Robert Lauriston


be all you can be

savory winter squash spoonbread (2019)

Inspired by this Washington Post recipe.

2 lbs. cooked butternut squash
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp. salt
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
4 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
4 oz. Manchego, Gruyère, or similar cheese

Purée the cooked squash in a food processor. Add milk, salt, and nutmeg and blend until smooth. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Add butter and 3/4 of the cheese and blend until smoooth. Put in gratin or soufflé dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until top is nicely browned (roughly 40-60 minutes depending on size and shape of dish).

Robert's spicy sweet potatoes with bacon and fish sauce (2016)

4 slices Hobbs bacon, diced
1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
splash of dry white wine
1/2 cup Pomi tomato
3 lbs. Diane or other dark orange sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced 1/4" thick
chicken stock
2 tbsp. Red Boat fish sauce

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large flat-bottomed pot with a tight cover. (I use my 5.5-quart round Le Creuset or similar All-Clad Dutch oven.) When the bacon starts to brown, add the onion and pepper flakes. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Deglaze with white wine. When the alcohol has evaporated, add the tomato, sweet potatoes, enough liquid to steam the sweet potatoes, and fish sauce. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid as necessary, until the sweet potatoes are soft enough to mash (maybe 90 minutes). After I add the sweet potatoes I use a diffuser to keep it from sticking / burning in the center.

If when the sweet potatoes are done the dish is soupy, you can strain out the liquid, reduce it, and mix the potatoes back in. Taste and correct the seasoning. If it's a bit bland, you can add a little vinegar: Philo Apple Farm apple balsamic is ideal.

Robert's easy aioli (2015)

adapted from the blender mayonnaise recipe in the 1975 edition of "Joy of Cooking"

1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1-1/4 cups olive oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice

Use from a few cloves to a head of garlic depending on how strong you want the aioli. I like the strong flavor of dark green Kalamata oil, but many people will prefer a milder oil such as the Marca Verde sold at Sur la Table.

Put garlic through a press into a mortar, add salt, mash to a paste, top with 1/4 cup oil, and let sit for 30 minutes or more. Skip this step if you prefer a sharp garlic bite.

Put garlic paste and egg in a blender and blend until smooth. With the blender running and the hole in the cap open, slowly add another 1/2 cup of oil, then add the lemon juice, then slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil.

Elena's arroz con pollo (2013)

adapted from Gail's mom's recipe

1 chicken
2 cups rice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups water
1 tbsp. salt saffron
2 cloves garlic
1 or 2 Spanish chorizos
1 minced onion
peas (if fresh are not available, use smallest available can of petit pols)

Cook chicken in 1-2 cups water until tender when tried with fork (about 1/2 hour). Pour off broth and save. Drain chicken. Brown onion and garlic in olive oil, add washed rice and salt, saute until golden, stirring. Add broth, water, and saffron to taste (be generous but not to the point that it's medicinal). Simmer on medium-high heat until almost dry. Slice or dice chorizo and saute in a separate pan. When rice is done, mix in chorizo and place chicken on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Garnish with pimentos and peas and heat for a minute or two before serving.

rhubarb clafoutis (2012)

Adapted from a recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)

1-1/3 lbs. rhubarb
1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Cut rhubarb into 3/4" pieces, spread in a single layer on a Silpat in a cookie sheet, and roast at 350 degrees until soft (took 20 minutes for me). Mix milk, 1/3 cup of the sugar, eggs, salt, and flour in blender or with a whisk until very smooth. Pour 1/4" of the batter in a greased 8-cup baking dish and put on heat until it begins to set. Add the rhubarb, sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, pour the rest of the batter over, and bake at 350 degrees until puffed and brown (took an hour and ten minutes for me).

