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Madeleine Kamman's Chicken Legs Roasted with Mustard


We are a household rich in mustard. I believe at some point in the last month there were five tubes of mustard in our cupboards along with two jars in the fridge. Hot, horseradish-spiked, tarragon-flavored or rustic, we've got 'em all. I used to think mustard was about as interesting as math class, until I wised (wizened? wose?) up and starting using mustard in my cooking, and now I can't imagine life without it.

Germany is a good place to live if you like mustard. Plain yellow mustard squirted on a Rostbratwurst is a classic; sweet Bavarian mustard dolloped next to a pair of Weisswürste is some people's idea of heaven. There are poached eggs in mustard sauce and mustard-roasted pork. And our neighbors to the south, the Austrians, have taken the art of mustard packaging and elevated it to an art form. You should hang out in the mustard aisle of an Austrian grocery store sometime. (And that Wiener Würstel mustard? Possibly worth the price of an airline ticket straight to Vienna. We practically ate it by the spoonful.)


I've mentioned before (a hundred times before?) that my pile of newspaper recipe clippings dates back to the early naughts. These days I bookmark the ones I want to try, but the binder of printed recipes is a thick one and well predates this blog. When I unpacked my book boxes back in winter, I shelved the binder and then, frankly, forgot about it. After all, my Bookmarks folder could keep us fed for, um, years. What reminded me was Molly visiting and telling me about Francis's pasta. I knew I had the recipe somewhere...but where? After rifling through the computer and a notebook on my bookshelf, I finally turned to the binder, that gloriously overstuffed binder. There it was. And, o ho, there was so much else.

This, for example, stunning little number from Regina Schrambling in the Los Angeles Times way back in 2002. It's Madeleine Kamman's recipe and is henceforth going to be my Last-Minute Dinner Party Secret Weapon because it is so delicious and so easy and uses so much mustard you will scarcely believe your own measuring spoon.


The original recipe is for duck legs, but I used chicken legs instead. And instead of herbes de Provence (which I sort of loathe because though they might be traditional, I find the mixture to be so over-used that it just tastes like dusty old cupboards to me), I used a mixture of minced fresh herbs from my balcony (a mix of thyme, marjoram, and sage). And instead of Dijon mustard, I used the rest of a truly fabulous tube of Austrian tarragon-scented mustard. It sort of killed me to finish it, I loved it that much, but sometimes dinner party guests must be deferred to over personal greed and that is when being the bigger person really is key.

So, after washing and drying your chicken legs and then rubbing them with chopped herbs and salt and pepper, you paint them lavishly with mustard. A full tablespoon per leg. Don't worry: it seems excessive right now but something happens in the oven heat where the mustard sort of dries up (in a nice way) and becomes part of the salty, savory crust and you might almost find yourself, at the dinner table, wanting to dip the chicken in more mustard as you go. Though maybe that's just me. Germany is in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, perhaps that explains my exuberance.


Panko crumbs were one of the weird things I discovered in my kitchen boxes after I started unpacking my things in Berlin, along with a half-used roll of aluminum foil and a few almost-empty jars of things like dried summer savory and mustard seed. I could have lived without the herbs and aluminum foil, but thank goodness I brought those panko crumbs. You need a handful of them to coat your mustard-swathed chicken legs and plain old breadcrumbs just wouldn't do here.

And that's basically it! A drizzle of melted butter over the top before you slide the pan into a hot oven and before you know it, you've got crisp, herby, mustard chicken legs to grace your table and convince your dining companions that you are a truly fabulous cook. Like I said, Secret Weapon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more recipes to dig up for you. Oh! I'm totally re-inspired. It's going to be an exciting month.

Chicken Legs Roasted with Mustard
Serves 4

4 chicken legs (thighs included, about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons fresh, minced herbs, such as a mixture of sage, thyme and tarragon or marjoram
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard or tarragon mustard
1/3 cup panko
2 tablespoons melted butter

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Rinse the chicken legs and pat them dry. Rub them all over with the minced fresh herbs. Season well with salt and pepper. Brush the mustard over the skin side of each leg to coat thinly. Lay the legs in a shallow baking dish, leaving space between them. Sprinkle evenly with the panko or breadcrumbs and drizzle evenly with the melted butter.

