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Quick Steamed Petrale Sole with Ginger-Garlic Mustard Greens

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This recipe we’ve had a couple of times, and it’s excellent. The original, by Melissa Clark, is here; the version below reflects my changes (one of which is to use Petrale sole in place of flounder, since I never see flounder here—ust be an East Coast fish).

1 tablespoon avocado oil (high smoke point) or olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, more for drizzling
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch-thick slice peeled fresh ginger root, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
2 bunches mustard greens, cleaned and chopped, including stems
1 tablespoon soy sauce, more for drizzling
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
1.5 pounds Dover sole (2 lbs is doable, but you have to cook it substantially longer)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oils in a large skillet. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mustard greens, soy sauce, fish sauce, and water, and sauté until greens are partially cooked, 10 minutes longer.

Spread greens out in pan. Season sole with salt and pepper, and place on top of greens. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium, and let fish steam until just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. If pan dries out before fish is cooked through, add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time. (That’s never been a problem)

Uncover pan and drizzle with a little sesame oil and soy sauce. Use a slotted spoon to transfer a section of the dish, fish and greens, to plates or bowls.

This good enough that we’ve repeated. The combination works very well.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2017 at 6:36 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

Barbecue: America’s most political food

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Lauren Collins writes in the New Yorker:

In February of 2015, Kathleen Purvis, the food editor of the Charlotte Observer, drove to Birmingham, Alabama, to attend Food Media South, an annual symposium. The keynote session, “Hey, You, Pitch Me Something,” was meant to be a friendly wind-down to a weekend of talks. Participants were invited to get up in front of the editor of the Web magazine the Bitter Southerner and, well, pitch him something.

There were several hundred people in the room. Purvis knew that in the name of politeness she should probably stay quiet, but she couldn’t resist the opportunity to “toss a good word grenade,” she recalled later, into a clubby crowd that she felt tended to overlook, along with chiffon cakes and canning, some of the most complicated questions about Southern cuisine. She raised her hand, and the editor nodded her way.

“Men are the new carpetbaggers of Southern food writing,” she said.

He replied, “Sold.”

The resulting essay argues that “the Southern food-writing world has been unduly influenced, usurped, yes, even invaded, by a barbecue-entranced, bourbon-preoccupied and pork belly-obsessed horde of mostly testosterone-fueled scribes,” who dwell on hackneyed tales of Southern eccentricity without developing “the clear-eyed vision” to see them in a contemporary light. The piece generated controversy, though not as much as Purvis’s investigation into the racial dimensions of the practice of putting sugar in corn bread. “Honest to God, I really hate that hokey-jokey Hey-us-Southerners-aren’t-we-cute stuff,” she told me. “I’ve always said that my beat is food and the meaning of life.”

Gamely, the organizers invited her to the conference the next year as a speaker. “I was getting ready to get up and talk,” Purvis said. “I was sitting there very quietly in a corner, and a woman came up to me and said, ‘So, is it O.K. to go back to the Piggie Park?’ ”

The woman was referring to Maurice’s Piggie Park, a small chain of barbecue restaurants, established in West Columbia, South Carolina, in 1953. The original restaurant occupies a barnlike building on a busy intersection and is presided over by a regionally famous electric marquee that features the boast “world’s best bar-b-q,” along with a grinning piglet named Little Joe. The Piggie Park is important in the history of barbecue, which is more or less the history of America. One reason is that its founder, Maurice Bessinger, popularized the yellow, mustard-based sauce that typifies the barbecue of South Carolina’s Midlands area. Another is that Bessinger was a white supremacist who, in 1968, went to the Supreme Court in an unsuccessful fight against desegregation, and, in 1974, ran a losing gubernatorial campaign, wearing a white suit and riding a white horse.

In 2000, when the Confederate flag was removed from the South Carolina statehouse dome, Bessinger raised Confederate flags over all his restaurants. (By then, there were nine.) A king-sheet-size version went up over the West Columbia location, where he had long distributed tracts alleging, for example, that “African slaves blessed the Lord for allowing them to be enslaved and sent to America.” He was a figure whose hate spawned contempt, leading a writer from the Charleston City Paper to fantasize about how “Satan and his minions would slather his body in mustard-based BBQ sauce before they dined.”

