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Chicken in Shiso Miso Sauce ››:

Chicken in Shiso Miso Sauce served with Pea Shoots Stir Fried with Garlic and Ginger Shiso Miso tastes like a cross between hoisin sauce and fermented black bean paste (not as sweet as the former, but not as pungent as the latter). As mentioned earlier, I've been frequenting Russo's market on a regular basis as of late, picking up all sorts of interesting produce and other ingredients. A few weeks ago I picked up a bunch of fresh Shiso Leaves—something I've never cooked with before, but had experienced at Japanese restaurants—and used them to make a shiso miso. We've used the resulting concoction a few times since then, with a dab or two to flavor rice or as a steak sauce.

Tonight I used the shiso miso in place of black bean sauce in the classic Chinese chicken dish (I've never found a distinct name, but I've also never come across a Chinese cuisine cookbook that did not include a dish of hacked up chicken stir fried with fermented black bean paste). I served it surrounded by fresh pea shoots (another Russo's find) that had been stir-fried with some garlic and ginger. It was good. Very good. And even the kids liked it.

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Posted on Jun 08, 2003 @ 10:10 PM [0 Comments on Chicken in Shiso Miso Sauce]

Beef Brisket A La Lola ››:

Passover Seder 2003: Brisket of beef as usual. But, this time, with a twist.

Beef Brisket (or short ribs or pot roast or any beef braise) is a perfect meal for entertaining. Especially when entertaining in the middle of the week and you don't have a whole lot of time to cook. “What!” you may exclaim (go ahead, I'll wait...) “Doesn't brisket take hours to cook?” Well, yes, yes it does—about three hours, in fact (doesn't matter how large a brisket either, as all briskets are of pretty much the same thickness and it's the thickness of meat that affects cooking time). But, you do have 3 hours to do some cooking the night before, don't you? And doesn't everyone say that brisket always tastes better the next day? And wouldn't it be great if it were really easy to remove the fat after cooking? And wouldn't it be great to entertain and have the food follow your schedule rather than you follow the food's?

Well, with beef brisket, you make it the night before, and let it cool in the refrigerator. Before your guests arrive, get rid of the fat from the brisket which has conveniently solidified for you to pick it out with a fork, cut up a few extra vegetables, pop it all in a warm oven, and enjoy your company until you are ready to eat.

And the twist? Well, I just read about it the other day in Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America. It's Coca Cola. No kidding. Add a can of that stuff to your braise and the results will be simply awesome. In fact, my mom said that this year's brisket was better than hers. Now, if that doesn't convince you to make this, I don't know what will.

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Posted on Apr 20, 2003 @ 08:13 PM [0 Comments on Beef Brisket A La Lola]

Bluefish en Papillote ››:

Bluefish En Papillote When Francie and I first got married one of the regular dishes in my repertoire was a simple James Beard dish for Mackerel en Papillote. “En Papillote” means “in paper,” a simple cooking method in which food is wrapped in parchment paper along with various aromatics, herbs and seasonings and cooked in the oven. In the Fat One's recipe a fillet of mackerel was laid out a bit off center in the middle of a circle of parchment paper, seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with a few lemon slices, shmeared with bit of Dijon style mustard, dotted with dollops of sweet cream butter and dusted with chopped parsley. The parchment paper was folded over the fillet and the edges of the paper where folded over a few times to make a seal. The whole thing was to be cooked in a 450° oven for 18 minutes.

But parchment paper is such a pain—not always easy to find and I'll be damned if I could ever get the stuff to fold over well enough to make a seal. On the other hand, aluminum foil is pretty easy to find and crimps, well, it darn well should be called crimping foil as far as I'm concerned. Yes, the parchment paper looks very pretty when served table side. Wonderful stuff for a romantic dinner or fancy restaurant. But foil works fine at home and lets my family have a dinner worthy of the fanciest of restaurants anytime they please.

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Posted on Mar 30, 2003 @ 08:47 PM [2 Comments on Bluefish en Papillote]

Turkey Remainder Soup ››:

Turkey carcass soup with cabbage and escarole

My favorite serving of the Thanksgiving turkey is not the meat at the meal, but the soup made from the mostly stripped turkey carcass for Sunday supper. Turkey Remainder Soup has all the qualities one looks for in honest cuisine. It is nutritious and satisfying for both the body and the soul (as all good soups are). It is the epitome of frugality and practicality, squeezing yet one more use (and two more meals for a family of four) out of what's already a relatively inexpensive ingredient. It is also simple in preparation, presentation and consumption.

This recipe is inspired by Italian Wedding Soup (Minestra Maritata). Now, Italian Wedding Soup (the original Neapolitan dish, not the American meatball versions) has absolutely nothing to do with a couple joining together in matrimony. Rather the “Wedding” in the name refers to the harmonious marriage of simple ingredients (cured meats and flavorful greens like green cabbage, escarole and broccoli rabe) in a flavorful soup. In this case the traditional ham and salami (or meatballs for most Americans) is replaced with the bones from a roast turkey and whatever meat may still cling to them.

