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Soft Thyme-Scented Polenta

Soft Thyme-Scented Polenta



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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2/3 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal; not quick-cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 peeled garlic clove, smashed

Recipe Preparation

  • Bring 1 tsp. salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in polenta and thyme; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until polenta is soft, 25—30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Rub serving bowl with garlic clove before transferring polenta.

,Photos by Kimberley HasselbrinkReviews Section

The recipe top chefs can’t live without

I’ve been making a soup like this pretty much all my life. I grew up on a farm and a lot of meals were prepared like this, plentiful and in advance. My mum sometimes put dishes on overnight, they’d cook very slowly all night and you’d wake up to the smell of it through the house. Obviously, I’m at work until late, but it fills up my husband during the week. He loves it, and in the winter on my days off I just love to eat it. It’s incredibly healthy, comforting and delicious. Whether or not you cook the ham hock, even a simple vegetable soup is delicious with pearl barley and potatoes.

Serves 6-8
ham hock 1 small (about 300g)
onions 2
carrots 3
celery 3 sticks
leeks 2
peppercorns 10
thyme 4 sprigs
bay leaf 1
parsnips 2
swede 1
potato 1 large
vegetable oil
pearl barley 200g
curly parsley 1 bunch, chopped
black pepper

Soak the ham hock for 24 hours in water in the fridge before cooking.

Place the ham hock in a large saucepan with 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1 leek, 10 peppercorns, the thyme and the bay leaf. Cover with cold water and slowly bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 to 4 hours until tender – the small bone at the top should easily be pulled out. Leave to cool in the stock. When cold, drain, reserving the liquid for the soup stock, and flake the ham into small pieces.

Dice the rest of the vegetables into 2cm-sized cubes. In a large pot, add a little vegetable oil and sweat off the onion, carrot, celery and leek. Then add the rest of the vegetables and sweat further, adding a pinch of salt.

When the vegetables are nicely sweated off, add the pearl barley and reserved ham stock. Add a little more water if required, bring to the boil and check the seasoning. Leave to simmer until the vegetables and pearl barley is cooked.

Just before serving, add the flaked ham hock, the chopped parsley and some black pepper.
Clare Smyth is chef-owner of Core, London


49 Best Butternut Squash Recipes for Soups, Pastas, Salads, and More

The best butternut squash recipes come in handy throughout the year—after all, this particular squash can be found during every season. But butternut squash is at its peak in fall and winter, which is also when we really tend to get these recipes in the regular rotation.

Butternut squash can be roasted, mashed, baked, or slow-cooked. It adds heft and color to soup and creamy texture to pastas. We love it as the starring ingredient in vegetarian dishes, though it can also be fantastic when paired with sausage or bacon or turkey or brisket. Butternut squash can make any meal better, whether it’s crisped in hash or mixed into oatmeal at breakfast, adding sweet chew to a salad or sandwich at lunch, or laced throughout a casserole or chili at dinner. And yes, thanks to its natural sweetness, it may be at its very best taking center stage in a tart or pie.

Ahead, you’ll find 49 of our favorite butternut squash recipes. We’re pretty sure you’re going to love them too.


The crying gain

I f there's one ingredient that will stand by you through thick and thin, come rain or shine, hell or, as seems increasingly on the cards these days, high water, it is surely the onion. After salt and pepper, it must be the single most frequently occurring ingredient in the whole pantheon of savoury recipes, and not just in Britain and Europe. I peel one, or several, practically every day of my life and, being a sensitive fellow, I shed copious and grateful tears every time I do so. But they are always tears of joy.

Or are they? There is a curious ambiguity in my daily dealings with onions, because it is always on the fringe of my consciousness, and therefore sometimes on the periphery of my conscience, that these remarkable vegetables, though they may have been harvested many months before and lain in a cool, dark corner of the larder as if in some mausoleum, are, in fact, still alive as I set about slicing and dicing them with my keenest blade.

The fact is, I could plant one, and it would make babies. Of course, the onion is not alone among the vegetables in my larder in this respect: potatoes are also in the realm of the undead and, come spring, they like to remind us, by sprouting their knobbly little eyes, that, were we to give them a decent burial, they could set about reproducing themselves. But for reasons that are hard to explain (except chemically, of course), their plight doesn't move me in quite the same way.

I'm not much of a one for religion, but the schools I went to seem to have been all for it, and so I have done my fair share of worshipping. And there's a line that has stuck in my mind, which recently keeps popping into my head whenever I'm chopping onions: "We offer thee our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice. "

The words are so apt: body and soul are precisely what onions are giving to the dishes in which they, often anonymously, feature. They ask for no credit and usually get none, but take them away and the dishes in question would be, well, lacking in body and somewhat soulless.

So how, as cooks, do we atone for these sins of omission? Simple. Once in a while, we must bow down and praise the onion, in all its pungent, passionate glory. Here is a trinity of recipes to help with your act of worship.

