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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Goat Cheese - Porcini Tamales

Goat cheese tamale with fig-lemon salsa

Here's one of the tamale recipes I made for Christmas: a moderately aged goat cheese wrapped in a porcini masa. The recipe is based on one from Tamales by Mark Miller, Stephen Pyles and John Sedlar. It's served with a tasty fig-lemon salsa. In the original recipe, the goat cheese is paired with a black olive masa (which sounds like another stellar combination) but I wanted to try the porcini one. It's not a powerful mushroom flavor, just an undercurrent of earthy nuttiness.

Wrapping tamales takes a bit of time and practice and it's nice to have extra hands to make the work go quickly. This recipe makes 8 tamales, so you won't be stuck wrapping forever even if you make them on your own. They are worth the effort.

This recipe calls for an aged goat cheese. I used a ripe Humboldt Fog® from Cypress Grove Chevre in Northern California. It's an earthy pungent cheese. You could use a milder goat cheese, one that isn't aged but it can be very sticky to work with. Also, the aged goat is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet fig salsa.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beet and Carrot Salad with Coriander-Sesame Salt

I pulled this recipe off of It's fantastic. Really, really delicious. What a great way to get your vegetables. Because these are hardy vegetables, it keeps quite nicely for a few days in the fridge too. The beets turn the carrots red, but who really cares?

Beet and Carrot Salad with Coriander-Sesame Salt

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lamb and Walnut Stew

Lamb and Walnut stew over Israeli couscous

I love pomegranate molasses. It's highly reduced pomegranate juice and it is intense and syrupy. Like molasses, but it has a tart-sweet flavor that is totally unique. You can find it in ethnic grocery stores (ones with a good selection of Middle Eastern products are a good bet) or high-end supermarkets, like Whole Foods.

A little of this stuff goes a long way, given its intensity. Which means that a bottle of it lasts a long, long time. It does keep forever but I'm always on the look-out for recipes that use it effectively.

This is a richly flavored stew perfect for winter. Though the pomegranate molasses is sweet, it is not overly sweet. A perfect balance of sweet, tart, and spicy. Not hot spicy but exotic spicy.

This recipe is from Sephardic Cooking by Copeland Marks (Primus, 1994), an incredible collection of Sephardic recipes from Europe, Africa, and Asia. Sephardic Jewish cooking retains more of its Middle Eastern roots and is normally associated with the Mediterranean. But, Sephardic cooking comes from such unexpected places as India and Central Asia. This recipe is Persian, what is now known as Iran. I used lamb but you could make this with any meat: chicken parts, turkey thighs, beef, or veal.

Like most stews, this tastes even better after it's chilled overnight and reheated. It freezes great too.

Fesenjan: Meat Stew in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce
(serves 6)