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----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Carbo-Loading (Recipe: Spaetzle) DATE: 4/14/2010 07:32:00 AM ----- BODY:
The Boston Marathon is just around the corner and the elite athletes are tapering their running and increasing their carbs. Our bodies take longer to break down complex carbohydrates, thus giving runners more sustained energy.

I won’t be running the marathon this year (nor have I ever, or likely ever will), but in solidarity with my fellow Bostonians, I would carbo-load with them.

One of my favorite starchy sides dishes in spaetzle, a German boiled dumpling made with flour, eggs, milk and salt. It couldn’t be easier to make, but it’s a bit of a mess to clean up which is probably why I don’t make it more often.

Though, I usually serve spaetzle with chicken picatta, last night’s dinner was focused on cooking from the larder. I still have a hefty stash of tomatoes from last summer. Since I’m in the home-stretch until I’m knee-deep in tomatoes again, I’ve become more reckless using them in recipes. Some leeks in the crisper drawer were not looking so crisp. I further softened them in butter… the richness of the leeks played well with the spaetzle and offered a nice counterpoint to the acidic brightness of the tomato sauce.

Spaetzle can be adorned with fresh herbs (such as scallions, basil or sage) or spices (nutmeg is most common). I prefer mine plain.
2 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
¾ cup milk
3 eggs

1 stick butter or 1 cup chicken broth or a combination of the two.

1. Whisk flour and salt together.
2. Whisk eggs until well beaten, combine with milk.
3. Whisk flour with egg/milk mixture for about 30 seconds, or until just combined. Alternatively, mix in a food processor for 15 seconds. Let rest.

6. When water boils, push spaetzle dough through the spaetzle maker. (You may need to cook them in batches, depending on the size of your pot). Wait until they float to the top and cook for 1 minute more. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and put in butter broth dish.

7. Serve warm with chicken picatta, tomato sauce or any other favorite dish.

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----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: On the Bone (Recipe: Seared Halibut with Morels and Red Wine) DATE: 4/13/2010 06:06:00 AM ----- BODY:
During the summer between my two years of business school, I had a summer internship in China and traveled with a few of my classmates. Their biggest complaint about the food was that there were too many bones. The Chinese tend to cut meat into chunks, on the bone, and cook it that way. They do this for two reasons. First, it stretches the meat farther. A single chicken, for example, can serve 6-8 people when butchered this way, rather than American 4. But more importantly, meat cooked on the bone tastes better: it has more flavor and is more juicy.

The same is true for fish. The challenge for fish, of course, is that the bones are smaller. They are harder to pick out, and have a greater chance of getting stuck in your throat. When I serve that has been cooked on the bone, I carefully remove the bones in the kitchen before serving. It makes the eating more pleasurable in that you don’t have to cautiously pick around the meat.

When I cooked halibut the other night, I topped it with morels and asparagus. The last thing on my mind were bones… I wanted to savor the earthy, meaty flavor of the spring-time treat. Since I removed the bones in the kitchen, I had nothing to worry about, and could eat with abandon.

Seared Halibut with Morels, Asparagus and Red Wine
2 halibut steaks
1 tbs. butter
1 pound fresh morels
1 large shallot, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tbs. canola oil

1 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2-4 tbs. butter
1 tbs. fresh parsley

salt pepper and lemon juice to taste

1.  Season halibut with salt and pepper.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium high flame.  Add 1 tbs. butter.  When melted, add the morels, 1/2 the shallots, garlic and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 2 minutes wihtout stirring.  Stir a little and then conintue cooking for a few minutes more.  Add the sherry, and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated.  Set aside in a warm place.

3.  Heat a second large skillet over high heat.  Add canola oil.  Pat fish dry and gently press into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on the first side or until golden brown.  Turn over, turn heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes more, covered.   Remove fish from pan. Sprinkle parsley on top.

4.  Add the remaining shallots and red wine to the halibut pan.  Let wine reduce to 1/4 cup.  Add the chicken stock and reduce to 1/4 cup.  Remove pan from heat and swirl in butter, more or less to taste.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

5.  Gently separate the halibut steak from the bone.  Pull out the main bone in the center, and the small pin bones on the each side.  Run your finger along the insdie of the filet to make sure all bones are removed.  Put the filet back together.

6. Serve halibut with sauce, morels and steamed asparagus.

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----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Trial and (a lot of) Error DATE: 4/09/2010 06:14:00 AM ----- BODY:
If it’s true that you learn from your mistakes, I should be bordering on genius. As I begin my 8th season as an urban gardener, I recall all the things I’ve learned along the way. I’ve shared some key tips for the beginning home gardener on Katie’s site goodLife {eats}. She has a new weekly feature, titled “Grow. Cook. Eat.” I love the name, and since we clearly have so much in common, she invited me to write a guest post. Check it out here.

In general, I share thoughts on how to get started with your own garden. One of the specific questions she asked me to address was, “What are the best plants to grow?” This one I evaded, as it’s nearly impossible to give specific ideas. Grow what you like to eat!

Here are some of the bigger lessons I’ve learned over the years….

Don’t crowd the plants
I’ve made this mistake in various incarnations.

The first way is that I over-plant lettuces seeds. The seeds are so small that it’s hard to only plant two seeds per inch. This year was no different, and again, I will be out in the garden this weekend with my scissors thinning the lettuces.

The other is planting seedlings. The tomato label says, for example, plant seedlings 36” inches apart, and I’ll space them 24” inches, sometimes less. I’m trying to cram as many plants into the garden as possible. Then, I wonder why my tomatoes don’t grow very big. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about properly spacing vegetable plants. And what I’ve lost from having less plants, I’ve gained in larger vegetables and better yields.

I just purchased an injector seed-sower that should help me in the future.

I have micro-climates in my yard
I usually buy a six-pack of basil seedlings, and fit them into the garden wherever I can. Not all patches of soil are created equal, and the basil thrived in some corners and not others. I don’t know why the basil grows better in some patches than others, but I’ve made notes as to where it grows best.

Be Patient
On March 5th (this year), I planted lettuces, beets, kale and kohlrabi. I was heading out of town for two weeks and expected that when I came home, I would see tiny sprouts shooting up all over the garden. Instead, I found paw prints right along the rows I had planted. I assumed that a critter (or two) had come in and eaten every seed.

The next day, I bought some new seeds and replanted everything. And I decided to plant a few new things too – I had seen radishes at the garden center, and thought I should try those. I reconfigured what I planted where… decided the kohlrabi would be better where the kale was, and the kale would work better next to the garlic. The beets and radishes would go where the kohlrabi had originally been planted.