In 2007, Bessinger, who suffered from Alzheimer’s at the end of his life, handed the business over to his two sons, Paul and Lloyd, and a daughter, Debbie. In the months before his death, in 2014, they took down the flags and got rid of the slavery pamphlets. “Dad liked politics,” Lloyd, who serves as the public face of the operation, told a reporter. “That’s not something we’re interested in doing. We want to serve great barbecue.”

By the time the news reached Kathleen Purvis, she hadn’t eaten Bessinger’s barbecue in nearly three decades. She grew up in Wilson, North Carolina, where her father was an R.C. Cola salesman and barbecue sauce is made with vinegar. Early in her career, she’d become a fan of the Bessinger family’s line of packaged foods—“handy for a quick dinner when I was working nights”—but, she wrote, in an article in the Observer in December, “When I learned about Bessinger’s history, I stopped buying his products. I followed a simple policy on the Piggie Park: I didn’t go there. Ever.” During the flag scandal, thousands of South Carolinians made the same call, going cold turkey. “I first made Maurice’s acquaintance when I was a child,” the barbecue expert William McKinney wrote, on the Web site of the Southern Foodways Alliance. “His barbecue was sold in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. It would bubble up in our family’s oven, its orange sauce as vivid as a river of lava. My mother would pack his barbecue in my lunch bag routinely, and I ate those sandwiches all the way through high school, wrapped up in aluminum foil and still a touch warm once lunch time came around.” It was as though Jif peanut butter or Katz’s Deli had become irredeemably tainted.

The Piggie Park had bad vibes, but it retained a pull on the community. For barbecue obsessives, it held a special fascination as one of the few restaurants in the country to still cook entirely over hickory wood, using no electricity or gas. One prominent Columbia resident, a black man, told me that he was addicted to Bessinger’s sauce, but that he would never admit it in public. The regime shift, then, represented a touchy moment. Some people wanted to go only if things had changed (but, if they were going to go, they wanted to get there before things had changed too much). For others, no amount of change was ever going to mitigate the legacy of a man who had caused so much hurt. Even asking if it was O.K. to return was a form of blindness to that pain. “They could change the last name, redo the building, then dig the old man up . . . it still wouldn’t matter to those who continue to carry the ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentality,” a man named James Last, of Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote in response to Purvis’s article, prompting Durward White, of Katy, Texas, to reply, “Are you saying no matter how vile and disrespectful his actions were we should move on? People still can’t move on from Tom Brady and deflate gate and that was 3 years ago.”

Barbecue might be America’s most political food. The first significant reference to it that the barbecue scholar Robert F. Moss has been able to find is in “The Barbacue Feast: or, the three pigs of Peckham, broiled under an apple-tree,” an account of a 1706 banquet in Jamaica. The revellers were English colonists, but the pigs were “nicely cook’d after the West Indian manner”: whole, over coals, on long wooden spits on which they turned as a cook basted them in a spicy sauce (green Virginia pepper and Madeira wine), using a foxtail tied to a stick. Native Americans on the East Coast of North America used similar cooking techniques. But the main thing about barbecues is that they were social affairs, a day’s entertainment for the community. Between 1769 and 1774, George Washington attended at least six of them, he wrote in his diary, including “a Barbicue of my own giving at Accotinck.”

A whole hog can feed as many as a hundred people. Barbecues, often held on the Fourth of July, became overtly political in the nineteenth century. As Moss writes in “Barbecue: The History of an American Institution,” they were “the quintessential form of democratic public celebration, bringing together citizens from all stations to express and reaffirm their shared civic values.” They adhered to a ritualized format: parade, prayer, reading of the Declaration of Independence, oration, and dinner in a shady grove near a drinking spring, after which dignitaries gave a series of “regular” toasts (thirteen of them, on patriotic subjects), followed by “voluntary” toasts from the masses (thirty or forty, on issues ranging from local elections to the free navigation of the Mississippi, or whatever else happened to be the day’s concerns). Often, the festivities turned rowdy. If an antebellum politician had wanted to rile folks up about building a wall, he would have done it at a barbecue.

