That’s a true statement. “If you’re making a beet salad, you could emulsify some of the cooked beets and use them in the dressing.” Another Jessica Koslow truism and it’s exactly how she gets more pears into this dish. Raw, thinly sliced pears served with pears caramelized in butter then whirled and emulsified into a vinaigrette. Simply delicious!
However, it’s the combination of warm buttery-browned sprouts and raw nutty-crisp sprouts that makes this way more than just another Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad. GREG
“Warren pears are super sweet and have a velvety, grit-free texture like butter that gives this dressing great body. If you can’t find any, use red d’Anjou.” Jessica Koslow
2-3 Warren pears(1 pound 5 oz. or 600 g. total)
6 tablespoonunsalted butter(85 g.)
2 tablespoonchampagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
fine sea salt
½ cupextra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ poundBrussels sprouts, trimmed(just over 1.1 kg.)
1 tablespoonsherry vinegar
3/4 cuppomegranate arils(130 g.)
⅓ cuptoasted chopped hazelnuts(45 g.)
¼ cuplightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish(13 g.)
Cut the pears lengthwise into quarters, scoop out the cores, and trim off the stems.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a wide pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 pear (4 quarters), cut sides down, to the pan and cook until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Rotate and caramelize the other cut sides for another 1 to 2 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the champagne vinegar, honey, and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend until completely pureed. Then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil and continue blending until the dressing is emulsified.
Cut 1 lbs. (455 g.) of the Brussels sprouts in half. Doing so will cause some of the outermost leaves to fall off. Keep the loose leaves in a little pile on your cutting board.
Return the pan to the stove and heat over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons (60 g.) butter. As soon as the foam subsides, add the cut Brussels to the pan, arranging each one cut side down. (I know this seems like a pain, but it will ensure that the sprouts cook evenly.) Cook, without stirring the sprouts, for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, season evenly with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook the rounded sides for another 2 minutes.
Add the reserved outer leaves and the sherry vinegar, and shake the pan to distribute. Cook for 10 more seconds, just to wilt the leaves, then transfer to a plate.
Shave the remaining raw Brussels sprouts thinly on a mandoline. (Fingers, be careful!) This takes forever with a knife, but a food processor fitted with a slicing/shredding blade would also work. Toss the shaved sprouts into a large bowl. Add the pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts, parsley, about three-quarters of the dressing, and ½ teaspoon salt.
Toss to coat everything well. Taste, adding a bit more salt or dressing to the plate if you want. Thinly slice the remaining pear quarters. Serve the salad with the pan-roasted Brussels and the sliced pears tucked in. Finish with a big squeeze of lemon juice, and a handful of parsley on top.
Vitello Tonnato: tuna, capers, anchovies, and mayo whirled in a blender then slathered over thin slices of chilled veal. It’s the ultimate Italian picnic feast – served on a hot day in the cool shade of an olive tree. I love this dish for the mere fact that you can take something as special as veal, and disguise it with a sauce made of canned tuna.
Tonnato Chip Dip
So why can’t I flip that formula on its head and take sauce as special as tonnato and serve it on something as simple as a potato chip? After all, as a kid didn’t you peel off the top of your tuna fish sandwich just so you could adorn it with crushed potato chips? You were one smart eight-year-old. You knew that the only thing missing from a tuna fish sandwich was the crunch.
So grab a bag of Ruffles and get ready for a Tonnato chip dip! It’s simply too odd not to adore. GREG
Pictures don’t always tell the whole story. I’m pretty thrilled with the Ottolenghi-inspired Herb Fritters you see here. Brown and misshapen, I admit they’re not much to look at. That’s one of the problems facing food bloggers these days. If you want to reach a wide audience your food has to look extra-special scrumptious. Wrapping it in bacon works. So do colorful sprinkles and peanut butter swirls.
