Pipian Verde

 

author photo: Ionah DeFreitas…

When Greens Cafe opened in the mid eighties, one of our signature dishes was grilled chicken breasts with tomatillo sauce. We made the sauce by chopping onions, tomatillos and cilantro, which we blitzed with cumin, salt and chicken stock. It was good and tasty, but, I later realized, a little one-dimensional.

blacken tomatillos and onion on a hot comal…
chiles blistering on an open flame…
suffocate them in their own steam in a plastic or paper bag to loosen the skins…
removing the charred skins…

Years later, while traveling in the Yucatán, Ionah and I had a memorable Sunday lunch in Mérida, in a grand but crumbling old colonial hotel, with toucans and giant palms in the dining room, which was a kind of exotic bird house open to the sky. I kept my hat on and she wore a colorful scarf. Continue reading “Pipian Verde”

Mint pesto with Asparagus, parmigiano-reggiano and a poached egg…

 

Spring time in Denver can be a precarious time, especially if you happen to be a sensitive flower. If someone planted you within the last couple of weeks, during the recent tee-shirt and sandal spell, you would now be a wilted thing and sadly, out of luck: destined to be turned over and forked under the cold, soaked soil, because we just had a late mother of a snow storm. Continue reading “Mint pesto with Asparagus, parmigiano-reggiano and a poached egg…”

Spaghetti with broccoli

I love simple, inexpensive, delicious food, and much of that comes from the resourceful kitchens of southern Italy. Ionah’s mother Euza, who’s from Brazil, but whose veins pulse with vibrant Italian blood, is an excellent cook and tango dancer extraordinaire. She has a talented weakness for all things Italian and one of those things is a simple family dish that we call spaghetti with broccoli.She used to make it for the family when they were kids growing up in Rhode Island. Ionah continues the tradition, and whenever the pasta pot comes rolling to a boil around here, it’s often spaghetti with broccoli that fills it up. Continue reading “Spaghetti with broccoli”

Brussels Sprouts

                          No to Glucosinolite Sinigrin!

 

Couple of years back, Ionah and I were returning from a Christmas visit to Ireland. We landed in Dallas Forth worth to catch our connecting flight home to Denver. It was a blustery landing and just as we cleared customs and were trying to figure out how to get to our terminal, a medium-sized tornado touched down on the landing strip.

Alarms went off, uniformed guards shouted at us to stay calm and a group of us, a hundred or so were herded by security over to the toilets, where we remained for an hour until the danger had passed. We later found out 160 planes were damaged. Hundreds of flights, including ours, were cancelled. Continue reading “Brussels Sprouts”

Root Rice

 

Rooting for rice.

If there’s rice about — a carrot, a parsnip, an onion, some garlic, the odd stick of celery, a few spices — you can make this now. I call it root rice for two reasons.

Number one, because most of the ingredients come from under the ground. The onset of winter is a fitting time of year — when light is at its lowest, sleep at its heaviest and thoughts at their darkest — to introduce energizing roots to our diet. Sure, they thrive alone, cold and burrowing in the dark, but, with a little prodding, a little cheering on, they can bring gifts of comfort and warmth to the table. They are not called roots for nothing. Eat them and rooted you will be. Continue reading “Root Rice”

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

 

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Summer’s almost gone, and it’s a sad and beautiful time at the foot of the Rockies, as we say a tearful goodbye to chilled rosé, and a hello again to the charming allure of red wine.

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No matter how tempted we are by the fresh crop of cabbages at our local farmers market — just one look sends me into salty fermenting memories of shredding and pounding last year’s kraut — or by the new crop of hard squash, which, as I leer into the bin, finds me rekindling a summer long, lost relationship with my oven; it pleads and cajoles: come back to me baby, turn me on, lay something on my big steel rack — I still, during these last beautiful days of autumn, only have eyes for the love apple: the pomme d’amour, the wild and unkempt luscious heirloom tomato. Continue reading “Gazpacho”

Eggplant Rillettes

Eggplant Rillettes.

 

 

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A surprisingly broad range of skills is required to cook successfully in a professional kitchen. Your most crucial tool is not, as many would assume, your knife: it’s your body. For a start, you need a good set of oiled knees. Then, you need a reliably sharp back: one you don’t have to constantly watch over and hone. You need a set of feet that won’t let you down. You need them to kick walk-in cooler and oven doors closed, because your hands are always busy working overtime, balancing pans of sizzling flesh in hot oil, or filthy from gouging out glops of congealed fat from the corners of a forgotten roasting pan.

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You need a pair of arms long enough to grapple a 32 quart stock pot full of steaming liquid and bones. Needless to say, you need your hands, and they better be good, and fingers nimble as a raccoon’s. You got to move with the grace of a dancer and you’ve got to balance a solid head on those exhausted shoulders. Stamina is key. A sarcastic disposition comes in handy. It helps if you are under forty— and it helps if you can cook. Continue reading “Eggplant Rillettes”