© Frances Janisch
For more great tofu recipes, try these.
© Frances Janisch
© Tina Rupp
Pork with Arugula and Tomatoes
© Photo Courtesy of Clarkson Potter
I picked cherries in wine, which infuses Bing cherries—just now in my supermarket—in red wine reduced with cloves and orange zest. After finding an inexpensive cherry pitter, preparing four pounds of cherries and scouring for stray pits, the process went smoothly and swiftly. I had only to boil the jars and wash the red juice from my fingers. The preserved cherries are proudly resting, like little rubies, in my kitchen. They’ll be perfect alongside grilled beef tenderloin or duck (Bone’s suggestions), spooned over vanilla ice cream or served straight with whipped cream.
Eugenia’s a busy woman. Not only does she scour the greenmarkets and put up enough to feed her family year-round, she’ll be publishing a holiday food diary in our December issue. I can’t wait!
Over Memorial Day weekend I was visiting some friends who live in Blue Point, Long Island, home of my favorite East Coast oyster. Excited for some oysters on the half shell, we brought two dozen home after a trip to the fish market. I offered to shuck, figuring I could do it the quickest (though I'm not fast by any means), but when I realized all my friends had was a clam-shucking knife, I had to figure out another way to break into their shells without hurting myself.
The grill was already on, so I decided to throw the oysters on for a few minutes. I let them cook just until the shells started to pop open slightly. This trick worked perfectly. Though the oysters were not completely raw, they were not fully cooked either: Warmed through but still plump and full of briny juices. We stood around the grill and ate our oysters with just a squeeze of lemon and a drop of hot sauce.
For people without a ton of shucking experience or a proper oyster-shucking knife, this is an easy technique that takes the pain out of what can be a time-consuming task.
Hot on the heels of F&W’s roundup of America’s best new pizza artisans, GQ magazine’s Alan Richman just released his list of the 25 best pizzas in America. After eating almost 400 pies at over 100 pizzerias in 10 cities, Richman concludes that “great pizzas aren’t made by great ovens; they’re made by great cooks.”
I couldn’t agree with him more. I’ve eaten my share of restaurant pizza but I have to say that my favorite pizza comes, without fail, from one of the greatest cooks I know—my grandmother. The dough is fragrant and yeasty; baked in a battered old pan, it turns crisp yet pleasantly chewy.
Recently, my grandmother upgraded from supermarket flour to slightly more expensive King Arthur Flour. The rest is intuition. I don’t have that intuition—at least, not yet—but I do have access to some amazing recipes from F&W:
To give cooks more lean, quick, affordable options, the National Pork Board is introducing four new cuts that they hope will be available soon in supermarkets nationwide. Perhaps inspired by the beef industry’s success with steaks like the flatiron, which is cut from the inexpensive beef chuck, food scientists have isolated new cuts from the pig’s shoulder and leg—two parts of the animal that command a much lower price than the loin cuts.
There’s the cap steak, a thin piece from the hind leg, that reminds me of skirt steak, with its long, visible grain. (Like skirt steak, it’s great on tacos.) The petite tender is like a mini-tenderloin but with more flavor, much like beef’s teres major steak—a cut they sell at Fleisher’s butcher shop in upstate New York as “faux filet.” I recently took home the pocket roast, a two-pound chunk from the upper portion of the leg. Unfortunately, the meat was prebrined—no lovingly-raised, heirloom-breed stuff here. Besides that chemically salty taste that masked any flavor the meat might have had, I really liked the cut: It’s easy to roast in a 10-inch skillet (I browned it on the stovetop first, then transferred it to a 400° oven) and would easily serve a family of four, most likely with leftovers for sandwiches. The Pork Board hopes to turn the pocket roast (great name, by the way) into the next rotisserie chicken, since it’s easy for stores to roast on a small spit. As long as I can find versions made with better quality pork, I raise a Cubano sandwich to that.
John T. Edge's fascinating New York Times piece on the Sriracha chile sauce brand Tuong Ot Sriracha details its humble roots—founder David Tran used to grind the peppers from his brother's farm in Vietnam himself—to its now seemingly ubiquitous appeal. (It's sold at Wal-Mart and can be found in all types of restaurant kitchens, from those of superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and current Best New Chef Bryan Caswell to those of national chains like Applebee's.) Clearly, the article resonates with the F&W online team: Several of us have the bright red bottles at our desks (our web designer Jinny Kim even gave online executive editor Rebecca Bauer a 28-ounce bottle as a gift recently). Here, three great recipes that call for the fiery, garlicky, slightly sweet sauce:
Spicy Sriracha Chicken Wings “We always have a couple of extra bottles at home, because my stepson blows right through the stuff,” says F&W Best New Chef 1998 Michael Symon of the chile paste.
Soy-Glazed Chicken Yakitori Chef Dean Fearing's take on the delicious skewered meats he ate in a yakitori bar in Tokyo has a hint of heat from Sriracha.
Zee Spotted Pig Bloody Mary Anna Vanderzee's Bloody Mary for New York City's Spotted Pig gets extra heat from the chile puree.
Plus, more dishes prepared with Sriracha can be found here.
At least some companies are doing well during the recession: According to a recent Financial Times piece, sales of Kraft Mac & Cheese, Jell-O and Kool-Aid are soaring. Here, F&W's stellar takes on Kraft standbys:
Mac & Cheese: Five irresistible versions of mac-and-cheese like one-bite three-cheese mini-macs.
Not long ago, I discovered that pecans and walnuts (two very fatty and delicate nuts) toast beautifully in the microwave. This morning, with no time to preheat the oven for a meager handful of hazelnuts, I decided to put the microwave method to the test. Well, it worked like a charm—mostly. For 1/2 cup of raw, unblanched hazelnuts, I set the timer for two minutes, which was a tiny bit long. A few of the nuts were too dark to use, but most were perfect. The nuts cooled more quickly, the skins blistered and were magically easier to remove. In the future, I think I'll do 30-second intervals (which is good for all nuts) to control the toasting.
We tasted lots of smoky foods for our June roundup—so many, in fact, that they couldn’t all fit in the magazine. Here are three bonus extras, and some delicious ideas for how to serve them.
1. Salvatore Bklyn Smoked Ricotta: About six months ago Betsy Devine and Rachel Mark started smoking their ultra-rich ricotta, made with milk from Hudson Valley Fresh, an upstate New York co-op. Thirty minutes over cherry wood imparts an amazing toasted marshmallow flavor that complements the cheese’s creaminess. Devine and Mark say: “Fold it into pasta with plenty of black pepper and chile pepper or smear it on ciabatta with slices of speck and apples. For dessert, try stirring in a little sugar and use it as a dip for chocolate-covered graham crackers for fire-less s’mores.”
2. Snake River Farms Gourmet Franks: Made from American Wagyu raised outside Boise, Idaho, these dogs spend some time over hickory and alder wood and have an all-natural beef casing. They’re only mildly smoky but have pure beef flavor and a gentle, pleasing spiciness with a super snap. They’d be great grilled, topped with a quick relish.
3. Vanns Smoked Rice: This long-grain white rice, smoked mostly over red and white oak, smells like a fire pit, but when cooked becomes more nuanced and subtle, especially prepared pilaf-style with onions and chicken stock. It would add a fabulous depth to dishes like red beans and rice, jambalaya and gumbo.