Search results for 'nigel slater'

Root Down

10 Nov

When I’m stressed out, I buy books.

And so, on the day before my surgery, I found myself in the cookbook section of the Strand.

I was looking for a copy of Nigel Slater’s Appetite to give as a going away present to an aspiring home cook, but what I was finding was a mountain of books I wanted.  There was I Know How to Cook, Momofuku and Ad Hoc at Home; Jim Lahey‘s new bread book, Judith Jones‘ treatise on the pleasures of cooking for one, the surreal world of Heston Blumenthal and no Nigel.

So, I grabbed a classic Jamie Oliver tome for my co-worker, and, just for good measure, The Veselka Cookbook (complete with a recipe for my beloved Christmas borscht!) and for absolutely no reason (other than I’m a sucker for puffy book covers), Stephane Reynaud’s French Feasts for me.

On Friday, Isaac made us a beautiful pureed cauliflower soup while I lazed on the couch, trying to purge the anesthesia from my body as quickly as possible.  By Saturday morning, I was ready to get up and go again (I think they give you something when you have surgery to make you feel energetic and happy the day after), so we wandered down to the Tucker Square greenmarket.

The plan was to roast the last of the wee tiny beets and bitty little carrots from the garden, but we needed to supplement them with something.  So I grabbed a butternut squash, an acorn squash, a bouquet of sage, rosemary and thyme and a smoked duck breast.

Here’s where I divulge to you an embarrassing secret:

Want to know what it is? Head below the fold.

Paper Fishes

24 Oct

I suffer from intense paper towel-guilt.

Unlike my battle with saran wrap, this guilt stems not from the product’s inefficiencies.  No. My paper towel-guilt is born entirely from my own inefficiencies.  There is nothing I hate more than having to grab the roll of towels, yet again, because I have caused a huge mess in the kitchen (living room/bathroom/dining room) due to my need to act first and think later.

Isaac and I are currently upstate.  We both desperately needed the break–for our sanity and health–and, we needed to get someone in to clean the chimney.  It sounded like the perfect excuse for taking a few days off.  Yesterday, after having to shame-facedly ask the chimney sweep how to start a fire in a wood-burning stove, I set to making a chicken stock out of the carcass of the frankenchicken I had pot-roasted two weekends ago.

Everything was going along swimmingly until it came time to strain the stock.  I pulled out a storage container and my sieve and started pouring… the soup all over the counter top.  Swearing loudly, I set the pot of stock down and grabbed the paper towels.  As I was mopping-up the mess it occurred to me that I would be better off putting the sieve in a bowl with a pour-spout, pouring the stock into the bowl, then transferring it into the storage container.  Apparently there is some truth to that old adage “haste makes waste,” and I’m living proof of it!

But there is one time where I never feel bad about using paper towels, and that’s while cooking fish; especially breaded and pan-fried fish.  I proclaim to not be a big fan of fish, but this is really a load of rot.  I do like fish, just most of the time I don’t care for how other people prepare it.  When I finally give in to Isaac’s wishes and cook fish at home, nine times out of 10 I love it.  And then I get all enthusiastic and say, “I love fish! I’m  going to eat it all the time!” And then I run out at lunch and get a salmon salad and remember that most people cannot cook fish to save their lives.

But there is one person out there that can cook fish, reliably and beautifully, and can translate his recipes into print. It’s Nigel Slater.  I love Nigel, as if he were a favored uncle.  I love the way he thinks and the way he writes and the way he talks about food and gardening and eating, the way his recipes are just so barely recipes, more like sketches.

I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired in the cooking-sense lately.  I attribute this entirely to the credit crisis.  I wake up and work.  I go to work and work.  And then when I get home I lie on the couch and shut my brain off, and sometimes work.  My Google reader is permanently stuck in the 1000+ mode.  I can’t remember the last time I had the chance to really sit down, relax and browse through some blogs, bookmarking recipes I want to try and absorbing inspiration.  But, seriously, after spending 12 hours a day, or more, staring at a computer screen, the very last thing I want to do is get home and stare at one some more.

So, last week, in an attempt to reboot my creative cooking processes, I grabbed Nigel’s Kitchen Diaries and burrowed into the couch.  As always, Nigel provided, amply.  In one of the fall months (I can’t remember which, and don’t have the book up here with me) was a recipe for fennel, pear and watercress salad and another for haddock breaded with tarragon bread crumbs and anchovies.  Though they were part of two separate meals, they sounded like they’d be divine together to me.  And they were.

I made Nigel’s breading mixture a bit more bold with the addition of finely minced garlic, and carried the tarragon into the dressing for the salad, and I used sole instead of haddock because our fish monger didn’t have any.  And the meal was perfect.  After a quick drain on some paper towels, the fish was crispy, moist and utterly delicious.  I immediately wanted seconds, but resisted.  The leftovers were perfect a few nights later, warmed in the oven, and served over a bed of watercress and buttery lettuces.

So, no recipes from me, because they really are Nigel’s and you deserve to hear about them from him, and then take them and run with them and make them your own.  Even if it does involve using paper towels.

