Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Marinades in the Media

Marinades has been getting some good buzz in the press lately. Verbatim says it’s “a book that will solve all of your ‘what do I make for dinner’ worries for the next year or so”. Pen & Fork calls it one of their “Books of Summer”. Fine Cooking says, “When I say that I can make most of Lucy Vaserfirer's 200 marinades with ingredients I always have on hand at home, I mean it as a high compliment. This is the kind of utilitarian cookbook I will turn to again and again on a busy weeknight when I want to switch up the flavor of my usual grilled chicken (or pork, or steak, or fish).” BookPage calls it a “remarkable, remarkably doable compilation, a virtual ode to the liquid concoctions that make the ordinary extraordinary”. I can’t help but feel like a proud momma right now!

Speaking of media mentions, Flavored Butters gets a shout-out in this Chicago Tribune article about radishes.

By the way, do you know what’s on the menu for this holiday weekend? Marinades has all of the inspiration you need. Happy 4th of July, everybody!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Uzbek Lamb Kebabs and Marinades Updates

This is Uzbek lamb kebab. Those of us from Uzbekistan know it as Shashlik and consider it to be a great delicacy. It’s a must for every special occasion and gathering of family and friends. My parents recently came to visit, and together we made a great big batch to share with you.

Traditionally, Shashlik is made of lamb and includes chunks of kurdyuk, or fat from the fat-tailed sheep, and it’s cooked on a long and narrow grill called a mangal. Skewers are placed right across the rim of the mangal, so there is no grill grate.

The Shashlik shown here is served with the traditional accompaniments of tandyr-baked flatbread called lepyoshki or non and thinly sliced onions seasoned with white vinegar, sugar, and salt. It’s plated on a vintage Uzbek platter depicting the design of the country’s famous ikat textiles. My parents brought the platter and a matching teapot and set of pijalas with us when we moved from Uzbekistan to the U.S. back in 1980. (Sadly, the teapot was broken several years ago.)

My family’s Shashlik recipe is precious to me because we left Uzbekistan when I was just a baby, and it’s one of the few things I have from my native country. It also happens to be the very first marinade I was ever exposed to. So of course I had to include it in my newest book Marinades. I’d like to give you a peek inside the book, so here’s the recipe exactly as it appears on pages 254 and 255.

When making Shashlik, choose a piece of lamb with a generous fat cap. Thread the marinated pieces of lamb onto skewers with the fat side out so that it can render and brown on the grill. And trust me when I say that the fat is the best part!

If you like this marinade, there are 199 more where that came from!

Speaking of my cookbook, don’t forget that Father’s Day is coming up and Marinades would make the perfect gift for Dad. Just in time for Father’s Day, I’ll be doing a tasting and book signing at Vancouver’s Butcher Boys from 11AM to 2PM this Saturday, June 14. Then on Friday, June 27, from 11AM to 1PM I’ll be offering up more samples and signatures at the Mill Plain Chuck’s Produce. If you want the complete Marinades immersion (pun intended!) join me for an amazing hands-on cooking class at Revival Market in Houston on Sunday, July 20 at 4PM. We have an amazing fiesta-style Tex-Mex menu planned, and no doubt you’ll leave class a master of marination!

In other event news, the summer Clark College class schedule is out. I'll be teaching Main Dish Summer Salads and Homemade Dressings. Please join me in the kitchen! Current event listings can always be found in the Cooking Classes, Book Signings & Appearances sidebar on the right.

So have you gotten your copy of Marinades yet? If not, consider that critics are saying it’s the perfect book for when time for cooking is short and calling it “exceptionally useful”, “inventive”, “like a spice rack on steroids”, “the ‘bible’ on the sauce that will bring your BBQ to the next level”, “delicious”, “for those who love to infuse flavor into their products”, “intriguing”, and full “of fresh ideas for creative marinating now”. And if that's not enough to convince you, NPR includes Marinades in this list of summer cookbooks that'll “make the good life even better”. While I’m listing media mentions, here are some of my marinade tips, here are more of my tips along with information on the health benefits of using marinades, and here’s the interview of yours truly from baker and food blogger Kimm Moore.

I truly hope you enjoyed having this Marinades update and glimpse of my most treasured recipe in my book. I'd love nothing more than for you to give this Shashlik a try. If you do, drop me a line, or better yet, come out to one of my book events and tell me how it goes!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dining Chair Travel and Macaroni Made by Hand

Who doesn’t love Italian food? I certainly always have, but I can’t say I had a real appreciation of the cuisine until I actually travelled to Italy. Experiencing balsamic, parm, and prosciutto at the source was amazing. But it was eating perfectly al dente, perfectly sauced spaghetti in Italy that really blew my mind. The way the Italians can transform something so simple as semolina and water into a transcendent meal is nothing short of alchemy.

I’ve been dying to see other parts of Italy ever since that trip. Until I can go again, a bit of dining chair travel will have to suffice. So I make pasta. A good plate of pasta will transport me, if just for a meal.

This labor intensive pasta, which comes from southern Italy if I’m not mistaken, seems to have countless names, including maccheroni al ferro, maccheroni al ferretto, and maccheroni inferrettati. Google Translate would have you believe that the meaning is “macaroni with underwire” *snicker*, but as far as I can tell it translates to something more along the lines of “macaroni with the iron”, referring to the traditional tool called a fusilli iron used to shape the tubes of pasta.

Fresh Macaroni “with the Iron”
Printable Recipe

16 ounces semolina
6 ¾ ounces warm water

Combine the semolina and water in a large bowl and mix until a rough dough forms. The dough will seem very dry at this point, but resist the temptation to add more water. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for about half an hour.

Cut the dough into eighths. Keeping the remaining dough covered as you work, roll 1 portion of dough into a 3/8-inch thick rope. If the dough springs back as you roll it, cover it with plastic wrap and let it relax for a few minutes before continuing. Using a bench knife, cut the rope into 2-inch pieces.

Press a fusilli iron lengthwise into a piece of the dough.

Roll back and forth, applying light pressure.

The dough should wrap itself around the iron and form a 4 to 5-inch long tube.

Gently slide the macaroni off the iron.

If it’s stuck, give the iron a slight twist while easing off the macaroni. Make more macaroni with the remaining dough in the same manner. As you work, arrange the macaroni in a single layer on lightly floured parchment-lined baking trays. Let dry for a few hours.

Makes about 1 ¼ pounds, enough for 4 to 6 main-course servings. This recipe yields a relatively dry dough. Still, the trickiest part is keeping the macaroni from sticking to the fusilli iron, and you might have to experiment with the amount of pressure you apply when rolling and elongating it. If a macaroni gets stuck and you smush it removing it from the iron, never fear: simply ball it up and try again. By the way, if you don’t own a fusilli iron, a bamboo skewer will work just as well if not even better, as dough sticks less to wood than to smooth metal. Knitting needles are often used as well. Cook the macaroni as you would any other pasta, in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 6 to 8 minutes, or until al dente. It’s pictured here with Angry Tomato Sauce made with bacon instead of pancetta.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Marinades on AM Northwest

Watch my newest cookbook Marinades in action in my recent AM Northwest appearance! I demo the Lapsang Souchong Marinade. Wish you could smell that lovely smokiness!

Want more Marinades? Visit HCP Dishes! for the lowdown on the book and the Shiitake-Soy Marinade recipe and HamptonRoads.com for the Arugula Marinade and Achiote Marinade recipes.
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