Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A better rarebit

A standby of the cafeteria menu at the all girls school I attended from elementary through high school was Welsh Rarebit. A dish made totally of earth toned food, Welsh Rabbit, as we dubbed it (because what is "rarebit" anyway? ), is a mixture of buttered toast and cheese sauce. Though it was nowhere near meeting the ideal nutrition of the food pyramid, we nevertheless gobbled up the English pub standard.

So, when I saw an updated Rarebit recipe in this month's Gourmet, I had to try it, if only for nostalgia's sake. To my surprise, this rarebit recipe is packed full of modern, complementary and complex flavors. Quick-picked onions and watercress add vinegar and bite -not to mention welcome color and crunch. And eggs round out the dish as a true meal with some protein. And the sauce....the sauce has Guinness in it. Velvety, rich and amazing. A great, easy weeknight meal or weekend brunch dish.

Note: I used 6 oz. (instead of 8) reduced fat pre-shredded cheddar to quicken and lighten the dish.

Stout and Cheddar Rarebit with Fried Eggs

Gourmet | October 2008

by Maggie Ruggiero

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Active Time: 20 min

Total Time: 20 min

1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup Guinness Extra Stout (without foam)
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 large eggs
4 thick slices peasant bread (preferably sourdough)
1/2 pound extra-sharp white Cheddar, grated
1 bunch watercress, coarse stems discarded
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Bring vinegar, granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir in onion and transfer to a small bowl. Let stand, stirring occasionally.

Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and dry mustard and cook, whisking, 2 minutes. Add beer, water, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce and simmer, whisking, until just thickened.

Fry eggs and toast bread. Reheat sauce, then remove from heat and gradually whisk in cheese until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Top each slice of toast with cheese sauce and 2 fried eggs. Toss watercress with oil, a pinch of salt, and drained pickled onions and arrange on top.

Top each slice of toast with cheese sauce and 2 fried eggs. Toss watercress with oil, a pinch of salt, and drained pickled onions and arrange on top.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fingerling Potato Salad with Green Chile-Cilantro Salsa

It's not exactly potato salad season anymore, but this dish makes a great warm and slightly spicy side with your fall sausages and braised meats! I happen to really like spice, and this didn't have quite the kick I expected. I'd leave the ribs and seeds of one of the jalapenos if I make these again. Also, it does need a good sprinkling of kosher or sea salt just before serving.

Fingerling Potato Salad with Green Chile-Cilantro Salsa

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt to taste


1. Place the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, and then bring the water to a boil. Turn to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

2. Drain the potatoes and let cool for a few minutes. Cut in half and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, toss the jalapeños, cilantro, shallot, garlic, oil, and vinegar in blender. Process until finely chopped and a paste has formed.

4. Toss the salsa with the potatoes. Salt to taste

Thursday, October 16, 2008


One of the key ingredients in Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb is a browned butter or ghee. A key ingredient in lots of Indian dishes, ghee adds a savory nutty flavor. The first time I tried to make, I took my eyes off the pan and it quickly burned. Then I found Alton Brown's recipe -its time restrictions make it nearly fail-safe. Though the recipe calls for 1 lb. of butter, it will work with just about any amount, as little as 1/2 a stick.

Alton Brown

1 pound butter

Place butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring butter to boil. This takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. The butter will form a foam which will disappear. Ghee is done when a second foam forms on top of butter, and the butter turns golden. Approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Brown milk solids will be in bottom of pan. Gently pour into heatproof container through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Store in airtight container being sure to keep free from moisture. Ghee does not need refrigeration and will keep in airtight container for up to 1 month.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Easy Braised Chicken in Red Sauce

Have any extra budget red wine in your fridge? Yeah. We rarely leave bottles half empty. But if you do, this is a good, fairly easy weeknight or Sunday night dinner I adapted from a Cooking Light recipe that's a good use for your leftover vino. Chicken in Red Wine sauce with a briny twist courtesy of capers and anchovies.

