Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth!

By Cornelia

Since the girls are home today and Intrepid Spouse is not, I'd like to wish you guys a very happy holiday, and offer some ideas for stuff to eat, if you haven't stocked up for your BBQ already...

Fred's Killer Garlic Tri-tip

This is my Dad's recipe, and while it's not the quickest, it rocks enough to change your life. He calls it "The tail of the dragon: Vegetarian tri-tip"--the vegetarian part referring to the fact that there is almost more garlic than meat.

While this isn't a dish for the faint-hearted, you will be guaranteed to double the attendance at each successive barbecue you host, if you promise your guests to cook this once they've tasted it. This may not be a pyramid scheme which will make you any money, but you will have many friends.

Here's what you'll need:

2-3 heads of garlic (at least)
1 8-oz. jar of Grey Poupon Country Dijon
1 20-oz bottle teriyaki sauce (Kikkoman acceptable, as is rarely the case)
2-3 tri-tips *

Trim any excess fat from the tri-tip. Peel all cloves of garlic from each of the heads (this is a pain... try not to smash them). Slice each clove lengthwise, then into long slivers.

Place meat on cutting board, fat side down. Insert a small, very sharp knife blade straight down into the meat, making sure that the blade enters with the grain (when you pull out the knife, the hole should close back up again). Starting at the large end of the tip, make a hole about every half inch and insert a sliver of garlic in each. Do this in rows, staggering the slivers in each row (like bricks, so to speak). When you've done the whole tip in this manner, down to the small end, sprinkle it with a little salt and pat it down with the flat of your hand so that the slivers are all pushed down.

Place tips in a large bowl. Mix the teriyaki and mustard (easiest in a large lidded jar--like one for peanut butter). Pour over the meat, using the back of a large spoon to spread the marinade evenly across the whole of each tip. Allow to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Barbecue, basting with the marinade, until meat has reached desired doneness. Slice and serve. Excellent the next day for sandwiches on good French bread.

Dad once made this when my husband was out West on business. He gave Jim some sandwiches for the road. These were excellent, said my husband, but after he ate two of them he had to roll the windows of the rental car down for the rest of his five-hour drive--his own breath was making his eyes water.

Do not eat this the day before a job interview, unless you are hoping to gain employment in Korea.

* I have never seen tri-tips marketed on the East coast under that name. I'm going to try to find out if they have some different title here. The following is from the Oregon Beef Council's website:

``Discover the Great Taste of Beef Tri-Tip. This flavorful beef cut has been one of the beef industry's best kept secrets. Tri-tip was seldom marketed when carcass beef or beef hind quarters were delivered to retail markets because there is only one per hind quarter. This meant that there was not enough for a case display so the butcher would grind or cube it. Today, most stores receive boneless boxed beef. If you don't see tri-tip in the meat case, ASK FOR IT. Tri-tip roasts can be ordered separately
if your butcher knows there is a demand.

A beef tri-tip roast is a boneless cut of meat from the bottom sirloin. It also is called "triangular" roast because of its shape.

Tri-tip roasts will vary from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and are about two inches thick. If a roast is cooked to rare in the center, the thinner outside edges are medium to well, offering perfectly cooked beef for every taste. The tri-tip can be cooked whole or cut into one-inch thick steaks or strips. When the meat is cut into one-eighth inch strips, it can be used for stir-fry recipes and fajitas. If it is cut into one-fourth inch thick strips, weave the meat onto skewers and quickly broil or grill.

The beef tri-tip roast may be marinated if you wish. Marinating adds flavor but is not necessary to tenderize the cut. Looking for ways to reduce calories and fat? Tri-tip is the answer.''

Byesar: The Hummus of Morocco

In 1984, I was lucky enough to travel from Dublin to Morocco for spring break, by boat and train--even riding the famed ``Marrakesh Express.'' Many a night my two travelling companions and I spent eating the round, flat wholewheat bread of this country, with Laughing Cow cheese and warm Coca-Cola--the only three items you are guaranteed to find in every neighborhood "convenience store" in this lovely country.

These tiny groceries were usually closet-sized rooms seemingly cut from some low building's smooth white stucco walls. The (always male) proprietor sat on a small stool or cushion behind a counter made from a single plank, the wall behind him lined with shelves in arm's reach containing such items as soaps, disinfectant, oranges, and cigarettes, alongside stacks of the good common bread, pyramids of oranges, and the ubiquitous silvery triangles of "La Vache Qui Rit." Light from a bare bulb spilled outward from the doorway, often the only source of illumination on an old crooked street.

