The hubbie and I have had a couple of wonderful, lavish weekends lately and now it’s time to tighten our belts to stay in budget for the month. No biggie, but it does inspire me to cook the sale. That is, plan my meals around the grocery store specials. I was reviewing the Central Market flyer and realized that they have all the makings for excellent fish tacos on sales this week. To snatch fresh tortillas from the bakery (2 for $3) or Hawaiian Albacore Tuna for $11 per pound, get their before the sale ends today. (I know. Short notice, but at least I’m writing.) Read More
I have a little game I sometimes play before dinner. I imagine a place, a lovely place I’ve probably never been, and then plan a meal to go with my vision of that far-off, vacation destination. Today, I invite you to play with me. To get started, take a moment and check out this gorgeous slideshow of images from Greece. Now, close your eyes and breath deeply for a while while you think of the ocean, the smell of salt in the air, the warm winds on your skin…
I can’t take the credit for finding this wonderful Greek-Style Mahi Mahi recipe (thanks Kirk!) but it fits perfectly into my game. Originally published in Gourmet last year, it’s very simple to make and boasts dramatic, rich flavors. While most Greek Mahi Mahi recipes I’ve found call for Kalamata olives to add the Mediterranean punch to the dish, this one focuses on rich, salty feta. This is made into a simple aioli that is smeared atop the fish prior to cooking under the broiler for a mere 15 minutes. The resulting tangy dish is stupendously good. Read More
In 2004, Food and Wine published an article about superstar chef Mario Batali’s kitchen reno. Of course, I love a good home make over, but what I loved even more was the very soft polenta with rock shrimp ragout recipe published alongside descriptions of Batali’s fridge placement and countertop choices. The rock shrimp are lovely, but the true appeal of this dish is definitely the polenta. Here’s how F&W sums it up:
This is Batali’s variation on a classic dish from the coastal villages outside of Trieste, where the fresh seafood is among the most prized in the world. The polenta that accompanies the shrimp must be very soft, almost saucelike. “Thick, lumpy polenta is criminal in that part of Italy, and justly so,” Batali says.
Truthfully, I imagine poorly prepared polenta is nearly criminal anywhere, but especially in Italy. Sure, we most often think of pasta and pizza when we think of the small boot-shaped nation, but “Italian grits” have a prominent role in Italian cooking throughout the country. The medium to coarsely ground cornmeal has its roots in the region long before Italy was united. Read More
Niçoise Salad is a lot like jambalaya in that there are endless variations and much quibbling over the “right” way to make the dish. These two contrasting foods also share deep geographical roots. As jambalaya hails from Louisiana (and exact manifestations vary depending upon where in Louisiana) so Niçoise salad has its roots in Côte d’Azur, better known as the French Riviera.
Sadly, I’ve never been. But if I close my eyes and breath just right while I chew a bite of Niçoise Salad, I can imagine the sound of the ocean and the warmth of the sunshine. Of course, I might not be eating the “right” salad. The UK’s darling periodical the Guardian once gave significant column inches to hash out the best ingredient list for the perfect version. It also noted that the ideal is probably just out of grasp:
Of course none of them will quite match up to the perfect salade niçoise you had on holiday a few summers back, your table set under a white parasol just a couple of steps from the beach. You were tanned, your shoulders sparkled with sand and you had the quietly smug smile of someone who has had sex three times in the last 24 hours. Sadly, there is no seasoning quite so tasty as nostalgia.