Posts Tagged ‘seasoning


one recipe, two adaptations

J-P and I love Mark Bittman’s recipe for fried chickpeas with Spanish chorizo, spinach, and sherry. When Karl–who was in town for the AIDS Life Cycle–came over on Friday night, we decided to make that dish. Problem is, we forgot Karl is vegetarian, and he forgot to remind us. No problem! Fast forward 10 minutes, and I am frying chickpeas in two skillets, one with chorizo, one with heaps of smoked paprika. The spinach got a separate pan, so that it could stay veg, and each version was broiled in its own pie plate. Nothing to it.

I did have one advantage–I had already cooked this recipe with my sister in Texas, where Spanish chorizo was unavailable. Mexican chorizo, much as I love it, just wouldn’t do. Anchos and cumin are nothing like smoked paprika, uncured sausage is nothing like cured. We subbed andouille for the Spanish chorizo, and we added lots of smoked paprika to the pan. A close match for the original.


reuse: a history lesson

On Tuesday morning, I finished typing up notes on Michael Krondl’s The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice before I returned it to the SFPL (only two days late!). My favorite:

Still Life with Turkey Pie, Pieter Claesz, 1627


That’s ground black pepper, sold in a paper cone made from an outdated almanac page.

I want to be able to buy my spices this way. I wonder what the cashiers at Rainbow would think, and if they’d give me the bag-reuse discount…



Here is my molcajete:

It’s of authentic Swedish post-modern design, because I never could figure out a good way to move a Texan model halfway across the continent. But this time, someone offered to pay movers to haul this Ikea one all the way from one coast to the other. Fine by me.

Sometimes, though, I use this set up for small jobs–like grinding coriander seeds and lemon zest to season last night’s sweet potato and broccoli frittata. Ikea pinch bowl, tail end of an unbranded juicer.

The frittata, by the way, though delicious, was the one dish in which the Clark Summit eggs have disappointed. Everything I’ve read led me to believe that fresh eggs from happy chickens would cook up much fluffier than other eggs, but this was one flat frittata.


My grandmother and the Food Network

Since she was released from hospitalization for a heart attack and a hernia, my grandmother has been under doctor’s orders to stay away from stress and physical effort—including cooking. Less time in front of the stove means more time in front of the TV, and she and my sister have been bonding over the Food Network.

It turns out, though, that English-language cooking shows pose some challenges for her. “Sometimes I don’t understand the ingredients they’re talking about. What’s the word he’s using for that pasta? I can see it’s noodles, but I don’t know what he’s calling them.”

They were rigatoni, and I explained to her that different shapes of pasta have different names. I left aside the issue of different uses, figuring she’d pick that up with enough watching. But I did notice that the Food Network had already taught her “pasta,” which she hadn’t known a few years ago, when her vocabulary there was limited to “noodles” and “fideos.”

She’s also having a hard time deciding what this “basil” thing is, sometimes deciding that it’s “bay leaf,” instead. But cilantro is a cinch–she was inspired enough by its television celebrity to ask me to buy her a few plants and pot them for her on her porch. And, prohibitions on cooking aside, she had a pot full of lovely poached chicken soup, with garlic, celery, potato, and cilantro, ready when I first arrived.

Another Food Network addition to her English vocabulary is “scallion,” as part of what they’re apparently calling GGS, or ginger-garlic-scallion: the Asian mirepoix. Garlic she got, no problem. Ginger, ok. (It’s familiar as a medicine, if not as a spice.) But, “What’s that last thing, mi’ja?” “Son cebollinas, Momo.” And maybe it’s time to see the eye doctor as well as the cardiologist…

In other news, this is the first Stuff White People Like entry that I’ve enjoyed in a long time.

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