Making Passover dinner takes a bit of planning, but it doesn't have to be a chore. If you're cooking for a big group, hand out assignments so you don't do all the work. If your kitchen is large enough, invite people over to help. Cooking the dinner with friends and family can be as much a part of a celebration as the meal itself.
Everyone wants to save money these days. But keeping an eye on food costs shouldn't mean cutting corners on quality and flavor. Avoid buying packaged or frozen meals and you'll be way ahead of the game. Besides saving money, you'll be eating healthier food.
On Passover, I practice what I preach by using one chicken to make three dishes. My Jewish mother would be very proud.
For me it's not Passover without matzo ball soup. But soup is only as good as the stock. Canned and packaged chicken broth are very high in salt content and, in my opinion, have an unpleasant flavor. It's much better to make your own.
Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
Dora's Gefilte Fish
Wolfgang Puck's Braised Short Ribs
Turmeric is a rhizome or rootstock of a South Asian member of the ginger family. As the major ingredient in curry and a cheaper alternative to saffron, it is commonly used in Indian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking as much it seems, for its color as for its flavor. In fact, in the past turmeric was used for dyeing textiles and fabrics, for making cosmetics, and even for religious and cultural ceremonies, Hindu and other, especially in India. Turmeric is considered to have medicinal uses and is even being studied currently for its potential cancer-fighting properties.
In this dish, the turmeric pairs up with cumin, coriander, and paprika to spice up roasted root vegetables and give them an unexpected and exotic twist. First the vegetables are roasted in a very hot oven, an unorthodox method we first came up with at Lucques. We were having problems when working with baby vegetables, unable to get the sear and caramelization we wanted without overcooking the vegetables. Even with our deck oven cranked to 550°F, the results were either tender and pale or nicely browned and mushy.
My longest-running kitchen employee, Rodolfo Aguado, who started working for me as a surly fifteen-year-old dishwasher at Campanile and now runs our very busy catering department (and has three kids of his own), came up with the brilliant idea of preheating the sheet pans before placing the vegetables on them. It really works wonders: you get a great roasted sear and can control the tenderness-versus-mushiness issue as well.
While things change so fast in this world, there are still places where time stands still. The face of Paris changes faster every year that I visit and not always for the better. There are more and more fast food chains, pasta restaurants, pizza sellers and Asian takeaway because everyone wants to eat quickly and run somewhere...
At L'Ami Jean time has stopped, it is old fashioned, handcrafted French/Basque cuisine. The restaurant has an aged yellowed patina with acorn fed Spanish hams hanging from the rafter with an inviting glow that welcomes you. The menu changes daily and the ingredients could not be better sourced or fresher! Whatever they make is always breathtaking!
We bought our house in Umbria ten years ago this past summer.
A couple of months after the sale was completed the former owners, Bruno and Mayes, came over for lunch. And as the lunch lingered, as lunches in Umbria do, Bruno interrupted himself in mid-lecture on the glories of Roman pasta.
“Asparagi,” he said calmly. He got up from his chair, crossed over to the wall of our ancient wood-burning oven and snapped off a pencil-thin spear of wild asparagus that was hiding in and among the other grasses.
“It’s all over the place,” he said. “April is the time. You’ll see hundreds of contadini in the fields and by the side of the road, harvesting them. Here, taste.”
I bit off the end of the slender stalk and chewed on it a bit. It was raw, of course, and a little stringy but the taste fairly attacked me with its vibrancy. Wild asparagus is way wilder than tame asparagus.
“Just imagine,” I thought, “how it’ll make my pee smell.”
With that noble scientific quest in mind, I immediately began to search for more. I looked all around the forno, where Bruno found his and then up the hill toward the olive trees, but there were no more spears to be found.
Sometimes it’s all about the cut. Take asparagus. Everyone loves the long, lanky, sexy look of a whole asparagus spear. (Sorry—sounds like I’m describing a brand of Gap jeans). Why would you want to wreck that by cutting it up?
Oh, yeah, there’s that awkward moment when you’re trying to cut those long spears with a fork on your dinner plate.
And the even more awkward moment when you push the woody bottom half of the spears over to the side of your plate because they’re undercooked.
