Three recipes, that’s where I draw the line when it comes to sharing recipes from a cookbook. Anything beyond that, and I’m no longer advertising a book that you should buy and I’m just poaching recipes for my own gain. So it’s with great sadness that I post my third and final recipe from Marion Cunningham’s wonderful Breakfast Book. Together we’ve made her raised waffles (a recipe I actually got from Kim Severon’s SpoonFed but it comes from The Breakfast Book) and her Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins. Now comes another muffin recipe, but a peculiar one; a muffin that’s more fruit than muffin. And that’s what makes it great.
Here’s what I’m starting to get about L.A.: L.A. cherishes its secret hole-in-the-wall dining destinations. People would rather eat at a restaurant that nobody knows about yet than one everyone’s clamoring to get into. In New York, things are more open. For example, the restaurant-of-the-moment in New York right now is Carbone and everyone’s Tweeting and Instagramming and talking to their therapist about going there. In L.A., there are restaurants so exclusive they don’t take reservations and you can’t go to them unless you’re invited (see: Yamakase). I think the L.A. vibe is a product of celebrity culture, one in which well-known people want to remain incognito while enjoying the best life has to offer. As a result, some of L.A.’s best dining experiences are hidden away like little buried treasures waiting for you to find them.
Healthy dinners don’t fare very well if you refer to them as healthy dinners. You might know in your head that it’s a healthy dinner, but if you call it that, forget about it, everyone at the table’s going to groan.
So do what I do: package a healthy dinner inside a package everyone already knows. For example, make a vegetable curry. When you hear the word “curry” you think “oooh flavor, spice, heat, Tim Curry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, toucha-toucha-toucha-touch me.” The best part is: once you have the basic technique down, you can apply it to a wide variety of vegetables. Let me show you what I mean.
Very rarely does a chef get a 4-star review while a critic is still at the table, but in my case our resident critic (that would be Craig) exclaimed, on biting into the fish you see above, “This is seriously the best fish I’ve ever had in my life. You could charge $40 for this at a restaurant!”
You might think Craig was hyperbolizing, but when I bit in I felt the same way. And it wasn’t like I considered myself a big fish expert by any means; because good fish takes more effort to find than good chicken or good produce, I very rarely make it. This dinner was a total anomaly but because it turned out so terrific, I’m thinking it’ll become a regular weeknight staple for us. Why did it turn out so good? Let’s examine.
It’s almost the weekend and it’s time I got something off my chest. The Eggs Adam Roberts I’ve been linking to and talking up all these years as my main recipe legacy isn’t the Eggs Adam Roberts that I make for myself and Craig every weekend. That old Eggs Adam Roberts was a product of a different time, a more innocent age, an era of sour cream and milk whisked into the eggs before pouring them into the skillet. I haven’t used sour cream and milk in my Eggs Adam Roberts since the early aughts.
At the grocery store, you may have noticed, you can’t buy skinless chicken thighs that have bones. You can buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs or you can buy chicken thighs with the skin and bones still attached. If you want your chicken thighs to have bones and no skin, you’ll have to remove the skin yourself.
Which is precisely what I did, the other day, when I made that unbelievably good chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives. I just yanked that skin right off and there it sat on the cutting board, looking like flabby detritus destined for the garbage can, or Buffalo Bill’s chicken skin cloak. But then I had an idea.
Speaking of British food people, did you know that Daniel Day-Lewis’s sister is a cookbook writer over there? Her name is Tamasin Day-Lewis and hey, look, she’s on Twitter. I picked up her book Supper For A Song when I visited Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York; I’ve really enjoyed flipping through it, so on the day I made that chicken tagine I decided to put her book to the test for dessert. You never know if a cookbook purchase has been worthwhile until you cook from it. Would this one measure up? Click ahead to find out.
British food culture intrigues me. It’s a center-of-the-universe kind of thing; Americans think our food celebrities (everyone from Anne Burrell to Guy Fieri) are universally famous, whereas, across the pond, there exists a whole other universe of equally prominent food figures that most Americans have never heard of. We have Mark Bittman, they have Nigel Slater. We have Rachael Ray, they have Nigella Lawson (though we had her here for a bit with “The Taste”). We have Paula Deen, they have Two Fat Ladies. You get the idea.