Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eating New Orleans

Sorry it's been slow around here--I was away all last week in the culinary wonderland that is New Orleans. Below are a few of the pictures I took--if you're interested, there are a bunch more on my flickr page, accessible with a beautiful stripped down interface here.

...and after.

This guy was such a pro, he actually had an oyster shucking trophy.

It was so good.


Soft shell crab po boy in the garden district


New Orleans photoset [ihardlyknowher]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Low and Slow: Braised Anise-Scented Short Ribs

So, this recipe was one of the most full flavored, complex, rich and satisfying ones I have made so far. But overall, I think they're a little too fatty for my taste. I'd like to try the same recipe with a different cut of meat, maybe, because the combination of star anise, ginger, nam pla, carrots, potatoes, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar did really magical things.


This recipe is a variation on Short Ribs Braised with Mustard and Potatoes, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to include the potatoes or not; I decided to use them after all because it seemed like it'd make the dish more substantial, so why not? It didn't say to omit them outright, but the variation does sort of just ignore them. I was glad I included them, but I'm still not sure if I was supposed to.


Served it with the Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette from before.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Have To Rinse Them Off First: Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Grilled Asparagus

Call this one Salty Grilled Shrimp, because that's what I ended up with. The recipe itself is close to foolproof. The marinade (lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cayenne, a mashed clove of garlic and a tablespoon of salt) could probably be used with any kind of meat or veggie, and it's really fast.


However, I used a little less shrimp than Bittman recommends, which wouldn't be a problem if I hadn't used the entire tablespoon of salt. But I forgot to adjust, and the shrimp were so incredibly salty that my brother would only take seconds after rinsing his shrimp off. Which probably didn't work anyway.

Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus4.JPG

Basically, this recipe is golden, especially served with a little salad and some lemon wedges. It tastes like spring.

Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus3.JPG

Also, there was grilled asparagus, which can also be done roasted or broiled, and are delicious no matter what. And in season! Don't sleep on them. Check out the links below for up to date info on what's at the Greenmarket.

Lucy's Greenmarket Report
Greenmarket Report blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Freezer Gospel

Bittman's on fire in this week's Minimalist column, which does double duty as the Dining section's cover story. The focus is the freezer, and Bittman thinks that you're doing it wrong. And he has a point:
If I tried to sell you a new appliance that could help you save money, reduce food waste and get meals on the table faster, the only thing you’d ask would be “How much?”

The answer is “Nothing.” You already own it. For just as the stove comes with a hidden and often overlooked bonus — the broiler — so does the refrigerator: the freezer. Why not use it?

I know: you do. In that messy box you have some ice cubes, some stuff you bought frozen — a pizza? Lean Gourmet? peas? — and maybe, if you cook a lot, some stock or hastily stored leftovers. You also have a load of things you’ve already forgotten about and will eventually toss, even though you would have been guilt-struck if you had discarded them when they were fresh.

But if you conscientiously use the freezer in two ways, you’ll value it as never before. The first: take raw ingredients you have too much of — or whose life you simply wish to prolong — and freeze them. The second: take things you’ve already cooked — basics like stock, beans, grains and the like, or fully cooked dishes — and freeze them.

The thing is worth a read, full of helpful factoids (freezers are more efficient the more jam packed they are) and tips that range from the unexpected (cover pesto with a layer of olive oil to prevent freezer burn) to the obvious yet often overlooked (label your stuff, because fish stock looks like chicken stock looks like lemon juice once it's frozen).

And! Don't forget to check out the related post on Bittman's blog Bitten, where the comments section is bursting with even more ideas for maximizing the use you get from your freezer. I like this one:
In cool months, I regularly make a big batch of steel cut oatmeal , then spread it on a cookie sheet, freeze, cut it into serving size rectangles, and take them to work where I microwave them for breakfast. Quick, easy, and much better than instant.
Leave your own ideas over there, or in the comments below.

Oh, and also worth a read: Harold McGee's fascinating piece about asparagus.

Freeze That Thought [nytimes]
The Freezer (Comments) Section [Bitten blog]
Asparagus' Breaking Point [nytimes]