Robert's borscht (2012)

2 tbsp. rice bran oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 pickled jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
carrots from jalapeños, finely chopped
3 cups broth
1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 lb. beets, diced
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tbsp. caraway seed
1 tbsp. whole cumin
2 tbsp. Gilka
1 tbsp. Apple Farm apple balsamic
1 tbsp. salt (or to taste)
1 red cabbage, chopped

Toast caraway and cumin in a dry pan, then grind finely. Saute onions in oil until translucent. Add all remaining ingredients except cabbage and cook on medium heat until beets are mostly cooked. Add cabbage and simmer on low heat until done.

spicy cauliflower salad (2007)

1 large or 2 medium heads cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. cumin (possibly more if not fresh-ground)
2 tsp. coriander (possibly more if not fresh-ground)
1 tsp. chile flakes
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 jalapeños, seeded and coarssely chopped
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
1/4 cup homemade barbecue sauce
zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon (or zest and 1 tbsp. juice of 1 regular lemon)
2 tbsp. nam pla
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Cut cauliflower into florets and steam until it offers no resistance to the tip of a sharp knife (about 10 minutes). Put olive oil, spices, onions, and chiles in a five-quart Dutch oven or similar pot. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add coconut milk, barbecue sauce, lemon, nam pla, and salt, and cook until it has a saucy consistency. Remove from heat, add cauliflower and cilantro, and stir. Break up large pieces of cauliflower. Stir again before serving warm or at room temperature.

warm carrot and cabbage salad (2007)

Adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery (British Broadcasting Corp., 1982)

4 tbsp. corn oil (or other vegetable oil with a high smoke point)
1 tbsp. brown or black mustard seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes
pinch of asefetida
12 ounces shedded cabbage
12 ounces grated carrots
1 to 3 jalapeño or serrano chiles, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 heaping tsp. salt
1 tbsp. lemon juice or juice of one Meyer lemon

Put the oil, mustard sees, hot pepper flakes, and asefetida in a five-quart Dutch oven or similar pot and stir until well mixed. Turn heat to medium-high. When mustard seeds begin to pop, throw in cabbage, carrots, and chiles, and stir for one minute. Add cilantro and salt, and stir for another five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve immediately as a side dish or let cool to room temperature for a picnic or buffet. (If you use the larger amount of chiles and hot pepper, this will be quite spicy; the original recipe calls for 1/2 to 1 green chile and 1 whole dried red chile.)

green bean salad (2007)

This is my attempt to recreate a dish served at Des Alpes, a San Francisco Basque restaurant. The original was surely made with canned or frozen green beans. Amounts are very approximate.

2 lbs. green beans
1/2 red onion
4 eggs, hard-boiled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Dice onion and soak in 1 cup water with a splash of vinegar for 30 minutes, then drain. Trim green beans and snap or cut into 1" lengths, steam five minutes. Mash egg yolks with vinegar and salt until smooth, then beat in olive oil. Put egg whites through egg slicer twice, turning 90 degrees. Toss green beans, onions, and egg whites with egg yolk dressing.

bread and rocket soup (2006)

Adapted from a recipe in Marcella Hazan's More Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1978).

2 cups diced potatoes
3 cups water
2 cups rocket, washed and chopped
2 cups stale Italian or other crusty bread, cut up
1/4 cup strong, green olive oil

Boil potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes. Add rocket and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, add bread, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in olive oil, add pepper to taste, correct salt.

winter squash gratin (2004)

Adapted from a recipe in Deborah Madison's The Savory Way (Bantam Books, 1990).

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions
chile flakes (optional)
1-1/2 to 2 pounds butternut squash
4 slices stale bread
4 oz. Gruyere, grated
1 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups milk
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

Thinly slice the onions, saute in olive oil with chile flakes over medium heat until soft, and spread evenly over bottom of gratin dish. Peel squash, slice 1/2-inch thick, cut slices into quarters or smaller, and arrange over onions in a single layer. Trim crusts from bread, soak in warm water until soft, and squeeze out excess water. Put bread and remaining ingredients in food processor, blend, and spread over squash. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until the liquid has been completely absorbed.

coconut-ginger sorbet (2003)