It’s true that peanut butter swirls look pretty and get loads of shares (especially when they are tied up in a bow), but they don’t always ignite the imaginations of the more mature palates among us. It’s kind of a Catch 22 because sites like Pinterest and Instagram have brought food bloggers together as a powerful community, but it has also played a part in limiting what defines good food on the web. Leaving delicious but less than gorgeous food un-loved and un-clicked.
That’s why I feel so sad for these delicious little fritters. Sure they look like hard brown hockey pucks. But they’re not, I promise you. In fact, these Herb Fritters – like all good fritters – are tender and fragile. The sort you have to handle carefully, turning them gently in the pan.
Fortunately, a pretty dip or a drizzle makes a welcome accompaniment for Herb Fritters. Bright green tahini has just the right bit of bling. Its hue is so vibrant it almost make these ugly ducklings, deliciously laced with currants and walnuts, ready for their Instagram closeup. GREG
5 ouncefresh green herbs, soft textured leaves only, roughly chopped(choose a combination such as, dill, basil, and cilantro)
1 ½ teaspoonground cumin
¼ cupchopped toasted walnuts
canola oil(as needed)
Place tahini, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a blender. Run the machine, covered, for about 30 seconds then pour in up to ½ cup water to adjust the sauce to the desired consistency. Adding the water at the end improves the color. Set the sauce aside or refrigerate, covered, up to five days.
Cut the sandwich bread, soft crusts and all, into small dice then run them through the food processor to make coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, fresh herbs, cumin, currants, walnuts, and fresh breadcrumbs. Set aside a few moments so that the flavors meld.
Meanwhile, heat about ¼-inch canola oil in a medium saute pan set over medium heat. Use a small ladle to spoon the batter into the hot oil. Use the ladle to flatten the batter as needed into 3-inch discs about ½-inch thick. Once they’re in the oil let them sit undisturbed for a minute or two to allow them to develop a firm, browned crust on the bottom, once firm tenderly flip each one with a spatula. Brown the other side then carefully move the fragile fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season each fritter with a little salt while it’s still hot. Continue with the remaining batter. Do not crowd the pan.
Seared salmon is one of the easiest ways I know to cook fish. I know there are people out there who have a bit of fear when it comes to cooking fish. If that describes you then this is a good technique to master because it is very straightforward and even a bit intuitive if you pay attention.
Start with the salmon – choose salmon fillets with the skin on then wash and dry each one with a paper towel then place the fillets on a plate and refrigerate them, uncovered (yes uncovered), at least one hour. Drying them this way is very important in achieving that super crunchy skin that is so delicious. Wet fillets just don’t crisp up.
Choose a pan that is large enough to give each fillet plenty of room. I like cast iron. It gets good and hot, which means the seared salmon won’t stick to the pan. You really don’t need a non-stick pan. I don’t even own one. When properly cooked this fish will release itself at the right time. I promise.
To begin: Once your fish is dry and chilled, season both sides with kosher salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Once it gets very, very hot, almost smoking; swirl in a tablespoon or two of canola oil and place the salmon, skin side down into the pan. Cook it until the skin is very crisp, dark brown and releases easily. This should take 3 to 4 minutes. Do not be tempted to check or move the fish around in the pan during this time. You will only succeed in making it stick to the pan or worse ruin your beautifully crisp skin.
Another thing about seared salmon is the noticeable changes it goes through as it cooks. Fatty fish like salmon will visibly shrink as soon as it hits the pan. Watch for this. It is key in indicating that your pan is properly heated.
Also pay close attention to the fish as it cooks. Not only will it release itself and flip very easily. But you can also literally watch it cook. The change is dramatic and easy to see. You will notice that the fish gets lighter and more opaque. Do not let it cook more than about 1/4 of the way through at this point. You might be worried that the rest of the fish seems quite raw, but honestly this is a good thing.
