Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Feed: April 16, 2014

The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.

Washington Post: “Egg Cookbooks: Time to Crack Open the New Ones,” by Bonnie S. Benwick.
This weeks Washington Post Food section is an eggstravaganza of coverage about the incredible, edible you-know-what. Benwick ticks off a list of good cookbooks devoted to the subject, along with some recipes, like the eggy brioche from Michael Ruhlman’s new book, Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient. Benwick also has a separate piece on egg tips and trivia. There’s also a story by freelance writer Emily Horton about hard-boiled eggs.

Wall Street Journal: “Master the Egg,” by Michael Ruhlman.
Speaking of Ruhlman’s new book, he provides this preview for the Wall Street Journal and talks about how mastering the egg is the key to mastering the kitchen. He quotes Alton Brown who called the egg “the Rosetta stone of the kitchen.” He offers the egg omelet as the perfect example of something every good cook should master and includes an interesting recipe (although not to my style, as I prefer my omelets flipped).

The Guardian: “Organic Food: It's Not Just for Yuppies Anymore,” by Tracie McMillan.
McMillan, author of the superlative The American Way of Eating, covers the news of Walmart’s recent announcement it will carry organic groceries for my favorite British newspaper, The Guardian. Her angle is what the announcement means about assumptions regarding low-income Americans—a big portion of Walmart customres—and their preference for organic goods, which is apparently stronger than among wealthier Americans. Although as McMillan notes, preference doesn’t always translate to action, especially when income becomes a limiting factor. Walmart may help change that.

NPR: “The Secret to These Sauces Is Nuts,” by Claire Adas.
Like Ms. Adas, I’m a nut for nuts, so I got pretty hungry reading her descriptions of all the wonderful ways you can use nuts in food. Her focus is on sauces, and her nut aiolis sound amazing.

Saveur: “Best Food Blog Awards 2014.”
The food and travel magazine hands out its awards for the best food blogs of the year, as chosen by readers and editors. Lots of great picks in the food and drink categories. Congratulations to the winners.

I Am a Food Blog: “Peeps Coconut Cake with Mascarpone Frosting,” by Stephanie Le
One of the blog winners, the editors’ choice for best food blog, was Stephanie Le’s I Am a Food Blog. She’s got a super cute and tasty-sounding coconut cake with mascarpone frosting and peeps.

SF Gate: “Whole Foods wins tahini taste test by landslide,” by Sarah Fritsche.
With warmer weather approaching (can’t believe it froze in D.C. last night!), I’ll be ready to make hummus soon. Good tahini is essential for a creamy smooth consistency. Fritsche assembled a panel of tasters to find a favorite; their selection may surprise you (hint: it’s a store brand).

The Huffington Post: “The 22 Most Hipster Foods on the Planet,” by Alison Spiegel.
I don’t really consider myself a hipster. I’m too old, and I was never cool enough (just very briefly in the late ‘90s). But as a “foodie” (another term I’m not really that into, but it fits), there are quite a few things on this list I’m guilty of fawning over, including food trucks, Brussels sprouts, bacon, and tacos. Just don’t give me any PBR; I’ll stick to craft IPA thank you. Oh wait, that was on the list too.

A La Mode Podcast: “Episode 7 - Sugar Coating,” by Jason Shriner and Jaisyn Markley.
Here’s something different for The Feed: a podcast. My friend Jason (a.k.a. The Aubergine Chef) and his friend Jaisyn recently started this podcast focused on food, fashion and whatever else strikes their fancy. In this episode, Jason talks about the BBC documentary Sugar v. Fat (check out the twins featured in it), while Jaisyn discusses accessorizing your outfits (sweet on the inside and outside). They also touch on Kinetic Sand, making smart wireless phone service choices, and provide general updates on what they've been up to lately.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chicken with Mushroom-Wine Sauce and Roasted Radishes and Carrots

Sautéed chicken breasts with a simple pan sauce is a great way to quickly get a tasty and elegant-looking dinner on the table midweek. Awhile ago, I made Sautéed Chicken with Pan Wine Sauce. This is a similar preparation with the added interest of mushrooms and a foundation of roasted small root vegetables.

