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Category ... Savory Cooking

Hector's Special Peruvian Onion Dish

Mar 15, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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When Woody and I visited Hector Wong in Hawaii, a year ago December, we discovered what a great savory cook he is as well as a baker. One of the many dishes that he made for us from his Peruvian roots I knew I would have to replicate on our return home. It is called salsa criolla, and is served as a condiment for every dish, akin to kimchee for Koreans or ketchup for Americans. It also works well as a salad.

Hector says that he also calls the recipe cáscara which means skin of a fruit or egg. This is no doubt because the onions are so thinly sliced and on marination become so delightfully crisp.

Although my intention was to make it right away, somehow time got away from me but it was not forgotten. Here is the recipe for you to enjoy as well. I've named it Oinyums!

1 large onion
1 tablespoon sea salt (More salt is fine. It will accelerate the wilt and any excess is washed off.)
1 lemon, well scrubbed
Optional one small hot pepper of your desired heat!

Slice the onion into rings, as thinly as possible. Set the onion rings into a glass bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to mix well and and let them sit for 1 hour til wilted. Drain and discard the liquid.

Squeeze the lemon, saving the empty lemon shells and refrigerate the juice.

Rinse the onions well under running water. Return them to the bowl. Add cold water to cover and the empty lemon shells. Allow them to soak for 1 hour or longer. Squeeze the lemon shells to release their oil from the lemon peel into the water. Thinly slice the hot pepper into the onions. Drain and stir in the lemon juice. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour until serving to blend the flavors.

The onions stay crunchy for several days.

What a Grill Basket!

May 18, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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I've been enjoying 'blackened' string beans since Paul Prudhomme was a little boy and blackened redfish wasn't yet a gleam in his eye! That's because my grandmother once burned the string beans and I found it to be so delicious I always threatened not to eat the string beans unless she burned them.

Some years ago, my dear friend Elizabeth Karmel, renowned grilling author and chef, taught me how to make grilled string beans. She is such a skilled griller only one or two beans ever slipped between the grates but when I tried, I mourned each of several beans that slipped through. I tried a grill pan with holes but had to be very careful as the ones available were all very shallow and didn't have large enough holes to expose enough of the string beans to the flame. This is no longer a problem as Elizabeth has created the ideal grill basket, Elizabeth Karmel's Grill Friends Sizzlin' Skillet Grill Basket. Its curved sides enable you to toss the beans without risk of a single one leaping out. The wire mesh is strong but fine, leaving the maximum open space for 'blackening.'

The grill basket is easy to clean and even dishwasher safe. And it comes with a great-sounding recipe for "firecracker shrimp," which gives new definition to "shrimp in the basket."

I posted the recipe for grilled string beans about three years ago. Here it is again but this time in the basket!

For beans with a little bite, simply toss the washed and trimmed string beans with salt and olive oil and then to toss them in the grill basket and continue tossing them with tongs until they are deliciously browned, partially blackened, and beginning to shrivel.

For a softer texture, par boil the beans in salted water for 3 minutes, drain them, and toss them in the olive oil and salt, though sometimes I use melted bacon fat. Then into the grill basket they go to be browned and blackened as above.

Either way, season with lots of freshly ground pepper.

Note:
The handle is easy to remove for grilling and to replace when removing the basket from the grill, but it is not designed for emptying the beans into a serving bowl as the basket will flip over. Use tongs to lift the beans into the bowl.

Casting Pizza on the Water

Oct 13, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

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When Bob Trinque, product manager of my new Rose™ Line, told me that his dream was to make a good pizza crust and that his crust always turned out like a rock, my heart went out to him. Bob is one of the most generous people I know so it was great to be handed a way to do something special for him.

Of course I already had my idea of what the perfect pizza crust should be, but I knew this would never do for Bob who is a self-proclaimed cook and non-baker. As
detail oriented and exacting as I am is how fly by the seat of his pants is Bob. So I set out to create a pizza that he would be willing and therefore able to reproduce.

My criteria were:

Easy to find ingredients
Speed of preparation
A sturdy enough dough not to tear easily
A crust that is crisp but also pillowy soft inside
Good flavor

I started testing pizza dough three months in advance of our August date. After about 6 different versions, I finally hit on one that so fulfilled all my goals it's now going to be my go to pizza dough as well. The big break through was a visit to Charlie Van Over in Connecticut. Charlie, a multi-talented chef of many enterprises invented the Hearth Kit (oven stone for baking bread). He also came up with an excellent technique for making bread dough in a Cuisinart. He gave me some of his baguettes to taste, saying that something about the way in which a food processor mixes dough makes it unnecessary to have a starter or biga for flavor. Sure enough, his baguettes had excellent flavor and texture so I decided to try this technique for the pizza dough. Eureka! This is the easiest pizza dough ever, mixed in under a minute in the food processor. It needs to be mixed a minimum of 4 hours ahead of shaping and baking, but can be refrigerated for as long as 2 days.

I told Bob that the one deal breaker was that he had to use a scale, at least for the first time he made the dough so he could see what the consistency of it needs to be. I explained that if the dough is not sticky after mixing, it will not puff into the pizza of his dreams and will return to the stone dough of his past experience! (The proof was in the pizza.)

On a beautiful August day, I set out to visit Bob in South Salem, NY, along with my half Sicilian cousin Elizabeth Granatelli who had never made her own pizza dough before. She brought her own tomato sauce, however, and is generously allowing me to post it on the blog after I get a chance to test it (it was absolutely delicious!).

I jokingly asked Bob if he had a wood-fired oven and his answer was: yes--but the birds are nesting in it so we can't use it! So we decided to use his electric oven with pizza stone and his gas grill.

Bob was in charge of amassing all the topping ingredients. In addition to the requisite mozzarella (he bought an excellent fresh one) we also used fresh oregano from his garden, crumbled sautéed sausage on one and pepperoni on the other, and a sprinkling of Romano and Parmesan on top after baking.

Bob's cat Spartacus (my very favorite cat in the world) was the most attentive observer.

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We ate our pizzas in the cozy tank room (Bob has a magnificent old house with very modern kitchen that was a dream to work in). Elizabeth had brought an excellent pinot (Red Bicyclette). Then, as it was such a clear night, we sat out under the stars and talked until bedtime. We were, all three of us, pizza proud!

Continue reading "Casting Pizza on the Water" »

Pitcha!

Apr 08, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

This is a story about a dish from my childhood that sounds more like an exclamation than a recipe. My grandmother used to make it on rare occasions because it was somewhat labor intensive and only my uncle would eat it. But when I grew up I developed a real passion for this garlic, veal, and tender cartilaginous-studded gelatin-encased delicacy (whew--a mouthful!)

Recently, Grace Bello of Tablet Magazine interviewed me on the subject of this dish and has just posted this well-researched and informative article on it.

I've always described pitcha's appearance as similar to terrazzo tile, but I much prefer Grace's vision: With its neat appearance, its translucent amber hue, and its settled flecks of meat, it looks not unlike an odd gem, luminous and undiscovered.

The Dutch

Mar 24, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Restaurant Reviews

My New Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant

The Dutch, located in Soho in New York City, on the corner of Prince and Sullivan, is a mere five-minute walk from my house (and a 30 second walk from my favorite butcher Pino). My first visit, a few weeks ago, was for an early dinner. I was so smitten by the crisp fried oyster slider on an exquisite brioche roll I knew I would return again soon. My next experience was lunch. I began with a selection of the oysters of the day, two from the East Coast, two from the West Coast, each exquisitely briny and sweet with a lovely lingering aftertaste. I had no desire to corrupt their pure ocean flavor with any of the usual accompaniments.

Next, both my friend and I ordered the famous fried chicken. We could've ordered just one to share as it was a most generous serving of an entire half chicken. It was the best fried chicken I've ever tasted--juicy on the inside, with a perfectly golden brown and crunchy, fantastically flavored crust, so even when I was full I continued nibbling on little bits of crust alone. The crust was mildly spicy with a touch of paprika and cayenne which gave it a gorgeous russet hue.

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Photo Credit: Noah Fecks

My friend Marie Lyons, special event planner for the Dutch and also the nearby Locanda Verde, joined us for a short visit. She encouraged us to try the chicken, telling us that chef Andrew Carmellini searched all over the country to find the very best chicken for this dish. Clearly his hunt proved to be successful. My friend David finished his entire chicken but I packed enough of mine to serve as dinner the next night! The recipe appears is chef Carmellini's exciting new book American Flavor!

Chef Carmellini most graciously has given me permission to share the recipe on this link:

Fried Chicken.pdf

We were both too full for dessert so my heart fell when the wait person set the table again with new forks--a sure indication that dessert was on its way. It's a real testament to pastry chef Kierin Baldwin that we plowed through most of the two pies, for which she is justifiably famous, in short order. Our favorite was the lemon meringue poppyseed pie.

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Lemon poppy seed cake is my signature cake but I never thought of making a pie version. There were poppy seeds in the pâte sucrée (cookie crust), and in the meringue itself. The pie was accompanied by a delicious buttermilk ice cream (sitting on crunchy crumbs made from the same crust), and thin slices of poached lemon, along with a little of the poaching liquid as sauce. Pure bliss.I can't wait to go back again!

Bravo Breville--The Perfectly Even Oven!