Based on Elizabeth David's recipe in French Provincial Cooking, this is a classic dish that I rely on time and time again, especially in colder months. The ingredients are simple, everyday things that you're likely to have knocking about the house, but the result is far from ordinary. Serves six.

1 tbsp olive oil

1kg onions, peeled and very finely sliced, from root to tip

Salt and black pepper

A couple of rasps of nutmeg

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

100ml whole milk

200ml double cream

100g Gruyère, finely grated

A 25cm blind-baked, savoury shortcrust tart case

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook very gently, stirring regularly, without allowing the onions to catch on the pan or turn brown. After about half an hour they should be golden, translucent and completely tender. Remove from the heat and season with a good pinch of salt, a little grated nutmeg and a few twists of black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/ gas mark 5. With a fork, beat together the eggs, egg yolks, milk and cream. Combine the onions with the egg and cream mixture and the cheese. Spread evenly into the pre-baked pastry case and bake for about half an hour, until the filling is lightly puffed and golden. Serve piping hot.

Onion pizza bianca

Pizza bianca is a very simple pizza without tomato sauce. Taking the toms away gives the sweet, thyme-scented onions a chance to shine. Serves four.

3 tbsp olive oil

750g onions, peeled and very thinly sliced

Salt and black pepper

2 heaped tsp fresh thyme leaves

A few tbsp crème fraîche, or 1 ball of mozzarella, sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil

5g dried yeast

125g plain flour

125g strong white bread flour

1 tbsp olive oil

First make the dough: dissolve the yeast in 160ml warm water and leave for 10 minutes or so, until it starts to froth. Meanwhile, combine the two flours and salt in a bowl. Add the yeast liquid and oil, mix into a rough dough, then turn out and knead for five to 10 minutes, until silky and elastic. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (at least an hour).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and a good pinch of salt, and cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about half an hour, until soft, golden and translucent (just the same process as the onions for the tart, in fact).

Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas mark 9 and put in a baking sheet to heat. Knock back the dough and cut it in half. Use a rolling pin, or your hands, or both, to roll and stretch one half into a thin piece that will cover the baking sheet.

Take the hot baking sheet from the oven, scatter it with a little flour or, even better, some cornmeal, fine polenta or semolina, and lay the dough on top. Spread half the soft onions over the dough, scatter over half the thyme, then add a few dollops of crème fraîche or half the mozzarella. Scatter over some salt and pepper, trickle on some extra-virgin olive oil and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the base is crisp and golden brown at the edges.

While it's cooking, roll out the second piece of dough and prepare in the same way, so it's ready to go as soon as the first is cooked. Serve hot, in big slices.

Sweet and sour roasted red onions

Caramelised on the outside and super-soft within, these are delicious alongside almost any meat or fish. Serves three to four as a side dish.

500g small red onions

2 tbsp olive oil

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp rosemary, picked and finely chopped

1 tbsp concentrated tomato purée

3 tbsp cider vinegar

3 tbsp light muscovado sugar

Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Peel the onions and cut them in half from root to tip. Put into a small oven dish, so they fit snugly in one layer.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the celery and garlic. Fry gently for about 10 minutes, until soft. Remove from the heat, add the rosemary, tomato purée, vinegar and sugar, and stir so the sugar dissolves. Season generously, then pour over the onions and mix well. Roast for an hour, until soft and caramelised, stirring halfway through. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Red onion sandwich

This is a pick-me-up of a sandwich that is a really nice way to enjoy the sweet-sharp tang of raw red onions. Share it with a loved one, so the onion breath will be mutual. Makes two sandwiches.

1 large or 2 small red onions

Four slices very fresh brown bread (I like granary)

Salt and black pepper

Thick rich yogurt (or crème fraîche)

Slice the onion very finely, keeping the slices root to tip. Generously butter two of the bread slices, scatter onion evenly over each slice and season sparingly. Spread the other two slices even more generously (but not ridiculously so) with yogurt. Put the yogurty tops on the buttery bottoms to complete the sandwiches. Slice, and eat.


Baked Mac and Cheese with Gruyère, Cabbage and Sage

What could possibly be better than the combined flavors of garlic and sage! Add cheese and throw in some pasta, bake it, and you have heaven in a dish! This mac and cheese is delicious, and so easy to prepare. Serve with a green salad, and you have a meal. This recipe can easily be cooked in a single casserole, but I made it in individual ramekins, because I thought they’d be more photogenic. Anyway, I hope you’ll try this dish!

1/4 olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces
10 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup grated gruyère cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage saute another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain pasta, reserving water. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl set aside.

Bring reserved pasta water to a boil in a pot. Add potatoes and cook 7 minutes. Add cabbage and cook 1 more minute. Strain.