Once the skin has crisped flip the fish, and cook it an additional two minutes more or so depending on thickness and how much you like the fish to be cooked. Do not let it cook all the way through. The fish will continue to cook after it leaves the pan. Your goal is a succulent flesh graduating from a rare center outwards to a crispy crackly skin. If you are unsure, please err on the side of less cooked. There is no reason to be squeamish about fish. You really are throwing away good money if you overcook your salmon.
I am serving this seared salmon very simply with a “salsa” of green olives, capers, currants, celery, and saffron from Yotam Ottolenghi. GREG
4-5 large green olives(pitted and cut in ⅓-inch dice))
¼ teaspoonsaffron threads(mixed in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons warm water)
1 pinchkosher salt
2 tablespoonfresh parsley leaves(roughly chopped)
1 teaspoonfinely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoonfresh lemon juice
Cover the currants with boiling water and leave to soak at least 20 minutes.
Put olive oil in a saute pan set over high heat. Add the celery and pine nuts, and cook stirring frequently, until the nuts begin to brown, about 3 minutes (don’t take your eyes off them, because they burn easily). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the capers and their brine, the olives, saffron and its water, and a pinch of salt. Drain the currants and add these with the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside no more than 1 hour before use.
It is a beautiful thing to be in the middle of nowhere on a very small boat with no agenda but joy. We’re in a panga (fishing boat) being chauffered to Isla Coronado off the coast of Loreto, Mexico. Looking through clear water below I see colorful fish dart through fantastic rock formations while the sharp silhouettes of frigate birds slice the sky above. There’s no sight or sound of civilization as our little boat glides into the Sea of Cortez.
After all, we’re here for the excitement and beauty.
Loreto, Mexico is a rare place where an inhospitable desert meets a body of water formed about 25 million years ago when two tectonic plates began separating, cracking the mountains in half, leaving a long narrow sea and a barren peninsula. The Sea of Cortez and Baja California. A world of harsh beauty.
It’s also a world of rare natural diversity. Only a few places in the world boast such an outstanding variety of marine life. In 1996, the waters and islands of Loreto Bay gained national park status. Covering roughly 800 square miles, the Bay of Loreto National Park stretches from Isla Coronado on the northern end to Isla Catalina on the southern edge. Grey whales come to the Sea of Cortez every year between January and March to mate and bear their young. Blue whales, humpbacks, sperm whales, orcas, fin whales and dolphins are also frequent visitors.
Not all the beauty lies beneath the Sea of Cortez. The landscape here is otherworldly. Gnarled cacti loom fantastically on white sandy beaches, acting as a dividing line between the shocking blue sea and a thousand colors splashed across the sheer peaks of the Sierra de la Giganta; steel gray warming to umber, ochre, and yellow. Not to mention all the colors in between whose names I’d have to make up – because there are no words. GREG
I’m in Loreto, Mexico. Right now. I’m tip-tapping this out on an iPhone with taco breath and cold fingers (from a frosty bottle of Mexican beer). As I stare out over the Sea of Cortez I can’t help but let my mind drift back to the very first Mexican taco I ever ate. It was a Taco al Pastor purchased from a roadside stall somewhere near Ensenada. It’s why I’m sitting here enjoying the view and thinking how much I’d like to share some of the delicious tacos in Loreto I’ve been enjoying.
Because whenever I travel south of the border I always think back to that very first sweltering drive south I made in the 1980s. It’s where, as a freshly minted Californian, I first encountered a taco stand.
I don’t know what I expected, but that stand wasn’t much more than a faded rainbow-colored beach umbrella sheltering a woman carving off slivers of al pastor from a vertical spit. Bathed in a chile sauce with achiote, dripping with pork fat and roasted pineapple juice the meat was neatly folded into a corn tortilla and handed to me with a nod to the condiment table. I thanked this woman for my initiation into the world of Mexican tacos, but not nearly profusely enough. Soft. Savory. Acidic. Spicy. I honestly didn’t quite understand what I was in for. Because even after all these years I can still build an entire trip around visiting taco stands.