3. Roast about an hour or until the meat is very tender and the coating is crisp.

Fearn Smith's Kohlrabi Salad


With deepest apologies to William Carlos Williams:

This is just to say
I have eaten the kohlrabi
that was in the icebox

and which
we were planning
on saving
to eat just like that
[plain and peeled]

Forgive the hyperbole but
kohlrabi salad
[so crisp so cool]
is the only way I'll ever eat it again

Now the truth is, I grew up eating kohlrabi and I love it, indeed, just peeled and sliced thickly, munched over the cutting board, cool slices feeling rough against my tongue. But this salad lets kohlrabi come in from running around naked in the sprinklers and dresses it up, gives it some clothes, a clean pair of shoes, a whiff of sophistication, subtle sweetness and spice. If you've never tried kohlrabi before, seek some out (your local farmer's market certainly has the pale green knobs lying around on a table somewhere) to make this. I promise it will become a summer staple at your table.

So much so that your children will grow up thinking of kohlrabi like they do of carrots, always around. You will forget the time that came before, when kohlrabi was just some strange and foreign root you didn't know how to pronounce. Those of you with gardens, maybe it will even prompt you to become kohlrabi farmers. This salad is capable of all that and more. (If your kohlrabi come with the greens attached, try this recipe. It sounds delicious.)

The recipe comes from Ivy Manning's Farm to Table Cookbook and originally included pea shoots, which are one of those things I could rarely ever find in New York, let alone Berlin. So I left out the pea shoots and instead put in a couple of Thai bird chilis. There's something about the dressing and the sweet crunchy vegetable batons that needs that floral heat, just a little bit.

I love how subtle the salad is, how refreshing and clean. The fennel seed and the sesame oil combine to mysterious effect: as you crunch your way through the salad, you keep asking yourself, "what's in this thing?" and then, "I need more." Before you know it, you're ripping off famous poets to declare your love for salad. It's okay. The kohlrabi made you do it.

Kohlrabi Salad
Serves 4

2 medium red or green kohlrabi bulbs
1 large carrot, peeled
1 teaspoon fennel seed or 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, pressed (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 to 2 Thai bird chilis (optional), minced

1. With a sharp chef’s knife, peel the tough outer skin and cut the stems from the kohlrabi. Julienne the kohlrabi with a mandoline or sharp knife (you will have about 4 cups), and then julienne the carrot.

2. If using whole fennel seed, toast the fennel seeds in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat until they begin to brown slightly and smell toasty. Transfer them to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and grind them into a coarse powder.

3. Combine the ground fennel seed, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and chilis, if using. Slowly whisk in the two oils. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat. Taste for salt. Serve.

Christine Ferber's Strawberry-Lemon Grass Jam


I don't know about you, but strawberry jam tastes like Band-Aids to me. It always has. How would I know what Band-Aids taste like, I'm sure you're wanting to know. I'm an absent-minded cuticle chewer, that's how. You'd be surprised how many inadvertent bites of Band-Aid I've had in my life.

I like eating strawberries sliced and sugared and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. (Just the tiniest bit, people. You shouldn't be able to taste the vinegar, but it will bring out the very essence of strawberry-ness and your simple bowl of sliced, sugared strawberries will make even someone who (I swear) told me just the other week that he thinks strawberries are his least favorite fruit (can you even believe it??) sit up and ask for seconds.) I like eating them whole, dropped into a bowl of plain yogurt. I like eating them on my cereal or over a sink or at a picnic, where I am bound by my genetic code to get red strawberry juice on some article of clothing. In short, give me all the fresh strawberries of the world and I'll gobble them right up. Offer me some strawberry jam and I'll be honest, I'd almost rather just eat a boiled egg.

