You may have had shepherd’s pie before. Or maybe cottage pie. (Traditionally cottage pie is made with beef and shepherd’s with lamb.) There are several established variations, but they all hold at their core braised meat and creamy potatoes. 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.
With the start of Lent last week I find so many around me abstaining from meat, either every day until Easter or, as is more traditional among my Catholic friends, on Fridays. And, while I still think it a little odd this sacrifice doesn’t typically include fish (let alone chicken stock or beans made with ham hock) I recognize we each show reverence in our own way.
With this in mind, I’m adding a new offering for the Lenten season: Fish for Fridays. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider a wonderful vegetarian meal. But I eat seafood, usually a few times a week, and know how truly delicious it is. However, as this is the first of my Lenten series (and I didn’t even get it up on Friday), I will include an absolutely amazing vegetarian alternative. Read More