And the day after that…. A carpet of green sprouts spread across the garden. In fact, the seeds I had planted two and a half weeks prior had, in fact, sprouted!

Which leads me to my final point:

Label what you plant
I used to have a memory like an elephant. I’d plants seeds all around my yard and remember what I planted where. As my memory started to fade, I justified my lazy ways by telling myself “The plants will present themselves. When they grow big enough, I’ll be able to identify them, so it won’t really matter.”

Well, the plants don’t always tell you what they are, especially if they are root vegetables. And if you don’t know what they are, you don’t know when to harvest them.

And now with the current mess of plants in my garden, I don’t know what I have growing where. I know I need to thin the sprouts so they have enough room to grow… but am I thinning beets which need 6 inches, or kohlrabi that needs 12, or radishes that need 4???

It’s always an adventure, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of vegetables to eat starting next month. I’m just not sure what it will be.

What have you learned from your garden?

Happy Gardening!


----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:4/09/2010 05:08:00 PM You are so funny and I applaud you for all your efforts. I can't wait to put a garden in at our vineyard property! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:4/11/2010 07:44:00 AM I enjoy reading your urban gardening insights, and appreciate all of your work. I joined the CSA in part because I realized I could only be a weekend gardener at best. But, I still have a bit of an urge to grown my own. Maybe this year I should do a little experimenting with herbs and see what happens. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger A Million Words DATE:4/11/2010 05:31:00 PM I really need to learn that lesson about spacing out seeds. Sometimes I put them too close together, and other times I give plants an entire pot (I have a balcony garden) when I could easily plant something else in there with them.

**Check out Adina Sara's gardening column in the MacArthur Metro! Visit for links to the column and her book, The Imperfect Garden** ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: The Origins of a Recipe (Juniper Scented Duck with Caramelized Balsamic Sauce) DATE: 4/07/2010 06:05:00 AM ----- BODY:
They say no idea is original, nor is any recipe. Most recipes take inspiration from someone else’s ideas. And my recipe for Juniper Scented Duck with Caramelized Balsamic Sauce and Celeriac Puree is no different.

Lorenza de Medici has a recipe for wild boar stew that has all sorts of unique flavorings and techniques. The marinade and subsequent braising liquid calls for juniper (the pine berry that is also the prominent flavoring in gin), red wine, carrots celery and onions. Separately, she caramelizes sugar with garlic, and then adds red wine vinegar to create a sweet and sour flavor. When the pork is cooked, the meat is pulled out, and the braising liquid (along with all the mushy vegetables) are pureed to act as a thickener to the stew. She finishes the sauce with chocolate, prunes and almonds.

As I often do, I substitute proteins within a recipe… chicken for pork, pork for duck, duck for beef or tuna, and so on… for this recipe, I decided duck breasts would be a fine substitute for the wild boar. And since duck breasts don’t require a long braising time (and in fact suffer from that) more modifications were necessary.

The duck received the same marinade as the original recipe. I then poached a technique from Thomas Keller to cook the duck “sous vide” I removed the skin, rolled up the duck breast lengthwise, the duck was rolled in a blanched cabbage leaf and then wrapped in plastic wrap like a tootsie roll. The whole package is poached in boiling water for 8 minutes for a perfect medium rare.

I liked the idea of the caramelized sugar for a sweet and sour sauce. But since I didn’t have red wine vinegar, I used balsamic instead. I didn’t want to lose the essence of the marinade, so I cooked that until the vegetables were tender, pureed that, and added it to the caramelized balsamic. Going back to the original recipe, I finished the sauce with chocolate. And recognizing my personal preferences, I omit the bay leaves, candied citron, raisins and pine nuts.

The prunes transformed into a tart relish with fresh plums, shallots and thyme.

Celeriac Puree pairs magically with the sauce – complimenting both the sweet and sour flavor, as well as the juniper.

Of course, I couldn’t lose the duck skin. Those went into the oven until they transformed into cracklings.

All together, this was an elegant main meal for the Passover Seder last week. I serve this dish year-round, sometimes with duck, other times with pork tenderloin, and sometimes even with tuna.

Original Recipe:
3 pounds wild boar
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
½ bottle red wine
4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 oz. grated bitter chocolate
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in water
½ cup pitted prunes, soaked in water
¼ cup pine nuts
1 tbs. candied citron, finely chopped.

1. Twenty-fours ahead, put the meat in a good-sized, flameproof casserole together with the carrots, celery and onions. Add the wine and marinate for 24 hours, turning from time to time.
2. On the serving day, remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until it begins to color. Brown the meat on all sides. Strain the vegetables from the marinade add to the meat with the juniper berries, 1 of the bay leaves, salt and pepper. Pour some of the marinade over. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender, adding the remaining marinade, a little at a time.
3. Transfer the meat to a flameproof casserole. Puree the vegetables, then pour them over the meat and reheat. In a sauce pan, melt the sugar with the garlic and remaining bay leaf, and cook until lightly colored. Add the vinegar and bitter chocolate. Boil for a few minutes. Add the sauce to the meat together with the raisins, prunes, pine nuts and candied citron. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Julia’s Revised Recipe

Duck Roulade with Caramelized Balsamic Sauce, Roasted Plums and Juniper

8 duck breasts, skin removed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cups red wine
1 tsp. juniper berries
8 big leaves from savoy cabbage (with no splits or tears)
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 oz. chocolate or butter
2 plums, quartered and chopped
6 prunes, pitted and chopped coarsely.
1 tsp. thyme, chopped
1 shallot, sliced or diced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Marinate duck with wine, juniper, salt, pepper, carrots, onions, and celery for up to 24 hours.

2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook cabbage leaves for 1 or 2 minutes, or just until wilted. Drain. Carefully, cut away large rib.

3. Remove duck from marinade.

4. Tear off a piece of plastic wrap about 20 inches long, and lay it across a work surface. Place cabbage leaf down. Roll duck breast, lengthwise into cylinder, and place cylinder of cabbage leaf. Roll leaf around breast. Trim edges, and roll tightly into plastic wrap. Roll both ends of wrap to secure shape and tie with kitchen string. Refrigerate packets until ready to cook.

5. Meanwhile, combine the sugar with the garlic and ¼ cup of water in a small sauce pot. Stir, over high flame just until the sugar dissolves. When the sugar begins to caramelize and turns a deep amber color, add the vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar re-dissolves (it will seize up with the vinegar is added)

6. Cook marinade in a covered sauce pot over medium flame until carrots are tender. Puree the vegetables with a little bit of the wine and add  about 1/2 - 1 cup to the balsamic sauce (taste after adding 1/2 cup and add more to taste). Swirl in chocolate and set aside in a warm place.

