Food & Drink

mussels09We finally got some much-needed rain in the Bay Area this week! And around the same time, Melina Hammer‘s latest recipe arrived in my inbox—and it’s a dish that seems perfectly suited for the fall season and the cooler weather that comes with it.

Saffron, Smoked Paprika, and Heirloom Tomato Mussels

I am the kind of girl who is lucky enough to have friends who, at the center of what they do, are largely focused on the world of food. Friends who devote the core of their beings to pastry, to spirits, to fish and seafood, and so on. As you might imagine, time spent with each brings the experience to new heights, flavors, and understandings!

My seafood expert friend is Jon Rowley. A former fisherman, he’s been eating (and writing about) every kind of oyster, mussel, and salmon worth laying hands on, and he recently sent me a haul of overnight-shipped mussels, plump from the waters of Puget Sound.

If you’re anywhere near Seattle, I highly recommend Taylor Shellfish for their superior, always-fresh and delicious products. Thank you—Jon and Bill Taylor—for spoiling me, for educating me on the clues and cues as to what to look for in good fish and seafood, and helping make the meals prepared with your vittles just so tasty.

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INGREDIENTS

  • good olive oil
  • pastured butter
  • 3 medium (or 2 large) heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3-5 shallots, sliced into thin rings
  • 3-5 garlic cloves (as you like), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 lbs mussels, scrubbed under cold water and beards removed
  • 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • baguettes or other crusty bread, for serving
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1. Under cold running water, rinse mussels in a colander, scrubbing with a nylon or other stiff bristled brush to free up any debris clinging to their shells. Pulling towards the hinged end, remove the beards. Should you have difficulty in removing the beards with your fingers, secure the end with a set of pliers, encircle once, and gently pull down to remove. Drape a moist, cool tea towel over the mussels as you move to the next step.

2. In a small bowl, steep the saffron threads in the sherry for at least 10 minutes, and set aside.

3. Melt a tablespoon or so of butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Once melted, add a small glug of olive oil. Stirring occasionally, sauté the shallots until they become translucent. Add in the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, stirring so it doesn’t burn.

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4. Add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, and cook until their flesh begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in the sherry and saffron mixture, and heat until bubbling. Lower heat just slightly and continue to cook, bringing together the flavors.

5. Empty the mussels into the broth, keeping them in a single layer if at all possible. Cover tightly with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until their shells have opened. Here, Jon would say it is a fallacy to discard shells which do not open. If you have a relationship with your fishmonger (and therefore an understanding to the source and freshness of your mussels), then you know yours are as fresh as they get. Their passing wasn’t long ago enough to be worrisome; I have eaten plenty of mussels whose shells remained closed and lived to tell about it …

6. Lift the lid from the pan and scatter the parsley. Make any seasoning adjustments, a little more salt or pepper to your taste, and serve into bowls with the juices immediately. Have fresh baguette or other crusty bread at the table to sop up the juices, and a large bowl for emptied shells.

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If you want to read more about Jon, the Seattle Times did a great write-up on him. (He’s also the founder of the annual Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition.)

{ Text, Recipes & Photographs by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Recipes Suspended in Mid-Air

by Joanna on September 15, 2014

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As if I needed another reason to play with my food, check out this Recipes series by Germany-based designer Nora Luther and photographer Pavel Becker. According to Luther, “the image serves as a foretaste not only of the dish but also of its preparation. The look of the ready cooked dish is left to your own imagination.” She came up with the concept, while Becker shot it.

The result is truly dynamic, energetic, and exciting—don’t you think?

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{ Photographs by Pavel Becker; via Honestly Yum }

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Ice Cream Cake

by Anh-Minh on August 29, 2014

icecream14To mark a year of sharing delicious recipes with us, Melina Hammer has created a multi-hyphenated treat:

fig-bourbon vanilla-almond brittle-pistachio honey-gingersnap ice cream cake

It has been a year of sharing delicious things with you all. I hope you have looked forward to and perhaps even made a recipe or a few, from these beautiful stories. Maybe even loved them? From last month’s panzanella to the muscadine marbled cheesecake, the braised lamb shanks with melted onions to the savory meat pies, the apple flognarde to the bourbon-soaked layer cake, I have reveled in finding new ways to enchant you, month to month. To indulge in tempting recipes together, to nourish when the cold creeps in, and to lighten things up when bikini weather is right around the corner, it has been so much fun. And really, the fun is only beginning. To celebrate, what other way than with a fanciful cake.

