April 3, 2019
This is from the chapter called Garlic, which begins on page 18 of Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
With great relief I saw the waiter approaching our table. He was bearing a large antipasto platter, but as he set it down Si eyed the dish suspiciously. His nose twitched. “Is there garlic in there?” he demanded.
“Yes, sir!” The waiter said it with pride.
“I can’t eat garlic.” Si waved an imperious hand. “Take it away.”
The waiter looked agitated. “Sir”—he drew himself up—“does that mean the kitchen must avoid garlic in everything?”
Si gazed serenely up at him. “I told you,” he said sweetly, “I cannot eat garlic.”
The waiter remained rooted, not quite knowing what to do. I studied Si. When he’d suggested Da Silvano I’d been charmed; I’d recently reviewed the restaurant, saying how much I liked it, and it had seemed like an extremely gracious gesture. But now it struck me that an Italian restaurant was a strange choice for a man who shunned garlic. How would the chef manage? Would he even try? Si waved at the plate again and the waiter reluctantly picked up the rejected offering. I watched him hesitate outside the kitchen door, shoulders hunched in despair. He was, I knew, steeling himself for the chef’s wrath.
In 1998, unlike today, restaurants did not routinely ask if you had allergies they should know about, and most were oblivious to such requests. Now I turned to Si and asked, “Don’t you worry that the kitchen will try to sneak some garlic into your food?”
Si regarded me as if I’d said something stupid. “No,” he said at last.
I went home, of course, and cooked something for our family that filled the house with the wonderful scent of garlic. Now, every time I cook this, I think of Si.
Spicy Chicken with Peanuts
2 large boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1- inch pieces
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
5 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
Mix marinade ingredients. Add a splash of water. Add chicken thighs and allow to marinate for half an hour.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare all the other ingredients.
2 cloves garlic
1 inch knob fresh ginger
4 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ teaspoon sesame oil.
2 teaspoons corn starch.
1 tablespoon chili paste
10 fresh shiitakes, sliced
Handful baby spinach leaves
Grapeseed or peanut oil.
Mince the white parts of the scallions, smash the garlic cloves and mince the ginger. Set in a bowl together.
Mix chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and sesame oil and whisk in the 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside.
Measure out the chili paste (add more if you like really hot food). Measure out the peanuts and the spinach.
Get a wok very hot, add a couple tablespoons of oil, allow it to get hot and toss in the shiitakes, stirring just until they wilt. Remove to a plate.
Add more oil to the wok, let it get hot, add the marinated chicken pieces and stir fry for a couple of minutes just until the meat changes color. Remove and add to the plate with the shiitakes.
Add a bit more oil to the pot, let it get hot, and add the scallion-garlic-ginger mixture along with the chili paste. Stir until the fragrance is floating over the pan, then add the spinach and the chicken and mushrooms, along with the broth mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce begins to thicken.
Toss in the peanuts, stir well, turn out onto a platter.
Serve to two people, over rice.
April 2, 2019
In the original manuscript of Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, there was a recipe in almost every chapter. My wonderful editor thought they slowed the narrative, and in the end we left in only a handful of recipes that were really important to the story. This week I’ll be posting a few of the recipes that were left on the cutting room floor. So check back tomorrow.
To begin, the recipe for the Ian Knauer’s goat tacos. If you’ve read the excerpt on Eater, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. This is from the chapter called:
Ian and Alan returned from Queens toting two enormous plastic bags. From halfway across the building you could smell them coming; the goat was still warm, the reek of the abattoir so intense it was as if they were carrying the entire contents of the butcher shop. The primal barnyard scent grew stronger as they approached, and by the time they reached the kitchen door the animal funk was overwhelming. Up close they were engulfed in the sharp metallic scent of freshly spilled blood; the hair rose on the nape of my neck and every instinct urged me to run. Despite my strong desire not to, I put my hand over my mouth. For a moment I stopped breathing.
“I’m amazed the guards let you in.” I cautiously lowered my hand.
“They didn’t seem happy,” Ian admitted. “But we flashed our passes and ran for an elevator before they could stop us. The doors were just closing.”
“I hope it was empty.”
Ian and Alan exchanged a glance. Ian heaved his plastic bag onto the counter. “Anna Wintour was in there.”
I stared at him, fascinated and appalled. “What did she do?”
“What could she do? She just kept backing into the corner until she couldn’t go any farther.”
Goat Tacos for Eight
(adapted from Ian Knauer and Alan Sytsma, who adapted the recipe from Alexandro Garcia, Blue Agave Club, Pleasanton, Ca.)
Wipe 3 dried guajillo chiles and 2 dried anchos clean (they tend to be very dusty), slit them open and remove the seeds and stems. Toast them in a hot, heavy dry skillet, turning them with tongs, until they change color (about 30 seconds each).
Soak the chiles in hot water for half an hour.
Peel a pound of tomatoes and chop them, carefully reserving the juice.
Drain the chiles and put them in a blender with the tomatoes, the tomato juice, a teaspoon of salt and 4 cloves of peeled garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano, a teaspoon of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 5 whole peppercorns, 3 whole cloves and a bay leaf. Puree until very smooth.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Sprinkle 3 1/2 pounds bone- in goat (neck, shoulder, leg), that you’ve cut into pieces at the joints with a teaspoon of salt and put it into a shallow baking dish. Pour the sauce over the meat, turning it about so that the meat is coated to on all sides.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil, put it into the oven and leave it for about 3 hours, until it is very tender.
Uncover the dish and let the goat cook for another half an hour, uncovered, in the sauce. Remove from the oven, coarsely shred the meat and mix it into the sauce.
Return the dish to the oven and cook, about another half hour.
Serve on corn tortillas with these toppings: crumbled queso fresco or feta, salsa, cilantro, chopped onions, sliced radishes, julienned lettuces, pickled jalapenos, limes.
October 30, 2017
Pickle pumpkin balls? Thanks to Gourmet Magazine, November 1978, here’s the recipe:
And from the same issue, an intriguing (and not uncomplicated) way to stuff a pumpkin:
August 22, 2017
These recipes are all from the April, 1951 issue of Gourmet. There’s something winning about each of them. For some it’s the casual way they’re written: I’m especially fond of the quahog cakes. Some have seductive names: how can you resist a recipe called “lace pantycakes”? And some have adorable technique: simply insert a straw in the pomegranate and drink.
And isn’t it nice to be reminded, in this pomegranate-mad moment, that sixty-five years ago they were already on the menu?
Finally, an ad. I actually have one of these: ten years ago Kitchen Aid brought them back. If anyone knows how to use this machine so it doesn’t spit ground coffee all over the counter, I’d be grateful for advice.
July 20, 2016
As I said yesterday, the April 1980 issue of Gourmet was a particularly good one, filled with all sorts of intriguing recipes. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Figs are in the market now, so I’d begin by making my own fig jam, but this fig tart from the Bistrot de Mougins is intriguing
This Indian zucchini soup seems just right for this time of year:
I like the idea of this eggplant dish, from one of those tony uptown New York Italian restaurants too (although I’ll probably use a much simpler tomato sauce):
Here’s an appealing shrimp dish:
And finally, Nina Simonds’ irresistible black bean spareribs:
I can’t leave you without posting this interesting ad, which says so much about the time: