Recently in Meat and Stews
Thursday, April 28, 2011

brisket with rhubarb and honey

brisket with rhubarb and honey

Perhaps it’s unfair that I’m writing this mere days after both Passover and Easter have ended. But spring comes late to us this year, after a prolonged winter has delayed spring crops by a few weeks.

For the last few weeks, every time I’ve chatted with the farmers, the consistent complaint has been a late spring harvest. Just last week I spied ramps and asparagus and squealed with delight. I filled my bags to the brim with verdant produce, eager to devour it in the coming days.

Continue reading brisket with rhubarb and honey.

Friday, March 4, 2011

pelmeni

pelmeni

I’m worried that by writing about pelmeni, the famed Russian meat-filled dumplings with a cult following, I might inadvertently open the Pelmeni Pandora’s box and pandemonium will ensue. This is a dish that elicits passionate responses as there are just as many different persuasions on how to make pelmeni and how to eat them as there are Russians, probably more. And while the gist might be the same, the nuances, the proportions – will vary vastly. Whether or not you put garlic in your filling can become a central argument point of the evening. And believe me, it’ll turn into a very long evening, indeed. As far as my personal experience goes, every Russian family I’ve ever met (and I’ve met many given my background) equipped with a recipe will lay claims to making not only the best pelmeni, but also the most authentic. Authenticity is huge with Russians. The number of times I’ve heard at a dinner table, “That’s not a real [],” – I’ve officially lost count. To prevent another heated debate, I’d like to tell you, right off the bat, that this is just my family’s version. And, as expected, I like my version the best. But that’s entirely a matter of opinion.

If given the opportunity, I could wax poetic about pelmeni – I’d like to write it little haikus about how delicious they are, how they make a night of no-time-cook-dinner into a veritable feast. But then I’d be writing poems and totally forget to give you the recipe. So you’d be looking at pictures of pelmeni and how to make them without actually know how to bring this bounty to your own table.

Continue reading pelmeni.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

sloppy bao

sloppy bao

About a year ago on a day much like today I was stranded in the West Village waiting on a friend who was stuck at work, and thus running late for our dinner date. So late in fact that we wound up catching up over a late night drink that night. But there I was, stuck downtown, cold, hungry after my work-out, emerging from the gym to a text message telling me dinner was getting pushed back to even later. And as many of you know, an intense workout renders one famished and pushing dinner to later is not an option.

julienned mango

I texted back that drinks later were fine, but that I was going to find myself something to eat, lest I expire. Besides, unexcited about having to wander outside in freezing rain, I set out to find a suitable solution: dinner that was simple and casual enough that would allow me to pop in without a reservation and linger there indefinitely until my friend would show up. While it sounds easy enough in a city like New York, I should also tell you that I’m a picky eater in restaurants, who looks for various details that will provide me hints if a place is worth visiting. Somehow, my restaurant-picking gut has never led me in the wrong direction, and I trust it entirely. What this decision-making is comprised of, I can’t exactly say. It’s more art than science, that’s for sure.

Continue reading sloppy bao.

Friday, January 7, 2011

beef stew with carrots

beef & carrot stew

Wow. You guys are, just… well… wow! I don’t know what to say except for a heartfelt “Thank You!!” I didn’t expect this much support and of such caliber. In those moments when I get a little scared and doubtful, I just go and reread your comments and emails. Thank you for being so supportive and encouraging. It means more than I can put into words, which is a funny way to be for someone who relies on language so much. All I can say is that you make this little wee space here very much worth while. You make it what it is. And I am so so grateful each and everyday. To you. For you. I am so excited to be taking this plunge, and, in a way, taking you on this journey with me. It’ll be fun, I think. We can revel in the good, and find humor in the bad, and hopefully in the end, it all will fall into its proper place.

crunchy

I wanted to share this beef stew with you tomorrow. To write today and take some time to edit, but if you’re in the New York area, or anywhere where it’s cold and snowy, this will come in handy tonight. It’s my way of thanking you for being so wonderful. So if you see any typos here, please forgive me.