Before the Civil War, enslaved men often cooked these civic meals. They prepared their own feasts, too, either sanctioned by their owners or organized on the quiet. Much of the planning for the rebellions organized by Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner took place at barbecues. After emancipation, black men continued to be some of the country’s leading pit masters, catering enormous spreads that featured everything from barbecued hogs, shoats, chickens, and lambs to stuffed potatoes, stewed corn, cheese relish, puddings, coffee, and cigars. In 1909, the Times noted the death of a man born around 1865, on a plantation in Edgefield County, South Carolina. “Pickens Wells, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2017 at 7:18 am

Posted in Business, Food, Politics Vegan dinner recipes with option to get ingredients delivered

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The Purple Carrot site has a lot of interesting vegan recipes, and if you want, you can sign up for weekly delivery of appropriate ingredients for three meals—or you can just work from the recipes and do your own shopping. Mark Bittman joined them to help with recipe development, but has now left, though he still has some ownership stake in the company.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2017 at 6:26 pm

Lamb-neck stew

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Our supermarket had lamb neck in the markdown bin (and it is really inexpensive, given that it’s lamb—lots of bone, of course), and since I’d never had it, I couldn’t resist buying a 2-lb package. Before I cooked it, I had to go back to the same store to pick up a prescription, and found another lamb neck in the discount bin, so I got another 2-lb package. Total of $8 for the 4 pounds.

I haven’t cooked lamb neck before (or had it, for that matter), but obviously it would have to be a slow braise, in something acidic (to get nutrients from the collagen and bone). Tomatoes would work, but for some reason I wanted it to be light in color, not dark red. Plus we just had lasagna (skillet lasagna, very easy) and baked Greek shrimp with tomatoes and feta, so I wanted a tomato break.

I’ve made some terrific stews from turkey neck, and I figured this would be much the same: slow simmer for a few hours, until meat falls from the bone. The meat is extremely tender (by that point, at any rate).

It’s odd how lamb neck is butchered: sort of random, which a couple of very thin slices, a couple of slabs, and the rest in chunks. It includes, as you might expect, quite a bit of bone, but also a fair amount of meat.

Here’s what I’m doing:

12-14 cloves of garlic, minced

Let it rest 15 minutes before using, so the compounds formed from the mincing can stabilize before hitting the hot oil. Easiest way to peel a clove is to crush it with the flat of your knife.

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 lb lamb neck

Salt and pepper neck pieces well, brown in batches in the olive oil and remove to a bowl when browned.

In anything like this, I would want allium: shallots, leeks, onions, and spring onions come to mind. Not scallions in this dish, though: insufficiently robust. Add to the hot pan:

5 large shallots, peeled and chopped (and those I had on hand really were quite large)
the garlic already prepared
2 large carrots, diced (I don’t peel carrots)
salt and pepper

Sauté, stirring frequently—shallots cook quickly and burn easily. Once shallots are softened, return lamb to the pot. (I’m using my 4-qt sauté pan, and it’s pretty full.) Push the pieces of lamb down into the vegetables (i.e., the lamb is not resting on top but sitting on the bottom of the pan).

Pour in any combination of dry vermouth, wine, stock, or water to almost cover the meat.

Then add:

juice of 3-4 lemons (acid is good when you have bone and collagen in the dish)
2 preserved Meyer lemons, cut up (I’d made these and was eager to use them, but you can just dice a couple of fresh Meyer lemons, peel and all)
2 Tbsp Crosse & Blackwell mint sauce
10-12 yellow grape tomatoes (somewhat larger than cherry tomatoes), sliced into small pieces
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried cracked rosemary
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp soy sauce or Red Boat fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce
small handful chopped mint leaves

Stir that up (and it was here that I took the photo), then stir in:

1/2 c pearled barley (an afterthought, but a good one)

Cover the pot/pan and put in a 200ºF oven for 6-7 hours. Meat should be falling off the bone. (I cooked this 4 1/2 hours in a 250ºF oven, and the meat fell easily from the bone as you picked out the bones.)

Use tongs to remove bones from the pot. In mine, some of the chunks of meat were fairly large; those I cut into smaller pieces with kitchen shears. Use a spoon to skim off any excess fat. Sprinkle top with chopped fresh parsley.

Cooked lamb neck has very much the same mouthfeel as cooked turkey neck: extremely tender, with the liquid silky smooth from dissolved collagen, as with oxtail soup. Definitely something to look for.

The soy sauce or fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce is to add umami. (Measures are approximate.)

Have you ever had lamb neck? If so, how did you fix it?

