January 2011

Pork belly 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.31.11 Meaty Monday: Belly Up

I'm a bit of a contrarian; it's just my nature. I tend to go against the grain and I've never been much of a joiner. But I am aware of the "Meatless Monday" movement, a non-profit campaign slated to help people—and corporations and entire nations—become more conscious of the need to eat less meat. Loads of bloggers participate by posting a non-meat recipe every Monday. I support this effort, but rather than finding one day a week to go without meat, I suggest we have only one day that features it. If we all ate meat just once a week, that would really make a difference to our health and that of the planet. So with that in mind, instead of hosting Meatless Monday, I'm going to introduce Meaty Monday—with meat as the exception, not the rule. (This doesn't mean I'll never post about meat or meat-related recipes on other days; this blog is not about Draconian extremes.) This is also the perfect opportunity for me to tell you about something that, in true contrarian style, will totally contradict everything I've just said: I'm participating in Charcutepalooza.
The john dory1 790 xxx
iphotos by gluttonforlife

1.27.11 Tales of the City

The birthday is past, but the celebration continues! The lovely Miriam treated me to luncheon at The John Dory yesterday, both of us braving snowdrifts and delayed trains, serendipitously arriving on the very day Sam Sifton’s rave review appeared in the Times. (Just missed scooping him by one day!) Like The Breslin, the restaurant is adjacent to—and part of the same building as—the Ace Hotel; upon inquiring, we were informed that the frigid indoor temperature was a result of the entire shebang losing its heat. I ate with gloves on and the cold endowed the whole venture with a sort of pioneer quality. Things began shaping up from the moment our hot toddies arrived. Cocktails, you gasp, in the middle of a workday?! Yes, I must say, it was rather Mad Men of us, and ushered in a mood of general excess.
Toddy1 790 xxx
hot, hot, hot: bourbon, lemon, star anise and cinnamon

Citrus 790 xxx
photo by gluttonforlife

1.26.11 C is for Citrus

Winter citrus: it may not be exactly local, but it's American and it's in season now. Just when you couldn't possibly feel more desiccated, chapped, pasty or vitamin-C deprived, there is a burst of juicy refreshment in the form of tart-sweet oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and kumquats. Peel some grapefruit segments and toss them into a salad with thinly sliced radicchio, toasted walnuts and pecorino. Grate some orange rind into your morning oatmeal. Or make grapefruit brulée by dotting a half with brown sugar and chopped fresh mint and sticking it under the broiler for a few minutes. Add some zip to your fizzy water with lemon-rosemary syrup. Or make lemon curd and spread it on store-bought shortbread or a piece of sourdough toast or your finger. Toss sliced kumquats with arugula and toasted almonds. Squeeze fresh orange juice and mix it with good tequila and a little pomegranate molasses. Make some clementine granità. If you're really lucky, you might come across some wild (kaffir) limes, like the ones I brought back from LA (see above). I've been doling them out to make them last longer—their tropical perfume is so fantastic. Squeeze just a quarter of one into a glass of water and it becomes an exotic elixir. I just used the last one in a pineapple sorbet. Snow? What snow?
Sardines 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.25.11 Fish Tales

Sardines are like the girl who is considered frumpy and uninteresting in high school, and then suddenly becomes a hot anchorwoman or a triathlete. Familiar but surprising. They've always been there, hanging out in the cupboard in their dusty can with the peeling label, but guess what? It's time to tuck in to those silvery little fish. They've got game. Because they occupy the bottom of the aquatic food chain and feed solely on plankton, sardines don’t carry the high concentrations of heavy metals and contaminants that other fish can. And they're brimming with nutrition. Not only that, they've got culinary cred. Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef of Prune, in New York City, serves canned sardines on Triscuits with Dijon mustard and cornichons. She swears by  the Ruby brand from Morocco. I've had good luck with Matiz Gallego from Spain, Angelo Parodi from Portugal and Bar Harbor from Maine. For other recommended brands, see here.
Map 790 xxx
all images taken from Stone Barns' website

1.24.11 Everybody Must Get Stoned

It was my birthday on Saturday and I had the great fortune of celebrating with friends at Blue Hill, the restaurant at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills. You may remember I wrote about another delectable meal I enjoyed there back in May. In a perfect world, I would eat there four times a year. The menu is linked to the seasons and what is grown on the farm—beef, pork and lamb included—and sourced locally. Stone Barns is a beautiful and fascinating place, an educational center as well as a non-profit working farm and a fine dining restaurant; please visit their websites (here and here) to learn more about the many things that go on there.
Stone barns1 790 xxx
the picturesque barns are indeed made of stone

Meatballs 2 530x3971 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.20.11 On the Lamb

