A Memorial Day Recipe

May 23, 2015

When a friend showed up with some beautiful ribs from Iberian pigs that were locally raised and finished on acorns, I began considering how to cook them. Then I remembered one of my favorite Gourmet recipes.  It's one that Ian Knauer created for one of our last summer issues. (Ian now has The Farm Cooking School, where he's constantly posting great recipes like the newest one for a sorrel panna cotta.)

Haven't made them yet, but I'm posting the recipe now because the ribs want to marinate for a day or so.

I can hardly wait!

Sweet and Sour Sticky Grilled Baby Back Ribs

8 pounds baby back ribs, preferably from a humanely raised pig


12 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sea salt, divided

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary 

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons cayenne

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper



juices from the pans

1 cup balsamic vinegar (inexpensive supermarket kind)

½ cup brown sugar


Mash together the garlic and 1 ½ teaspoons salt with the back of a spoon or in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Mix together the rosemary, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, cayenne pepper, 1 ½ tablespoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl, and stir in the garlic paste. Rub the mixture all over the ribs. Remove to a large plastic Ziploc bag or two and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.

Heat an oven to 300 degrees

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them rest for an hour at room temperature. Place them in two pans in a single layer, add half a cup of water to each pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 3 hours until tender and falling off the bone.

Remove the ribs from the pans and deglaze each pan with a cup of water. Pour the juices into a measuring cup and allow the fat to rise to the top.  Skim it off and pour the remaining liquid into a large skillet with the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to about one cup, medium high heat, for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season the ribs with salt and pepper, generously brush the glaze over the ribs, and grill for five minutes to give it a hint of smoke. Brush again just before serving.


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The Caviar of the Grain Family

May 20, 2015


Dinner Last Night: Farro

I've been lucky enough to have lunch at The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges for the past couple of days.  The food has been – no surprise – fantastic.  Jean-Georges never stints; after a whole array of appetizers (homemade ricotta with strawberries and olive oil, asparagus with morels, pizza…) we've had fabulous halibut (yesterday's with a saffron sauce), and then no fewer than three delicious desserts.  So at dinner, I've wanted to keep it light.

Last night I opened the cupboard and discovered a forgotten bag of farro. It looks like any other grain, but it packs a punch: nutty, robust, and instantly satisfying. To me it's the caviar of the grain family. 

But this was not any old farro; this was the finest strain of ancient Italian farro, slowly roasted to coax out even more flavor. As the farro bubbled on the stove, I inhaled the scent of corn. Was there barley in there too? It was wonderfully round and slightly smoky. 

And while I’ll admit I was tempted to eat it plain, I decided to do something more. I began pawing through the larder, seeking out crunch and zing. 

The result was extremely satisfying. Without further ado, I pass the recipe on to you. 

Farro Salad

 1 bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and snipped into short strips

1 1/2 cup uncooked farro 

2/3 cup hazelnuts or almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

1/2 cup pepitas, toasted

1/3 cup sheep’s milk feta or ricotta salata, crumbled 

1/3 cup dried cherries


1 tablespoon harissa

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

Big grind of pepper 

Pinch of sugar 

Bring three cups or so of salted water to a boil. Add the farro, bring to a boil, cover, and set to simmer. Let cook until just past al dente, around 15-20 minutes. Drain and cool until the farro is just warm enough to absorb the dressing without wilting the greens.

Make the dressing. Taste and adjust for seasoning. If you have a low spice tolerance, go easy on the harissa – most varieties can be quite hot. 

Throw the kale, nuts, fruit and cheese into a large bowl, and give everything a good toss. Add the cooled farro. Dress to taste; you should have a bit of remaining dressing to use on leftovers. 

This keeps well, in the refrigerator, for several days. Add a bit more dressing each time you serve it. 

Serves 4. 

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Things I Love: Bitter Sweet

May 14, 2015

Straight from Sicily

Open a jar of great jam and step into an orchard.  Cue sun, wind, and rain. 

That's what I thought when a friend brought me this jar of blood orange jam.  I took one bite and found myself in Sicily, sun beating down.  The jam, made by Fabrizia Lanza (she runs her mother Anna Tasca Lanza's wonderful cooking school in Palermo), has a peculiar sweetness that edges into bitter.  The flavor took me right back to the first time I tasted magenta oranges.  It was in Sicily,and I was stunned and surprised by the taste.

This jam isn't cheap. On the other hand, I don't know an easier way to travel halfway round the world.  


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Tomorrow at Noon

May 12, 2015

We still don’t know what it costs. 

There are only two women among the 37 chefs.

Still, it’s intriguing. 

The Gelinaz shuffle has some of the world’s top chefs swapping not only restaurants, but also homes, lives, and pets. One night only. July 9th.  

You buy a ticket, blind.  Only when you show up will you find out which chef will be cooking in your restaurant of choice.  It would be a kind of Russian Roulette – if the chefs were not so great.  But as it is, I don't think you can possibly lose. 