Because it’s snowing and I feel like snow is the perfect kind of stew weather, I want to give you this today. Beef stew, no matter how you make it, makes the house smell simply amazing, and is the kind of thing that begs to be ladled over buttery egg noodles. My favorite part is when I’ve finished all the beef, and have some sauce and noodles left in the bowl. I eat the noodles with a spoon, and, if I’m eating alone, always slurp the noodles; somehow it makes for a more satisfying meal. At this very moment, however, I’m sitting in a windowless office, staring at a window all the way across the hall and watching the snow fall softly.

Continue reading beef stew with carrots.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

cider-braised pork shoulder with caramelized onions

brown food ain't pretty, but it sure tastes good

Perhaps because I wasn’t reared in the culture of pork eating, I am at odds with the animal. It’s not like I didn’t have pork growing up – I remember slivers of lardo and slices of speck, and an occasional pork loin, slow-cooked, studded with garlic cloves and bay leaves. There might have been a cutlet or two in there somewhere. But pork, at least in my memory, wasn’t a staple in our household in Russia, and became almost non-existent the minute we landed in America. My father, for reasons he still can’t furnish, considers pork to be somehow less kosher (or more unkosher, to be exact) than other tref foods. His ruling was final – pork was out – and so it didn’t enter our house unless my mom and I snuck some in, mostly in the form of bacon.

flying pigs, who else?

And so, based on this history, I’m really weird when it comes to pork. Really, oddly, inexplicably weird. First of all – we must exclude bacon from the pork umbrella. Bacon is special and is a food group in and of itself. So is speck and lardo and other cured meats like prosciutto. But other stuff is fair game. Pulled pork sandwich? Yes, please! I’ll take seconds too! Pork chop? No, thanks. Pass. Yawn. Pork cutlet? Pass, again. How about an apple-cider braised pork shoulder? Um, here’s my plate, please pile some meat on it! Confused yet?

Continue reading cider-braised pork shoulder with caramelized onions.

Friday, October 1, 2010

beef randang – malaysian beef curry

beef randang

Today in New York is a rainy, sleepy day. The kind of day that makes me want to take a long walk in the park, wrapped in a sweater, with a scarf draped around my neck. It’s the kind of day that makes me realize that there is no place like New York, no city that actually makes the rain so welcome. Paris is lovely in the rain, but Paris is lovely in any weather. In London rain is pretty much expected and has a long tenure. But to me New York is loveliest when the skies are grey, the rain is falling, and there are puddles on the ground. The grey and rainy New York is lovelier than the sunny New York, at least to me.

beef randang beef randang

I took a walk through Central Park today en route to work, making my journey slightly longer, but much more pleasant. I looked at the runners wishing I could join them – I love to run in the drain, and while I know that sounds counter-intuitive, trust me – once you do it, you’ll be hooked for life. It’s my favorite running weather. Now, I’m not talking a deluge here – just rain and slightly cooler temperatures. It makes for a refreshing, invigorating run. I smiled at all the dogs jumping from grass to pavement and back again, sniffing roots of trees, grasses, wet leaves, greeting one another, their wet tails wagging in excitement. The mothers were pushing their babies in strollers – some were running, some were walking briskly; all had an air of contentment about them. It was the perfect fall walk.

star anise, cardamom, cinnamon

I love days like this. I love weekends like this even more. When you’re “forced” to hang out in your apartment, putting around the kitchen, wearing sweaters and leggings, drinking endless cups of tea with Ma Rainey playing in your living room. Even better if you have a record player, and can hear the scratches in Ma Rainey’s voice. Give me more of such weekends, autumn, and I will make more beef randang in your honor. Who doesn’t love a hearty, soupy, spicy curry, spooned over rice and served in a deep bowl?

beef randang

I’ve been thinking about beef randang, ever since the lovely Colleen and I went out to Laut near Union Square. I haven’t had Malaysian food in I can’t tell you how long, but I realized after our dinner, just how much I had missed it. Malaysian food is made for days like this when you want something cozy and warm, and salads just won’t do, and soup seems to be not filling enough. It’s the equivalent of a wearing a blanket, minus the actually literally wearing one. But should ever decide that blanket-wearing is a must for dinner, you are now equipped with the perfect recipe for such an occasion, where sit at your table and eat it wearing whatever you like: a blanket, flannel pajamas, fleece pants and a hoodie, or yoga pants and a sweater. Sometimes, it’s just best to stay in and dress down, don’t you agree?

beef randang

Continue reading beef randang – malaysian beef curry.