1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
4 chicken thigh halves, skinned
4 chicken drumsticks, skinned
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups fruity red wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 anchovy fillets, minced
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Heat 2 tsp oil in dutch oven. Chop onion into rough chunks. Add onion and garlic to dutch oven. Cook until onion is transparent and garlic is golden and fragrant.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to dutch oven; cook until browned on each side, approximately 10 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Increase heat to high; add wine to pan. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in chicken, tomato, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Cover and cook 20 minutes, turning chicken after 10 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Increase heat to medium-high; add anchovies and capers to pan. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Serve with quick-cooking couscous (such as Near East).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pasta with Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce

We spent our honeymoon in Turkey and Greece which may be while just about any meal with lamb, yogurt and dill makes us swoon. Which brings me to another great recipe from the New York Times Dining Section: Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce. I tweaked/lightened this recipe enough that I'm going to print my adaptation below, but you can check out the original through the link above.

A warning to city dwellers with small kitchens: this recipe takes a lot of pots and space. You will need your oven, three burners, and a colander in the sink. Good way to practice your multi-tasking!

Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, in 1/2 -inch cubes

5-7 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin, or non)

1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, more to taste

3 fat garlic cloves, minced (bottled minced garlic is fine)

1 large shallot, minced

1 pound ground lamb

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped dill, more to taste

1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, to taste

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt. (I used non-fat Fage)

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.

2. In a medium sized bowl, toss eggplant with 4-6 tablespoons oil (to lightly coat all pieces) and a large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet, making sure there is room between pieces, and roast until crisp and brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and the shallot and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lamb, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Sauté until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. If there is an excess of fat, use a baster to remove from pan. Stir in dill and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir eggplant into lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter: the amount is to your taste. Cook on low until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt.

5. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Mix with lamb-eggplant mixture, then add yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Sprinkle on additional red pepper and dill to taste. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 large servings.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Would you like a side of misogyny with that?

I remember a few years ago when my now husband and I were dining at a fancy establishment, he was floored that the menu I received did not have the prices listed on his. It didn't have any prices at all. The Country Club to which my family belongs and where we dined often did the same thing so I was somewhat used to it, though I am glad that the practice is going out of vogue. After all, sometimes I'm paying the bill and would like to see the prices!

Today The New York Times Dining Section has a great article about dining gender roles. The gist being that waiters tend to veer towards the conservative when in doubt of the preferences of the table. The various specific are quite interesting and made me question my biases and preferences when dining out. For instance, I would balk if my male dining companion tried to order for me, but would appreciate if he let me order first. I couldn't care less about being served one second before him.

Its a very good read and suggests that formal dining may be a last bastion of chivalry. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Martha's Vineyard Seafood. Tell 'em Dog sent ya.

We were on Martha's Vineyard this past weekend for my lovely sister-in-law's wedding. One benefit of our cab to bus to cab to plane trip from NYC to the Island was a little bit of local color in the form of Dog, a New Bedford Mass cabbie. He had driven cabs on the Vineyard for years and told us we must go to the Menemsha Fish Market, ask for Stanley and tell him Dog sent you. Sold.

Menemsha is located up-island as the locals say. Spielberg used it (and lots of other Vineyard locations) in "Jaws." It's a small working fishing village with a beach, a smattering of stores, and two fish markets. A perfect backdrop for a dockside lunch of fresh shellfish.
We ventured inside and found Stanley, a short line, and a gigantic lobster. At least three times the size of his tank companions, Lobsterzilla will pose for a picture with you for $5 (which goes to a local charity). We ordered clam chowder, lobster bisque, two lobster rolls and crab jalapeno dip (for later).

Both the chowder and bisque were amazingly rich and creamy, with the largest pieces of clam/lobster I have ever seen in these kinds of soups. I can confidently say that the chowder was the best I have ever tasted. Pefect chunks of potato, tons of whole, huge clams. Perfect temperature to warm up my insides without burning my tongue.

The lobster roll, which cost all of $12, a steal compared to $30 in the city, was positively overflowing with lobster meat. Enormous chunks of tail and claw meat with little else than celery and mayo. Truthfully, I could have used a bit more mayo, but without dollops of my favorite condiment, the subtle taste of the crustacean did shine.

Lastly. The view. Pefect rustic New England meal in its natural location. Heaven.