Winter

Alaskan Halibut in a Roasted Tomato-Spinach-Mushroom Sauce

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by David Latt

halibutcookedWhen the Deadliest Catch first aired, I watched with morbid curiosity as the crews manhandled heavy metal cages. Those cages sometimes swung wildly in the air, smashing against the ship's bulkhead, threatening to hospitalize crew members.

Many times, risking life and limb did not have the hoped for payoff when the cages contained the ocean's odds and ends rather than the prized catch of Alaskan king crab. When luck was with them, a cage would be filled with crabs, their pointed, armored legs poking out at any hand that risked a close encounter.

After that, when I ordered a crab cocktail I had newfound respect for my food. The crab meat might be delicate and sweet, but the effort it took to snatch it from the icy, turbulent ocean was marked by sweat, fear and danger. On so many levels, when I am cooking or about to eat, I am happy to be ignorant of the difficult work it takes to get the food from ocean or farm to my table.

Recently, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute made it easy for me. They offered to send a box of Alaska seafood for me to prepare and write about. Certainly I had bought, cooked and eaten Alaskan seafood before because it is available from local purveyors big (Ralphs and Gelson's) and small (Malibu Seafood).

Feeling Blue? Eat Italian Almond Torte with Blood Orange Compote

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by Susan Russo

bloodorancealmondcakeIt's March, and the weather is still pretty miserable. There are cold fronts, snow storms, dense fog, and freezing rain blanketing various parts of the country.

While I can't make the daffodils grow any more quickly, I can share a recipe for a refreshing Italian Almond and Orange with Blood Orange Compote that is sure to make you feel warm and happy. I created the recipe a few weeks ago and have since made it two more times. It's that good.

While this Italian torte bakes, your home will be filled with the bright scent of citrus. Since it's subtly sweet yet rich with almond flavor, it's ideal for pairing with a glass of Italian Vin Santo on a relaxing afternoon. It also makes a lovely formal dessert when dressed with a spicy compote of tart blood oranges soaked in honey, vanilla, cloves, and star anise.

Guinness Braised Brisket

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by Cathy Pollak

whiskeybrisketBrisket....I'm licking my lips. I love it. I've always loved it...as long as it's cooked right. Let's face it, it's a tough, flat piece of meat. It's a chest muscle. The only way to cook it right, is low and slow...which is why we braise. And the Guinness adds a nice layer of deep complexity to the sauce, just like red wine does to a pot roast. However, since the barley used to make Guinness is roasted, you get this really deep flavor in dished like this.

Braising melts all that intramuscular fat and works through the connective tissues. It's a three method process and worth every minute of time spent. Braising includes browning, deglazing and simmering, but really, the meat is in the oven most of the time...you might as well just forget about it and go read a book.

The torture comes in with the amazing smells coming from the kitchen....it leaves me hungry all day. ALL. DAY. I end up snacking on things I shouldn't because of that meat smell. UGH. Let's just say I might have eaten a few too many cookies yesterday. UGH. And why does smelling meat make me eat cookies?

Tomato Soup for the Soul

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by Alison Wonderland Tucker

tomatosoupFor all of you out there with cold feet, throbbing headaches, and damp socks.

For those who trudged through 1 ½ feet of sleet water to cross the street over and over again.

For those who shoveled for hours even after the snow turned to rain and then to solid ice.

For those who got stuck on the train in a tunnel for a half hour and then missed your meeting.

For those who forgot to eat lunch and took it out on everyone during the slow bus ride home.

For those of you trapped at home with no power.

For the cabs with spinning wheels and no traction.

For those with 3 pairs of soaked “waterproof” boots.

Shortcut Manhattan Clam Chowder

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by James Moore

manhattanclamchowderAlthough New England Clam Chowder (the white creamy version) is probably more popular, Manhattan Clam chowder is equally delicious. More like an Italian soup, this tomato based clam chowder makes a great winter dish.

Traditional recipes often require cooking fresh clams and using the cooking broth in the chowder (which is fine if you have the time) but I find that using canned clams and bottled clam juice makes this recipe more manageable, without sacrificing taste or quality.