I was quite an amenable child where food was concerned. Aside from a mild hatred of onions in my enchiladas, the only two things I simply couldn't stomach were meatballs and lamb. On meatball night, all my mother asked was that I eat just one, but doing so was pure, unadulterated hell. Even washing the dishes upon which those brown nuggets had been served made me gag. Literally. I'm not really prepared to believe the obvious scatalogical reference was responsible, but what else could it have been? Whatever it was, I've finally outgrown it. I think it was the incredible veal-and-ricotta meatballs at the old Craftbar that did it (still on the menu at the new location). The real shocker is that I now enjoy making them myself with the sweet, juicy pastured lamb we get from our friends at River Brook farm.
Soup 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.19.11 Alphabet Soup

Actually, this wintry soup has none of those letter-shaped bits of pasta. This is a post-modern alphabet soup, one you can load up with vegetables that represent virtually every letter, from artichoke and broccoli to winter squash and yam. The more the merrier, basically. I'm not eating any grains or starches for a while, so I used shallots, leeks, onions, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots, mushrooms, green beans, chard and tomatoes. Potatoes, parsnips, wild rice, farro and/or pumpkin would also be lovely additions. You can make it with water, but vegetable stock—or beef or chicken—will vastly improve the flavor. I used stock made from our Christmas goose carcass! This is such an easy recipe. Throw it together in 20 minutes, let it bubble on the stove for a while and then serve it with some delicious bread. You don't even need a salad because it's so loaded with vegetable goodness.

Lentil salad 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.18.11 Little Green Monsters

This post is a command performance. I need a recipe for lentils, said Stephanie. Madam, this one's for you. Before I get down to it, I'm going to interject a bit of shameless self-promotion. (And now, a word from our sponsor, or something like that.) There is a sweet little review of GFL on the Be@Home section of the Pocket Change shopping blog. Take a gander, here.Now, back to business: the lentil. I'm a big fan. I like the khaki brown ones in a creamy soup garnished with spiced yogurt; I like soupy yellow dals with Indian food; I like the orange ones pureed with coconut milk and garnished with cilantro. They are all nourishing and satisfying and delicious. But I especially love the Puy lentils (lentilles de Puy), the small, blackish-green legume (aka pulse) that hails exclusively from the Auvergne region in France. Somewhat similar to the black beluga variety, Puy lentils are less starchy than brown lentils and retain their form when cooked. Their nutty, mineral-rich flavor is attributed to the way they are grown: in volcanic soil, without watering or fertilizer. They carry the AOC (appellation d'origine controlée) that guarantees their provenance and quality. (For a look at other types of lentils, see here.) Puy lentils' firmness makes them ideal for salads, and they are delicious eaten with sausages or salmon or cheese.
Meat 790 xxx
the unvarnished flesh

1.17.11 In Defense of Meat

I've spent quite a lot of time ruminating over this post. Like a cow chewing its cud, I have carefully digested everything I've gleaned from reading Fast Food NationOmnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Eating Animals and Food Matters, and watching Supersize Me and the incredibly eye-widening Food Inc. At the very least, I think I can say I'm a conscious eater. I'm not going to delve into the horrifying truth of how government and industry conspired to convince us that we all need to have a big slab of (corn-fed) meat at the center of most of our meals on a daily basis, I'm just going to say that we should all be eating a great deal less of the stuff—for our own sake and that of the planet. But a recent article in Vanity Fair, where fluffy blonde wellness "guru" Kathy Freston (Tom Freston's wife, so she can't be far from her own show on Oprah's new network) convinces a die-hard British carnivore to turn vegan really got my hackles up because of its one-sided presentation of the issue.
Sticks1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.14.11 Totally Incensed

I didn't do much shopping in Mexico, other than buying entirely too many "traditional" candies at the Mexico City airport. Cajeta, a decadent goat's milk caramel, is a life-long obsession of mine, ever since it was first served to me as a tiny girl in Guadalajara. At the airport stall I discovered a delicious guava paste stuffed with cajeta and pecans that was out of this world, and a sticky yellow coconut confection that slammed me straight back to childhood. In fact, I may have to pick up a copy of Fany Gerson's much-lauded My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treatshello, sweet tamales, tres leches cake, milk fudge, flan. (Although my waistline is begging me not to do it!) I tasted some of her treats at a Mexican-themed dinner at Txikito last year and they did not disappoint.But I digress. One thing you truly shouldn't miss when traveling in Mexico is the indigenous incense, known as copal, pictured above. It has a very particular smoky-piney-resiny smell that conjures up Indians, Catholic churches and desert nights. I find it mesmerizing, with a rich, heady smell reminiscent of frankincense and myrrh.