7. Toss plums with shallots and thyme. Season with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Mix with prunes

8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add duck packages and cook for 8 minutes, for medium/medium-rare. Remove from water and let rest for a few minutes before removing the plastic and slicing.

9. Serve with asparagus and celeriac puree

Celeriac Puree
3 knobs celery root (celeriac)
½ - 1 cup cream
truffle carpaccio
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

Peel celery root. Cut into 1/8th. Put in a pot of cold salted water. Boil the be-jeebies out of it. When tender, drain. Put in a food processor, and puree with approximately 1/2 cup of cream. Add lemon juice, 1 squeeze at a time, until it is seasoned to your taste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:4/07/2010 10:59:00 AM Thanks for sharing your recipe and the thought process that goes into adapting a recipe for both available ingredients and personal preferences. Too often I think we're afraid to mess with what's written on the page, but here you've shown that not only can you mess with it, but you can turn it into something completely different while retaining the essence of what you liked about the recipe in the first place. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous nazarina DATE:4/07/2010 04:05:00 PM You have really poured your love into this delicious dish!I bet the recipients could not wait! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous easy recipe DATE:4/07/2010 04:17:00 PM Thanks for sharing this recipe, it looks amazing. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Road-Tripping (Recipe: Sesame-Ginger Fusion Cabbage) DATE: 4/05/2010 01:23:00 AM ----- BODY:
Along the main roads of rural Massachusetts, it’s not unusual to drive past a farm-stand with fresh produce grown just a few meters away. In the summer time, I become quite discerning about where I stop. In the winter and early spring, I’m down-right grateful that someone is growing *anything* local and I’ll snatch up whatever I can just to support the farmer's efforts.

The selection is often limited, and on a recent stop, this particular farmer only had potatoes (which had been in storage) and cabbage. I didn’t mind… The potatoes made their way into latkes and tater tots. The green cabbage required a bit more thought as I rarely cook with it.

My friend Brett has a recipe for “Ginger Sesame Greens” which I included in The Sauchuk Farm cookbook. It’s an easy recipe that would be great as a side for teriyaki chicken or salmon. Even more simple, you could throw in leftover roast chicken and serve the cabbage over brown rice.

Ginger Sesame Fusion Cabbage

This recipe also works well with Swiss Chard

(serves 4-6)
1 small head green cabbage
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoon dark roasted sesame oil (such as Kadoya brand)
2 tablespoons mild soy sauce or 1 tablespoon double dark soy sauce
¼ teaspoon (or more depending on taste) black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup sake or white wine

Cut cabbage in half. Cut out core, and coarsely chop. Rinse thoroughly.

In a large skillet, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, sauté for 2 minutes, or until garlic just begins to soften. Add cabbage and pepper.

Cover the cabbage and steam for 1 minute. Add sake or white wine and soy sauce.

When cabbage just soft (about 3 minutes), add butter. Shake pan to incorporate.

Adjust seasoning with salt and lemon juice if necessary.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:4/05/2010 05:28:00 AM I get quite a lot of green cabbage from the CSA and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare. This recipe has moved to the top of my list, since anything with ginger is amazing. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Katie DATE:4/05/2010 08:05:00 AM This sounds fabulous! I love cabbage and could eat it every day, but I'm always looking for new ideas. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Celery (Recipe: Spicy Shrimp and Cashew Stir-Fry) DATE: 4/02/2010 08:53:00 AM ----- BODY:
Along the lines of garlic and onions, I think of celery more as an aromatic than a vegetable. I rarely cook it on its own, but its distinctive flavor enhances French, Chinese and southern cooking. Its crunchy texture makes it a staple in egg, chicken or tuna salad.

Because of how I use celery – one stalk at a time – it becomes a regular crop in my vegetable garden. I can harvest the single stalk, leaving the remainder of the plant in the ground to continue growing. Unlike purchasing a whole head at the market – where the remainder will go limp in my crisper drawer before I have a chance to use it up.

I was working on a cookbook for Sauchuk Farm in Plympton MA for their summer CSA. His subscribers will get an incredibly diverse assortment of vegetables, including celery. The celery will keep for up to 3 weeks when stored properly (Coldest part of fridge. Leaves like to be dry in a bag. Stems like to be loose in a bag). You’d still need to use almost a stalk a day to consume it all before it goes flaccid. That creates a menu planning challenge. For that reason, I wanted to make sure I included a few recipes in his cookbook that called for copious amounts of celery.

Last summer, I made a celery Caesar salad which was quite lovely, but decided to go a different route for his book. I opted, instead, for a Chinese stir-fry – a variation of kung pao chicken that I learned at a cooking class in Beijing China. I used cashews instead of peanuts, and shrimp instead of chicken.

Spicy Shrimp, Celery and Cashew Stir-Fry
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and cleaned
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 egg white
3 scallions cut into rounds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs. ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 celery stalks, sliced
¾ cup roasted, salted cashews
2 tbs. plain or peanut oil

½ tsp. salt
1 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. black vinegar or balsamic
2 tsp. shaio xing wine or sherry
2 tbs. water or chicken broth
1 tsp. corn starch
1 – 2 tsp or more chile paste (like sriracha)

In a small bowl, marinade the shrimp with ¼ tsp. salt, soy sauce and egg whites. In a separate bowl, combine all sauce ingredients.

Heat a large over high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and ½ the scallions. Let cook for 1 minute and then add the celery and cashews. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry until the celery turns jade green, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate.

Return the skillet to high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp turn pink and curl up, about 2 minutes. Return the celery and cashews to the pan and the sauce, and stir over the heat for about 1 minute to mix together evenly and blend flavors. Transfer the stir-fry to a platter and garnish with the remaining scallions.

Serve with steamed white or brown rice.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger annemineli DATE:4/02/2010 11:56:00 AM OoooSüperrr.Sevgilerrrr... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro DATE:4/02/2010 03:54:00 PM Hi Julia,

Just dropping by to say hello. :-) We didn't mean to be, but these days, we're garden food bloggers, too. The last few posts of mine have been about foraging in the backyard and coming up with decent food. Have a great weekend! Kim ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Cinnamon-Girl DATE:4/02/2010 09:22:00 PM Such a great piece of info I learned from you about celery! I didn't know you could just pick a stalk. Our fridge hates us - and is always freezing up our celery. Celery will be in my garden this year. Your stir-fry sounds delicious with shrimp and cashews! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:4/03/2010 05:12:00 AM The first time I had a dish like this, with celery as the main vegetable, it was a revelation! I love how it stays crisp but also gets more sweet when you cook it this way. I'm definitely going to try this; I have all of the condiments, shrimp in the freezer, and a bit of celery that's wanting to be used soon, even though it's not from my garden. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Swimming Upstream (Recipe: Shad Roe with Braised Cabbage) DATE: 3/31/2010 08:42:00 AM ----- BODY:
Like salmon, shad spawn in the spring… They generally live in salt water, but swim up fresh water rivers, like the Delaware River, in the spring to lay their eggs. It’s during this season that the female shads swell up with eggs in anticipation.

