If the word doesn’t exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn’t exist.
~ Charles Baudelaire

Just last week, Merriam-Webster, America’s leading dictionary publisher, announced its Word of the Year (WotY) based upon a surge in hits or lookups. Sciencethe systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment garnered the award. “It is a word that is connected to broad cultural dichotomies: observation and intuition, evidence and tradition,” noted Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. By the way, the word holding second place was “cognitive” which involves conscious mental activities such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering. Hmm

Oxford Dictionaries had earlier disagreed, bestowing the honor to the obsessive, egoistic term selfie, a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. Could you possibly imagine sites as trite and fatuous as Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as fonts of narcissism? Right, sure. Although selfie is not in Oxford Dictionaries currently, it is being considered for future inclusion.

Gremolata (gremolada) from the Italian dialect word gremolaa (Lombardy) meaning “to break, mix, or knead” was traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. A versatile soul, gremolata is a condiment that can facilely grace braised, grilled, sautéed, and roasted meats, fowl and fish.

GREMOLATA

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GREMOLATA WITH ORANGE

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1/2 orange
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and orange and lemon zests. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

MINT GREMOLATA

1/2 C fresh mint leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 C pine nuts, toasted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the mint, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

CILANTRO GREMOLATA

1/2 C cilantro leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 lime juice
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the cilantro, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GREMOLATA WITH BONE MARROW

Beef marrow scraped from 2 – 6″ long beef bones
1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, whisk or mash together the marrow, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pourboire: For a more robust texture and a twist in flavor, consider adding finely chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or walnuts (or pine nuts as above) to any of the gremolatas.

Advertisements

My idea of heaven is eating pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets.
~Sydney Smith

Is there a food stuff that causes more audible moans than foie gras? And these are the genuine, euphoric, bone deep type—not the staged purrs of a cleavaged Giada undulating under hot lights popping risotto balls and sucking her fingers.

Foie gras has been the subject of a recent food fight, courtesy of animal rights advocates…almost like the new fur. The controversy rose to the level of having these delicacies outlawed in the Windy City in a move much akin to a ban on sex or wine. A two year prohibition on serving these heavenly morsels, which was openly flaunted by restauranteurs, was repealed by an overwhelming vote. There seems to be nothing more entertaining than the ever shifting dramas orchestrated or stumbled upon by Chicago’s aldermen.

Most American foie gras is gleaned from Moulard ducks which are a cross between the Muscovy and Pekin species.

SEARED FOIE GRAS WITH FIGS, PORT WINE & LAVENDER HONEY

1 whole duck foie gras, about 1 1/2 pounds, slightly chilled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T unsalted butter

1 T extra virgin olive oil
6 fresh black mission figs, halved
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6 tarragon leaves, chopped
1/2 C port wine
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T orange juice

2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T lavender honey (warmed) or raw unprocessed honey
1/2 t orange zest
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the foie gras and pat dry with paper towels. Carefully pull apart the 2 lobes of the foie gras and with your fingers remove the veins that are lodged between them. Cut away any extraneous fat and green spots and pull away any membranes. On the inner side of the small lobe, carefully pull away the large vein that runs through the center and remove any smaller veins that branch out from it. With the larger lobe, locate the larger central vein and remove it with any attached veins.

Using a sharp knife dipped in boiling water, slice each lobe into 1″ medallions. Score the top of each medallion in a diagonal pattern and season with salt and pepper. Add the butter to a heavy skillet over medium head and sear the medallions for 30-45 seconds per side. Please be careful not to overcook or you will be rewarded with a puddle of expensive melted fat. Remove to a platter lined with paper towels to drain and tent.

Lower heat to medium and pour out a bit of the rendered duck fat. Add the figs, cut side down, then add the shallots and tarragon, cook until figs are brown, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with port, apple cider vinegar, and orange juice, cooking about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and vigorously whisk in butter, honey, orange zest, salt and pepper. Spoon over foie gras slices which are arranged over a slice of grilled or toasted toast and surrounded by figs.

Chilled Asparagus

May 8, 2009

…my greatest pleasure was the asparagus, bathed in ultramarine and pink and whose spears, delicately brushed in mauve and azure, fade imperceptibly to the base of the stalk—still soiled with the earth of their bed—through iridescences that are not of this world.
~Marcel Proust, Du Côté de Chez Swann, vol. I of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu

Is it overly evident that (eons ago) my favorite professor was a renowned Proust scholar? On reflection, he may have been partially responsible for my prolonged asparagus addiction. I have a passion for many foods, but a particular fondness for cold asparagus whether served with varied vinaigrettes or this juxtaposed citrus and garlic dressing.

CHILLED ASPARAGUS WITH CITRUS & GARLIC

2 lbs thick asparagus, bottoms snapped off
Water
Sea salt

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 T parsley, coarsely chopped
3 T mint, coarsely chopped
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Bring water to a boil in a large stock pot and add a liberal dose of salt. Put the asparagus into the boiling water and cook briefly until crisp, less than 2 minutes. Remove and immediately plunge into an ice and frigid water bath for a couple of minutes, stirring some. Make sure the ice bath is sufficiently cold as you want to halt the cooking process abruptly.

Remove and immediately drain asparagus on towels, then transfer to a large baking dish or large platter. Add the lemon zest and juice, orange zest, grapefruit zest and juice, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and olive oil and gently toss. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator, allowing all of the flavors to meld. However, do not allow to chill too long as the spears can become a bit soggy.