Tacos in Loreto
Traditional Mexican, touristica, fresh seafood, burgers, farm to table. Loreto, Mexico is not a big town, still, there are a lot of great restaurants… more than 70, I’m told. However, I’m limiting this post to tacos. Taco stands, taco stalls, even well-regarded taco lists from upscale restaurants. These won’t be the big city, chef-driven tacos of my hometown Los Angeles. I’m interested in tasting as many traditional Mexican tacos in Loreto as I can. So, for as long as I’m here I plan to eat, talk and swoon my way through taco, tacos, tacos. GREG
1697 Restaurant & El Zopilote Brewing: Yes, it’s in a hotel and most folks come for the pizza and craft beer but they have a damn good crispy, tempura-style fish taco that tastes just like the beach – no sunscreen required. Calle Davis at the main square
Asadero Sonora: One block off Ave Benito Juarez this place can be hard to find. Put some effort into the task and reap the rewards. Great grilled meat tacos in the open air and over open fire. The carne asada and tripe “mixto” is a winner. Smoky. Crunchy. Salty. Juicy. Impressive. Pino Suarez at Agua Dulce
Asadero Super Burro: Locals love this place as much as visitors. And why not? You can watch as they press tortillas by hand and grill the meat over live fire. The arrachera (grilled skirt steak) is popular, but not as popular as the gigantic burritos accompanied by stuffed baked potatoes (yes, baked potatoes). I’m not used to eating plates of food the size of a mini-van so I stuck to the excellent nopales tacos.Still, if you can handle the mass of the thing you shouldtry their Carne Asada Papa Relleno. It’s what they’re known for. Blvd Salvatierra near Calle Independencia
Birrieria El Valle: This is the quintessential taco stand. The tiny kitchen is hidden among a large cluster of plastic tables and chairs. The place is so small it wouldn’t seem like they’d need all those tables. However, most days I saw locals claiming seats well before the place even opened at 4 pm. Of course, they serve their namesakebirrieria (goat, beef, etc) but there are also tacos dorados (fried tacos) and delicious looking caldos (soups). There’s no menu, everyone seems to know what to order. Benito Juarez near Calle Ayuntamiento
Cesar’s Taco & Beer: Hamburgers, chicken wings, and stuffed baked potatoes are on the menu along with tacos in all the expected varieties. The restaurant, like a lot of places for tacos in Loreto, is a little shabby at the edges but it’s still colorful, festive, and fun. Colegio at Avenida Miguel Hidalgo
El Bajón Restaurant: While walking by the bright green gate that separates the dining area from the street I was surprised to see plastic chairs and tables in the bay of what otherwise looked like the garage of an auto mechanics shop. I’m not saying there were car parts strewn about the place but it’s safe to say that the ambiance is not what brings you in. People come for the antojitos Mexicanos (open dinnertime only) as well as the Menudo and Pozole (servedlos Sabados only). Calle Benito Juarez near Calle Ayuntamiento
El Rey Del Taco: I had a lot of tacos in Loreto and the tacos served at this simple kiosk-cum-restaurant were my favorite. The Carne Asada was a standout, but Loreto is a beach town and El Rey serves the best fish tacos in town. There are plenty of toppings, including a fresh jalapeño flecked pico de gallo, so go ahead and make it all your own. The hours of operation were baffling, but it seems they’re often closed by 2:00 pm. Calle Benito Juarez near Calle Misioneros
Gastroteca A Z U L:The tacos are probably not the reason to go to this upscale, farm to table, chef-driven restaurant located in the ex-pat planned community of Loreto Bay. There’s much fancier fare on the menu. But as long as you’re here… why not eat tacos with the gringos? Paseo Mision de Loreto Ave 158, Nopoló
Jr’s & George’s: You can’t talk about tacos in Loreto and not mention Jr’s & George’s. They seem to specialize in what they call snacks with cocktails. To me, with its array of creative condiments, it’s more like a tapas bar – and tacos make wonderful tapas. They also serve (new to me) flavored beers. The mango was surprisingly refreshing. just off Ave Savatierra east of the square
