• Mea or Chicken Curry
    Beef,  Chicken,  Indian,  Lamb,  Pork,  Techniques & Ingredients,  Turkey

    Classic Indian Curry with Meat or Chicken

    Call it “Curry 101.” This recipe taught us how to blend aromatics and spices into a savory paste—the secret to a classic Indian curry. This paste can flavor meat or chicken, and makes a bright sauce with chopped tomatoes or a smooth and tangy sauce with yogurt. No matter which variation—whether red or golden brown—this curry rivals authentic Indian take-away. We say “take-away” because that’s what they do in the UK, the source of this recipe. Brits love Indian food (some say chicken tikka masala outsells fish ‘n chips) and this recipe comes from Cooking the Indian Way published in London in 1962. And as much as we idolize Madhur Jaffrey, the Godmother of…

  • Brookline Beef Knishes
    Beef,  Main Dish,  Other,  Pastries,  Sandwich,  Side Dishes,  Snacks

    Claire’s Beef Knishes, Butcherie Style

    If wishes were knishes…they’d all taste delicious.—Variation of old Scottish rhyme Little pastries stuffed with meat, potatoes, and other savory fillings, knishes immigrated to the US with Russian, Polish and Ukrainian Jews in the early 1900s. They soon dominated delis, knisheries and food carts in New York City. This inexpensive snack/meal spread to Kosher delis and restaurants across the country—so what’s not to like?   But as Jewish delis have dwindled, so have knishes. Our local Stop and Shop no longer carries them in the deli case. But we don’t kvetch. Thanks to our daughter Claire, we have the best recipe for this nosh that you can find anywhere. Using Science and Laboratory Superpowers, she…

  • Beef,  Chicken,  Ingredient,  Italian,  Main Dish,  Pasta,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Classic Ragù Bolognese Redux: Do Chicken Livers Deliver?

    A comment from an Italian cooking teacher about our Classic Ragù alla Bolognese from Ada Boni got us thinking about what makes a bolognese a bolognese. In particular, are there chicken livers in its DNA? So we put Recipephany’s Research and Testing Institute to work. Here’s what we learned from our deep dive into the evolution of one of the world’s favorite meat sauces. A genetic analysis of bolongese ragù’s ancestry brings you immediately to Pellegrino Artusi’s 1891 seminal cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. The meats Artusi favored for his “Maccheroni Alla Bolognese” (which is curiously tomato-free in a book with many tomato sauces) were simply veal and…

  • Beans,  Beef,  Latin American,  Main Dish,  Snacks

    Picadillo Tacos

    First, don’t confuse “picadillo” with “peccadillo,” although I often slip into that malapropism. While picadillo tacos are not the least bit sinful, they can give you the same guilty pleasure as nachos for dinner. They fall into that category of slightly messy finger foods that go well with the football playoffs. A quick-cooking alternative to chili, this Cuban-style mélange packs a sweet and tangy punch. It starts with a tomatoey sofrito of aromatics and peppers, then adds a Mediterranean accent with raisins, capers and chopped olives. I first made picadillo from a Boston Globe recipe in 2001. I amped up the flavors and seasonings, figuring the “pica” stands for “picante.” When I finally had…

  • Beef,  Dumplings,  Main Dish,  Soups

    Sally Birke’s Kreplach

    First, there was wonton soup. Then came tortellini in brodo. Now, thanks to Szifra Birke, I’ve found the joys of kreplach. Years ago, Szifra produced the poignant documentary “Browsing Through Birke’s” (now out on DVD). It’s the story of her parents, Nathan and Sally, who emigrated from Poland and founded Birke’s clothing store, a Lowell, Massachusetts, institution. This documentary had me laughing, blubbering, and feeling instant affection for these extraordinary people. Always looking to connect through food, I asked Szifra if her mother had a signature recipe. She wasted no time in sharing Sally’s prized kreplach and the deeper story behind it. Born Sura Dymantsztajn in Lodz, Poland, Sally no doubt learned to make…

