© Chris Quinlan
Michael Symon with the new Calphalon Sear Nonstick pan
© Chris Quinlan
Two of my favorite California chefs are serving real feasts later this month at ridiculously recession-friendly prices. I encourage anyone within a 100-mile radius to check them both out; it could make for perhaps the best head-to-farm-to-tail-to-table week ever. At San Francisco's Incanto, Chris Cosentino's got not one, but two Head-to-Tail dinners planned for Monday, March 23 and Wednesday, March 25, with five ingenious courses--including venison-heart tartare with foie gras--all for a mere $75, wine not included. Then on Friday, March 27 at Craft Los Angeles, Matt Accarrino continues his nifty "Farm-maker" series, featuring produce from a single nearby farm: This month it's Hollister, California's Heirloom Organics. Accarrino's put together a whopping 13 courses – small plates such as Fried Kusshi Oysters with Parsley Root Remoulade and Parsley-Lemon Confit – for only $100, including course pairings of wine, beer and carrot juice.
Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
Mustard-Baked Chicken with a Pretzel Crust
Bucatini with Pancetta, Pecorino and Pepper (left)
As snowfall continues to blanket much of the East Coast, distinct snow personalities are emerging. Here, an (unscientific) survey, and our recipe suggestions for each:
Personality: The Powder Fiend
First thought: Sledding!
Recipe suggestions: Hot chocolate to take along in a thermos including an ultrarich version topped with coconut cream, plus portable sandwiches like pita bread stuffed with deviled egg salad and strips of steak.
Personality: The Aesthete
First thought: How gorgeous!
Recipe suggestions: Stunning all-white dishes to match the snow like a decadent cauliflower puree made with both cream and butter and a chicken-and-almond stir-fry.
Personality: The Hermit
First thought: Let me hibernate!
Recipe suggestions: Dishes that make ingenious use of pantry staples like a chunky chickpea dip or figs in a blanket (dried figs stuffed with nuts and wrapped in slices of prosciutto).
Sadly, F&W's Test Kitchen is temporarily relocating to another space while our offices undergo renovations. Unfortunately, that means packing and moving equipment, pantry items and all sorts of nonperishable necessities. What it also means is clearing out and cleaning out our fridges of all fresh ingredients. We filled our "give-away table" with cheese, eggs, broccoli, half-full jars (optimist that I am) of jam, mayo, mustard, pickles, chutney, hot sauce and various and sundry condiments for the staff to take home. Of course, I kept a few things for myself—a few slices of pancetta, some moldy pecorino (which I cleaned up), a slightly wilted endive and a lemon, all of which went into my clearing-house salad. I cleaned out my fridge at home to complete the meal, and it was a huge success, not to mention a pleasant surprise.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices pancetta
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 pocketless pita
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Romaine lettuce heart, coarsely shredded
1 red endive (traviso), sliced
1/2 can drained chickpeas
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces sliced young pecorino (Sardinian pecorino)
2 slices turkey breast, shredded
4 hard cooked eggs, quartered
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add the pine nuts to the skillet and toast, stirring, until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Add the pita to the skillet and toast until golden, about 2 minutes, turning once or twice. Cut into quarters.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mayonnaise and garlic with the remaining oil. Add the lettuce, endive and chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and toss. Arrange the pancetta, pine nuts, pecorino, turkey and eggs on top and serve with the pita.
Last Friday, the seventh-floor conference room at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square could have been the Kodak theater at this Sunday's Oscars, for all the excitement generated by the 3rd Annual Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off. Six finalists chosen from nearly 2,000 entrants each had passionate partisans cheering them on as they competed for serious prizes: $25,000 in GE appliances—and Manischewitz products. Myra Smolev was cracking jokes as she assembled her delicious Sloppy Moses potato pancakes stuffed with ground beef and mushrooms; Deborah Leebove from Denver nearly lost it but managed a miraculous recovery when she realized her oven wasn't on to bake her superfluffy Mani Meatloaves. They each hoped to make the tastiest dish in under an hour using at least one Manischewitz product; I got to be a judge. I had no idea, but the New Jersey–based company, founded in 1888, today makes over 400 items, everything from matzo to kosher pasta sauces. Only about a dozen were used, particularly the borscht (which turned out to be great flavorer for Shana Schuman's Meaty Manischtroni), and the Tam Tam crackers (Leebove's meatloaf secret weapon). The winner used the falafel mix: Calm, collected Amy Siegel from Clifton, NJ, came through with her Marvelous Mediterranean Falafel Sliders—juicy mini burgers made with ground turkey and topped with caramelized onions that I'd readily make myself. Congratulations, Amy. But watch your back—I may have to enter next year.