La Super Torta: There are very good tacos here and (despite the name) I expected that. That’s because this little food stall has everything I look for in street food. First, it’s run by a serious woman who always seems to have one eye on her telenovelas playing on her tiny tv in her tiny kitchen. Also, there’s a walk-up window with a bench where you sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the other customers. As I said the tacos are good but when you look over your shoulder at the other patrons, you’re likely to see that namesake torta, which is essentially a grilled sandwich. Sporadic evenings only. Madero at Fernando Jordan
Mariscos El Caloron: Located under a large second story palapa overlooking the water. This breezy little place offers tacos featuring all sorts of seafood. The pulpo (octopus) and almejas (clams) were standouts. If you tire of tacos they serve all the same toppings on tostadas. Paseo A Lopez Marcos 2
Orlando’s Restaurant: This place is on most tourists radar, but don’t let that scare you away. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a well-situated patio. With it’s colorful Papel Picado banners blowing in the breeze you’ll be looking over your shoulder for Coco herself. But if you can get your mind off the Disney movie and take a look at the menu you’ll find all sorts of choices including hearty egg dishes and simple seafood – not to mention some sort of taco under each category on the menu. Francisco I Madero between Juàrez and Kino Col.
Tacos De Guisados Dizoyla: My guess is that Dizolya is the owner of this taco stand and he’s from the Yucatán. His guisados (gravies) have elements like Conchita Pibil. Dizoyla gets my vote for best overall taco stand because they’re doing things nobody else is doing. Ave Salvatierra just before the historic district.
Tacos el Poblano: Whoever we asked, from a barful of ex-pat gringos to the local boat captain who took us out on his panga, they all said this was the taco stand not to miss. They serve Mexico City-style street food and awesome tacos. It’s well out of the tourist zone, but if you walk north-west along Calle Independencia until you come to the highway you should be able to find it. Ask a local. Miramar, Loreto
Tacos y Mariscos Vayeyo’s: Shrimp, fish, marinated, grilled, fired. There aren’t a lot of choices for tacos here but every one of them is great. Contender for Best Fish Taco is Loreto. All you really need to do is tell them if you want fish or shrimp and a plate of perfectly seasoned and battered tacos arrives, ready for you to sauce up to the nines. Ave Miguel Hidalgo at Colegio
Taqueria La Reyna: A weathered picket fence, an outdoor grill crowned with a chimney seemingly designed for a steam engine, and rickety red chairs set under a palm-draped palapa to save you from the sun. She may not be much to look at but this “queen” serves up a smoky good carneasado taco. Long live the queen! Ave Miguel Hildago between Calle Independencia and Colegio
Tlalocan: This is a popular bar with a very friendly owner/barman. They also serve creative tacos like black bean and goat cheese as well as a delicious coconut shrimp taco that is just sweet enough. Ave Miguel Hidalgo almost to the Malecon
Roasted with lemon or served as a salad with a caramelized shallot dressing. Cooked or raw I’m a fan of Brussels sprouts. However, in the eyes (and pans) of many of us – Brussels sprouts can be dangerous Brassicas. Well maybe not dangerous, but still something to be avoided. Indeed, the difference between a good sprout – sweet and nutty with just a hint of crunch – and its evil cousin – sulfurous and soggy – is totally in the hands of the cook.
Brussels sprouts, part of the Brassica genus, are an edible bud. They’re mini cabbages, really, in the same family as kale and regular-sized cabbage. Brussels sprouts have been grown since the 13th century in Belgium. But somehow on this continent, by the middle of the last century, they developed a reputation for being repulsive. Partly because they were often served boiled to a pulpy mess. Times have changed and so have our attitudes towards this little bud. Treat your Brussels sprouts gently and cook them hot and fast (or not at all) and they will reward you with tenderness and a complex flavor.
