Archive for the ‘Recipe’ Category

White Salad

January 8, 2011

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Usually around the first or second week of December, the lettuce farmers in Eastern Washington would stop bringing the greens we needed for the Dahlia’s mixed green salad. This change signaled the change of seasons, but also for us, the return of the white salad. Regulars at the Dahlia would come back just to order this tasty mix of readily available sturdy winter vegetables with a dressing of heavy truffle oil,salty parmesan and tangy lemon juice.

I personally love this salad because the vegetables are hardy enough to sit in a salad bowl at the table without going limp and droopy like a salad of leafy greens tends to do. The greatness of the salad rests largely on the white truffle oil and finding a great white truffle can sometimes be difficult.

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“Making America Proud”

December 12, 2010

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At a recent dinner a Frenchman leaned over to me and said, “you have made America proud with this dish!” The extolled dish was our rehashing of an American classic, the baked potato.

As we saw it, the perfect baked potato had six essential elements; potato, bacon, broccoli, chives, sour cream and cheese. Each of these six components served a specific function in the overall success of a dish; potato for neutral volume, bacon for salt, broccoli for refreshing bite, chives for cleansing, sour cream for tang and cheese another form of salt and a somewhat unctuous mouthfeel.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

September 14, 2010

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I have tried to shy away from frying things. It isn’t the health concerns that I fear. It isn’t the danger of oil fires either. It’s simply that when you fry even the smallest thing in your home it makes your place smell like McDonalds for days afterwards.

That being said, as an American I can only go so long before the siren song of ultra crispy crust and moist and juicy meat gets me dusting off our fryer or heavy bottomed pan and filling it with liters of oil.

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Carnitas and Tequila Red Onions

August 23, 2010

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For as much as I love the cuisine and the culture, I have only been to Mexico once. It was my sophomore year of college and a friend’s parents were invited to stay in a suite at the newly built Aqua for it’s opening week. When the Mexican tourism board offered them a second suite for the week, we eagerly agreed to join in as guinea pigs.

On our first night in Mexico we took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the hotel’s signature restaurant, MB, opened by Miami chef Michelle Bernstein. Just after the ribbons fell, we were handed bright blue and yellow cocktails and encouraged to float in the pool, lounge on the outdoor beds and nibble on chef Bernsteins’ bite-sized canapes that were being passed pool side. Sipping spicy green gazpacho, eating grilled stuffed chili peppers and watching the pool water cascade into the seemingly never ending horizon of the Caribbean Sea, it was hard to imagine wanting to be anywhere else.

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Smoking with Frenchie

July 26, 2010

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He had me at hello. No seriously, I speak French like sling blade, so when Greg Marchand the chef at Frenchie in Paris said “Hello” in English, I was smitten. The meal that followed that night was one of the best examples of ingredient love and technique restraint that’s quite frankly hard to find in Paris. We started with the smoked trout, a mesquite smoked filet served over avocado puree with pickles and dill. Our main course was a pleasantly salty roasted fork tender pork over cranberry beans, with favas and baby carrots both sweet and still slightly crunchy. Dessert was a milky panna cotta just barely set and served with red fruit coulis and a topping of fresh raspberries.

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Flour, Water, Flames & Child Labor

July 14, 2010

Recently Laura’s nephew S was asleep in his car seat when his mother pulled into a gas station here in MN. Beside the gas station was one of those tall steel lattice electrical towers. As S slowly started waking up, he looked out the window and with wide eyes said “are we in Paris?”

While S and his younger brother L are still both too young to come visit us in Paris, it hasn’t stopped us from teasing their interest by showing them picture books of the Eiffel Tower, watching Ratatouille and explaining the sail boats and trampolines of the Tuileries gardens.

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Buttermilk Corn Bread and Yellow Tomato Jam

July 7, 2010

This past week has been a whirlwind. It all started with a bus to the airport, followed by 3500 miles on a plane next to some curmudgeon who complained about Tatie, 5 hours stuck in Boston rush hour traffic, 2 days in New Hampshire where I seem to have developed some nasty adult allergies, 600 mg of diphenhydramine, 36 hours of feeling like a puffy-eyed and snot filled zombie, $50 of additional checked bag fees, 1500 miles on a plane to MN, 1/2 lb of grass-fed steak off the grill, 2 ears of first of the season MN corn and 1 day to prepare for a 4th of July party with 42 people in attendance.

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Francesco’s sugo al pomodoro

May 14, 2010

We poured flour onto the wooden counter and formed a well in the center. We cracked three eggs into the middle of the well and scrambled the eggs with a fork. We then kneaded the flour and eggs for 10 minutes into a smooth dough, and wrapped the ball of dough in plastic wrap to rest for 30 minutes. It occurred to me that this was the perfect time to ask Francesco, a true Italian, why Italian’s refer to this pasta making process as “like making love to a woman”? He looked at me, somewhat surprised, and said in his deep Italian accented English “well, I think it’s obvious.”

Francesco’s Italian eatery, Olio Pane Vino, has been open for a few years now. In the dozens of times we have eaten there, the daily chalkboard menu has listed the same pasta dish only three or four times. “Did you learn to cook from your grandmother?” I asked him once. “No, I left my home in Sicily when I was very young”, he recalled. “I was broke and had to learn to cook whatever I could afford, whatever I could find.” Now Francesco spends his time finding and importing to France great Italian products. Recently I had an Amatriciana type sauce made with a spicy sausage from Sicily. “The guy makes it in Sicily then drives around Italy in his tiny van selling it.” “I convinced him to come to Paris so I could buy some.” The sauce was delicious, smokey and spicy with hints of paprika.

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Mayo and Green Goddess

April 20, 2010

Recently I dropped my yolks into the blender, turned on the blade and started to drizzle sunflower oil drop by drop. 10 minutes later instead of delicious creamy mayo, I had swirly egg oil, yuck. I dumped everything out, grabbed four more eggs and started over. 10 minutes later, the same results. I hurled the bowl, stitched together a series of expletives that would make Christian Bale proud and went to my room to play a couple games of MW2.

Calmed by gunning down some people online, I returned to the kitchen and started over. 10 minutes later I had perfectly thick and absolutely delicious mayo in the blender. I still have no idea what happened, but I am guessing it had something to do with the membrane on the yolks being thin (I used 4 more eggs from a different box).

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Strawberry Shiso Sorbet

April 18, 2010


image courtesy of Nicholas Calcott

What a treat to arrive back in Paris and have the markets be full of lush, juicy strawberries. Seeing the berries always inspires me to make some extravagant strawberry dessert. But, applying heat seems to pollute the flavor and render them mushy and stingy. A good strawberry is best enjoyed with the simplest of preparations. Sorbet seemed like a natural thing to do, served with puff pastry, pastry cream and some fresh unadulterated Gariguettes. With a little Japanese inspiration, I added some shiso. The powerfully herbal and vegetal quality of shiso complements the berries beautifully.

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