Well, let’s get right to it. Corned beef is worth doing at home. It is tender and tasty, and the pink color is fun as well. The salt and spices are very smooth and integrated with the brisket. Much better than any store-bought corned beef I’ve had. Making something like this at home sort of feels like alchemy, the creation of something special from average ingredients. Charcuterie, I am finding, is tasty alchemy at home. Continue reading
Carolyn, the kids and I went to San Francisco today and visited the Ferry Building farmers market and shops. At this time of year the produce is still limited to mostly greens and citrus, and from the same growers we have out here in the “country”. But the city does have better bakeries, meats, cheese and salumi than we have (or at least more variety), so we had some fun and got some treats.
And the restaurants in San Francisco are still great. We ate a very good italian meal at Barbacco, the bruschetta and brussels sprouts in duck fat were particularly good. We had a fun time and the boys tried some new foods. It’s funny, but a number of people said to us “enjoy your day in the city”. We lived here for almost 10 years, but with the kids (and a lack of black clothing) I guess it is pretty clear we do not live in the city anymore. But everywhere we went, we were welcome. It still fells like home.
We tend to take it for granted, living here full-time, but Northern California is still like living in the “Disneyland of Food”. (New York City and the Hamptons in summer may be the “Disneyworld of Food”; bigger, and different, but not necessarily better.) We are so lucky for what we have here. Restaurants, produce, wine & beer, meat, cheese, pastry and coffee- all served with some character. It is nice to step back, smell the coffee (literally, Blue Bottle Coffee, great stuff) and enjoy it with those you love.
These are fresh bay scallops from Gardiners Bay in Long Island. The real thing. There are not many to be had and the season is not long, but they are about the best thing going- get them if you can. (You probably won’t, NYC restaurants get them all). My buddy Chad is cooking these now and I am jealous. Very jealous.
Usually, after getting the scallops out of the shell, Chad heats a pan until it is super-hot, adds oil and the scallops and cooks for 30 seconds, pulls them off the heat and adds salt and pepper. The carry-over heat finishes the scallops to perfect doneness. That is all you need for perfection. The scallops are so sweet they taste like seafood caramel. Trust me, this is a good thing, a very good thing.
Chad sent me the photo out of friendship, and spite, as he is eating these right now… Grumble, at least it is 70 degrees here….;-)
It is Mardi Gras and every year we make a basic jambalaya and king cake. Truth be told, Carolyn uses a King Arthur Flour kit for the king cake, it is one of the few things she does not make from scratch. But the cake is sooooo good and it looks great- the kids and I love it. So does everyone else. A few years age we had a houseguest (and good friend) who liked it so much he ate half the cake over a day. He is still sheepish about that, but we understood entirely. Sweet, moist cake with almond paste is hard to pass up!
I got a bottle of rye whiskey this week. It is trendy to drink rye these days, but I like the taste of rye quite a bit. To me, it is less-sweet bourbon with some spicy flavor. Rye has familiar flavors, but is different enough to justify seeking out for specific cocktails. I certainly understand why Manhattan fans prefer a good rye to bourbon.
But I am not a Manhattan lover (sorry, too sweet for me), so I experimented with rye cocktails this week. We have lemons and mint in the garden, and I stumbled on the Whiskey Smash, which uses both. It turns out that in the first half of the 20th century the Whiskey Smash was a very, very popular drink. Think “Cosmo popular”. Then it wasn’t. Rye went out of style and the Smash went with it. But Rye is back, and the Whiskey Smash deserves a comeback as well. Then, if there is any karma in the world, maybe the Cosmo will go away, along with the Appletini. One can only hope. Continue reading
But this mussel dish is our best, because it has a deeper meaning to Carolyn and I. When we first starting cooking together over twenty years ago, this was one of the first dishes we made for each other and then for friends. Mussels meuniere became a starting point for a lifetime of cooking together (along with our Christmas parties, but more on those adventures later). Our repertoire has grown over the years and we make much more complicated dishes, but mussels meuniere is still something we make on special occasions. It is a simple dish, but for us it represents something more, something wonderful. You may have a dish like this. I hope you have a dish like this. If not, there is always time. Continue reading