Saturday, November 13, 2010


This is my take on xató, you know, the Catalonian salad. Here it is undressed....
and dressed. 
The dressing is almonds, wine vinegar, garlic, an achovy, olive oil, salt, pepper and chili peppers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

White Bean Chicken Chili

Stainless Steel Pot - got this at an auction.
Eureka Joe's was my favorite writing spot in NYC. Now it's a BCBG.
Two of my favorite tools for making chili.
I start out by putting garlic and onions in the pot.

Meanwhile, the chicken - legs & thighs.

Green peppers and chipotles.
More peppers - white beans are a food canvas waiting
for a splash of color.

A bunch of cannellini beans.

A little something something to counteract the acidity -
much more necessary when cooking with tomatoes
but I just love telling people there's NEK syrup in there.
Jalapenos and a somewhat hot red pepper - I didn't
catch their name at the farmers market.

White Bean Chicken Chili.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I picture Granny Clampett in black and white, scowling and yelling, glasses perched on her nose. And then, a split second later, there's Jethro behind her. He's digging into the pot with a ladle and slurping up the possum dish she's been slaving over for hours. She's looking the other way, gives a start when she sees him. I'm sure she's pleased he likes the vittles she's been slaving over but she still gives him a whack. If they have company, the Clampetts are seated at their pool table, passing dishes with their sticks, remarking on how useful they are for passing pots (they only cook in pots that can be passed with pool sticks).

The other place they have vittles is on the Dukes of Hazzard. I wouldn't mind taking the General Lee for a spin over the Clampetts rig (though I would like to have someone chauffeur me about while I sat in the rocker) but if I had to choose between Uncle Jesse and Granny's cooking or the hooches each offered up, I'd go with Granny's on both counts. Besides, The Beverly Hillbillies is the only show I can think of until the Simpsons came along that had a Homer. I watched a lot of episodes, black and white to color and back again.

I'm a word guy. I like to know where a word comes from. Vittles surprised me. I looked it up in our dictionary and was referred to victuals. Victuals? Sounds like a ceremony. Turns out victuals and vittles are both from the same word, vitaille, which in turn eventually came from vivere to live. Of course. Which is why air is also...oh, it's not? Well, I was surprised that vittles was coined about a century before victuals. Victualia, victualis, victus. If I had just taken Latin I know my Scrabble rating would be better than 1291. I'll keep at it - who knew vicuna was a llamalike ruminant animal? Pluralize that and bingo, look out, buddy!

"Well now its time to say goodbye to Jed and all his kin.
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin' in. You're all invited back again to this locality to have a heapin' helpin' of their hospitality. Hillybilly that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?." And let me know when you're serving up some vittles.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The New York Times recently had a piece about tomato greenhouses . The article talks about a greenhouse operation in Maine that doesn't grow their tomatoes in dirt. The tomatoes look great but I can't help but wonder if they might be missing out. Can they possibly be getting all of the nutrients from the water that is piped into them that their roots would have searched out underground? I'm sure there are scientists there who have carefully calibrated the concentrations of identified nutrients and administer them according to computer readouts but that doesn't comfort me.

I want my vegetables natural. I want them  dirty. I want them to still be dusty from the soil they grew up when they get to my kitchen, to bring a piece of their terroir with them. Yes, I know it means more cleaning. Yes, it adds to their weight so yes, they cost more but dirt helps to preserve them and more importantly, connects me with their past.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tagine Time

I've been working on being more in the moment, taking my time, slowing down. Yesterday climbing the PATH stairs at Exchange Place, for example; I focused on the burn, as I took the steps, rather than just wishing I was at the top already. I don't go to the gym so those stairs are about as much exercise as I get. I'm also concentrating on chord formations more when I play the ukulele - B♭ (the people's key), D (my El Guapo) and the nefarious E. 
Being in the moment takes more time. Time certainly passes more quickly. And I'm taking my time in the kitchen (and took my time getting to the letter T but that's a little something called procrastination). I've started making bread, cooking with dried beans instead of canned and using the tagine more often. Tagines are all about taking your time, cooking low and slow and letting the ingredients get to know one another. 
I got my tagine over a year ago, a gift from Melissa. Just getting it was an adventure. We'd show up and they'd be closed. After a couple tries (lesson: call ahead to make sure they'll be open because if it's slow they just might close), we were inside. They have spices galore in there but this was about picking out a tagine. They have a whole bunch - each unique. It took awhile for us to find the base/top combination that fit well together and was aesthetically pleasing. Well, what I ended up with was more about the fit than looks but I've grown quite attached to it and wouldn't trade it for another. It has delivered some delicious meals.
Tagines are usually made out of clay so cooking with them is a bit different than cooking with a Dutch oven, which, I'd say, they're most like. They're all about keeping steam and juices inside and cooking for a long time. Dutch ovens allow for that high heat initial sear which tagines do not tolerate so well. Try it and your tagine base might end up in two pieces.
So, why a tagine when you could use a Dutch oven? Well, you're cooking in clay. Clay. When was the last time you  cooked anything in clay? The history. Clay is the stuff people have cooked in for millenia (actually I'm not sure how long but longer than cast-iron that's for sure). It's earthy. It's dirt you cook in. (Sure, glass was dirt but it doesn't smell earthy.) I use a tagine because it's earthy, has a cool top and makes for a nice presentation but more than that, it makes me slow down.