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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been in a bit of a food funk lately. Okay it’s been pretty much the entire month of January. Maybe it was the inevitable let down of a rash of pre-Christmas baking with long shopping lists and flour on all the elbows of my shirts. Or perhaps it’s this mild winter that feels more like spring but without any of the fresh produce to go along with it. It’s hard to muster up recipes with winter squash, hearty root vegetables, or roasted meat and potatoes when it’s almost 60 degrees outside and all the trees have been tricked into blooming by the first week of February.
I think in retrospect this time of year is always the hardest for me. We try to eat seasonally and after four months of nothing but kale, the creative juices just aren’t flowing quite as well. To beat the slump I turned to a new cookbook I bought myself for Christmas this year that I’ve been hoarding and reading a little bit at a time over lunch as it seemed apt. Peter Miller is a great independent architectural and design book store in Seattle. When we lived there I used to wander over and spoil myself by looking at their beautifully curated selection of pens, notebooks, and cards and linger over their books, turning the pages of large books of lush photographs of landscape designs, stunning buildings, and great streets or public plazas. I can honestly say I probably want to own every single thing in the shop.
I came across a mention somewhere of a book Peter Miller put out this year and somehow didn’t put two and two together. The title is what grabbed me – Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal. As I may have confessed before, I dread lunch. I’m perfectly happy eating handfuls of cheese doodles or smearing chocolate peanut butter on a rice cracker. I tend to put all my effort into breakfast and dinner and am out of inspiration and energy when it comes to lunch. I bought the book hoping it could turn over a new page in my lunch repertoire. After trying my first recipe, I can already say buying the book has been worth it. I’ve made this sandwich three times already just this week. I love how it perfectly marries two different creamy textures (almond butter and brie) with two bright crisp flavors and texture (apples and arugula).
I’m not going to lie to you, I dread feeding my son. Before I had a kid I used to try and imagine all the things I would love to share with him once he arrived. I would close my eyes and picture reading books before bedtime or giggling while splashing during bath time or see him sitting in his high chair squishing food I’d canned for him between his fingers then eating vigorously. At no point in time did I imagine a kid with yogurt up to his elbows and inside his nostrils screaming red faced at me while throwing food all over the floor.
When we first started feeding Orion I was excited. He seemed to be an intrepid eater with a broad palette and an adventurous sensibility. He ate dumplings at Mission Chinese, smoked salmon and roasted beets at Bar Sajor in Seattle. In fact the only things he didn’t seem to like were sweet potatoes and zucchini – a very short list. We were elated. Then around the time he started walking, something shifted seemingly overnight with our son. He became a kid who does not like to eat. Or more accurately, a kid who sometimes likes to eat but only certain things on certain days at certain times but it’s hard to say what he wants or when. It’s been a huge struggle to try to unravel the mystery of Orion’s eating patterns. And more and more of our meals have been ending like this, Orion covered in yogurt yelling at me yelling at him.
We recently had several breakthroughs, the first of which was meeting an actually picky child. My niece appears to live off of fake chicken patties, bananas, blueberry yogurt, and candy. Nothing else will pass her lips. Now here was a kid I’d call picky. Orion, on the other hand, will eat things most kids would never eat. Just last week he stole my lunch of avocado with toasted mustard seeds and curry powder. I realized that Orion isn’t picky, he’s just particular, meaning that finding a right answer that’s consistently right is a very difficult challenge. The second breakthrough was examining my own beliefs and behavior around his eating. After almost a year of hard work struggling with my particular child, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I’ve developed along the way that may help you if you find yourself in a similar situation. There’s some principles that probably apply to all kids no matter how they eat in terms of how to approach meals with your kid. Oh and a new recipe we’re very happy with. Orion and I shared it for lunch just this week.