As a rule, we have a ban on peanut butter in our house.
No, we're not allergic. And no, we're not in the middle of a feud with Mr. Peanut.
The real reason is this: We are absolute peanut butter addicts, and can go through an entire jar in a day. Give us some alone time with our DVR, a fresh jar of peanut butter, two spoons, and a few hours, and you can kiss that PB goodbye.
So it was not a light decision on our part to make Zak Stern's Chocolate Double-Nut Butter from the May Food & Wine.
And therein lies the problem with making a delicious Chocolate Double-Nut Butter: You then have an amazing treat in your house, and it's the only thing you want to eat.
Does this Snap Pea Salad count as "crazy"? Well, it's the only salad we've ever made with shaved coconut. And anything with pea shoots, lime, chives and fish sauce is at least slightly crazier than your standard iceberg-lettuce-and-tomato-with-vinaigrette.
As it turned out, though, this salad wasn't crazy enough.
We may be just back from Spain, but before we dive into all of our Iberian food adventures, we first want to take you someplace else: Hawaii.
We mentioned last month that we took a Hawaiian fish-cooking class this winter, thanks to a gift certificate we had received as a Christmas gift. We never had aspirations to learn Hawaiian dishes, but when we went on the cooking school's website to choose a course, the one sort of jumped out to us. Four fishes dishes, prepared in traditional Hawaiian ways? Why not! So we took the class, loved the food, and then promptly tucked away the recipes with great intentions of later making them at home. But then we got all busy, and then we went away, and our Hawaiian aspirations got put on hold.
Once we got back home this past week, we were eager to see friends, so we invited Drew and Ralph over for dinner to catch up. It was a perfect spring evening -- cool and breezy -- and we planned to have dinner in the back yard.
It seemed like just the right occasion to try out our favorite dish from our Hawaiian cooking class: Miso-Glazed Mahi Mahi with a Macadamia Nut & Sake Cream Sauce.
Hi, there! Welcome to Magazine Club -- so glad you could make it! Was traffic awful? Your hair looks really cute like that, by the way. Here, we'll take your coat. You just grab your magazine, have a seat and pour yourself a glass of wine (or, if you're reading this during work hours, white wine).
Okay, now. Bon Appétit, 2015. What did we love? What did we not enjoy?
We'll kick things off by sharing some of the bigger items and themes that jumped out to us from this issue. We hope that serves as a good starting point for you to share your own reactions to the magazine.
-- Cover story: Cook Like a Pro. Bon Appétit has done this Cook Like a Pro issue for a number of years now. We're fans, and we're impressed that they're able to come up with fresh new pro-tips from food experts every year. (This feature was the best part of this entire issue, in our opinion.) Of course we've already talked about that crazy steak on the cover, but there were other good tips in here, too. For one, we really love the simple idea of layering salad dressing instead of tossing it all together. It's mentioned in the sidebar to that gorgeous Little Gem Salad with Lemon Cream and Hazelnuts, from Joshua McFadden, the chef at Portland, Ore.'s Ava Gene's restaurant:
McFadden doesn't believe in vinaigrettes -- at least not the whisk-together-and-dump-all-at-once kind. Instead, he layers dressing components onto the salad in parts so no flavors get lost.... You should be able to taste both acid and fat separately.
Of the recipes in Cook LIke a Pro, which is most appealing to you?
-- CatererGate: Though it's somewhat out-of-character for the magazine, we really enjoyed the wedding feature near the front. It first came to our attention because we saw the magazine issued an apology via their Facebook page, in reaction to their advice about why you shouldn't hire a caterer. It's not frequently that food magazines issue apologies. Do you think an apology was warranted here?
