Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cooking it Old School

Some recipes are passed-down-from-your-grandmother's-grandmother old.  Some recipes are original-Good-Housekeeping-Joy-of-Cooking-whatever-is-your-recipe-bible old.  Some recipes are just I-honestly-can't-remember-when-I-started-making-this-I-can't-remember-when-I-didn't-know-how old.  This is the latter.  I have a very dear (and sadly pretty empty) cookbook that my mother gave me.  In it she wrote some "recipes" and some recipes for things we a) made a lot and b)she thought I could actually cook.  This recipe isn't in there.  Instead I have a recipe card, presumably right out of her recipe box, possibly predating my cookbook.  It was one of the first dinners I could make that you could actually serve to people.  I have never once made it for a dinner party (true confession:  I have never in my life had a dinner party.  I think I'm depressed by that.  I should have a dinner party.  Why don't my friends live close enough for a dinner party?).  But close to 10 years ago, I did walk my dearest friend Lizzie through making it for a dinner party she was throwing.  This strikes me as pretty hilarious in retrospect.  It's not like I was a particularly accomplished chef back then, but Lizzie is the kind of person who needs to be told that garlic is not supposed to turn black when you saute it in butter.  But evidently I considered myself enough of an expert (at least in comparison to her) to play the part of Cyrano de Berger-chef.  Although this may seem like a nasty put down of my friend and a disturbing display of overconfidence on my part, there's really only one take away.  This recipe is obscenely easy.  It had to be. When I walked her through it, I was in San Francisco, at least 3000 miles from any recipes I possessed and I was not at a point when I could cook without a recipe. She had exactly the culinary chops listed above.  And yet, instant dinner party!

Can you remember back to the first thing you knew how to cook?  Was it simple or dinner party ready?  Share in the comments!


1 1/2 C canned chopped tomatoes
1 lb raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
3 T olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
1/4 to 1/2 C dry white wine (or vermouth)
1/2 t oregano
2 oz feta, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, heat your olive oil to medium low. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring periodically.  They shouldn't brown.   Stir in the tomatoes, wine, oregano, and bring to a boil.  Cook uncovered until it thickens to a light puree (probably around 5 minutes).  Add the shrimp and cook over moderate heat about 7-10 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.  The exact amount of time for the shrimp varies depending on whether you have a pound of little shrimp (which will cook more quickly) or a pound of big shrimp (which will cook more slowly).  Remove from the heat and crumble in the feta.  Give it a good mix. Serve over rice.  Pretend you know how to cook.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Artichoke Olive Pesto

Among my husband's list of food rules is an absolute hard and fast ban on basil.  When we met, he explained that he just didn't like it.  After years together, I realized that it must be some type of food allergy.  If he has any, even by accident, he becomes extremely nauseated, something I witnessed first hand on our honeymoon. Nothing says romance than the person across from you turning vaguely green while you beg the waiter to tell you what was in the appetizer.  

Most of the time, I'm okay with the basil-free life I've chosen.  It's taken years, but I no longer eye the jar longingly when I'm making a sauce.  I can revel in a juicy summer heirloom tomato without its fresh flavor topping off the silky mozzarella.  Most of the time, I can.  But sometimes, I just need to indulge in my pesto fix.  In Boston, this meant ordering a heavenly pesto pizza from Upper Crust.  Especially the kind with Artichokes on it.  So good.  In Philly, it meant picking up a small container of Artichoke Salsa from Metropolitan Bakery.  Out here in the burbs I have yet to identify a basil dealer.  Instead, I've adapted the Artichoke Salsa recipe to remove the basil.  Because if I can't have the real deal, I might as well pretend.

(adapted from The Metropolitan Bakery Cookbook)
Although I served it with tortellini, it's really much better as a spread for a cracker or pita chip.  Yum.

6 oz artichokes (I used frozen ones that I defrosted in the microwave)
1/4 C collasquillo olives
1/4 C kalamata olives (so basically, 1/2 C of olives of your choosing, have fun at the olive bar!)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese
juice from 1/2 lemon
black pepper to taste
salt??? - with the olives I chose, there was no need for salt whatsoever, you may feel differently

Toss everything in a blender or food processor and give it a few whirs until blended nicely!

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Greek" Duckfat Potatoes

I quite willingly admit my ethnic cooking is largely inauthentic, even if it is tasty, hence the quote marks around "Greek."  I'm calling these "Greek" largely because of the spices I used on them and the fact that they are absolutely heavenly with tzatziki sauce.   So good.  It's entirely possible that this just serves as further illustration that everything goes with duck fat.  Clearly I'm not the only person to believe that though because there's a restaurant I'm just dying to go to in Portland, Maine called Duckfat.  They have duck fat poutine.  A pilgrimage must be made.  In the meanwhile however, I'll just keep finding new excuses to introduce potatoes and duck fat.

inspired by my Uncle John

2 medium baking potatoes (organic if at all possible as you'll be eating the skin)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dried dill
1/8 t garlic powder
~ 3 T duck fat

NB:  This cooks much, much better in a cast iron pan.  I tried a non-stick once just because it was a bigger pan and it did not brown them evenly at all.  Seriously, get out your cast iron.

Scrub your potatoes well, again because you'll be eating the skin.  Then stab them all over with a fork, you know, so they don't explode.  Then pop them in the microwave for 2 minutes.  After 2 minutes, turn them over and microwave them for 5 more minutes.  Use an oven mitt or other hand protection because "hot potato" isn't just a kids' game and take the potatoes out of the oven and place them on a plate.  Then wrap the plate with aluminum foil, closely sealing it around the edges so no steam escapes.  Set your timer for 7 minutes and just let them sit on the counter.  While they're getting ready, get out your cast iron and your duck fat so you can be ready to go.  You'll want to add the potatoes to a nice hot pan where you've melted 1-2 tablespoons of your duck fat.  Okay, so when then timer goes off, you slice the potatoes in rounds (probably 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick).  You'll need a sharp knife and again, something to protect your hand.  They may be almost falling apart, so a sharp knife will help, also the skin will help hold them together.  Lay the potatoes in the in pan and cook for five minutes.  When you go to flip them, feel free to add another tablespoon of duckfat.  While they are cooking, mix up your spices, the salt, dill and garlic powder.  You can sprinkle them once you've flipped them and then give another healthy sprinkle one they're done.  Serve with tzatziki for a special treat.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Alive!

I know.  I never call, I never post, how would you know?  Things have been relatively overwhelming lately, I'm still recovering from all the travel and cooking has not been my strength lately, insert additional whiny world's smallest violin worthy excuses here.  I do have some recipes stockpiled, although I am using that word in a very loose sense, since by stockpiled I mean I have a couple random post-its around my kitchen, possible notes in a cookbook, a pretty good recollection of how I made something and a photo of a typed recipe from my mother. It's all very scientific and official around here.  And in the name of science, let's help me stall for time gather some data.


Related Posts with Thumbnails