Admit it: we all watch “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” So we all saw it when Dina’s daughter derided the coleslaw set out for her going-away party to Cyprus. “Who ordered all this coleslaw?” she groused and we all laughed because that gloppy, mayonnaisey mound of coleslaw did look pretty nasty.
But take heart, New Jersey housewives: I give you a recipe for coleslaw so simple and so satisfying, I can type the whole thing in this paragraph. It comes from Suzanne Goin’s “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” and takes no time at all. Here, have your personal chef do the following: slice half a green cabbage really thinly and half a red cabbage really thinly. Toss together with one grated carrot and half a red onion sliced thinly. Now take half a cup of red wine vinegar, put it in a little pot, and boil until reduced by half (“Oy that smell!”) Add 2 Tbs honey to the hot vinegar and then pour over the cabbage, carrot and onion, along with salt and pepper. Toss and let sit 15 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup mayo, chopped chives and chopped parsley, toss all together and you’re done. Colorful, killer coleslaw! Enough to make your husbands go, “Fuhgetaboutit.”
If you’ve been alive in the last week, you’ve no doubt heard of Susan Boyle. She comes from Scotland–Blackburn, West Lothian to be exact–and has taken the world (and YouTube) by storm with her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in which the audience, dubious of her looks, her dress and her speaking style, got put in their place the second she started singing–by the end, they were electrified. Let’s go to the tape:
Easy. Shockingly easy. Are you ready? In one paragraph, here we go (courtesy of David Tanis and his marvelous book, “A Platter of Figs.”) Buy parsnips (4 to 5 pounds). Heat the oven to 375. Peel the parsnips. Quarter them lengthwise; remove the central core. If they’re large, cut them into 3-inch lengths. Toss with olive oil (appx. 3 Tablespoons), salt and pepper and roast in a small baking dish for 45 minutes until they’re tender and brown. They’re sweet and earthy and delicious and go great with roast chicken, pork, or other roasted root vegetables. And they take less than one paragraph to make.
Craig’s cousin Matt came to stay with us this past week and he and his friend (who also stayed with us) had a wild time. Out every night, hitting up the town, they’d wake up bleary-eyed every morning and ask me what Craig and I did the night before. “We, ummm, bought a keg and threw a block party,” I’d lie, ashamed of the truth: that I’d made dinner, we’d watched “The Wire” on DVD, and went to bed early.
And then any credibility I had as a vibrant young person went out the window when they came home one day to find me at the stove next to a pile of cherry pits.
‘What are you doing?” they asked, watching me sweat and stir.
“I’m making sour cherry jam,” I said.
They looked at one another and then back at me. “You’re making your own jam?” they asked, incredulously.
“Yes,” I said and suddenly felt my hair turn gray, my glasses slide down my nose, and my back hunch over. “Oh no!” I gasped. “Can it be? Do I have I.G.S.?”
I checked my symptoms online, consulted a web doctor, and my worst fears were confirmed: I’d caught the bug, and I wasn’t going to get better. Instant Grandma Syndrome. I was a hunched-over jam-maker, and “Golden Girls” reruns and early bird specials were to become my new way of life.
Please ignore the short rib in the above photo and focus on the cloud of white beneath it. That, my friends, is what we in the cooking industry (or the food blogging industry) call a potato puree. It’s a blend of riced potato innards (Yukon Gold & russets), two sticks of butter, heated cream and milk.
We owe this recipe to Suzanne Goin and her “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” which caused us some consternation two weeks ago when it almost killed us with melted plastic.
But my friend Jimmy was coming over for dinner last Sunday and I wanted to impress: so I turned to page 301 for Suzanne’s “Braised Beef Short Ribs with Potato Puree.” The rib recipe was fairly typical: brown in oil, aromatize with onion, carrot and celery, and deglaze with red wine and stock (plus, here, port and balsamic vinegar). The end result was scrumptious and comforting in this cold weather, but my heart belonged to the potato puree.
Hanukkah may be over today, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to make latkes. If you’ve never made latkes before, may I suggest you do so tonight?
It’s pretty easy and pretty rewarding. Granted, it’s not guiltless food: eating a bunch of latkes is basically equivalent to eating a bunch of french fries, so you may want to serve them on a treadmill with a side of personal trainer. But holiday time is about treating yourself, isn’t it, and when was the last time you tre
[THIS POST HAS BEEN INTERRUPTED BY A FAN WHO JUST APPROACHED ME AT THE COFFEE SHOP WHERE I AM WRITING THIS. SHE SAYS SHE’S BEEN READING ME FOR A LONG TIME, THAT SHE’S A GEOGRAPHY TEACHER AND THAT SHE LIVES IN BUFFALO. I TOLD HER THAT I AM TERRIBLE AT GEOGRAPHY, THAT I REALLY DIDN’T KNOW WHETHER PHILADELPHIA WAS NORTH OR SOUTH OF NEW YORK, AND SHE GAVE ME A PITYING LOOK.]
Where was I? Oh yes, latkes. Let’s continue below, shall we?
“This is a coup,” said Craig, eagerly chewing a caramelized, spicy, salty, and sweet Brussels Sprout. “This could get kids eating Brussels sprouts all over the country.”
The recipe comes from superstar chef David Chang and it’s a knock-out. It’s a knock-out at his restaurant and it’s a knock-out at home. The components marry in such a way that you’ll start tap-dancing up your wall and moon-walk across the ceiling. I skipped the Rice Krispies bit because I couldn’t find Japanese five-spice powder, but it still came out fantastic.
The recipe was printed in last month’s Gourmet and you can read it online here. I also tried his recipe for the apple salad with bacon but that didn’t fare as well. The bacon I used–which actually wasn’t bacon at all, but a D’Artagnan cured pork belly that I sliced into my own lardons–didn’t produce enough fat to make the dressing. But the peanuts were a tasty snack later. And honestly, if you make a ton of those Brussels Sprouts no one will want anything else. They’re a meal–a feast–unto themselves.
Here’s a secret for successful cooking: follow your urge. Too often we punish ourselves with recipes that are supposed to be good for us or easy to do instead of trusting the greatest tool we have, the little voice in our head that tells us what we’re hungry for.
If you have a craving for pizza or pasta or Lobster Thermidor, that’s a very lucky thing: that’s your body telling you what will make it happiest. Pay close attention, then, and react accordingly. For example, on Friday night my body had an urge for cauliflower. Not just any cauliflower, though: the roasted cauliflower I had with Heidi and Bruce at Pizza Delfina in San Francisco. It’s an entire head of cauliflower roasted with capers and red chile flakes and all other kinds of seasonings.
I thought I’d have to wing it, but then I found this recipe on Epicurious and you know what? It was awesome. You just take a head of cauliflower, get rid of the green, rub the whole thing with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop into a 450 oven until it’s dark golden brown. When it comes out, you pour a vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice and capers over the top. I added some red chile flakes to give it some heat and served it up with the leftover pork from the other night.
Oh my, how it hit the spot. See? Take my advice: listen to your craving. It guarantees success each and every time you cook. Unless, of course, you have a craving for food that is unsuccessful. That’s a conundrum even I can’t solve.