-- What Happens in Vegas, Ends Up in this Magazine? Let's talk about that weird, random feature where The Mindy Project actor Ike Barinholtz eats his way around Las Vegas. It seemed ill-fitted for Bon Appétit (Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar? Really, Bon App?). But then we saw the sidebar at the end promoting the upcoming Vegas Uncork'd food and wine event, of which Bon Appétit is a major partner along with -- hey! -- all the hotels and locales mentioned in this entire feature. So it turns out the whole thing was maybe just product placement? Hmm.
-- Let's All Go to London: We loved -- loved -- the Lauren Collins feature on eating in London right now. She's a terrific writer; we love reading her in The New Yorker. This feature made us want to bop around London drinking Regent's Punch with Lauren, or share a languid, boozy lunch gossiping about Pippa. Seriously, let's take a moment to appreciate Collins' writing style:
The stripped-down set menu [at Lyle's], at £39 ($60) for dinner, is like an ambitious Ph.D. student’s acknowledgment to his beloved advisor: Smoked Eel & Horseradish, Blood Cake & Damson, Mutton & Turnip Broth, served in a gorgeously spare room. You want to applaud [chef James] Lowe’s seriousness, but when Asparagus & Walnut Mayonnaise turns out to be four spears to be shared between two people, you’re left hungry enough to eat an ampersand.
-- Bravo, Marcus Nilsson: Our favorite photos from this issue were definitely in the feature on composed salads called "Compose Yourself." Each one of those three photos is a work of art. You can see more of photographer Marcus Nilsson's work on his website.
-- (Ending with) Starters: Okay, now let's back up to the Starters section at the front. It's always a fun hodgepodge of foods, restaurants, recipes, and more. Our two favorite things from this month: The idea of swapping cot wine for Malbec (apparently it's the same grape, just grown in France instead of Argentina). And that insanely delicious-looking Croissant Loaffrom Buerrage bakery in Chicago. Holy. Moly.
-- Our Top 3: The 3 things we'd most like to cook from this issue (other than the steak we already made):
When we chose this month's Bon Appétit as our first-ever Magazine Club entrant (this Thursday! More details at the end of this post!!), we didn't have any specific recipes in mind. In fact, we hadn't yet received the issue in our mailbox.
But when we did, and we saw this decadent, delicious-looking steak on the cover -- with an absolutely bonkers method of cooking -- we knew we had to try it.
Normally, here are the steps we take when making a steak:
Here are the steps involved with this Bon Appétit steak:
Freeze for several hours, or overnight again
Needless to say, this steak is a committed endeavor. Freezing? Basting? Frying -- twice?? How good could it possibly be?
Clay had the opportunity to have breakfast one morning at Buvette in New York City, when he was up there for a work trip. It's among our favorite places to eat when we're visiting there; we ate dinner on another trip last year.
Breakfast at Buvette was the kind of breakfast that we dream of (but rarely have). It started with these beautiful, teeeeeeny tiny croissants. We love how they were served: with jam and butter piled on a spoon on the plate. But that was just the beginning...
We don't think we've ever mentioned this, but one of our favorite TV guilty pleasures is "Food Network Star," the reality competition where chefs compete to host a cooking show on the Food Network.
Actually, we're not even sure why we think of it as a "guilty pleasure." Sure, like all reality television, it's a somewhat contrived televised competition with silly challenges and outlandish personalities and seemingly arbitrary judging. But no more so than, say, "Survivor." Or, you know, U.S. presidential elections.
So let's just call it a "TV pleasure."
One of the most pleasurable personalities on this TV pleasure was Aarti Sequeira, the winner of Season 6 back in 2010. Her friendly face, sunny disposition and cheery British accent were positively delightful. She completely won us over. We loved her Food Network show, "Aarti Party" (which is just freaking adorable). Now she's got a program on the Cooking Channel.
Aarti's culinary raison d'etre -- her "food P.O.V.," as they'd say on "Food Network Star" -- is to incorporate traditional Indian flavors and ingredients into modern American cooking. That's perfectly exemplified in Aarti's recipe for this Orange-Cardamom Roast Chicken.