The Beet(en) Generation

31 May

Getting back into the groove after a long, relaxing vacation can be no easy feat.

The house always looks a little sad and dejected and in need of cleaning. The fridge is always empty. There’s a mountain of laundry to be done. Photos need to be uploaded and sorted. Spam needs to be deleted. Bills need to be payed. In fact, it can be so depressing, all that hard won relaxation can just *poof* disappear.

U of C Boulder Campus

But this time was different.

A few months back I started some basil and sage plants from seed. I fretted over their survival endlessly before leaving for Colorado. I had no plant nanny to look after them, no self-watering pots. I had to put “the kids” out on the back fire escape and hope that nature would take care of them, that they would learn to stand on their own.

And just like real kids who have been granted their freedom, my “kids” thrived. This was exactly the result I was hoping for. I had promised myself and The Boy that if they survived the week we were gone, we could plant a real “garden” on the fire escape.

Baby Sage

And so on the bright, balmy first day back, we hauled home 40 pounds of potting soil, various pots, 6 pepper plants, 4 strawberry plants, 1 English thyme plant, 1 French lavender plant and 6 tomato plants of 3 varieties. We sat on our front stoop, arms and legs covered in dirt and transplanted all the new “kids” into their new homes. Neighbors stopped by to chat and offer encouragement and extra pots. It made being home feel that much more amazing.

I also planted some radish and carrot seeds. Nigel Slater wrote in The Kitchen Diaries that radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in one’s kitchen garden; that they’re fast, can be planted multiple times in one year, and obviously delicious.

Peppers, Basil, Strawberries, Lavender, Sage, Thyme & the future home of Radishes

I’m sure Nigel meant that they’re wonderful to grow in terra firma, but we thought we’d give it a go in a container. So far the radishes have gone gonzo, they sprouted in one day, and are already about 1/2″ high (my “kids” are such overachievers!), the carrots? Not so much. There’s maybe 2 sprouts to be seen. But I’m sure they’ll catch up. Carrots are the smartest vegetables in the root vege family.

With so much time lavished on the hopes and dreams of dinners future, I totally forgot to think about dinner present. There was nothing in the fridge so I turned to my pantry. As usual, she had my back.

High up on the top shelf, shyly hiding behind my box grater was a vacuum-packed flat of roasted beets.

'maters!

Years and years ago someone gave my Mom Diane Seed’s More Great Pasta Dishes (the “More” is a reference back to her original work, The Top 100 Pasta Sauces, also worth searching out). I was vegetarian at the time, so Mom methodically worked her way through all the veggie recipes until she got to one that caused a serious kerfuffle amongst the family.

Me: Mom, what’s for dinner?

Mom: Pasta with roasted beets?

Me: Whaaaaat??? EWH! But Moooooooooom! That sounds disgusting!

Step-Dad: Awh gee Beck, really? Pasta? With Beets? I think I have to go with Annie on this one.

Mom: Oh will you two just stop. I’m going to make it, and you’re going to eat it.

And make it she did. And eat it we did. Every. Last. Speck.

I think my step-dad might have even licked his plate.

Beet Pasta

The concept is a little strange, but ohmygod, this might just be the one of the best pasta dishes on the face of the earth. My step-dad now requests it every year for his birthday dinner.

I prefer to roast my own beets, but as anyone who has ever roasted their own beet can tell you, beets take a loooong time to roast. It was Sunday at 6pm. I was not about to tromp out to the Korean deli, buy beets and then wait two hours for them to cook, oh no, not when I had some already roasted, and diced I might add, on hand.

And so as I stirred and whirred I was able to simultaneously scare the beejezus out of some baby squirrels that wanted to play in all my freshly planted dirt. Fred may have disappeared, but luckily the next door neighbors tuxedo cat (whom we have dubbed Black Fred (you know, like Black Bart, the pirate and/or cowboy)) is always up for chasing and harassing squirrels. And I think having her around has worked. I’ve seen no more evidence of squirrely activity since then (knock on wood).

Beet Pasta

The boy was as skeptical about this dish as my step-father and I were all those many years ago, but just like us, he was won over by the earthy, sweet, salty and minty sauce. In the past I’ve made other variations on this dish. I’ve made it as a pasta salad (pretty good) and as a risotto (very good). Someday I’d like to adapt it into a soup as well, maybe with a mint pistou.

And so, plants planted, beet phobias set aside, emails deleted, pictures sorted, house tidied, we’re both impatiently awaiting tonight’s dinner when we get to eat the leftovers with some local asparagus thrown in for good measure.

My stomach’s already rumbling in anticipation.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Beet Pasta.

Continue reading

From The Back Of My Pantry: Meat And Potatoes

23 Jan

Editor’s Note: Yep, we’re still taking a trip in the time machine and looking back at recipes from the early days of The Granny Cart. Sher wanted to know how the move‘s going. Sher: slowly. Ugh, so tiring, both physically and mentally.

