[Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen isn’t just one of the best chefs going today, she’s also a fantastic writer. Here’s her take on a sauce you met earlier this week, only with her unique twist. Take it away, Amanda!]
It’s not one of French cuisine’s mother sauces, nor is it a “daughter” sauce, but it is my favorite sauce and it was actually invented by a woman (Clémence Lefeuvre) so that already puts it one up on fussy old Escoffier. It’s beurre blanc (white butter) sauce and it will rock your world.
Not to pat myself on the back too eagerly, but it takes a certain talent to adapt a fancy restaurant dish into something that you’d really want to eat at home. Years ago, when I was lucky enough to eat at Jean-Georges, I ate one of his more famous dishes: a thin sliver of cauliflower balanced on a perfectly seared scallop sitting in a pool of a delightfully exotic caper raisin sauce. That sauce was unforgettable: both sweet and briny and endlessly fascinating. I knew I had to make it for Sauce Week, but I didn’t want to do anything overly fussy with the cauliflower and scallops. What I ended up making is maybe one of the best weeknight dinners I’ve ever made, and the sauce is so easy, you won’t believe your eyes.
A few months ago, when I first conceived of Sauce Week, I set out to make a dinner for myself that promised to be so outrageously decadent, I’d have to close my blinds before eating the first forkful. The premise was pretty basic–steak and potatoes–with one key difference. I was going to drench the whole thing in that most indulgent of French sauces, a sauce that contains more butter than most people eat in a month, yet a sauce so rich and sultry it’s pretty much the height of sophistication and elegance: I’m talking, of course, about Sauce Béarnaise.
Today’s lesson in Thanksgiving prep (are you sick of Thanksgiving yet? Tough!) concerns what is, in my opinion, the best part of the Thanksgiving table. No, I’m not talking about the napkin rings shaped like little turkeys, I’m talking about that glistening bowl of ruby red cranberry sauce. Its combination of tongue-tickling tartness and mouth-warming sweetness makes even the dullest bird sing. Sure, you could get it out of a can, but I won’t be coming back to your Thanksgiving table if you do that. My kind of cranberry sauce is the kind you make yourself and, frankly, it couldn’t be easier.
The other day I Tweeted a recipe and people really dug it. It’s not so much a recipe as it is an idea: “Next time you take a roast chicken out of the pan, pour in a glug of Maker’s Mark and whisk in 3 Tbs butter on high heat. You’re welcome.”
The truth was I’d only done it once before and liked it so much, I wrote that Tweet. Then after writing that Tweet I felt inspired to do it again and take pictures. That’s how this post was born.
When a significant other goes out of town, most people use that opportunity to watch bad movies, to pig out on ice cream, and to spread out gratuitously in bed while sleeping. Me? I make risky foods. No, I don’t mean risky in a danger sense–I’m not eating supermarket ground beef tartar–I mean in a “will this be good?” sense. I take bigger chances when Craig’s not here because if I screw up, no one’s there to scrunch up their nose. So on Saturday morning, when I woke up and wanted breakfast, I opened Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book and studied the recipe for a sandwich that she says is Mari Batali’s favorite. It’s basically boiled eggs on arugula doused in Bagna Cauda. I didn’t have any bread and I didn’t have any arugula, but I did have the ingredients to make Bagna Cauda. And eggs. And, also–somewhat weirdly–farmer’s market Brussels Sprouts. An idea was born.
I’ll let you in on a blogging secret. We bloggers want you to click all over our blogs because every time you click, we make $0.001 and, eventually, that adds up. (That’s why all successful food bloggers ride around in Porsches or, in my case, the subway.)
So it’s a fairly significant fact that in this post about salsa verde I am not going to link to the salsa verde in my archives, the one that I made in September 2010 (and that you can easily find by searching in the search box). That’s because, now that I’ve made that same recipe in a mortar and pestle, I disavow the old method. A mortar and pestle is the only way to do it.
The first time that I heard the word Sriracha, it was on an episode of “Top Chef” where the chefs tried to make Sriracha ice cream. Even though I’d been eating Thai food since college (at Doc Chey’s Noodle House in Atlanta) and I’d seen the red bottle on the table with the rooster logo, I didn’t know the name of the sauce that it contained.
But Sriracha, a spicy emulsion of chilis, garlic, and vinegar, is prized by chefs all over. You can find it in most speciality stores (Whole Foods has it in the international aisle) and if you squeeze a bit on to your take-out Chinese food or Thai noodles, you’ll punch everything up into the stratosphere. Your mouth will cry: “Oh baby.”