  • Beef,  Italian,  Main Dish,  Other,  Pasta

    Classic Ragù alla Bolognese from Ada Boni

    Dan calls it “faux-lognese,” that sea of tomato sauce with ground beef swimming in it. Real bolognese, Dan argues, is a ragù, or stew, of finely chopped aromatics and meats simmered with just a kiss of tomato paste, wine, and cream. And he knows because Ada Boni, the Mamma of Italian Cookbooks, said so. Ada Boni captured authentic Italian cooking in the landmark  Il Talismano della Felicità, (Talisman of Happiness, or simply The Talisman) (1928) which became Italy’s standard cookbook for many decades, influencing generations of cooks. Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking (1969) has long been Dan’s go-to reference, as trusted as if it were written by his own Italian grandmother, Maria Rosa Nicoletta Maddalena…

  • Asian,  Beef,  Chinese,  Main Dish,  Recipes,  Turkey

    Ma-Po’s Bean Curd from Pei Mei

    In the 90s sitcom Frasier, the sardonic Niles winces when he meets his first hatchback. “Well, there’s a novel idea,” he says. “Name the car after its most hideous feature.” I winced, too, when I found out “Ma-Po” means “pockmarked grandmother.” It refers to the Sichuan woman who first tossed tofu with ground meat in a spicy bean sauce more than a century ago. Was she feisty? Did she like to wear red? We’ll never know because some dunderhead immortalized this gifted chef and her luscious creation by her most unpleasant feature. (We might think the name sounds cute because it includes “Ma,” but actually “Ma” is the part that means “pockmarked.”) Brody’s Second…

  • Beef,  Main Dish

    Oscars 2014: Despicable Meat Stew

    Forget Jennifer Lawrence’s retina-burning red gown, Ellen’s shamelessly promotional tweet, and Kim Novak’s wind-tunnel face. The real excitement was at Oscars Diner, where we partied with Drew Barrymore, Vin Diesel, Heather Locklear, and other beloved B-listers. Okay, they were just autographed 8×10 glossies, but even so they were much more animated than some of the live presenters on TV. And so what if Oscars Diner was our place decked out with apostrophe-challenged placemats and menus, wrapped straws, and packaged butter pats? Imagine our guests’ reaction when the heavily tattooed cook and gum-chewing waitress (who looked just like us) introduced themselves as Hank and Gladys! I detected mild amusement. Fortunately, Chris created a fine diversion…

  • Princess Alexandra Kropotkin's Beef Stroganoff
    Beef,  Main Dish

    Beef Stroganoff: The Story of the Princess and the Recipe

    Why do restaurants name so many dishes by their ingredients rather than after the chef, the locale, or even a favorite patron? In today’s can-you-top-this cuisine, maybe nobody wants to own up to such culinary contortions as “Crunchy Rabbit with Citrus-Chili Paste and Soybean Purée.” (A real entrée at the Jean-Georges Restaurant in New York City. Curiously, it sounds less mouth-watering than Monty Python’s “Crunchy Frog.” Feel free to stop here and view this sketch now.) Brody’s Second Law of Marketing states that if you can’t name it, you can’t sell it. So why not brand a dish with a memorable name? And the granddaddy of them all is Beef Stroganoff. This recipepany comes…

  • Prokas, Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Meatballs
    Beef,  Main Dish

    Great-Grandmother’s Prokas (Sweet and Sour Meatballs and Cabbage)

    Several months ago, I was desperate to track down the story behind Great-Grandmother’s Gingerbread (Over 100 Years Old). Turns out the woman I thought was the great-granddaughter really wasn’t, and that the recipe probably came from an old Brer Rabbit Molasses ad. It recently struck me that I had a story of a recipephany handed down from a great-grandmother. The recipe is for Prokas (Sweet and Sour Meatballs and Cabbage), it is more than 130 years old, and the great-granddaughter is me. Take that, Brer Rabbit. Prokas is Yiddish for “stuffed cabbage.” Stuffed cabbage hails from all over Eastern Europe, under names like Holishkes, Golumpkis, and Lahanodolmathes. My great-grandmother, Rachel, brought her recipe over…