Combine potatoes and cabbage with pasta. Stir in 1/2 cup of the grated gruyère, parmesan, salt and pepper. Divide equally into 6 single-serving size ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup gruyère (or more!) over ramekins. Place into oven on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then broil for a couple of minutes until nicely browned. Serve.

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Meemalee


2011 saw a brave new world as MasterChef (aka MehsterChef) copied its Australian counterpart by installing a fancy piece of topiary and dragging out the already interminable extravaganza by showing us the previously untelevised audition stages.

Hopefuls prepared their top dish to win a place in the final 20 (twenty!), but the series began with a whimper as the best part of the show - the Invention Test - seemed to have been consigned to history. Where's the fun in watching people make the one dish they know by heart? Where's the creativity, the ingenuity?

Worse was the bizarrely humiliating format, as they were forced to wheel a tea-trolley of comestibles onto a stage and turn tricks for the gurning Gregg Wallace and John Torode. Hopes crushed, unsuccessful contenders wheeled their trolleys back off again under the eyes of their disappointed loved ones.

After two episodes of X-FactorChef, I got fed up and turned off - even the gruesome twosome blind-folding contestants and making them "feel their meat" failed to keep me hooked.

But then, but then, old habits die hard, and so I ended up tuning into the (three) finals. And it seemed that MasterChef might have got a bit good again. Despite the surreally uncomfortable sight of them cooking for John Torode's family, I rather enjoyed My Big Fat Bogan Wedding and the kangaroo ballsack challenge. And so .

This year's three finalists are 26 year old Tim Anderson, 31 year old Tom Whitaker and 40 year old (but much younger-looking) Sara Danesin Medio.

Overblown music accompanies a montage of their journey so far - I spy what looks like a pimped-up Kinder Bueno and note that the trophy is ten times sexier than it used to be (phwoar, granite).

"One of these three shall join these exceptional people" drones voiceover lady India Fisher and I'm chuffed to see my favourites in the front of the previous winners.

YORK! Padawan Sarah was tortured by fish by her father and grandfather until one day, traumatised, she split into three different people. The other two versions of her ran off to smoke and do naughty things, whilst she comforted herself with bowls of pasta. True love saved her in the form of Doctor David who forced her to learn English and earn her keep in a pub.

Now an ITU sister, her life is stressful, probably made more so by the female youngling in her house whose presence is never explained. As for cooking, her flavours have always been there, but it's not till recently that it's looked beautiful too. She once made an unpleasantly orange soup.

PUTNEY! Tom Hardy lookalike (growl) Tom was exposed to dangerous levels of food as a child. In an effort to cure this terrible affliction, he turned to SCIENCE which found him leading a dangerous double life - supermarket dentist by day and cheese warehouse DJ by night.

He then discovered an affinity for cooking which he honed after three years in Rome, although Italian ethos rather than cuisine is his style.

Lucy is the love of his life and they are soon to be married, despite the fact she didn't like him when they met. He once made a dish that looked like a turd and got dissed by a clown.

WHITECHAPEL! Tim's tale is intro'ed by Perpetuum Mobile, our really old friend (was used to intro Dhruv Baker last year - so that means Tim's won, right? RIGHT?).

Sweetly bespectabled Garth Algar lookalike Tim hails from Wisconsin, the home of that culinary treat known as deep-fried cheese curds.

I've been to Wisconsin. Everything he says is true. Barbecues rock Wisconsin-style and now I'm craving brats and butterburgers.

For no apparent reason, Blur's Country House is used to illustrate Tim travelling to LA and then on to Japan where he studied the art of noodle culture (I kid you not - this reminds me, a cousin once rang up my mum, a doctor, concerned that his love of instant ramen would cause him to develop "noodle face". My brother, also a doctor, had told him this was a genuine disease).


Tim also became a taiko drum master and met Laura, English lass and fellow matsuri lover, and got her drunk enough on beer and cheese that she brought him home with her to the Luxe to engage in a stilted conversation about mincemeat. He now sells beer and sketches excellent pictures. Dude rocks washoku and weird shit.

It's the Final Final Final and we're here in the new, improved and ridiculously cavernous studio!

As usual, John and Gregg begin to stalk the contestants to put them off their game and to issue random nonsense from their mouths.

"Polenta can often be crap, but Sara's Italian - she must be able to make it". Ah yes, John, because all English cooks can make Yorkshire puddings and all Indian cooks can make naan.

Tim's making "Burgers, noodles and British puddings". Gourmet Gregg is terribly worried that he'll end up with a bowl of "wet noodles", but can't wait to get his cock, sorry, spoon into the puddings (Food Urchin made me say that).

John's worried about a flavour clash, though excited by Tim's "Wah-GOO","GUY-oza" and "Shee-SHO" (he and the voiceover lady really need to look at FORVO).


Tom wants to win because he's never been the best at anything ever ever ever and is prepared to sacrifice a pig (and his finger) in order to see this through. And if that fails, the fried things, soft things and crispy things should do it.


