Simple classic Sole Meuniere is a dish that I make often in my home because of its ease and quickness from start to finish. Like many of you, I do love cooking BUT I also love spending time with my family. In a recent Medium post, I suggested that we all need to maintain our daily routines and enjoy pleasurable diversions from coronavirus news overload. We may not make it to France this summer in person, but my stomach can still travel there….
My friend Dana walked into the office overburdened with boxes of perfectly ripe Kadota figs that her father grew. Knowing I would gladly take some, she handed me a rather large box then walked away to her desk. Figs have such a short, intense season that you need to be ready with a game plan to handle the sweet onslaught.
At first, I was a bit at a loss for what to make. I hadn’t planned on these figs, they just appeared like a newborn left on a church doorstep in the dark of night. The box sat in my cubicle staring at me all day. I tried to ignore them, occasionally succumbing to eat a few of the riper ones. I even googled ‘what to do with too many figs’ and came across numerous sites describing the same anguish I was feeling. One gentleman wrote in an aptly named thread ‘Too Many Figs’ on Chowhound: “I bought a young fig tree, and three years later she was almost in tears when facing the huge harvest. To keep matrimonial harmony, I cut down the tree.”
Vacherins are among my most favorite desserts both to eat and to make. They are quite simple: three layers of meringue usually sandwiching a vanilla ice cream and a sorbet. In this version, I made a tarragon frozen yogurt and strawberry sorbet. Sometimes simple and homey just tastes better….
Are you tired of cooking your pork chop the same exact way every time? Here is a quick and easy recipe popular in the South of France made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. All you need is good mustard, olive oil, sage, ground fennel seeds, and obviously some tasty pork chops. I used Tamworth – Hereford mixed pork that was pastured in the Wallowa Valley by Carman Ranch and luckily now you can buy the same pork online.
Provencal Artichokes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Tapenade
When the first artichokes rose from my semi-dormant thistle bed, like Lazarus from the dead, I found excuse enough to search for any leftover rose bottles that may have escaped last summer’s debauchery to celebrate with. I walk out to my garden with nothing more than a simple lunch and a bottle of rosé on my mind. I blankly stared at my artichokes as if somehow they might reveal how they’d like to be prepared. Would it be slow cooked in a barigoule or perhaps just simply steamed with a hollandaise? I stood in my garden for a long time, surrounded by an audience of fava beans, peas, lettuce, and mint who decided to join the debate. My basil, feeling left out and secluded, angrily voiced their opinion….
Slowing down to a Provencal Rhythm
Last August we spent a transformative week in the historic hill town of Cagnes sur Mer, widely considered the ‘Montmartre’ of the South and long favored by impressionist painters for its alluring beauty. Within five days we went from our hurried, busy lives to a more relaxed, slowed down Provencal pace, hopelessly seduced by incredibly fresh seafood, perfect vegetables, and daily rounds of pastis and rosé.
I originally wrote this post for Curious Provence, but wanted to add the recipe for rouget I roasted in a wood burning oven in Cagnes Sur Mer. To read the entire article, please visit Curious Provence – Truly one of the great Provencal blogs; written by expat Ashley….
This dish is the result of an unexpected collaboration between two chefs who never met, David Everitt-Matthias and my sous chef Keith Schneider. The flavors and scents spoke of Provence; freshly salted cod, wisps of the citrus, chickpeas and roasted red peppers. Each dish a reflection of a single moment, an edible photograph capturing a mere twinkling of time, locked forever.
I bought Chef Everitt-Matthias’s book ‘Essence’ years before, and had fawned and drooled over the lush photography and original inspiring recipes within. I couldn’t afford a trip to England to eat at his restaurant, so I started reproducing some of the dishes in my own restaurant. I cooked a verbatim copy of one of my favorites, home-salted cod with roasted tomatoes, chickpeas and anchovy dressing, for so long, I began thinking it was my own creation.
Keith Schneider was my last Sous Chef in the professional world who looked remarkably like a young Michael Douglas. He learned to make the best liquid center croquettes on the planet after spending five years sweating in Iron Chef Jose Garces’ kitchens. The first dish he ever cooked for me was a croqueta served with a saffron aioli, I loved it so much I immediately put it on the menu, eventually adding it to the cured cod set.
Gui Gedda had become a mythical character in my unrelenting search for pure, unadulterated Provence cooking. I heard his name mentioned in several publications, always spoken with absolute reverence, but could never really find out a lot of details about him. Chefs referred to him as both the Pope and the Marcel Pagnol of Provencal cuisine. Finding Gui Gedda’s book ‘Cooking School Provence’ was a major find; it felt a bit like finding the holy grail.
Here’s a great project to tackle this weekend with your child; make yummy chocolate profiteroles stuffed with ice cream, then drizzle with caramel and hot chocolate sauce. It’s a fun activity with many little steps for a child to participate in, no matter their age.
I remember vividly being a small child on a trip to Paris with my mother and sister, standing slack-jawed at the glass display cases of Stohrer, the oldest pâtisserie in the city. brimming with chocolate-glazed éclairs. Try making these delicious chocolate eclairs. Your family will love you for bringing a taste of France home. Eclairs are only slightly harder than making basic brownies. Only because there are 3 components to prep instead of simply 1. You will need a few tools like sil pats, pastry bags, and star tips to make this, but the results will be worth it….