Last week, though, I went strawberry picking with my friends in a field right outside of Potsdam (of Sans Souci and Conference fame). What is with that weird greed that bubbles up when you're out picking fruit and you've filled all your baskets and somehow you just can't stop from picking, because with every step you take you're confronted with more and more perfect berry specimens that simply cannot be allowed to remain on the plant? I came home with more than three kilos, people, three. For two people, one of whom would rather be eating a kiwi. So jam it would have to be.


A week before I went strawberry-picking, Molly came to visit for a week, bearing a jar of Christine Ferber jam as a present. I used to be sort of obsessed with Christine Ferber's jam recipes, but over the years moved away from her methods, which felt fussy to me, even if the results were often spectacular. But inspired by the pretty little jar sitting on my kitchen counter, I decided that if anyone was going to get me to eat strawberry jam again, it would probably be her, the jam fairy of Alsace.

It was difficult to decide between two strawberry jam recipes of Christine's that I found online. One involved extracting juice from raspberries and mixing that with the strawberries along with balsamic vinegar. The other involved candying lemon slices and adding those along with spiky lemon grass leaves to the strawberries. How on earth would I choose? I suddenly found myself planning two batches of jam.


The lemon version has you put paper-thin slices of lemon in a water-lemon juice-sugar syrup and simmer gently until the slices are candied and looking shiny. You add the lemons and their syrup to the pot of sugared strawberries, along with those lemon grass leaves, which I pounded a little bit for extra fragrance. Christine's recipes use more sugar than the ones I'm used to (my mother usually aims for a three to one ratio of fruit and sugar), but I wanted to follow it just as it was written. I can be a little pedantic like that sometimes.

Christine is also a professional, so she wants you to skim skim skim that jam, which I did (my mother usually skips that step). I got very, let's say, focused on the skimming. But let me tell you, I've never made a jam that was as jewel-like and clear as this one. It was worth the effort.


The best part of jam-making, for me, is picking which glass jars to fill. At the moment, I'm having a little love affair with Weck's tulip jars, inspired by an author of mine whose book on canning you should pre-order now (trust me on this one). Her recipe for Plum Jam with Cardamom, speaking of recipes worth the price of the cookbook they're printed in, should go in some kind of Cooking Hall of Fame, it is so good. And wait until you see this cookbook. Ooh! I am so excited for you - it is a total gem. Anyway. Weck jars. In the US, they're hard to find and a little expensive. (Try Lehman's or Heath Ceramics for online ordering.) Here in Germany, where Weck jars were born, they're cheap and easy to find.

You have to process them in a water-bath, which is another step my mother always eschews as, to be honest, do I when using regular jam jars with screw-on lids, but the cuteness of the Weck jars is worth the extra effort of the water-bath. So! Here's how it goes:

You wash those babies with lots of hot soapy water and soak the elastic bands for a few minutes in hot water. You let everything dry off and then you fill the jars with the piping hot jam. Wipe off the rims, fasten the elastic bands to the lids, pop them on top of the jars, clamp down the metal clips and, using tongs, put the filled jars into a pot of boiling water. Bring the water back up to the boil once the pot is filled and boil for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the jars from the pot with those tongs and let them cool on a cloth towel, overnight. Remove the clips the next day - if you've processed your jam correctly, the lids will be on very tight and you can go store the jam jars in your pantry and feel smug. If you pull the clips off and discover that the lid isn't being held on by a vacuum seal, there was a problem with the processing. Either keep that jam in your fridge to be eaten by you sometime in the next few weeks, or re-process the jar (wash the lid and elastic band again, re-fasten, put everything back in place, but put the filled jam jar (cold this time) in a pot of cold water, which you bring to a boil and then process for five minutes.


Questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. Remember, jam-making is not the same as pickling: there's very little danger. The amount of sugar in most jams is enough to kill any bacteria and the cooking process (not to mention the optional water bath) finishes off the rest. Little old ladies in tiny European towns have been making jam without vacuum seals and water-baths and high sugar volumes for millennia, or at least centuries.