    Pan-fried fillet of gurnard, octopus pease pudding and mollusc ragoût of whelks, winkles and razor clams


Pudding - and Gregg is over-excited about Tom's "moss flavoured custard". Carageen yeah? Just a seaweed version of gelatine (cf agar).
Anyway, Tom's elderflower jelly is unnerving me.


VERDICT: they'd book his restaurant in an instant.


    Chocolate ravioli stuffed with partridge and ricotta served with partridge demi-glace sauce, and beurre noisette with parmesan

John thinks the starter is beautiful and well-executed on every level Gregg loves the "meaty partridge as smooth as you like" and wants to give it a kiss.

Gregg is completely surprised by the main and didn't expect that combo of flavours. I guess he does eat at Harvester a lot.
The pudding is dreamy and refreshing for Gregg, but lacks a dimension for John.

VERDICT: this is restaurant quality food.


    Tri-City Sliders: The Los Angeles Slider of Wagyu Beef Tartare, Smoky Beer and Jalapeño Marmalade, Avocado and Butter Bean Mousse, The Tokyo Slider of Monkfish Liver, Umeboshi Ketchup, Jellied Ponzu, Matcha Mayonnaise, and The London Slider of Curried Lamb Cheeseburger, Apple and Ale Chutney, Raita Mayonnaise, all served on Beer Buns

-Style Pork Ramen with Pork Belly, Truffled Lobster Gyoza topped with Porcini crisps, Julienned Rhubarb and Spring Onion and served with Aromatic Oils and Pork Broth

Gregg is reduced to giggles by the radish highs of the starter and dubs Tim a clever old stick. John's not keen on the sweet curried lamb, but admits that that's his palate - mainly he's flabberghasted that Tim made everything from scratch in time, including the sour pickled plums. This astonishment carries through to the main and the pudding - it's inventive, delicious and incredible that he managed it all.

VERDICT: Tim says "That went better than expected". Bless you for your understatement.

So the three contestants leave the room, and John and Gregg froth at the mouth about what Tim, Tom and Sara have achieved. Gregg says "You could eat out every day for two months and still not experience food like that". I guess he does eat at Harvester a lot.

John's beside himself at Tom's ability to make nose-to-tail British food wonderful and sexy and by the fact that he exploded a pig in their honour, Gregg's orgasmic at Sara's chocolate ravioli and her Italian soul, and they're both overcome by Tim's chutzpah, quirkiness and talent.


But as well we know, there can be only one.

Strangely melancholy music plays as the three come back into the hangar-like studio and after the cliched dramatic pause .

Tim is announced as the worthy winner for making every one of John's senses tingle.

Incredulous, the young man steps up to get his trophy (with the words "You're kidding?" - yes, Tim - that really is the only prize).


"If you're gonna spew, spew into this"

And in an unexpected turn of events, instead of the traditional "shout into the mobile phone to say that they've won", Tim's wife Laura appears in person to congratulate her conquering hero.


Olivo Eatery at Cork Airport Hotel

We believe in simple, good food. Our authentic Italian dishes are loved by guests, both local and international. We prepare every dish using the finest locally sourced ingredients, selected daily from local Cork suppliers. At Olivo, you can enjoy homemade Italian recipes and great service in our comforting surroundings.

KIDS MENU

Our toughest customers are our little tots. That’s why we have created the perfect kids’ menu to satisfy even the fussiest or eaters. To keep them entertained, your little ones can enjoy our activity packs too, simply ask a member of our team, and we’d be happy to provide them to you.

OPENING HOURS:

Olivo is open daily from 7am – 11.30pm
Dinner is served until 10pm
Breakfast is served until 10am Mon-Fri and 10.30am Sat & Sun.

ITALIAN PIZZA IN CORK

Our delicious Italian pizzas are loved locally. We make the tastiest, handcrafted, authentic fresh pizzas, cooked to perfection in our special stone pizza oven. All of our ingredients are locally sourced and freshly prepared to make sure you get a slice of pizza perfection with a taste of Cork.

If you have any special dietary needs, please let us know in advance or let your server know so they can guide your choices and we will be happy to accommodate you.

Olivo is delighted to announce we now accept payments made with Apple Pay (limit of €30 per transaction).


Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches

My husband ordered the ice cream sandwiches for dessert, which were two MAMMOTH sized ice cream sandwiches. I can't believe it's taken me this long to realize that my husband (who likes everything cold - I find potato chips in the refrigerator - don't ask) would love ice cream sandwiches. And of course, after not having had one for a long time and tasting a bite, my love was renewed. I decided to create a similar, scaled down mini sandwich, just big enough to nip that after dinner "I need something sweet" feeling, but small enough not to destroy your healthy eating resolution! I tinkered with a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe to optimize the consistency of these cookies with the ice cream - they're a more cake-y cookie. Maybe a mini ice cream whoopie is a more accurate description? The airy texture of these cookies is due to greek yogurt - see here for a substitution chart, and more greek yogurt recipes here, here, and here).

