Recipes for Things I Love

Things I Love: Bacon

April 14, 2016

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In my house, bacon is a staple.  I always have it on hand (along with eggs, parmesan and pasta) so I can make last-minute Carbonara.

For years I’ve been a Nueske’s fan.  And I still am. But lately I’ve discovered a locally made product I like even better.  Jansal Valley Bacon has the same sweet smokiness, but it’s less salty.  It’s uncured (no nitrates) and certified humane.  And it turns out, it’s nationally available.

The only downside?  Lately we’ve been eating an awful lot of bacon!

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Things I Love: Fragrant, Green, Slightly Bitter…

February 26, 2016

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I wish you could smell these dried fenugreek leaves.  Every time I open the cupboard the scent leaps out at me.  It’s herbal, very green, and when you take a pinch and put it in your mouth the flavor jumps around – a bit sweet, and then bitter.  It reminds me of mint that’s lost it’s sense of humor and gotten very, very serious.

I know fenugreek seeds; been using them for years.  I particularly like this old Gourmet recipe for Caucasus Pork with Fenugreek. But the dried leaves – methi in Indian cuisine – are new to me. When I was in Vancouver last week Vikram Vij, (he has an entire restarant empire), gave me a jar – and now I’ve fallen in love.

I’m still figuring out what to do with the leaves – right now I’m kind of sprinkling them on everything from soups to stews. But here’s how Vikram uses the fenugreek leaves with lamb.  And here are a few other ideas.

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Go Bison!

February 10, 2016

Reading Kim Severson’s piece on bison this morning reminded me of the single finest piece of meat I’ve ever tasted.

It came from my friend Sam Hurst, an environmental reporter for the Today Show, who became so enamored of the idea of free-range bison that he moved to South Dakota in 1993. His ranch did not conform to the Turner school of bison-raisers; his animals were left to roam free, were never taken to a feed lot, and they met their end not in a slaughterhouse, but on the open range.  When it was time to harvest the bison, Sam employed a sharp shooter.  One moment the bison were munching on the wild grasses; the next they were dead.

Sam brought me a bison tenderloin a few years ago, and we simply grilled it.  I’ve never tasted meat like that, and as I ate that sweet, clean-tasting meat I had an epiphany; this meat lacked the flavor of fear. Animals taken to a slaughterhouse are filled with adrenaline, and it’s a nasty taste. This meat taste pure and mineral; it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

So here’s a vote for bison: they live in harmony with nature, they need no barns, no antibiotics, no artificial insemination, no artifice of any kind.  They live good lives, die good deaths. Naturally raised bison are bringing the species back from the brink. 

And they are absolutely delicious.

Sam, sadly, was ahead of his time.  He founded Wild Idea Buffalo Company in 2003, but his own ranch was ultimately a victim of the draught.

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Object of Desire

February 9, 2016

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How could I not buy this artful pressed fruit concoction when it smiled up at me from the shelf?  I figured that even if I didn’t like it very much, the Hawaiian Press would look so pretty on a cheese plate it would be worth the fifteen bucks.

But it is, in truth, delicious.

Made entirely of fruits and nuts, this little loaf combines pineapple, mango, kiwi, coconut, plum, apricot, peach, apple and papaya with almonds and macadamia nuts.  It’s apparently made by a mother and daughter team here in southern California.  And it is spectacular with cheese.

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Another New Thing to Love

January 7, 2016

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This is silly.  I know it. How can you get excited about fried onions?

Maybe it’s growing up on those canned ones my mother loved so much – the ones she put into her famous “everything casserole.”  As I later discovered, they aren’t all that great.  So I began making my own. But getting a big batch of onions really crisp takes time.

So when I saw these in the market the other day, I pounced.  They’re natural. They’re imported from Denmark. They’re inexpensive. And they’re delicious.

Good to have on hand when you need a little lagniappe to perk up your vegetables.  Or simply to eat out of hand.

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