Tag Archives: forgotten foods

Forgotten Foods: Marrow

Marrow on taost, with herb salad and capers. Image courtesy of thehungrymouse.com

Last week, after going out to dinner with some friends, I was reminded of just how easy it is to have a fabulous eating experience without expensive spices, complex preparations or premium cuts of meat. Case in point: bone marrow.

Hopefully I haven’t repulsed everyone reading this blog with an image of someone sucking the somewhat mysterious, but absolutely delicious, stuff out from the middle of a cow’s femur. Yes, eating bone marrow is a bit bizarre and unsettling, especially if you have never been exposed to it before. But before casting marrow off into the culinary badlands with other less appetizing offal-related dishes like blood sausage or haggis, let me say this about bones in general. Any good cook knows that bones, such as those from a chicken carcass or behind the meat counter make for rich, wonderful stocks. And stocks are the flavor foundation for so many sauces, soups, stews and gravies. Stocks are also great, flavorful mediums in which to cook starches, like pastas, rice and potatoes.

Additionally, cuts of meat that are closer to bones are generally juicier, more tender, and better-tasting than cuts of meat further from the bone. Chicken thighs, wings, and legs are much more flavorful and rich tasting than breast meat, which can be unpleasantly dry and boring. The same goes for many cuts of beef… rib meat is tender, juicy and rich, whereas flank steaks can be drier, leaner and less rich.

The common trend here: proximity to bones=flavor and richness. So logic must lead us to believe that bones contain a lot of flavor and richness. Okay, not the most bulletproof use of logic on my part, but you get the idea: bones are tasty.

So when the marrow bones were served to myself and my friends, I couldn’t wait to dig on in. We were served 3 bones, which had been simply roasted in the oven and served with crusty bread, a simple herb salad and some high quality grey sea salt for sprinkling (the marrow bones are roasted unseasoned). Then we used our teeny little spoons to scoop the marrow out and spread it on our toast. After a small sprinkle of salt, I was ready to dig in! Immediately, I was astounded by the silkiness and richness of the marrow. And even though marrow has a high fat content, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the richness. Instead of being heavy, the marrow was light, but amazingly smooth, velvety and rich at the same time. And even after several good spoonfuls of marrow, my stomach didn’t get upset or overwhelmed by the large amount of fat I had just consumed.

In restaurants, marrow costs a fair amount of money. But thankfully, this amazingly delicious treat doesn’t have to be expensive! In reality, you can get the same marrow bones served in restaurants for free from the meat counter… bones that the meat counter would normally toss out. Finally, marrow bones are stupidly easy to prepare. You just stick the bone cut side up on baking sheet and roast it until the marrow begins to separate from the bone. Spread it on toast, toss on some salt, and you’re in flavor heaven… not to mention how much better they taste knowing they are practically free!

So just in case you’re feeling adventurous and want to try marrow for yourself, here’s a recipe for Roast Marrow Bones with arugula salad. Continue reading Forgotten Foods: Marrow


Forgotten Foods: Duck

Duck Confit. Photograph couresy of electricpress.info.

While reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, I read a passage where Mr. Bourdain came down pretty hard on poultry (specifically, chicken) eaters. In Mr. Bourdain’s words: “Chicken is boring. Chefs see it a menu item for people who don’t know what they want to eat.”

Much like Mr. Bourdain, chicken doesn’t do anything for me either. To me, chicken breast is the most boring, flavorless source of protein. If I’m going to eat chicken breast, its probably coated in some sort of rich sauce, incorporated into a mac and cheese, or slathered in mayonnaise for chicken salad. Don’t get me wrong, there can be nothing more comforting than a whole herb roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, but I always go for the dark meat… the legs, thighs and wings. The dark meat has higher fat content and thus, more flavor.

So when I sat down at Mr. Bourdain’s restaurant Brasserie Les Halles, you can be sure I didn’t order chicken. Come to think of it, I can’t remember if there was any chicken on the menu! Instead, I ordered duck. Yes, duck is poultry, but it is so much more flavorful thanks to an extremely high fat content (the fat helps the ducks to float on water and keep warm). I had eaten duck before… its my go-to special dish when I eat out. But this was my first time having my own order of duck confit. And it was delicious!

Making duck confit involves salt curing a piece of duck and then poaching it in its own rendered fat until meltingly tender. The meat and fat is then cooled. When cool, the meat can be transferred to container and completely submerged in the fat. A sealed jar of duck confit may be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months, or several weeks if kept in a reusable plastic container. The cooking fat acts as both a seal and preservative and results in a very rich taste.

