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Monday, April 21, 2014

Tamarind Sauce

Tamarind pods. The sticky flesh inside is removed and usually sold in a block.

We ate this sauce on lamb chops but I think it would be wonderful on just about anything grilled: chicken, duck, beef, or shrimp (which is what the original recipe from used it on). It is very intense with the tamarind and the fish sauce. It's not so different from many steak sauces or Worcestershire sauce which are flavored with tamarind and anchovies.

I used tamarind sauce from my local Savory Spice Shop but that's not necessary. If you have tamarind pulp - usually sold in a block  - you can make your own sauce. Look for it in Asian markets, especially Indian ones.

Tamarind Sauce
(makes about ½ cup)

1 Tablespoon tamarind pulp
⅓ cup warm water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon finely minced cilantro
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 Tablespoon Siracha sauce
1 ½ Tablespoon turbinado or dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon fish sauce

Combine tamarind pulp and water in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes to soften pulp, Using your fingers, rub the pulp in the water to dissolve. Tamarind can have lots of fiber and big seeds so don't be surprised if it doesn't all dissolve. Push through a strainer into another bowl to remove the solids. You should have about 3 Tablespoons tamarind sauce.

Heat oil in a small saucepan until hot but not smoking. Add cilantro and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve with grilled meat, chicken, or shrimp. It's intense; one recipe is enough for 4 people.

Photo: pictures of the tamarind-fruit {{cc-by}} Clemens PFEIFFER, 1190 Wien, licensed under Creative Commons from WikiCommons

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pickled Salmon

This is a tried and true Passover recipe in my house but its popularity goes way beyond the Seder. This delicious salmon is so much better than the traditional gefilte fish. I know there are people who adore the yearly gefilte fish but I am not one of them.

The recipe makes quite a bit of pickled salmon so I suggest you make it for a dinner party or even a brunch. It will keep in the brine for about 4 days past when it is pickled (takes 3 days for the initial pickling) but I wouldn't push it much further than that.

I pulled this recipe out of the New York Times years ago. It's by Joyce Goldstein, one of the finest chefs out there. I wholeheartedly recommend her book Kitchen Conversations.

Joyce Goldstein's Pickled Salmon
(serves 12 as an appetizer)

2 cups white vinegar
1 ½ cups water
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 pounds salmon fillets, skin removed
2 Tablespoons pickling spices
6 bay leaves
2 white or yellow onions, sliced ¼" thick

Bring vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Cut salmon into 1" x 2" chunks. In a non-metallic bowl or crock, make a layer of  ⅓ of the salmon. Sprinkle on some of the pickling spice, a couple of bay leaves, and ⅓ of the onions. Build 2 more layers. Pour on the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 3 days. Serve cold with matzoh, crackers or a hearty dark or rye bread.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lamb Breast Stew with Olives

Lamb breast is not a common cut. It's also sometimes labeled lamb ribs. I got mine because I bought a whole lamb a while back. There's a fair bit of fat and a lot of connective tissue. It benefits from long slow braising. You can roast them too, like pork ribs, but all that cartilage makes for a particularly rich stew. If you can find some lamb ribs, you really should try this. It is marvelous.

Lamb Stew with Olives
(serves 6)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 to 2 ½ pounds lamb breast, cut into ribs
salt and pepper
2 oz. pancetta, diced
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 1 pound)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (about 1 pound)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a dutch oven. Brown lamb on all sides. Push to the side and add pancetta. When it starts to render its fat and sizzle, add the onions. Saute onions for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Add water to almost cover the lamb. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes (or longer). About 45 minutes before you will serve the stew, add the potatoes and olives. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender. Season generously with pepper. You probably won't need additional salt because the olives and pancetta are salty.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie

Almost the about a yummy, rich & creamy chocolate pie? Not sure where this recipe came from. I got it from my mom back in the early 80's. But, it's a keeper. Note that this pie contains raw eggs, though many supermarkets now carry pasteurized in-the-shell eggs. They can be used if you are concerned about eating/serving raw eggs.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie
(8 - 10 servings)

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅓ cup melted butter
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted

6 oz. semisweet chips
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, separated
¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Prepare the crust: combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add butter and chocolate. Mix thoroughly. Press mixture into a 9" pie plate. Chill until firm.

Melt chocolate over hot but not boiling water. Cool about 5 minutes. Blend cream cheese, ½ brown sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in cooled chocolate and blend well. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in ¼ cup brown sugar. Beat until stiff and glossy. Fold into chocolate mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Scoop into prepared crust, reserving ¼ of the mixture for decorating. Chill until filling sets slightly. Drop reserved mixture in mounds over top of pie. Chill overnight.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eating Your Way Through Chile: Part 3

Mote con huesillo, a local Kunstmann beer and pastel de jaiba at a big fair of local food in Niebla, near Valdivia
Last part of my series on my dining adventures in Chile. See Part 1 on seasonal produce, eating in Santiago, and oddities. Part 2 covers seafood (more oddities!). This installment will cover some of the traditional food/drink, family specialties, dessert, and the most exciting food in Chile. Hint: it's not Chilean.