Maybe a mini ice cream whoopie is a more accurate description?

7. Bake for 5-7 minutes until tops are very slightly golden brown - watch carefully to make sure these little guys don't burn!


My cookbook challenge! (long. )

Like many people on this board, I've developed a bit of a cookbook buying addition. Despite my habit, I was always an improvisational cook, preferring to grab a bit of this and that.

One day I found myself reaching for the same set of spices, trying to coax a new creative way to experiment with mace. I felt uninspired, grabbed a cookbook, and decided that I wanted to refine my technique by cooking at least one dish from every book I owned.

I imposed a soft deadline and set out on a many month challenge that concluded with a spectacular lobster bouillabaisse from the Morimoto Cookbook. Along the way, I tortured my wife, as it was all I talked about - strategy, what I was making that weekend, and how she was going to have to suck it up when I finally cooked from the two Rachel Ray cookbooks that were given to me as a gift.

The vast majority of the dishes were solid, a bunch exceptional and a few almost warranted a call to the local pizza place. The real fun was in discovering unexpected gems, such as the Morton's Cookbook black bean soup (an incredible version of my favorite soup,) which I picked up at a restaurant opening function, as well as scratching a bunch of dishes of my bucket list, like the above-mentioned bouillabaisse.

I am not expecting anyone to read the entire list, but I listed all the recipe titles and thoughts on the individual books (but not actual recipes given Chow rules.) I'm happy to share privately if anyone wants info a specific dish!

Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking - Lobster Bouillabaisse (my favorite dish of the bunch, which led me to a new obsession for Gochujang, a fiery Korean chili paste.)

Barbara Lynch: Stir - Ham and cheese puff pastry bites with honey mustard Slow roasted clams with spicy tomato sauce Butcher Shop Bolognese Linguini with spicy clam sauce Torn pasta fagioli with shrimp polpettini Rigatoni with spicy shrimp and cannellini beans Spicy clam stew Pan fried cod with chorizo and clam ragout Saffron steamed mussels with crème freche Pork chops with caramelized apples, celery and spiced walnuts (My favorite cookbook, with the shrimp polpettini, rigatoni and pork chops standing out.)

Jody Adams: In The Hands Of A Chef – Monkish and Clam Bourride (soulful dish and my first homemade tapenade, inspired by my pain-in-the-*** brother-in-law, who upon a suggestion of a meal of rack of lamb, stated by lamb, if I meant local fish and clams, brilliant!)

Patricia Green: Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood – Quinoa Bean salad (I’m all about healthy grains for lunch and love this filling and flavorful protein-packed salad.)

Jacques Pepin: Essential Pepin - Zucchini and tomato gratin (glorious side dish from Jacques.)

Grace Young: Stir Frying To The Sky's Edge – Hong Kong style mango ginger chicken, Cashew chicken (both flavorful dishes.)

Tyler Florence: Tyler’s Ultimate – Hunter Minestrone, Peach barbecue chicken (the soup is a classic in my house, and the peach BBQ sauce is a go to as well.)

Mario Batali: Molto Mario – Mussels in a spicy saffron broth

Donald Link: Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana – Old school chicken and sausage jambalaya spicy sausage stuffed chicken thighs, Post-K Meatloaf, Lake Charles Dirty Rice (amazing book, with the jambalaya and meatloaf among my new favorite dishes. I need to visit Link's restaurants.)

Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc At Home - Crispy braised chicken thighs with olive, lemon and fennel Pomegranate glazed quail Meatballs with pappardelle Herb crusted rack of lamb with honey mustard glaze Lentil and sweet potato soup (Love everything save the quail. Chicken thighs are so moist and tender, and the rack of lamb is decadent.)

Marissa Guggiana: Primal Cuts: Cooking with America's Best Butchers -Armenian lamb shish kabob Braised chicken thighs in rosemary jus (nifty book with a number of interesting dishes from top butchers and chefs. Loved both dishes.)

Clara Silverstein: The Boston Chefs Table (compendium of recipes from Boston chefs) - Coffee marinated rack of lamb with corn salad and espresso vinaigrette (the lamb was ok but the corn salad was a real knockout.)

Ming Tsai: Simply Ming - Scallion crusted cod with mango salsa (now in regular rotation and finally got my wife to embrace cod. The salsa packs a nice punch!)

Jay Harlow: Williams Sonoma Seafood - Salmon in parchment - (Not sure if I'd make this again, but cooking fish en papillote was a new technique for me.)

Stéphane Reynaud: Pork and sons -Grandma Babke's roast pork (didn't love the pork, but looking forward to diving into this book come winter.)

