Tag Archives: herbs

deviled eggs w fresh herbs

egg plates

Is everyone sick of deviled eggs? Between Easter and Passover, they get a workout this time of year. But if you aren’t, I recommend grabbing some of the super-springy herbs at the farmers’ market and getting to work. While I’m giving out unsolicited advice, I would also recommend trying out those medium-size eggs in the grocery store.

I seriously feel for the medium eggs. No one uses them. I often wonder who, besides me, ever buys them. But when you’re boiling eggs, you want ones that are a week or two old. I figure you get that and more with the mediums. No recipes ever call for them, even though, really, they aren’t that runtish.

cute and medium

Generally I buy my eggs at the farmers’ market—and they’re mostly mediums, with a handful of larges and usually one super-giant egg in each dozen. Using these eggs for baking, I’ve long been used to measuring the cracked eggs to make sure I’m getting the right quantity of fluid in sensitive baking recipes. So, when I’m making deviled eggs, especially for a cocktail party, I like them bite-sized. And they hard-boil in no time. (Nine minutes off the heat after bringing to a boil; then you plunge them into an ice bath. The eggs are still a mite soft in the middle; this makes the filling extra gorgeous in the end. Change the time to 12 minutes off heat for large eggs.)

tarragon

Adding butter to the yolks, just a bit, at room temperature, is a trick we have all by now seen on Food52, where this technique was shared by Virginia Willis in a “genius recipe” feature. It’s pretty clever. The filling is just gorgeous, and handles easily. The chopped herbs get stirred in by hand at the end so as not to turn the filling green. I am partial to the chervil, and add quite a lot, showering the finished eggs with a heavy hand. Its pert citrus flavor livens up the proceedings, and marries beautifully with a nice cocktail like a Negroni.

Do you have an old hobnail or pressed-glass egg plate? Run out and get one! Cheers, it’s spring.

Deviled eggs w fresh herbs

Adapted from Virginia Willis’ recipe at Food52

  • 1 dozen medium eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, if needed
  • 4 tablespoons chopped tarragon, chives, or chervil, plus more for garnish

1. First, boil the eggs. Place eggs in a pan and cover with water by 1 inch. Place on stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cut off heat just as water boils, place lid on pan. Set a timer for 9 minutes. (This is for medium eggs. For large, time 12 minutes.) When it rings, carefully transfer eggs to a big bowl of ice water and cool thoroughly. At this point you can refrigerate eggs for several days until ready to make deviled eggs.

2. Peel eggs. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolk to food processor; add mayonnaise, butter, mustard, cayenne. Pulse until very smooth. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Add chopped herbs. Taste for salt. Add salt as needed.

3. Scrape mixture into a quart-size plastic zipper bag. Push out air, seal bag, snip off corner. Use this to fill eggs, or simply spoon filling into the whites. Garnish with remaining herbs.

4 Comments

Filed under recipes

rosemary + olive oil bread

Ty came back from a recent trip to Maryland with this lovely, gorgeous rosemary, and a recipe for rosemary bread from his mother. This bread is so easy to knead, in part because it is a soft and more liquid bread due to the use of olive oil. This makes it a bit sticky on the kneading board. You can divide it into two loaves (grease and line the loaf pans), but below I give directions for one large round. The dough is far too loose to rise in a round on its own. The solution I came up with was to use the ring from my springform pan, unlatched in its largest circumference, as a pen to hold the rising dough. And boy, does this dough rise–and fast!

The speed with which the dough rises makes it another weekend winner in my opinion. In total, it has about an hour less rising time than most other breads I frequently make. If you aren’t a regular bread-maker, this may be a good loaf to start with. Just remember, most recipes you try in the future won’t be this easy to mix up, or so fast to rise.

I think fresh rosemary is really key in this recipe. You could use even more than the 4 tablespoons of minced rosemary needles I call for in the recipe. Its sticky, piney flavors add a lot to the bread. Bonus: if you toast this in the morning, your house will smell just as lovely as it did when the bread was baking, all over again. I wonder this winter if I might try this in other variations, perhaps with thyme or even chives.

