Another Labor Day Suggestion

September 5, 2016

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Okay, maybe it’s a bit late to make this today. But if you’re looking for an interesting cocktail party idea, consider this, from a 1983 issue of Gourmet.

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Labor Day, 1974

September 4, 2016

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Couldn’t resist this.  It’s from the 1974 issue of Gourmet – and  it’s so far from a meal that anybody I know would conceive of serving to guests tomorrow that I stared at the pictures for a while in shock.  Then I thought, who knows – you may actually feel like creating a tomato aspic.  Or roasting a few ducks.  This squash sounds interesting, although it certainly tells a tale of a different time. And who among us doesn’t have a soft spot for peach upside down cake?



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It’s Onion Season; Time for Onion Rings

September 3, 2016


I’ve always loved this recipe – and you can certainly make it all year round.  But I’m just back from the farmers’ market with small, just-harvested onions, which makes this the perfect time for this simple and surprising dish.

Make a plateful for a party, and I guarantee they’ll disappear.

James Beard’s “Onion Rings”

Shopping list: 1 loaf brioche or challah, 4 small onions, 1 bunch parsley

Staples: mayonnaise, salt

Begin with a sliced loaf of sturdy white bread, or a loaf of brioche. Take an inch and a half round cookie cutter and cut circles out of the bread.  Slather them with good commercial mayonnaise and sprinkle that with salt.

Slice 4 small white onions very thinly.  Put a slice of onion on a circle of bread and sandwich it with a second piece. 

Chop a bunch of parsley.  Spread mayonnaise on the edge of each sandwich and then roll it in parsley.  You are done.

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Crazy Stupid Hot

September 1, 2016


Found local jalapenos yesterday at Love Apple Farm, which set off an almost overwhelming longing for the spicy green peppers in black beans at the restaurant that used to be called Grand Sichuan in Chelsea (it’s now Chelsea Chinese).  They claim it was a favorite of Mao Tse Tung; I always loved it.

So I thought I’d try to make myself a version.

The first bite was so hot I thought my heart might stop – but I kept eating.  All day I kept going back for more. At midnight, just before going to bed, I had another bowl.

Then, this morning, I took what was left (the refrigerator had tamed the heat a bit), tossed it into a pan with an egg, and finished it off.

If you have any sense at all, you’ll remove the seeds before making this dish, which might civilize it a bit.

I should note that this is a work in progress; I’m sure I can improve the recipe considerably over time.  I’m looking forward to the experiments, but be warned – you really have to appreciate heat to have any interest in this dish.

Chinese Chiles in Black Beans

Mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, and a teaspoon of sugar into  3/4 cup of chicken broth. Set it aside.

Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing a tablespoon of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of water. 

Mince a tablespoon or so of fresh ginger and 2 teaspoons of garlic.  Mix that with 3 tablespoons of Chinese fermented black beans.

Cut a large onion in half, vertically, and slice it into strips.

Slice a red pepper (not hot – this is mostly for color), into thin strips.

Slice 4 jalapenos.  If you want to temper the heat, remove the seeds; if you’re foolish, keep them.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and add about 3 tablespoons of neutral oil.  Add the onions, stir fry them for a minute or so, then toss in the garlic, ginger and black beans and stir them about for a few seconds until the aroma is hovering in the air above the pan. 

Add the jalapenos and red pepper and toss for about a minute. (If you have a fan above your range, this might be the moment to turn it on.) 

Stir the chicken stock mixture, toss it into the wok and bring to a boil.  Add the cornstarch slurry and keep stirring until the sauce is glistening and slightly thick. 

Serve hot over rice.

(The picture above is in a tiny bowl; I was so busy eating I neglected to take a picture until the chiles were almost gone.)