Helga Jönsson's Roast ChickenHelga Jönsson's Roast Chicken
january 25, 2015

I love a roasted  chicken. My entire family will eat it without complaint, there are always leftovers and a crockpot of stock can be made from the bones. Lately I've been investigating how other people roast their chicken, and in this case Marcus Samuelson's adaptation of his Grandmother's traditional recipe was the perfect thing, to celebrate my own children's Grandmother.

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Orange-Fennel Salad

Orange-Fennel Salad
january 25, 2015

I don't usually love bitter greens in my salad, but this one is quite good. It turns the more typical mix of grapefruit and a less disagreeable flavor (like butter lettuce or avocado) on its head, with frisée playing the part of cranky old endive. Orange, fennel and balsamic vinegar join the bowl to sweeten things up. A combination of cara-cara and blood oranges work especially well here.

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Orange-Curry Beef Stir FryOrange-Curry Beef Stir Fry
january 9, 2015

This dish puts an Indian spin on orange-beef, which I would usually consider Chinese. But adding Madras curry powder makes it something altogether different, a one-dish meal with the homey warmth of curry and a sour-sweet kick.

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20141010-PinkEggsSmBeet Salad with Pink Eggs
october 10, 2014

The problem with beets is that they turn everything pink. So why not do it deliberately? This salad is fast to put together and serve if the beets and eggs are cooked ahead of time. Which I didn't mind doing before breakfast, because dying eggs pink is fun.

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Beef Cheek TacosBeef Cheek Tacos
august 26, 2014

Roy Choi's memoir L.A. Son, the story of how he came to create the world's most popular taco truck, is a crazy fun ride of a read. In it he describes cabeza (aka beef cheek) tacos  as "some of the best things this planet has to offer as food." So of course I had to try them.

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20130301-CakeBlood Orange Cake
march 7, 2013

My kids love blood oranges because they are a little bit disgusting. “Mommy!  Get some really bloody ones!”  By this late date in winter they are no longer interested in eating plain old oranges: only the red variety or fresh squeezed juice of the orange one will do.

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20100509-SorbetPolenta and Blood Orange Sorbet
may 9, 2010

Homemade polenta can be an intensive affair, it requires half an hour of near continuous stirring. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has a walk-away version, but it needs to simmer for an hour and a half, after two separate pots of water are brought to a boil, one at a time, on top of each other. That takes more pre-planning than I can handle.

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Mmmm....Lamb Rub!

We had a wonderful lunch today - and the best part?  I didn't cook it.  My husband Jason, who likes meat, cooked a leg of lamb and  a pot of beans.  He made fennel and blood orange vinaigrette. My friend Laure brought cream puffs.  All I had to do was go out into the garden and snip some lettuce and arugala. Luckily, I have a nice raincoat. 

The lamb was a two day project - Jason picked it up from Avedano's on his way home from work friday and somehow managed to cram it into the refrigerator.  Saturday he realized he'd incorrectly instructed the butcher and removed the thigh bone himself, much to the horror (or was it fascination?) of our children and their guest, Iris.  He made a paste of garlic and parsley and little fish and rubbed it all over the lamb, inside and out.  Then he tied it up with some string and crammed it into the fridge again.  Sunday he roasted it in the oven. After the work was done, he assured me that really it wasn't much work at all.

Then, after lunch, he took the kids out to see a movie.  It was great to have the house to myself, but a little lonely to wash all those dishes in silence.  I guess I could have turned on the radio. I did get a chance to do some reading on the sofa, though, which is really rare.  Usually I read in my bed, in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.  

Right now I'm reading Best Food Writing of 2009  for the Food Lit Book Club I moderate at 18 Reasons. 18 Reasons is a non-profit spin off of Bi Rite Market, over in the Mission, that hosts a variety of food related events - lots of tastings and how-tos.  And it's an art gallery, for food related art. Right now Sita Bhaumik has a show there, "To Curry Favor", that includes a huge wall print made of curry - its' fragrance fills the room.

We're starting the second quarterly session of our book club this month, and will be also be reading Farmer Jane by Temra Costa and It Must've Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten. Meetings are on the last Saturday of each month, from 1:00-3:00. We've had special guest stars at two of our three meetings so far, Anne Zimmerman, whose biography of MFK Fisher is coming out soon, and also Novella Carpenter, the author of Farm City. If you're interested in joining, send an email to info@18reasons.org for details.

Happy Easter!


Roast Leg of Lamb (adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume 3):

One 8-10 pound leg of lamb, tail, pelvic and thigh bones removed; shank and heel bone left attached. Have the butcher give you the removed bones, to flavor the beans.

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 anchovy fillets, minced

1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped

extra virgin olive oil

1 handful fresh rosemary, leaves chopped

salt and pepper

Make a paste with the garlic, anchovies, half the parsley and salt and pepper.  Open up the meat so it lays out flat and rub the paste into the inside of the meat. Wrap the loose flaps up meat over the inside areas with paste and tie kitchen string around the leg to hold it together.  Put the lamb in a large dish and rub about two Tablespoons of olive oil, the rosemary and lots of salt and pepper on the outside. Refrigerate the lamb overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Put the lamb in a large roasting pan, meatier side up, and let the lamb come to room temperature before putting it in the oven. Roast the lamb until it is browned and crusty, and the meat inside is rosy with an internal temperature in the thickest part registering 120˚ for rare (about 45 minutes), 130˚ for medium-rare (about 1 hour). Transfer the lamb to a cutting board or serving platter and let it rest, covered loosely with foil, for 10 to 20 minutes before carving.

Carve the lamb and serve it with the remaining parsley.



Easter Beans:

3 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight

1 large yellow onion, quartered

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 sprigs lemon verbena 

salt (tomato salt or rosemary salt, if you have some)

bones from a leg of lamb (have the butcher put them aside for you when you purchase the lamb)

The night before, cover the beans by an inch or so of water and let them soak.  The next day, put the beans, lamb bones, onion, carrot, celery and lemon verbena in a big pot and cover all parts by 1/4 inch of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently over low heat until the beans are tender, one to two and a half hours.  Be sure not to add salt until after the beans are soft.  If you do add salt early on, the beans will never soften and cause indigestion.

When the beans are soft, add salt to taste - start with 1 Tablespoon and go from there - be sure to taste the broth instead of the beans, because it will take a while for the beans to absorb the salt.  After salting, continue to cook the beans over very low heat (or just let them sit with the stove turned off) for at least another half hour, but not so long that the beans cook too much and fall apart.  Before serving, remove the onion quarters and large chunks of celery.  Use a slotted spoon to serve, leaving the liquid in the serving bowl.



Spring Greens with Orange Fennel Vinaigrette (adapted from Epicurious.com): 

makes 8 servings

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice or fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh fennel bulb

2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds

3 blood oranges or seedless oranges

12 cups torn assorted salad greens (such as arugula, watercress, mâche, and endive) 

2/3 cup walnuts, toasted

salt and pepper

Whisk the orange juice, shallots, orange peel and honey in a medium sized bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil, then fennel and fennel fronds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. This dressing can be made up to a day in advance.  Re-whisk the dressing before using.

Peel the oranges and divide them into sections. Working over a bowl, cut the membranes off each section of orange. Combine the greens and walnuts in a large salad bowl.  Drain the orange segments and add them to the salad. Toss with enough dressing to coat the greens evenly, you may not use all of the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.