Now consider this—with a few extra seconds of work upfront, you can have a beautiful, evenly cooked, easy-to-eat asparagus side dish that can take on a variety of flavors, too.
So I’m going to ignore my mother (who claims I tend to get a bit fussy about my vegetable cuts), and suggest that you try slicing your asparagus on the diagonal (sharply…at a sharp angle…on the bias…however you want to say it) for a change.
One of the wonderful aspects of living in Southern California is the weather. The weather affords us to be outdoors more than indoors, avoiding heavy boots and jackets, and perusing the local farmers market even on those rare days when there may be a light sprinkle in the air.
Last weekend, I hit up two of my favorite markets; the Saturday, Santa Monica Farmers Market and the Sunday, Brentwood Farmers Market. Saturday I loaded up on fruit (my two boys ate 2 of the 3 baskets of strawberries before we got to the car) and on Sunday my bags were brimming with veggies (and some Pupusa’s from the Pupusa guy – Levi loves them in his lunch box).
I am boring when it comes to artichokes. Either steamed with a bit of lemon rind and some peppercorns or grilled. I decided to mix it up and fry them…yes, fry! Covered in olive oil, some whole garlic cloves and a bundle of fresh oregano (from my garden), I must say, I made a very tasty treat. Sprinkled with a little sea salt as they were draining and then smothered in this shallot vinaigrette – they didn’t make it to the dinner table that night. They were eaten, standing up.
This is what spring looks like. Truly. So why not make a dish that takes the best of those green, grassy, sweet flavors, adds garlic, great olive oil and a hit of salt and serve it up in one dish? The subtle beauty of all these colors of green tangled together help us understand the idea of renewal inherent in the spring holiday celebrations of Easter or Passover.
In Italy it’s called cianfotta, the all purpose dish that changes with the seasons as new vegetables appear and leave the markets. This saute is one of my master recipes. Serve it as a side dish. Or to make it a bit more substantial for vegetarians add a handful of toasted pine nuts or almonds. For a one course dinner add nuts and a bit of soft or aged goat cheese.
This recipe is a template. You can add sliced and trimmed baby artichokes or fava beans. You may omit the mint or use onions instead of leeks. Some folks leave out the lettuce. It’s up to you.
I know there are other things to do with rapini but I am stuck in a happy rut. I always eat it exactly the same way. Rapini also called broccoli rabe looks like a leafy miniature broccoli and has a slight bitterness to it that marries well with the richness of Italian sausage. Toss that combination with a little onion, garlic, chili flakes and pasta and you're in business.
Broccoli rabe or rapini was something I ate in Italy, there it was blanched and then sauted in olive oil with garlic. Only in Italy it was called broccoli rape pronounced "rah-pay". But I imagine the "rape" name has not helped it much in the popularity department in the English speaking world. If you look it up in the dictionary it turns out to have even more names – rapa, raab, rappone (for big bunches I guess) Italian turnip, taitcat and turnip broccoli. In Italian rapa means turnip and broccoli means broccoli.
As for the identity crisis – am I a turnip or am I broccoli? It is a relative of the turnip and yet looks more like broccoli. As far as the names goes, I think I'll stick with rapini.
by Susan Russo
Whether you surprise her with reservations at her favorite restaurant or make a romantic dinner for two at home, you've got to make her Seductive Strawberry Zabaglione for dessert. Red, ripe strawberries, velvety custard, and sweet Italian wine are so sexy.
I developed this recipe with men in mind because it's easy to make, allows you to flex...
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Most everyone loves chocolate cake. It's just one of those classic desserts that no one can refuse. A good chocolate cake is moist and tender, sweet but not saccharine, and very chocolaty, of course. Melted chocolate—not cocoa powder—separates an excellent chocolate cake from a mediocre one. The best quality chocolate will always yield...Read more...
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Sometimes I think I should just throw caution to the wind and write a book called “The Blue Cheese Diet: Eating Your Way To Happiness Through Gorgonzola And Roquefort”. I’d take all the photos, test each recipe personally, get it published, then do the TV show talk circuit, answering questions like “How did you come to invent the Blue Cheese...Read more...
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