Cookbook author Deborah Madison tells me fennel is in the carrot family. Its nicknames include bulb fennel, Florence fennel, and finocchio. Formally, it's Foeniculum vulgare var. Azoricum.
Fennel, apparently, is one of the more efficient vegetables. You can eat the bulb, the stalks and the feathery fronds that remind me of dill, except they taste better.
Still, who could guess that the hollow stalks of fennel, the smaller ones, can be used as straws. I don't know why I would know that, but I'm glad to learn this trivia from someone who much more intimately understands and knows her vegetables. I guess that's why I bought Vegetable Literacy, though the gorgeous book cover was also hard to ignore....
Every time we have Moules à La Marinière for dinner it feels so elegant. As if we are in France, eating mussels very much the way Julia and Paul Child would have. The recipe comes, of course, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
In Julia Child's masterpiece of a cookbook, she dedicates several pages to mussels, starting with this simple and fresh preparation. Mussels are steamed for a few minutes with wine, shallots, parsley, thyme and butter. The buttery, herbal sauce infused with the juices of mussels at the bottom of the pot — you'll need a spoon and plenty of bread for that. ...
Do you have an Italian grandmother? Neither do I. My abuelita is Nicaraguan, and she makes fantastic arroz aguado and sopa de frijoles. I'll tell you about it some time.
But the latest issue of Food & Wine is all about Italian food and Mario Batali is the guest editor. When Danny came home the other night with a pastamaker and ravioli attachment, I bookmarked several pasta dishes. And then … a picture of what looked like eggplant nachos distracted me long enough to change my direction....
On our main cookbook shelf sits Mark Bittman's bright red tome of a cookbook, the one with recipes for everything. Flip to Page 645 of our copy, and you'll see a recipe bordered in the scribbles of my boyfriend's scratchy reporter handwriting. There are tweaks and exclamation marks.
Now that we've got this recipe for roast chicken down, it deserves an exclamation mark or two.
I know what you're thinking. This is probably the first thing we should have learned how to do. Everyone knows how to roast a basic chicken, right? Or they should. Now we do, and it's one of the best things ever....
Spring officially starts today.
Break out the bathing suits, the grill and the flip-flops.
Don't forget the ice cream.
I usually keep a pint of good vanilla ice cream in our freezer, and occasionally we pick up strawberry, Danny's favorite. But it may be a while before I buy another.
We decided to make our own ice cream. Without an ice cream maker.
And it worked....
By now, the campaign for brussels sprouts hardly needs any help from me.
They're seen proudly offered on menus, often served in a mini cast-iron skillet with bacon or pancetta. I've seen a slideshow featuring a dozen favorite Brussels sprouts dishes from restaurants in New York City.
Brussels sprouts have been the "it" girl for a while, kind of the Anne Hathaway of vegetables. (Which vegetable would be the Jennifer Lawrence? Maybe it's too early to tell.) ...
How many blood oranges does a girl have to squeeze to get 1½ cups of juice? Nine. I won't forget it because the last one squirted into the bowl, yes, but also across the page that held the recipe for Blood Orange-Braised Pork Shoulder, thus christening my new cookbook.
The cookbook is Aida Mollenkamp's Keys to the Kitchen and I'm pretty sure that this won't be the last page to end up sauced or stained. Her cookbook is a wealth of information, and it's already taken a spot in our section of essential cookbooks, very close to Mark Bittman, Yotam Ottolenghi, and the classic Joy of Cooking. Actually, in one of the Amazon reviews, someone referred to Mollenkamp's book as a modern, updated version of Irma Rombauer's classic American cookbook. And I can see why....
My fellow mustard lovers, this one's for you.
This week's recipe is Chicken Dijon, a stew with crispy, browned chicken enveloped in a rich sauce of cream, coarse mustard and herbs. Stews have become our go-to dinner around here, and this one is our current favorite.
We fell hard for stews because few other dinners are so forgiving and delicious. Anyone can make a stew, and they are perfect for the fickle weather these days. You know, the 80-degree afternoon followed by a night in the 50s....
I should probably have joined a gym by now, two weeks into the new year. Danny has taken up swimming for days when he's not running or playing tennis. You're more likely to find my enthusiasm for health on the food side of things. Yes, even the salads and everything else green that magazines are presenting to you this month. Honestly, it's what I crave. Keep any stray holiday cookies to yourself....
Bacon and tofu, as it turns out, can be friends.
There's a lot going on in this sandwich, which comes from a Sunset magazine feature, Tofu for Meat Lovers. The ciabatta bread is toasty and crisp. Thick slabs of tofu are charred and flavorful from a long bath in soy sauce, and a few sesame seeds stay on. The great thing about tofu is that it will absorb the flavors of whatever you add to it, which makes it incredibly versatile....
It's the peak of cookie baking and consumption, and ovens everywhere are working overtime. With Christmas just a few days away, you're probably in really deep. Cookie sheets are in high rotation. You've made a lot of sugary cookies, decorative icing, plus gingerbread spiced cookies, thumbprints with glistening centers of jam, and chocolate in all forms.
How about date bars for something different? The classic bar cookie with a jam of sweet dates between layers of crumbly oats and cinnamon is perfect for the holidays, and yet you don't see it enough....
You weren't supposed to see this yet. Neither was Danny. The book that provided this recipe for goat cheese bruschette with roasted grapes and toasted walnuts was delivered on a day he was home and I wasn't. Curiosity killed one of his Christmas presents.
But it's not so bad. It meant I was able to make this bruschette (plural for bruschetta, by the way) and share it with you way before Christmas. ...
There will be turkey, as always. Mashed potatoes, something with cranberry, and all the other usual suspects, though I hope there's room on your Thanksgiving table for something new.
In my Spanglish home in Miami, we always have turkey and creamy mashed potatoes, but the rest of the holiday spread fluctuates from year to year. Sometimes it's a little more traditional and sometimes it leans more in the direction of Nicaraguan food with taquitos and gallopinto. ...
The first time I made granola, well, I didn't mean to. I was trying to bake my favorite oatmeal raisin cookies, though I somehow forgot the butter. Or was it the flour? The resulting oatmeal raisin granola was good. We ate it all.
Years after that mishap, it was time to try making granola on purpose. It wasn't as simple as expected. The first batch was definitely extra toasty, burned really, and I couldn't have served it to anyone other than my resident taste tester, Danny. But I could tell this recipe had potential. I just needed to get it right....
During a weekend visit to Danny's home state of Iowa, a longtime friend of his treated us with a bag of culinary goodies she collected during her trip to Spain: a creme of sardine and whiskey pate in a small red and gold tin; a scorpionfish pate in a box with a drawing of the notoriously ugly sea creature on it; a tin of pimenton and another containing blood sausage pate.
Everything made it home with us except the blood sausage pate, which I will not forgive TSA for confiscating at the airport. After all, in what world would that be considered a liquid?...