Little Things Mean a Lot

I was thinking the other morning, as I was writing out a recipe for this blog, about how I often use qualifiers when listing ingredients. For example, rather than saying, “1 tbsp. butter,” I will say, “1 tbsp. fresh sweet cream butter.” Or instead of “salt,” I will recommend “flaky sea salt, such as Maldon.”

Gorgeous pyramid crystals of Maldon salt

Gorgeous pyramid crystals of Maldon salt

It’s because little differences in ingredients can mean a lot. Especially in simple dishes that utilize only a few ingredients. More

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Fab Fabada!

Our friends, Dan and Nonie, spent part of last summer in Spain. (Or was it the summer before? Time flies…) Good friends that they are, they were thinking of us as they browsed that wonderful country’s grocery stores and open markets. And they brought us back a large shrink-wrapped plastic package containing dried white beans and several pork products — fabada Asturiana.

Beans, salt pork & blood sausage on the stove

Beans, salt pork & blood sausage on the stove

They bought one for themselves as well, and invited us over to sample it. They threw everything into a pot of water, covered it, and let it simmer for a few hours until the beans had assumed the orange of pimentón from the chorizo and general porkiness from that and the morcilla blood sausage and salt pork also included in the package. More

The Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever. Plus, Tacos de Papa!

Breakfast potatoes — hash browns, if you prefer — have forever been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve always been able to make passable potatoes, better if I added a bit of duck fat or lard. But that was kind of cheating. And they were still never as good as those little oblong potato pucks at McDonalds.

But try enough different things and every once in a while you stumble on something really good by accident. That’s how I came to discover the best breakfast potatoes ever. (Note: If you have leftover potatoes, this preparation also works beautifully for the traditional tacos de papa — potato tacos — of Mexico City. I’ve included a recipe for these below the potato recipe.) More

In the Burger Lab

I like entering contests of skill. I won a big Le Creuset dutch oven recently in a contest where I had to write a semi-autobiographical essay about my childhood memories and how Le Creuset fit warmly into them. (There must’ve been one somewhere in my childhood, right? Anyway…) A recent item caught my eye in the Los Angeles Times food section: Best Burger Contest.

My entry in the Best Burger Contest — the Chorizo burger with Manchego, caramelized fennel and spicy sweet pimenton aioli

My go-to burger is sort of a knock-off of the now-famous burger from my old neighborhood dive bar, Father’s Office: thick medium-rare burgers, blue cheese, caramelized onions, bacon and arugula. I figured two thirds of the recipes submitted to the contest were going to be some variation on that theme, so I decided to enter the Burger Lab (my kitchen) and get to work on coming up with something utterly original, and unbeatably delicious. More

I Believe in the Bean

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that I’m a big fan of beans.

I like all kinds of beans — soupy black beans with garlicky, citrussy Cuban food (that’s the next post, so stay tuned), earthy borlotti beans from Italy (see two posts back), big meaty faba Asturiana beans from Spain, delicate and floral flageolets from France, fermented Chinese black beans, edamame, Mexican pinto beans…

Today I’m writing — or actually talking — about cannellini beans. In the following video, I’ve cooked a pot of these versatile beans, and prepared them four different ways… so you get an idea of how easy they are to make, and how many different things you can do with them. Of these four preparations, I’ve created two in an Italian style, one Spanish and one French. All take no more than a few minutes to make, once you’ve actually cooked the beans. You can even cook a big batch of beans and keep them in the fridge for a week or so, and make different bean dishes on different nights. Enjoy!