Bal Harbor clam juice is available in most grocery stores and has great flavor. It’s made from steaming whole, premium clams and is triple-filtered. This soup will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days, and the flavors continue to meld. Reheat over a low heat, and make sure not to boil the chowder, which can toughen the clams.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Chile Verde

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by Cathy Pollak

Noble-Pig-Pulled-Pork-Chile-VerdeSeriously folks what is with all the bad weather in the U.S.? When I'm tooling around on Facebook I feel like I've been living everyone's bad weather, including my own. So much snow everywhere. Let's hope Spring comes a little early this year. All these gloomy days means the slow cooker has been earning its keep. This Pulled Pork Chile Verde has been something I've been working on. But today it was perfect and that's why I'm sharing it with you.

My goals for this recipe were straightforward. I wanted a dish that makes enough food for several meals, reheats well, lower in calories and a version even picky eater kids would eat and love. All were accomplished!

In regards to meal times, my older son is easier to please than my younger one. Let's just say I have a real critic when it comes to what he wants to or will eat. But he loved this. I purposefully made it mild enough so the kids would enjoy it. You can do the same and add hot sauce to get the heat you prefer or use a spicier sauce to begin with.

Endive and Fennel Salad with Prosciutto

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by Amy Sherman

endivesaladGrowing up I ate a green salad pretty much every night with dinner. In Italy, we did the same, though it was served at the end of the meal. These days, I find it hard to convince my other half to eat salad. My solution is to make main dish salads. This one uses Belgian endive and is easy to make for one or a group. It has many delicious things added to a base of endive and fennel, namely candied walnuts, fresh mozzarella and prosciutto.

Endive and fennel just seem to have a natural affinity for one another. Both are crisp, but fennel has a chewier  texture and a sweetness, while endive is lighter and juicier and has a slightly bitter edge. You could use them to make a simple side salad but this one has lots of goodies to make it a main dish. Use a Champagne vinaigrette or a Dijon mustard vinaigrette to dress it. Or even just lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

Brussels Sprouts on Botox

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by Susan Russo

brusselssproutsinsideIt happens every Sunday. Clamoring crowds jostle for space around the popular tables at the farmers’ market to check out the hip Meyer lemons, the chic wild arugula, and the sexy red strawberries (yes, we really did have fresh strawberries this past week).

Not so at the cruciferous vegetables table. There lie the Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower (of which only the funky Romanesco variety is getting any attention). These uncomely vegetables patiently wait for someone to come by and check them out. It is a long wait.

This past Sunday the Brussels sprouts were carelessly dumped in a lop-sided pile, causing stray runaway sprouts to keep rolling off the table's edge and onto the concrete. Inspired by Molly’s witty post at Orangette, I thought I would take on a challenge. A makeover for three undatable vegetables: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. The make-up? Breadcrumbs.

Parmesan Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

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by Joseph Erdos

polentaCornmeal is a staple foodstuff in the cuisines of many cultures throughout the world, cooked in nearly similar ways. It can be found in South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and the South where it is known as grits. Cornmeal is made from the grinding of dried corn kernels that have had the husk and germ removed, which gives it greater shelf life.

Polenta, as cornmeal is known in Italy, came to popularity in Roman times when it was eaten as a basic porridge. Its origins as a peasant dish have now been displaced by its availability in high-end restaurants. It is very versatile and can be served alongside a variety of other foods, such as meats, stews, sauces, and fish.

With a nod toward tradition, in this recipe I serve the polenta with a mushroom ragù, a combination of two different varieties of mushrooms, oyster and cremini, sautéed and then simmered with mushroom broth from dried porcinis. But any available mushrooms can be used for this recipe.

Winter Root Vegetable Puree

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by Cathy Pollak

Winter-Root-Vegetable-PureeI have gone on and on here about how much I love mashed potatoes (one of my fave recipes). Who doesn't really? However, I do consider them "special occasion" food with their copious amounts of butter, cheese and cream. 

The rest of the time I often just puree cauliflower for a "faux" mashed potato fix and don't add much of anything, it doesn't need it. Kind of like this Winter Root Vegetable Puree, it has so much flavor from the veggies themselves. I love, love root veggies more than one can imagine, I'm not even sure where it came from. I didn't grow up eating this stuff. But geez it's such a yummy, low-calorie way to enjoy what your brain thinks is mashed potatoes. It totally satisfies my urge for that starch side dish.

One of the root vegetables I used was celery root. Have you ever used it or seen one? They are pretty ugly and look challenging to cut..but they're not. They peel easily with a knife and are available at almost every market. Try adding it to soup, it's delicious.

 

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