Though many fish are available year round now, despite preferred seasons, the shad roe can’t be forced or rushed, and it’s limited to a 5 week window in March and April.

The roe are held together by a thin membrane. Honestly, I think this is a euphemism for ovary sacs. The tiny eggs inside are the size of sturgeon (caviar) roe. But unlike caviar, it’s sold fresh, and not salted or preserved. As such, it must be cooked. A “pair” of shad roe, as it is sold, is ample for two people.
The earthy, sweet and rich flavor of the shad roe classically pairs with bacon, capers and/or balsamic vinegar. I’ve been trying to branch out from the standard. And thinking about the flavor profiles of the traditional accompaniments, I opted for the sweet and sour flavor of braised cabbage (and a side of latkes to give a little texture to the otherwise soft meal)

Shad Roe with Braised Cabbage
1 onion
2 slices bacon (opt) or 2 tbs. butter
1 small red cabbage, cut in half, core removed and sliced thin
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbs. red currant jelly
1 tbs. sugar
1 pair shad roe
1 tbs. flour
2 tbs. plain oil
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

1. In a medium pan, render bacon fat over medium heat for about 3 minutes… add the onions and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add red wine, red wine vinegar, sugar, red currant jelly and cabbage. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until cabbage is nice and tender. Remove cover and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside in a warm place

2. Heat another skillet over high heat. Season shad with salt and pepper, and dust it with flour. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the membrane -- this will keep the roe from exploding. When the pan is hot, add the oil. Gently place the shad roe in the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown. Flip over and cook for a few minutes more. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on top just before serving.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/31/2010 09:50:00 AM Well i think you don't have to go that far (ovary sacs) to see what that shot is a euphimism for. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:4/01/2010 08:49:00 PM You must be in one of those rare areas that didn't get a ban on shad fishing. Looks good! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori Lynn DATE:4/03/2010 05:54:00 PM I used to eat Shad years ago, from a jar. Haven't come across it on a long time!

This sounds amazing!
LL ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Brick Oven Pizza at Home DATE: 3/29/2010 12:35:00 AM ----- BODY:
“Brick-oven” pizzas are revered because the brick bottomed ovens get screaming hot and retain heat very well. And, in fact, all pizza ovens are set at about 700F, some getting as hot as 800F. This high heat gets the crust extra-crispy, and prevents the toppings from sogging up the dough.

Getting a crispy crust at home is more challenging. Most ovens max out at 500F. Pizza stones mimic the pizza oven floor in that they absorb heat and will get that much hotter than the ambient air of the oven.

I don’t have a pizza stone, but still have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting a crispy crust:

The first, I pre-fry the dough in canola oil before topping and baking the pizza. During the baking process, the oil releases itself from the dough helping to further crisp the crust. This has been my default, but it does have a few drawbacks – mainly that it adds extra fat along with the extra step.

Lately, I’ve been baking my pizzas on the floor of the oven. This gives the crust direct, intense heat as opposed to the ambient heat of baking the pizza on a lower shelf. With this method, the crust crisps up in about 5 minutes. You can then move the pizza to a higher shelf to finish browning the toppings.

Pizza is a great way to use up left-overs. From last night’s dinner, I had some eggplant and smoked tomato coulis. With the addition of fresh mozzarella, I had a perfect dinner for both kids and adults!

There is no "perfect" recipe for pizza. It's really a matter of what you're in the mood for and what you have on hand. Here's my recipe for pizza dough.

1 cup water
1 tsp. yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup semolina
2 tbs. olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

1. Heat water to 105F. Dissolve yeast in water. In a separate bowl, combine flour, semolina, salt and sugar.

2. Using a dough hook, combine flours, yeasted water and olive oil. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down and form into pizza rounds.

Place dough on cookie sheet before topping.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/29/2010 07:22:00 PM Great technique, and that is one gorgeous crust! Also much less messy than sliding dough on cornmeal onto a pizza stone. Somehow the pizza gets there, but the cornmeal goes all over the place! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/29/2010 11:31:00 PM I like the idea of baking on the bottom of the oven - like Lydia, I usually end up with cornmeal everywhere. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:3/31/2010 12:41:00 AM Good tips. I'm looking for a pizza stone. We make calzones pretty regularly, but don't have anything appropriately shaped for a regular pizza. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: The Whole Beast (Recipe: Chopped Liver) DATE: 3/25/2010 03:17:00 PM ----- BODY:

Passover preparations serendipitously began yesterday. As I was shopping for regular staples and dinner, I noticed that whole chickens were on sale. At $1.69/pound at Whole Paycheck Foods, I decided to stock up. And then I remembered that I have 10 guests coming for the first seder next week. This was the perfect time to start in on the chicken soup that would provide the medium for my matzah balls.

I bought 3 chickens, and immediately got to work breaking them down. I separated the birds into 4 groups – breasts, thighs, livers and, of course, stock parts – the bones, drums and wings that will go into making the chicken soup. After all, there’s so much flavor in the bones. Industrious chefs have long known that the bones make the best, most flavorful stock, even more so than the meat. And I must confess, I’m not a big fan of chicken drums or wings (unless they’re deep-fried) so they go into the stock-pile as well.

The chicken breasts and thighs were immediately frozen for a later meal.

I tossed the “stock-parts” with some salt and pepper, and roasted them in the oven. This accomplished two functions. First, the fat rendered away from the bones which will yield me a cleaner stock. As a bonus, I now have schmaltz for my matzah balls. Best of all, the bones achieve a dark, rich color that will make for a more flavorful stock.

Remember the chicken drums I tossed into my stock pile? When the bones have finished roasting, after about 30 minutes at 400F, the chicken legs are cooked through. I pick the meat off the bone and save that separately to put in my matzah ball soup. If I were to put them in the stock pot along with the bones, I wouldn’t have the meat for my soup. Yes, I could fetch it out after the stock was finished. But that would be more hassle than it’s worth. But more unfortunate, the meat would have lost all its flavor to the broth. Better to pick it out now, and add it back at the end.