A classic preparation for leg of duck confit is to fry or grill the legs in a bit of the fat until they are well-browned and crisp, and use more of the fat to roast some potatoes and garlic as an accompaniment. If you love the flavor of roasted chicken or turkey, the richness and flavor of duck leg confit prepared this way will blow your mind. So much flavor!

So next time you’re out to dinner and think about ordering the chicken because you simply don’t know what else to order, remember Mr. Bourdain’s words about America’s favorite meat, and try duck if possible. And if you’re feeling brave, or have lots of time to prepare duck confit yourself, then give it a try. The end result will be well worth it! Continue reading Forgotten Foods: Duck

Forgotten Foods: Beets

Beets can often call to mind uncleanable stains, bright purple forever standing out against your countertop. Permanent reminders of past kitchen disasters, these purple blotches send shivers down our spines. But, used in the right way, beets are down-right delicious. We turn to Kelcey for an inventive way to use the brightly colored vegetable.
Beet, Marscapone and Poppy Seed Ice Cream. Photograph couresy of Saveur Magazine.


Beets are one of my favorite vegetables. But that was not always the case. When I first tried them as a young kid, I thought they were flavorless and mushy. That was probably because those beets were canned. And gross. But once I tried fresh beets, my mind was completely changed. The fresh beets were sweet, almost candy-like after being slow roasted and concentrated in flavor.

Now I love to eat beets in a great variety of preparations. Roasted and coated in vinaigrette as a wholesome side, served with goat cheese and orange sections as an appetizer. Sometimes simple boiled beets are great, with just a little salt, pepper and butter.

Beets are also really good for you, containing a compound called betalain that is full of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. In a recent study from Italy, beets were shown to be high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health. Unlike some other food pigments, betalains undergo very steady loss from food as the length of cooking time is increased. In recent lab studies on human tumor cells, pigments from beets were also shown to lessen tumor cell growth which has encouraged researches to look at beets for both prevention and treatment of certain cancers.

Recently, I saw a recipe for beets that I was previously unaware of… a preparation that negates pretty much all health benefits of these root vegetables: Beet Ice Cream with Marscapone, Orange Zest, and Poppy Seeds. This immediately caught my eye due to its resemblance to my favorite salad of beets, goat cheese, and orange segments. I had to give it a try!

The ice cream was super smooth and not overly sweet. The beets gave the ice cream not only a great deep purple color, but also freshness and brightness thanks not only to the vegetable component, but also the tang of the orange zest. It was a refreshing change from my usual ice cream indulgence of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked.

So here is the recipe for the beet ice cream. It’s sure to impress! Continue reading Forgotten Foods: Beets

Forgotten Foods: Pesto

Just in time for Italian Month, Kelcey returns with a forgotten food that will revolutionize how you think about pesto.


Ok, so maybe pesto isn’t a forgotten food. I mean really, you can get pesto at any halfway decent grocery store. The pasta bar at Ferris serves it on a daily basis. We’re not talking about anything crazy here.

However, I was recently travelling out West, and in need of some in flight entertainment, I decided to pick up Saveur Magazine, a food magazine I had never read before. Their feature for the months of August/September was… you guessed it… pesto. But not only the classic Pesto Genovese with basil, cheese, pine nuts and olive oil, but sundried tomato pesto with almonds and rosemary, spicy eggplant pesto with ricotta cheese, and arugula pesto with bright lemon zest. Who knew how diverse pesto could be?!

Well, in all honesty, the word “pesto” refers to the way in which the sauce is made: the verb “pestare” means to pound in Italian. Traditionally, pestos in Italy are made in a mortar and pestle. Some pesto purists in Italy claim that using the mortar and pestle is the only way to get the best flavor in a pesto, but if (like me) you’d rather use a food processor, don’t worry–you’ll still get a splendid pesto!

Pestos are also terrifically versatile. Think of pesto as a multipurpose condiment: a marinade, sauce, dip, or spread. In their most obvious use, pestos are combined with pasta, but pesto can also be rubbed on meats before grilling or roasting to produce a terrific flavorful crust. Or pesto can be mixed with mayonnaise for a terrific condiment for fried calamari. I have even seen recipes for pesto panna cotta!

