Escarole Archive

Thursday, January 7, 2010

barley risotto with beans and greens

barley risotto with beans and greens

So here’s a little eating-out confession: When we go out to restaurants, no matter how old-school posh or hot-new-It-chef-on-a-grungy-block, I rarely find myself moved to exclamation points over a piece of steak or a pasta dish; instead, it most of my ooh-ing and aah-ing is formed over the earnest piles of beans and grains and greens that form a bed for the main attraction. I’m always applauding the way a chef managed to get such flavorful beans, grains and even unloved greens, cooked so perfectly that I clean them out long before I stick my fork into the duck breast. I guess what I am trying to say is: A lot of people cook steak well. Making kale and wheat germ taste like nirvana itself is what really blows my mind.

pearled barley
red nightfall beans

It’s also, sadly, the place where the gap between what I pay others to cook and what I whip up at home is the greatest. I miss those sauces — those puddles of concentrated buttery rich brothy flavor! I want to splash in them! — I miss all of the in between spaces on my plate. I vow to conquer that this year. Bring on the puddles!

sad, old parmesan

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

chicken milanese + an escarole salad

chicken milanese

I have a new, colossal Food Network crush on Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and the first time I saw the show, I completely forgot every food personal crush that had come before. “Ina Garten who?” “Michael Chiarello? I never heard of him.” Because seriously, Anne Burell trumps all that came before. She’s got the kind of real cooking and fresh ideas you’d hope for from a television show, but too rarely get. I immediately want to make everything she does.

quick-pickled red onionschicken breading stationfrying the chickenfrying the chicken milanese

And if I saw chicken milanese on a restaurant menu, I wouldn’t order it. If you told me you were breading and frying chicken cutlets for dinner, I’d feign excitement but inwardly groan. Because if there are two foods in the world that will never hold my interest, they’d be chicken cutlets and anything that has been dredged in breadcrumbs and fried. I find the former bland and the latter makes everything taste the same, not that I need to learn how to form an opinion or anything. Yet, when Ms. Burell made it, I counted down the days until I could find an excuse to make it, which brings us to Tuesday night’s inauguration dinner party (where the caramel sauce was homemade, ahem, but that story for a different day).

escarole salad with pickled red onions

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Friday, February 22, 2008

escarole and orzo soup with meatballs

escarole and orzo soup with meatballs

You know those stories about when you were a kid that your parents can’t get enough of? That they’d go on. And on. And on about to their friends, your friends, prom date and future in-laws? Because apparently, when you were little you were cute. I mean, really cute. And you did cute things. And those cute things were hilarious. And still are, nearly 30 years later.

grating parmesan

Well, apparently long before I had achieved actual literacy, I went for the next closest thing: memorizing books. But I used to call it–start cooing now, please–“rememorizing” because doesn’t that make more sense, as you must “remember” it? Honestly, it still does. So, as the story goes, I came into my parents bedroom one morning and told them I had learned to read and I would demonstrate with my Favorite Book In the Whole World, Snow, a Dr. Seuss book. “Snow, snow, come out in the snow. Snow, snow, just look at the snow….” It didn’t take them long to figure out I was neither looking at the book, or likely, holding it right side up but, oh, were they charmed.

some fancy orzocarrots

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