Anyway, the jam. Clear and garnet-hued, it was certainly the prettiest jam I've ever made. The strawberries held their shape beautifully. The lemon slices snake their way through each jar. The jam is, for lack of a better word, the brightest, cleanest-tasting strawberry jam I've ever had. The lemon sort of elevates the usually more muddled-tasting strawberry onto a different plane, but because of the candying process, the lemon's bite is quite tame, muted even. The fragrance of the lemon grass wafts through each spoonful but if you didn't put "lemon grass" on the jam label, you wouldn't be able to identify its flavor. It's just this sort of faint, floral nudge here and there. In a word, fantastic. Boiled eggs? I'd rather have this stuff on toast, please. Giving it away is going to be kind of hard.

As for that other recipe? My strawberries were gone before I could get to the second batch.

Strawberry-Lemon Grass Jam
Makes five ½-pint jars

2¾ pounds strawberries
4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Scant ½ cup water
10 paper-thin slices lemon
10 fresh lemongrass leaves, cut in half crosswise

1. Prepare your jars, whether by sterilizing in a hot oven or by washing in hot, soapy water. If processing in a water bath, put a large pot of water on to boil.

2. Pick over the berries, discarding those that are green, white or mushy. Rinse briefly in a colander and shake off the excess water. Hull the berries and slice coarsely into a 6-quart pot. Stir in 3½ cups sugar and set aside.

3. In a 2-quart pot, combine ½ cup sugar with the lemon juice and water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add lemon slices and simmer gently until translucent, about 15 minutes. Pour over the strawberries and stir in the lemon grass. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Then bring to a boil. Stir gently and skim the foam from the top. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. The jam should sheet from a metal spoon and a spoonful placed on a cold plate should gel within a few minutes. Remove the pieces of lemongrass.

4. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place a hot lid on each jar and screw down firmly. Turn upside down and let cool completely, at least 12 hours. Or, as each jar is filled and capped, place in boiling-water bath with the water 1 to 2 inches over the jars. When canner is full place cover on pot, bring back to a steady boil and process 5 minutes.Remove jars with a lifter and set on a rack or towel 12 to 24 hours. Store in a cool, dark place.

Ottolenghi's Potato Salad with Yogurt and Horseradish


Potato salad. Two such innocent little words, so full of hope and promise on their own, but when put together, I don't know, they always seem to summon a vision of something gelatinous, yellow-tinged, rotting slowly in a glass vitrine somewhere. Potato salad makes me think of dingy midtown delis. Flies flying lazily over congealed mayonnaise. Potatoes, folding waxily under the pressure of a plastic fork, too-sweet mayonnaise glued stubbornly to the side of a styrofoam plate. In short, my friends, potato salad has never been my thing.

A few weeks ago, I was poring through my cookbooks to come up with ideas for a dinner party. Nothing fancy, just good food. There would be that carrot salad, a pile of asparagus in vinaigrette and chicken marinated in herbs. But I needed one more dish to round out the meal and, with a copy of Ottolenghi's cookbook open on my lap, kindly sent to me by the publisher and immediately stained with cooking juices by me, I found just what I was looking for: a dish called, innocently, "Crushed New Potatoes with Horseradish and Sorrel".

That was it, I thought. Who doesn't love a crushed potato? And horseradish is the bee's knees. I had almost everything I needed already in my kitchen. All I needed to do was boil potatoes, crush them with a fork and dress them with a yogurt-horseradish dress...Wait a minute! Potatoes. Dressing. Salad!?


Banishing all thoughts of rotting, fly-speckled, mayonnaise-bound potato salads to a faraway place (where I put thoughts of car accidents, Germany not winning the World Cup and dill), I boiled those potatoes, I whisked that dressing, I sliced those scallions and I snipped that cress. What resulted was what I will from now on call My Summer Potatoes. A gorgeously balanced, fresh-tasting, warm-and-cool potato salad that had an entire dinner table, six people, mind you, asking for the recipe. It was fantastic. The potatoes are sweet and tender, their fluff turning into the lightest mash. The horseradish adds bite and intensity, an unexpected sophistication. The scallions are very important - balanced by the cool, smooth yogurt, their fragrance feels essential.

