Happy New Year!

New Year: 2013

We’re back! After a long break, big vacations and more food than we could ever catch up on, we’re ready to hit the kitchen, the keyboard and the camera in what promises to be our most productive blogging year yet.

In spite of the hiatus, 2012 inspired a number of posts we look back at with pride. The year started with a double wedding (two days, two states, same couple) and a beautiful almond wedding cake. We discovered raw kale salads and we scratched the surface of the food scenes in Washington D.C., Seattle, London and Scotland. Fava beans and preserved lemons brightened our spring and we learned to make cheese. Our tribute to St. Patrick included plenty of Irish Coffee and a tasty loaf of Irish Soda Bread. Eyebrows rose when we recommended salting our drip coffee, but nobody batted an eyelash when we substituted arugula for basil in our take on pesto. Recipes offered a mix of the simple (pickled red onions) and the complex (apricot buttermilk pie), all with a focus on in-season, locally grown organic products.

As we begin a new year, we look forward to sharing more of what we prepare in our one-ass kitchen. We thank those of you who continued to visit in spite of our disappearing act. To those who found us this year, we offer a belated “Welcome!”

Our goal in the New Year is to inspire you to cook. Our hope is that you’ll follow our lead in sourcing the very best ingredients you can find. Please let us know what you think of the things we’re cooking. Your comments are always welcome.


Preserved Lemons

It’s citrus season in the Bay Area and folks everywhere are harvesting their winter crops. Friends have gifted us bags of golden yellow Meyer lemons and we’re happy to accept. Meyer lemons are sweeter and more fragrant than their true lemon cousins. Their thin skins make them more delicate and their lower acidity makes for a more versatile flavoring agent. Raw or cooked, these beauties are a favorite in our kitchen.

A friend recently asked what to do with all the lemons on her tree and we suggested preserving. Typical of Mediterranean lemon preservation, we like salt packing lemons and their juice into jars where they are then left to ferment, transforming them into a savory condiment deliciously paired with a variety of dishes. They’re great chopped and added to fresh sauces for fish, or stewed with chicken, olives and fennel. Preserved lemons are commonly added to couscous and other grain dishes where they add rich complexity. However you use them, these lemons are best used as a condiment. That means a little will go a long way (remember, they’re preserved in salt and lemon juice). Taking a spin on the most obvious pun, “When life gives you a bag of Meyer lemons, preserve them.” They’ll last longer than lemonade and will flavor more dishes.

The following recipe comes from Chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza in San Francisco who included it in his book – Mourad: New Moroccan. While the recipe is simple, preserved lemons aren’t a last-minute flavoring, so if you plan to add them to your pantry, you’ll have to wait a month before digging in. We think the wait is worth it!

As easy as cut, salt, juice, and pack.

Preserved Lemons

12-18 lemons (Meyer if you can get them)
½ cup kosher salt

Slice the 6-8 lemons lengthwise and in a cross shape ¾ of the way through the lemon. Generously add the kosher salt down the center of the lemon and pack it in a sterile jar. Continue with all the lemons. With the lemons you intend to juice, be sure to remove strips of lemon zest (use a veggie peeler). Make sure not to remove too much of the pith. Add the strips of zest to the jar. Juice the zested lemons either by hand or with a citrus juicer. Pour the lemon juice over the salted lemons in the jar, make sure the lemons are fully covered by the juice, seal tight. Allow to sit in a dark area of your kitchen, gently shaking the jar daily. After about a month the lemons will be ready to use.