Archive for the ‘Sauces and Condiments’ Category

You could probably make this dish in the time it takes to read this recipe.  It depends, of course, on good olives, which don’t come out of a jar or a can.  Ideally, you use green olives stuffed with garlic; this saves you the work of pitting them (although it’s probably a good idea to roughly chop the olives first to make sure no errant pits make their way into the food processor).  If you can’t find garlic-stuffed olives, use an equivalent amount of (pitted) green olives and throw one peeled clove of garlic into the mix.

This pesto is great tossed with chopped tomatoes for a quick salad.  It would also make a great pasta sauce, sandwich spread or dip for crudites.

makes about 3 cups of pesto

  • 1 c of green olives stuffed with garlic (Actually, by “1 c” I mean a few handfuls.  I have no idea how many olives actually made it into this pesto.  Ditto for the almonds.  If it’s too olive-y, add more almonds.  If it’s too almond-y, more olives.  Rocket science, this ain’t.)
  • 1 c of blanched, slivered almonds
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • olive oil as needed (about 1 c)

Double-check to make sure there are no pits in the olives, then put in the food processor along with the almonds, red pepper and a few grinds of black pepper.  Pulse a few times to roughly chop the olives and almonds, scraping down as needed.  Put the food processor on low and drizzle in the oil with the machine running.  Add enough oil to reach the desired consistency (I like this on the looser side).  Serve and enjoy.


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While I still believe that there is nothing better in August than fresh corn-on-the-cob with nothing more than butter and salt, this smoky-spicy-limey-salty butter makes a really nice change of pace for corncob slathering.  This would also taste great on bruschetta (however you pronounce it), grilled vegetables, roast chicken, steak… Hell, I’d eat this on an old shoe and come back for seconds.

I remember my grandmother making chili-lime butter for corn-on-the-cob one summer day.  I think I was too young to appreciate it then, but I hope she would approve of my addition of fresh garlic (and a lot of it, because the only thing as good as fresh August corn-on-the-cob, come to think of it, is garlic butter) and of my substitution of Spanish smoked paprika for the chili powder.

serves 2, but let’s be realistic—you’ll want to make more of this

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 1 lime
  • 1 t pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika, preferably the hot stuff)

Chop up the garlic.  Add it with a pinch of salt to a mortar and pestle; pound to a paste.  Add in the butter, and pound the garlic and butter together.  Juice the lime; add the lime juice and pimentón to the garlic butter.  Stir to combine.

Serve slathered generously over anything you desire.

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I better put this up while it’s still fava bean season.

Fava beans are almost next to artichokes in my book of things which are such a pain in the ass to cook that I almost never make them.  (I love artichokes, but I feel about them the way I feel about sushi:  I’d rather pay somebody else to prepare them for me.)  Fava beans are so delicious, though, and so suggestive of late spring and early summer that I don’t mind a little hassle once or twice a season.

I learned this technique for prepping favas from Saveur, which used to be one of my favorite cooking magazines, before a series of editorial changes took all the fun and flavor out of it.  Essentially, three things must be done to favas before you can eat them:

1)  Remove the beans from the pods.  (The pods are strangely fuzzy on the inside.  Budget a couple of minutes for playing with the pods into your prep time.)

2)  Blanching the beans for about 30 seconds in boiling water.

3)  Slipping the beans out of their skins.  (I generally tear an edge of the skin with one hand and pop the bean out with the other.)

The picture below shows a blanched bean on the left, a blanched bean removed from its skin on the right, and the discarded skin in the middle.

As I said, it’s kind of a pain.  But it’s not rocket science, and once the beans are prepped, the recipe itself is easy:

  • 1 c prepped fava beans, removed from pods, blanched, skins discarded (from about 1 lb. whole fava beans)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • as much olive oil as needed
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the bias into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • handful of mint leaves
  • 1 oz. Pecorino Romano (preferred) or Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional

Put the fava beans, garlic, lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a food processor.

Pulse a few times to grind up the beans.  Scrape down the sides, then process on high for 15 seconds.  The goal is to really puree the beans before adding the olive oil in order to form a nice creamy emulsion.

With the food processor running on high, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  You’ll probably need at least half a cup.  When the mixture is nice and creamy, taste it for seasoning.

Meanwhile, make the crostini (which, like bruschetta, is Italian for “toast”):  Toast as many slices as can fit in your toaster (or spread them on a baking sheet and broil them, or bake them at 350 degrees, or fry them in olive oil…).  Spread a generous spoonful of fava bean purée onto each toast.  Roughly chop the mint leaves, then sprinkle them over the crostini.  If using the cheese, shave thin slices with a vegetable peeler and put enough cheese on each, um, crostino to cover it.  (If not using the cheese, drizzle a little more olive oil—the best you have—on top and add a little coarse sea salt, preferably Maldon.)

Eat these outside on a nice day.  Wash them down with a glass or two of chilled rosé.

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A few years ago, my dad asked me if I had a good recipe for a tomato sauce to complement the pizza he was making.  He seemed a little nonplussed when I said, “Saute some onions and garlic; stir in some canned tomatoes.”  Apparently, he had been expecting something more elaborate.

I’ve had several conversations like this, where people seem surprised that I don’t include dried oregano, red wine vinegar, carrots, cayenne pepper and who knows what else in my tomato sauce.  I decided at some point that I like the purity of flavor of just tomato, onion and garlic, and everything else proved sort of distracing.  Carrots and celery seemed like too much fuss for little payoff; dried herbs always made the sauce taste like high school cafeteria pizza to me.  I’m not adverse to adding a little sugar or vinegar to balance the sweet/tart profile of the sauce, but too much of either starts to push it into ketchup territory.