Up until this recipe, I can't recall much experience with radishes besides sliced for salads. They're wonderful roasted though; their sharp flavor mellows out beautifully. The simple recipe below for roasted radishes and baby-cut carrots complemented the chicken and mushrooms perfectly.

Chicken with Mushroom-Wine Sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz. white mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Roasted radishes and carrots (see recipe below)

1. Heat olive oil and butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Spread the flour on a plate and dredge the chicken in the flour, tapping to remove excess.  Transfer the floured chicken to the hot frying pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 10 minutes, flipping at the halfway point. Remove chicken from pan; leave drippings.

2. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté until softened and browned. Add the white wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape any remaining bits from the bottom of the pan. Add about half the parsley and cook until the wine has reduced by roughly half.

3. Serve chicken breasts over roasted vegetables topped with mushroom-wine sauce and a sprinkle of the remaining fresh parsley.

Roasted Radishes and Carrots
Adapted from Roasted Radishes and Carrots by Melissa D'Arabian for Food Network

16 radishes
20 baby-cut carrots
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Roast at 450 F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Orange-Ginger Salmon and Peas with Onion, Mint and Fennel Pollen

During the spring, I love to serve broiled salmon with seasonal green vegetables like fresh peas. Here, fresh orange juice unites the salmon and peas, with the former also flavored with fresh ginger and a dusting of fennel pollen.

Orange-Ginger Salmon with Onion and Fennel Pollen

Serves 2

Olive oil spray
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced into rounds
3/4 lb. salmon fillet, skin removed
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
Seasoned salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Pinch of fennel pollen
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Spray a 9 x 9 square baking dish with olive oil. Place about half of the onion slices in the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the salmon on top of the onions. Place the other half of the onions on top of the salmon.

3. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, salt, pepper and orange juice and pour over the salmon. Bake until the salmon flakes with a fork and is cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Divide the salmon into two portions and top with a sprinkle of fennel pollen and fresh parsley.

Peas with Orange Juice and Mint
Adapted from a recipe from Saveur

Serves 2

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups frozen or fresh green peas
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Melt butter in a medium (10-inch) frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add peas and stir to coat with butter. After about a minute, add the orange juice. Continue cooking until peas are cooked to desired texture, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh mint.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dallas Drinks: The Nicolas

Dallas Drinks The Nicolas

Dallas Drinks is a co-creation with Dallas Decoder, honoring the characters of the TNT drama Dallas, which continues the Ewing family saga. See all of the Dallas Drinks here.

Monday is the mid-season finale of TNT's Dallas before the show breaks until its return in the summer, when the final seven episodes of the third season will air. Dallas Decoder and I are in such suspense over this season. Will John Ross seize total control of Ewing Global? Will Sue Ellen regain her sobriety? How will Pamela react to finding out about her husband's extramarital liaisons with Emma? So many questions! I'm sure some will be answered Monday, but certainly others will linger while new ones emerge. This is Dallas after all, the show that made cliffhangers a prime-time staple.

To celebrate next week's episode, Dallas Decoder and I have teamed up for another Dallas Drink, this one inspired by season 3's new regular, Nicolas Treviño, played by the dashing Juan Pablo Di Pace. Nicolas is a mysterious, complex character and so is his drink. Inspired by the mole sauce we saw Nicolas prepare this season, the drink combines the flavors of smoky mezcal, nutty amaretto, spicy habanero and a dash of chocolate. We think Nicolas is irresistible; we hope you agree this drink is too.

And speaking of smoky, the upcoming episode is titled "Where There's Smoke." You can watch Dallas Monday night at 9 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. CDT) on TNT. It's sure to be a hot one!

Dallas Drinks: The Nicolas

1 1/2 oz. mezcal
1 oz. amontillado sherry
1/2 oz. amaretto liqueur
5 dashes chocolate bitters
2 dashes Bittermens Hellfire habanero shrub
Lemon twist

Combine mezcal, sherry, amaretto, bitters and shrub in a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir until combined and chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with lemon twist.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Crispy Breaded Asparagus

Crispy Breaded Asparagus

"Asparagus fries!" exclaimed Chris when I set a plate of these on the table in front of him recently. That's pretty much the idea behind this festive preparation of the quintessential spring vegetable.