Klaus Fritsch: Morton's The Cookbook - Black bean soup (I'm obsessed with soup, and black bean is one of my favorites. I love the depth and smoky flavors in this version.)

David Chang: Momofuku - Ginger scallion noodles (These noodles are mildly addictive. The first few bites, you wonder what the hype is all about and then you look down and realize that nearly all the noodles are gone.)

Bobby Cooks American - New Mexico style soft tacos with hacked chicken and salsa verde (great easy weeknight dish. Love the heat from the fresh chilis.)

Nigella Lawson: Feast - Pasta primavera (why did I buy this book?)

Anna Sortun: Spice - Beet tzatziki (OK, I cheated by not cooking a main dish, but the tzatziki was remarkable, just like her two restaurants.)

Claudia Roden: Arabesque - Bulgar and chickpea salad (I need to explore this book in greater detail. I eat this for lunch several times a month.)

Jacques Pepin: Complete Techniques - poached egg (Yes, I made a poached egg, but I never had done so before, and it's my challenge.) Are you really still reading.

Fergus Henderson: The Whole Beast - Mussels grilled on barbecue. (Nice dish, not loving the cookbook.)

Ferran Adria: The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adria - Caramelized pears – (thought the book was a bit too simple for my tastes - my one dessert of the bunch.)

Tess Mallos: North African Cooking - Grille Moroccan spiced chicken (remarkable whole chicken with so much flavor! My 2 year old gobbles this up and calls it Daddy Chicken.)

The Essential Cookbook - Cuban black beans and rice (my wife had this book. We are now giving it away.) Next.

Rachel Ray: 2,4,6,8 - Veggie chickpea and couscous salad with yogurt dressing (next.)

Rachel Ray: 30 Minute Meals - ginger soy chicken (yummo, uh, no. Next.)

Cook's Illustrated: The Best New Recipes - Hoisin Ginger shrimp with sticky rice (surprisingly good and simple weeknight meal - includes several possible iterations of each dish.)

Ming Tsai: Blue Ginger - Teriyaki salmon with mirin cucumber salad (Liked the salad, but a bit of a dated dish.)

Teresa Barrenechea: The Basque table - Pureed mixed vegetable soup (simple and light, but surprisingly addictive, just doesn't freeze well.)

Cook's Illustrated: The Best Light Recipes - Soy glazed salmon and rice bake with mushrooms and bok choy (nice, clean weeknight dish.)

Charleston Cooks: Taste Of the Low Country - Shrimp and cheddar grits with homemade shrimp stock (intensely flavorful version from this beautiful kitchen shop owned by the Maverick Restaurant Group in Charleston.)

Biba Caggiano: Biba's Italy - Pan fried sausage and broccoli rabe with orecchiette (free book, largely uninspiring. Solid dish but not likely to repeat.)

Sondra Bernstein: The Girl and The Fig Cookbook - Asparagus and English pea soup with pistachio butter, Carrot Ginger Soup (the asparagus is light and perfect for spring. )

Donald Barickman: Magnolias: Authentic Southern Cuisine - Mac and cheese. (My arteries hated me and I might have grabbed fat kid sweatpants after eating this, but wow this was good.)

Rick Bayless: Mexican Everyday: Chipotle shrimp and meatballs Mushroom Crema soup, tomatillo enchiladas, classic enchiladas, red chili chicken, luxurious guacamole and multiple salsas. (I have a man crush on Bayless. Everything was great save the soup. The tomatillo enchiladas made me buy another Bayless cookbook and the guacamole is insanely good.)

Rick Bayless: One Plate At A Time – Grilled Salmon Vera Cruz with Lemon and Thyme scented salsa (exceptional dish with a flavor profile that was unlike any other Mexican dish I’ve had to date. The flavors were distinctly Mediterranean but fiery from the pickled jalapenos. Man crush confirmed.)

Keith McNally: The Balthazar Cookbook -Potage St. Germaine mushroom soup striped bass with tomato and saffron glazed pork belly mustard crusted salmon with lentils and sweet garlic jus. (Wonderful cookbook from the once beloved and now touristy restaurant. Everything is worth cooking again, especially the lentils.)

Adam Perry Lang: Serious BBQ - Asian Pork Meatball Skewers (labor intensive dish with sauce and glaze, but seriously flavorful. I can’t wait to make his paella on the grill!)

Stephanie Izard - Girl & The Goat Cookbook: Truffled white asparagus soup manila clam and sausage linguini with horseradish crème freche apple pork ragu with pappardelle (all wonderful, with the ragu exemplifying Izard’s ability to meld numerous delicate flavors.)

Giada: Giada's Family Dinners - Italian wedding soup broccoli florets with Meyer lemon olive penne with sausage, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes. (Simple but solid weeknight food.)

Giada: Everyday Italian - Farfalle with turkey sausage, peas and mushrooms (see above.)

