My favorite quarantine recipes Part VI

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Oat Bar “Crunchies”

It’s been 6 weeks and I’ve really started shaking out my recipe books to loosen some of our most beloved – but (of late) ignored mealtime favorites that haven’t seen the light of the stove for many years. They’re tried, they’re true and they’re simply terrific. See what you think.

 

Sunday

We’ve been bumping into quite a bounty of wild caught salmon lately, and one of the simplest-yet tastiest ways to really enjoy a firm and juicy sockeye steak is to poach it on top of a few supporting vegetables in a fragrant broth, and then smother it with the most luxuriously smooth, silky, salty, creamy, dreamy dressing known to man.

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Poached Salmon with Green Goddess Dressing

POACHED SALMON

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or fish stock)
  • 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a medium skillet (with a lid), combine the onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, and wine. Add enough water to come 1 1/2 inches up side of skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and place in skillet. Cover; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand until fillets are opaque, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled with green goddess dressing.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tblspn fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tblspn chopped chives
  • 1 Tblspn chopped chervil
  • 1/2Tblspn chopped scallion
  • 1 Tblspn chopped tarragon
  • 1/2 Tblspn white-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 anchovy fillets
  • 1 Tblspn whole milk

DIRECTIONS

Soak anchovies in milk for 15 minutes. Drain and discard the milk. Rinse anchovies.
In a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy.  Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

 

Monday

Just because it’s veggie night doesn’t mean we have to slam on the flavor brakes. In fact, this spicy, garlicky Chermoula dressing elevates these grilled eggplants all the way to the penthouse before being topped with a bulgur salad spiked with nuts, olives and a few other surprises.

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Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur Salad

CHERMOULA EGGPLANT WITH BULGUR SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ⅔ cup olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • 3 ½ tablespoons warm water
  • ⅓ ounce (2 teaspoons) cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
  • ⅓ ounce (2 teaspoons) mint, chopped
  • ⅓ cup pitted green olives, halved
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chili, paprika, lemon zest, two-thirds of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal crisscross cuts, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Put in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, or until the eggplants are completely soft.

Meanwhile, place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 20 minutes until the bulgur is chewy-soft.

Soak the raisins in the warm water. After 10 minutes, drain the raisins and add them to the bulgur, along with the remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve the eggplants warm or at room temperature. Place 1/2 eggplant, cut side up, on each individual plate. Spoon the bulgur on top, allowing some to fall from both sides. Spoon over some yogurt, sprinkle with cilantro and finish with a drizzle of oil. Serves 4.

 

Tuesday

Chimichurri is to steak, what fried turkey legs are to NASCAR! You just can’t enjoy the one without the other. Oh, and if there is any left over, it provides a monstrously wonderful dip for a spare piece of baguette (or six)!

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Skirt Steak with Chimichurri sauce and sweet-potato fries

CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS

Pulse cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add vinegar and oil and process until combined; season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes to taste. If making far ahead, reduce garlic by 1/2.

 

Wednesday

One of the HBO show’s we’ve been binge-watching during lockdown is “My brilliant friend”. And at one point two of the main characters are seated around a table in the middle of a huge argument, while the most delectable Spaghetti Marinara is being served. It provoked the most mouth-wateringly dish-envy ever, and so I was inspired to slow-cook one of the simplest Italian sauces for 10 hours. I’m talking about the most fragrant, sumptuous and decadent tomato gravy you’ve ever tasted. Warning: this recipe yields a ton of sauce, so feel free to re-invent it on pizza’s, spread thinly onto fresh focaccia or use it as a base for baked eggs. (See Saturday’s recipe).

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Spaghetti with 10-hour Classic Marinara Sauce

CLASSIC 10-HOUR MARINARA SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, plus extra for seasoning
  • chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS

Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, tomato puree, and wine. Cover and cook until sauce is deeply flavored, 8 to 10 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Stir sugar into sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and extra sugar to taste. Before serving, stir in 2 tablespoons basil. Makes 6 cups of sauce.

 

Thursday

This is one of my oldest recipes. Not just because I’ve been making it for 20+ years, but because old man Chasen became famous for it in his legendary Beverly Hills hotspot, and by the time Elizabeth Taylor was in production for “Cleopatra” in 1963, a quart of this very chili had to shipped to her on location in Egypt once a week per her contract with the studio. Yes people, it’s that good! Oh, and these buttermilk biscuits are as flaky as croissants.