Inside the chickens is a little pouch that contains the gizzards and neck. I never know how many livers I might get. Though each chicken only have one, the little pouch could have three or none. In this case, I had three in each: enough to make chopped liver. Chicken liver mousse with cognac and butter would also be delicious, but I was feeling particularly Jewish.

I also felt particularly thrifty and resourceful last night. From my three birds, I yielded:

6 boneless chicken breasts (retail value: $22)
6 chicken thighs (retail value: $8)
½ pint chopped liver (retail value: $2)
Chicken schmaltz (priceless)
1+ gallon chicken stock/soup (retail value: $12)

Chopped Liver
This recipe could not be simpler… with only 4 ingredients. I prefer chopping it by hand – the flavor and texture is better. Some people “chop” it in the food processor.

3 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or chicken fat
1 large onions, diced
1 lb. fresh chicken livers
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put eggs in cold water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 minute. Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs and place under cold running water until cold. Peel.

2. Meanwhile, put chicken livers on a paper towel to blot dry. Season with salt and pepper. heat oil or chicken fat in a large sauté pan. Add onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until onions start to brown. Season the livers with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Cook until they are cooked through and firm, about 5 minutes.

3. Chop everything together, by hand or in a food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/26/2010 01:17:00 PM I love chopped liver...I mean love it. You did well with all your chickens!! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Food Vigilante DATE:3/27/2010 12:26:00 AM Many kudos for processing the whole chickens yourself! Such a great idea that more people need to consider.

I'll be back!

FV ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/27/2010 03:23:00 PM Quite a project, but I know what you mean about the satisfaction you get from making the most out of your food purchase. Happy Passover, Julia! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous tasteofbeirut DATE:3/28/2010 09:42:00 PM i am impressed with all that work! Happy Passover to you! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori Lynn DATE:4/03/2010 05:52:00 PM I hope you're having a very Happy Passover Julia.
We love chopped liver! I'm sure your simple recipe was excellent. We had one a lot more complicated, but that was the job for my cousin Davida.
LL ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Super Fresh DATE: 3/23/2010 02:46:00 AM ----- BODY:

I never know what sort of adventure awaits me when I visit the farm. Brett may have a chicken “matanza” scheduled, some great tomato at peak harvest, or a wild animal that made its way into the walk-refrigerator.

This time it was (a rather tame) tuna belly that a friend had recently caught on a fishing trip. It was already a few days old by the time we got it, but even still, it was fresher than anything we could have gotten at the fish market.

And perfect for eating raw – as sushi or tartar. The tuna was a paler red than what I usually see at the market – this is from the fat that’s imperceptibly marbled through the meat. The tuna was more tender, and the taste more luscious.

When cooking on the farm, we make do with what’s on hand. He and his family prefer maki rolls. Their well-stocked pantry has plenty of rice, nori (seaweed) and wasabi on hand, making this an easy, go-to meal.

Our maki rolls were not traditional – I did not properly fan the rice as it cooled so it would glisten, though I did season it with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. I seasoned the tuna with a little soy sauce before rolling.

After using all the nori to make rolls, we still had some tuna. I used lettuce leaves instead to wrap the remainder.

An old favorite is tuna timbale with avocado and smoked salmon. Brett had a few ripe avocadoes, but no smoked salmon. The avocado was seasoned with scallions, cilantro, a touch of chipotle and lime juice. The tuna was seasoned with soy sauce and scallions. For an extra layer of color, I garnished the plate with a few sprigs of the greenhouse lettuce and a drizzle of wasabi. If I had wasabi peas, I would have sprinkled a few on the plate for textural contrast and a quick shot of heat.


----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/23/2010 08:00:00 AM Tuna fest! I love it. The tuna timbale is a great idea for a summer lunch dish, too. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Melissa DATE:3/24/2010 01:11:00 AM Oh my that picture of the maki is so BEAUTIFUL. Fresh tuna. Man. And with avocado too... this is the kind of food that elicits a physical reaction from me here at the computer. Spectacular. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie in Rappahannock DATE:3/24/2010 10:43:00 AM Don't you love working with impeccably fresh ingredients?
I had the opportunity to prepare dinner for 8 last December, and the client wanted me to be ready to prepare tuna that he was going to fish. Caught Thursday afternoon, eaten Saturday evening... it was incredible. I prepared it tartare with a Sicilian twist. Incredible! Reminded me of the fish of my childhood, the ones we would go to the shore and wait for the fishermen to get back, and then buy off the boat. So good. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Garden Updates - First Day of Spring DATE: 3/21/2010 06:09:00 AM ----- BODY:
It’s always a mad-dash to get ready to leave town for a week. In addition to the usual laundry and cleaning, I wanted to plant all my lettuces for a spring harvest before I headed down to the farm. Reading old posts from blog, I was reminded that the first week in March is a great time to get started. So I was quite proud of myself that I turned the soil, cleaned the yard and planted rows upon rows of lettuce before I left on March 8th.

As I was driving back last week, I was most worried about the state of my basement. I had heard horror stories about the torrential rains and flooding in New England --- 7 inches in 3 days, road closures and most horrifically – raw sewage was being pumped into Quincy Bay because the treatment plant could not handle all the rainfall. I thought the bright spot in this rain was that my seeds would have sprouted. As I thought about taking pictures to share with you, I was quite excited.

Thankfully, when I came home, the basement was dry. The ceiling was dry. No water damage. Alas, I had damage of a different sort. Some critter, with 3 inch paws, ate every single lettuce seed planted.  Can you see the indentations in the soil??

Today, I replanted everything, but with a different strategy. I went to the hardware store and purchased window screens to lay atop of the beds. They will allow the light and rainwater to penetrate, but hopefully keep the critters from nibbling at my seeds.

In other garden news: I had hoped that when the Brussels sprouts defrosted again, they would rejuvenate and I’d be able to harvest them. Alas, they did not survive. Totally bummed that I didn’t get a chance to harvest more sprouts before the deep cold of winter hit.

The scallions have resprouted again this year. I’m happy to have my garden supply again, so I no longer need to rely on the produce section of the grocery store for this staple.