Line up plates with the three breading ingredients: flour, beaten egg and seasoned panko-parmesan mixture
Wanting to add something crunchy to my usual broiled asparagus, I did a search for asparagus recipes that incorporated panko and came across this simple dish from blogger Kevin Lynch's Closet Cooking. The recipe uses the classic three-step breading technique of flour, egg and bread crumbs (in that order). The results were pleasantly crisp, while the parmesan added an extra bit of flavor.

Crispy Breaded Asparagus
Adapted from Crispy Baked Asparagus Fries by Closet Cooking

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed (bend the asparagus until they break and discard the thicker, tougher end).
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Set a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Combine the panko, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and spread on a dinner plate. Spread the flour on a second plate and the egg on a third plate. Dredge each asparagus spear in the flour, then dip in the egg, allowing excess to drip off, then roll in the panko mixture to coat.

3. Arrange the spears evenly on the rack above the baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Feed: April 9, 2014

April is grilled cheese month. You can learn the origin of this American classic in Adam Lapetina's Thrillist story.

The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.

New York Times: “Wine School: Bordeaux, Decanted,” by Eric Asimov.
The Washington Post’s wine columnist, Dave McIntyre, has been doing more wine education columns lately, and it’s nice to see the Times’ wine writer Eric Asimov get into the game as well. Last month, he launched a new monthly series called Wine School. For those interested, I think this is a great opportunity. Each month he picks a style of wine, suggests three bottles for readers to try and then writes a follow-up column exploring that wine style. For the first month, he chose Bordeaux, the classic big French blend. Even if you didn’t try his three suggested wines, it’s an education read. Next up: Beaujolais.

New York Times: “Vidalia Onions: A Crop With an Image to Uphold,” by Kim Severson.
In just a few weeks, it will be time to harvest Vidalias, the large sweet onions from Georgia that dominate the East Coast market. Severson looks at a number of issues that threaten to dilute its brand, including pressure to allow earlier harvesting and efforts to sell imported onions under the Vidalia name. Much as I love Vidalias, if, like me, you grew up in the Northwest (and especially if you went to Whitman College), you’ll never break an allegiance to Walla Walla sweet onions.

The Kitchn: “10 Gorgeous Green Recipes for Spring.” 
It’s the season for asparagus, artichokes, peas, ramps and fava beans. These recipes from The Kitchn provide interesting ways to use these ingredients. I’m eyeing the Socca Flatbread with Spring Pesto and Salad, in particular.

Lucky Peach: “Goodbye to All That Sugar, Spice, and Fat,” by Lisa Hanawalt.
Issue #10 of Lucky Peach is the Street Food issue. As you’d expect, they cover it from pretty much every angle, even cigarette butts and gum—the food for the street’s lowest forms of life, bacteria and molds. Hanawalt’s illustrated farewell to New York street food (she’s moving to Los Angeles) is like a lot of Lucky Peach: informative, off-beat and amusing.

Bon Appétit: “Lunch al Desko,” by Julia Kramer with recipes by Dawn Perry
Not that I necessarily need the validation, but it was nice to discover I’m not so weird for keeping olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a black pepper grinder in my desk. Kramer includes them among a list of pantry items an office worker should keep on hand, one of this story’s tips for livening up your brought-from-home lunch.

Thrillist: “The True Origins of 13 Classic American Foods,” by Adam Lapetina.
Lapetina explores the creative genius behind the origins of a group of American classics. I thought the story of the grilled cheese sandwich’s origin to be particularly interesting, given that it was born from necessity.

Buzzfeed: “The Evolution of Pizza.” 
Speaking of food history, this is a totally adorable animated video on the history of pizza, spanning its original Mediterranean flatbread creation in the 1500s to the creative American pizza-inspired products of the late 20th Century.