Feb 04, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Equipment

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Can it be--an oven that is perfectly even?! Over the years I have baked in many an oven. I even drove several hours deep into Connecticut, with cream puff pastry ready to pipe, to try out a Gaggenau oven that promised to be perfectly even. It was from top to bottom but not from front to back. Resigned to this disappointing fact that ovens are just not perfectly even, I have written solutions into recipes, such as turning a cake two-thirds of the way through baking, or bread half way through baking, but when it comes to cream puff pastry or sponge type cakes such as génoise, opening the oven door to move the pan would spell disaster as the baked item would deflate like a balloon stuck with a pin.

A few years ago I happened to speak to someone at the Breville company about another one of their appliances and the representative told me about their Smart Oven saying it was "an oven with a brain," and that I had to try it. I was intrigued and then disappointed when it never arrived. Many months later I met Julia Leisinger, the delightful manager of Sur La Tabla Soho store, and noticing that they sell the oven, asked her what she thought of it. She told me that she has one and that not only is it even, its size makes it ideal for small apartments. Julia is a baker so now I was really determined to try the oven so that I could know whether I could recommend it.

A year passed and to my surprise and delight I heard from Julia that she had met with the Breville people and reminded them of their promise to me. Shortly after the oven arrived and then, I must confess, sat reproachfully on my dining room table for months while I waited for my schedule to clear to approach this promising new appliance.

FInally I bit the bullet and gave it my standard acid test: I piped a spiral of cream puff pastry on parchment set on the 15-inch pan that comes with the oven, placed the rack at the bottom position as recommended in the booklet, and set the oven on bake, convection, but using 425˚F/220˚F for the first 10 minutes of baking instead of lowering the temperature the usual 25 degrees for convection baking. Then I lowered the temperature to the usual 350˚F/175˚C and continued to bake for the usual 15 minutes. As you can see from the photo, the proof is in the puff--it was perfectly, effortless, evenly golden brown.

Next I piped little 1-1/2 inch cream puffs. They blossomed from 3/4 inch high to 1-1/2 inches and again were perfectly evenly golden-brown.

This is a beautifully designed little oven that does just about everything except microwave. I moved it into permanent position in my apartment. How many ovens do I have? Four are in NY and 2-1/2 in Hope, NJ. (The half is the GE toaster oven I've had for 44 years and still performs perfectly for toast, baked potato, and other small items, taking up minimal space on the counter.)

As a cookbook author, it is important to test recipes in different types of ovens as the oven is the common denominator of success or failure in baking.

Here is my recipe for cream puff pastry which can be filled with whipped cream, or ice cream (profiteroles) or a savory filling. And as promised, this is the first in a series of monthly postings featuring Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs.

Continue reading "Bravo Breville--The Perfectly Even Oven!" »

Yogurt--Better Than Store-Bought

Dec 17, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

My old friend from India, Madhu Trehan, told me many years ago that she would never buy yogurt as home-made is so easy and so much better. She added that all one has to do is save a little from the present batch to start the next batch.

I've long been intending to try making my own yogurt but somehow never got around to it until inspired by my new bread proofer! I wanted to be sure that it would work so I purchased some freeze-dried yogurt culture from Integral Yoga--a store in the West Village in New York. Yogurt culture is also available on line.

In the space of one afternoon I produced 4 half pint jars of deliciously creamy and flavorful yogurt--ever so much better than anything I have ever tasted that was store-bought. I received some excellent guidance from Michael Taylor, producer of the bread proofer. He also gave me moral support when, after about 3-1/2 hours I could detect no thickening. But sure enough, after about 4 hours I could see it was beginning to 'take.'

Michael said he uses commercial yogurt as a starter and to check on the container to make sure it says live culture. He uses 1/4 cup per gallon of milk. (I scaled it down to 1 tablespoon for 1 quart of milk. Now I wish I had made more but it's a simple matter to make a new batch.)

Michael's basic technique is as follows:

Pre-heat the proofer to 115˚F/46˚C with four empty quart Mason
jars inside to get them warm. (This keeps from cooling down the milk when poured into the jars). After heating the milk to 180˚F/82˚C and cooling to 120˚F/49˚C, remove 1 cup of milk, add 1/4 cup of fresh organic yogurt, then stir it back in. Immediately pour the milk/yogurt starter into the jars. The temperature drops to about 112˚F/44˚C. Put all the jars (covered) back in the proofer at 115˚F/46˚C for an hour, then turn down to 110˚F/43˚C. (As the temperature didn't drop after pouring the mixture into the jars--and was 115˚F/46˚C I used 110˚F/43˚C for the entire time.) The total time once the mixture is in the jars and in the proofer is about 4-1/2 hours but if you want more tang leave it in longer.

Michael writes: Incredible! Creamy and luscious with the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. I entirely agree!

I may stop buying crème fraîche as well now that I have the perfect place to incubate it! All you need is 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. Ultra-pasteurized cream will take as long as 36 hours but plain pasteurized cream at 90˚F/32˚C usually takes 12 to 14 hours. I'm going to try 110˚F/43˚C. No need to heat the cream and buttermilk mixture before placing it in the jar(s).

When Life Hands You Lemons...

Mar 12, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

You know the rest (make lemonade)! But here's my newest discovery: When life hands you a Heritage chicken, make coq au vin!

I received two precious Heritage chickens and roasted the first. The flavor was exceptional but the skin, one of my favorite parts, was like shoe leather. Also, the meat was a bit too chewy for my taste and my mother the dentist made sure that I have all my teeth and in good shape! So my thoughts turned to a dish I haven't had in a long time: coq au vin. In fact, the last time I had it was in the Loire valley when my dear friend Nadège Brossollet made it for Hervé This (before he became father of molecular gastronomy) and me many years ago. Nadège told me that the dish was created in this region and that she was making the classic version with le vraie coq (ie a rooster).

Continue reading "When Life Hands You Lemons..." »

Green Rice and Eggs--Who Could Resist!

Feb 08, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

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On a recent visit to Kalustyan, the mid-eastern specialty store in New York City, I spied this exquisite pale green rice labelled bamboo rice.

I followed the directions on the package to add what would be the equivalent of 100 grams of rice to 200 grams of water and simmered it for 10 minutes. (I also added a scant 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the water.) On tasting it, I could not detect any unusual flavor what-so-ever. On researching the rice I learned that it is infused with liquid from young green bamboo and is high in vitamin B with a flavor similar to jasmine tea. This I did not detect. But remembering how Hector told me that his mother would break an egg onto the rice in the rice cooker and let it sit for 5 minutes after the rice was cooked I tried it with this rice for today's lunch.

I added a little boiling water to the cooked rice to create steam (not necessary in a rice cooker with a keep warm function), added the egg, covered it, and let it sit until the white was opaque. It was indeed a beautiful combination, not least of all because it was a Menegus egg from a free range chicken.

I think I'll make the rice again for dinner this week to accompany grilled blood sausage. I'm thinking visual here as in "green eggs and ham" à la Dr. Seuss!

Rice Bran Oil & Fried Clams

Oct 30, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

When I meet with my dear friend Leslie Harlib, who is a brilliant food writer in the Bay Area of San Francisco, I have to have a note pad because she is so forthcoming with fantastic information and ideas. On her most recent visit to New York she mentioned her excitement about rice bran oil, telling me that it had many virtues and that I must try it.

I decided that a fair test would be both savory and sweet so I made deep fried clams and lemon chiffon cake.

I've been working on the perfect recipe for fried clams for a while now. Thanks to my friend Sam at the Lobster Place on Bleecker Street, I was able to pick up some steamer clams. First try he actually shelled them for me which is not an easy task for this type of clam. I found it was best to steam before frying--just enough to have them open on their own, as that kept the clam intact.

The fried clams were a perfect golden brown with not a trace of greasiness (of course temperature is also a factor here as too low a temperature results in absorption of any oil).

Here's my recipe for Fried Clams:

30 steamers (about 2 1/3 pounds)

The one problem with steamers is that they are invariably sandy. There are two ways to deal with this:

1) About 2 hours before cooking use a stiff brush to scrub the outer shell under cold running water. Fill a large bowl with 1 gallon of water and stir in 1/3 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of cornmeal. Add the clams, refrigerate, and allow them to soak for about 1 hour. This will cause them to expel any sand. OR

2) After steaming the clams just until they are open, strain the liquid and use it to wash any sand from the clams.

Method:

Steam the clams for about 3 minutes or just until they open. Remove the clams from their shells.

In a shallow dish, stir together 1.7 ounces/50g cornmeal, 1.7 ounces/50 g all purpose flour (about 1/3 cup of each), and 1/2t salt.

Lightly combine 1 whole egg with 3 tablespoons of evaporated milk. Dip the clams first in this mixture and then coat in the cornmeal mixture.

Heat oil to 350ºF/177Cº. Fry the clams in two batches for about 2 minutes or just until golden. Drain onto paper towels and salt to taste. Serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze on them just before eating.


I was most interested to see what would happen with the chiffon cake as some oils impair foaming and result in a less airy texture. As you can see, the crumb was slightly more open but perfectly spongy and excellent.

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Here are some interesting facts from the California Rice Oil Co.:

Rice oil is the healthiest oil on earth, rich in a natural occurring viatmin E complex (tocopherols and tocotrienols, a unique antioxidant known as gamma oryzanol). Skin & muscle are a couple things that reap the benefits from this complex.