Sprouts with Caramelized Shallot Dressing
Try shaving them raw and tossing them with one of the best sweet and sour vinaigrettes I know. Caramelized Shallot Dressing. This salad has a good balance of earthy and bright flavors. It is full of crunch (apples) and cream (pecorino). The chewy dates provide unexpected texture. The shredded Brussels sprouts provide the thrill of frill. Not something you can say about any old salad. GREG
Print This RecipeTotal timeYield4-6Source Adapted from Terrine Restaurant Los Angeles, CAPublished
1 cupcanola oil(plus 1 tablesppon more for sauté pan)
1 cuplightly packed, thinly sliced shallots
3/4 cupcider vinegar
½ teaspoonDijon mustard
kosher salt(as needed)
1 poundtrimmed Brussels sprouts
4 ouncewhole moist dates(pitted and thinly sliced)
1 large sweet apple(such as Fuji or Pink Lady, cut into ½-inch cubes)
4 ouncePecorino Romano(cut into ½-inch cubes)
3 ouncewhole candied pecans(roughly chopped)
Make the dressing: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over high heat in a sauté pan. Add the sliced shallots and cook until caramelized, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Once nicely colored add the vinegar and reduce the liquid by half about 2 minutes. Carefully add the hot shallots and all the liquid to a blender and puree. Stop the machine and add the honey, mustard, remaining 1-cup canola oil, and salt to taste. Puree again, scraping down the sides as needed, and set aside.
Make the salad: Thinly slice trimmed Brussels sprouts using a mandoline or food processor fitted with the slicer attachment. Transfer to a large bowl. Add dates, apples, Pecorino, pecans, and a generous 3/4 cup caramelized shallot dressing; toss to combine.
Let the salad stand 5 minutes to allow the Brussels sprouts to wilt slightly and the flavors to marry.
Fruit pie. Meat Pie. Veg Pie. I find it easy to love pie and it’s pastry that makes pie so lovable. Sure, pastry is good when pressed neatly into a fluted tart pan. In fact, a tart is the most elegant pie I know. However, pastry is just as delicious when treated casually – draped over a pot pie and gently crimped, glazed and scored. But, in my opinion, the best pastries are the little hand pies that verge on messiness. The kind of pie that toys with falling apart in your hands. These Carrot Muhammara Hand Pies have just the right crumble to defy knife and fork.
So pick one up and see why the best pies are the handheld sort. You can buy them on a street corner wrapped in brown paper and eat them on the run, or make them at home to serve with a special wine. Either way, hand pies are a treat. Fragrant, sweet, and savory these Carrot Muhammara Hand Pies have just the right ratio of crust to filling. They define that magic moment when tender crust meets sumptuous filling. The kind of pie that automatically leaves buttery fingers reaching for napkins and slick lips begging for more.
Carrot Muhammara Hand Pies
Of course, a savory hand pie can be filled with almost anything. I’m taking my cues from a chef Civan Er and Melissa Clark recipe that appeared in Clark’s cookbook Dinner. It was designed to be scooped up with pita bread. But what’s stopping you and your buttery fingers from turning this dip into an untraditional muhammara hand pie? GREG
NOTE: Though muhammara is typically served as a dip or spread I felt the flavors and texture lent themselves nicely as a filling to these sweet and savory hand pies. The addition of carrot and ginger are not at all traditional but add a nice sweetness typical to muhammara. If you’d like a bit more sweetness the pomegranate molasses that is included in most recipes could be drizzled onto the warm pastry at serving time.