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Posted on Dec 01, 2002 @ 10:14 PM [3 Comments on Turkey Remainder Soup]

Brine That Bird ››:

We pick up our turkey Tuesday from Owen's Poultry Farm in Needham (no website, but the phone is 781-444-1861). Wednesday morning the bird (which we traditionally name Owen for obvious reasons) goes into its salty bath to brine for the day. Brining turkey results in tasty, moist turkey (or chicken or pork or any very lean meat, for that matter) that's all but impossible to overcook. This year brining seems to have become the latest food trend, but it's actually a concept that's been around for thousands of years (ever hear of corned beef?), and I've been brining the bird since I first heard about it in Cooks Illustrated about five years ago. It's simple, and once you've done it, you'll never go back.

A good brine for a 12 hour or so soak is 1-1/2 cups kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar to every gallon of water. Your standard 12-14 pound bird will rest comforably in two gallons of the stuff. Since I don't have a walk-in, I put the bird and the brine in a heavy-duty trash bag which I then place in a cooler packed with lots of ice. Some people add herbs or spices to the brine, but for a short brine time like this (as opposed to corned beef, which sits in it's spiced brine for days), I don't find that additions beyond salt and sugar add anything other than expense. After a 12 hour soak, I take the bird out of the brine and let it sit loosely covered in the refrigerator so that the skin has a chance to dry out a bit (a soggy skin going into the oven will be a soggy skin coming out of the oven, and I like my roast poultry to have a crispy skin).

Posted on Nov 22, 2002 @ 09:14 AM [5 Comments on Brine That Bird]

Veal Osso Buco ››:

Osso Bucco served with Cavolo Capuccio alla Sarda

Osso Buco means bone with a hole. It was one of my father's favorite dishes, primarily due to the incredibly rich and flavorful marrow that you can suck out of that hole in the middle of the bone. It's one of my favorite dishes too for the very same reason.

Osso Buco is simply thickly cut veal shank browned in olive oil and then braised in a flavorful liquid with mirepoix (diced onion, carrot and celery). Osso Buco Milanese is the classic preparation, made with just olive oil, mirepoix, garlic, marjoram and/or thyme, wine and stock, and finished with a sprinkling of gremolata (a mix of chopped parsley, crushed garlic, and grated lemon and/or orange peel). Most modern preparations add tomatoes, but I rather like the traditional Northern Italian preparation described here.

I do mess with the traditional (and, of course, significantly) by adding some pan–fried diced pancetta and using the fat rendered from the pancetta instead of olive oil to brown the meat and sauté the vegetables. The pancetta adds a nice salty-sweetness that complements the richness of the veal and stock without overpowering either. Don't substitute American style bacon for pancetta, though, as the smokiness of the bacon will completely overwhelm the subtle flavor of the veal. Of course, a really good dish might be to use this recipe, substituting smoked bacon for the pancetta and beef shank for the veal. Hmmmmmm...

Osso Buco is heavenly (as in to die for and the direction you hope to head after the coronary) served with Risotto Milanese. It also goes great served over a bed of soft polenta. Tonight we served it with just some good crusty sesame covered semolina bread and a side of Cavolo Capuccio alla Sarda (Cabbage Sardinian Style).

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Posted on Oct 27, 2002 @ 08:32 PM [0 Comments on Veal Osso Buco]

Sauce Bolognese ››:

Serving suggestion: Rigatoni with Sauce Bolognese and freshly grated parmesan

I have this theory stewing in my mind of late that Italian cuisine is the most sophisticated and refined cuisine in the world. While the French perfected restaurant cooking, and the Chinese turned food preparation into an art form, Italians perfected food. Sauce Bolognese is Prima facie evidence of this.

Sauce Bolognese is a ragu, which pretty much means stewed meat sauce (despite what you may gather from reading the labels of that stuff you find in the supermarket, real ragu does not contain high fructose corn syrup). Over the past few years I've heard more and more chefs and food writers call the sauces that result from cooking dishes such as chicken cacciatore, or even beef stew, ragus. But with Sauce Bolognese the sauce is the point, not just a pleasant side effect. I like to call it the sixth mother sauce (the five mother sauces—sauces upon which all other sauces are based—as defined by the French—are Bechamel, Velouté, Hollandaise, Espagnole, Mayonnaise and Vinaigrette), Sauce Bolognese is the result of long cooking over low heat of meat, mirepoix, tomato, milk and wine. To this basic sauce you can add an infinite variety of ingredients—mushrooms, peppers, anchovies, garlic, spinach, just about anything you can find in your refrigerator—to come up with the sauce that's just perfect for whatever you're cooking. Best of all, unlike all the other mother sauces, Sauce Bolognese freezes very well, meaning you can make big batches ahead of time.

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Posted on Sep 28, 2002 @ 01:56 PM [2 Comments on Sauce Bolognese]

Squash Soup (Winter Squash, That Is) ››:

squash soup (winter squash, that is)

The secret to soups made with winter squashes is roasting the squash before adding it to your soup stock. Some recipes say you can microwave the squash, which is fine if you're into something that tastes like the gruel fed to orphans in Dickens novels. Yep, roasting the squash adds a good hour and a half to the cooking time, but, it's soup, durnit! Since when was soup supposed to be a quick dish? What roasting does is caramelize the sugars and remove a bunch of moisture (which makes up the most of any vegetable), resulting in concentrated flavors that enhance, rather than just thicken, the soup.

Mixing in some cream at the end brings the soup to a whole new luxurious level. But, it's not needed if your goal is to simply satisfy your guest with some honest cuisine.

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Posted on Sep 21, 2002 @ 10:54 PM [0 Comments on Squash Soup (Winter Squash, That Is)]

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