There's been many studies proving the lowering of LDL "bad" cholestrerol. Rice oil is trans-fat free & hypo-allergenic & additionally, our rice oil is GMO free as well.

Comparing known vegetable oils and rice bran oil to the fatty acid profile recommended by the American Heart Association, we find RBO is the closest to the AHA recommendations. Compared to other oils RBO is the most "balanced fat" which is easier for the body to digest & process throughout.

Rice bran oil has a shelf life of minimum 18 months and it is recommended to keep it in a cupboard or pantry at room temperature and away from direct sunlight (as with most oils).

Pesto Perfect

Sep 02, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

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(Apologies for this blurry photo but I had only my cell phone and romantic lighting to blame.)

This past spring, my dear friends Karen Paige and Andrew Dornenburg recommended that we go to a neighborhood trattoria Bellavitae to have, among other things, chef-owner Jon Mudder's pesto which he made to order at the bar in an actual marble mortar.

We visited Bella Vitae on Mother's Day and loved the food but it was too early for pesto. I anxiously awaited the start of the fresh basil season and returned to be rewarded by a most exceptional pasta and pesto. Jon revealed it's secret: He imported the basil from Israel! He explained that the Israeli basil was more tender than the basil commonly available here. The result was a pesto that seemed to melt on the tongue. The pasta had just the right firmness and sure enough it turned out that Jon was using my favorite and most expensive Latini pasta. Can you imagine the cost for these ingredients! Could this be why the wonderful restaurant, joyfully and recently discovered by me closed a few weeks after my third visit?

Hopefully Jon will open a restaurant again soon but in the meantime you can visit him on his highly rated blog. Here's the link.

I've written about pesto at least twice on this blog, and this being the height of the basil season, it seems like a good time to offer my favorite recipe:

wanuts halves/100 grams/3.5 ounces/1 cup
basil leaves: 200 grams/7 ounces/14 cups
5 large cloves garlic, smashed
extra virgin olive oil: 216 grams/7.5 ounces/1 cup
salt: 1 teaspoon
sugar: 1/2 teaspoon
black pepper, freshly ground: 1/2 teaspoon
cayenne pepper: 3 dashes
grated Parmesan: Reggiano: 200 grams/ 7 ounces/ 2 1/3 cups

Place the nuts in processor container and pulse until coarsely chopped. Remove the nuts to a bowl and set aside.

Place the basil in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped, stirring down the leaves from time to time. Add garlic and process a few seconds until evenly mixed into the basil. Add oil and seasonings and process only until mixed. Add the Parmesan and nuts and pulse just until uniform.

Freeze 2 tablespoon size portions in aluminum foil packets. Add ½ tablespoon of butter when serving. Pass additional grated cheese.

This amount yields 26 servings!)

All Those Egg Whites

May 08, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking


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What do do with them?! Friend and esteemed colleague Nick Malgieri told a class that he saved them in a huge container and when it was full...he threw them out!

i've filled my freezer with them, occasionally making an angel food cake. Recently I decided to discard the 2007 and 2008 containers. Too late, my husband Elllott reminded me he likes egg white omelets. I still had the 09 batch so he was not deprived. I set out to perfect his omelet.

As Elliott was aspiring to eliminate as much cholesterol as possible, i heated a small non stick frying pan over medium heat. When it reached 350˚F (hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle) I sprayed the pan with baking spray (Pam) and poured in 2 lightly beaten egg whites. I sprinkled them with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

The first time I rolled it up and served it plain but the second time Elliott organized 3 slices of cooked sausage and a few pieces of cheese. When I lifted an edge to assure that the bottom was nicely browned, I turned the heat off and set the cheese and sausages in the middle of the set egg white. Then I flipped over each side of the egg white to cover it and let it cook for about a minute to melt the cheese. (The plate was heated first in a low oven so it worked perfectly but it would also work to zap it in the microwave for 7 seconds on high.

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Now I'm looking forward to collecting more egg white (no problem), and while waiting to be transformed into Elliott Omelets they serve to keep the freezer more filled. Freezers work most efficiently when filled even if it means filling milk cartons with water and freezing them so why not egg whites instead?!

Cacio E Pepe (Pasta Perfecto)

Apr 17, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

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There are as many recipes for pasta as stars in the firmament but it still surprises me that it took me all these years to encounter one of the top classics.

If you like cheese, black pepper, and pasta (and who doesn't') you will love this simple dish. The only part that's not simple is finding the best cheese, which is the main determinant of flavor in this recipe.

I mentioned on the posting of Maialiono and the suckling pig that I was planning to return for lunch. My intention was to have a sandwich of the suckling pig but when I learned there was no crackling in it I decided to try a pasta dish instead.

My dear friend/colleague Nancy Weber noticed cacio e pepe on the menu and said, This is my test of an Italian restaurant. My eyes had skimmed right over the unfamiliar words but on so strong a recommendation of course I had to try it.

Wow! Firm pasta cloaked with creamy cheesy sauce and a most pleasant bite of intense slightly smoky black pepper.

Nancy explained that cacio is--a great Roman cheese with excellent melting, properties with "the right suppleness and coefficient of blah to offset the tang of the pecorino. Did I mention that Nancy is a food writer and novelist? (Need I have?!) Maialino's version passed the test for Nancy and as for me, I enjoyed it so much I can't even remember the other pasta dish I had ordered though I do remember enjoying it--just not as much as the new experience of something I would never have thought to order.

We both enjoyed a glass of bold red wine with the pasta--actually a half a glass so that we could try to go back to work after lunch--it didn't work.

Continue reading "Cacio E Pepe (Pasta Perfecto)" »

Candied Kumquats

Feb 13, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking


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I am indebted to my friend, the cookbook author Elizabeth Andoh, for pointing me in the direction of these homemade treats which are a world apart from the commercial ones sold in jars. The kumquats are luminous, orange/amber, bright in appearance and flavor--very moist. I love them as an accompaniment to duck.

The kumquats look like little lanterns, because the slashes made to release the pits open up during poaching. Cutting them in half to remove the seeds would be easier, but leaving them whole offers a burst of succulence.

We just received a small shipment of kumquats from our friends George and Elisette Dirusso who live in Florida. They were from their own kumquat tree and are the sweetest I've ever tasted. Note the round as opposed to the usual oblong shape. I lost no time in candying them!

Continue reading "Candied Kumquats" »

Meatballs & Spaghetti

Feb 06, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know



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Did you know that not all plastic bags can be boiled? Only the ones designed for that purpose such as these bags from FoodSaver vacuumer. It took me years to figure out that when I vacuum pack my meatballs in tomato sauce I can reheat them along with the spaghetti right in the bag!

A good quality vacuum machine is an indispensable piece of equipment in my kitchens. You wouldn't believe how much it increases the life-span of ingredients in the freezer.

GRANDMA'S BURN'T STRINGBEANS

Oct 10, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

In honor of the Chinese 10/10 Day I am retelling one of my favorite stories based on an ancient Chinese 'legend."

My grandmother lived with us when I was growing up and did all of the cooking. As a child, I disliked most food and considered eating to be a chore I did to please my anxious mother and grandmother, who, it seemed, would go to any lengths to entice my reluctant appetite.

A typical pre-dinner dialogue would go something like this:

Grandma (with a hopeful expression shining on her face): "Rosie; I made string beans tonight!"

Me (mildly threatening tone): "Did you burn them?"

Grandma (plaintively): "It's so hard to wash the fendle (Yiddish for pot) when they're burned."

Me: (unimpressed and openly threatening): "You know I won't eat them if they're not burned."

How this all got started was, of course, by Grandma's having accidentally burned the string beans one night. It reminds me of Charles Lamb's "Dissertation on Roast Pig." (The story of how roast--read burnt--pig was discovered in ancient China.)

It wasn't until many years later that I discovered Chinese "dry fried string beans," a recipe in which the string beans are intentionally browned (lightly burned). But I will always miss my grandmother's version. You see, the string beans burn to just the right degree only when the cooking water is allowed to evaporate (inadvertently) and the beans start to burn just to the point when suddenly you smell them. I was always reassured that they would be perfect when I heard my grandmother cry out: "Oy! The string beans are burn’s again." God was in his heaven and all was right with the world.

Updated Burnt String Beans on the Grill

Continue reading "GRANDMA'S BURN'T STRINGBEANS" »

Canadian Chicken

Sep 17, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

It's not because I've been married to a former Canadia (who still says eh but not nearly as often as he used to) for over 33 years that I am so devoted to Canadian chicken. I also love D'Artagnon's blue foot chicken. But hands down the Canadian chicken I guy from Nick at Gourmet Garage in SoHo is the best I've ever tasted in this country. Yes it's more expensive but oh the flavor. It actually tastes like chicken and there's very little fat.

The first time I ordered it from him I picked up some other groceries and somehow left the chicken behind. When I called Nick he offered to send it to me and refused to charge for the chicken or the delivery.

When I told him that I write cookbooks on baking he was genuinely surprised and then told me that his daughter is a pastry chef. It's great to know that there are still people out there in New York City who have the graciousness and friendliness of small town old time shopping.

