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« October 28, 2007 - November 3, 2007 | Main

November 9, 2007

The Antidote

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After many restaurant meals in a row, I sometimes need a night off to detox. I know it's time when I find myself fantasizing about a plate of plain steamed broccoli. That happened last night, so I made this fish stew. It takes 20 minutes tops, including prep time, and can be varied endlessly: use whatever vegetables look good to you. When it's done, it's not particularly pretty, but it is restorative. Of course, you can do something similar with more spicing (I like a combo of sauteed chorizo, cod, kale, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, and smoked paprika), but then it can no longer be called...

The Antidote (a.k.a. simplest fish stew)
Serves 2 people who can't stand to eat anything involving butter, frying, or fancy sauces

2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3/4 pounds thin cod fillet
1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
8 Brussels sprouts, halved then sliced thin
1 small head of broccoli, cut into tiniest florets
Handful pea pods
Several handfuls spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put broth in a pot big enough to hold all the ingredients. Throw in the garlic and bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Reduce heat to low and add fish, carrots, and shiitakes. Simmer gently for two minutes or so, then add remaining vegetables. Simmer till fish is cooked through, about 3 more minutes. (If you're using a thicker piece of fish, you may have to cook it longer before adding remaining vegetables.) Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

November 8, 2007

Dumpling fanaticism

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In yesterday's Food section, Jonathan Levitt wrote about the website smittenkitchen.com.

Deb Perelman, who runs the website, also contributes to NPR's Kitchen Window column. I just stumbled across this week's column, titled "Beyond Potstickers: Professions of a Dumpling Lover." First sentence: "I am a dumpling fanatic." Perelman goes on to discuss the many dumplings of the world. "Fear not," she writes, "I have room in my belly for all of you."

Yes, Deb, what you said. The real question in my mind is: how could anyone not be a dumpling fanatic? They're the perfect food -- protein and vegetable together in one bite-size package, not bad for you when steamed, and tasty tasty tasty. In fact, one of my many dream restaurants is called Dumpling. It would serve all those dumplings of the world -- from pierogi to xiao long bao -- to be mixed and matched with side dishes of the world. For dessert: sweet dumplings, of course.

In a recent Food section meeting, Sheryl and I discovered our lists of dream restaurants overlap. She'd call hers Plat du Jour, I'd call mine Special, but both of our restaurants would serve one menu, no choices, till the food runs out, and then the night would be over. (She says: no cranky people welcome, no substitutions.)

I love hearing about people's dream restaurants. What are yours?

November 7, 2007

Hot, sweet, and ... two other adjectives

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I was just flipping through "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi's new cookbook, which came out last month. Many of the recipes in "Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet" sound intriguing -- hot and sour fruit chaat, yellow velvet lentil soup with cumin and dried plums, lamb meatballs in creamy spinach sauce, and Madras-style chicken curry are some of the dishes I'd like to cook.

But there's something oddly familiar about the book. That title ...

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... It's so familiar. I wonder if much-respected cookbook authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid -- whose "Hot Sour Salty Sweet" came out seven years earlier -- were just a bit miffed when they saw it.

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