Rosemary + olive oil bread

1 enormous round

  • 2.5 cups warm (wrist temperature) water
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to grease pan
  • 2 tablespoons salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

1. Place warm water in a large bread bowl and whisk in honey. Sprinkle yeast on surface of water and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon add 4 cups of flour, then oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, and rosemary. Stir until smooth and add remaining flour. Mix it as thoroughly as you can in the bowl with the spoon, then turn onto floured counter and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, vigorously, until smooth. Add small amounts of additional flour if dough is sticking to the counter. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with a clean towel. Let it rise for 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

2. Punch risen dough down and form it into a smooth round. Line a metal baking sheet with baking parchment. While holding the ring only of a springform pan in the open position, spray it with cooking spray, or brush it well with olive oil.  Place the ring on the lined baking sheet, and then place the round of bread inside the ring. Cover it again and let it rise about 45 minutes, until doubled in bulk.

3. Preheat oven to 450 F and place a 13 x 9-inch pan filled with boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the other rack in the middle of the oven. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with remaining salt, and then place it in the oven (leave the springform ring in place) to bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Bread is cooked when it is a deep golden brown, and when the loaf is lifted off the baking sheet and the bottom of the loaf is tapped, it makes a hollow sound. Let bread cool for at least an hour before slicing.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Don’t stop cooking just because Thanksgiving is coming! My unscientific study of the week before Thanksgiving shows that restaurants seem more busy as Thanksgiving approaches, as though every home kitchen in the land is marshaling its resources for our all-American holiday. Surely, though, the pantries are well stocked with root vegetables, broth for making gravy, more than enough herbs to season a week’s worth of meals. And those of you who are traveling for the nation’s ritual meal must have plenty of odds and ends in the refrigerator that you should use up before leaving the house. Eggs can be can be made into tarts with stray bits of bacon or cheese or vegetables, or eaten on an open-faced sandwiched, or poached over roasted vegetables. Odds and ends of stale bread and vegetables can be made into a hearty ribollita, or any number of other soups.

As we were trying to clean out our own refrigerator before heading to Delaware for the holiday later this week, chicken pot pie seemed like an obvious candidate for a scavenger meal. After I pulled the third potato and second turnip out of the crisper drawer—not to mention that giant celery root—I realized that all the root vegetables I had couldn’t just go into the filling. There was only one appropriately frugal course of action in this puritanical season: a mashed topping like shepherd’s pie would have to replace my classic pot-pie-topper, a rye crust. If you have fewer items in your refrigerator, you could simply serve this as a hearty stew, stopping the preparation after the mixture simmers and just before the topping is added and it is popped into the oven. Or you could make the rye crust, or top it with biscuits instead.

You have probably already realized that this is a bonus leftovers recipe: replace the chicken breasts with leftover turkey meat and you have a great post-Thanksgiving meal. Just use your leftover mashed potatoes on top (maybe even leftover kale in the filling) and call it a day.  Everyone else will call you a genius!

Chicken pot pie w mashed root vegetable topping

Serves 6

Topping:

  • 3 large, waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, quartered
  • 1 turnip, peeled quartered, and each quarter halved
  • 1 celery root, peeled and quartered, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon

Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, or tarragon
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bunch (8 to 10 large leaves) collards, lacinato kale, or kale, sliced into a chiffonade
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with a teaspoon or two of cold water, enough to make a pourable slurry
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Add potatoes, turnip, celery root, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Test celery root and potatoes with a sharp knife; it should be easy to slide the tip of the knife into the vegetables. If uncertain about doneness, remove a sample from the pan and taste. When vegetables are cooked, drain them and put them in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a food mill. Mash them with the paddle attachment of the mixer, or by grinding in the food mill. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and herbs. Set aside.

2. While vegetables simmer, preheat oven to 375 F. In a large stovetop-to-oven casserole or saute pan, warm olive oil, onion, carrots, and turnip over medium-high heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and turnips may begin to turn a golden color. (Reduce heat if vegetables begin to brown.)  Add herbs, chicken, stir and then cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring only once, until chicken is turning brown. Then add kale and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.

3. As this mixture simmers, pour in the flour slurry, stirring constantly to incorporate. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. Sprinkle with kosher salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.

4. Scoop mashed vegetables on top of chicken mixture, and spread to 1 to 2 inch thickness, leaving the edges uncovered. Pop into the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until mashed topping just browns. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

dew on the rose

I’ve been having a bit of fun lately with the infused syrup I made from a fresh shipment of rose geranium leaves that found their way back to New Haven from Maryland in Ty’s bag. The leaves of the rose geranium plant are edible, but are really too thick and dense—and intense—to use by chopping up the leaves, as you do with other herbs. They are great for infusing into a tisane (just add boiling water) or flavoring sugar. But if you boil them into a simple syrup, they are a great trick for your bar this time of year.