Next time you're in the mood for the best roast chicken call Nick: 917-612-6420 and make this recipe:

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Brown Rice Pearls

Sep 05, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

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I have long loved the nutty flavor of brown rice but preferred the firm unexploded texture of white. I suspected/hoped that if cooked correctly, the texture of brown rice could approach that of white. (I never expected it could rival it!) This has led me to a many month-long exploration of different cooking methods and in the process I have actually seduced/converted a passionately resistant Chinese devotée of white rice—our very own Hector Wong.

I promised him brown rice “like pearls with each grain exquisitely separate.” How could he resist trying? Here was his immediate response: “It is really pearly heaven, each kernel pops between my teeth like popcorn, so fun. I love brown rice NOW, you have converted me. It is like having fried rice but sans all the frying oil and soy sauce!”

Before posting the method we wanted to make sure it would work in all types of rice cookers. We both went through pounds of brown rice trying every variable we could think of, verifying that indeed it is the case that different rice cookers produce different results. Not to worry—it’s mostly a question of adjusting the amount of water to suit your taste. (Please note that Hector pointed out if increased the recipe the water should not be increased proportionately, i.e. if doubling the rice, the water should be increased by perhaps 1 3/4 times instead of double but he is working out a more exact amount and will post it.)

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REUNION

Aug 14, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

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Here's the story I wrote about our last famiy reunion over 20 years ago. It was written for the LA Times Syndicate.

When I was growing up, family get-togethers, organized by Great Aunt Bertha, the bossy, loving, self appointed and usually much appreciated matriarch of the family, were a frequent occurrence. But one year she put her foot down, proclaiming that she was tired of being the only one to make the effort which everyone seemed to take for granted and to all of our amazement, she stopped just like that. The various families and generations orbited into their smaller nuclear and more manageably sized groups and Aunt Bert continued to function as family hot line gossip hub via the telephone. We all knew that without her we risked losing track of each other’s accomplishments and tragedies, probably for ever. No one wanted to organize a party but no one wanted to lose total touch either. So when Aunt Bert approached her 90th year, the next generation (my mother’s) decided to organize a major reunion birthday bash. We all knew that it would be the last time that we would all gather together and that within a mere few years, given the age and health conditions of certain family members, there would be several who would no longer be with us. An all out effort was launched, the main responsibility assumed by my mother’s generation, who had fewer career and family demands, but my generation, or at least those of us who cook, volunteered to provide some of the food.

Although the plans proceeded with a certain inevitability, working together brought out a few personality conflicts between the female cousins in the late 60’s and 70’s category and my mother relayed them all to me with great amusement (mostly). One possible exception was when she reported mild dissension from the next generation of cousins in my group, resenting that I always get to do the cake! But I roared when she reported the comment of a cousin, known for her sharp mind, tongue and irreverent ability to expose the darker side of reality: “It’s going to be a wonderful party. Too bad Bertha has to come!” Then there was an argument about the beverages to be served. The general consensus was soda for the kids (as family dentist I was surprised that my mother didn’t push milk but I think she was lying low this time) and white wine for the grownups, until an older cousin gently suggested that perhaps the men would prefer beer. “What do you know about men?” scolded her older sister (demonstrating from whence her daughter got her sharp tongue).

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My Favorite Summer Lunch

Jun 28, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

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This is a fantastic year for New Jersey blueberries. I empty a container of no fat high-quality plain yogurt into a bowl, swirl in some lemon curd, a sprinkle it with blueberries! Simple, healthful, and heavenly!

Special note: I've finally figured out how to post my own photos on the blog. I was motivated to figure it out because I wanted to post this right away before life and the NASFT food show take over tomorrow.

BIG BEAN EPIPHANY

May 16, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

Last week I wrote about how beans cooked in salted water or broth will never soften but now, thanks to America's Test Kitchen I'm singing a slightly different tune!

On a recent show on America's Test Kitchen I was shocked to learn that they marinate the beans in salted water. Instead of simmering them on the cook top, they bake them in the oven and claim that the skin is more tender, the beans stay whole and yet are exceptionally creamy inside. Somewhat skeptically, I tried it and to my delight found that it really works!

As I thought about it I realized that soaking the beans in the room temperature salt water would have a different effect from heating them in salt water, which causes the outer skin to harden, and prevent water absorption. Apparently the room temperature salt water serves to help the beans absorb water the way marinating poultry or seafood does.

It is important that the water not be over-salted as too much salt which affect the osmotic process and draw moisture away from the beans.

I suspect that simmering the beans on the stove top will keep them whole as long as they are at a low simmer. This is the way I've been doing it for years and I also cover the pan which I find produces more creaminess but in the oven this is unnecessary.

Here's the basic technique:

227 grams/8 ounces/1 cup cannelini or other beans
28 grams/1 ounce//1 ½ tablespoons salt
2 quarts cold water

Dissolve the salt in the water and soak the beans at room temp for 8 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well. Add water to come to about two inches above the beans.

Heat the oven to 250°F. Bring the beans to a simmer, set them in the oven, and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender.

SPILLING THE BEANS

May 09, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

A few weeks ago I made an amazing discovery about beans that flies in the face of everything I’ve understood for the past 45 years! But you’ll have to wait til next week to find out what that is. First enjoy this article I did for the LA Times Syndicate about 15 years ago. The recipe below will be perfect for summer dinners.

Dried beans are beautiful. They are also healthful and delicious. But there are 2 secrets about beans and knowing them makes all the difference between firm, tender beans and bullet hard ones that never soften.

* Beans that are over about a year old will never rehydrate or soften.
* Beans that are simmered with salt will never rehydrate or soften.
I found out these secrets the hard way and became so discouraged in the process, I avoided bean cookery for years.

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Peanut Nut

Mar 21, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

I love international cuisine, but when it comes to peanut butter, I’m as American as apple pie. Or maybe it should be changed to as American as peanut butter. Peanut butter seems to be the great divide between American and European taste. I’m sure they’re out there but I don’t know a single European who would prefer peanut butter to hazelnut paste in fact for many it isn’t even a contest—they wouldn’t consider eating the stuff in the first place. Quel domage!

My favorite recipe in The Pastry Bible is the peanut butter and chocolate mousse torte and not surprisingly Fine Cooking magazine chose that recipe to be featured in one of their Best of the Best cookbooks as their favorite recipe too. In my upcoming Rose’s Heavenly Cakes there will be a terrific combination of spice cake and peanut buttercream.

Of course peanut butter also shines in savory dishes as was amply demonstrated by several of America’s top chefs at a recent peanut butter party hosted by the National Peanut Board. I’m posting some of my favorite recipes from the event below except for one which I must tell you about instead as it requires special food service ingredients and machinery—the peanut cotton candy. How chef Linton Hopkins, from Atlanta, Ga. managed to capture the ethereal texture of cotton candy and the full flavor of peanut butter is nothing short of culinary alchemy! One of his secrets is using roasted peanuts for the oil used in the mixture. I’m not going to go on raving about each recipe as I wouldn’t be posting them if they were anything short of fantastically worth making yourself!


Rose and Linton


Suvir and three dishes

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Did You Know (6)

Jan 22, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

That oatmeal doesn’t have to be mushy? And that the rice cooker is perfect for making stone cut oatmeal?!

I adore the nubbly-creamy texture, flavor, and warm comfort of stone cut oatmeal but it takes about 40 minutes to cook and I don’t want to have to remember to stir in occasionally to keep it from scorching. If you have an electric rice cooker with a porridge setting, all you have to do is combine the water, oats, salt, and I like to add a little brown sugar, turn it on (mine plays Mary Had a Little Lamb to let me know the cooking has started!) and wait til you hear the finished signal.

These cold days, I also like to add a little milk to a bowl and set it in my oven with the pilot light—if you have an electric oven and a very low setting that works too. That way milk cold from the frig doesn’t cool off the hot cereal. Alternatively you can heat the milk before adding it. For an extra treat I sometimes add a small mellow dollop of crème fraîche but that really is a perfect example of Rose gilding the lily!

Here’s my recipe for oatlmeal for one:
Stir together the following:
2/3 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup stone cut oatmeal such as McCann’s Irish Oatmeal
Optional: light brown Muscovado sugar

Switzerland Part Two--Ticino & The Chestnut Path

Dec 27, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking


Never let it be said the Swiss don't have a sense of humor!

Chestnuts were planted in this region of the Ticino by the Romans 2000 years ago. They were a major food staple in this mountainous area as they could be dried, made into flour, roasted or produce chestnut honey, tiding the farmers over during the snowy winters.

After walking through the forest of chestnut trees we were treated to lunch at Il Castagno, which is also a hotel. The décor was most inviting with marble floor from the local quarry and chestnut wood tables.

The first course was fresh figs with excellent prosciutto but the second showcased the chestnut after which the restaurant is named. I’ve used chestnut flour in cakes but I never before experienced it in pasta dough. The combination of sweet earthy chestnut, fried sage, butter, and cheese was so heavenly I asked for the recipe. And the week of my return home I lost no time recreating it. The restaurant used 30% chestnut flour but I found that 50% was even better!

Incidentally, the red wine with the boar on the label (Wild Boar Hill) was the best I tasted in the Ticino area and happened to be from the vineyard of our charming escort Eliana who also gave me a rare corn flour that had been smoked. I can’t decide what to do with it first—corn fingers or perhaps bread for stuffing—no—it has to be corn fingers where the grain will star.

After lunch we walked through the town and discovered an ancient building that was used to roast chestnuts.