Tom Colicchio: Think Like a Chef - Clam ragout with pancetta roasted tomatoes and mustard greens polenta gratin with mushroom bolognese (the clam dish was way too salty but loved the polenta gratin.)

Daniel Holzman: The Meatball Shop Cookbook – Lamb Meatballs, Mediterranean Style (One of my friends ate 10+ of these in one sitting. OK, that was me. Can’t wait to dig deeper into this book.)

Marcella Kazan: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking - The Bolognese (best version I’ve made, courtesy the Julia Child of Italian cooking.)

Jean-Georges: Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges: Roast chicken with chunky miso and grapefruit (remarkable dish with incredible complexity from such diverse ingredients.)

Bobby Flay - Mesa Grill Cookbook : red chili honey glazed salmon with black bean sauce and jalapeño crema (exceptional dish, with the black beans being the real star.)

Bobby Flay: Boy Meets Grill - Red chili citrus marinated chicken breasts with grilled tortillas and avocado tomatillo sauce Jerked chicken with mango cilantro relish (both a bit flat)

Various: The 150 Best American recipes - Roasted mushroom-leek soup with crispy pancetta (hated it.)

Jonathan Waxman: A Great American Cook: warm sweet onion tart, asparagus with oranges and hazelnuts, corn soup with saffron (tart was very rich and wonderful.)

Penelope Casas - Tapas : Gambas al ajillo, Tortilla de Espanola (great versions of Spanish classics.)

Dean & Deluca - Classic minestrone (phenomenal, chunky version of my favorite soup.)

New Basics Cookbook - Nutty quinoa salad (meh)

Ellie Krieger : The Food You Crave - Lemon chicken soup with orzo Penne with roasted tomatoes, garlic and white beans Balsamic chicken with baby spinach and couscous Sesame teriyaki chicken thighs Maple mustard chicken thighs Jerk chicken with cool pineapple salsa Roasted salmon with shallot grapefruit sauce Baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta Scallops with succotash (Wonderful healthy weeknight cookbook. Simple but flavorful dishes, most repeated multiple times.)

Ellie Krieger: So Easy - Chicken mushroom quesadillas garlic basil shrimp salmon with chickpea Ragu roasted tomato and black bean soup with avocado mango salad (simple but clean dishes, all repeated save the salmon.)

Ina Garten: Barefoot Contessa Cookbook - Gazpacho lentil vegetable soup, Rosemary white bean soup (My go to gazpacho and lentil recipes.)

Ina Garten: Barefoot Contessa Parties - butternut squash and apple soup (love her version.)

This has been a wonderful experience in that I tried and learned how to cook so many new dishes. I'm already pondering new ways to push myself in the kitchen! Thanks for reading.


Redbird sets a divine scene at St. Vibiana’s in downtown L.A.

Redbird may be the most anticipated Los Angeles restaurant of the current decade, a venture involving the city’s highest-profile food entrepreneur at the moment, an actual deconsecrated cathedral and a chef for whom greatness has lain just out of reach for more than a decade. No local restaurant has ever taken quite so long to open no spit-grilled lamb belly with kumquats and Aleppo pepper has ever taken quite so long to reach the plate.

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FOR THE RECORD:

Redbird review: In the April 4 Saturday section, a restaurant review of Redbird misspelled the first name of pastry chef Jashmine Corpuz as Jazmine. —
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How long? In the time elapsed between the announcement of the restaurant and the opening last December, Redbird’s corner of downtown gentrified from gamy slum to shiny urban showcase — that fragrance on Main Street now is probably night-blooming jasmine, and the neighborhood is no longer inhospitable to gemelli pasta with rapini and braised goat. Neal Fraser, whose former restaurant Grace was considered among the city’s couple dozen best, still had his casual restaurant BLD and a hot dog stand in the Original Farmers Market, but his detailed, locavore neo-French cooking was unknown to an entire generation of diners.

Even the former St. Vibiana’s had become better known as a high-rent event space than as the former center of Roman Catholicism in Southern California. Cardinals had lived there! (Thus Redbird’s name.) The massive door behind the host stand had been donated to St. Vibiana’s by a pope. But if you were on the festival circuit in the last few years, Vibiana’s was where you went for fancy pancake breakfasts, hog roasts, beefsteak dinners and celebrations of Mexican cuisine. It was not a good idea in those years to ask Fraser or his wife, Amy Knoll Fraser, about the restaurant, which, as the movie guys say, was caught in development hell.

But here we are, walking up the steps to the former rectory, passing through a softly glowing cocktail lounge and into a former patio, newly crowned with a retractable roof. From some angles, you can see bits of the former cathedral interior through the big glass windows — at night, the changing colored lights give the nave the look of a James Turrell installation. A locomotive-size grill chugs at one end of the dining room. The former apartments of the rectory, recently converted into private dining areas, soar overhead. And more than at any Los Angeles restaurant since Rex or the first decade of Campanile, you feel as if you are part of something bigger than yourself, a hungry, chattering component of a grand pleasure machine — even before the 32-ounce porterhouse shows up.

