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New Look Has Arrived

All Posts | December 29, 2014 | By

Yeah, I know, that’s obvious.

So the new theme is now in place and at least partially tweaked and working pretty well. Thanks for your patience as we’ve made the changes. We’re opening comments on this post, so if you’ve got comments or suggestions about the new theme, please feel free to pass them along. 

There’s a new recipe plugin associated with the new theme and we’ll start using that with tomorrow’s post. Over time, we’ll convert existing recipes to the new format, as well. That will take some time, so bear with us on that.

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Classic Osso Buco

osso buco

Few things are more satisfying than preparing a classic dish that turns out beautifully, especially when it also happens to be one of those recipes that clearly falls into the category of comfort food. That’s how I regard this veal osso buco. It’s a recipe that’s difficult to mess up, and if you can think of a more appropriate category than comfort food, I’d love to know what that might be. Drop me a note.

Osso buco, of course, means “bone with a hole,” and it refers to the cut of the veal, which comes from the shank and is cross-cut to give you this circular or oval shape with a luscious marrow bone in the middle. The meat is seared and then cooked slowly (this recipe could very easily be adapted for a slow cooker). The sauce is tomato and vegetable based and is rich beyond belief. It can be slow cooked on a burner or in the oven. (If you’re using the oven, cook at 350F in a covered dutch oven or baking dish covered with foil.)

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Holiday Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie

I’m a history buff as well as a self-designated foodie, so recipes with a long tradition fascinate me. Mincemeat pie is a perfect example. So far as I can tell, mincemeat pie as we know it, was a 13th century English creation, using recipes and ingredients brought there by returning crusaders, who learned about the combination of meat and fruit and spices in various dishes in the Holy Land. For some reason, it became associated with Christmas and the winter holiday season, faded in popularity and then was revived in a more modern form during the Victorian era.

In the 13th century, this must have been a very exotic dish, full of aromatic spices, fruit and meat, and I’m guessing that the expansion of the British Empire, which brought access to those spices to ordinary citizens at a reasonable price, explains its revival in Victorian times. The recipes reflect what would likely have been available to cooks in early winter when the recipe was created — dried fruit, apples, meat and fat in the form of beef suet.

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Herb-Crusted New York Strip Loin Roast

new york strip loin

If you’re one of those folks who don’t especially like to think about where your food (mainly meat) comes from, you may want to skip to the recipe and forego this part. For me, understanding cuts of meat is an important part of my learning about food and cooking. Top loin, or New York strip loin is a part of a beef side that yields all the tender steak we know and love.

400px-Dutch_Beef_cutsIn the diagram in this post, the top loin from where we get the New York strip is the small red area just in front of the big green area labeled “round.”

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Cookie Day!

I’ve never been much of a cookie baker. With a few exceptions, cookies and the making of them, are confined to the year-end holidays, and notably the weekend before Christmas. Not sure why, but that seems to be the way it goes.

Thumbprint cookies are by far my favorite, mainly because they’re simple to make and don’t require any decorating skills to speak of. So with baking underway this weekend, I thought I’d share a few of my new favorites.

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Mint Marinated Rack of Lamb

rack of lamb

I can’t think of too many things that are as impressive as a perfectly roasted rack of lamb, with the frenched bones interlaced surrounded by roasted potatoes and other vegetables. It’s a perfect holiday dinner entrĂ©e, or maybe the high point of an intimate dinner party. Best of all, it’s rather easy to make and very tasty.

The key to any good lamb roast is a terrific marinade. The one I used for this recipe began life as an entry in a Weight Watchers cookbook, of all places (it was a phase we went through a number of years ago). After a lot of tinkering and simplification, it was turned into a combination of fresh mint, honey, a little vinegar for the necessary acidity and some coarse Dijon mustard. Very simple.

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Biscuits and Bacon Eggs Benedict

eggs benedict

OK, that’s an awkward title for a blog post, but hey, its descriptive. It’s a little bit of spin on the classic eggs Benedict, using some of my favorite things — homemade buttermilk biscuits, bacon smoked over cherry wood, an egg poached to perfection and a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

Lets start with the biscuits: They’re done southern style, which means they rise up tall enough to slice and thus take the place of the traditional English muffin. One of the keys to great biscuits is to handle the dough as little as possible and keep it cool (or even cold) throughout the process. Mixing the dough is a job for a food processor or a Ninja type blender with multiple large blades. I’ve tried a hand mixer and I’ve tried a stand mixer. Neither gets the result I want. I’ve also used a simple pastry cutter, and that works pretty well, actually.

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