In line with the season’s swelter—I have not accepted that summer is coming to a close—I give you an ice cream cake. Not because it means no cooking, but because it makes everyone smile, and really, because it is just so good. You can do these steps over the course of a few days to spread the process out, or you can do it all in one day—as your celebration needs require.

icecream01for the fig ice cream layer

  • 2 cups ripe figs—they should feel soft but not mushy to the touch, stems trimmed and quartered
  • just under 1 pint ice cream—I used Steve’s bourbon vanilla; any good-quality vanilla bean ice cream will work well

for the brittle

  • 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • butter for greasing the pan

for the additional ice cream layer

  • just under 1 pint ice cream—I used Jeni’s pistachio honey; suggested substitutions: butterscotch, butter pecan, chai, pistachio

for the cookie crumb base and topping

  • 2 cups store bought gingersnap cookies, chopped finely—reserve 1/2 cup for topping

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instructions

1. Place fig segments on a small rimmed baking sheet so that they do not touch one another and freeze for an hour. If you are doing this farther in advance, transfer them to a sealed container until ready to use. Allow the ice cream to warm at room temperature for 20 minutes. Combine frozen figs and softened ice cream in a bowl, stirring to combine.

icecream042. Line a loaf pan with parchment, cutting both width and length measurements long enough for at least a 2-inch overhang. These will function as tabs so you can easily pull the finished cake from its mold.

3. Spread ice cream-and-fig mixture evenly to coat the bottom. I made this layer about 1-inch thick. Depending on the size of your pan or if you used the whole pint, it may vary slightly. Wrap securely with cellophane and freeze for at least 2 hours.
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4. Grease a rimmed baking sheet and spread toasted almonds out in an even layer. Pour sugar and water into a saucepan and over medium heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Allow it to bubble, and without stirring, cook until sugar turns a dark amber color. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Immediately pour over almonds, tilting pan for even coverage or use a rubber spatula to incorporate almonds fully. Allow to cool to room temp, then twist corners of baking sheet to release and break apart.
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5. Chop brittle into small pieces. Bring loaf pan out from freezer and spoon brittle on top of fig ice cream layer. Make sure to cover all surfaces, including the corners, and press down with the back of a spoon to create a solid, even layer. Re-cover with cellophane and freeze for at least an hour.
icecream086. Bring second ice cream pint out of freezer to soften, again for about 20 minutes. Spread to coat brittle layer, again about 1-inch thick. Cover securely with cellophane and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.
icecream10icecream117. Bring loaf pan from freezer and uncover, then spoon chopped gingersnaps onto pistachio ice cream layer (or whatever flavor you have chosen). Once again be sure to cover all surfaces including the corners, and tamp the crumbs down to make a solid surface. If you want to make your crust more uniform, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and mix it in with the cookie crumbs before tamping the mixture, allow it to cool to room temp, and pack the crumbs firmly to cover. Otherwise, know that some crumbs will fly as you invert the pan. Cover one more time with cellophane and freeze for 2 hours.

icecream138. Remove the loaf pan from freezer, uncover, and place a serving platter onto top. In one swift motion, invert platter and pan together. Set platter onto a table surface and gently lift pan. The parchment should allow for easy release from the pan and the frozen cake. Discard parchment, and sprinkle reserved chopped gingersnaps on top of the cake.

9. Slice into segments with a sharp knife and serve immediately. Happy Anniversary!icecream15

{ Text, Recipes & Photographs by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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The Yellow Table Cookbook

by Anh-Minh on July 2, 2014

AWCNew York-based private chef and food writer Anna Watson Carl has been contributing to Anthology for a while now, and I always enjoy working with her. So when I found out that she was self-publishing a cookbook, which shares a name with her blog, The Yellow Table, I was thrilled for her—and excited to see what she was going to put together. I love that she’s documenting the creation process at The Cookbook Diaries.

Last month, Anna embarked on a cross-country road trip, co-hosting gatherings along the way while also promoting the project. She launched a Kickstarter campaign—which ends July 15— to hopefully fund a fall printing. Knowing how delicious Anna’s food is, and seeing these photos from the cookbook, I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful addition to any cookbook collection!

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{ Black and white portrait by Eric Ryan Anderson; all food photography by Signe Birck }

 

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A Trio of Summer Salads

by Anh-Minh on June 27, 2014

Salads_OpenerToday, we’ve got a trio of recipes from Melina Hammer: Wilted Chard and Prosciutto, Niçoise, and Butter Lettuce and Broiled Peach salads. I can’t decide which to try first, but have a feeling all of them will soon become part of my salad repertoire. — Anh-Minh

For this month’s post, I thought I’d share not just one recipe, but *three* of my favorite tried-and-true summer salads. Though composed of simple ingredients, each of these crunchy and bright salads offers serious layers of flavor and texture and are complete, heavenly meals. Of course, you can use them as sides to go with other summer fare, but once you’ve tried each and discovered how simple it is to produce so much pleasure, you’ll leave the rest for another day.

