"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

9 Winter Recipes

The quandary of cook-through food blogging: what is more important, cooking the recipes, or blogging about them? When I have to choose one or the other due to time constraints, cooking always wins. Not the best scenario for you, dear reader, but luckily I don't have any scruples about combining many dishes into one post.

So here for your reading pleasure is a catch-up post on what's been happening in the Palladino kitchen over the last few months.

When I was a kid, if you asked me if I hated any foods I would have promptly said "hot dogs and lima beans". But now I see that it's all in the preparation (although I'm sorry to say the only thing you can do to improve hot dogs is drown out their taste with the spiciest chili imaginable).

After you've cooked limas with an onion and some garlic, you whiz them up in a food processor with herbs, spices, lemon juice and olive oil. If you're squeamish about spending the bucks for all those fresh herbs in the market (because this calls for fresh cilantro, parsley, dill AND mint) wait for summer when they're abundant and free if you know the right gardeners.

This recipe is a win. I could eat it every day.

Of the many bean-based soups in the book, this one has got to be the fastest. A few cans of black-eyed peas, a slab of ham, diced, a little chicken broth and some collards and hey presto--you've got soup. Very satisfying and if you sweat your onions instead of sauteing them you've got a good spring dieting soup too. Please note that's not my photo--thanks to iamglutenfree.blogspot.com for the swipe (at least I think that's what the script says).

I'm always a little nervous about using bitter greens in salad but I guess they have their place in the universe. One place they occupy nicely is as a counterpoint to a rich entree, like the Shrimp in Coconut Milk, seen here all snuggled up on the same plate.

This salad was pretty good though it called for vast and amazing amounts of chicory to be trimmed away (the dark green outer leaves--good for soups, says the book). If your chicory is like my chicory you can't wash it enough--it must be grown primarily in sand so take heed and wash wash wash. The best way to do it I think is to put the leaves in a big pot or bowl of cold water and let the sand sink to the bottom.

Would I make this salad again? Maybe!

Again, not my photo, and not fully accurate--imagine cubes of creamy white tofu mixed in. Thanks to Recipes for a Postmodern Planet for the swipe.

This recipe was beyond fantastic because of the spices. If you like Indian food in general, you'll swoon over this. It calls for Garam Masala which you can make but also now (thanks to McCormick's ever-adventuresome spice offerings) buy pre-mixed in the supermarket. Vegetarians, this one's for you.

Cauliflower is not the first vegetable I turn to in the produce section when I'm grabbing stuff for dinner. It's not even the second one, and actually not the third one. In fact it might be somewhere down the list with broccoli rabe. Why? It's a perfectly innocuous vegetable but it seems sort of boring and also it's white which makes it seem somehow less healthy than green and orange things which of course is nonsense.

If you too feel uninspired by cauliflower look no further than this dish to create a little excitement with flavors that really pop and an ingredient that actually literally pops--mustard seeds, when heated in a skillet, will pop right out of the pan. So be careful. And enjoy this one--it's a nice way to mix up your weekday veggie repertoire.

Trying to eat less meat? This is a quick week-day supper that will give you veggies, protein and fiber all in one fell swoop and it's also super fast and great for lunch the next day. Sometimes that's all you really need so if this is one of those times, go for it.

Sweet Potato Pie with Bourbon Cream

Aw, just when you thought I was getting all healthy on you with all these veggies and beans--no way, brothers and sisters. My dedication to butterfat remains as constant as ever. I am also pretty close to finishing the Pie chapter so I took the opportunity at our last book group (Serena by Ron Rash in case you're wondering) to make this pie.

What's different about this pie? Frankly I was amazed at how many of my fellow book groupies had never had sweet potato pie so that's different--might be a new experience for your diners. Two, the sweets potatoes are roasted, not boiled. Pretty subtle. Other than that it's just a good old sweet potato pie made with bourbon, and topped with heavy cream flavored with more bourbon. Can you really go wrong here? I think not.

Lemon Pound Cake

With this cake done, I can now count the remaining cake recipes on one hand. Five left, people!!

I made this for my writer's group and it was pretty easy to put together (if you don't mind zesting a gazillion lemons)--my only problem with it was that it just wouldn't finish baking in the middle. See that crack up there? I baked this pound cake for well over an hour and that one spot just wouldn't bake. Weird and vexing but it was still delicious (if slightly, er, moist in that center part). The book suggests serving with strawberries and I did.

Hmm, maybe I'll make that Passover Sponge Cake for my writer's group tonight.....

This is one of the recipes I thought I would never get around to making. For one thing it calls for a special mold and for another it seems fantastically complicated. But, somewhere around Valentine's Day I found myself having a dinner party and since we inherited some heart-shaped molds from our neighbor Marjorie

it seemed like the obvious dessert choice.

Make no mistake--this dessert is kind of a pain. Anything that asks you to force a solid through a fine sieve is going to be irritating. Ditto for lining the little molds--individually--with damp cheesecloth. But what a pay-off! A sweet little dessert that will melt the hearts of your friends and loved ones, and the portion size is just right for a tasty but not too filling treat. Anybody local who wants to try this I'm happy to lend you these molds.

So that's the wrap-up, folks! Thanks for being patient, and I'll see you back here soon.


Paleolithic recipes in this post: Cauliflower with Ginger and Mustard Seeds