Inspired by the pasta I also tried making a loaf of bread, replacing the flour with 20% chestnut flour. I slashed it to resemble a chestnut and it was good but not great. Of course panettone with candied chestnuts (in the Bread Bible) is fantastic but the flour is not that interesting for bread.

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Rose's Soup Kitchen

Nov 15, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

I was a poor eater as a child. The very word squash was so unappealing to me I would never have considered even trying it. But in my 20’s my great uncle Nat sent my mother a huge Hubbard squash from his farm in the Berkshires and she turned into a soup. My father was coming downtown to bring me something and she asked if I would like some of the soup. “No thanks” was my response and luckily she ignored it. When I hesitatingly tasted the soup I was astonished by the deep earthy sweetness and velvety texture of the soup.

A few weeks ago, when I told my neighbor Jason Menegus that Hubbard was my favorite squash, he promised to save me one from the Fall harvest. And when I went to pick it up I could hardly do so. My husband, who has been transporting it around from farm to car to kitchen assured me it was under 50 pounds but all I can say is that every time I lifted the pot of soup I made from it in and out of the oven to stir I groaned. It was worth it. I now have something like 24 dinner servings of it in my two freezers. And it is even more delicious than I remembered.

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Cast Iron Eggs

Sep 13, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

Some years ago I visited London for the first time and was staying in a rather depressing dumpy but affordable hotel, but not for long. Old family friends, the Streeters, who had retired to Harrogate—land of James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small), invited me to visit. It was like coming home—a beautiful apartment in the countryside, my own room with comfy bed and down pillow. I never did have to return to that dumpy hotel as my next stop was friends in Paris.

Staying with the Streeters was a most wonderful and sentimental visit as I had grown up with their sons and we hadn’t seen each other for years. Ted took me to see the newly unearthed (literally) Viking Village in York. Rosalind, a terrific cook, fed me well, but what was most memorable was breakfast. Rosalind served me a fried egg that was still sitting in the little copper bottomed stainless steel Revereware skillet in which it had been fried. She silently set it before me, having announced the night before that she didn’t like conversations first thing in the morning, and left me blissfully to enjoy the fabulous country egg.

When later I told her what a perfect way it was to serve an egg, keeping it warm but not continuing to cook it she told me that she had been looking for years for more of those little frying pans so she could serve more than one person at a time.

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Eating Crispy Cumulous Clouds

Aug 19, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

That’s what they look like to me—those little implosions of corn kernels.

There is a child-like magic when watching the hard little yellow kernels pop and change form and color. It makes me think of all the great things that come in small packages that hide beautiful things within like buds that overnight become leaves or flowers, eggs that in moments crack open to reveal little baby birds. And in the Cuisinart popcorn popper you can witness the miracle through a clear plastic container. At first the simple wire device on the stirring plate moves the kernels slowly around and at about 3 minutes the first kernels start popping. They all pop in less than 7 minutes. If you don’t finish all the popcorn in one sitting, it can be recrisped in a 350ºF/17ºC. oven for about 10 minutes and it’s just like fresh-popped.

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Between Books She Cooks

Aug 02, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

I met Nancy Weber when we both were judging the final exams at the French Culinary Institute, now known as the New International Culinary Center. They are oral exams which means we have to taste many dishes prepared by the graduating students. I know it sounds like fun but not for the reason one might think. For one thing, the dishes come fast and furious and the evaluation sheet has several categories. For another, the judges have to comment directly to the students which is sometimes a little uncomfortable. Mostly the results are highly impressive but we are there to give guidance and help from our perspective of having worked in the food world for several decades not to mention having eaten our way around the world itself.

And there was Nancy, (graduate of FCI) offering her honest evaluation and critique with such enchanting charm and warmth it took away the slight sting of truth. I don’t know if I ever encountered eyes so alight with joie de vivre and compassion. At the end of the evening I had to go up to her and compliment her. It turned out that just that very day she had used my book (the Cake Bible) to do a wedding cake. Also, she told me she named her only daughter Rose. We exchanged cards but more often than not good intentions never materialize, especially between writers always on deadline. But some rare things are destined to be despite the odds.

We started our friendship by exchanging e-mail notes. Then I came up with the inspired idea that we should exchange books. Nancy chose the Bread Bible and I chose Swapping Lives Yes, she predated the life swap reality shows by many many years. We met at my favorite local Bistro Blue Ribbon Bakery, and over French onion soup (previously posted on the blog) we got to know each other better. The most amazing thing for both of us was to discover that she had written an article 40 years ago that I had read and never forgotten. (It was in Cosmopolitan Magazine and the concept was making oneself attractive by decorating the soles of one’s feet or toes when going into surgery so the surgeon pays more attention that there is an actual human life on the table.) This was just a glimpse into the extraordinarily creative imagination of Nancy Weber. The novel Swapping Lives is the documentation of Nancy’s experience temporarily trading lives with another woman, written both from her perspective and the other woman’s. She wanted to see if it were possible to shed one’s skin and slip into that of another’s. If anyone could manage it Nancy could and did. I realized I would come up way short worrying more about how the other person was treating all my special baking equipment perhaps even more than how she was treating my special husband! It was an extraordinary leap on Nancy’s part and I couldn’t tear myself away from the book. This past month a Canadian documentary was filmed on Nancy and her reflections on the experience.

The meaning behind Nancy’s business name www.betweenbooksshecooks is quite literal. Between novels she caters and runs a bed and breakfast in her enchanting 1845 house in Chelsea. I was dying to see her house and get to know Nancy better so I cooked up the idea that we should do a collaborative dinner there as my apartment has been, still is, and probably always will be a warehouse of equipment and ingredients. (Note I’ve never done this before.) Over the course of many e-mails we decided the menu. Nancy gave me the challenge of choosing my favorite thing that I don’t get to have often and offering the best thing I’ve ever made in the dessert department. Fortunately she suggested the possibility of bisteeya which I adore but stipulated it must be made with pigeon. I needn’t have as she had every intention of pigeon plus made a special expedition to Poseidon to get the only fillo she finds acceptable, apologizing for not making varka herself. I assured her I’ve only seen it made once and would never even think of going that far! As for what dessert that was shear torture over which I agonized for weeks. For starters, it had to be something highly transportable and also harmonious with the rest of the meal.

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Cape Clams

Jul 19, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

Well actually it's called Cape Cod but I'd much rather be eating fried clams than cod! In fact, I'd much rather be eating fried clams in a shack by the ocean than a 4 course dinner in any of the Cape's fanciest restaurants.

Always in pursuit of the perfect fried clams I think I arrived during our too short visit to the Cape for Elliott's conference in Chatham. When I discovered Nickerson's Fish and Lobster shack

I returned every morning for a late breakfast/early brunch of fried clam bellies (hold the roll and the fries).

In NY it's near impossible to find anything but the strips which are more batter than clam. I adore the taste of clam probably because it reminds me of the ocean. I was born in Far Rockaway, close enough to the Atlantic Ocean to smell the salt air. My first sandbox in our small yard was filled with the golden sand from the nearby beach and my first toy was a large clam shell great for scooping up the sand. I used to collect the ruby red 'stone' that attached the two halves of the shell, thinking they were gems but they disappointingly darkened to dark brown.

Sitting by the dock at Nickerson's, eating the clams and watching the boats take off and return with the fresh catch brought back many of these memories.

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Did You Know?

Jun 21, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Notes

There is a special technique used in France to mellow the sharpness of fresh garlic. I discovered it years ago in one of Roger Vergé’s books and have used it ever since when adding raw garlic to a dish. It maintains the wonderful garlic flavor but tames the bite just a bit.

You don’t have to peel the garlic cloves because the peel slips off easily after boiling.

Place the garlic in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil and drain it immediately. Repeat three to 5 times and then use it to mince or slice into your recipe. Here is my favorite one for Casear salad dressing that I’ve been in the process of perfecting for years.

I discovered the beautiful and highly functional granite mortar and pestle when visiting my friend Anna Schwartz in Melbourne Australia. She offered to ship me one but then discovered that it was available in a terrific little Thai store in Chinatown not far from where I live. Elliott had to take me by car because it was too heavy to carry very far! It was relatively inexpensive—around $35 and will last several life-times.

The store will ship so if so inclined here’s the contact info.

888-618-THAI
www.importfood.com/mortarpestle.html

If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mince the garlic and anchovies by hand.

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A Side Dish that Steals the Show

Apr 12, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

I discovered this recipe, by Jane Black, in the January 9, 2008 food section of the Washington Post which I read religiously every week and sometimes write for as well. One of my favorite columns is the occasional series “Staff Favorites” in which staff writers share favorite recipes. (As the Post says: “….that we turn to time and time again.” Though I’m a chronic clipper of appealing sounding recipes, they usually end up in the “to file” pile for someday. This one I made the week I clipped it and surely will be making it time and time again myself!

If ever there were a vegetable accompaniment that upstages the main course this is it: Endive Gratin: creamy, nutty-sweet with a gilding of Gruyère cream sauce, the endive within slightly crunchy and slightly and deliciously bitter to offset the richness of the sauce.The French have a wonderful term for this quality aigre-doux which refers mostly to sour/sweet but it is this contrasting yin yang flavors that lifts up a dish and makes it compellingly pleasing.
I served it with steak but I will also serve it with lamb and even with fish. Since there were just two of us I divided the recipe by 3 and, for a change, made no changes what-so-ever.