I made a few changes from the original recipe - Ottolenghi calls for crushed cloves of garlic, but I have this thing about raw garlic, in that I hate it and don't want it near the food I eat, so I added a few more scallions in its stead. I left out the sorrel, because the scallions and watercress sprouts called for seemed to be the perfect amount of greenery and crunch. And instead of Greek yogurt, I used plain old yogurt - the moisture and silkiness of which the salad really needs. (Readers in the US, you should use Liberté if you can find it. You want something smooth and creamy and full of flavor.)

You can bring this salad to picnics, without fear that it will poison someone with salmonella. You can make this for dinner parties and sit back and garner compliments. You can make it after work, boiling potatoes in your underwear (I know how summer gets). It will be wonderful, over and over, and you will forget that potato salad once made your skin crawl. Potato salad!, you will think. Such lovely words, so full of hope and promise.


The cookbook is full of recipes like this - thoughtful variations on foods we already love, punched up with interesting flavor combinations from the Arab world and the Mediterranean pantry. Sumac, za'atar, sour cream, oregano, chilies and fresh lemons pepper the recipes. The soup chapter is already earmarked and worn, the salads are jewel-like, and I've cooked my first Palestinian recipe (chicken baked in a gorgeous slick of red-tinged marinade) from its pages. I kept the book by my bedside for a few weeks but had to stop - it kept making me hungry before bedtime.

And as my father always likes to say, if you find one shining recipe in a cookbook, one that you'll make over and over again, that will become part of your pantheon, part of your dinner table landscape for years to come, well, it's worth the price of the cookbook. This book has that in spades.

Potato Salad with Yogurt and Horseradish
Serves 4

1 kilo (2.2 pounds) new potatoes
300 grams (10 ounces, plus more to taste) plain yogurt (not Greek)
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon, or more, of prepared ground horseradish
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small box of garden cress

1. Wash the potatoes, but don't peel them. Put them in a pan with salted water to cover, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain well, transfer to a large serving bowl and, while they are still hot, crush them roughly with a fork.

2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, olive oil, horseradish, scallions, salt and pepper to taste. Pour this dressing over the hot potatoes and mix well. Adjust the seasoning, adding more horseradish or more salt. You want the dressing to be assertive - the potatoes will mellow it out. Just before serving, snip in the garden cress and mix once more.

Francis Lam's Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Spaghetti


In the last week, I totaled my car*, almost gave myself a concussion by walking against a rather substantial tree branch and went all Lady Macbeth in my white silk nightgown this morning after slicing open my foot on a piece of glass in my kitchen (apparently, I must learn the hard way that you should never attempt to wipe down your counters before having your caffeinated morning beverage). Who knew a quarter-inch nick on a foot could bleed so much? I kind of wish I'd had the presence of mind to photograph the blood spatters on our white tile floor just now. They looked rather artful.

Let's not even talk about how I managed to bust my iPhone on Monday or about the fact that I thought I'd lost all my identifying documents earlier this week. Not even kidding. Is Mercury in retrograde or something? Am I supposed to be thinking of something I'm not? Or am I just on the rather klutzier side of humanity?

What I think is really going on is that the universe was balancing itself out in anticipation of my dinner last night. All this mayhem and in the midst of it, I had a stroke of very good fortune: discovering an eggplant sauce for my spaghetti that I loved so much I wanted to eat it with a spoon, out of the pan, with nary a taste for anyone else, spaghetti be damned. This is not to say that losing the car was worth the sauce, but it made the pain easier to bear. It really is something.


