Great, Easy, Unexpected Snack

September 12, 2018

I made James Beard’s “onion rings” the other night for the first time in a while.  Now’s the perfect moment for them – farmers’ markets are filled with sweet onions just pulled from the earth, and this is the best way I know to showcase that compelling flavor.  On top of that, this is the moment when all the parsley in the garden is proud and full.

Start with a loaf of sturdy white bread.  Or traditional Pepperidge Farm sandwich white.  Using a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut circles out of the bread. Slather them with good commercial mayonnaise and sprinkle them with salt.

Slice your onions very thinly.

Chop a good amount of parsley as finely as you like.

Put a slice of onion on a circle of bread and sandwich it with another circle of bread.

Spread mayonnaise on the edge of each sandwich and roll it in chopped parsley.

These keep surprisingly well; I just ate the last of the two-day old sandwiches.  It made a perfect 10 a.m. snack.


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More Old Menus

September 3, 2018

I’ve been going through old files, getting ready for the American Cuisine and Hospitality Symposium in New Orleans in a couple of weeks. I was there at the first Symposium in 1983, and I wanted to get a sense of what things were like back then.  At the time, we were very focused on California Cuisine – I was the restaurant critic at New West Magazine – and I  came upon this interesting letter.

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Paris on the Hudson

August 31, 2018

You come out of the subway at Canal Street on a hot afternoon, into the blinding sun and squalor of the city.  You cross Canal and look up Lafayette, and there, improbably, is a swath of lush green leaves, beckoning like an oasis in the dessert. It is the most inviting sight.

Inside Le Coucou is every bit as enticing; with its high ceilings, widely spaced tables and romantic murals it might be the loveliest restaurant in New York.

And the food Daniel Rose is cooking is… pure delight.

This was a simple zucchini soup – just the squash, a bit of creme fraiche, a hint of mint.  And well, a dollop of caviar.

The quenelle floating on its puddle of champagne beurre blanc, is light and airy.  Even if it didn’t have that little crown of caviar, it would be what gefilte dreams of being when it closes its eyes at night.

The lettuce, forming that pig face, is a little joke. But the tete de cochon – a deconstructed pig’s head – is no joke. It might be the most delicious dish in New York right now, a dance of soft textures and rich flavors, the decadence tamed by a stern hit of vinegar.

Tile fish, cooked so that the scales form a crisp crust, in a warm tomato vinaigrette.

Duck with cherries served in two flights. That lovely dish at the top is the leg with chanterelles; here the breast with cherries.

Paris Brest.  Even if you don’t like sweet, crisp, creamy deserts, you might love this. The flavor of the hazelnuts is so delightfully intense.

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A Peach of a Recipe

August 27, 2018

I’ve always loved pickled peaches; my mother kept jars of them in the pantry, to serve with baked ham.  For some reason, they were a standard supermarket item in the fifties.

But the commercial kind were nothing compared to the homemade pickled peaches I made last week.  If I were a canner, I’d be putting up a few pecks of them today.  But since I’m not, I’ll be making them for the next couple of weeks, and eating them while they’re in season.  They’re so easy!

Peel a dozen or so fairly ripe but not soft peaches by immersing them in boiling water for about half a minute.  Run them under cold water and the skins should slip right off. Cut off any brown spots.

Put 3½ cups of sugar and a cup and a half of plain white vinegar into a heavy-bottomed pot.  Add a cup and a half of water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Gently slide the peaches into the brine (you will probably need to do this in a couple of batches) and allow them to cook for about 4 minutes, turning them from time to time; you don’t want them to get too cooked. Put the cooked peaches into a large bowl.

When all the peaches are cooked the brine should have turned a lovely light pink. Bring it back to a boil and pour it over the peaches. Add 10 whole cloves, a couple sticks of cinnamon and a small knob of ginger that you’ve peeled and sliced.

Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature, then cover and put the bowl into the refrigerator for a day or two to cure.  Turn the peaches from time to time, or weight them down to keep them submerged.

Serve the whole peaches with any roasted meat.

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