Moro’s Fish Tagine

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It sounds cliché, but I was recently reminded how the greatest gifts are those that keep on giving. In 2005, when our friends Jamie and Magali came all the way from London to visit us in San Francisco, they brought with them the cookbook Moro by Sam and Sam Clark. To demonstrate the beauty of this gift they made us a Moro dinner, a meal Ryan and I can still taste to this day ~ Roast chicken with harissa, carrot and cumin salad with coriander, feta salad with spinach, crispbread, sumac and pinenuts. They served these dishes with sherry, apparently the perfect complement.

It quickly became clear that Jamie and Magali had gifted us more than a fantastic meal; they had welcomed us into their happiest memories. For years these recipes had graced their table and when the two got married they planned an elaborate menu that all the guests participated in preparing…from the Moro cookbook.

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Granola Bars – nutty or not so nutty

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We’re big fans of granola bars in our house and I’m constantly searching for good options. By my definition, good bars are low in sugar other than what’s derived from dried fruit, absent of ingredients I know nothing about (words that end in –ose for example), and relatively inexpensive. If you’ve shopped for granola bars in the store, you’d know that I’ve basically excluded most brands. When I started researching recipes for making my own bars I was surprised by the vast array of sworn-by recipes. Like everything on Soy Sugar Sherry, I was searching to find the right technique and then planned to tweak it and make it my own.

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Tandoori Chicken

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Growing up, my dad, his partner and I had a Sunday tradition of Indian buffet in Cambridge, MA.  I typically made the trip from NYC to Boston once a month and every Sunday we’d hop on the Tube and get off at Central Station to hit up whichever Indian spot they’d currently decided was the best in town.  Inevitably every six months or so they’d venture out to a new place and proclaim this one the new favorite.

For me, a good Indian buffet has several features.  Aside from the obvious freshness factor, I look for a good variety of dishes (e.g. veg, lentils, meats), quality homemade chutneys in mass quantities, and good Kheer (Indian rice pudding) for dessert.  Tandoori chicken is not a staple for me at Indian lunch buffets mostly because the qualities that make or break Tandoori chicken are the antithesis of buffet style food. There’s a reason why Tandoori typically comes on a sizzling plate with charred onions and melting lemons – it should be served hot and fresh to prevent the meat from drying.

After years of feeling intrigued by indian marinades I decided to start playing around with my own Tandoori recipes. I love the idea of marinating meat in yogurt and spices, a tradition found in so many great South Asian and Middle Eastern recipes. The yogurt acts as a natural tenderizer and keeps the meat moist when cooking. It also locks in great flavor when combined with herbs and spices.  For a super simple recipe, this one uses a number of great techniques that will help you make loads of great marinades.  I like to serve this chicken with mango chutney (Kalustyan’s is my absolute favorite) and warm buttery naan.

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Veal Piccata

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I grew up in a family with divorced parents and every other weekend was spent with my mother, stepfather and two stepbrothers. Inevitably there was a lot riding on these weekends, four days out of every month that we spent all together as a family. My parents worked hard at making these weekends fun for everyone, a daunting task given our 9 year spread and vastly different interests. While activities and outings were met with mixed reviews, one thing we all could agree on was Saturday night family dinner.

In many ways it’s hard to believe we could all agree on a favorite dish given our diverse tastes in food. My stepfather, who is French, to this day feels strongly that garlic, parsley, salt and pepper are all one really needs to season a dish…any dish… ever. I on the other hand could live on highly spiced dishes with loads of cilantro, an herb that in large quantities might literally send him to an early grave. One of my brothers has always been rather adventurous when it comes to food while the other, even today at age of 42, could probably live on baked ziti and cereal.

My mother, being the extraordinary cook that she is, somehow figured out that veal piccata with its sharp lemony flavor and comforting soft texture was the perfect dish to nourish our family. She’d serve it with two types of angel hair pasta, one with loads of garlic, parsley and olive oil, and the other with “shit sauce,” a term my stepfather coined for tomato sauce out of a jar for the brother who liked to keep things “traditional”. I loved the way the lemony sauce from the veal added just the right acidity to the pasta with garlic and olive oil and how the pasta with tomato sauce out of a jar felt like the perfect sweet finish when the meat was done.

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Vegetable Barley Soup

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I was very tempted to call this post “refrigerator soup” but I feared no one would ever read it if I did.  But now that I have your attention, what I am about to share is my technique for how to use up as many of the vegetables in your refrigerator to make something comforting and delicious.  I typically make this soup for lunch on Sundays when I have a bit of time to scrounge around for odd bits of leftover vegetables in the veggie bin and generally assess the status of the week’s leftovers.

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The ingredients in this soup change week to week but the technique is generally the same. The possibilities are literally endless.  In place of barley, you can substitute lentils, Israeli cous cous, tubetti pasta, baby shells or macaroni. Onions can be substituted for leeks or shallots. You can use practically whatever vegetables are in season, and even add beef, chicken or baby meatballs. Continue reading

Guilty Carrot Soup

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I have a confession to make.  I stole the carrots to make this soup.  I’m guilty.  But before you close this link out of fear that your integrity will be compromised by making this recipe, let me explain.  We have a plot in our local community garden.  The growing season is from April to December, or whenever the Village of Gambier gets around to clearing us out.  I don’t know the actual demographics of our Village but I would guess that it is 95% populated by students and faculty of Kenyon College, ourselves included.  Having been through one full growing season at the garden, I’ve noticed a trend amongst its residents.  Come April/May, academics are feeling tired but enthusiastic about the impending summer months.  June, July and August symbolize time to yourself, a chance to get out into the sunshine and steer clear of anyone between the ages of 18-22.  They energetically plant their gardens, weed and water them for about a month.  Then come the trips, Ohio’s unbearable humidity, and the  slow, creeping realization that you’re being paid for 12 months a year because the expectation is that you’ll actually do a little work during the summer.

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Meanwhile weeds begin to take over.  Seeds fruit and then flower. Greens bolt. Summer squash takes over. And eventually these garden plots go from orderly, romantic landscapes to cubist nightmares. So on October 20th, as my daughter and I were harvesting ground cherries and arugula, I couldn’t help but peak over at our neighbors over grown mess and notice carrot tops.  After carefully monitoring our surroundings for signs of approaching scholars, I ventured over to investigate.  I brushed aside some dirt to find an outcropping of orange tops.  I looked to my left and noticed a few more tops peaking out. Soon I had called Adeline over and we were excavating pounds of amazing carrots that had been sweetening all summer long!  Round, knobby, crunchy and delicious, these were some of the best carrots I’d ever had.

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