Washington Post Magazine: “Plate Lab:  Cherry Sambal, Fit For Any Season,” by Bonnie S. Benwick
The Washington Post Magazine expanded this week, and with the expansion comes a new weekly food feature, Plate Lab, in which Food section editors translate restaurant recipes for home cooks and, once a month, also share food trends. For the inaugural Plate Lab, Benwick shares DC Coast’s  recipe for Cherry Sambal, just in time for the cherry blossoms.

Washington Post Magazine: “Dining tips: How to Be a Savvy Restaurant-Goer,” by Tom Sietsema.
Taking a break from restaurant reviews, the Post’s restaurant critic offers excellent tips on how to make the most of restaurant experiences.

CNN Money: “Is Perfect Bacon Bowl the next Snuggie?” by Parija Kavilanz.
Almost everybody is nuts about bacon these days, so turning it into a bowl that you can fill with…just about anything…doesn’t really seem that far-fetched. I bet ice cream would be good from a bacon bowl!

Eater: “Here's a Brilliant April Fools' Cocktail Menu from The Dorrance in Providence, RI,” by Hillary Dixler.
Since it was April Fool’s Day last week, Dixler unearthed this hilarious menu of prankster cocktails.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Revisiting New York Restaurant Favorites

Zucca al forno at Eataly's Le Verdure

A trip to New York City always means a chance for unforgettable food. Before we go, I always research new and interesting places for us to try. Every trip it seems we find a new place to love.

And herein lies a problem: if we're always going to new places, then we're not making time for our old favorites. And over the years we've racked up a lot of favorites. So on a recent trip, rather than pack the itinerary with new bites, we made room to revisit a few place that if we lived in the city would probably count as as regulars.

It's not entirely accurate to suggest that Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza is an old favorite. Technically, this was our first visit. But we've been major fans of its sister restaurant Posto Thin Crust Pizza for years. Since Vezzo was closer to our hotel, we decided to see whether Vezzo's take on our favorite Posto pizza, the Salsiccia Dolce, was as consistently good. We were not disappointed. Vezzo's pizza was virtually identical--the same crackery thin crust, spiced sausage, sweet caramelized onion and ribbons of fresh basil.
Lupa's mafaldine pasta with pork ragu and pecorino

When it comes to great pasta dishes, Lupa Osteria Romana is unparalleled. We've been Lupa fans for years ever since a coworker turned me on to this cozy Greenwich Village outpost in the Batali-Bastianch restaurant group. Although I'm happy to order any of the seasonal pasta selections on their menu, the night we popped in, Lupa was offering an incredible pasta special: wavy mafaldine pasta served with a hearty pork ragu and topped with shredded pecorino. We also enjoyed our starter salad of black kale, apple and warm pancetta.

Le Verdure's grilled bitter greens with pine nuts, currants and aged balsamic vinegar
Invariably, we end up having some pretty rich meals while we're in New York. So we like to balance them out with healthy, green lunches when possible. Eataly's vegetable-focused restaurant, Le Verdure, is an ideal place for this. Meat lovers take note: we always feel sated leaving Le Verdure. During our recent visit, we loved the crumb-coated roasted butternut squash with pumpkin seeds (see photo at top) and the grilled bitter greens with pine nuts, currants and balsamic vinegar. The insalata tricolore (tricolor salad) added additional freshness. Of course we also couldn't stop eating Eataly's great bread, served with olive oil so fresh it's quite peppery.

Next time we're in New York, I'm sure we'll visit some new spots, but it's nice to see old favorites that continue to excel. See also the previous coverage of Posto, Lupa and Eataly.

Eataly Le Verdure, 200 5th Avenue (on the Broadway side of Madison Square Park between 23rd and 24th), New York, N.Y. (Flatiron District). (212) 229-2560

Lupa Osteria Romana170 Thompson Street (between Bleecker and Houston), New York City (Greenwich Village). (212) 982-5089. Reservations: Open Table.

Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza, 178 Lexington Avenue (at 31st Street), New York, N.Y. (Murray Hill). (212) 839-8300.

Il Pesce & Le Verdure @ Eataly on Urbanspoon Lupa on Urbanspoon Vezzo on Urbanspoon