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Perfectly Grilled Steak without a Grill

Mar 08, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

I get my steak from Pino on Sullivan Street. I have been buying meat from him for 40 years—since the time he was working for his uncle Tony at Florence Meat Market. I was planning a vocation devoted to food and appreciated deeply the respect with which he handled the different cuts of meat, wrapping them carefully in butcher’s wax paper as tenderly as if they were a newborn child.

Now he is owner of his own Pino Prime Meats with his two sons Sal (who came up with the fantastic idea of aged prime steak ground for hamburgers) and Leo often at his side though Leo is still in school so only comes in during school holidays. Gustavo, his right hand man, is also very knowledgeable and exceptionally kind and loyal. I feel like so much a part of the family that one day when Pino’s wife was visiting and everyone in the shop was speaking Sicilian Italian I piped up in my limited accented version: anche io, sono Siciliana (I too am a Sicilian). Everyone laughed. I do have a close cousin who is Sicilian—Elizabeth Granatelli—whom I call la principessa as there is a street named after her family in Palermo. And then of course there is my sister/baker Angelica Pulvirenti who grew up in my favorite town in Sicily—Ragusa.


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The Best French Onion Soup

Feb 03, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

I’m not sure if I’ll ever make onion soup again, at least not as long as I live a 5 minute walk from Blue Ribbon Bakery and they still make their glorious version.

For starters, chef and baker Sefton Stallard makes some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted and believe me I’ve tasted many a bread around the world! When creating the kitchen for Blue Ribbon Bakery he excavated an ancient wood fired brick oven in the cellar and called in an expert from Europe to restore it to working order.

Seton studied in Paris at the Cordon Bleu and apprenticed in Paris and in Switzerland for several years. He created this onion soup based on his taste memory and, I suspect, improved on it as it’s better than any I tasted even in France.

When cold weather sets in there is little more pleasing than this hot soup filled with caramelized onion and topped with a slice of bread soft and comforting with the juices of the stock, also serving to float an ample island of stretchy/stringy strands of melted gruyère with crunchy golden bits adhering to the edges of the bowl. It satisfies every possible longing--at least while eating it.

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The Popcorn Diet

Jan 05, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

Personally, I don’t wait til New Year’s to do this diet but whenever the mood strikes all year long. It just seems like an appropriate time to post it!

Melt some unsalted butter—preferably clarified. I use 2 tablespoons. Pour it into a small spice or other glass jar and keep it warm. (Use a thermos or your imagination to keep it melted.)

Go the the movies at dinner time and order a small unbuttered popcorn. (In 99.9% of movie theaters so-called buttered popcorn is actually oiled popcorn and to be avoided at all aesthetic costs.

When you’re safely cradled in your seat in the darkened theater, carefully pour a little of the butter onto the popcorn. Slowly eat one popped kernel at-a-time. When you reach a level that no longer has any little pockets of butter pour a little more on top.

Consider this dinner and go to sleep shortly after the movie, before you realize that you might still be a little hungry.

Once a week and you may well have lost 5 pounds and gained some delicious movie memories.

P.S. The reason for the butter is the extra pleasure it gives to satiate hunger.

Are You Making Turkey for the Holidays? and What about the Wine!

Dec 24, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

i'm spending christmas weekend with the final revisions of my manuscript for the upcoming book before it goes into copy editing. it's great to be up here in hope with the fire blazing and minimal interruptions. (incidentally after dinner the first night we watched a fantastic dvd which i highly recommend--Vitus.) so i made a whole bunch of our fav turkey parts to last the whole long weekend along with two huge bowls of stuffing (of course i made the bread). we have separate stuffings bc elliott doesn't like chestnuts and i adore the sweet earthy quality it contributes.

the big problem always is choosing the ideal wine to serve with turkey and the problem is not the turkey but the cranberry sauce. one of the few iron clad rules in wine pairing is that the wine needs to be at least as sweet as the food or the wine takes on an undesirably bitter taste. tim hanai, who worked for beringer's, taught me how it is possible to adjust the food to alter the wine. for example, when the wine seems excessively tannic, if you add lemon and or salt to the food the tannin recedes and the fruit comes forward.(i've used this technique in airplanes where the wine was marginal. it has the opposite effect if the wine is "flabby," i.e. lacking in acid and tannis.)

when in comes to cranberry sauce, i have always catered entirely to elliott's taste which means a lot less liquid and a lot less sugar than is called for on the package. in fact, he doesn't want it to be sauce, he wants it to be a jell. it seems bitter when eaten by itself but it works perfectly with the turkey and i decided to put it to the ultimate test and served a Gevrey Chambertin Domaine Trapet “Ostera” 2001. pinot is the most unforgiving wine. it can be at once ethereal and earthy, or closed and astringent. i took a little spoonful of cranberry 'sauce' and a swallow of the wine and held my breath (well not literally). perfection. the wine was glorious with a hint of berry--a match made in heaven.

so here is how i make the cranberry sauce:

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A Tale of Three Eggs

Oct 27, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

My favorite speedy lunch fix is so easy and satisfying I decided to share it on the blog. What makes it special—moist, creamy, and delicious, is the addition of crème fraîche mentioned in a previous posting. I use only 1 large egg but of course the recipe can be increased. And of course fresh farm eggs from free range chickens will make it more of a treat than ever!

While heating the small non-stick frying pan on medium heat with a small amount of clarified butter (regular butter will do but lower the heat so it doesn’t burn), i break the egg into a small bowl and use one half of the shell to add a small amount of water—maybe a teaspoon. I dip my tiniest whisk into the crème fraîche and lift out a mound about the size of a walnut half. i plop it into the egg, add a sprinkling of salt, and freshly ground black pepper and whisk the mixture together until lightly mixed.

I scrape this egg mixture into the hot pan and let the eggs set for about 15 seconds. Then using the silicone spatula i draw the sides into the center, let them set for a few seconds and repeat this a few times until the eggs are softly scrambled.

Thinking about this recipe brought to mind one of my favorite articles I wrote for my former column in the L.A. Syndicate, several years ago.

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My Most Magic Ingredient: Crème Fraîche

Oct 20, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

Most cooks have a favorite “secret” (behind the scenes) ingredient that enhances the deliciousness of many dishes. Mine is crème fraîche. I first discovered it in France in the kitchen of my dear friend Nadège when she was making “moules marinières” and stirred a healthy dollop to the steaming mussels. Crème fraîche is heavy cream which has an added culture, rendering it thick and slightly tangy and totally delicious. On my return to the U.S. I tried making my own using 1 tablespoon of buttermilk to 1 cup of heavy cream that had not been ultra-pasteurized, and allowing it to sit in a warm spot for about 12 hours. To my surprise it was also excellent. Nowadays specialty stores in the U.S. carry crème fraîche so I don’t bother to make my own. But on a recent trip to Normandy, I tasted their variety which was ivory in color and so dreamy in flavor it made me want to pack up and move there on the spot!

Just as I always have butter, flour, and eggs on hand I also always have a small container of crème fraîche. I use it in my scrambled eggs, in chicken paprikash (sour cream breaks down when heated, crème fraîche does not), a spoonful in potato salad, as a finishing swirl in soups, lightly sweetened and whipped to go along side pies or tarts, in ganache, and an ample amount in my mussel dish. The following recipe comes from my book “Rose’s Melting Pot.”

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Panko Has Arrived!

Oct 13, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

I’ve been enjoying panko for many years now—since my friend David Shamah who owned a restaurant (and is always up on the latest wonderful ingredient and equipment) shared some with me. Panko is a bread crumb, originally from Japan, that is made from the heart of the bread, i.e. no crust. It is also slightly larger and more even in size than the average bread crumb.

I discovered the importance of bread crumbs without crust when I studied strudel baking in Austria. It’s actually entirely logical: The crust of bread is browned to the optimal degree for flavor—more and it would become bitter. When you brown bread crumbs in oil to toast them lightly, any crust mixed in with the crumbs would become too dark.

I was delighted to discover that Progresso, the manufacturer of plain and seasoned bread crumbs that I used prior to panko, is now producing panko in both plain and seasoned variety. This is proof that panko awareness has reached the heartland and will now be available to the consumer as well as food service!

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite dishes into which bread crumbs have made their way by sheer chance. One evening I was eating an oven-crisped baguette with linguine and clams and some of the crispy crumbs fell into the pasta. Now I add them intentionally every time and I’ve since discovered that bread crumbs are often added to pasta dishes in Italy. I wondered if perhaps they discovered this the same way as I did!

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Dukkah from Down Under

Sep 15, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

There are two things that enhance and accentuate the taste of bread and are worthy of a home-baked loaf. One is softened butter, preferably with a tiny bit of fleur de sel either in it or sprinkled on it. The other is dukka. This mid-eastern melange of toasted and ground spices and nuts was the most interesting recipe I discovered during my first trip to Adelaide Australia.. It provides one of the simplest yet most pleasing cocktail nibbles.

Thick pieces of crusty bread or baguette are dipped first into fruity olive oil which then acts as a magnet for the coarsely powdered blend of spices.

Dukkah, which is very popular in the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, actually arrived there via Claudia Roden’s book “A New Book of Middle Eastern Food.” It was made popular by restaurateur Russell Jeavons of Wilunga. The version I am offering is based on his award winning one. But feel free to take flight from this basic recipe and personalize it according to your own taste with different nuts (pistachio or hazelnuts are a good choice) or a difference blend or balance of spices. That’s what they do down under!