The rose geranium syrup plays well with gin because gin already has a decidedly botanical nature. What’s a bit of rose geranium to a spirit that already likely contains juniper, anise, angelica, coriander and savory in it? The floral overtone of the rose geranium is just gorgeous, and it mates well with the lime. I’m sure a more gifted mixologist than myself (which is basically everyone) could come up with something more interesting than this drink. But on a cool September night, with the dew setting, you’ll find it exactly the thing.

Dew on the rose

  • 1/2 ounce cold rose geranium syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 and 1/2 ounces Bluecoat gin
  • club soda
  • slice of lime
  • ice

1. Combine first three ingredients in a Collins glass. Add ice cubes to your liking and stir. Top with club soda, garnish with a slice of lime, and serve.

Rose geranium syrup

  • 20 to 30 rose geranium leaves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

2. When mixture boils, add rose geranium leaves, rubbing each between your fingers or palms before adding to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Allow pan to cool off of heat. Strain cooled syrup into an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

rose geranium sugar

When you live in a house with an herb garden—whether a modest one or an extensive enterprise—you can take this time of year for granted. All of the herbs are in full leaf, and with frequent and generous trimming, it seems like the supply might be never-ending. Perhaps the basil is fading, but the sage is really taking hold, the rosemary is flourishing, the thyme is thick and hardy.

But if you are me, and you don’t even have a yard, and the only sniff of really, truly fresh herbs you get is when your mother-in-law sends them on the train all wrapped up in your better half’s golf bag—well, you really appreciate the herbs that you can get your hands on. Last year, I met a friend at a city bus stop in order to get a giant shopping bag of fresh sage she’d hacked out of her garden at the end of the season. (It made for the best of the end-of-season herb rubs, as I dried it at 120 F in my oven for several hours and then made it last for two or three months through what can only be described as parsimonious perseverance.) Another co-worker brought me a giant bag of oregano, cut back at the end of summer and preserved (same oven-drying technique) for as long as I could stretch it out.

For certain herbs, drying in the oven isn’t quite the thing. Ty brought home a giant bag of herbs from his mother last week—including a healthy bunch of rose geranium. Drying the leaves wouldn’t do very much good, unless you planned to use this to infuse into tisane. So, some of it went into an infused simple syrup (for cocktails) and the rest went into this delightful and fragrant infused sugar. It is terrific sprinkled on berries, used in crumble topping, or stirred into iced tea. It’s the best way I know to bank some of the amazing herbal, savory, and, yes, flowery fragrance of rose geranium leaves for the winter. It seems at a shame to trap the leaves in a jar, smothering them in sugar. But I promise you’ll change your mind the first time you sprinkle it on top of sugar cookies, or a pound cake. And in the dead of winter, when your verdant herb garden is but a distant memory, you’ll be so very glad you put this sugar by.

Rose geranium sugar

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 20 to 25 rose geranium leaves

1. Select a clean pint jar (like a Ball canning jar or something similar, with a fairly wide neck). Pour 1/4 cup sugar into the bottom of the jar. Rub 3 or 4 rose geranium leaves between your hands to release their scent, and place on top of the sugar in the jar. Add another 1/4 cup sugar, and another 3 or 4 rose geranium leaves, and repeat until the jar is full, rubbing the leaves between your hands or fingers each time before adding them. Finish by completely covering any leaves with sugar.

2. Close jar and let sugar infuse for 2 weeks before using.

4 Comments

Filed under recipes

linguine w purple pesto, green beans + new potatoes

Each summer there is this beautiful moment when the market is filled with the ingredients for a perfect pasta dish from Genoa: basil, freshly dug potatoes, green beans. The basil, of course, is to make pesto; it’s no coincidence that the most common type of basil you’ll find in the market is “Genovese basil,” bright and green, with gigantic leaves. While I’m sure Marcella Hazan would wince—the recipe here is adapted from her indispensible book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking—I have found that cooking the potatoes in boiling water first, then the green beans, and then the pasta, all in the same pot, has no deleterious effect on the finished dish. And in fact it has a quite salubrious effect on my state of mind, as well as my dishwasher’s.