We took a break between trips on Saturday and found an amazing, local Polish restaurant, Polonica, who’s clear borscht always has mushroom uszka, and might possibly be better than either Veselka’s or Polonia’s. I think 2007 is going to be the year The Great De-Beet goes Borough v. Borough, and Blogger v. Blogger!

The other reason to go to Polonica? The salads. Usually at most of these Polish restaurants you have to choose one or two salads to go with your entree. Say, Bigos with Red Cabbage and Beet Salads. Or Suffed Cabbage with Sauerkraut and Carrot Salads. But at Polonica? No choosing. You get ALL of them. Yep, all. And the best part? Every single one of them is fantastic.

So, even though the move continues to be a long slog, we’re eating our way through it. By this time next week, it’ll all be over. I cannot wait for next Tuesday!

Meat And Potatoes. Originally published March 7, 2006.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Sunday’s New York Times, Julie Powell asks, are Americans ready for Nigel Slater? And I say to her, “Honey, I’ve been ready for him for years!” She calls him “a yuppie hooligan”. Maybe he is, but that’s never how I imagined him.

Nigel Slater Appetite

Who is Nigel Slater then? To me, he’s the thinking woman’s Naked Chef, he’s the slightly more grizzled (and male) Nigella Lawson. He’s the guy constantly sitting on my shoulder while I’m cooking, saying, “calm down, it’s just cooking!”

I’ve never seen his shows, and I really don’t know anything about him that I didn’t learn from the only book of his I own, Appetite, but I love what he says in it.

Nigel Slater Appetite

This is the ultimate first cookbook. He talks about how to build a kitchen, how to stock a pantry, and how to cook for only you, or a party of 50. His recipes are barely recipes; they’re more like guidelines, a list of things to put together, and then yeah, you go ahead and riff on that. It’s an approach I not only appreciate, but also whole heartedly endorse.

So, in honor of Nigel’s shout-out in the Gray Lady, I cobbled together an entrèe from one of his recipes entitled “A Pork Roast”. The recipe is supposed to be made with fresh pork belly with the skin on. Now, I know I live in one of the most foodie friendly cities in the world, and I consider myself a pretty savvy food shopper, but I had A) no idea where to get pork belly, and B) truly no desire to tackle this cut of meat myself. This is why god invented Alias and Uovo.

Pork Loin

I also chose to “follow” his advice and use his garlic and rosemary variation. Oh, and I decided to braise the pork, rather than roast it, and to use a loin instead of a belly, and to braise in verjus rather than white wine, but hey, this is a Nigel recipe, which means, as long as it tastes good in the end, then all is well!

Pork And Ugly Peas

I served the pork with what can only be fairly called Chartreuse Mash. It was a goaty riff on Smashed Potatoes And Peas from this months Gourmet. I couldn’t figure out why there was no picture of this slightly flawed recipe, and now that you’ve see mine you’ll understand why… this is one ugly dish, but oh. my. god. is it GOOD. Make it, now. You’ll thank me for it!

Head below the break for the detailed recipes.

Continue reading

Meat And Potatoes

7 Mar

In Sunday’s New York Times, Julie Powell asks, are Americans ready for Nigel Slater? And I say to her, “Honey, I’ve been ready for him for years!” She calls him “a yuppie hooligan”. Maybe he is, but that’s never how I imagined him.

Who is Nigel Slater then? To me, he’s the thinking woman’s Naked Chef, he’s the slightly more grizzled (and male) Nigella Lawson. He’s the guy constantly sitting on my shoulder while I’m cooking, saying, “calm down, it’s just cooking!”

I’ve never seen his shows, and I really don’t know anything about him that I didn’t learn from the only book of his I own, Appetite, but I love what he says in it.

This is the ultimate first cookbook. He talks about how to build a kitchen, how to stock a pantry, and how to cook for only you, or a party of 50. His recipes are barely recipes; they’re more like guidelines, a list of things to put together, and then yeah, you go ahead and riff on that. It’s an approach I not only appreciate, but also whole heartedly endorse.

So, in honor of Nigel’s shout-out in the Gray Lady, I cobbled together an entrèe from one of his recipes entitled “A Pork Roast”. The recipe is supposed to be made with fresh pork belly with the skin on. Now, I know I live in one of the most foodie friendly cities in the world, and I consider myself a pretty savvy food shopper, but I had A) no idea where to get pork belly, and B) truly no desire to tackle this cut of meat myself. This is why god invented Alias and Uovo.

I also chose to “follow” his advice and use his garlic and rosemary variation. Oh, and I decided to braise the pork, rather than roast it, and to use a loin instead of a belly, and to braise in verjus rather than white wine, but hey, this is a Nigel recipe, which means, as long as it tastes good in the end, then all is well!

I served the pork with what can only be fairly called Chartreuse Mash. It was a goaty riff on Smashed Potatoes And Peas from this months Gourmet. I couldn’t figure out why there was no picture of this slightly flawed recipe, and once you see mine (below the break) you’ll understand why… this is one ugly dish, but oh. my. god. is it GOOD. Make it, now. You’ll thank me for it!

head below the break for the detailed recipes (and one ugly picture!)

Continue reading