1 8.5-ounce jar candied ginger puree
2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk (preferably Chaokoh)
1 tbsp. lime juice (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)

"First, you open all the cans."--Millie Lammoreaux

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Taste and adjust lime juice and salt (freezing will make both less assertive). Freeze according to ice-cream maker instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

Indian-style beets (2003)

Adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery (British Broadcasting Corp., 1982)

12 ounces raw Full Belly white beets (or other raw beets)
4 tbsp. corn oil (or other vegetable oil with a high smoke point)
1 tsp. whole cumin
2 cloves garlic
4 ounces onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne
8 ounces Pomi chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 cup water

Peel the beets and cut into wedges roughly the size of one section of an orange. Mix the flour and cayenne in a small dish or cup. Mix the tomatoes, salt, and water in a bowl. Put the oil in a five-quart Dutch oven or similar pot. Add the cumin to the oil. Press the garlic directly into the oil, or chop finely and add to the pot. Turn the heat on high and stir until the garlic begins to color. Add the onion and stir for two minutes. Add the flour and cayenne and stir for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Then lower heat, cover, and simmer for half an hour. Remove the lid, turn up the heat, and let boil for seven minutes to thicken sauce. Serve with rice or bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

whole-wheat spice cookies (2003)

3/4 cup California Rice Oil Company rice-bran oil
1/4 cup Steen's dark molasses (or other flavorful molasses)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups freshly ground Full Belly whole-wheat flour (or similar)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground mace
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup coarse sugar

Put the oil, the molasses, sugar, and the eggs in a large bowl and beat until smooth. In another bowl put the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt, mix well, add to the wet mixture, and beat until you have a smooth dough. Chill for several hours or overnight. Form dough into balls, roll in coarse sugar, arrange on an oiled cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes. Let cool for 3-4 minutes, then use metal spatula to transfer to wire racks to cool.

whole-wheat gingerbread (2002)

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups freshly ground Full Belly whole-wheat flour (or similar)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. Coleman's dry mustard (optional)
1 cup Steen's light molasses (or other flavorful molasses)
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix.butter, sugar, and egg and beat with spoon until smooth. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add molasses and boiling water to butter mixture, stir until well blended, then stir in dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into a buttered and floured 10" round (or 9" square) pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until done. Good with applesauce.

spiced carrot soup (2002)

2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup butter
1-ounce piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes (or 1 small hot chile, seeded and chopped fine)
1-3/4 lbs. carrots, sliced
chicken broth
1 cup whole-milk yogurt

Toast cumin in a dry pan until it darkens and becomes very aromatic, then grind to powder in a mortar or spice grinder. Melt butter in wide pot large enough to hold all ingredients. Add cumin, ginger, onion, and hot pepper, then saute on medium heat until onions are soft and translucent. Add carrots, enough chicken broth to almost cover carrots, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until carrots are soft. Puree in a food processor until very smooth. Add yogurt, run food processor until thoroughly blended. Correct salt.

cauliflower buttermilk gratin (2000)

enough cauliflower to pack a single layer into a large gratin dish (2 to 5 heads depending on size)
3 cups cultured buttermilk
1/4 cup muscat de Beaume de Venise or other acidic dessert wine
1/4 cup butter
3/8 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
Tabasco sauce
Worchestershire sauce

Trim cauliflower into florets, wash, and steam 15 minutes. Make a bechamel with the buttermilk, butter, and flour, and season with salt and a couple of dashes each of Tabasco and Worchestershire. Bake at 375-400 degrees on upper rack until top has browned (about an hour). If you don't have a gratin dish large enough to hold that much cauliflower in a single layer, reduce the recipe to fill the largest dish you have.

swordfish stew a la vanille (1999)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 small leeks, white portion only, chopped fine
pinch of saffron threads
2 pinches red chile pepper flakes
1 cup Collio merlot or similar light red wine
3 tbsp. Pomi chopped tomatoes
3 small carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 pound small new potatoes, diced
1 Madagascar vanilla bean, best quality
1 small piece Ceylon cinnamon bark
chicken broth
2 pounds swordfish, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, put through garlic press

