Convivial, indeed!

20 February 2012

two soups in one bowl: creamy chickpea and Winter greens with hot pepper, Parmigiano Reggiano and olive oil

Manila clams from the wood oven with potatoes, celery, marjoram, green garlic and a garlic rubbed toast

cara cara oranges and kiwi fruit

The kitchen soundtrack: “Accidents Will Happen” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions


Improvisations in pork

I read cookbooks compulsively.  I’m not reading for the recipes as much as I’m trying to stock my brain with many ideas about how to put together food.  Sometimes I like to sit with four or five books, cross referencing the different methods, ingredients and techniques used in a particular dish.  Sometimes, I like to read about the same ingredients used differently in four or five different cuisines.  After such a period of gathering information, I ponder, let things settle a bit and allow myself to forget a little what I’ve just learned.

Then, when I’m improvising in the kitchen, I call on these abstract resources to inform my kitchen play; making something like this pork dish, which is not traditionally Mexican but loosely references cochinita pibil, chile Colorado and mancha manteles (tablecloth stainer).

First, I covered some dried gypsy peppers with hot water to let them rehydrate.  Then, I finely diced an onion and sautéed it with olive oil and pounded cumin seed.  After that, I blended the gypsy peppers with half a raw onion, three cloves of garlic, dried Mexican oregano and black peppercorns.  I added this pepper puree to the oil, onions and cumin in the soup pot and let it sizzle and cook a bit.  Then, I added shredded braised pork, pork braising juices and roasted chanterelles to the pot along with a long strip of banana leaf that I found in the freezer.  As the pork simmered, I tasted it for  flavor, sweetness and heat.  I added hot New Mexican chile powder, sweet paprika, pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and honey.  Then, mimicking the flavor of sour orange juice, I added juice from one orange and one meyer lemon to the pot once it was off the heat.

The kitchen soundtrack: the album “Funhouse” by the Stooges

17 February 2012

red chile pork and chanterelle mushrooms with Mexican oregano

pickled red onions with allspice and clove

hot tortillas

basmati rice with bay

queso fresco, sliced avocado, scallions, sour cream, limes

Fancy that!

16 February 2012

marinated olives with meyer lemon, coriander and bay

roasted almonds with rosemary and sage

piccolo antipasto of broccoli and anchovy toasts, carrot ribbons, chard and roasted red cabbage with raisins and pinenuts

overnight pork shoulder with marjoram, a turned potato, foraged chanterelles and roasted shallots

Eden’s lettuces

pink lady apple crostata with honey from our bees and creme fraiche

“Saint Stephen with a rose, In and out of the garden he goes” — Robert Hunter



A haiku inspired by the morning walk:

Lo, bird on the grass!

Your tune, a scrape of metal.

Alert, staccato.

14 February 2012

Valentine’s Day

oranges, blood red beets and roasted radicchio with shallots and hazelnuts

butternut squash tortellini with balsamic vinegar, brown butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and sage

homemade armagnac prune hot cocoa with honey from our bees

The kitchen soundtrack: “No Compassion” by the Talking Heads and “St. Stephen” by the Grateful Dead

Bobby Previte and Andrea Kleine