UPDATE: This would be ideal in a 6-qt slow-cooker, but I don’t have one. I suggest using “Low” (which seems generally to be 200ºF) for 7-8 hours. Meat should be falling from the bone.

UPDATE 2: It occurs to me that mushrooms would go well in this.


Written by LeisureGuy

11 April 2017 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

First GOPM in a while: Lamb with broccolini

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I use the 1.5 qt cast-iron Staub pan, but you could probably use a 2-qt cast-iron dutch oven. You would just use a few more of each ingredient—e.g., more scallions, 1/3 cup pearled barley instead of 1/4 cup, a whole diced carrot instead of a half. Since you build the dish a layer at a time, you can just add enough more of whatever to make a layer of the depth you want.

In the 1.5 qt pan, I added these ingredients, a layer of each, beginning with the scallions:

3 scallions, chopped (green and white)
good pinch of salt
several grindings of pepper
1/4 cup pearled barley
1/2 large carrot, diced
10 oz lamb flank (1 package), cut up
4 cloves garlic, minced
chopped mint
chopped broccolini
halved cherry tomatoes
salt and more pepper

I had to mash it down a bit to get all to fit. One bunch of broccolini was plenty and I had some stems left over.

Put the following in a small glass jar, shake well, and pour over:

1.5 tablespoon Crosse & Blackwell Mint sauce
1.5 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
a dash or few of mint bitters

Cover, put in 450ºF oven and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove, let pot stand, still covered, for 15 minutes.

Serve and eat. It was quite tasty.

Update: I just remembered I have mint bitters (one by the Fee Brothers). Next time I’ll add a dash or two of that to the pour-over.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2017 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

The unexpected difficulties of bring good food to blighted neighborhoods

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Daniel Duane has a long and absorbing article in the California Sunday magazine that will interest anyone who likes food. The article shows that good ideas don’t guarantee easy acceptance:

A little over a year ago, in a small building at the corner of East 103rd Street and Anzac Avenue in South Los Angeles, chef Daniel Patterson zigzagged among trainees in the bright clean kitchen of what was about to become Locol, the fast-food restaurant with a mission. Patterson was 47 years old, bone-pale and wiry, and among the most creative American chefs of his generation. He owned five restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and had another on the way. He was also one of the cool kids of international fine dining, invited to speak at the most prestigious culinary conferences and part of a circle of friends that includes the Italian chef Massimo Bottura, the Danish chef René Redzepi, and the Australian chef Ben Shewry, owners of, respectively, the restaurants currently ranked first, fifth, and 33rd in the world.

Patterson’s trainees were almost entirely from Jordan Downs, the 714-unit public housing project in Watts. Many had never been employed before, and those with prior cooking experience had worked mostly in conventional fast food or prison cafeterias. They paid rapt attention as Patterson showed them how to weigh out patty-size balls of Locol’s signature burger blend, a pale pink combination of ground beef, tofu, barley, quinoa, and seaweed.

For the previous two years, Patterson and his partner Roy Choi, the tattooed king of L.A. food trucks, had been raising money, developing recipes, designing the Locol brand, overseeing construction, and giving presentations and interviews about their plan to disrupt the predatory corporate fast-food industry. They talked about creating a chain of gorgeous new restaurants that served healthy food at Burger King prices in so-called food deserts, impoverished communities where the only places that sell anything edible are liquor stores, convenience stores, and conventional franchises. They promised to hire from surrounding neighborhoods and pay fair wages while teaching the culinary fundamentals necessary to launch a cooking career. That first Locol, near Jordan Downs in the core territory of the Grape Street Crips, one of the most famous African American gangs in the United States, had been deliberately designed to appeal to neighborhood residents and not look like the first step toward gentrification.

Patterson and Choi were too culturally sophisticated to come out and say their expansion plans targeted other low-income African American communities, but that is what the list had come to look like. After East 103rd and Anzac, they hoped to build on the other side of Watts near the Nickerson Gardens housing project, then maybe nearby in Compton, then East Oakland, South Side Chicago, Detroit, and Ferguson, Missouri. Patterson even echoed tech culture’s obsession with scaling ideas to a thousand X, saying that he figured they might open a thousand Locols over the next five years.