If you use this method, you’ll find that you can have supper on the table in 30 minutes, if you use the 20 minutes it takes to cook very small potatoes to also mix up the pesto. Speaking of this pesto, which is made with purple basil: I find I prefer it to the typical green basil for making pesto. In fact, what I bought from the Yale Farm on Saturday, I suspect, is “Amethyst Improved,” a variety of purple basil that is actually the only Genovese-derived purple basil. (It has the characteristic shiny, turned-down, almost black leaves.) In any case, make sure you don’t inadvertently use Thai basil to make your pesto. It may be edible, but I doubt it will be quite as delicious—though it is wonderful in all sorts of other dishes!

You can, of course, make the pesto ahead and refrigerate it for a day, or make a huge batch and freeze it, making this dish later. But I do implore you to try it as I give the instructions below, with the pesto finished only moments before the pasta. It is a totally different experience. I should also mention that for many years I made pesto without a recipe, just throwing in handfuls of basil, nuts, glugs of olive oil, shreds of cheese. Do not do this. Seriously, a well-proportioned pesto (with the proportions given by Marcella Hazan, as below) is nothing like what you throw together when you don’t feel like paying attention. It really does make a huge difference to use the classic proportions. That said, I made this while I was cooking for one this week, and I give the proportions for feeding two people below. If you have six to feed, triple it, and if you have eight to feed, well, you get the idea. It is a simple math problem to work it out, and I feel you will agree with me that it is totally worthwhile.

Linguine w purple pesto, green beans + new potatoes

Adapted from Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Italian Cooking

For every 2 servings, use the following proportions:

Pesto:

  • 2/3 cup (1 oz.) tightly packed fresh purple (or green) basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, very fresh, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 oz. (a scant 1/4 cup) freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Pasta and vegetables:

  • 2 small new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 oz. (a large handful) green beans or haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1/2 pound pasta (such as linguine)
  • salt

1. Set a large pot of water on the stove. Add about 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the water and the potatoes. Turn to high and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.

2. While potatoes are cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor combine the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse with the blade until the nuts and basil leaves are finally chopped, but not pureed beyond recognition. Scrape this mixture into a bowl and add the cheese by hand, mixing it in with a spatula.

3. When potatoes are cooked, remove them from the boiling water. Add the washed and trimmed green beans or haricots verts. Return the water to a boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until beans are bright green and tender. Remove these from the water with tongs and set aside with the potatoes. Add the pasta to the water and return to the boil; cook for recommended al dente cooking time on package. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can while still preserving the slices in a nice shape. Taste a bit of green bean and a bite of potato. If they are not very well salted, add another pinch of salt to the pesto.

4. Just before pasta is done, remove at least 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water from the pot. Mix 2 tablespoons of cooking water into pesto. Drain pasta and return to the pot with green beans, potatoes, and pesto. Using tongs, gently combine the potatoes, beans, and pesto into the pasta. Distribute the pasta among serving dishes and serve hot, passing more parmigiano-reggiano alongside.

 

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

ricotta, baby leek + mint crostini

Last weekend there was a dinner party. From which, I think, we have only just recovered. And now I’ll pass along the recipes to you. The preparation of the meal was quite easy–I just moved from dish to dish throughout the afternoon. Except for a griddled asparagus salad, nothing I was making involved a last-minute preparation, so nearly everything was completed in advance. This crostini recipe, a version of which was on Food52 earlier in the week, was a no-brainer first course. It takes about 10 seconds to make, and it makes use of some of the season’s best ingredients. I passed over the ramps that were called for in the original recipe because next to their ramps, Waldingfield Farm had baby “King Richard” variety leeks, a crisp and peppery leek that adds crunch and punch to this hors d’oeuvre. We’re lucky in that we have some of the best ricotta around here in New Haven, from Liuzzi. And Ty’s mom had recently sent us some gorgeous, fresh mint from her garden.

The other crostini I made was this one, which you’ve seen before, made from chicken livers from Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm. If you are interested, here is the entire menu. I’ll be posting these dishes throughout the week.

First Course

Crostini
Chicken liver ♦ Ricotta and baby leek

Second Course

Griddled asparagus ♦ Mustard cream ♦ Prosciutto di San Daniele del Friuli

Main Course

Herb roasted shoulder of lambGratin de flageolets, fenouil

Dessert

Semifreddo alla vaniglia Composta di rabarbaro

Fromages

I mostly relied on recipes from David Tanis, “A Platter of Figs,” and “Sunday Suppers at Lucques,” Suzanne Goin’s incomparable cookbook. So if you have these books, look up  the recipes and throw your own dinner party. I hope the company you have was as good as ours was.