The garlic is sprouting as well. I think it will still be a few months before that’s ready to harvest… though I’m tempted to dig up a plant just to see what it looks like at this stage.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/21/2010 07:01:00 AM So many things to contend with in a garden. Sending good thoughts for more lettuce! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/21/2010 08:03:00 AM We raked off our garden yesterday and discovered chives, garlic sprouting, and signs of life on the thyme plant. When the mint starts to peek its head up, I'll know it's really spring. Sorry for the loss of your lettuce seeds; I love the screening as a defense! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Cinnamon-Girl DATE:3/22/2010 09:36:00 PM Sorry about your seeds. The screen is a great idea! Not many signs of Spring in my neck of the woods yet. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:3/31/2010 10:34:00 AM I'm curious to know if your screen idea works out. The squirrels in my city are large and not particularly shy. So, I am going to need to figure out how to protect my garden from them. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: After the Storm DATE: 3/19/2010 05:28:00 AM ----- BODY:
Normally, Farmer Brett grows field greens throughout the relatively mild DC winters. He has cultivated his seeds for kales, mustard greens and other brassicas to withstand bouts of cold and snow. Temperatures rarely fall below freezing for longer than 72 hours, allowing most of the greens to quickly spring back after the brief shock. And a light blanket of snow is no match for his winter hardy brassicas.

This year, winter was different: The DC area was pummeled with several feet of snow – they had more snow in one storm than Boston had all season.

Brett depends on the greens (salad and cooking) to create diversity for the winter CSA subscribers. In addition, he offers free-range eggs, sweet potatoes that were harvested in the fall, and other summer crops that were preserved for winter: seasoned salts, sundried tomatoes and jams. Because he is at the mercy of the weather, the best crop insurance is a diversity of crops. If one fails, there are back-ups.

Thankfully, he also has a greenhouse. Despite brutal weather, the greenhouse is warm, bright and filled with hardy lettuces: romaine, tat-soi, Chinese thick stem mustard, and an assortment of fresh herbs. It’s true – the greenhouse lettuces are not as flavorful and textured as their field counterparts. The winds and natural rainwater give the field lettuces their robust flavor. Nonetheless, the greenhouse produce is still more vibrant than any California green available at the market in the dead of winter. And until the weather cooperates, this will suffice.

After several days of 60F temps and substantial rain the fields have defrosted. And the mustard greens and kales are slowly rejuvenating. Alas, the fall planting of radishes did not fare as well: they were too small for harvest at the onslaught of snow. After the thaw, they are woody and dry.
And in a corner of the greenhouse, seeds are sprouting summer hopefuls. In early June, these teeny tomato sprouts will be transformed into robust plants bestowing sweet juicy tomatoes.


----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/20/2010 07:46:00 AM The greenhouse is a godsend - I am really intriqued by what I'm reading about winter CSA shares! ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Rich Man, Poor Man (Recipe: Lentils and Foie Gras) DATE: 3/17/2010 04:48:00 AM ----- BODY:

Chefs have long paired pauper ingredients with luxurious ingredients to create a new level of refinement and balance. Cabbage and Truffles; Potatoes and Caviar; and Hot Dog Rolls with Lobster Salad.

For the same effect, Jean Georges Vongerichtenpoaches foie gras in lentils for an alluring juxtaposition of luxury, richness and texture. I happened to have more foie gras in the freezer….

(As a side note, I wanted to let you know that despite what it may seem with the regularity of foie gras posts, I do have a more balanced diet. But since they come in 1 pound lobes, I invariably have a left over chunk to indulge with at a later time).

His recipe called for poaching a full lobe in the lentils. To me this seemed overly decadent and not the best way to lure out the foie gras’ refined flavor. I prefer foie gras when it’s seared to crusty brown. But in a nod to the Jean-Georges, I melted a small piece of foie gras in the lentils to infuse some of the distinct flavor.

Lentils, red wine sauce and salmon on its own is a wonderful flavor pairing. The foie gras adds a new dimension, though this meal would be fabulous without it.

Seared Salmon with Lentils and Red Wine Reduction

1 tbs. plain oil
4 - 6 oz. salmon filets
1 cup pinot noir or other red wine
1/2 lemon juiced
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

1 tbs. butter
1 shallot, small dice
1/2 carrot, small dice
1/4 celery rib, small dice
1/2 leek, small dice
1 sprig thyme
1 cup French green lentils
1 oz. foie gras
2 scallion, cut into rounds

Cook the lentils: Over medium heat sweat shallots, celery, carrots and leeks in 1 tbs. of butter. Add lentils, salt and pepper and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add the foie gras and simmer for 5 minutes more. When lentils are cooked, stir in scallions.

Cook the salmon: Season salmon with salt and pepper. Let salmon rest, skin side down on a paper towel to make sure skin is dry.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil. Carefully, place salmon, skin side down in the skillet. Do not poke or prod, when the skin is crispy, the salmon will easily come off bottom of pan. Flip over, and continue cooking until desired doneness. Remove salmon from pan, and keep in a warm place while preparing sauce. If you are serving foie gras, you can sear it in the hot, salmon pan at this point

Make the wine sauce: Pour off excess fat from the salmon/foie pan. Return pan to heat, add shallots, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Add wine, and let it reduce to about 1/4 cup. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil and reduce by half again. Turn the heat off, and whisk in butter, 2 tbs. at a time - for a total of 1 stick of butter (or more depending on your taste). Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve lentils with salmon, wilted spinach and seared foie gras. Drizzle sauce around the plate.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/17/2010 05:30:00 AM Oh my. This is quite a temptation at 5:30 in the morning! I can't think of anything better than a combination of lentils and foie gras! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/17/2010 09:04:00 AM Completely decadent! I'm not a fan of foie, so I'll try this without. Salmon and lentils get me every time. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous tasteofbeirut DATE:3/17/2010 09:18:00 AM My cousin Isabelle served foie gras for Christmas luncheon; I love it so much I don't want anything else! Paired with lentils, who needs the salmon? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/17/2010 02:24:00 PM Now this is a meal...civilized and absolute winner. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous jo DATE:3/17/2010 08:32:00 PM Ah...hello..and OH MY. You know my love for foie! Although, not a huge lentil fan. Not a dislike, just never saw the big attraction, I'd rather a pot full of Giant White Limas or Butter Beans, but I would be willing to try again if foie were involved.

Closing date 4/6...we shall chat soon(ish) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger grace DATE:3/20/2010 05:29:00 AM one cannot live on foie gras alone. :)
truly, it's usually the pauper ingredients that appeal to me--i guess i don't have the palate of a refined diner. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori Lynn DATE:4/03/2010 05:55:00 PM Ooh, love the pairing!
LL ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Crop Rotation (Recipe: Lentils with Spinach and Scallops) DATE: 3/15/2010 02:24:00 AM ----- BODY:

Legumes – things like lentils, peanuts and chickpeas – are plants grown specifically for their seeds. They are also an integral part of crop rotation – a farming practice of planting different crops in one location as a way to replace nitrogen and other nutrients that other crops deplete. This practice minimizes the need for fertilizers and helps ward off insects and fungus.

