Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chermoula, part two

Well, it turns out, not surprisingly, that Middle-Eastern food expert Claudia Roden knows more about green olives, preserved lemons, and chermoula than I. Chermoula, it seems, is usually used for fish, and preserved lemons for chicken, which is probably why Tamasin Day-Lewis put the two together in her chicken chermoula recipe. Roden's fish chermoula formula is similar to Day-Lewis's--with a couple of crucial differences. It's great to bake the fish with olives, she says--use the green ones, but boil them first, for 10 or 15 minutes in a lot of water, to take the bitterness out. Oh.

And the good folks at Chowhound swear that preserved lemons, made properly, have an intensely lemony, floral fragrance and flavor, not the nasty bleach-compound that I tasted. They were quite smug in their insistance that the lemons be made at home--which I'm all for, since given space, time, and enough kitty litter, I'd not only bake my own bread and make my own jam but pick the fruit and build my own bread oven, just because why not make life slower and harder?-- except that it takes a good month in a jar for a lemon to get itself preserved, and I only had a day.

Last night, I was tempted to get another bunch of cilantro and parsley and start over, olive- and lemon-less, but this morning, well, the cheese souffle idea is looking pretty good, if only because I know my souffle recipe (from Fran Gage's Bread and Chocolate) is foolproof. I have made it everywhere and it always works, even in an Italian oven the size of a radio.

And out in California, it's snowing! And L.E. (formerly Dan) Leone is busy making chicken soup for his chickens.

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