If you came into a city late enough by train, such a store might be the only place to obtain dinner. They were easy to find, since every evening groups of quietly chatting and laughing men in hooded woolen djellabas are drawn from the neighborhood to gather out front like summer moths to a garden lantern. There they lean against the building in pairs with their arms resting across one another's shoulders, sharing a cigarette, or balance perfectly for hours on their haunches, gambling for dhirum coins in the dusty street.

In Marrakech one night, we bought our usual staples for dinner at such an establishment on our way to the youth hostel. Once signed in we were also served a warm bowl of byesar, the Moroccan answer to hummus, by the proprietor. We sat cross-legged on the edge of the fountain in the building's moonlit inner courtyard, the high white plaster walls glowing blue around us, and scooped up piles of delicious puree with thick wedges of Swiss-army-knife-cut bread.

Byesar makes a wonderful fast meal in the summer, served with pita bread, sourdough, or even Armenian sesame Lavash crackers. Put a bowl of it on a large, preferably round, platter--surrounded by piles of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, baby greens or torn leaf lettuce, and, if you can find them, the wonderful salty and tart hot pink pickled turnips made in Lebanon, sliced paper thin. These come in large jars, and are available in many good groceries or middle eastern markets. The pink coloring comes from a slice of beet secreted in the jar, not any kind of scary dye.

Byesar can be made with dried fava beans rather than canned, but the preparation then takes over 12 hours with soaking time, and you have to take the outer skin off each bean, which is a huge pain.

Moroccan Byesar

2 15-ounce cans fava beans (also called foul moudammas, pronounced "fool.")
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch each of thyme, marjoram, and oregano
Healthy splash of very green extra virgin olive oil

In the workbowl of a food processor, puree the beans, garlic and spices. Add olive oil and pulse to blend. I like to eat it in this creamy consistency, but traditionally, byesar should be somewhat soupy. If you'd like it as more of a dip than a spread, add a small amount of water (less than a quarter cup) and pulse to blend. Season to taste with salt.

We usually eat this at room temperature, but in Morocco byesar is heated before serving, and topped with a little extra olive oil. For a rustic touch, set the table with a few small plates around your platter for diners to share, along with tiny dishes of salt that has been flavored with cayenne and ground cumin.

After returning to Dublin from this memorable trip, I found a cheap cassette tape titled Bob Hope's Greatest Hits in a Grafton Street department store for about 99p. My buddies Sean and George and I would reminisce about the camels for rent on the beach at Agadir, our busride through the orange and purple Atlas mountains, and other adventures, while listening to Bing and Bob harmonize on the theme song from "The Road to Morocco," which contained such lyrics as "Like Webster's Dictionary, we're Morocco-bound."

Sadly, years later my mother would decide that no one could possibly want this poor tape, so she used it as a blank on which to record her boyfriend while he slept, planning to prove at breakfast once and for all that he did, indeed, snore.

I tried to keep listening to it, but "and Dorothy Lamour... zzzzzzzzxxxxx, zzzzzzxxxx" just doesn't put me in the same state of mind. Somewhere, in an unnamed bargain bin, another copy of this compilation exists, with my name on it. Until then, I'll keep my memories alive by feasting on byesar every once in a while.

Piquant Rice Noodle Salad with Lime Dressing

If you've never cooked with it before, this recipe is an outstanding introduction to Fish Sauce, the salty, savory condiment used extensively in Thai, Vietnamese, and Philippine cuisine. It is called nam pla, nuoc mam, and pastis in these countries, respectively. Each country produces a slightly different style of sauce, all of which resemble a paler, amber-colored soy sauce, but to the average Western palate the difference in flavor is negligible. Unlike soy sauce, it is never served plain, but mixed with a variety of ingredients like chilis, lime juice, vinegar, and sugar. In Vietnam, the seasoned sauce is called Nuoc Cham, and is provided in small, shallow bowls on nearly every restaurant table. It is delicious used for everything from a dip for spring rolls to a sauce for vegetables and soups.

Fish sauce, like Worcestershire, is an anchovy-based flavoring. Like soy sauce, it is fermented. While similar preparations have been used in the West to season dishes since Roman times, telling your less than adventurous dinner guests that you plan to feed them a salad dressing brewed from the most universally suspect pizza topping in America will probably not stoke their appetites. Tell them after the meal, when they have acclaimed your culinary expertise and asked for the recipe.

While now available in many large chain grocery stores, fish sauce is much more economical if bought in larger sizes at Asian food stores. It keeps indefinitely, so don't be afraid to buy a liter or more at a time.

Piquant Rice Noodle Salad with Lime Dressing

This is an excellent dish to bring to or serve at parties, as it can be prepared a day or more ahead. It's also a nice thing to have a bowl of in the icebox if you're a working stiff, since you can throw it together Sunday and it will taste great all week if kept chilled and covered. Because there's no lettuce to wilt, it's also easily transported in Tupperware or what-have-you for lunch at school or work.

1 seedless cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced thin
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 small dried red chilis, seeded and chopped OR 1 t red chili flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T sugar
3 limes
2 T fish sauce
8 oz rice noodles (rice sticks or vermicelli--bean thread noodles can be substituted)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

In a large bowl (the one in which you plan to serve the salad), combine cucumber, tomato, scallions, mint, and cilantro.

Make the dressing in a small bowl by combining chilis, garlic, sugar, the juice of two limes, and fish sauce (cut third lime into wedges and reserve for garnish). Stir with a fork until sugar is dissolved, then pour over ingredients in serving bowl.

Break noodles into pieces, then cook or soak according to package directions, rinsing well in cold water when done to taste. Drain well and toss with ingredients in serving bowl.

This can be served right away, but will improve in flavor if allowed to sit, refrigerated, from two hours to overnight. Salad will keep for several days, covered and refrigerated.

Top with peanuts, serve with lime wedges. The addition of slivered cooked chicken, grilled shrimp, thinly sliced rare beef, or thinly sliced fried tofu will make this into an excellent warm weather meal.

Serves four, though recipe can easily be doubled or trebled for larger groups.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Chevre and Sage

"Stuffing" the chicken breasts with this filling not only makes the skin particularly crispy and flavorful, but keeps the meat moist and tender.

Chevre-stuffed Chicken

1 bunch fresh sage leaves (about 2 T, when minced)
3 shallots
olive oil
8 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 split chicken breasts, skin on
wooden toothpicks
apricot jam
dry white wine, about a half cup

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mince the sage and shallots, and saute in about two tablespoons of olive oil until fragrant. Blend with chevre, and season to taste with salt and fresh pepper.

Peel back the skin on each chicken breast, making sure to leave it attached along the back edge, so to speak. Spread one quarter of the cheese mixture on each piece, then place skin back over cheese, holding in place with toothpicks. Bake in a small pan for 40 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan and place pan on top of stove. Put a heaping tablespoon of apricot jam in pan, then deglaze with white wine (this means to toss the wine in and scootch it all around the pan with a big metal spoon, scraping all the good brown stuff up and stirring. If done when the roasting pan is still hot, you'll make a savory, thin gravy with beautiful color). Don't use a sweet wine for this, or your gravy will taste like maple syrup.

Remove toothpicks from chicken pieces, top each with some of this sauce, and serve. This is excellent with either a wild rice pilaf or couscous. If I'm feeling decadent, creamed spinach is an excellent side. It should serve four, but two of us usually polish it off.

If you want to get super fancy, reserve some whole sage leaves (say 8-12) and saute them alone in olive oil after you've assembled the chicken and put it in the oven. The sage leaves will curl slightly and crisp up, getting golden brown around the edges. Reserve these and use as a garnish atop the sauced chicken.



  1. Thanks for the yummy recipes.....Yan can cook and so can you!


  2. Thanks Jon!

    I should ask you guys to put your favorite recipes in the comments here... we could have a NAKED COOKBOOK extravaganza... way cooler than that Barefoot Contessa chick.

  3. Love tri-tip sliced on a crunchy roll, and love garlic, so yes, would like to try that recipe.

    I had never heard of tri-tip until we moved from Miami to L.A. in 1999.

    Tri-tip is made from the bottom sirloin, and I believe it may be called "culotte steak" or "triangle steak" in the East.

  4. I'm with you, Paul... nothing like a tri-tiip sandwich on a nice crunchy roll.

    I forgot to mention that the sandwiches Dad made for IS were made on garlic bread. Breath like a flamethrower...

  5. I won't be cooking up any of your recipes today, Cornelia, but I will be keeping them for future reference. I have a handful of favorite recipes, but some of my best ones are from Jamie Oliver, the original Naked Chef. Anyone who measures ingredients with a "couple of lugs" or a "good handful" is my kind of chef. I do have a very tasty coleslaw recipe though, and it's dead easy - in fact all coleslaw is dead easy. I always make my own because shop-bought coleslaw is way too sloppy and acidic for me.

    Ok, here it is, without any real measurements:

    About 2/3 of a bowlful of shredded coleslaw mix (the size of the bowl is directly related to the number of people to be catered for, and you have to leave room to mix it all up without bits falling all over the kitchen floor for the dog to snoover).

    Vegenaise (a vegan mayo)
    Tumeric - a few shakes
    Celery salt - a few shakes
    salt and pepper - as much as you think you need
    fresh chives, snipped up into small pieces.

    Mix up the lot and let it sit for at least a few hours to let the spices mingle, then stir again before serving. Note on adding the Vegenabise: start off slowly - a couple of tablespoons to begin, then add one at a time until the coleslaw is at the right consistency for you.

    A nice addition is a quarter of an onion finely chopped, and even a small clove of garlic, again, finely chopped or put through a garlic press.

    Have a great 4th everyone!

    And I have to tell you, I make really, really good roast potatoes.

  6. Our J,

    That sounds gorgeous. I've started making a lot of cole slaw at home because I don't like the sweetness of most restaurant versions.

    Pretty much the same proportions of everything as yours, but my favorite flavorings are adding about a teaspoon of sesame oil and a tablespoon of red miso, with a teaspoon or so of minced fresh ginger. All of that to taste... I like it pretty salty. A little chipotle Tabasco never hurts, either.

  7. And right back atcha Miss C! Have a great 4th!

  8. Geez, you sound like a girl who wouldn't know a bologna sandwich if it jumped up and bit her.

    Happy 4th!


  9. ... and that reminds me of your sister's famed comment the night we celebrated your literary debut at the Claremont ...

    "What is this wonderful dip?" she asked as we dunked our french fries.

    "Er ... I think we call that ketchup."

  10. Forget the food. I want those great adventures. Perhaps you'll regale us in one of your future books?

    Here's my recipe.

    Stouffer's Tuna Noodle Casserole:

    1. remove tray from box
    2. remove film cover
    3. cook on high 6-1/2 minutes
    4. carefully removed from microwave
    5. Enjoy!

    Happy 4th to you all!

  11. You're gonna need a good drink for all that food.

    Moscow Mule

    Ginger Beer ( a soft drink - combo of ginger ale and root beer)

    MUST be served in a copper mug.

    Happy 4th!

  12. Two most important ingredients of anything:
    Garlic and chocolate.

    Happy 4th!

  13. Great recipes, Cornelia, but better stories. We had home made goodies today at our cook-out/goofy SF movie watching session - followed up by Clint Eastwood's "For a Few Dollars More". :-) Your recipes would have fit right in.

    My favourite throw together meal is

    Steamed broccoli
    Steamed zuchini
    Quantity of cooked brown rice pasta
    Olive oil
    Juice of one Lemon
    Lemon pepper
    3-4 crushed garlic cloves
    Lemon pepper and salt to taste.

    Roll all ingredients together and let sit for about ten minutes. Turn again before serving. Goes great with grilled chicken bits. :-)

    Mind you I decided to make Lemon Meringue Pie without the pie: pavlova style. Two slabs of cooked meringue, lemon meringue pudding, plus cream. Tasted great.

    Happy 4th!


  14. Patty, LOL!! Cornelia, it is not even 9am here and I'm dying for some of your cooking! Good news for all East Coast tri-tip fanciers: According to a post on (an excellent resource for anyone with a serious lust for food), tri-tip is sold at Trader Joe's. (Probably because it's West Coast-based.) As a native NYer who has never heard of tri-tip, culotte steak or triangle steak, I can't wait.Let the garlic begin!!

  15. Too Damn Easy Guacamole

    Remove flesh from one avocado (set aside pit for future science project)
    Add some salsa fresca
    Add sambal oelek to taste
    Mash with a fork until it is the consistency of guacamole
    Eat with corn chips

    There's no story to go with this, except that I ate it for lunch about once a week when I was taking a year off a couple of years ago. The key is to get really good salsa fresca, the kind that has identifiable chopped vegetables in it and comes in the refrigerator section of the store.

  16. Oh yum! I'm going to try the Moroccan Byesar on some friends this weekend.

    And I skulk round record fairs a lot, so I promise to keep an eye open for the tape for you, Ms C!

  17. Shaz, I have an MP3 of the song now, but should you ever run across a copy of On The Road To Elath: Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe...Elektra EKL 156 (Mono) EKS 7156 (Stereo), I would pay you very serious money and chocolate and byesar to procure it for me.

  18. Apropos of nothing: I once attended a writers' retreat where you could reduce the price of your registration fee if you helped pick the garlic crop on the farm where the retreat was held.

    Wonder if there's a similar deal for Thrillerfest?

    And I loved those Hope-Crosby road pictures.

  19. Added to my 'it'll appear in a box somewhere sometime' list, Ms C!