Plants get nutrients from the soil. And unless we amend the soil, it will degrade every season as plants pull more and more from the soil. Amendments can come in the form of artificial fertilizers and organic compost. We can also add nutrients back by planting particularly nutrient dense crops, such as clover, wheat grass and legumes. Instead of depleting the soil, they add nitrogen and other important nutrients back into the soil… and planting these crops across a tapped area of soil can help it recover, so that future crops will grow better.

For me, lentils are a protein- and nutrient- dense food that is also very economical. They come in a variety of colors and shapes – red, green, brown and the rounder French (green) lentils. The French lentils are better for holding their shape, the red are great for their wonderful color and in soups since they puree easily.

In the past few weeks, a bevy of recipes have popped up on the blogosphere…
Barley Pilaf with Lentils from The Perfect Pantry
Palak Dal from Closet Cooking
Crock-Pot Curried Red Lentils from Eat This.

Last week, I made a variation on Mulligatawny soup from We Are Never Full, and garnished it with seared scallops and spinach.

Mulligatawny Soup

1 tbs. butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped into a few chunks
½ stalk of celery, chopped finely
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. curry
1/2 cinnamon
2 tsp. ground coriander seed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 can tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of red lentils
6 to 8 cups of chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
½ lb. scallops
½ lb. spinach
Sour cream or plain yogurt to garnish

1. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until they soften and become fragrant.
2. To the pot, add the spices, carrots and celery. Cook for 1 minute more, just to toast the spices and help them release their flavor.
3. Add the lentils, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
4. Meanwhile, season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes or until they start to brown. Flip them over and then cook for 2 minutes more. Remove the scallops from the pan.
5. Return the scallop pan to the heat. Wilt spinach. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.
6. When lentils are tender, puree in the blender or with an immersion blender. Adjust seasoning with salt pepper and lemon juice. Garnish with scallops and spinach.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/15/2010 09:15:00 AM I've been a fan of lentils for a long time - I love the earthiness and the texture. But I didn't know until now that legumes were used in crop rotation. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/15/2010 11:00:00 AM I'm utterly in love with lentils. I picked up some white lentils at Sid Wainer a few weeks ago and have yet to cook with them (I'll turn them into soup, of course!). ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/15/2010 09:37:00 PM One of my fave soups but it has been so long since I mae it. I need to change that. ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: IQF Goodness DATE: 3/12/2010 09:50:00 AM ----- BODY:
No, I haven’t lost my marbles. And yes, I realize that the chocolate chip cookie dough balls are rather close together. But I’m not baking them now. I’m making my own “IQF” cookies. I put the cookie sheet in the freezer. When the dough balls are frozen, I’ll transfer them to a Ziploc bag.

Then, whenever I want cookies, I can pop just two in the oven. Fresh baked cookies on a whim… limit temptation by only baking a few at a time.  What could be better??

This recipe, when normally prepared, bakes for 10 minutes at 375F.  When the cookie dough balls are frozen, I bake them for 12-14 minutes at 350F instead.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/12/2010 11:08:00 AM Yep,'s perfect because if there is a trya of cookies, I'll eat them. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:3/12/2010 02:42:00 PM That's way smarter than my strategy....which is to bake them and then freeze them. It requires more forethought and effort to bake them than to just let them thaw out a little bit (or eat them frozen, depending on my level of desperation). ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/12/2010 08:53:00 PM I definitely have to use this system -- because I'll eat every single fresh baked chocolate chip cookie that comes out of the oven. Ingenious! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sarah @ Semi-Sweet DATE:3/14/2010 09:14:00 AM This is a great idea, and I always have the best of intentions when doing it myself . . . but then those frozen balls of cookie dough call from the freezer "eat me!" I can't keep myself away . . . so I'm still just a make & bake girl. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/14/2010 12:08:00 PM Single-serve cookies! What a great idea! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Oui, Chef DATE:3/15/2010 10:51:00 PM What a great idea, IFC cookies. I'm afraid I could never just bake-off two of them though .... you have such discipline! - S ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie in Rappahannock DATE:3/24/2010 10:46:00 AM oooh Julia, you such a smart girl... that'd work for parties too.... ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: You say po-TAY-to, I say po-TAH-to DATE: 3/08/2010 08:00:00 AM ----- BODY:

Potatoes vary in water and starch content, making some varieties better for baking and others better for roasting.

The high-starch potatoes, like russets, also oxidize quickly making them a challenge. And if you’ve made latkes with this variety, you know what I mean. By the time you have the potatoes grated, you have a bowl of black shreds. Soaking them in water, rinses away the starches that make them oxidize and also what crisps them up.

New potatoes, like red bliss, have a higher water content and lower starch. This makes them better for roasting, and making potato salad (when holding the shape is important.)

I tend to use Yukon gold potatoes for most all potato recipes; they are sweet and creamy, and work well for mashers and roasted.

Perhaps they don’t crisp as much as Russets when roasted due to the lower starch content. To help them develop a crust when roasting, I toss them in olive oil and corn starch. This additional starch clings to the potato and browns in the olive oil

For an added touch, I toss them with parsley and lemon zest just before serving. This brightens the flavor.

Roasted Potatoes with Lemon Zest and Parsley
4 medium sized yukon gold potatoes
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. corn starch
zest from 1 lemon
1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Wash and dry potatoes.  Cut into 6th.
3.  Toss potatoes with oil, corn starch, salt and pepper. Make sure potatoes are evenly coated.
4.  Place potatoes on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
5.  Toss potatoes with lemon zest and parsley.


----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/08/2010 08:56:00 AM Potatoes have gotten a bad rap (carbs) for so long, but after seeing the variety I got at the CSA last summer, I was convinced they are one of the best and versatile food options. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Kathleen DATE:3/08/2010 04:08:00 PM I love roasted potatoes. The lemon peel is a really great idea. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/08/2010 05:52:00 PM Cornstarch? I've never thought of that, but it makes total sense. There's nothing better than Yukon golds, roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper until they're crisp on at least one side, and eaten immediately while they're still almost too hot to put in your mouth. I just love that. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:3/09/2010 01:42:00 PM Thanks for all of the potato tips. I tend to make spur of the moment decisions when buying potatoes. Clearly, I should spend more time considering their starch and water content. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/11/2010 04:40:00 PM Hi Julia,
How helpful, my son Zachary is into potatoes, particularly home fries with canadian bacon. He will find this quite useful.
Thanks, Paul ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Yukon Gold (Recipe: Potato Puree) DATE: 3/06/2010 05:33:00 AM ----- BODY:

Joel Robuchon is famous for his mashed potatoes which have almost as much (if not more) cream and butter as potatoes. Perhaps there was a time when I would have enjoyed these, but now-a-days all that excess fat makes me a little queasy.

