Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe for Mosiah Sauce from Faustina Restaurant in Salt Lake City

Mosiah. The name dances softly on the tongue. And guess what? So does Mosiah sauce, a creamy avocado condiment with the rush of fresh cilantro and a kick of lime. At Salt Lake City’s Faustina restaurant, Mosiah Sauce is the namesake of sauté chef, Mosiah Guerrero. 

According to Billy Sotelo, the restaurant’s executive chef, it landed on the regular menu as a result of a “family meal” -- a wonderful restaurant tradition in which various staff members cook for the crew, before or after a shift. “When it was Mosiah’s turn to make a quick breakfast family meal, he made capachas  [Venezuelan street food -- a corn pancake served with soft mozzarella-like cheese] and served them with a sauce that was a surprise to my palate and instantly sparked an idea for brunch,” Sotelo told me. Good call, Billy.

Like all great condiments and sauces, Mosiah is a game changer. Sotelo serves the pale green sauce with his Black Forest ham and eggs, an egg and puff pastry brunch entrée. This welcome change from traditional eggs Benedict (as is the Faustina Benedict made with polenta and Italian sausage) is a veritable pillow of goodness, with melting jarlsburg cheese oozing out from beneath a runny-yolk (preferably, in my opinion) egg. The sauce also shows up with the bacon and egg cheeseburger. 

Mosiah and Billy kindly shared their recipe. I’ll share this: You can also spread it in or over quesadillas, spicy grilled shrimp, and on eggs any way. It also makes a great condiment for chicken or lamb satays.  And I have no doubt you can find some other excellent ways to consume this simple pleasure.

Meanwhile, dining at Faustina is a pleasure at any meal – weekend brunch, lunch, or dinner. A modern neighborhood restaurant with some big-city pizazz, it also has a great little patio. 

Mosiah Sauce

1 cup Sour Cream
1 Clove garlic
½ Red Onion
½ Red Bell Pepper 
½ Yellow Bell Pepper
½ Jalapeno Pepper
1 Avocado
1 cup Cilantro
1 lime - Juiced
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients
Puree until smooth in blender
Adjust flavors with salt and lime juice

From time to time I'll be sharing notes on house-made condiments from favorite restaurants. If you have one, let me know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anchovy Paste and Recipe for Anchovy Butter

As far as I’m concerned, anchovy paste exists so that I can make anchovy butter. It’s practically all I do with tubes of the purple-y stuff in toothpaste-style tubes.  Though, of course, there’s a whole world of anchovy paste-friendly ideas out there. You can even just eat it straight. But it's better in butter. 

Thank You, Julia
I know, it was a few years ago, but from the moment Meryl Streep stepped out into the Parisian sunshine as Julia Child in the film Julie and Julia, you knew she was channeling the legend herself and relishing every last bite. Thank goodness.  I admit I was worried we might be subjected to a caricature, but happily I was wrong. With each gesture, sigh and flip of the whisk, Streep showed us that, deep in her big, beautiful bones, Julia knew that food matters.  

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, her first cookbook, was born in Paris and published in America in 1961. Beautifully detailed, far from politically correct, and blissfully unconcerned with calories and fat, it still stands as a masterpiece. And the more we learn about Julia, the more we love the woman who had the most wonderful love affair with her husband and with the art of cooking. She was a force to reckon with but she also remained humble, all her life. I recall sitting in a food writing seminar in San Francisco, more than 25 years ago, and guess who sat right behind me. Actually taking notes! As if she had anything to learn, I thought. Then I came to my senses. One of the most beautiful aspects of studying food and wine is that no one can ever know it all.. We are all always still learning – that’s the beauty of it. 

Butter, of course, played a starring role in Julia's life —in her books, on her classic television shows, and in the movie.  As she always said, “You can never have too much butter…” 

So I leave you with one of her simpler recipes—a  heady anchovy butter. She advises serving it over broiled fish, adding to egg fillings, sandwiches, and sauces. You can also just slather it on toasted baguette slices and enjoy with glass of chilled Champagne and a copy of her dreamy memoir, My Life In France.

Julia Child’s Beurre d’Anchois:

One-half cup butter, 2 T mashed canned anchovies or 1 T anchovy paste; pepper, lemon juice to taste; optional 1 to 2 T minced parsley or mixed green herbs. Cream the butter well. A half teaspoon at a time, beat in the anchovies or anchovies paste. Season to taste with pepper, drops of lemon juice, and optional herbs.  Bon appétit!

Lots more on anchovies and a link to Bonchovie (why didn't I think of that?!) in NYC.

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Preserved Lemons

Hello, bright yellow orbs of amplified flavor.

The time-honored process of cutting and packing fresh lemons into a jar with salt and fresh lemon juice and letting them mellow is an ingenious technique perfected centuries ago.But I’ve found that a lot of people aren’t quite sure what to make of them. So, here are the basics:

A key ingredient and condiment in Indian and North African cooking for centuries, the intense flavor of preserved lemons lends itself to all kinds of dishes and drinks. Their texture is soft and pliable, with the taste of lemon heightened by the salt, yet softened by the gentle pickling process.