Saute leeks in olive oil with saffron and chile until leeks are transparent. Add wine and boil for a few minutes until alcohol is burned off. Add tomatoes and reduce to a thick sauce. Add 1 cup chicken broth, carrots, potatoes, vanilla, cinnamon, additional chicken broth to cover, and salt to taste. Simmer covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are almost cooked. Remove vanilla bean and cinnamon bark. Add swordfish, garlic, additional broth to cover, and simmer covered over very low heat until swordfish is just cooked through. Serve immediately. (You can rinse off the vanilla bean, keep it tightly wrapped, and use it again.)

braised duck legs (1999)

6 duck leg & thigh pieces
1 large onion, chopped
chile flakes
2 cups cheap Bordeaux or similar dry red wine
1/4 to 1/2 cup Pomi strained tomatoes
about two dozen French or Greek olives (green, black, or mixed), pitted and chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut in 1-inch pieces
2-3 whole garlic cloves
12 sprigs fresh thyme
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. salt or to taste

Steam duck legs for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion and pinch of chile flakes in olive oil. Add wine and tomato and boil over high heat until alcohol has evaporated. Add olives, red bell pepper, garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, and salt. Stir, then add duck pieces and simmer at lowest heat for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Strain out liquid, degrease, and boil over high heat until it has the consistency of a sauce. Reduce heat to low, add duck and other strained-out ingredients, rewarm, and serve.

You can skim off the fat from the steamer liquid and use it to make the following recipe. Alternatively, refrigerate the liquid from the steamer, then remove the fat and save for future use.

duck fat potatoes (1999)

duck fat
waxy potatoes, cut up
chile flakes
black pepper

Warm the duck fat on the stove or in a microwave until it is liquid. Put the potatoes in a large roasting pan, pour the duck fat over them, and toss to cover evenly. Sprinkle with salt, chile flakes, nutmeg (preferably fresh-grated), and freshly ground black pepper, and toss until potatoes are evenly covered with the spice mixture. Roast at 375-400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, turning every 10-15 minutes.

white truffle salad dressing (1999)

2 tsp. Philo Apple Farm or other first-rate cider vinegar
1 tsp. white truffle honey
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, honey, and salt in a small bowl and stir with a fork until honey has completely dissolved. Add the oil and beat until creamy. Adjust salt.

If you cannot get good cider vinegar, substitute 1/4 cup of somewhat tart white wine (like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc), reduced over high heat to about 1 tbsp.

Robert's lamb stew (1994)

4 lbs. boneless leg of lamb
olive oil
6 oz. white onion
2 celery stalks
6 oz. carrot
1/2 bottle pinot noir
1/4 cup Pomi tomato puree
1 Seville orange
1 tbsp. olive paste
1 tbsp. salt (more if broth unsalted)
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
chicken broth or stock
2 cans cannellini or other white beans
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. nam pla

Brown lamb in heavy pot. Remove from pot. Drain off fat or add olive oil so you have enough to saute vegetables. Chop onion, celery, and carrot fine (1/4" dice or smaller) and saute until brown. Add wine and boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat. Stir in tomato puree, juice of orange, olive paste, salt, and pepper (a dozen turns of the mill). Add peel, thyme, and meat. (If you can't get a Seville orange, substitute the juice of a lemon and a strip of peel from a regular orange.) Add broth sufficient to not quite cover meat. Cover tightly and cook at a very low simmer (do not allow to come to a boil) until meat is fork-tender (approx. 3 hours). To minimize the fat in the dish, prepare through this step a day ahead, refrigerate overnight, and pick out the congealed fat. Then put back in pot over low heat and return to a simmer.