To get that first Locol built, Patterson, who lives with his wife and two children in Oakland, spent half his time in Watts for more than six months while still working a full schedule of long and arduous dinner shifts at Coi, the two-Michelin-star restaurant in San Francisco at which he built his international reputation. Then, in early January 2016, Patterson permanently handed off Coi to another chef and spent nearly three straight weeks in Watts to prepare his crew for opening day.

Weaving through that kitchen, with only a week to go, Patterson found a pot of rice burning on the stove. His angular and sensitive face twitched with fury before he remembered the cardinal kitchen rule that Choi, who happened to appear just then, made for Patterson and other outsiders. To wit: “You cannot yell at people in Watts.”

“Not that we would,” said Choi, a no-nonsense presence weaving past in a black Stussy T-shirt and black ball cap.

“Well, some of the rich kids I deal with,” Patterson said, referring to his employees in San Francisco, “I have to yell to let them know I’m serious, because they’ve never known trauma or difficulties like people down here.”

“It isn’t a matter of that,” said Choi gently. “They’ve just never done this before. You can’t yell at someone for not ever doing something.”

atterson took Choi’s point to heart and said, “Their learning curve really is much faster than anything I have ever seen.” Patterson beckoned to 36-year-old Keith Corbin, who learned to cook at home and during the ten years he spent in prison. After his release, Corbin worked for a year at a Chevron oil refinery, quickly rose to manager, then quit for a supervisory job at Locol, where his mother and brother had also been hired. With an air of enduring patience, Corbin leaned close as Patterson said, “Keith, we’re going to need to get all the cooks together for a come-to-Jesus moment, because if it continues this way, we are just going to get flattened. Speaking of … I’m getting flattened. I need a coffee.”

Patterson stepped out the back door onto a sunny patio where three neighborhood men worked as “ambassadors” — greeters, really, but also unofficial security guards and community liaisons tasked with convincing neighbors that Locol really was for them. Watts has such a deep history of economic betrayal and abandonment, such pervasive skepticism about outsiders making big promises, and such well-founded fear of gentrification — a billion-­dollar “urban transformation” plan has the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti — that acceptance of a splashy new restaurant created by two famous outsider chefs who are not African American was not a given.

Patterson embraced an ambassador named Anthony “Ant” Adams, a 44-year-old poet who was in the middle of telling a visitor about getting shot five times with an AK-47 during a 2007 attempt on his life a few yards from where he was currently standing. Patterson then walked past an ATM/lottery/tobacco shop where floor-to-ceiling bulletproof Plexiglas separated customers from the cashier and inventory. He entered a store called Donut Town & Water, where a young man sold doughnuts, water, and other convenience foods, also from behind Plexiglas. Patterson ordered coffee to go and said, as if exhilarated by the speed and audacity of his own thoughts, “I can’t remember if I told you that Roy and I might start a coffee company, too. We’re bringing back the great $1 cup. The fancy coffee industry is not going to be happy with us. We’re going into institutional food, too. We’re already talking about prisons and hospitals and schools. It all comes back to this question of ‘Why does our society always serve the worst food to the neediest people?’ It makes no sense. And everybody always says, ‘That’s just the way it is, there’s no other way,’ but we are going to prove that whole paradigm is fundamentally false.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2017 at 11:36 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Dinner tonight: Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franney’s Chicken Fricassee With Vermouth

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Really tasty. My changes after making it:

Use 3 Tbsp flour, not two. And 4 cloves of garlic, not one.

Consider cooking domestic white mushrooms (quartered) with chicken and onions. Or, better, yet, sauté mushrooms separately in a little butter until they release their liquid and turn brown and tender. Add that to the fricassee along with the vermouth, etc.

I used a family pack (2.8 lbs, this one) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which I cut into chunks.

For leeks and carrots: bring one pan of water to boil. Add leeks, and after 3 minutes add carrots, and after 1 minute, dump contents of pan into a strainer. A 2-qt pan is ample.

It’s very tasty and very easy. Do cut up the veg in advance, and measure out flour, vermouth, and chicken stock (I just used water with 1/2 tsp Penzeys chicken soup base). I used more like a teaspoon of thyme and put it in the measuring up that held vermouth, water, and chicken soup base, since they’re all added at the same time.

We had no rice, of course: low carb. (The recipe has 16g carbs of which 2g is dietary fiber, so 14 net grams of carbs: quite reasonable.)

Written by LeisureGuy

3 April 2017 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

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