Monthly Archives

January 2018

BABA GHANOUSH

Baba Ghanoush

This dish definitely anchors the pillars of Middle Eastern cuisine.  Just like hummus, tagine, couscous and lamb are fundamental chapters in Levantine feasts, eggplant is a force to be reckoned with, prepared in a myriad of succulent ways. Baba Ghanoush is served mostly as a “mezze”, an appetizer and it can be left chunky or creamed and left at room temperature before serving, to allow the flavors to deepen and become earthier. This is an ever-present Levantine dish.  What makes it…

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VEGGIE ARSENAL

VEGETABLES

The infinite bounty when it comes to veggies can be mind boggling.  Don’t get bewildered and perceive it as a task because you are fresh out of ideas.  Same old potato dishes, boiled green beans, or peas and carrots, God forbid they are out of a can…  The horror of it all! The “farm to table” movement is now a cult.  Direct and soulful relationships are established between local farmers and restaurants that stress the abundance of organic produce harvested…

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TO PARSNIP OR NOT TO PARSNIP

The ugly duckling of the root vegetable family – the lowly parsnip. Why should a root veg that is so flavorful and delightful, take a backseat to all other vegetables? Alas, Brutus – it is lamentable, but true! Grieved for its lonely state, the forlorn parsnip is one of the most unappreciated vegetables. Definitely not parading alongside the sexier, ruffled kale; the earthy, exotic shitake or the accredited showstopper, the Brussel sprout.  It’s a darn shame really, considering that it…

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COSTCO’S GONE ORGANIC

  Who doesn’t like Costco?  There is a warehouse, it seems now in almost every country.  It is a shopping Disneyland for adults, where every department is a new land beckoning exploration.  My shopping escapades there are few and far between due to the inhibiting, magnitude in volume of their staples; it is a deterrent for two people, let alone one.  Hence my shopping forays happen every two or three months. I will admit to acquiring my most sought-after pantry…

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ENAMELED CAST IRON PANS – FACT OR FABLE?

Ah yes, the putative acclaim of a good enamel cast iron pan.  The Goliath in the kitchen – the mighty Dutch Oven. If you are culinary inclined and entertain spending any worthwhile time in the kitchen, do yourself a huge favor, which I guarantee you won’t come to regret.  Invest in a good enamel cast iron pan – or better yet, a few, if you haven’t already. There are a couple leviathans dominating the arena that stand proud in the…

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PORK FILET WITH GREEN PEPPERCORN AND MARSALA SAUCE – DOWNTON ABBEY

FILET OF PORK

In the pre-war days with kitchens cooking for the upper class, there was scarcely a shortage for venison, duck, pheasant or goose.  At Downton, Mrs. Padmore directed her kitchen staff with the typical stalwartness of a cook in those days, presenting mouthwatering dishes to the well dressed awaiting in the upstairs, opulent dining room. However, acquiring venison filet nowadays might prove somewhat challenging, so in this case I am substituting with a gorgeous pork tenderloin.  The sauce is very Steak…

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MRS. PADMORE LONDON PARTICULAR – DOWNTON ABBEY

SPLIT PEA SOUP

Split pea is a simple soup with irreproachable character.   It’s tremendously comforting, downright amazing, and you either love it or remove yourself completely.  This is a soup that graces many a table in the British Isles, because the flavors are outstanding and it freezes superbly well. Mrs. Padmore served it upstairs and downstairs at Downton.  This may not be her exact recipe, but I am sharing mine with you!   2 leeks, washed thoroughly and sliced thinly 1 medium…

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A FORAGE INTO DOWNTON ABBEY DISHES

Where does my special acquaintance with recipes come from? I daresay I dream food constantly, read almost as much as my brain can process and at times my muse becomes even more active from watching a film or reading something notable. Having devoured every single, solitary episode from Downton Abbey and partaken of the series twice or thrice, it is stands to reason that Mrs. Padmore dishes subliminally left a weighty desire for replicating some of the lesser opulent ones.…

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POTATOES BOULANGERE – DOWNTON ABBEY

POTATOES BOULANGERE

This is a dish that in its rustic simplicity carries such a flair of elegance.  It accompanied many dishes from Mrs. Padmore’s kitchen, as it is the perfect garnish for fish, meats and roasts. The preparation is ridiculously simple and the outcome rather fair and virtuous!  This is my take on the usual Pomme de Terre Boulangere. When your guests sample this dish, they will realize there’s something extraordinary and elusive about the flavor that will bewilder them.  None would…

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NAN’S SHEPHERD’S PIE – DOWNTON ABBEY

SHEPHERD'S PIE

This was a manageable and favored dish not only by the staff, as well as main dining room fare for the Crawley gatherings. For those who are unfamiliar with the dish, it is also known as Cottage Pie.  Referring to when the spud was introduced as an affordable produce for the poor in England, hence the term “cottage” which was the dwelling for the working classes in 1791. It was renamed Shepherd’s Pie in 1954 because the meat utilized for…

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WHEN IT’S MAYONNAISE – IT’S PERSONAL

I am almost convinced there is a eulogy written somewhere about mayonnaise.  Especially the homemade kind. Hard to believe that in America, it’s Numero Uno in the condiment department, having out seated its contender, the Ketchup by a landslide.  Even harder to believe that Russia is the top consumer of mayo in the world. It’s rather fantastic, really, that a quick-thinking substitution in the culinary repertoire of the personal chef to the Duke of Richelieu in 1756, created the world’s…

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POTATO VINDALOO WITH RAITA

potato vindaloo

This is a flavor explosion for lovers of Indian food and a dish that will be hailed by vegetarians and meat lovers alike.  One of the best attributes of the dish, is the fact that it gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.  Like with any good Vindaloo, you know it’s going to pack a healthy, spicy wallop, that is why a good raita should accompany this to cool down the palate.   1 medium onion 4 medium…

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INDIAN TOMATO AND CUCUMBER KACHUMBER SALAD

Indian Tomato and cucumber salad

By far, this is the most popular Indian salad, served as an accompaniment to many dishes.  It is refreshing, colorful and a cinch in preparation.  It can be served during the warm, summer months as a side salad.  Use vine ripened tomatoes as they pack the most flavor and are the sweetest.  The use of fresh mint and cilantro is essential and shouldn’t be substituted.   Allow the flavors to marry well, so thirty minutes in the fridge is the minimum,…

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INDIAN KEEMA – (CURRIED GROUND LAMB)

Indian Keema

The origins of Keema (also spelled Kheema and Queema) hail from Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh mostly.  It is a dish that utilizes ground lamb and sends recollections of a drier, Indian Bolognese.  Ground Lamb is cooked with potatoes and it is typically the filling for Samosas. If you are going to serve it over basmati and accompanied with naan, you may want to ensure that the mixture doesn’t become too dry and there is more of an abundance of…

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