Do not neglect this food. Be careful that you do not break the rules in taking care of this salmon. Do not take more than you need. – Yakima legend of overfishing
The Mighty Columbia River
No other river captures the heart and soul of the Pacific Northwest quite like the mighty Columbia River, known to native tribes as Wimahl, Nch’i-Wàna or Swah’netk’qhu. Its story encapsulates thousands of years of human history, interweaving tales of native Americans, discovery, exploration, hydroelectric energy, logging and unparalleled fishing within its waterways. The Columbia River is the fourth longest in America, stretching an unprecedented 1,243 miles from its headwaters in the Canadian Rockies to the end where it flows turbulently into the Pacific Ocean, near Astoria, Oregon.
Though Lewis and Clark wrote extensively of it in their journals, the river did not get its name till May of 1792 when captain Robert Gray braved the infamous Columbia bar and sailed onto the river for nine days of fur trading. It was named in his honor after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. In 1850, the Columbia River was reputed to have 16 million salmon return each year to spawn in its tributaries. The fishing was so plentiful no one ever thought it could end, but after a century of overfishing, farming, logging and building numerous hydroelectric dams the runs have been reduced to a current population of 2 million salmon.
Classics can be phenomenal when done right. A simple roast chicken dish could be the best thing you ever eat. ~ Joe Bastianich, noted restaurateur and tv star
Recently I had the good fortune to preview two new releases from Four Graces Winery in Dundee, Oregon. I was asked to pair a dish with whichever of the two I prefered. I opened both the 2015 Chardonnay ‘Gran Moraine’ and the 2014 Pinot Noir ‘Lindsay’s Reserve’ and poured a glass, well maybe two. I took a long sip of each and reflected on taste. I wondered what would go well with each wine. Then I thought, could there be a single dish that actually works perfectly well for both? This could solve the age old dilemma we sometimes face when inviting opinionated friends over who only like red or white wine. Then it struck me like an errant lightning bolt, the answer is as easy as roast chicken….
Sous-vide (/suːˈviːd/; French for “under vacuum”) is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times (usually 1 to 6 hours, up to 48 or more in some select cases) at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 to 60 °C (131 to 140 °F) for meat and higher for vegetables. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. –Wikipedia
True confession: I am a closet sous vider. I come from the last of the old guard that rejected sous vide in favor of more classical techniques. I was first exposed to sous viding when I did a stage for Joel Robuchon in Paris in 1996. He had a pork belly dish I vividly remember, the ultimate Petit salé aux lentilles, a melt in your mouth dish of cured pork belly served over creamy lentils. Petit salé is far too bourgeois for most diners of a three star Michelin restaurant and I am convinced the dish was not actually on the menu but there only for gastronomic regulars in the know. Each morning at Robuchon a plastic tub was filled with warm water and a strange device attached. The machine gently hummed while vacuum-packed bags of cured pork belly were lowered in. All throughout prep and service, the machine circulated water heated to a precise temperature around the packets. It felt like Christmas whenever someone ordered it. Time stopped. Everyone’s attention was fixated on the opening of that one single package and I always wondered who was on the other side of the swinging kitchen doors eating it. Since then, every “modern” kitchen I have worked in had at least one such circulator.
Finally, companies like Anova are making this extraordinary technology affordable and within reach for home cooks to use.
Last minute Ramp ideas to make the season last longer. What are your favorite ramp dishes? Here are three easy dishes you can make at home.
Suddenly Summer suddenly appeared at the Farmer’s Market. It felt vaguely familiar, but yet at the same time strangely different. A sudden heat wave abruptly ended Spring’s explosion, and now the farmer’s stands were brimming with sweet cherries, real tomatoes, vibrant eggplants, emerald zucchini and fragrant basil….
I was bitten by an octopus. – Ted Cruz
After my last article about Greek wine and pre-cooked octopus, I thought I would follow up with a very simple method to cook your own sea beast. There is a lot of unwarranted fear surrounding octopus. Granted they are weird looking sea creatures with beaks and tentacles and a notorious reputation for being frustratingly tough. I have seen both professional and home cooks avoid preparing it like the plague. Done right it is sublimely tender and takes to a variety of preparations from simple salads to tandoori spiced appetizers to stewed in tomato sauce. Done wrong and it becomes a rubbery sea flavored chewing gum.
There are many myths about the best way to tenderize octopus. They range from dropping corks in the poaching liquid, rubbing them with salt, cooking only in copper, using your clothes dryer to tumble them into tender submission, beating them on rocks to dumping enough vinegar in the cooking liquid to make you pucker for a week straight. The simplest and best method is to steam in their own juices.
Try this and you will never go back to whatever method you used to subscribe to….
A sheep farmer showed up at work with a lamb head tightly wrapped in plastic and wondered whether there was a call among America’s chefs for it. The idea of serving head, instantly brought me back to 1996 when I was lucky to do a stage for Joel Robuchon in Paris. I fondly remember a dish I was drawn to like a moth to an open flame, it was a slow-braised pig head served with baby vegetables in a mustard tarragon sauce on a pool of buttery mashed potatoes. I know it sounds incredibly simple, but it tasted great and left a huge impression that a dish so humble could be served at a three-star level. Every part of the head was utilized, the cheeks, tongue, ears and the brain. It encapsulated Robuchon’s approach to cooking: use simple, humble ingredients and elevate their stature on the plate. …
Making chicken stock at home is extremely easy to do and very cost-effective. It is the perfect by-product of roasting a chicken. Here’s the basic premise: Put chicken bones and vegetables into a stockpot, cover with cold water then simmer away. It really is as simple as that.
The Quest: A Simple, Perfectly Roasted Chicken. A humble, seemingly easy dish that unfortunately is as elusive as a unicorn or a five-leaf clover. I mean, how hard should it be to roast the perfect chicken? Let’s analyze what makes it perfect and figure out how to easily do it every single time.