I, for one, will be checking in tomorrow at noon, when tickets go one sale.  (6 PM Central European Standard Time.) 

Hopeful. And excited.

These are the participating chefs:


Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, New York — USA

Sean Gray, Momofuku Ko, New York — USA

Sean Brock, McCrady's, Charleston — USA

David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos — USA

Daniel Patterson, Coi, San Francisco — USA

Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco — USA 

Carlo Mirarchi, Blanca, New York — USA

Blaine Wetzel, Willow's Inn, Lummi Island — USA

Colombe Saint-Pierre, Chez Saint-Pierre, Le Bic — Canada

Claude Bosi, Hibiscus — England

Magnus Nilsson, Faviken, Järpen — Sweden

Peter Nilsson, Spritmuseum, Stockholm — Sweden

René Redzepi, Noma, Copenhagen — Denmark

Paul Cunningham, Henne Kirkeby Kro, Henne — Denmark

Kobe Desramaults, In De Wulf, Dranouter — Belgium

Mehmet Gurs, Mikla, Istanbul — Turkey

Yoshihiro Narisawa, Narisawa, Tokyo — Japan

David Thompson, Nahm, Bangkok —; Thailand

Ben Shewry, Attica, Melbourne — Australia 

Jock Zonfrillo, Orana, Adelaide — Australia

Bertrand Grebaut, Septime, Paris — France

Alain Ducasse, La Plaza Athenee, Paris — France

Yannick Alleno, Le Doyen, Paris — France

Inaki Alzpitarte, Le Cheateaubriand, Paris — France

Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur, Menton — France

Alexandre Gauthier, La Grenouillere, Montreuil/Mer — France

Ana Ros, Hisa Franko, Kobarid — Slovenia

Davide Scabin, Combal Zero, Rivoli — Italy

Fulvio Pierangelini, Hotel de Russie, Rome — Italy

Riccardo Camanini, Lido 84, Gardone Riviera — Italy

Massimo Bottura, La Francescana, Moderna — Italy

Massilmillano Alajmo, La Calandre, Venice — Italy

Andoni Luis Aduriz, Mugaritz, San Sebastian — Spain

Albert Adria, Pakta, Barcelona — Spain

Alex Atala, D.O.M., San Paolo — Brazil

Rodolfo Guzman, Borago, Santiago — Chile

Virgillo Martinez, Central, Lima — Peru




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A Salad to Eat with your Fingers

May 11, 2015


Banh Xeo

Southeast Asians boldly embrace the  raw vegetable. A perfect salad roll, for example, is a challenge to the notion that vegetables require fat or fire to make them special.

That's why this Ottolenghi spin on banh xeo – the Vietnamese crepe often filled with shrimp and pork –  caught my eye. It’s essentially just a bunch of garden variety vegetables rolled into a coconut-rice crepe. 

But those crepes! The moment the batter hit the heat it became suffused with color, a riot of marigold spreading across the pan. Then the aroma kicked in, filling the kitchen with luxurious tropical scents. Snatched hot from the pan and folded around crisply shredded  vegetables and herbs, it made a perfect lunch.

Note: If you’d like these to be truly vegetarian, use Ottolenghi’s dipping sauce recipe. I found it a bit sweet.  Nuoc cham, on the other hand? Perfection.


Almost-Vegetarian Banh Xeo

Slightly modified from Ottolenghi's Plenty


1 small egg

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup rice flour

One 400ml can coconut milk

Vegetable oil


Vegetable filling: 

1 large carrot, shredded

2 green onions

Snow peas, sliced into matchsticks


Basil, ideally Thai


1 green chile 

Bean sprouts

Red-leaf lettuce

Sesame oil


Nu0c Cham: 

1 part sugar

1 part rice vinegar

2 parts fish sauce

6 parts water


Make the nuoc cham by mixing all the ingredients together. Add chiles to taste and set aside.

Now make the batter, whisking the ingredients together, doing your best to smooth it out. The batter should be thin; if it's not, add a splash of water.

Heat a large skillet and toss in a teaspoon of oil. When it becomes glossy, pour in a medium-sized ladle of batter and swirl the pan around until it spreads into a large, thin crepe. Allow it to cook, on medium heat, about 2 minutes, until the bottom has browned. Flip gently and cook a couple minutes more. Be easy; these are slightly more temperamental than your ordinary wheat crepe.

Repeat with the rest of the batter- you should get 4 or 5 crepes – and set aside.

Use a peeler to make carrot curls. Cut everything else into matchsticks. Arrange the herbs and vegetables attractively on one plate and the crepes on another.  Give each person an individual little dish of nuoc cham, and allow them to stuff their own crepes, drizzle on a bit of sesame oil, dip their banh xeo into the sauce – and dream of Vietnam.

This will serve two to four people, depending on their degree of hunger.


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