So, here it is:  basic tomato sauce.  It’s great for saucing pasta as is; you can also keep batches of this in your freezer and thaw it out to use as an ingredient in building lasagna, braising meatballs or creating more elaborate sauces with mushrooms or cured meat.  With a few small additions, it can be turned into the sauce for the Spanish potato dish patatas bravas, which features a spicy tomato sauce with bay leaf, pimenton and sherry vinegar.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes in juice (avoid crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomatoes in puree or any of that other tomfoolery)

Heat a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the garlic; when it starts to color, add the onion and a generous pinch of salt.  Turn heat to medium low and sweat the onions for about 5 minutes, until they start to become golden in color.

Place a colander over a bowl.  Strain out the tomatoes, reserving the juice.  Add the tomatoes (but not the juice) to the skillet, breaking them up with your hand as you go (watch out for flying tomato seeds).  Turn the heat back up to medium.  Crush the tomato into the onion, and saute vigorously for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The tomato flesh should break down and start to caramelize.

Deglaze the skillet with the reserved tomato juice.  Turn the heat to medium high and reduce the sauce, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  By now, the tomatoes should be fairly broken down and the mixture should seem “saucy”.   If you like the sauce on the chunky side, leave it as is; otherwise, transfer the sauce to a food mill or food processor.

Pass the sauce through the food mill.  Use the sauce as is, or reserve for later use.  Mangia!

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I was really proud of this one.  Very summery and refreshing, this is a great topping for tacos.

  • 1 small jicama, peeled
  • 1 lb. snow peas, washed
  • 1 handful grape tomatoes, washed
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c olive oil

Using the coarse holes of a box grater, grate the jicama into a mixing bowl.  Reserve.

Slice the snow peas on a bias into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.  Add to the jicama.  Slice the tomatoes crosswise into thirds, then add to the jicama and snow peas.  Toss to combine.

Roughly chop the garlic and place in a mortar with a generous pinch of salt.  Slice the ginger as thinly as possible, then cut the slices crosswise into matchsticks, then slice crosswise again to mince.  Add the minced ginger to the garlic.  Using a pestle, pound the garlic and ginger to a paste.

Put the garlic-ginger paste in an empty jam (or other) jar.  Juice the lemon and add the lemon juice, honey, vinegar and olive oil to the jar.  Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously for 30 seconds; you should now have a nice creamy vinaigrette.

Toss the vinaigrette with the vegetables; combine thoroughly.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a day to let the flavors meld.

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If they called it “mayonnaise”, you would never eat it.  But since it’s called “aioli”, you can’t get enough of it.  It’s been so ubiquitous on restaurant menus over the past few years that I propose that the last decade be renamed the “Aioli Aughts”.

Aioli (or, by the Catalan spelling, allioli) is simply mayonnaise with a lot of garlic added to it; mayonnaise, in turn, is simply an emulsion of eggs and oil.  I can think of no better example of cooking-as-alchemy than making mayonnaise:  Can you imagine anything less appealing to eat than raw eggs and a cup of vegetable oil?  But when mixed together correctly, they form a rich, flavorful sauce which doesn’t look anything like its constituent parts and which is light years better than Hellemann’s (or any other jarred mayo).  The addition of garlic—a lot of garlic—and using olive oil instead of a neutral vegetable oil are no-brainers; throwing a little pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) into the mix provides a ton of flavor and great color.  Serve this with potatoes (sweet or otherwise),  sandwiches or any sort of fried vegetables.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 T Dijon mustard (preferably Maille)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 t pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika), plus more for garnish
  • 1 c (or more) olive oil

Roughly chop the garlic and place in a mortar-and-pestle with a little salt.  Pound the garlic into a puree, then add to a blender with the mustard, lemon juice, egg, pimentón and lots of black pepper.  Blend over medium speed until thoroughly combined.  With the blender running at medium, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until a nice creamy emulsion forms.  (You may need a little less olive oil, or a little more.)  Taste for seasoning and serve with a little extra pimentón sprinkled on top.

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Thank God it’s April.

Granted, here in the Pacific Northwest, the weather has actually gotten worse since February.  But at least the days are longer and the farmers’ markets finally have something besides turnips and potatoes.  To celebrate all things green, here is this recipe—absolute heaven for garlic lovers.  It’s inspired by the pesto that I used to purchase from Smith Meadows, who run a wonderful stand at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market in Washington, DC, selling fresh pasta, pasta sauces, grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs and other sundry delights.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with green garlic, it’s exactly what it sounds like:  young, green garlic, available in the early spring when the first shoots emerge from the ground.  Green garlic bulbs look like green onions, and they bear the same relationship to regular garlic as green onions do to regular onions (i.e., they are simply the immature versions of those vegetables, with the green stalks still attached).  Just like green onions, green garlic is very pungent when raw.  This is an asset, and this uncooked sauce exploits all of green garlic’s piercingly alliaceous wonder.  It’s great tossed with pasta, and it’s also a wonderful dip for chips, pita and vegetables.  Be warned, though:  This is powerful stuff.

  • 3 bunches green garlic (this will yield about 1 c of chopped, trimmed green garlic)
  • 1/2 c blanched, slivered almonds or pine nuts
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Trim and discard the ends and any nasty bits from the green garlic.  Next, trim off any tough, papery parts and reserve them for your vegetable stock bag.  Roughly chop the garlic.

Add the garlic and almonds to the food processor.  Pulse until roughly chopped, scraping down the sides as needed.  Add a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper.  Turn the machine on low and drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is loose (you will probably use 1/2 c of olive oil, or more).  Stir in the cheese.  Serve.  (To keep in the fridge, cover with a layer of olive oil to help the pesto preserve its bright green color.)

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