Print This RecipeTotal timeYield12Source Muhammara adapted from Melissa ClarkPublished
This recipe makes almost twice as much muhammara as you need for 12 hand pies. Serve the extra with flatbreads or pita toasts.
pastry recipe of your choice
1 poundcarrots(trimmed and sliced into ½-inch thick rounds)
1 poundred bell peppers(stemmed, seeded and sliced)
½ cupolive oil(plus 2 tablespoons more for roasting)
¼ cupfreshly squeezed lemon juice
2 clovegarlic(peeled and minced)
1 tablespoonpeeled and grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoonground cumin
½ teaspoonsweet smoked paprika
1 ½ cupwalnut pieces(toasted and chopped )
1 pintkosher salt(plus more for sprinkling)
1 teaspoonwhole cumin seeds(freshly toasted)
4 ouncefresh goat cheese roll(sliced into 6 rounds, then cut in half crosswise into 12 half-moons)
1 large egg yolk(mixed with a teaspoon water, as egg wash)
Prepare Pie Pastry recipe of your choice. Divide dough in half, shape into 2 discs about 5-inches in diameter and 3/4-inch thick. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days), or freeze up to 1 month.
Make the muhammara filling: Preheat oven to 400 F.
On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss the carrots and bell peppers with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange in as close to a single layer as possible. Roast in the heated oven until the peppers are charred and the carrots are browned and tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Don’t be afraid to let them get some color on them. Set aside to cool somewhat.
Once cooled place the carrots, peppers, remaining ½ cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, ground cumin, smoked paprika, and about half of the walnuts In a food processor. Pulse until mixture is mostly smooth adding a dribble or two of water if the mixture seems too thick. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and add the remaining chopped walnuts and the whole, toasted cumin seeds. Stir to combine.
Make the hand pies: On a lightly floured surface, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out one disc of chilled dough to a 12 or 13-inch round, a generous 1/8-inch thick. Cut out six 4-inch rounds, using a round cutter or appropriately-sized saucer and knife. Gather scraps and re-roll as needed so you can get six rounds. Repeat with the second disc of dough. Lay the 12 rounds out evenly spaced onto 1 or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets (as needed depending on size).
Bring the oven temperature to 425 F.
Dollop about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons muhammara filling onto each round mounding in the center, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around. Don’t overfill or they will be difficult to seal. Lay one half-moon slice of goat cheese on top of filling, nestling it into the mixture. Brush edges lightly with egg wash. Carefully bring both sides up and towards the center so they meet at the top forming a football shape. Pinch edges together to seal. Then decoratively crimp or scallop edges as you like. Leave hand pie sitting with decorative edge facing up or lay it on its side, whichever you prefer. Brush with more egg wash. Sprinkle with salt. Make 2 tiny slashes in the crust with the point of a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Refrigerate on the baking sheet(s) until chilled, about 20 minutes.
Bake in the heated oven, rotating sheets halfway through if necessary until pies are golden brown; about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Speck-Wrapped Grilled Persimmon. This is one of those “on the menu” items that made me think “I could do that”. I saw the whole recipe in my head without even having to see the presentation. That’s partly because I’m a big Judy Rodgers fan. Not that I spied this tasty little tidbit at Zuni Cafe. No, the inspiration came from Local Kitchen + Wine Bar in Santa Monica, CA.
Still, I have to give the late Ms. Rodgers some of the credit because it was her opinion (in her 2002 cookbook) that speck is to persimmon as prosciutto is to fig that convinced me this grilled persimmon recipe couldn’t help but be a winner.
Speck or Prosciutto
Which might be slicing the pig a little too closely for some folks. After all, at its most elemental speck is prosciutto that is laced with spices like juniper and bay leaves and then smoked and/or dry-aged. You can see how the spice would work nicely with persimmon and the salt cure typical to prosciutto would be better suited to a sweeter, more succulent fruit such as fig.
Still, the internet is littered with folks who think otherwise. Google the combination of “persimmon and prosciutto” and you’ll find plenty of cheerleaders – though not too many of these examples feature grilled persimmon. So I’ve got that going for my version.
