Ok, everyone, I have a quick and easy recipe for you to try this weekend that is designed to lift you out of the ‘end of winter dreariness’ and straight into the rum-tinged warm tropical breezes of summer. Today I am going to teach you how to make Caramelized Pineapple with Vanilla and Rum Sauce. The perfect ‘Happy Ending’ to a great home cooked weekend meal.
Anyone who has ever suffered from hay fever will happily go to whatever length it takes to ease the symptoms.
As you sneeze and splutter your way through the summer months, eyes streaming, it takes no time at all for us to give up and grab the anti-histamines - or the gin, apparently.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a foraging favourite, so it doesn’t need much of an introduction. I probably don’t need to tell you that it has been a beloved spring tonic since time immemorial, or that many consider it the most nutritious of all wild plants, jam packed with vitamins, minerals, even protein. But aside from its nutritional and medicinal properties, it’s tasty versatility in any number of dishes probably has a lot to do with its popularity.
So a few days ago when I received a lovely big bag of just picked baby nettles as a gift – I wanted to make something highlighting their enlivening freshness. I decided to go with rice balls because they’re easy, and while they’re still substantial and carby, they are a definite move toward the lighter dishes of spring.
Last weekend I took home an incredible eight-pound wild steelhead trout caught by the local Quinault Indian tribe on the Quinault River and was looking for inspiration in how to cook it. It was a rather large fish for my family of three, so I decided to try a few variations. I combed through old cookbooks, new cookbooks, and deep into the internet before deciding on these three dishes. The first and the subject of today was a classic French preparation usually made with sole called ‘Wild Steelhead Trout à la Dugléré’.
For decades, I have enjoyed the highly addictive salt and pepper shrimp at Chicago’s Moon Palace. For the uninitiated, salt and pepper is a style of Chinese cooking where the food is crispily fried, tossed in a spice mixture, then combined with sauteed garlic, onion, ginger, and hot peppers. It’s a preparation I long and crave for like some people do sweets. There’s something absolutely magical about the combination of sharp, pungent, and salty flavors with crunchy textures. And if you are into that, then Moon Palace is the place to be. Their menu boasts of at least ten different salt and pepper preparations to choose ranging from tofu, squid to my second all-time favorite, salt and pepper pork chops.
Where do the world’s best truffles come from? For the past century or more, the stock response has been Périgord (France) for black ones and Piedmont (Italy) for the rarer white variety. It wasn’t always so. In the Ancient World, these sources were unknown and the Roman poet Juvenal declared “Libyans – unyolk your cattle, keep your harvests but send us your truffles”.
Libyan truffles don’t feature any longer on our menus, but those from the New World increasingly do. For the past three years, a remote farm in Western Australia has produced black truffles that renowned chefs consider equal or even superior to the best Europe can offer. They are exactly the same species – the tuber melanosporum – and originated from tree roots inoculated with the Périgord variety.
Otherwise known as saltwort or friar’s beard – or “land seaweed”, in Japan – agretti can cause mini stampedes in the markets of Umbria and Lazio as Italians dash to get hold of bundles of fleshy, needle-shaped leaves – traditionally served with oil and lemon – in its short early-summer seasonal window. Now it is migrating north, and growing awareness of the plant is provoking a similar battle to obtain seed to cultivate on British soil.