Archive for July, 2007

Birth of a Dish

Take two great recipes and combine them for a new successful dish. Like topping Ducasse absorption pasta with shrimp and cheese.


I tweaked the original Ducasse recipe using a large handful of french cut fat green beans instead of potato, and parsley in place of a basil. Very nice.


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Oatmeal Revelation

Sometime ago i went to Anson Mills web site to get some grits but their other grains looked so interesting that i ended up buying a lot of different things including toasted stone cut oats.

The oats make a delicious oatmeal (takes only 5mins to prepare): great chewy texture, toasty and extremely nutty flavor. With a good butter it’s a meal (pun not intended) in its own right.


I use a recipe on Anson Mills web site though suggest to increase the cooking time to 3mins.

Now i’m thinking what else can be done with these oats: in cold weather the oatmeal can be served as a side (think grits) for a braised meat, or to make savory cakes, or maybe i can even try to bake oatmeal cookies: generally i detest those but with this product maybe it’s time to reconsider…

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Gratin of Artichokes, Olney

I had a bunch of nice medium-size artichokes and no idea what to do with them – leafed through various cookbooks but recipes looked the same, and those interesting among them i made several times already. Luckily then i opened Olney’s Simple French Food and there it was – gratin of artichokes! (btw always count on Olney’s books for interesting gratin ideas). Basically you make a mixture of dried out, then soaked in water and squeezed out bread, parsley, onion and garlic, layer sliced artichoke hearts between two layers of bread mixture and baked for an hour. Olney doesn’t use lemon water but drops cleaned and sliced artichoke pieces in olive oil to preserve the color.

Excellent dish  – as Olney promises after an hour you get tender artichoke slices in a richly browned, crisp encasement. Couple of caveats though – way too much olive oil – i poured off a lot during the baking and it was still too much left trapped in the artichoke layer. Also he doesn’t specify the size of gratin dish – i used 9X13 pyrex and it was too big even for 6 artichokes instead of 4 specified by the recipe.

Served gratin with our signature slow roasted soft shell crabs and assorted crudites.

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It was all pouring rain, cold and bleak today – but the God (and USPS) sent Lidia’s Italy my way that cracked opened on home fries Trieste style.


It sounded exactly what i needed though it took forever to make: first you boil/steam potatoes whole, then peel and cut them into irregular chunks, add to some finely chopped onion fried in bacon fat and then turn and turn and turn and turn (took about 50mins)  until all is browned and crusty – well, there is a certain comfort in the process too…

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Lamejun, for Breakfast

Several days ago i bought some lavash while shopping at Whole Foods with the idea of making a light dinner of lamejun, a turkish/armenian pizza of sorts, based on a recipe from Sortun’s Spice book.

But it became a breakfast this morning: i had ample leftovers of chebureki filling badly in need of some better use than garbage bin. So i whizzed this filling into a paste with a bit of baharat and harissa, added some heavy cream and chopped pistachios, spread thye paste over lavash and baked.

It came out nice with some lessons learned: it seems quite important to spread the meat paste really thin, almost transparent for the right texture. Sortun calls for 1/3 cup of filling for 5X6 lavash piece. I used bigger pieces but next time will cut smaller – the crusty edges are particularly nice.

Definitely will make lamejun soon (left over lavash calling), with chicken breast as suggested in Spice for a delicate taste  – my rendition of lamb was a bit livery.

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Chebureki, or Curing Nostalgia

Dedicated to all of us who still cherish sweet memories of Chebureshnaya on Ploshad’ Nogina, Moscow circa 1970’s-1980’s…

A very simple idea – just a deep-fried meat pie, think samosa… but very hard to get it right, especially the filling that should stay loose w/o turning into a meatball encased in a dough… Very simple but i never had a successful cheburek even at restaurants in large russian diasporas, think Israel, or Brighton Beach…

So now equipped with a powerful deep-fryer and a dumpling press we decided to recreate a snack of our dreams at home.


With no time to make the dough we used Nasoya eggroll skins though they’re too thin and not elastic enough. We got the filling right fortunately.


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Chicken and Jack Cheese Dumplings

A packet of wonton skins left from yesterday made me think in the dumplings direction again. There was some curious filling recipe i filed a while ago, by David Burke – a slight modification on it can still be found here

While shopping i checked different bbq sauces but their ingredient lists read quite unappetizing so i used minced piquillo peppers instead… Excellent dumplings and needed nothing else than some melted butter.



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