Yukon Gold potatoes have a wonderful sweet creaminess to them that makes them ideal for a healthier version of mashed potatoes. And to get them really smooth, I use a potato ricer. It looks like an extra-large garlic press.

Some home cooks have been known to whip their potatoes to make them airy, smooth and light. But all the mixing actually activates the glutens creating an end-product that simulates wall-paper paste. But, after passing the potatoes through the rice, they only need a few quick stirs with hot cream or milk and a generous seasoning of salt. No fear of making gluey potatoes.

These potatoes make a perfect side to steak with sauteed spinach. A classic steak-house dinner.

Potato Puree
4 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup cream

1. Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Place them in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Season generoursly with salt.
2. Bring the potatoes to a boil, and cook until they are tender. Depending on the size of the potato chunks, this could be 5 – 20 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes well. While they are still hot, put mash them through the potato ricer.
4. Stir in cream. Season to taste with more salt.


----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/07/2010 08:06:00 AM I'm not a fan of gluey potatoes, either. But I do love just a little bit of garlic in them. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/07/2010 09:51:00 AM You have solved the mystery of the potatoe ricer for me - I've never seen it in use. Can you achieve the same (or close) results with a food mill? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger ~~louise~~ DATE:3/07/2010 10:55:00 PM Hi Julia! I really should get a ricer. I still use a good ol' fashioned potato masher!!!

I left a teeny gift over at my blog for you. I hope you like it:) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:3/08/2010 06:10:00 AM Lydia -- Yes! Roasted garlic would be nice.

T.W. - Not precisely sure about the results from the food mill. If you have one, for sure try it. I'd be a little concerned that the potatoes would get more worked than a ricer.

Louise -- The ricer is also good for making gnocchi. And thank you for the recognition! :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger grace DATE:3/08/2010 06:31:00 AM i make mashed potatoes at least once a week, usually two or three. sometimes i break out the mixer, some times i just smash. however, i've never tried a ricer. methinks that when i do, i'll never look back. thanks for the tip about yukon golds, too--definitely worth a try! ----- -------- AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Finishing School (Seared Steak with Red Wine Reduction DATE: 3/04/2010 07:46:00 AM ----- BODY:

Thanks to David for taking photos.

I was browsing the spice aisle at a local gourmet shop and noticed all the different varieties of salt – sea salt, pink salt, black salt, smoked salt. Even Himalayan salt that’s purported to be thousands of years old. And they had Maldon Smoked Sea Salt. Salt? Smoke? Could anything be better?

I discovered Maldon Sea Salt when I was working at Biba restaurant. The salt hails from Essex England, but can be found in stores throughout the US. I’ve always loved the pyramid shaped crystals, with its wonderful texture, and clean, almost sweet, mineral flavor. The makers claim its unique flavor comes from the relatively low rainfall and environmental conditions of the local estuaries. The sea water is collected during high tide and then evaporated in clay pots leaving the crystals behind. I could practically snack on it like popcorn. And, in fact, as the kitchen manager at Biba would walk by my station, he’d take a pinch of salt and pop it in his mouth.

The crystals are immediately recognizable when served. At Mario Batali’s restaurant Babbo, if you ask for salt, they will bring a small dish of Maldon’s.

As much as I love this salt, it’s not the best choice for cooking. First, it’s expensive, $15/pound as opposed to $2/pound for Diamond Kosher Salt. And even if I had unlimited funds, I still wouldn’t cook with it. What makes the texture so special and wonderful also prevents it from dissolving easily.

Unlike most other spices, salt reacts chemically with food, and is absorbed in a way that is critical for seasoning. For example, when grilling steak, you want to season it with salt before you cook it. Before the proteins have coagulated in the cooking process, they can absorb the salt and the meat will be seasoned through. If the steak is salted after, it will just taste salty as opposed to well-seasoned. Grain for grain, the steak will taste better if seasoned with salt before cooking, rather than after.

Because Maldon’s crystals are so large, they do not dissolve easily, and as such is better used as a finishing ingredient – a little sprinkle on top of steak or fish before serving. Not only will it bring extra flavor to your dishes, you will have extra texture from the crunchy flakes.

Seared Steak with Red Wine Reduction

2 rib eye steaks
1 tbs. plain oil
1 small shallot, peeled and diced fine
1 cup red wine
1 cup veal or chicken stock
3 tbs. butter
salt, pepper and lemon juice
Maldon Sea Salt

1. Season steak generously with salt and pepper.  Let sit for 5 minutes to give the steak a chance to dissolve and absorb the salt.

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Sear steak on both sides.

3. Continue roasting in 375F oven for 5 minutes, or until desired doneness.
4. Let meat rest.
5.  To the pan the steak was cooking in, pour off any excess fat.  Add the shallots and deglaze the pan with the red wine.  When the red wine has reduced by 3/4 (so that 1/4 cup is left) add the stock.  Let reduce again by 3/4.    Remove pan from heat, and let bubbling subside.  Swirl in butter.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
6.  Serve steak with potatoes, spinach and sauce. Sprinkle sea salt on top.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:3/04/2010 09:31:00 AM You raise a good point about the best ways to use salt - sometimes I find that some wonderful salts sit in my cabinet, because I'm not really sure how best to use them, or whether they will impart too strong a flavor. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/04/2010 11:51:00 PM When I was growing up, salt was salt. Now I have half a dozen salts and love to play with them, but the one I use most is kosher salt. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Mary, CookEatShare Author Support DATE:3/05/2010 04:13:00 PM I’d like to personally invite you to join the CookEatShare Author network. CookEatShare has had over 2.5 million unique visitors in 2009, and I think they will be interested in your content. Users will be guided to your actual blog, so this is a free way to increase page views and visitors to your site.

Please visit for additional information or contact me at for more information, to get unique link to claim and customize your profile. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Karen DATE:3/10/2010 06:43:00 PM Being in Malden, I should love Maldon. But I've always been a Guerande girl :-)

I must give it a try! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Joan Nova DATE:3/11/2010 09:15:00 AM I've never tried smoked salt but it piqued my interest. I enjoy finishing touches and post about it a lot. I recently bought sweet onion sugar and have been experiment with it. ----- --------