The sauce comes from the esteemed Mister Lam, rice whisperer and food writer extraordinaire (seriously, click over to his original recipe and feast on his words, would you?). Last year, when Gourmet folded and I, in a momentary sizzle of panic, printed out all the web-exclusive recipes from, this recipe made it to the top of the stack, only to languish there as I packed up my life in New York and moved to Berlin. And truth be told, it would have languished there further if a certain visitor, sitting at my table last night and hungry for dinner, hadn't told me that it was one of her very favorite things to eat.

It is, in the grand tradition of humble Italian peasant food, a very ugly sauce. Gray, slippery and rather limp. You cook cubed eggplant and some garlic in olive oil, with the addition of some stock or water, until it goes all melty and soft and the fibers just sort of collapse underneath gentle pressure. It takes just 20 minutes, long enough to get started on setting the table, eating all the olives in your fridge or just having a drink to unwind from all the stress of your week, whether it involved car crashes and bleeding feet or not. Then, using a fork or a spoon or whatever you have around, you mash up the eggplant until it's, well, saucy. And to brighten up each spoon-, er, forkful, in goes some sliced basil and good dollop of minced sun-dried tomatoes. And salt. Don't forget the salt.

The noodles, chewy and slippery, curl around the pockets of sweet, savory eggplant, the basil snakes between each bite and a pop of tomato here and there makes the water run together in your mouth as you eat. You don't even need a grating of Parmigiano. You've got all you ever needed on your plate, right there.


Halfway through the cooking process, I realized that it was this very technique that kept me fed and happy years ago while living in Paris. Only instead of eggplants, I used zucchini - for a pea-green sauce as sweet as the day is long - or cauliflower. Both vegetables do stunningly well with long cooking times and a careful mashing, turning themselves into silky, toothsome sauces that you can brighten up with mint or parsley (for the zucchini) or a good grinding of hot red pepper flakes (for the cauliflower). Both do very well indeed with a judicious grating of Parmigiano on top.

In any case, it's a technique for your kitchen as indispensable as boiling eggs or mastering a very good, plain tomato sauce. Armed with just one eggplant, just a few handfuls of cauliflower florets or a zucchini or two, you can stew your way to spaghetti nirvana in the blink of an eye.

Did I mention the salt? Don't forget the salt. It's the difference between a sauce that makes you sit up and pay attention and a sauce that just hums quietly along instead of singing loud and clear.


One last thing: the recipe below says that a one-pound eggplant will be enough for a pound of spaghetti, but we ate far less spaghetti than that (190 grams for the two of us, actually) and while there was more sauce than any of my Italian family members would have deemed acceptable on our plates, you might want to adjust your sauce-to-noodle ratio as you see fit.

*As a result, I missed the Food Blogger Connect conference, which really was the worst luck of all. I'm sorry to have missed any of you intrepid readers who made it there!

Oh, and in completely unrelated news, The Wednesday Chef now has a Facebook page! Come on over, let's be friends.

Spaghetti with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Sauce
Serves 3 or 4

1 pound eggplant, cut into ½ inch slices
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
2 springs thyme or oregano, chopped
1 cup chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes, minced
6 leaves basil, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 pound spaghetti

1. Lightly salt the slices of eggplant, stack them back together and let sit for 20 minutes.

2. Put the olive oil in a wide, heavy saucepan, add the garlic cloves, and set over low heat.

3. Dry off the eggplant, cut it into chunks. When you start hearing the garlic sizzle a little and can smell it, drop in your eggplant and stir to coat it all with oil. Turn up the heat a little bit to medium high and add the thyme or oregano and stir. When the eggplant is turning translucent and softening, add the liquid, let it come to a boil, and turn it back down to medium-low. Let it bubble for a bit and cover it, leaving a crack for steam to escape. Stir once in a while so that the bottom doesn’t stick.

4. After about 20 minutes or so, the liquid in the eggplant pan should be mostly evaporated and the eggplant should be soft and melting. Mash it with a fork or spoon, and adjust the seasoning to taste.

5. Toss the eggplant purée with the spaghetti that you cooked al dente. Stir in the minced tomatoes and basil. You can gild the lily with drizzling on some more oil. Serve immediately.