Wilted Chard and Prosciutto SaladSalads_Prosciutto

Serves 2

Softly wilted chard is complemented by the buttery crunch of pine nuts and the acidic bite of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cracked fresh pepper offsets the velvety finale of thinly sliced prosciutto. You could say it’s the savory icing on the cake.

  • 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, rinsed, stems separated from leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 5-8 slices prosciutto*
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • good olive oil

Over medium-high heat, add a glug of olive oil and sear chard stems in a cast-iron skillet, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the chard and stir after a minute or so, turning to expose all surfaces to the heat. When the leaves are just-collapsed—no more than 5 minutes—remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Squeeze lemon juice all over. Drape prosciutto around, sprinkle pine nuts, and finish with freshly cracked pepper. Salt to taste. Enjoy immediately, and preferably with a glass of minerally white wine, such as a Grüner Veltliner.

*The original version of this recipe calls for bresaolaan equally delicious option.

Swiss Chard Proscuitto Salad details

Niçoise SaladSalads_Nicoise

Serves 2

My riff on the classic salade Niçoise includes creamy potatoes dressed in olive oil and a scatter of thinly sliced garlic scapes. Nestled beside plump and briny olives and a handful of capers, they make a great pairing. Then, there’s the assertively crunchy green beans: perfect with the savory umami of a few good anchovies and a custardy 6-minute egg. With good-quality canned tuna and peppery greens like arugula, it’s a complete experience.

  • 5 small waxy potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 1 large bunch arugula or other peppery greens, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large handful green beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • 1 can good quality tuna in olive oil
  • 3-6 good quality anchovies*
  • 1/2 garlic scape or a few chives, sliced very thinly
  • 1 small handful capers (if using salt-packed capers, soak, then rinse under cold water)
  • 1 handful of your favorite olives (I used the plump, wine-cured Alfonso variety)
  • good olive oil
  • freshly cracked pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into thirds, then boil them in a saucepan until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork. Drain, shock in ice water, then transfer to a bowl. Dress in a glug of olive oil and scape or chives, along with some cracked pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.

Carefully lower eggs into rapidly boiling water and boil over medium heat for 6 minutes. Shock in ice water until cool enough to handle, then peel their skins, rinse any bits off, and set aside. Tip: A 2-week-old egg will peel much more easily than a freshly bought one.

Using the same water, blanche green beans, about 3-5 minutes. Shock in ice water, leaving until ready to use.

In shallow bowls, lay a bed of arugula, followed by clusters of each: olives, potato-scape mixture, green beans (pat them dry before adding), and chunks of tuna, drizzling some of the oil over everything. Quickly and carefully cut each egg in half and nestle into the salad, add a few anchovies, and scatter the capers on top. Finish with freshly cracked pepper. This delectable salad needs no dressing, but a squeeze of lemon is not objectionable. ;)

*Look for anchovies found in jars. You can see if their flesh is pink or not: the sign of fresher, more delicious specimens.

Nicoise Salad detail

Butter Lettuce and Broiled Peach Salad
with Sheep’s Cheese ToastsSalads_Lettuce

Serves 4

This broiled peach salad is texturally delicate and perhaps the most beautiful—you be the judge. Brightly green butter lettuces, punchy herbs, juicy perfectly ripe peaches, and the crunch of toasted almonds and tangy sheep’s cheese-slathered toasts. It will bring smiles to everyone you’ve gathered around the table.

  • 4 small peaches, halved and pitted
  • 3 heads butter lettuce, torn into pieces, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 large handful parsley leaves
  • 1 large handful mint leaves
  • 1 package soft sheep’s cheese or goat cheese
  • 4 thick slices crusty bread, toasted and cooled to room temp
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2/3 cup almonds, toasted
  • honey, for drizzling
  • good olive oil, for drizzling
  • freshly cracked pepper and sea salt

Pour sugar into a small dish and lay each peach half face-side down, nestling peach into sugar to coat. Place peaches onto a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes or until sugar caramelizes. Set aside.

In a serving bowl, toss together the lettuce, mint, and parsley. Slather toasts with cheese and layer in the center. Set room temperature broiled peach halves onto salad bed, followed by a scatter of toasted almonds and cracked black pepper. Finish with a drizzle each of honey, sea salt, and olive oil, to taste.

Butter Lettuce Broiled Peach Salad details

 { Recipes and Photos by Melina Hammer }

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