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A Press Democrat Blog

Proximal Kitchen

Cooking locally, with really sharp knives

Get her tipsy, feed her chocolate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not above whetting my wife’s more carnal appetites with enough wine and chocolate to impair her better judgment. I’m sure that’s all very un-PC and certainly, as the father of young daughters, I live in mortal fear of the effects of alcohol on sensibility; but my wife’s a big girl, and above all, she knows how I think, so I’m pretty sure our pending Valentine’s Date – a savory symphony of handcrafted chocolate and wine at J Winery – will be consensual.… Read More »

Braised Lamb with Bitter Chocolate, Rosemary, and Syrah

Lamb shoulder, braised with Syrah, Chocolate, and RosemarySometimes, despite all the planning, the wearing-thin of cookbook pages, the carpal-tunnel-clicking through epicurious, I’ll find out the hard way that it’s what I didn’t plan for that determines whether my food ultimately succeeds, or merely sucks. Typically, I’m undone by good, old fashioned pilot error; typically, but not always, because sometimes it’s the black swan crapping on my mise, and it’s just such an exception to the rule that inspired this edition of Meat, Braise, Love: A slow braise of shoulder of local lamb with bitter chocolate, rosemary, and bad-ass Syrah.Read More »

A Plate of Strange Bedfellows

Pickles, cheese, and chocolate: Three ingredients, three possible pair-wise combinations, two really good and interesting tastes, and one impossibly disgusting mouthful of gag reflex. If I like cheese with pickles, and (somewhat surprisingly) I like chocolate with cheese, then why don’t I like chocolate with pickles? I mean, other than the painfully obvious – in point of fact, it tastes even worse than it sounds – why the apparent lack of transitivity? As an amateur cook and a professional economist,… Read More »

Meat, Braise, Love

Beef Short Ribs in a Zinfandel Chili BraiseProducing a braise in your own kitchen is a bit like making porn in your own bed: It rewards practice, because when you get it just right, it’s the best you’ll ever see, and all the times you don’t, it’s still a very long way from sucking. Similarly, there is just so much to love about the braise: Purely from a gastronomic perspective, no other cooking technique so easily employed by the home cook comes close to creating the depth and concentration of flavor than does the properly executed braise.… Read More »