Excellent by the handful, or sprinkled over a salad or tender fish filet.
Condiments + Sauces + Jams
I get to eat a crazy amount of really good food at work…..too much, actually. Every day there’s something new to taste and test, produced by the super talented group I work with at Cook’s Illustrated. From shrimp scampi to strawberry shortcake to Korean fried chicken to lemon posset, all so different and all among my favorite recipes developed by the CI team over the past year. Regardless of how much we all enjoy tucking into these dishes over the course of recipe development, after sampling a dish a few times a day for 3-4 weeks straight, even the most amazing treats can start to feel like a house guest that’s overstayed his welcome.
Not so with these Patatas Bravas.
Now that grilling season is upon us (or most of us anyway), I’d like to introduce you to your new best culinary friend, Romesco. Hailing from the Catalan region of Northeastern Spain, this smoky nut and red pepper sauce plays so well with just about anything you can throw on a grill, that you might just want to carve out a special spot in your fridge to keep a jar of this on-hand for the entire Summer season. Whether you’re firing up a steak, some pork chops, a spatchcocked bird, or a swordfish steak, a dollop of romesco alongside will transport you to the warm breeze and radiant sunset of a perfect Spanish evening. Almost any nut and hard, salty cheese will work in this recipe so don’t feel you need to jet to the store for pistachios and parmesan if you have other options in-hand.
A quick shout-out to my ex mum-in-law, Carol, who recently sent me a link to a blog post by The Tough Cookie all about the various ways you can make dulce de leche at home. Thanks, Mimi!
If you haven't had the pleasure, dulce de leche which literally translates as "jam of milk", is basically a sauce made by slowly cooking milk and sugar until it caramelizes….YUM! There are a number of different ways to accomplish this at home, the most elementary of which requires slowly cooking milk, sugar, and maybe some vanilla over a low heat until most of the water has evaporated from the milk leaving milk solids, fat, and sugar to caramelize. I bet the end result is great, but I'll never know because even though I REALLY love to cook, the thought of spending half a day nailed to my stove observing this slow-motion alchemy is a killer. I'd rather be outside watching my grass grow.
I love fresh peaches, I really do. They are among my favorite fruits, and when they're in season I eat a ton of them. About the only thing bad I can say about peaches is that they are only perfectly ripe for about a milli-second before they start to rapidly deteriorate to a state of shriveled, squishy sadness.
This recipe, which comes from chef Michael Schwartz's Michael's Genuine Food , is one I make whenever we're in the mood for a salad to accompany an Asian inspired meal. We also like it in the warmer months as a means to tasty up a piece of grilled fish. This batch was made to dress a salad that we served with a great slow-cooker Soy Braised Pork Shoulder (don't worry, I'll be posting that dish REAL soon), and it was the perfect complement tossed with a baby spinach salad dotted with cherry tomatoes and ripe chunks of avocado.
Are y'all ready to bring some heat? Good, 'cause have I got a treat for you. This is one of those recipes that's so easy that it practically makes itself, and so good that you'll be left wondering how you lived this long without it. A little patience is required for the full effect of the pickling to have its way with the peppers, but even after just 2 days in the drink, these things are addictive!
If you haven't yet tried preserved lemons in a dish, you must. A staple of Middle Eastern cooking, preserved lemons add an exotic and complex salty-citrus note wherever used. The first time I cooked with them was in a chicken dish of one of my favorite local chefs, Ana Sortun. Ana, who is a La Varenne Paris alum, is the chef and owner of Oleana, a truly magical restaurant just outside of Boston. In her dish, Ana slips some preserved lemon under the skin of her version of "chicken under a brick" for an awesome twist on this classic.
I'm not sure what she's like at home, but Muppet's best friend Riley is a salad fiend when she joins us for dinner. It's not that we make very fancy salads here, in fact most nights we just dish up a simply dressed pre-made mesclun mix from the market. Still every time she visits, Riley goes on and on about how much she enjoys the greenery. The key she says is the dressing, and once I told her that it was homemade she has made a point of asking me to teach her the recipe every time she stops by for chow.