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Shrimp B & B—The Luxury Diet

Sep 01, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

My ideal diet is balance and moderation but I sometimes get carried away with the moment—the company—the food—the wine—and then, the next day, I start thinking about what I can eat that is low in calories but doesn’t make me feel deprived. My thoughts usually turn to shrimp—Brined and Boiled.

Since in my part of the country/world, it is close to impossible to find shrimp that have not been frozen before coming to market, I love to brine them which restores the lovely firm pre-frozen texture. It’s easy to do and takes little time. I’ve also worked out a method of “boiling” them that is very similar to hard cooking an egg, i.e. they don’t get boiled at all—just heated. This results in the most tender texture.

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Black Bing Cherry Sauce

Jul 03, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

in a posting about our ski trip to deer valley in march of this year, i wrote about a delectable sour cherry sauce that accompanied a dessert and promised that if i could work it out i would post it on the blog. as it turned out, the sour cherries that married so perfectly with the sweet dessert somehow clashed with the savory duck. it soon occurred to me that the sweeter bing cherries just might work. this week my theory proved right. though i resolved to take a break from blogging while on vacation, mainly because i am spending every waking hour cooking and baking for my father, leaving only enough time to hem his pants—he claims he’s shrinking and i suppose at 2 1/2 weeks sky of 93 he is probably right. but i had to post this recipe while the cherries are still in season—it is that good. luckily he is sleeping late this morning so as his breakfast bagel is heating i hasten to post this recipe.

by the way, frozen cherries work just fine so don’t feel bad if the cherry season has passed, or if fresh cherries aren’t available in your area. they are available in most supermarkets and come in conveniently sized 12 ounce bags!

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The Great Lobster Pig Out

Jun 17, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

One of my very favorite things to eat are fried clams but rarely do I find them worthy of eating. For one thing, if they are just the strips without the bellies, they are more batter than clam. Only if they are steamers (aka piss clams) so they won’t have the right texture variation from plump juicy to crisp chewy. And if the place uses a low grade commercial oil for frying and doesn’t change it often enough, the fried clams become all but indigestible. I have found one place in the world that makes fried clams exactly to my taste—The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport Maine (see below for contact info). (Actually this was a discovery of my eating partner in crime Elizabeth Karmel of Grill Friends). I have driven miles to get there from wherever part in Maine I find myself.

Sadly and obviously fried clams can’t be shipped, but to my delight, The Clam Shack has just started shipping their lobster roll kit! It is shipped overnight in Styrofoam, with icepacks, and despite the 90 degree weather it arrived in perfect condition—the ice still frozen and the lobsters, even the Styrofoam, smelling only of that dreamy briny/sweet sea-breeze aroma.

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My Sweet Little Rice Cooker

May 27, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

when i was growing up, and discovered the joys of fried rice at the local chinese restaurant, i wanted to be able to make it at home. to my disappointment the rice turned to mushy clumps when i tried frying it. i thought the chinese had some special secret to having each grain whole and separate. it wasn’t until many years later that i learned that rice for frying needs to be made ahead and allowed to dry overnight in the frig.

when i started living on my own, i learned something else about cooking rice. the instructions on the box were wildly inaccurate, calling for enough water to turn the rice mushy and splayed at the ends. i also failed to understand why wild rice that takes about an hour to cook would be packaged together with white rice that only requires maximum 20 minutes, thereby resulting either in overcooking the white rice or undercooking the wild. after many years, i finally perfected rice from uncle ben’s to basmati, from brown to wild, from sushi to butanese red. but my number one favorite way to make rice is what i call dirty rice.

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Deer Valley Bliss

May 12, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Travel Adventures

Deer Valley

I’m two vacation reports behind! so before launching into last month’s trip spent with friends in the Dordogne and Normandy and then my nephew and family in Germany I must first post some great photos and a sensational hamburger recipe from our annual March ski trip to our beloved Deer Valley Resort in Utah.

Julie Wilson, directory of food and beverage at the Deer Valley Resorts, told me they were the best burgers she had ever tasted. This was so true I had a second order the lunch before our return flight to NY. along with an equally exemplary “Blue Mojito” containing lime, rum, and blueberries. Recipe for the burgers appears below.

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Pork and Black Bean & Barley Soup

Feb 22, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

I was about to start writing about this newest soup recipe but had to jump up and eat a bowl first—it is that compelling a soup! After having fallen in love with the veal shoulder bean and barley soup a few weeks ago I started thinking about bones that have the most gelatin, and pig’s feet have them all beat, though calves' feet trot in as a close second.

PIG'S FEET SIMMERING

THE CHILLED GELLED STOCK

THE GRAND FINALE

After simmering the feet for 3 1/2 hours the meat, grizzle, and ligaments were easy to separate from the bones. And there were an astonishing number of little bones. It made me think of a story my mother told me many years ago about her experience in dental school. She recounted that the only difference between premed and predent(al) was when it came to autopsy. The predent students stopped short at the hands and feet. She never understood why but now I do—at least partially. There are more little bones in the feet than in any other part of the body. And I suppose they don’t relate to what is happening in the mouth (except for the metaphor of putting one’s foot in it!).

When I was growing up, my grandmother often made calf's foot jelly, called pitcha (which I wouldn’t eat). My Uncle B would walk over for a bowl of it at the shortest notice, he loved it so much. He would eat it still hot and then take back some to eat cold and jelled the next day. Grandma always added vinegar to the boiling feet and after researching pig’s feet I discovered that it wasn’t so much for flavor but rather for health. I wonder if she knew that vinegar leaches the valuable calcium out of the bones and into the stock! My husband suggested I call my version of this dish “Pig Pitcha”! By the way, the secret to keeping the beans (my addition) jet black is to add the water in which they were soaked along with the beans.

Actually this soup is surely exceptionally healthful. The pig’s feet have so little fat there was nothing to skim off after chilling. I love the idea of using every part of the animal we eat. This dish is so economical I felt justified in pairing it with a disproportionately expensive pinot or cabernet.

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A Sweet Tradition of Cookies

Feb 10, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

It started three Christmases ago when my dear friend and colleague (Taming the Flame, Girls at the Grill) Elizabeth Karmel decided to share her then 3 year old nephew August with me. So she bought him “Rose’s Christmas Cookies” and invited me up to her sister Mary Pat’s apartment in the high 90’s—4 1/2 miles from where I live--which felt like a state away (little did I know just how far I was going to have to travel in the future) and I gave August a cookie lesson. I was hooked and so was he. August introduced me to his favorite bear and invited me to sleep over. I was sad to have to decline. He dictated a thank you note to me which I treasure. And the following year, when his parents Mary Pat and Karl moved upstate to Katonah, I was invited back.


LET THE FUN BEGIN!


THE BOY'S FAVORITE PART


AUGUST SPORTING A CHARLIE CHAPLIN CHOCOLATE MOUSTACHE WITH ALEXANDER LOOKING ON


AUGUST PIPING THE BATTER



ME AND THE FUTURE COOKIE BAKER MAX


MARY PAT'S BEETS AND SWEETS READY TO BAKE

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I Flipped My Lid

Jan 22, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

Having fallen in love with my new cast iron pots with the intended use of baking bread, I found myself gazing admiringly at the lids when inspiration struck. Why not cook on the inverted lids ?! And why not borrow the technique of preheating them from the no knead bread recipe?

So I preheated the lid with the oven to 450ºF./230ºC. tossed some quartered little potatoes and a few mushrooms with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

The lid handle fits right through the opening in the oven rack keeping the lid stable. After about 30 minutes, turn the potatoes and remove the mushrooms. Sprinkle the potatoes with chopped garlic and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are browned and tender.

Happy Hanukka CranApple Sauce

Dec 15, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

i just saw my friend Rosanne Gold on the today show, demonstrating two recipes from her new cookbook "cooking for kids" 1-2-3. i 've long felt that in addition to sharing a name, we have a strong aesthetic bond and the proof this time was her apple sauce (the traditional accompaniment to latkes) prepared with apples, brown sugar and cranberries.

since we won't be home for dinner tonight (the first night of hanukka) i got a head start on my latke making a few nights ago. and as i still had some cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving (mine had some fresh ginger in it as well) i literally put 2 and 2 together and came up with the most beautiful and delicious applesauce ever.

uncharacteristically, i didn't measure--i just added the cranberry sauce to taste. really hard to go wrong with this! even using prepared apple sauce and cranberry sauce it will be great and i encourage you to try it.

i'm posting this without the photo (that should appear soon after) so hopefully you'll get it in time for tonight, but after all, hanukka is 8 days so there's plenty of time. oh dear--as i started to write that this cran-apple sauce will be delicious all year round my mind immediately leapt to pork chops--but not this week.

update: here's the photo...

Zucchini Blossoms

Sep 14, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

There’s a reason I can’t offer a photo of these exquisite fried blossoms: I couldn’t stop eating them to photograph them they were that compellingly delicious!

I’ve been wanting to try this dish for years and every year the season passed before I got to it. Now it will become an annual tradition.

