Posole

Posole with poblanos and cabbage

Posole won’t be discovered by a Hollywood producer while sitting at a lunch counter, and it’ll never be a leading man, but what it’s got you don’t need eyes to appreciate.

Posole’s indecisively green and maybe could be a little thinner.

Posole’s so homely, cabbage dresses it up.

Posole’s best friends are étouffée and curry. They hang out and laugh a lot.

Posole says, “I may look like a barf bowl*, but you’d be lucky to have me.”

Posole dgaf.

Posole with chicken and poblano peppers

I’ll gladly admit that the homeliness of the photo is entirely due to my styling and eagerness to eat. For a more beautiful presentation and the AMAZING recipe, check it out at Food52.

But looks aside, the success of this dish all comes down to the hominy. If you’re not making it right away, it’s worth it to order yours from Rancho Gordo rather than relying on the big name brand you’ll find in the grocery. I’ve tried them both, and there’s just no comparison. But dried is always preferable to canned, so use what you like. I won’t tell.

I made this start-to-finish in one day, not accounting for soaking, and it took a while. If you don’t have all day to tend this, you could easily do the prep in one day, then throw everything together the next to break it into manageable segments.

Just please, make this dish. Don’t let my poor styling skills dissuade you from trying what will likely become a regular in your winter meal rotation.

*Is “barf bowl” the new “buddha bowl” just waiting to sweep Instagram?

Cod and Potatoes — Whole30 Check-In

Cod with Romesco Sauce by Amy Roth Photo. Recipe: Bon Appetit Magazine

A week and a half in, and I’m doing great with Whole30! There have been no mid-afternoon slumps or hangriness to deal with, but eating this way does require much more thought than simply throwing together a quick sandwich or heating up an Amy’s cheese enchilada entrée. (Honestly, I needed an Amy’s intervention, anyway.) Avoiding easy fillers like rice or bread has been a little challenging, but nothing I can’t deal with, and I’ve lost a few pounds, though that wasn’t my goal at all.

I’m still amazed by how much unnecessary sugar is in our food. I’m generally not much of a packaged food eater (save for the aforementioned enchiladas), but love condiments and sauces, and many of my favorites are taboo. Also, I miss cheese. Terribly. It’s my one craving and I’m going to be the saddest person around if I find dairy gives me problems when I start reintroducing food.

The Meals

There were a couple of fantastic meals I’ve had in the past week that I want to share with you today. Up top, you’ll see my photo for Bon Appetit’s Cod with Romesco Sauce, Hazelnuts, Lemon and Parsley. It was eye-opening, mind-boggling… just a fantastic meal with only a few components. And where, may I ask, has romesco sauce been all my life?! I’ve read about it for years, but never took the plunge until I made this recipe, and now it’s all I want to eat. I want to proselytize door to door in my neighborhood so everyone can share in this pure joy of mine! Yeah, I know, but it’s honestly that good. Cod isn’t something I eat very often, but it works so well here, I’m not sure I’d want to change anything next time.

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew by Amy Roth Photo.

And then, there’s Deborah Madison’s Potato and Green Chile Stew from Food52. Whenever I make this, I wonder why I don’t have it more often. It’s part of Food52’s Genius Recipes collection, and with good reason: Deborah Madison is an alchemist, creating kitchen gold from a handful of common ingredients. It’s a recipe that’s easy to convert for Whole30 compliance (skip the sour cream, which I usually do anyway) or for vegan/vegetarian diets (use vegetable broth instead of chicken and skip the sour cream). With our turn to winter weather now that Spring is here, this soup was the perfect thing to warm me after spending a lot of time outdoors yesterday.

Some Exciting News

Last summer, I got a call about a cookbook project that needed a quick turnaround. “It’s Misty Copeland’s Ballerina Body. Are you interested?” Well, my fingers couldn’t hit the keyboard fast enough to reply that absolutely, I was! Because of the abbreviated shooting schedule, I enlisted the help of local food stylist Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative for most of the plated dishes, and together we created the food photos featured in the book, released just this week. If you’re interested in creating a lean, strong, healthy body, want some great recipes (and they really ARE great!), or just want to read more about Misty, pick up a copy! I’ve shared a few of my favorites below.

Ballerina Body food images | Amy Roth Photo
Clockwise, from upper-left: Raw Barres, Black Bean Soup with Shrimp, Vegetables, Fruit Still Life, Egg White Fritatta

Day 19, Fig & Blue Cheese Savouries

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 19

While it may seem that all we do is consume sugar around here, salty or savory foods are what really do it for me. When I do want a little sugar, though, I’m happiest at the intersection of savory and sweet, which is exactly where today’s treats are located.

A few weeks ago, I was looking over my copy of the new Food52 Cookbook before its launch party when these beauties jumped off the page and demanded to be made. As always, I adapted this stellar recipe with gluten-free flour, but this time it took a little coaxing to get the results of regular flour. Still, this minimal extra work was rewarded with flaky, delicate pastries, so don’t let it scare you off.

(And how’s this for a shameless plug? Be sure to check out my recipe for Short Rib Ragu in the winter chapter of the Food52 Cookbook!)

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 19, Fig & Blue Cheese Savouries”

A little dip for your chips

I enjoy blogging, but it’s a solitary activity and really can be a slog (especially in winter when faced with nothing but root vegetables in your CSA). I do my thing, hit “publish” and that’s it for the most part. Since I haven’t quite hit on a formula to make this more of a give-and-take affair, I’ve been intrigued by the Food52 community for some time. Members can post recipes to the site with an intro about its creation, then the community is off and running, commenting and making suggestions for improvement.

The site also hosts weekly recipe contests based on a theme, and the winners of each contest go into a cookbook at the end of the 52 weeks (hence the name). When they posted a contest for your best short ribs a few weeks ago, I entered my latest version of ragu for kicks and couldn’t have been more surprised when it was chosen as a finalist, then actually won! (Also, Jen got a wildcard spot in the cookbook for her Hunter’s-Style Chicken that same day, so it was doubly exciting.) The upshot is, after five+ years of this site, I’ll actually be in two cookbooks later this year (Food52, plus the book I styled and shot photos for over the holidays)!

Last week’s recipe contest got into the spirit of the playoffs by looking for your best dip. Encouraged by the positive response my previous two recipes got, I worked up a new one. No way this one will rise to the top (seriously, there are some incredible recipes entered in this contest), but I’m pretty happy with it just the same. What’s not to love about a caramelized onion & mushroom dip, especially when paired with crispy, salty kettle chips?

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Dip also posted at Food52

3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1/2 pound button mushrooms, minced
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water, drained & minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 tablespoon demi-glace, optional
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt half of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions with large pinch of salt until just golden brown, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until deeply browned and caramelized. Remove onions from pan.

In the same pan, melt remaining butter and sauté mushrooms with a large pinch of salt until they stop releasing water. Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are deeply browned and caramelized. Add onions back to pan and stir in dry vermouth and demi-glace, if using. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Set aside one tablespoon of onion-mushroom mixture to use as garnish.

Add yogurt and sherry vinegar to the rest of the onions and mushrooms, mixing well. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add as much black pepper as your heart desires. This dip has a real affinity for it. Garnish with reserved onion-mushroom mixture.

Italian Sunday

Update (1/22/11): This short rib ragu won Food52‘s contest for Your Best Short Ribs, and will be included in their next cookbook, out later this year!

Maybe it’s the tomato tooth I was born with instead of a sweet tooth, maybe it’s the towering heels I rock when my old bones let me, or maybe it’s only that Marcello Mastroianni was perfection on two legs, but I’ve always wanted to be Italian, just a little bit.


Exhibit A: Photographic evidence of alleged perfection, minus corroborating proof of two legs.

It isn’t that I don’t love a good bowl of shrimp & grits or that I don’t get a nostalgic glow from a breakfast of couche-couche and cane syrup, but polenta has been my go-to corn base of late. And after a long work week, what could be a more welcome sight or more soul-satisfying over cheesy, buttery polenta than a ragu of braised short ribs, I ask you?

It’s a dish that’s nearly impossible to mess up, which I think we all can appreciate in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. With so much else on the mind, it’s nice to throw something into the oven for a few hours and get on with other things. Of course, the initial prep work takes some time — chopping the vegetables, trimming and searing the beef, getting all of the elements in balance before the extended stay in the oven — but your time and patience will be well-rewarded by the outcome.

If you can manage not to devour it right away, let the ribs sit overnight in the refrigerator. This serves two purposes: as we all know, this type of dish is always better on the second day, and you’ll be able to remove some of the ungodly amount of fat the ribs throw off so much easier than if you only skimmed the surface while it was still hot. Of course, chilling the ragu overnight doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a little quality control while it’s still hot, just to put your mind at ease that you have, in fact, made something that will be worth the wait.

Too bad I didn't make more.

But woman cannot live by polenta and short ribs alone. As a nod to the tables of so many of my fellow North Jerseyans, I made a Sunday gravy recently. It’s not something I tackle more than once a year because of the sheer effort and number of calories involved, but man, this makes for a pleasant food coma. I make no claims to authenticity, but I’m not sure too many others can either; it’s one of those dishes that seems to have as many variations as people who make it. The recipes may disagree on specifics, but all are unified in the insistence on Meat And Lots Of It. Me? I only used a paltry four types — pepperoni (not too much of it), sweet Italian sausage, pork butt and beef & pork meatballs. I browned everything but the pepperoni, then simmered it all for hours in tomatoes swimming with garlic until we were going mad (in the best possible way) from the smell.

not perfected yet

My gluten-free adaptation of this polenta cake didn’t quite pass muster, but with a little creme fraiche, it was still a nice way to end the meal. I’ll keep working on it and report back when I’ve found success.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Italian Sunday”