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!

 

Trois Mec, Los Angeles review

Trois Mec

Trois Mec

Trying to get into any of LA’s “it” restaurants at the peak of their game has always involved a bit of high stakes drama. But none can rival the theatrical shenanigans of securing a seat at Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo and Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec (three mates). Just like any other live performance, the website offers tickets to specific sittings on specific dates. The “pay now – see you in two weeks” scheme permits diners to sample Lefebvre’s unconventional cuisine in a daily changing, omakase (chef’s choice) menu of whatever happens to be in season, in vogue or in the pantry.

Trois Mec exterior

Trois Mec exterior

Thrilled to be finally clutching a ticket, I gingerly opened the door to a roar of “Bon soir”, in an utterly unremarkable dining room, that occupies the space of a formerly unremarkable pizza joint at the end of an unremarkable strip mall in the shade of the Hollywood hills.

Then for the next couple of hours I found myself drowning in a tsunami of mediocrity as the giant candle of hype melted away into a puddle of weak tea. Sure, the notion of a don’t ask, don’t tell, hush-hush, say-no-more, pre-pay, chef’s choice supper club sounds rather enticing, but when the eloquently described dishes yield little more than the total sum of their parts, its hard not to feel like you’ve just been taken for a bit of a backstage joyride.

Garlic Bread - Trois Mec

Garlic Bread

A series of pre-menu Snacks included the house signature Buckwheat Popcorn – a decent enough, salt and vinegary blocker for the gaps in between the teeth; the peppery Tapioca cake with melted Parmesan cheese – a solid runner-up in the rice-cake cook-off; a Dijon Crème Brulee – every bit as unnecessary and pretentious as it sounds; a highly forgettable miniature sesame crisp something-or-other with shredded greens; and finally the first applause-worthy item, a square inch block of fire toasted Garlic Bread with melted herb butter.

Spot Prawn - Trois Mec

Spot Prawn

The five menu items started with the melancholy death of a Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, which was camouflaged from sight by slithers of crusty tomato, and camouflaged from taste by the violent upstaging of horseradish-infused crème fraiche.

Grilled Eggplant Caviar - Trois Mec

Grilled Eggplant Caviar

The Grilled Eggplant Caviar reminded me of a bucket of red laundry with Jamon Iberico swimming in a soggy pond of honey melon juice amidst a few crushed hazelnuts in suspension.

The Sunchoke salad, the only real hit among the misses included a medley of the thinnest slithers of delicately pickled sunchokes amongst a splendid blend of crunchy green beans and roasted sunflower seeds over a bed of citrusy hummus, spiked with thyme powder, giving the dish a fresh elegance and a little hope for the rest of the evening’s performance.

Sunchoke Salad - Trois Mec

Sunchoke Salad

The jury is still out as to whether it might have been easier to slice through my wallet or the Grilled Beef Belly, which would have also benefited more from the company of a crispy roast potato than the paltry abalone mushroom and green herb jus.

And finally a sugar-crusted, raw egg yolk topped the Carolina gold Rice Pudding, which came peppered with brown butter powder, making for a curiously savory and unnecessarily rich dessert.

Sesame Crisp - Trois Mec

Sesame Crisp

If I’m ever in the area again, I just might pop next door to Ludo’s Parisian bistro Petite Trois, which by all accounts looks and feels (and hopefully tastes) like a real meal – and may yield slightly more value for the $100 seat!

https://www.troismec.com/

Pig and Khao review

 

Pig and Khao - Turon Banana Fritters

Turon Banana Fritters

Comparatively speaking, adding any derivative of the word “Pig” to the name of your venture has been a pretty good omen for many restaurateurs in New York. Not sure whether it’s fun, courage or luck that the “other white meat” offers, but it certainly seems to translate into popularity and longevity. There’s April Bloomfield’s furiously acclaimed Spotted Pig, Danny Meyer’s impossible-to-get-into Maialino (piglet in Italian), happy-hour all-time-favorite Swine, Brooklyn’s BBQ indulgence palace Fette Sau (fat pig in German), sandwich palace Porchetta (deboned pork roast in Italian), lunchtime office crowd favorite chain Potbelly, or Traif (anything on the “verboten” list for good Jews – such as pork or shellfish in Yiddish) and so it’s scarcely surprising that newcomer and Top Chef alum Leah Cohen is already thinking of opening a gastropub knock-off of her South-East Asian hipster canteen Pig and Khao.

Pig and Khao - Burmese Eggplant Salad with Shrimp Chips

Burmese Eggplant Salad with Shrimp Chips

Whatever happens to be on the grill or in the fryer permeates the simple rice-noodle-thin slither of a room with open kitchen and back patio. The overwhelmingly Thai menu (thankfully omits any of the “Big 5” dishes) includes some Filipino and Vietnamese influences as well.
Cohen’s cocktails are every bit as intense and flavor-forward as her food. From her take on a Negroni with grapefruit and cardamom, to a chamomile-infused Rye with elderflower and a “scotch rinse.”
The Burmese Eggplant Salad is like an Asian, peanut, mint and shrimp version of a Babaganoush dip – made even more unstoppably edible thanks to the homemade slightly sugary shrimp chips.

Pig and Khao - Green Mango Salad

Green Mango Salad

The Green Mango Salad sitting under a dome of char-grilled chicken and dried shrimp and cashews for crunch, bathing in that unmistakably flavorful and salivation provoking fish-sauce/lemon grass/chili dressing, feels a bit like the big brother of the Green Papaya Noodle Salad with grilled shrimp in a tamarind chili dressing. Both noodle dishes are crowd favorites. The Shan Noodles with ground chicken and turmeric, and the heavenly Khao Soi .

Pig and Khao - Khao Soi Noodles

Khao Soi Noodles

A velvety smooth, Thai-iced-tea colored coconut curry with chicken, shallots and mustard greens topped with a centerpiece of egg noodles – the bottom half of which are softly submerged in the curry, leaving the top half exposed and crispy.

 

For our pork dish we tried the meat-falling-off-the-bones BBQ Baby Back Ribs. While the exact ingredients of Cohen’s barbecue sauce remains a secret, suffice it to say I would happily lap up the gingery-garlicky-syrupy deliciousness even if it were poured over MTA subway tickets or second-hand tennis shoes.

Pig and Khao - BBQ Baby Back Ribs

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

For dessert we tried the Turon, which is a banana smartly dressed up in a rice pastry jacket, before being flash fried and perfectly paired next to salted caramel ice-cream and chocolate syrup.
It’s fairly safe to say that Clinton Street has yet another runaway hit on it’s sidewalks.

http://pigandkhao.com/contact/