with a twist:
Yesterday at the store I came across an ugly, often overlooked fish: the whiting. When I say “often overlooked” I say this because I never even give them a second glance at the fish counter. They’re small and ugly. They don’t have enough meat to be able to fillet them and cook them as a meal. I decided that I should give this fish a chance, and I picked one out to try as an experiment. This is one of those recipes that goes under the “just crazy enough to work” category.
Tina over at Choosy Beggars summed up my feelings on baby eggplants quite nicely in this post. I feel compelled to buy them, though I don’t always have a recipe in mind. You could fry them in strips and make a miniature eggplant parmesan starter, or chop them and add it to stir fry. But that takes away the appeal of the miniature eggplant. I prefer to keep them intact, and stuff them with cheese. What could be better?
When I read that risotto was this week’s Food52 theme, I knew that I wasn’t going to submit something that was “Italian”. I’ve made plenty of mushroom, seafood, and veggie risottos that are great standbys, but it’s not my favorite thing to cook. Too much constant attention is required for one dish, and I lose patience for risotto rice very quickly. I decided to put together a dish that was original, and used a flavor profile that I really enjoy (and have been craving recently): ceviche. A traditional risotto with a few tweaks: avocado and sour cream for smoothness, lime-cured shrimp for some acidity, and an adapted gremolata of cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and lime zest complete the “Italian/Latin American” crossover.
This week’s Food52 competition gave me an excuse to cook up an old favorite of mine: Spinach and Walnut Bisque. This recipe, believe it or not, came from our dining hall in college. No joke. Admittedly the food at Dartmouth was far above average, but specifically the food at Collis Hall was what I wound up living on for breakfast and lunch during my freshman year. Collis was about 50 feet from my dorm room, and while small, had an excellent selection of food. An omelet station, smoothies for the morning, a great sandwich and wrap area, an ever-changing array of soups to go along with the sandwiches, and the requisite coffee for early morning classes (“early morning” being “10 a.m.”). Back then I was still in the “fledgling chef” phase, but as soon as I tasted this soup, I knew that it was one that would be added to my quiver. The nice thing about this particular dining hall was that since it prided itself in “health” and “nutrition”, the ingredients for each soup were listed on a card in front of the soup station. Thus I was able to take quick crib notes on the ingredients of the soup, and from there I experimented to come up with the proper proportions. Along the way I added a freshly toasted crouton to the dish, and now I can make it in my sleep. I figured that there was no better way to showcase spinach as an ingredient than in this unique, creamy bisque that takes no time at all to make. Back in the day I used to cut corners and make it with canned spinach (for shame!) but now I use fresh. Because everyone would laugh at me if I posted a recipe with canned spinach, obviously.
Ever since I picked up the Momofuku cookbook, I have been wanting to procure a pig’s head and make the pig’s head torchon that is laid out on page 200. I have made my way through most of the “easier” and “more practical” recipes, and have found myself eying the “Mt. Everest” of the Momofuku recipes: the one that requires a whole pig’s head. This weekend I finally got everything together, called up my friend Cody, and went ahead and did it. I think it goes without saying that there will be rather graphic pictures of a pig’s head in this post, so don’t say that you weren’t forewarned. If that doesn’t scare you off, kindly join me as we journey to the outer boroughs, tackle a crux of a recipe, and convert a part of the pig that usually gets thrown away into a refined and composed dish that you won’t see everyday.
Every once in a while I will be perusing the internet, looking for new recipes, and stop at Mark Bittman’s blog “Bitten”. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times’ food section, and generally has interesting recipes that can be cooked with very few ingredients (hence the column “The Minimalist“). I generally try to push myself to cook complicated, involved dishes, but there is always room for a simple “I’m too tired to spend 2 hours in the kitchen” and “I want something simple and tasty” meal. I have my fair share of those dishes, the type you make for yourself, or when you just want to take a break and go for simplicity. Of course, these dishes also have to satisfy the taste buds. I decided to give Mark Bittman’s Spanish and Indian Chickpeas a try to see if they’d become a go-to dish for me.
It has recently come to my attention that polenta has a bad reputation. Often misunderstood and feared, just because it’s different, polenta doesn’t deserve to be marginalized. Polenta is your friend. You must learn to trust and embrace polenta! You will find that polenta is easy to cook, makes an excellent side dish, and will take any flavorings that you wish to impart to it. Give polenta a chance, and it won’t disappoint you.
Last night two friends came over for a little dinner party, something that we try to do every other week or so. Last time they had us over they cooked a great braised rabbit, so I had to aim to impress.
I was looking through a new cookbook called “Roast Figs Sugar Snow“, which has a great assortment of wintry dishes from Scandinavia, Russia, and Eastern Europe. There’s a recipe for a Swedish hash that I’m going to have to cook sometime soon (given that I’m 1/4 Swedish). I finally decided on a variation on their recipe for quail, using Cornish game hens instead of quail (Fairway, the grocery store near me, stocks great Cornish game hens, and two are perfect for a 4-person main course, vs. 8 quail for 4 people). To start, a roast beet, arugula and goat cheese salad. The side was a roast acorn squash with a shiitake cream (the recipe called for porcinis, but Fairway was out), and dessert was a blood orange granita. The granita is basically a frozen daiquiri served as dessert in an orange, so it’s a great meal-ender.