Ricotta, baby leek + mint crostini

Adapted from TasteFood’s recipe at Food52

  • 20 thin slices of baguette
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta*
  • 1/4 cup finely minced baby leeks (“King Richard” was my variety) or minced chives or garlic scapes
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • juice from half a lemon
  • fleur de sel

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Leave until toasted and golden, about 10 minutes. Check them frequently so they don’t become overdone. Remove from oven and cool. This can be done an hour or so before guests arrive. Leave bread on the baking sheet so it doesn’t become soft.

2. Combine ricotta, leeks, mint, zest, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl with a fork. When well mixed, refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. To serve, scoop a couple tablespoons of mixture onto each slice of baguette. Place crostini on a platter. Spritz with lemon juice, drizzle with a tiny amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with additional mint or chives (if using), and fleur de sel, as desired. Serve.

*I use the thick, strained kind sold at our Italian market and cheesemaker here in New Haven, Liuzzi. If yours is watery, you’ll want to strain it before using.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

printemps pesto

There is this moment before summer where the hardiest green things emerge. We’re in that moment now. Last week at the CitySeed market in Wooster Square, for example, I picked up a bunch of rape. You don’t see it around much (its trendier cousin broccoli rabe is quite popular) but it is much the same as turnip greens, sans the turnip. The leaves feel tender, but it is bitter and sharp, and toothsome. It went for a bath in boiling and well salted water for three or four minutes before I squeezed it out, combined it with some fresh spinach I had picked up at the market, and sauteed it with a few whole cloves of garlic and chiles. The spinach leaves had nothing “baby” or “spring” about them. The leaves that had emerged in the cold weather were wrinkly and thick, yet tender. In just a week or two we’ll see those tender greens, but now is the time for hardier stuff.

Same goes for herbs. Our summery friend basil won’t be here for a while. But all the verdure in the market encourages us to think of green things on the table nonetheless. Ty’s mom sent us a shipment of her spring herbs, gutsy branches of sage, oregano, thyme, and tarragon. Herbs this time of year are lustier and have an intensity you don’t see when they begin to produce fresh, tender leaves. I wanted pesto for a number of applications in the kitchen (stay tuned for those recipes) and I threw together some of what she sent me to great effect, largely by accident. When you’re making a pesto with these strong herbs, taste it especially for salt, and consider adding a decent amount of cracked black pepper, or chiles, or lemon to pick it up. You can toss it with pasta, add it to breadcrumbs, use it to season fish or steamed clams, mix it with ricotta and serve it on crostini. No shrinking spring violets here.

Printemps pesto

  • 1 cup parsley leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup tarragon leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup thyme leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • a few coarse grinds of pepper
  • 1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon

1. In the bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, combine parsley, tarragon, thyme, garlic, salt, zest, pepper. Pulse until herbs are coarsely chopped. Add almonds and process until a paste begins to form.

2. With the blade running, pour olive oil in a stream through opening in top of food processor. You may have to stop after a few moments to scrape down the side before resuming the addition of more olive oil. Add just enough to make a smooth and slightly runny paste. (You usually don’t want pesto to be too thick, or it won’t distribute easily throughout pasta later.)

3. Add the juice of the lemon, scrape down sides, pulse a few more times. Use to dress pasta or for other uses. Freeze excess in an airtight plastic container if you don’t plan to use within 1 day.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

lavender + meyer lemon finishing salt

Let me just admit that I got totally called out because of this post, in which I claim that I do not like lavender in my food. And it’s true, until last week, I felt the rightful place of lavender—leaves or flowers—was in my mother’s hand salve. But then Alison trooped in last Friday with a lovely package of the herb, which I first misidentified (by smell) as sage, and then (upon looking) as some kind of mutant tarragon. I should have known that someone was trying to make a point. Because of course when someone gives you what must almost certainly be 75 percent of their lavender plant, I mean, you can hardly let it go to waste.

I wanted to try the lavender with a multitude of dishes, you know, to give it a fair shot. Because I was skeptical, very skeptical. I had seen the recent post on 101cookbooks hailing citrus salts. And I know that you can easily add herbs to such salts, and had been wanting to do so for some time. Through the process of grinding and then drying, salt really does absorb and intensify the flavor and fragrance of herbs, citrus, whatever you incorporate into the mixture. So I tried a combination of delicate Meyer lemon, a bit of garlic (not enough to overpower) and the lavender.