The delicate blossoms puff up in the hot oil and obtain a fine crispy crust from the light batter while remaining slightly plush and moist inside. They have a surprisingly fresh and lovely aromatic flavor faintly reminiscent of the vegetable itself. And they’re quite quick and easy to prepare.

I love to use Wondra flour for the batter as it mixes so readily with the water and forms the most delicate coating.

First inspect each blossom by carefully opening it to ensure that there are no bugs hiding inside. Then rinse them quickly in a colander and pat them dry.

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The Re-Evolution of a Classic Dish: Ratatouille

Aug 30, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

My dear friend and culinary colleague Marguerite Thomas and I have been exchanging recipes since the outset of our friendship nearly a decade ago. She came up with a really cute idea for a joint cookbook entitled "e-mail eats"! but she's very busy with projects including travels for her column in "wine news" and www.winereviewonline.com where she and her husband Paul Lukas offer up inspired food and wine pairings. and I'm busy with my upcoming cake book. so I'm going to share one of the best of our "e-mail eats" collection right now while all the summer vegetables necessary for this timeless recipe are at their peak. and I'm going to include the original e-mail because the uniquely casual and friendly charm of Marguerite's writing is not something one finds very often if at all in recipe books!

Marguerite's ratatouille has become a summer tradition. it is superb with grilled leg of lamb or lamb chops and I always freeze little packages to enjoy with pasta during the winter. This is an idea borrowed from my beloved Sicilian friend and colleague Angelica Pulvirenti. She makes this dish for me every summer by sautéeing the vegetables in an ample amount of olive oil and then tossing it with pasta.

This summer, I tried something a little different for the ratatouille. i grilled the egg plant (cut in rounds), zuchinni (cut in half the long way), and peppers—uncut, all brushed well with olive oil. I used high heat, making sure to turn the vegetables and check for doneness to prevent blackening. The slight touch of smoky char was a fantastic addition.

Marguerite's original e-mailed recipe:

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A Recipe for Peace

Aug 12, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

When I listen to the news these days and hear reports of rockets from Lebanon bombarding Israel, I worry for my Israeli cousins and friends but my heart also aches for the Lebanese people. My first association with Lebanon was Kahlil Gibran and his treasured book of wisdom “the Prophet.”(“Your children are not your children, they are life’s longing for itself…”) My best friend from India named her first daughter Kahlila after him. Her second daughter was named Yael. She confided in me that she didn’t dare tell her parents that it was an Israeli name so she told them it was an Arabic name. When my liberal-minded Indian friend had her hair done in an Afro and discovered that New York taxi cabs wouldn’t stop for her, horrified, she lost no time in retreating to hair straightened back to its original Caucasian texture. Ironically, I am also reminded of an old Russian friend of my mother’s who told her father when introducing him to an East Indian man with dark skin she was dating that he didn’t speak English because he was an orthodox Israeli Jew.

So sad and so scary are the prejudices that infect our beautiful world. But getting back to Lebanon and my second association is the love affair I had when I was a young woman with a man I called “The Fifth Cellist.” It was love at first sight when I saw him in the “orchestra pit” in the fifth chair of the cello section. I had a vision of him playing the cello in Boston, in a wood-paneled library, with a ray of a late afternoon winter sun illuminating his dark golden curls. Not being able to stop myself, but heart pounding with daring, with great assumed authority I asked the chorus master to put a note on the fifth cello stand during intermission. He obliged without questioning.

On the fifth cellist’s return from intermission, I watched as he saw the note, as his surprised and intrigued eyes searched the audience like beacons, and in sheer terror I instantly dropped mine. All I had dared put into the note was my phone number. (He later told me that had it been a business card of any sort he would not have responded.) That night, studying the huge Janssen book of art history, I fell asleep until midnight when the phone rang and I heard the amazing words “This is the Fifth Cellist.”

We met the following week and it was magic for both of us. I learned that he was in the middle of a relationship with another woman but couldn’t resist satisfying his curiosity as to who would write such a note. I also learned that he was indeed from Boston. That he was half Lebanese and that his father and Kahlil Gibran were best friends. And eventually, months down the road, when we talked about the possibilities of a permanent relationship, and I speculated about how my Jewish relatives would react to my marrying an Arab, Richard told me how gentle and peace-loving the Lebanese were. The image he painted was of his uncles preferring to lie under an olive tree to any other activity—so different from what I as an American was led to imagine.

I’m sure I would have married my fifth cellist but he could not/would not leave the relationship to which he felt committed. Until some years later when I discovered from a baking student of mine who coincidentally turned out to be the best friend of “the other woman” that she was the one to run off with the husband of their best friend!

Here’s the story I finally wrote 16 years ago for my column in the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, in which I nestled in the romance and the recipe that, along with my lasting love of Lebanon, was my souvenir of those magical moments in time.

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Now Why Didn't I Think of That???!!!

Aug 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

i really don’t care—i’m just grateful someone, namely my wonderful colleague of “cooking one two three” fame: rosanne gold did. but doesn’t it seem that the most brilliant ideas elicit the above response?

in roseanne’s one two three concept, salt, pepper, and water don’t count (this is reasonable as they are basic staples/necessities). so here are the three star ingredients:

salmon fillets, wasabi powder (japanese horseradish) and mayonnaise.

i spread most of the lovely sea-foam green creamy wasabi mayo over the salmon before cooking but the recipe makes enough to serve some alongside as well. actually, i make sure to make enough salmon to have left-over to enjoy the next day cold with some of the wasabi mayo (elliott and i prefer the flavor of all fish cold).

this recipe is miraculously quick and phenomenally pleasing. the recipe was forwarded to me by my beloved protégé david shammah—after close to 30 years he knows what i love and is an absolute genius at unearthing wonderful things. this recipe will be part of my permanent repertoire and it could also change forever the way i enjoy egg salad sandwiches!

the original recipe was for 4 but of course it can be scaled up and down with ease. here’s my adaptation for two:

2 thick salmon fillets, skin on--8 ounces each
1 1/2 tablespoons wasabi powder
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons mayo (full fat for best flavor)

season the fish with salt and pepper.
mix wasabi with just enough water to form a smooth thick paste. whisk into mayo, add a small pinch of salt and pepper, and spread on top of the fillets to cover completely.

the original recipe says to bake it in a foil or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet for about 15 minutes (i assume at 350˚F) until the top is lightly golden, but i find the great rule of 10 min. an inch usually works. in any case i cook salmon only to about 108˚F so it’s still a little moist in the thickest parts which is just how rozanne recommended.

i oiled the salmon skin side lightly, set it atop a sheet of heavy duty foil with holes all over (make your own if they are no longer marketing this—i’ve had it for a few years now) and cooked it on the grill so that the skin got crisp, but you could remove the skin after cooking and crisp it in a sautée pan. (if using the foil and grill, use high direct heat but after about 5 minutes move the fish on the foil away from the heat—turn off the burner under the fish if using a gas grill to keep the skin from burning.) my grill was over 500˚F and the fish cooked perfectly in 8 minutes—still a little moist and rosy in the thickest part but succulent even in the thinner parts thanks to the mayo. and thank YOU rozanne!!!

Corn Memories

Jul 21, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

whenever i eat fresh local corn in mid july i'm always astonished by the sweetness and earliness of the harvest.

growing up in ny out of season corn was perceived as a 'vegetable.' it was starchy and not very crunchy and my little brother wouldn't even touch it if my mother didn't cut it off the cob. the real corn happened toward the end of august at my uncle nat's farm in the berkshires. no one would have referred to it as "eat your vegetables." it was CORN: fragrant, sweet little kernels that burst in your mouth--oh bliss. something to look forward to every summer.

uncle nat's philosophy on corn was that you start the water boiling before you go out into the field to cut the corn. he became ever more eccentric, often bringing the heating device and pot of water to the field and setting it right under the corn stalk so that the moment it was cut it could drop in, husk and all!

years later, i learned in my food studies classes that the moment corn is harvested the sugar starts turning to starch and that perhaps the most effective way to keep its full sweetness is by microwaving it which quickly destroys the enzyme that converts the sugar to starch.

i've tried many ways to make corn including the microwave. (my husband didn't like the microwave bc it softens the cob which he likes to chew--wisely so as much flavor is in the cob and in fact it's a great flavoring agent for chowders--remove it before serving.)

grilling corn can be excellent--the caramelizing sugar giving a delicious edge to the sweetness. but it can also toughen the delicate corn kernels if the heat is too high.

ultimately, my favorite method for best texture and truest corn flavor comes from uncle nat:

never salt the water--it toughens the corn.

as you're husking the corn, put a few of the paler husks (the ones closer to the kernels) into the boiling water.

husk the corn shortly before cooking it. place it in the boiling water and simmer covered for 4 to 6 minutes depending on the size of the kernels. if in doubt, lift one out with tongs and pierce a kernel with a cake tester or wooden skewer.

if i were to try to improve on this beautifully simple technique i might add some dekerneled cobs to the water sort of on the principle of flavoring the corn with more of itself! i suggested this type of thing to proctor and gamble years ago when asked how to make chocolate cake more chocolaty. one of my suggestions was to store the chocolate cake in a room filled with chocolate. chocolate so readily absorbs other aromas it would be absorbing more of itself!

another of my suggestions was to eat the cake in the same chocolate room as one tastes what one smells. maybe uncle nat had an inspiration there--cooking the corn in the field and eating it on the spot! but i was never witness to his doing that.

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