And while the cooking isn’t quite a throwback to the big California restaurants of the 1980s and 1990s, it does kind of look back to those times. When you sit down, you are greeted with what the waiters call an “amuse booze,’' a tiny, bitters-infused aperitif that recalls the Road Kill shots Fred Eric used to serve at his old Vida. The Dungeness crab soup, flavored to recall the chicken-coconut soup tom kha kai, is the kind of thing you might have seen at the mid-'90s restaurant Boxer, where you also might have seen a young Fraser on the line in his CIA baseball cap. Fraser likes smoke, chiles and farmers market vegetables lingering tartness and mild funkiness odd cross-cultural flavors like sumac, lemon grass and yuzu kosho little crunchy things and lots of salt. If you accompanied him to a Japanese izakaya, you would probably let him order.

His menu includes reminiscences of the tapas era (grilled spice-rubbed octopus tentacles with fava beans), the Yotam Ottolenghi fixation (that grilled lamb belly with spiced yogurt), modernist gastronomy (uni with chewy half-dried shrimp and a mystifying wasabi snow), farmers market obsession (tiny gnochetti pasta with nettles, lobster and luscious tomato confit) and the urban rustic Italian thing (fennel-scented “rabbitchetta’’ with polenta and pea tendrils). As might be expected from a Cochon 555 winner, Fraser takes a swing at Big Pig, and his pink, juicy rack of heritage red wattle pork is delicious, served on a jumble of hazelnuts, chewy spaetzle, artichokes and a blood-fortified Calvados reduction that kind of out-Portlands everything in Oregon.

So you bolster yourself with a truly good cocktail (Julian Cox, ubiquitous at Bill Chait restaurants, designed the list around favorites from century-old cocktail manuals), perhaps gin with ruddy house-made tonic or an embittered sake infusion called Little Tokyo. You choose a modestly priced Romorantin or a Jurassic Poulsard from the eclectic, well-chosen wine list. And you order — kind of small sharing plates, yet kind of not, in that pleasantly confusing jumble that has become more or less standard.

There are roasted shishito peppers dusted with salty, shaved dried fish eggs thick slabs of headcheese with figs on crisp slivers of toast fried marbles of smoked pork shank glued to the plate with the Spanish pepper sauce romesco and a vegetable “crudo,’' which is to say raw bits of asparagus, radish, greens and blossoms ballasted with a spring garlic purée.

The thyme-scented chicken pot pie, served under a pastry dome in a little pot, is delicate and spring-like, slivers of dark meat simmered with vegetables and chewy nuggets of heart. Deep-flavored pozole is even better than you’d think it might be, thick, spicy and powered by hominy funk, garnished with tiny wisps of fried tortilla and a big hunk of gooey braised pork belly. (A bowl of Fraser’s pozole and a shot of mezcal would make a perfect pre-clubbing snack.)

Is Fraser’s food occasionally forgettable? Of course. King salmon with beets is king salmon with beets, no matter how expertly cooked the fish, and it is easy to forget how dull a fish John Dory really is until you experience it with coins of actually tasty blood sausage. Soft, nutty slices of aged duck breast, a French technique starting to come back here, are overwhelmed by a slightly clumsy bed of Southern beans-and-rice hoppin’ John — let me take that back: The clumsiness here actually works as an aesthetic.

But the smoked tofu entrée is the surprise hit of the restaurant, as soft as the freshly made tofu in Korean soondubu parlors but as redolent of the pit as Texas brisket — I never in my life thought I’d find myself praising barbecued tofu. And if the chef is going to name something after himself, it may as well be Veal Fraser: a massive chop topped with braised veal cheeks, plopped on an intense red-wine demi-glace and served with a great mound of schmutz — the odd shredded bits of roast that Creole chefs call “debris’’ — enhanced with chewy nubs of snail. It’s an almost classical dish that presents all the layers of the food chain at once.

Jashmine Corpuz, the pastry chef, has a love for savory flavors and unusual presentations, such as meringue-light liquid nitrogen ice cream with tangerines, an odd strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with pungent pink peppercorn ice cream, and a crème Catalan with an oddly balanced mint taste that might remind you of boutique toothpaste. Lately, I’ve been fixated on the black walnut cake, which probably shouldn’t count as dessert at all. The cake is musty, kind of grandmother’s-attic musty, as black walnuts tend to be. There’s a hunk of ale-poached pear as a smidge of token sweetness and a quenelle of an improbable ice cream made with the gamy, stinky goat cheese Humboldt Fog. How does it hold together? Through the force of sheer will.


Watch the video: SUPER CREAMY Italian Polenta Recipe (August 2022).