Archive for the ‘Starters’ tag
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?
The other day I was having lunch with my friend Ned at an all-you-can-eat Indian place in Murray (a.k.a. Curry) Hill. You may remember Ned from the Pig’s Head Torchon post; he is a chef with Daniel’s catering wing. We were discussing the fine points of scallop diving over a plate of saag paneer and chicken tikka, and the conversation turned to a unique preparation for diver scallops that involved searing the whole, just shucked, still alive scallop with an iron and serving the dish using the shell as a plate. Ned’s preparation involved a cranberry beurre blanc (he was on Nantucket at the time, and fresh cranberries were in season) and the idea was incredibly intriguing. I have only been diving for scallops once, and they were the small “bay” variety, as opposed to the larger “sea” or “diver” scallops. Today I just happened to find whole diver scallops for sale at Citarella, and had to give this technique a try.
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.
Gorgonzola has been one of my go-to cooking cheeses for a long time. In college, when I was learning the ropes at the Psi U grill, one of the recipes that I inherited was a grilled gorgonzola-stuffed tomato with scallions and bacon. Simple, creamy, melty goodness. Figs stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped with bacon, and thrown on the grill can do double duty as a sweet and salty starter or a decadent and rich dessert. Pair it with caramelized onions and throw it onto a crust and you’ve got a tasty tart. The sweet, savory, and creamy combination almost always works. Why not in a soup?
***update*** 2/25: My soup was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Food 52′s Onion Soup Contest! Thanks guys!
Ok, I know that this is my second posting on wings this week, but I had extra wings left over from the Superbowl party, and the temptation to come up with a sauce proved to be too great to resist. The most traditional Buffalo wing recipe is 1 part Franks Red Hot, 1 part melted butter, tossed with fried wings. Very easy, slightly spicy, very tasty. There are an infinite number of variations to this sauce, just as with barbecue sauces, and every wing enthusiast has their own.
About a year ago, Fatty Crab opened an Upper West Side branch on Broadway between 76th and 77th (Warning: their website has sound effects). I’d never been to the Village location, so this made it very convenient for me to check them out. And believe me: I’m glad that I did. The fatty duck is a crispy, spicy taste explosion; the pork belly buns are baconly succulent (only outdone by Momofuku in my opinion, and yes, I made up the word “baconly”) and the wings are lick-your-fingers-and-dip-anything-you-can-find-in-the-sauce good. Sweet, sticky, and spicy. I decided that I had to make them for the Superbowl party I was attending, and was determined to find a recipe that was somewhat close to the Fatty Crab original. They are apparently inspired by Malaysian street food, the “Jalan Alor” wing. Imagine my surprise and delight when a quick Google search pulled up Chef Zak Pelaccio’s own Fatty Crab Malaysian wing recipe, on FoodandWine.com. Unbelievable. I love the interwebs.
Tonight I went to Fairway with no particular dish in mind, thinking that I would find something along the way to inspire me. Tucked in amongst the mushrooms I noticed a crate of sea beans; delicate, green, seaweed-looking plants that I’ve served with skate in the past. It’s usually a seasonal vegetable (in the summer) and I am guessing that this batch was grown in Mexico or Southern California, as opposed to the usual seasonal harvest in the Southern US. Heading to the seafood department I found diver scallops that looked great, so the makings of a seared scallop dish were in play.