The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear.
~Julia Child

Shall the talk be about food or something else? I am torn now.

Peut être, since my youngest son is now in France, it is time for me to talk about Julia. Each day I am graced with awakening early and each night bedding late to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes I and II, and times in between with each one bearing the name on top of Julia Child. Each tome stares me in the face close to my laptop screen and always smilingly so — thank you, Anastasia. By her writings and intervening WGBH television appearances, the 6’2″ Julia Child, with her warbly tongue and sometimes maladroit gestures was ever tactful and frolicsome. Julia and her cohorts Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, Paul Child (whom Julia met at the OSS and married) and always had a couth palette (and Jacques Pépin) simply changed cooking in America. They forever altered my mother and others and somehow randomly permeated me.

Thank you to all and others.

MOROCCAN CHICKEN WINGS (AILES DE POULET MAROCAIN)

4 lbs chicken wings, wingettes and drumettes intact

1 T coriander seeds, slightly heated and ground
1 T mustard seeds,slightly heated and ground
1 T cardamom seeds, slightly heated and ground
1 T cumin seeds, slightly heated and ground

1 T sea salt, finely grated
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T turbinado or raw sugar
1 T light brown sugar
1 T pimenton
1 T turmeric
1 T cinnamon powder
A touch of vanilla extract
1/2 T cayenne
2 limes, juiced
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

2 T apple cider vinegar
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 C fresh jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 C honey
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Preserved lemons, at least 2 or 3, insides spooned out gutted), sliced

Heat the coriander, mustard, cardamom and cumin seeds in a dry medium heavy skillet over low medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until they become aromatic, about 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool, and then coarsely grind in a spice grinder devoted to the task. Transfer to a small glass bowl and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Then, put those 4 (coriander through cumin seeds) and the following 12 ingredients (sea salt through extra virgin olive oil) on the wings in a large ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight, turning a few times.

Then, add the 6 next ingredients (apple cider vinegar through preserved lemons) to a heavy sauce pan and allow to very slowly work to a simmer reducing to 1/2 or so and, after cooling to room temperature, allow this to marinate with the wings for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F at the lower part of the oven and prepare a well foiled pan.

Pour off most of excess marinade. Cook the entirety — the chicken wings + marinades — turning a couple of times, with the exception of the yogurt sauce, scallions, jalapenos,and cilantro (see below), of course, for about 30-40 minutes or so, until nicely yet slightly browned.

Scallions, cleaned and chopped
Jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, membrane removed and thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves, stemmed and chopped

Sauce
1 1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 T honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Then, top the wings with chopped scallions, jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, membrane removed and thinly sliced, and cilantro leaves, chopped.  Drizzle very lightly with, then dip in yogurt sauce.

Now feed (with toppings and yogurt sauce in a bowl) to les enfants and the elders — in the proper wing way, whatever that may be.

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Lamb Chops with Charmoula

February 4, 2009

Charmoula is a lively, fragrant North African herb and garlic concoction which enhances the natural flavors of vegetables, meat, poultry and fish either as a sauce or marinade. It is equally comfortable ladled over asparagus as over grilled swordfish.

LAMB CHOPS WITH CHARMOULA

1 8-bone rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched,* carved into 8 individual chops
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter

*Frenched is when the meat at the tips is trimmed and cut away, exposing the ends of the bones.

1 T cumin seeds
1 T coriander seeds

1 C fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 C fresh mint leaves
1 C fresh cilantro leaves
3 plump fresh garlic cloves, pealed and cut in halves
1 T sweet paprika
1 t sea salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper

6-8 T extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 1 fresh lemon

Heat skillet over medium heat, then add cumin and coriander seeds; toast until aromatic and slightly darker so as the release the essences, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to food processor along with parsley, mint, cilantro, garlic, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper. Pulsing the processor on and off, blend until a coarse paste forms. With maching running, gradually add 4-6 T of olive oil in a slow, narrow, steady stream; continue blending and add 1/2 of lemon juice.

Stir together and retain chilled in a bowl a couple tablespoons of the mixture and the remaining lemon juice and zest to serve over the finished lamb chops.

Season lamb chops with salt and pepper; then, the rest of the charmoula should be liberally lathered over the lamb chops and then placed covered in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. A heavy plastic bag could be used for this coating process. Remove lamb and retained charmoula in bowl from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before cooking.

Melt butter and olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, carefully place lamb chops in pan and saute around 3 minutes on each side, until medium rare. Do not constantly turn the meat or you will damage the connective tissue and mar the surface. Remove and allow lamb to rest for at least 10 minutes, then when served, top with retained charmoula.

Categories’ Translations

January 22, 2009

Admittedly, a paranoia induced entry. In a late night, overwrought effort to be cute, some of my Categories titles may be rightly dubbed obscure. So, to assure the utter transparency that is ever much in the political vogue these days (a more accurate word might be “translucence”), the literal interpretations follow:

Ab Ovo — Eggs

Asides — Vegetables, Side Dishes

Between the Sheets — Sandwich fare

Dough & Yeast — Pasta, Pizza, Calzone

Fine Fowl — Poultry

Fish Out of Water — Fish, Shellfish

Gadgets & Toys — Cutlery, Cookware, Tools, Utensils

Going Green — Salads

Soupçon — Soups

Mulling over Mammals — Meats

Ruminations — Random Thoughts, Ideas

Silk Pantries — Pantry, Cupboard items

Small Pleasures — Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres, Amuses gueles/bouches, Tapas

Sweet Teeth — Desserts

The Holy Grill — Grilling, Barbeque