Mainly, the peel of a preserved lemon is the star, but the flesh and the brine are also good in various incarnations (dirty martinis, anyone?). Some people rinse them before using, some don’t. It depends on how much salt you like. I think it’s best to just take a small bite first. If you like it, leave it as is. If not, rinse and pat dry.

Since discovering these lovely morsels, I’ve always tried to make my own so I could call on them at a moment’s notice. But, I’ve been slacking and found myself searching for some commercially packed lemons to meet an immediate craving. Happily, it wasn’t that hard to track them down.

Les Moulins Mahjoub lemons beckoned from a display shelf the second I walked into Liberty Heights Fresh, a small but epic specialty foods store in Salt Lake City. They’re also available at Williams Sonoma and at any number of food outlets around the world. I liked the small size and the addition of a crimson pepper in this jar. The pepper didn’t affect the flavor all that much, but visually, it’s a great flourish.

You can do all kinds of things with preserved lemon peel:

  • Chop and sauté with broccoli raab or any vegetable you think could benefit from a bit of salty lemon – carrots to squash.  
  • Serve slivered peel alongside smoked salmon or trout and capers.
  • Chop and toss with cooked, chopped Swiss chard, orzo drizzled with olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper, all to taste.
  • Finely chop with parsley and shallot and blend into soft butter to melt atop cooked fish.
  • Stuff slivers under chicken skin with garlic, rosemary and thyme before roasting.
  • Season couscous, rice, soups and stews.
  • Chop fine and swirl into mayonnaise for dipping artichokes.
  • Drop a wedge into a Bloody Mary or a sliver with some brine into an icy martini. Drink, then gobble up the preserved lemon as you would an olive.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, or if you already know the joys of a drizzle of olive oil and salt on vanilla gelato, try substituting a sprinkle of chopped preserved lemon. 
  • And don’t forget to eat some right out of the jar.

Preserved Lemons With Shallots and Garlic

Here’s a quick and easy recipe my friend Lesley shared by way of New York chef Tom Colicchio, a chef who seems to have a penchant for citrus and therefore, a chef after my own heart. If you have organic lemons, you can skip step one.

With the addition of shallots and garlic, this version of preserved lemons takes on a sort of ‘relish’ quality, which is delicious.

12        lemons
5          shallots, peeled and minced
6          garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2/3      cup kosher salt
1/3      cup sugar
            Extra virgin olive oil

Plunge the lemons into boiling water to soften the outer layer of wax. Drain, rinse and wipe  off the waxy reside. Dry the lemons.

Slice lemons very thin; discard ends and seeds.

Combine the shallots with the garlic. Mix the salt with the sugar. Arrange a layer of lemon slices in the bottom of a medium ceramic or glass- lidded container. Sprinkle the lemons first with some of the shallot mixture, then with a little of the salt mixture. Repeat, until the final lemon slices are toped with the last of the salt and the shallot mixture. Cover the container and refrigerate for 3 days. Pack into jars, cover with olive oil and store in refrigerator for up to a month.  (And don’t forget to use that lemony olive oil in your favorite salad dressings.)

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Amour Spreads

Who doesn’t love jams and marmalades? Mason jars lovingly filled by friends and family, or by you. Local concoctions from the Farmer’s Markets. French confitures. Good old Smucker’s raspberry. Those tiny jars that come with hotel room service.  I’ll take them all.

But it’s a shame these sweet – and sometimes savory -- spreads are usually relegated to toast and biscuits, muffins and the occasional dab on a cracker with cheese. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Which brings me to Amour Spreads, lovingly made in Salt Lake City. On a chilly night last November, Pago Restaurant hosted a reception to introduce Amour Spreads with a menu of inspired presentations. I became an instant fan. And, it was a pleasure to meet the makers, Casee and John Francis, gardeners extraordinaire and the nicest people ever. Together, they have created a knockout line of jewel-like jams and marmalades.

That night we had our choice of 17 different flavors. Each was tempting in its own right, often with the subtlest of flavors melding together to seduce and draw you back for another taste. Think Pear Lavender, Apricot Rose, and Savory Heirloom Tomato Jam, and the ring-a-ding-ding of Cranberry Orange Marmalade.

Amour Spreads Blackberry Jam and Pago house made pate on crostini was a classic. Find the rest of Pago’s tasting event menu on Amour’s Website. 

This is my (now empty) jar of Savory Heirloom Tomato Jam. I love a spoonful of it on top of soft scrambled eggs swirled with cheddar cheese. 

Casee and John grow and/or hand pick their produce and herbs. Fortunately, they have west coast friends with citrus groves! Look for these new marmalades, just released for Spring 2012. My favorite is the lilting, lightly floral Meyer Lemon-Rose Geranium. Blood Orange-Meyer Lemon is divine on its own or shaken in a good Manhattan. 

Blood Orange-Meyer Lemon
Blood Orange-Rosemary
Meyer Lemon-Rose Geranium
Pomegranate Citrus

About all the love-spreading: Amour donates a percentage of its sales to a variety of local causes, detailed on their site. 

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