Results tagged salt from David Lebovitz

How to Make French Vinaigrette

One assumption that I’m going to make about the French is that they’re not afraid to make things au pif, or “by the nose”.

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I don’t know if a precise recipe for sauce vinaigrette actually exists. But if there is, I bet few people follow it very closely. And Romain is no different from his compatriots when it comes to recipes, and rules.

They are both for other people—and don’t apply to him.

adding salt salad basket

Vinaigrette is just one of those things. It’s a few simple ingredients which come together so well, when done right. Anyone can make it: you just pour, stir, marinate, then taste until it’s just right. But the salad dressings in France always taste better to me than elsewhere. So thought I’d follow Romain when he made a true vinaigrette. He was surprised at the idea of measuring anything, so I follow him through the steps, taking a few notes along with way (see Recipe, at the end) and along the way, I learned two French secrets for a great salad dressing.

One is that you must use good Dijon mustard.

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Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons

Israeli Couscous

When I started this site, I had forums, where people could chat and post messages. Before we took it down (because my brain was about to implode), one of the burning questions on there was this: Is couscous pasta?

My contention was that it wasn’t, since it wasn’t a ‘paste’ (or as the French would say, un pâte), which is what I believe—in my limited intelligence—that pasta is.

On the other hand, perhaps it is pasta, because couscous is flour mixed with water, then rolled until little granules form. Theoretically, then, it is a paste before it’s broken down into little bits. Which makes me wonder if kig ha farz is pasta, too? (Although back then, no one would have know what that was, so it wouldn’t have bolstered my argument.)

flat leaf parsley

Then, to make matters even more complicated, there’s Israeli couscous, whose springy, chewy texture wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if someone called it pasta.

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Nopa: The Burger That Knocks It Out of the Ballpark

The search ended abruptly Friday night at Nopa.

nopa burger

It’s one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, and my pal Matt and I decided to have a boy’s night out while the planets were aligned and we were both in town at the same time. Even before I saw a menu, I knew I wanted the burger and after a plate of incredibly tasty Padrón peppers (which, if you haven’t tried, you should hop on a plane to try right now—and that’s coming from someone that dislikes peppers, almost across-the-board) and a couple of Sidecars (Matt’s with rum, mine with Armagnac), my burger finally landed. And ho-boy, what a beauty*.

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Molecular Gastronomy and Playing With Powder

pouring caramel

There’s a lively debate about Molecular Gastronomy in the culinary community. For the most part, from what I’ve heard, it’s all rather derisive. Just like Matisse was widely-panned for painting a woman’s face with a green stripe down the middle, I think we’re going to have to let time tell us if this is just a passing fancy or if it’s something that’s here to stay.

I’ve been sharing my apartment for the past few months with the Alinea cookbook. We haven’t socialized much, but we’ve been circling each other, warily.

My first though when I opened the book was to scratch my head, and think, “What the heck am I going to make from this?”

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Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe with Salted Peanut Caramel

peanut butter cookies

I promised a bunch of holiday-friendly recipes this month, and this one is a doozy! Peanut butter cookies, filled with salted peanut caramel—do those sound as good to you as they do to me?

The recipe is from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet, who is one of America’s best bakers. Her name might not be on the edge of your tongue, but she’s been quietly rolling doughs, mixing up batters, and baking off custards in this book, which is an encyclopedic authority on baking that tips the scales in both the breadth of recipes, and the actual weight itself.

And I thought my soul was a bit weighty.

When I was asked a few months ago to write a quote for the book jacket, I rifled through the preview pages, bookmarking a slew of recipes I plan to make.

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Seaweed Cookie Recipe

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Last week, I was making my weekly ice cream deliveries to the vendors at my local market, which was especially necessary since my freezer was super jam-packed and begging for relief. (Which you may have seen when I inadvertently bared-all in my kitchen slide show.) When I stopped by to drop off a pint to my pal Régis, who sells salt at the market, I immediately honed in on a big basket he had heaped full of tiny sacks of bright green seaweed-flecked salt. He opened one, waved it under my nose, then handed it to me to play around with at home.

The first thing I did was add it to some eggs I was scrambling in the center of some fried rice, and it was excellent. Then I thought it would be delicious sprinkled over cold soba, thin Japanese buckwheat noodles. And it was. So I kept going and made a jeon, a big Korean pancake, which was another hit, too.

I’m on a roll!

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Lisbon

If anyone of you has been planning to go to Portugal, I’d say “Don’t walk…run!” to get there. Except that’s perhaps only possible if you live close by, in Spain. And in which case, you’d probably take the train.

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Here’s some various and sundry impressions and images from my trip. Apologies to any Portuguese folks for mangling their language. And thanks to the readers who offered ideas for places to go and things to eat. I would agree that Lisbon is a terrific place to spend a few days, but if you go, it’s worth either renting a car or taking the train to explore some of the beaches and small towns outside of the city.

And if you don’t learn any other word in Portuguese, the most important word in the language is churrasquiera….or ‘barbeque’.

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What I love most about Lisbon is that there’s still plenty of relics from the decades of the recent past, namely bits and pieces of art nouveau and art deco everywhere. And the tilework, which you can find all around the city is marvelous, constantly surprising and very colorful.

Equally marvelous, and edible to boot, are natas; small custard-based tartlets meant to be consumed en masse. Believe me, if I could’ve fit all three into my mouth at once I would have. No one is shy in Lisbon: you simply belly-up to the counter and order a plateful.

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Although they vary in quality from place to place in Lisbon, some of the best natas and other pastries are at Pastelaria Versailles.

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Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Although it’s possible to buy citrons confits at Arab markets here in Paris, making Moroccan Preserved Lemons couldn’t be easier and they taste far fresher than anything you can buy. I insist on foraging through the mounds of lemons at my market in pursuit of the smallest citrus possible (which I don’t recommend doing here, by the way, unless you know the vendor pretty well.)

But you may be lucky to have a friend with a lemon tree and they’re probably more than happy to let you take a few off their hands… although none of my friends in Paris seem to have lemon trees growing in their apartments, unfortunately. And if you live where Improved Meyer Lemons are available, by all means feel free to use them instead of the more common Eureka lemons.

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I like to finely dice preserved lemons and mix them with sautéed vegetables, such as green beans, fava beans, or to elevate lowly rounds of carrots into something interesting and exotic, perhaps tossing in a few cumin seeds as well. They’re also good mashed into butter with some fresh herbs, then smeared on top of grilled fish or a nice hunk of caramelized roasted winter squash. And I’ve been known to sneak some into a batch of tapenade, as well as adding some finely-chopped little pieces to a batch of lemon ice cream too!

In addition to their ability to multi-task, there’s something comfortable and nice about having a jar of vivid lemons on the kitchen counter to keep tabs on their progess every morning, like a flowering Amaryllis bulb or a family of Sea Monkeys coming to life. I’m keeping a vigilant eye on my lemons daily, noticing how much juice they’re giving off, how soft they’re getting, and enjoying how they gently deflate and nestle themselves against each other as they settle nicely into the corners of my vintage glass canning jar (which I barely rescued from the clutches of some madame at a flea market last summer.)

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