Over the weekend I made a lovely mushroom lasagne (to be revealed in a future post) and guess what? Lavender is a lovely, lovely addition to such an affair. It pairs beautifully with the muskiness of mushrooms and helps balance the creaminess of bechamel. It is, in fact, like a cross between sage (earthy) and tarragon (fragrant). This salt is also terrific as a topping for crackers (make some with the rye pastry on this page), or married with a dish of olive oil for dipping bread. I can’t wait to see what other sorts of trouble I can get into with this herb. To be continued. And, lesson learned: never say never.

Lavender + Meyer lemon finishing salt

Inspired by and adapted from 101cookbooks citrus salt

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons very coarse sea salt (such as Maldon or coarse sea salt)
  • zest from 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup lavender leaves, loosely packed
  • 3 small to medium cloves garlic, peeled

1. Preheat oven to 200 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a food processor fitted with blade, place 3 tablespoons of coarse sea salt, zest, lavender, and garlic cloves. Process in pulses until garlic and lavender are completely pulverized. (Open the lid to make sure there aren’t any errant chunks of garlic Errant large bits of lavender are okay.)

2. Add the rest of the salt and pulse 10 – 15 times until very well combined. Dump mixture onto baking sheet lined with parchment and pop into the oven for 75 minutes.

3. Remove to a cooling rack and let it cool 8-10 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight jar at room temperature. Use as a finishing salt with steamed vegetables, pastas, savory meat and vegetable braises, and anywhere that garlic, citrus and rosemary or sage would be a welcome addition.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

hanger steak + “chimichurri”

I know, I know, it is so annoying that I put those self-conscious quotation marks in the title of this recipe and post. But I am probably not the only lily-white American mutt who feels just a bit awkward claiming the dishes of other lands and cultures—especially ones I have not visited or experienced myself. Whenever I make chimichurri (which is basically every time I make steak), I always feel like I am just making a tasty herb sauce that may or may not bear any resemblance to the genuine article.

This week I had basil and cilantro for the “chimichurri” and so that’s what I used. I think I like it best, though, with parsley and cilantro. In any case, I like a lot of zippy vinegar in mine as well as salt. Whatever I have gets thrown in the food processor with either fresh chiles (if I have them) or crushed red pepper, which I’m never without.

My grandfather was a butcher and I take my cuts of meat very seriously. The hanger steak cut (or “hanging tender” or “butcher’s tender” depending on where you live) is the most steak-y of steaks. It tastes a lot like the richness of liver, as it is cut from the abdomen and is the cow’s liver’s neighbor. The toughest part of this recipe—literally—is cutting out the leathery hard tendon that runs down the middle of the steak. But it must be done. I have even included an unappetizing pictures so you can see what the two pieces look like. Cut it out while the steak is brining in the salt and it will cook and serve much easier.

And if you have legitimate chimichurri suggestions/advice, please let me know!

Hanger steak + “chimichurri”

For steak:

  • 1.5 – 3 lb hanger steak, center tendon removed with a sharp knife to create two long, skinny steaks
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt or fleur de sel

For “chimichurri”:

  • 2 cups of a combination of at least two of the following, packed: basil, Italian flat-leaf parsley, cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper

1. Prepare steak: rub steak with salt. Really massage it into the fibers of the steak. Place it on a plate and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to warm the steak up so it cooks more evenly. If salting for more than 30 minutes, place it in the fridge, covered, until 30 minutes before you’re ready and remove it to the counter at that time. I don’t recommend salting this more than six hours in advance.

2. Prepare chimichurri: Place all ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. I do not like to fully puree this sauce. In fact, if you want to chop the herbs and mince the garlic by hand, you can mix this without using the food processor. I like having a bit of the herbs’ texture.Taste the chimichurri. Adjust salt, vinegar levels as needed.

3. Cook steak: Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat with a thin coating of olive oil in it. (I pour a bit of olive oil in the pan and then use a paper towel to spread it around and mop up excess.) When the pan is hot, add the steaks. Cook for 5 minutes on the first side and turn. Use a meat thermometer and remove when center of steaks reaches 140 F for rare, 155 F for a more done steak. Immediately put steaks on a plate and cover loosely with foil to rest at least 10 minutes.

4. To serve: slice steaks across the grain and serve with a generous helping of chimichurri and any accumulated juices on the cutting board.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes