Shocking, but true—some scholars suggest the forbidden fruit instrumental in Eve and Adam’s split from the Garden of Eden was not the apple, but rather the pomegranate! Seasonally germane for cooks looking to give their holiday dishes some zing, the pomegranate may indeed bear some biblical guilt when one considers the pivotal Hebrew word peri in the Old Testament translates into a variety of fleshy seed-bearing fruits aside from the apple. With many fruits potentially implicated, we’ll grant the juicy infamy to the pomegranate, and move on.
Equally juicy is the pomegranate’s recent fame. We extoll its health bennies as an antioxidant (helps prevent some diseases), an anti-inflammatory (reduces eye puffiness the morning after) and as a mega vitamin C purveyor (offers 40 percent of your recommended daily). As well, the gems tarten any savory dish with the perfect tickle, and they’re seasonally pleasing to your holiday palette (and palate). While American culture heralds these qualities, ancient cultures exalt differently. In the Jewish tradition, the pomegranate symbolizes righteousness because it is believed to have as many arils (fleshy seeds) as commandments in the Torah—613! Housewarming gifts in Greece? Predominately pomegranates, which are symbolic of abundance, fertility and good luck. Memorialized in many paintings, including Sandro Botticelli’s 1487 “Madonna of the Pomegranate,” the fruit is also celebrated in Tehran at the annual Pomegranate Festival. And in some Hindu traditions, the seedy fruit symbolizes prosperity.
Yes, there are countless ways the leathery-skinned, akin-to-a-Christmas-ornament pomegranate is celebrated, but let’s just rejoice that this real jewel of a fruit can be sourced far and wide, depending on the season, thanks to cultivation beyond its ancient origins—from the regions of modern-day Iran to northern India—and offer some culinary ways to enjoy a holiday evening with the bold rubies. Continue reading
If you’re anything like me, your holiday dance card is full of late-afternoon, early evening and dinner-time parties. Plus, the occasional brunch or all-day open house. And that doesn’t count the shindig you’re throwing yourself! ’Tis the season for grazing, drinking, gobbling and noshing.
How will it all get done, you ask? Professional caterers seem to keep their cool, even when practically every day arrives with a new menu to create, dishes to deliver, setup, serve and clean up. The pros must have secrets to pulling off a casual get-together or a swanky soiree with ease, grace and finesse. So I asked them how to avoid the overwhelm when putting on anything from an informal open-house to a fancy sit-down dinner yourself.
Mindie Huntington, Rebecca Montoya and Catherine Lind keep Blue Plate Catering humming along all year. Their calendar is booked with breakfast, lunch and dinner events ranging from elaborate dinners to low-key receptions.
“Appetizers, smaller foods and finger foods are definitely the trend this year,” Huntington says. “People can walk and mingle more.” Blue Plate’s finding variety is in demand, too: gluten-free and vegetarian options like stuffed mushrooms, tomato caprese on skewers with balsamic drizzle, and cranberry compote on flatbread with goat cheese. Bite-size is the watchword for desserts. They say they like to pass around little cookies, cheesecakes and mini brownies. Huntington says, “It’s a way for people to indulge but not feel like they’ve overindulged during the season.” Continue reading
The etymological confluence of the word soup and the word restaurant offers a satisfying story for chilly November days of waning light—and our Still Hungry? column. Apparently, in 16th century France, what we know of as soups were called “restaurants” (from the French verb restaurer, meaning to restore). “Restaurants” were advertised and the soups sold cheaply by street vendors as wellness remedies. A couple centuries later, a French businessman opened a shop that specialized in “restaurants” (essentially, consommés or soups!). His enticing call to action? Some Latin words inspired by and riffing on the well-known Gospel of Matthew narrative, “Venite ad me vos qui stomacho laboratis et ego restaurabo vos,” or, “Come to me you who are weary and I will restore you in the stomach.”
Fast-forward to today’s “shops that sell soup” in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and it’s not only the dine-in customer, but scores of hungry families, who benefit from the modern confluence of restaurant and soup. We’re talking about Souper Bowl, of course, that delicious January fundraising event presented by Albuquerque’s Roadrunner Food Bank and Santa Fe’s The Food Depot. For the last 20-plus years, participating restaurants have concocted soups in promising categories to be tasted by discerning soup-lovers, who pay to vote for their faves. Proceeds help both food banks to distribute food and manage food programs that assist hungry people and communities across New Mexico, which has been ranked among the hungriest states in the nation.
This Thanksgiving season—just in time for soup and gratitude, that delightful duo—we asked four of the recent Souper Bowl winners for a home-cook soup recipe, so that our readers could try their hand at restoring tummies. Thank you very much to Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, Terra Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado and Dinner for Two in Santa Fe, and to Bocadillo’s Slow Roasted in Albuquerque—congratulations on your fine food and philanthropic spirit, arguably one of the greatest approaches to restoration there is. Continue reading
Chef Jonathan in Los Poblanos field
With autumn in full swing and its chile-scented chill in the air, our palates welcome the warmth of spices just as our bellies make room for heartier dishes. And as the days grow shorter—even while the workday does not!—we hunt for good reasons to toast and sip a fine glass of wine at the end of the day. So this month, we have indeed not just one good reason to toast, but three great excuses to say three cheers—and three delicious recipes, to boot. These three Duke City staples hold the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. This particular award, in the words of winespectator.com, is given to those establishments that “offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Whether compact or extensive, focused or diverse, these lists deliver sufficient choice to satisfy discerning wine lovers.”
We asked each of them to share a recipe and wine pairing of their choice…and in return we received three excellent wines to enjoy alongside delicious dishes that incorporate the warmth and spice of autumn. Thank you, Ranchers Club of New Mexico, Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm (Campo, their new restaurant, opens this month!), and Bien Shur at Sandia Resort and Casino for giving us a reason to eat out—and now, cook in—drink up and say cheers. We know you’ll enjoy Campo Chef Jonathan Perno’s squash soup with spicy pepitas, and two different takes on Moroccan lamb—Ranchers Club Chef Christopher Galle’s chops with gremolata sauce, and Bien Shur Chef Martin Torrez’s spiced rack with mint chimichurri—and of course, three very different, very excellent wines.
To food—and especially vegetable—lovers, kitchen dwellers, cookbook collectors, New Mexico locals and beyond, Deborah Madison needs no introduction. The veteran food writer and chef is, for many of us, a household name, and her recent cookbook, In My Kitchen : A collection of new and favorite vegetarian recipes, is bound to become another kitchen staple. It’s a beautiful homage to, and revisiting of, Deborah’s favorites, recipes that have survived, thrived and evolved over the decades—among many new additions.
“I started cooking for others decades ago,” Deborah—who has cooked in the kitchens of the San Francisco Zen Center, Chez Panisse and Santa Fe’s Café Escalera—writes in the book’s introduction. “I began cooking when vegetarian food was weird.” These days, of course, “vegetarian food is part of a great mash-up of taste, values, and experiences.” Much has changed in the decades since she began cooking—“from values to ingredients” to ourselves, and Deborah’s dishes, like time, culture and individuals, are the result of a fluid, organic evolution. In My Kitchen shares over 100 recipes “that have settled happily into my kitchen and my life,” she writes. “So in a sense, these are all new albeit familiar dishes. Sometimes they’re recipes that have been forgotten or overlooked but that deserve to be revisited and brought to light.”
This month, we share three recipes from In My Kitchen that exemplify Deborah’s gift for simple yet creative dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients that we might pluck right out of our own gardens, or purchase from our local farmers. As Deborah puts it in the book’s introduction, “I hope you find these—some of my favorite recipes and approaches—delicious and that they enhance your life as they do mine.” Continue reading
Whether you’re tucking in under a broad umbrella for a midday respite from the sun, or chasing the last rays as the sky turns pink and the temperature drops, summer makes for prime patio season. We’re not the only ones charmed by the outdoor tables at The Teahouse—the patio was part of what drew Owner Richard Freedman to buy the place four-and-a-half years ago. Located on Canyon Road, and nestled beneath the bustle of summertime art-district traffic, The Teahouse is perfectly situated for a relaxing pause between gallery visits. And its beautiful outdoor dining space, nestled among the shade of 70-year-old apricot, apple and pear trees, is reminiscent of plein-air settings in Provence and Tuscany.
As it happened, Richard lined the menu with favorites he learned to cook in Italy: lasagna Bolognese and an Italian chicken pot pie with polenta and parmesan, even affogato, a classic Italian dessert of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream. What his dishes share is an affinity for simple food. “The Italians have such a gift for combinations of flavors,” Richard says. “Classic Italian combinations really work, and you don’t want to do a lot to them because the basic ingredients are so good.” The dishes, of course, are also perfect companions to an al fresco dining experience on the patio. Continue reading