With little notice, we are moving our Test Kitchen to temporary digs across town. Not only do we have to pack up equipment and tools, we have to empty our freezers—freezers that (in my case) have housed long-since-forgotten items, held on to for some future use. (I've had this fridge since 2002...) It's sort of liberating to get rid of things, but I must say, I'm very sad at tossing my two quarts of rendered duck fat. Yes, I could take it home to fry potatoes, but I'd like to someday meet my grandkids....
I did find several packages of frozen sweet cherries that I couldn't bear to toss (remember how thrifty/cheap I am). I didn't feel like baking them into a clafouti or pastry, so I threw them into a food processor with some honey and lemon juice and made a superfast sorbet. Since I can't eat it all in one sitting, it will have to go back into the freezer, but with a few more days until the move, I'm sure it won't get lost in there.
QUICK CHERRY SORBET
MAKES 4 CUPS
Two 10-ounce bags frozen sweet cherries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Scoop and serve!
I have a disproportionate amount of guy friends, which means I usually start getting distraught calls around this time of year (i.e., two days before Valentine’s Day) asking for gift suggestions. Case in point: Over the weekend, I asked my newlywed friend Adam what he was doing for his wife on Valentine’s Day. His response: “I didn't know you still have to do Valentine's Day after getting married!” For any other guys out there who may have forgotten, or waited until the last minute, here are a few ideas for the food-and-wine-loving woman that will fit every budget.
* The newly introduced Pulpe Vitaminée facial ($235) at the Caudalie wine spa in New York City’s Plaza Hotel is an hour and 20 minutes of pure bliss. The grapeseed-based vitamin-E serum used in the treatment is superhydrating and left my skin glowing. After the treatment you get to relax even more in the spa’s glamorous wine lounge, where a sommelier will serve you a complimentary glass of the house wine, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte.
* Cult beauty brand Fresh recently launched a new collection, Citron de Vigne, inspired by Veuve Clicquot’s vintage La Grande Dame Champagne. The perfume is $75, but I also love the soap, which comes hand-wrapped in kimono-inspired paper and costs $14.
* I eat out for work all the time, so I’m always more impressed when a man offers to cook me dinner. It’s much more intimate and thoughtful (and usually less expensive!) For inspiration, check out Food & Wine's most sexy recipes and irresistible milk-chocolate desserts.
© Caudalie Spa
The wine lounge in Caudalie Spa at the Plaza Hotel
© Courtesy of Fresh
Fresh's new Champagne-inspired collecttion
I can totally relate to Russ Parsons’ LA Times article about his overstuffed fridge—one that might horrify less passionate cooks. Unlike many people, I have no gunky bottles of salad dressing, but like Parsons, I have jars upon jars of condiments that could help me make a vinaigrette. Three types of mustard (at least!)? Check. Two types of soy sauce? You betcha. Nut and seed oils? Of course. Cornichons, capers and anchovies? Absolutely. But instead of the shelf devoted to pickles that Parsons has, I have one for spicy things. It includes Tabasco, another Louisiana hot sauce, pickled peri peri chiles, pickled jalapeños, chipotles in adobo, Sriracha, harissa, Thai red chile paste and sambal oelek. Yes, I use them all, but I can see why someone might suspect otherwise when the same jars have been in the fridge for two years. To organize all those condiments, I recently saw a clever solution over at The Kitchn: Use cardboard six-pack holders to keep the jars and bottles in place.
I like to think of myself as resourceful and clever and not just cheap, especially when it comes to scraps ("orts" if you do crosswords...). But this new use of broccoli stems is SO resourceful and clever, it makes me angry I didn't think of it first.
There's no lack of great small-batch pickles —ramps, beans, okra, watermelon rind, you name it-and no lack of great recipes, but I am definitely looking forward to trying these pickled broccoli stems, published in yesterday's New York Times Health section. Most of the nutrients in broccoli are contained in the crown, or the florets. But there is loads of much-needed fiber in those stems, and all it takes is a clever and resourceful cook to find ways to use them.