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Matthew Kenney is fascinated with the exotic flavors of the countries that make up what he calls the Mediterranean Rim -- Morocco, Egypt, and the other countries of North Africa; Greece and southern Italy; Turkey; and Spain. But he is an American who cooks in New York City, and he is inspired by the fresh ingredients available in this country and by our modern taste for light, innovative food. His great talent, showcased at his three critically acclaimed restaurants, is his ability to translate the classic combinations of Mediterranean Rim cooking to suit American ingredients and tastes without sacrificing authenticity. In his new book, MATTHEW KENNEY'S MEDITERRANEAN COOKING, he proves that he's also skilled in adapting his recipes for the home cook. You won't find recipes that call for obscure or difficult-to-find ingredients, or for special equipment. (The few items that might not be available in every corner grocery are listed with mail-order sources.) What you will find are recipes that call for olives and capers, for citrus zest and honey, for aromatic spices like cardamom and cumin, for olive oil and tahini. Beautiful color photos illustrate the appealing dishes that result. If you think only of Provence and southern Italy when you think of Mediterranen cuisine, MATTHEW KENNEY'S MEDITERRANEAN COOKING will open your eyes to a whole new world of flavors.
Recipes from Matthew Kenney's Mediterranean Cooking
Fennel Salad with Clementines and Moroccan Olives
This dish is traditionally made with oranges, but I prefer the sweeter clementines we see in winter, imported from Spain and Morocco in those cute little wooden crates. Shiny, jet black oil-cured Moroccan olives offer a nice color contrast as well as a salty counterpoint to the clementines. This is a good finish to a heavy meal or it can be used as part of a mezze table.
5 teaspoons anise seeds
Juice of 4 clementines or 2 juice oranges
1 tablespoon minced onion or shallot
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small bulbs fennel
10 clementines or 5 navel oranges, peeled with membranes or white pith removed, and sectioned
24 black Moroccan or other oil-cured olives, pitted
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/2 cup (loosely packed) arugula leaves, washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the anise seeds in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Toast for 4 minutes, stirring a few times. Grind 2 1/2 teaspoons of the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Set ground and whole toasted seeds aside separately.
Combine the clementine juice, onion, and ground anise seeds in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
Remove green tops from fennel and discard. Cut the bulbs lengthwise in half and cut out the firm center core. Cut lengthwise into strips, about 1/8 inch wide.
Place the fennel, clementines, olives, chives, and arugula in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Sprinkle with the reserved whole anise seeds.
Toasted Barley Risotto with Wild Mushrooms
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer
Barley is perhaps the oldest cultivated grain in the Mediterranean, going back some seven thousand years in Egypt. It was the primary grain in Europe before it was supplanted by wheat. When cooked slowly in the style of a risotto, barley becomes rich and creamy while retaining its natural texture. Barley's earthy flavor goes well with fall and winter ingredients like the wild mushrooms in this dish, and also with chestnuts and winter squash.
1/4 cup hazelnuts
2 cups pearl barley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 cups assorted wild mushrooms such as portobello, oyster, shiitake, and porcini, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups warm chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup grated parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the hazelnuts on a small sheet pan or pie plate and toast for 11 minutes, or until browned but not dark. Wrap the nuts in a clean dish towel and rub off skins. Chop and set aside.
Put a large nonstick skillet over low to medium heat. Add the barley and gently toss for 4 minutes. Put the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic and shallots, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until shallots soften but garlic does not get too dark. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the barley and stir until coated with oil.
Add the white wine and allow it to evaporate, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the stock. Continue adding stock, 1 cup at a time, as soon as each previous cup is absorbed, until the barley is firm but cooked, 20 to 25 minutes from the first addition of stock. Add the hazelnuts with the last cup of stock. Stir in the butter, honey, cardamom, and 1/2 cup of the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in individual shallow bowls or soup plates, garnished with the remaining parmesan and chives.
Pineapple with Ginger Syrup
Although pineapple is not native to the Mediterranean Rim, it marries well with the spices and seasonings of the region. The sharpness of ginger, in particular, does a nice job of offsetting pineapple's natural sweetness while complementing the fruit's acidity. A good dessert after a heavy meal.
1/2 cup sugar
18 nickel-size peeled rounds of ginger
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons late-harvest riesling or other sweet white dessert wine
1 ripe large pineapple
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
6 mint sprigs
Using a vegetable peeler, cut 1-inch-wide strips from the peel of the lemon half. Then cut the strips crosswise into 1-inch squares. In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon zest squares, sugar, ginger, 1/4 cup of the wine, and 1 cup of water and boil over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, quarter the pineapple lengthwise into 4 long wedges. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the core. Run the knife close to the skin to remove the edible flesh of each wedge. Cut each wedge crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Strain the ginger syrup into a shallow bowl and add the pineapple. Refrigerate for 1 to 8 hours.
Spoon the pineapple and syrup into 6 tall glasses. Drizzle each with a teaspoon of the remaining wine and garnish with chopped mint and mint sprigs.
Recipes from MATTHEW KENNEY'S MEDITERRANEAN COOKING, copyright © 1997 by Matthew Kenney and Sam Gugino. Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.
Posted August 21, 2000
Matthew Kenney is the top Meditranen Chef in New York City. With 4 succesful restaurants. Matthews, Mezze, Canteen, Commune. Chef Matthews book is great with pictures and easy to follow pictures. If you love crab cakes you will love his recipe.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.