So here are two recipes for unconventional pestos. The first is Pesto di Prezzemolo, made with parsley, capers and anchovies. This one goes really well when tossed with grilled veggies. The second recipe is for Pesto di Rucola, which is made with arugula. This pesto goes really well over grilled fish. Continue reading Forgotten Foods: Pesto

Forgotten Foods: Brussels Sprouts

Ok, I must admit that there are a couple foods that I just do not like. Brussels sprouts typically makes the top of the list, and I think that’s the case for many people. Brussels sprouts are often associated with the smell of stinky socks or “the gunk on the bottom of your sink” as my suite-mate so eloquently put it. However, it is this smell that one should avoid while cooking the vegetable. Once the sprout begins to give off this sulphorous smell, it is a sign of overcooking–something one should never do when it comes to vegetables.

Brussels sprouts (in their modern form) were first cultivated in (yep, you guessed it…) Belgium! They are related to (most obviously) cabbage and (not so obviously) broccoli. The harvest season for this vegetable is all the way from June to January. (Which means I have plenty of time to learn to love this vegetable.)

As much as I dislike Brussels sprouts, there is one recipe that I have found that makes them delicious: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon! I should have known that bacon would improve my least favorite vegetable–bacon makes everything taste better! But before I go into a digression on bacon, here’s the recipe:


6 slices of bacon

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1/2 C olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. butter


1. Fry bacon, turning occasionally, until crisp, 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic and thyme together in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Remove the outer leaves of the Brussels Sprouts and discard. Continue to remove leaves, and place in a bowl. Remove the core. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leaves and 1/2 C water, cover and raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and steam leaves until they are bright green and tender, 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

4. Crumble bacon atop the Brussels sprouts leaves. Add in dressing. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper.

Forgotten Foods: The Yum-Yum Pepper

For the past 3 weeks, I have walked through the Farmer’s Market, and every time this little dark purple-colored pepper has caught my eye. The little cardboard sign reads: Yum-yum Pepper. With a name like this, who could possibly resist? However, I tend to shy away from ingredients (especially vegetables) if I do not know how to properly use them. I know that they will end up sitting in my fridge for a week before they end up rotting… a waste of a couple bucks.

Finally, this last Thursday, I worked up the courage to buy three of these little peppers. The woman at the stand commended my choice, telling me that they were very tasty and have fewer seeds than the typical bell pepper. This fact made it easier to prep the peppers.

I decided to add the yum-yums to my classic stir-fry recipe. I thought it would compliment the red and yellow peppers, making a beautiful color combination in my bowl. Before adding the peppers to the wok, I made sure to taste one piece by itself. Surprisingly, the pepper was more bitter than a red or yellow pepper, making me think of the green varieties. It retained its bitter taste after being cooked in the stir fry, but unfortunately, it did not retain its color. The peppers started turning more of a purple-gray color. Although I was disappointed by the color, the bitterness balanced the sweetness of the stir-fry.

Besides stir-fries, the yum-yum pepper would also be delicious on shish kebabs or chopped up fresh in salads. (I’m sure they would retain the brilliant color in the salads unless you douse them in vinegar.) If you find a new way to use the pepper, leave a comment/recipe in the comments section!

Forgotten Foods: Radicchio

In college, I feel like most students either completely neglect vegetables or stick to the boring basics (such as carrots, celery, and snap peas with Ranch dressing). I would like to introduce Radicchio!

Radicchio is a beautiful vegetable hailing from Italy. Looking for it in West Side, it is in the aisle with the dried fruits and nuts, and it resembles a mini purple cabbage. Radicchio, along with its close cousin Treviso, has a bright purple color which is sure to bring a hint of “exoticism” to your dinner table. It has recently been an addition to salad mixes for its unique hue, but using this vegetable for a simple salad is not using it to its fullest ability. I tend to use this gorgeous vegetable as a substitute for butter leaf lettuce and romaine. Butter leaf and romaine lettuces have often been favorites for hand-held appetizers. However, radicchio has a prettier color and it holds its shape better. (In other words, it will not fold under pressure.) Unlike the two types of lettuce mentioned, it has a slightly bitter taste. The vegetable will only get more bitter as it sits in the fridge, so make sure to use it within a week.

In order to counter its bitter taste, I pair it with sweet and salty foods. This would be perfect for Asian Chicken Salad Wraps… but I was not satisfied with this idea. I cooked some pork belly (as featured in last week’s email) and combined it with some diced red onion and mango. Then, I topped the dish with sunflower sprouts, ricotta salata, and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. You can get creative too! Send in your ideas and experiments with radicchio.