Remove meat and keep warm. Throw out thyme and peel. Turn up heat to high, and reduce liquid by about half. Drain and rinse beans, add to pot, and cook on high until the sauce if of the desired consistency. Reduce heat, add pressed garlic and nam pla, return meat to pot, and simmer for a few minutes. (If you don't have nam pla, use a few pureed anchovies instead.)

winter minestrone (1992)

1/2 lb. bacon (or pancetta), chopped
olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 hot peppers, chopped
1/2 cup dry marsala (or sherry or white wine)
1 cup Pomi tomato chunks or chopped Italian tomatoes
1 large can Swanson's chicken broth (or 1 quart homemade)
3 lbs. young turnips, peeled and coarsely diced
3 lbs. new or other waxy potatoes, peeled and coarsely diced
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
1 bunch chard or collards, stalks removed, coarsely chopped
1 can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed
fresh thyme or rosemary (if available)

In a heavy pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, saute the bacon until it has lost most of its fat, but don't let it crisp or brown. Pour off the fat and add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and hot peppers. Saute until onions are transparent. Add the marsala, turn up the heat to high, and let it bubble away for a minute or two. Add the tomato chunks and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Add water to cover vegetables, if necessary. Simmer until done (1-2 hours), stirring occasionally.

Robert's greens with pot liquor (1992)

1 large onion, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
1 large carrot, chopped
2-3 hot peppers, chopped
1-1/2 Aidell's andouille sausages, halved or quartered lengthwise, then sliced 1/4" thick
1 large can Swanson's chicken broth (or 1 quart homemade)
1 cup Pomi tomato chunks or chopped Italian tomatoes
2 bunches kale, spines removed, coarsely chopped
olive oil

Saute first four ingredients in olive oil until onion is transparent. Add andouille and saute for a few minutes. Add the broth and tomato and bring to a boil. Add kale, turn heat to very low, simmer until done, stirring occasionally. Serve with crusty bread to dunk in the pot liquor.

fish roasted with Meyer lemons (2013)

fennel fronds, leek tops, or onions
Meyer lemons
white wine

Buy a thick piece of halibut, salmon, or similar cut so as to almost fill a square or oval ceramic or glass baking dish. Salt it with 3/4 tsp. per pound the day before or at least a few hours before. Line the baking dish with fennel fronds, leek tops, or thin-sliced onions. Lay the fish on top, completely cover with Benriner'd Meyer lemon slices overlapping like scales, and add half a cup of white wine. Bake at 350 until done, around half an hour. Display the pretty dish to your guests before removing and discarding the lemons.

chickpea soup with dried shrimp and anise seed (2014)

8 oz. chickpeas
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. dried shrimp
1 tbsp. Calabrian chile powder
1 tsp. anise seed, freshly ground
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil

Soak chickpeas 24 hours, strain, put in pot, add water to cover by 1", add salt, simmer several hours until creamy.

Strain two-thirds of the cooking liquid into a pot, add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cook uncovered until the shrimp have plumped and the rest is the consistency of a thick sauce (as in photo).

Put the chickpeas and remaining cooking liquid into a food processor and purée until creamy and smooth. Put the shrimp mixture through a strainer and add. Chop the shrimp finely and add. Reheat, correct seasoning if necessary, and serve.

It might be easier to grind the shrimp in a blender before cooking them.

Robert's turnip gratin (2018)

Tokyo turnips
olive oil
onion, finely chopped
Pomi strained tomato
fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt

By weight, about 2.5 parts turnips to 1 part each onion and tomato. E.g. 1-1/4 lbs. turnips, 8 oz. onion, 1 cup tomato.

Peel turnips and slice (I used thickest Benriner setting).

Sauté onions in olive oil until transparent. Add tomato, thyme, and salt. Simmer until sauce consistency (not runny).

Oil a gratin dish large enough to hold the turnips in three layers. Put down one layer of turnips, cover with half the sauce, grind some black pepper on top, finish with Gruyere. Repeat for second layer. Put the third layer of turnips on top and cover with Gruyere. Bake at 325 fan (or 350 regular) for 45 minutes or until turnips are soft and top is brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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