I did find an Aida Mollenkamp recipe at Food52 for Speck-Wrapped Persimmons. Though her version is not grilled it does prove that I’m not the only cook out there who still reads The Zuni Cafe Cookbook as if it were gospel. GREG
Print This RecipeTotal timeYield12-18Source Inspired by Local Kitchen + Wine Bar, Santa Monica, CAPublished
2-3 ripe but firm fuyu persimmons
12-18 slicespeck(or smoked prosciutto)
aged balsamic vinegar(for drizzlling)
the delicate tips of fresh fennel fronds(roughly chopped)
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat.
Meanwhile, on a clean work surface trim each persimmon lightly on the top and bottom then peel each one carefully. Cut the peeled persimmons lengthwise into 6 or more wedges, depending on size.
Fold a slice of the speck in half lengthwise then carefully wrap it snugly around a persimmon wedge leaving the persimmon exposed on two sides. Secure the speck with a toothpick if you like. Repeat with remaining persimmons and speck.
Carefully oil the grates of the hot grill. Place the wrapped persimmons wedges on the grates and cook, turning often, until the speck is charred and crisp and the persimmon is hot and tender. Transfer to a serving platter.
While still hot, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fennel fronds. Serve immediately.
This is the second time I’ve used rye flour to make chocolate chip cookies. The first time was because Dori Greenspan’s description of the Mokonuts Cafe and Bakery’s Rye-Cranberry Chocolate-Chunk Cookies was so enticing that I decided to put aside the prejudicial notion that rye was strictly suitable as the chosen sheath for hot pastrami with mustard and give rye flour cookies a try.
I liked what I scarfed and evangelized on the subject here.
So when I came across L.A. icon Karen Hatfield’s (chef/owner Sycamore Kitchen) Chocolate Chip Rye Cookies I decided to see if my first success with rye flour cookies was a fluke. After all, I still had plenty of rye flour leftover from my Greenspan foray into the subject.
The Greenspan cookies (though amazingly delicious) are filled with shards of melted chocolate and laced with pinpoints of poppy seeds giving them a complex texture blasting with diverse flavors. Making it hard to say exactly what rye flour brings to the recipe.
Rye Flour Cookies
However, the Hatfield recipe doesn’t stray too far from what you expect from a chocolate chip cookie. Making it far more suitable for a taste test. What I found is that the rye flavor is subtle, a bit nutty, and definitely offers an intricacy not achieved with all-purpose flour alone chocolate chip cookies.
However, I also discovered (with research) that rye flour has long been considered a challenge to bakers because of its low gluten content, which can make it more difficult to work with and produce a crumb that can be gummy. But if you experiment with using a mixture of rye and wheat flour in recipes (I read) then you can turn that gummy texture into an advantage.
In the end I I decided that rye flour delivers cookies that have a crisp crust surrounding a chewy-textured center, providing the perfect protection to pockets of molten chocolate. It’s positively the best of the standard-style chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. GREG
Contrary to the source recipe I chopped the chocolate chunks into variable sizes, leaving many of them quite large for a “marbled” effect. You may chop the chocolate into ¼-inch chunks as the original recipe specifies if you like.
3/4 cupunsalted butterat room temperature
5 ouncedark brown sugar
4 ouncegranulated sugar
4.3 ounceall-purpose flour
4.3 ouncedark rye flour
3/4 teaspoonbaking soda
3/4 teaspoonbaking powder
3/4 teaspoonkosher salt(plus extra for sprinkling)
½ teaspoonground caraway seed
2 teaspoonvanilla extract
6 ounce(70%) chocolate(chopped into chunks)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda and powder, ¾ teaspoon salt and caraway seed.
Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and continue to beat until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat until almost fully incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to combine. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the dough (about 2 tablespoons or 45 grams for each cookie) and space the cookies a few inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with a little kosher salt. Bake the cookies until they are crisp on the edges but still soft in the middle, about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through for even baking.