I’m at the stage in my life when the holiday traditions of my childhood are shifting. With three extended families and just a handful of holidays per year, it’s impossible to eat all of my favorite dishes with the people who make them best….
My dad and I made a plan last Thanksgiving to get together for an end-of-summer tomato canning adventure. Yes, you read that correctly: we were already thinking about preserving tomatoes before it was time to plant any….
Happy September, friends. It’s been weeks since I’ve been in touch, but I’ve been thinking about you and all of the stories I want to share with you.
The month of August was a busy and nostalgic one for me. My husband and I moved out of our apartment on the 31st, inspiring us to revisit and re-evaluate all of our “stuff” as we dug it up and decided whether it would make the journey to our new apartment.
Among this “stuff” were two pounds of pork liver, resting patiently in my freezer alongside a bag of pork fatback and another bag of pork loin. They were left over from a particular recipe I’d planned to share with you almost a year and a half prior: a meaty pork and pork-liver pâté baked in brioche dough. I’d taken photos and everything—only I let season after season slip on by without ever posting the recipe.
To give you a little backstory, I’m a huge appreciator of old, lengthy recipes. I like recipes that I can really get into—especially ones that take me to another time or place. This particular recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. It’s one of my favorite books to cook from because the dishes feel so different from anything I would normally put on my weeknight dinner table. Its recipes are a time capsule of 1960’s French cooking and entertaining, where you and your guests could easily spend as much time enjoying your fancy meal as you did preparing it. It’s a romantic idea that I find both fascinating and comforting—so if I’m in the mood to slow down and celebrate a little, there’s a good chance I’ll be cooking from one of Julia Child and Simone Beck’s encyclopedias….
Welcome to the fourth entry in my Remembering India series, where I share recipes, meals and adventures from my 2008 studies abroad. Today I share my recipe for chicken biryani, inspired by an unforgettable meal I ate on an overnight train from Mumbai to Goa.
You can find the story about this meal in the third installment of this series.
For 8 years I’ve been dreaming of a single serving of chicken biryani. I ate it from a tin on an overnight train—a setting I least expected for one of the best meals of my life.
Since that meal, I’ve eaten a lot of biryanis, hoping that I could relive those bites from the Konkan Kanya Express. Nothing has ever come close, so I’ve spent the last 6 months re-creating it at home.
Biryani is a special rice dish whose ingredients vary from region to region and family to family. There are lamb, chicken, vegetable and even fish biryanis—each one a distinct representation of the person in charge of making it. As someone from an Italian family, I have come to understand biryani the way I think about tomato sauce. Every cook has their own recipe, and they’re probably going to prefer the one they grew up eating.
Since I didn’t grow up eating biryani, my source of inspiration was this single dish from 8 years ago. I remembered that it was red-ish, juicy and unmixed—with bone-in chicken and flavorful white rice. As for the spices, I’d only recognize them by taste….
I know we never talked about a gift exchange, but it’s the holiday season and I just couldn’t resist making you something.
Every time I write a new post you come here and listen to my stories. You comment, you try my recipes, and you make me feel like a million bucks. So to thank you, I’ve made you a lasagna—a very special lasagna that helps you spend Christmas, New Year’s and Sunday Dinner out of the kitchen. What I mean is, you can make the entire dish ahead of time.
The lasagna is a beautiful silky stack of tender braised beef, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a creamy béchamel sauce that’s flavored with just a hint of garlic and rosemary. The flavors are simple and subtle—the sort of combination that says, “oh, hello, there!” in the classiest, most refined voice—a voice that never utters once that your beef was braised in the slow cooker one (or even two!) nights earlier. Or that the entire dish is nothing short of a pure mashup of cuisines, cooking styles and traditions. …
My world of meat is complicated. So complicated that I have three stories for you: a story about my kick-ass butcher; a story about my wishy-washy meat purchases; and a story about a tender, braised lamb’s neck that will hopefully inspire you to find a kick-ass butcher of your own.
Though I hope you stick around for the whole story, please be warned that this post is about butchery and includes photos that may be upsetting to a non-meat eater.
My Kick-Ass Butcher
I want to buy good-quality meat from animals that have been raised and slaughtered responsibly. Meat that is fresh and never frozen. Meat that is sold to me by people who know what they are doing, who do their best to use up an entire animal, and who teach me to think beyond steaks, chops and roasts.
My convictions and my execution are a bit muddy—but more on that later….
Friends, I’m getting married in a few days! In honor of this exciting occasion, I’m dedicating this post to my soon-to-be husband, Ben. Roast chicken is on the menu and I have a tale of love and Sunday Dinner for you….
Pizza rustica is a rich Italian pie of cured meats, fresh cheeses and eggs baked in a slightly sweet pastry crust known as pasta frolla. With about as many variations as Italian families, pizza rustica is traditionally eaten on Easter. In fairness to Marcella, I have modified some equipment and techniques to fit the available tools in my kitchen. Her original recipe is worth a read and can be found in her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.