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Chasen’s Chili with Super-flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

CHASEN’S CHILI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (separated)
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Gebhardt’s brand chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 small tin tomato sauce (if needed)

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the beans, picking out the debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for one hour or until tender. Set aside.
Melt 2/3 of the butter in a large Dutch oven or Slow cooker. Brown the meat thoroughly for about 10 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and pour into a strainer over a bowl to remove all the liquids.
Melt the remaining 1/3 of the butter in the same pot. Sautee bell pepper for 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add tomatoes and their liquid along with the chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin. (If there isn’t enough liquid, add a small tin of tomato sauce.)
Bring mixture to a boil. Add the meat. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered for one hour. Uncover and add the beans and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick–it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Makes 8 cups.

SUPER-FLAKY BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen for 30 minutes
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, chilled

DIRECTIONS

In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture, grater, and work bowls before use. The dough will start out very crumbly and dry in pockets but will be smooth by the end of the folding process; do not be tempted to add extra buttermilk. Flour the counter and the top of the dough as needed to prevent sticking, but be careful not to incorporate large pockets of flour into the dough when folding.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Coat sticks of butter in flour mixture, then grate 7 tablespoons from each stick on large holes of box grater directly into flour mixture. Toss gently to combine. Set aside remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Add buttermilk to flour mixture and fold with spatula until just combined (dough will look dry). Transfer dough to liberally floured counter. Dust surface of dough with flour; using your floured hands, press dough into rough 7-inch square.

Roll dough into 12 by 9-inch rectangle with short side parallel to edge of counter. Starting at bottom of dough, fold into thirds like business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough from counter. Press top of dough firmly to seal folds. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat rolling into 12 by 9-inch rectangle, folding into thirds, and turning clockwise 4 more times, for total of 5 sets of folds. After last set of folds, roll dough into 8 1/2-inch square about 1 inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Transfer dough to lightly floured cutting board. Using sharp, floured chef’s knife, trim 1/4 inch of dough from each side of square and discard. Cut remaining dough into 9 squares, flouring knife after each cut. Arrange biscuits at least 1 inch apart on sheet. Melt reserved butter; brush tops of biscuits with melted butter.

Bake until tops are golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer biscuits to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Friday

Another old favorite – that never gets old. ‘nuff said!

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Sole Meuniére with Brown butter Caper sauce

SOLE MEUNIERE WITH BROWN BUTTER CAPER SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (8 ounces) sole fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh butter
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons drained brined capers, minced
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Season fillets with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter in each of 2 large saute pans.

Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Place fillets in saute pans and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Remove fillets from pans and transfer on to a platter, sprinkle with parsley. Cover with foil.

Remove remaining butter from one of the skillets and add the fresh butter. Heat until the butter begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and capers. Pour sauce over fish and serve. Garnish with lemon slices. Serves 2.

 

Saturday

OK, so about that left-over marinara from Wednesday: just load it in a cast-iron skillet. Make 4 indentations and carefully lower an egg into each indentation. Bake for 12-ish minutes at 400 degrees and then top each egg with grated parmesan and chopped basil and dig in with plenty of crusty bread.

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Italian Baked Eggs

 

Bonus recipe

This is an old classic from my youth. We used to call them “Crunchies”, but here in the US they would probably be referred to as “Oat Bars”. I don’t care what you call them, but they are the quintessential remedy for the 3pm munchies.

SOUTH AFRICAN CRUNCHIES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2lb butter
  • 1 tbspn golden syrup
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

DIRECTIONS

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, oats and coconut in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a small pot and then add the syrup and sugar and continue to cook. When the butter is bubbling, add the baking soda and stir to combine and remove from the heat.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together by hand.
Using the back of a metal spoon, gently press the crunchie mixture into a greased or parchment-lined baking tray – size dependant on how thick you like the crunchies.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn the oven down to 325 degree and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. (The thinner they are, the crunchier they will be. The thicker they are, the softer they will be and the longer they will need to bake.)
Allow to cool in the pan before slicing. Serves about 9.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay inside!

 

Hatchet Hall, Los Angeles – review

Behind LA’s capped teeth, palm trees and perpetual tan, there lies a tremendous melting-pot of cultures and influences (thanks in part to the cosmopolitan transplants who were all in search of a very similar dream at one point or other), which is why it’s all the more gratifying to see a restaurant bold enough to reflect and salute the city’s very multi-culti, checkerboard fabric with such inclusive panache. The former Waterloo & City space is now a quizzical maze of rooms, moods, styles and disciplines, from a saloon-style back bar, to a beachy looking oyster bar; a turn-of-the-century southern diner festooned with taxidermy; an almost Edwardian private room dripping with precious candelabras and key-lime wallpaper and an Umbrian pergola-covered patio.

Wood grilled Octopus - Hatchet Hall

Wood grilled Octopus

Contrary to many points of view, the only thing truly southern about Brian Dunsmoor’s hearty hearth kitchen, is that it’s located south of Venice boulevard on the (next-to-be-gentrified) edge of Culver City. I would argue that the success of the seven week-old Hatchet Hall goes way beyond “southern-gothic”, as Mr. Dunsmoor flexes his flavor muscles in a variety of hemispheres with an emphasis on local ingredients.

Grilled carrots - Hatchet Hall

Grilled carrots

With a name like Hatchet Hall, it would be a fair assumption to find oneself confronted with endless cuts of bloody beef and bones, but rather surprisingly, Dunsmoor seems to favor unconventional beans, seeds, salsas, aiolis, seafood and dairy products to bring his dishes their unique (and by all recent accounts – highly popular) appeal.

Perusing the sharing-style, five-section menu is a lot like finding the restroom – a delightful (yet much longer than expected) adventure of twists and turns, dotted with highlights, bites and delights – plus an arbitrary surprise here or there.

Sliced tomatoes - Hatchet Hall

Sliced tomatoes

Accompanying the fresh and bi-coastal bivalves is an interesting selection of cured country hams served with pickles and warm bread. Our strictly-casual attired waiter referred to the second section as “snacks”. These include a few imaginative bar-food bites, plus a couple of mention-worthy salads. The Sliced Tomatoes are layered over the most amazingly tangy and richly whipped aged-cheddar, with a few crusty breadcrumbs and something called “pigeon peas”, which looked and tasted a lot like a second cousin to the black-eyed pea. The sublimely charred Market Peach Salad is similarly plated over a froth of yummy, minty cream-cheese, with a dribble of oil and vinegar.

Market Peach Salad - Hatchet Hall

Market Peach Salad

Moving on to hot appetizers, the list includes a couple of organ meats and the much-Instagram’d Skillet Fried Quail – which I’m dying to try on my next visit, but let it be said that the Wood grilled Octopus is pretty stellar; a triplet of crispy, tender tentacles coil lovingly over a puddle of citrusy aioli with a tart salsa verde and a few soft runner beans for company.

Wood grilled Trout - Hatchet Hall

Wood grilled Trout

Of the five main options, Chef Dunsmoor prepares three of them in his wood-fire grill. The first is a wonderful take on a traditional Pork Chop with brown butter and charred peaches. Then there’s a nose-to-tail trout wrapped with a deliciously smoky belt of bacon-y corn and roasted peanuts. And finally a whole Stone Crab – which arrives triumphantly dappled in a sublime herbed crab-butter, which I devoured greedily with tongs, wrenches and spears as if it were the last crab to ever cross my plate. His Game Hen is a formidable contender for the best roast chicken in town. It arrives mounted on a slice of country bread soaking in its own salty, barbecue au jus with a delightfully appropriate crown of hen-o’-the-woods mushrooms.

Wood grilled local Stone Crab - Hatchet Hall

Wood grilled local Stone Crab

Even the side dishes seemed to enjoy the wood-fire grill as much as their protein counterparts, such as the wonderfully honey-sweetened Chimichurri Carrots or the dill-infused Roasted Beets – the first served with yogurt, the second with crème fraiche. And while I idiotically assumed that duck fat was the ultimate decadence for Roasted Potatoes, Dunsmoor pushes his über-crispy spuds way over the edge with beef fat on a bed of roasted garlic aioli with a garden salsa.

Beef fat Roast Potatoes - Hatchet Hall

Beef fat Roast Potatoes

Surprise! Surprise! Desserts are just as varied and flavor-forward, from a Panna Cotta made from goat cheese, to a Bread Pudding exploding with blueberries.

Blueberry Breadpudding - Hatchet Hall

Blueberry Breadpudding

So, the hell with “southern-inspired.” Could Hatchet Hall be the first truly nouveau-American restaurant – inspired by all of us?

http://www.hatchethallla.com/reservations/

Roasted Game Hen - Hatchet Hall

Roasted Game Hen