One bleak winter day when I was perusing the rather barren and uninspiring aisles of a local supermarket, I came across some packages of caveman-like marrow bones at dirt-cheap prices in the meat section. I was ecstatic because on a trip to Boston I had recently dined on fabulous marrow bones at the Eastern Standard restaurant in the always welcoming Hotel Commonwealth. I immediately snatched up the packages and set to figuring out how best to prepare them as an unexpected dinner treat. I was so thrilled with the results that I ended up preparing the same recipe for 125 people when the Nantucket Wine Festival invited me to come up with a dish to pair with Au Bon Climat’s 2006 La Bauge Au-dessus Pinot Noir at their annual May tasting event. The prep kitchen for the wine tasting was not on the premises and transporting huge and heavy roasting pans filled with the marrow bones on foot over Nantucket’s one-way lanes to the site was not an undertaking I would wish to repeat.
Suffice it to say, I have since stuck to roasting smaller batches of marrow bones in the cozy familiarity of my own kitchen. I can happily make a decadent dinner out of two or three roasted marrow bones served with a small but invigorating herb and caper salad, a combination inspired by British chef Fergus Henderson. Otherwise, I serve a single marrow bone as an appetizer with a glass of excellent pinot noir to friends adventuresome enough to appreciate it. Serves 8 as an appetizer or 3 or 4 as an unconventional but great dinner
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
8 center-cut beef marrow bones (each 2½ to 3 inches tall; about 4 pounds total weight)
3½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Crunchy sea salt, such as fleur de sel and freshly cracked black peppercorns
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 ounces (about 1 cup) fresh pea shoots (optional but a great addition when available)
1 tablespoon brine-packed capers, drained
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 slices (½ inch thick) crusty bread, such as ciabatta, toasted
Place the shallots in a bowl of ice water and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes to soften the sharpness of their raw flavor.
Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably an oven with a convection setting. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Place the marrow bones in a mixing bowl, drizzle 11/2 tablespoons of olive oil over them, and then toss to coat them lightly all over. Season the marrow bones all over with crunchy salt and cracked peppercorns. Arrange the marrow bones, marrow-side-up, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the marrow bones until the marrow is soft and light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Take care not to roast the bones too long or the marrow will begin to bubble out of the bones like lava from a volcano
While the marrow bones are roasting, prepare the herb and caper salad: Drain the shallots and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the shallots in a salad bowl, add the parsley, cilantro, pea shoots, if using, and capers and toss to mix. Just before serving, toss the salad with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice and season it with flaky sea salt to taste.
To serve, scatter a bit of the salad over each of 8 salad plates or 3 or 4 larger plates if you are serving the marrow bones as a main course. Center 1, 2, or 3 roasted marrow bones on top. Scatter more salad over the marrow bones and place 1 or 2 pieces of toast and a scant 1/2-teaspoon mound of crunchy salt on the edge of each plate. To savor, scoop out the marrow with a small spoon or palette knife and spread it on the toast. Season the marrow with a bit of the sea salt and top it with some of the herb salad. Enjoy immediately.
(* From New England Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase-Workman Publishing- June 2015)
No Tiles Needed for this Mosaic, Mosaico Greek Cake from Cooking with Loula Greek Recipes from My Family to Yours by Alexandra Stratou (Artisan Books-May 3, 2016).
Serves • 8 to 10
Time • Under 3 hours
I have loved this dessert ever since I was young. I remember sneaking slices off the roll we had wrapped up in the freezer throughout the day. It is something that can either be served as an easy dessert for guests, or made and kept in the freezer to satisfy a sweet craving at any time of the day.
1 cup (2 sticks / 225 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
41/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 ounces (400 grams) butter cookies, such as petit beurre or animal crackers, broken up into small pieces
Tip: Make sure to put the batter in the freezer immediately once it is ready, as it contains raw egg. Once all your guests are served, wrap any leftovers with parchment paper and put them back in the freezer.
Tip: If you have left the mosaico in the freezer for much more than 2 hours, make sure you take it out of the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving.
Beat together the butter and sugar. While beating, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the cocoa and vanilla.
Add the cookie pieces and mix with a spoon until all the pieces seem to be surrounded evenly by chocolate—you may think the chocolate is not enough but trust me, it is!
Spoon into a cake pan or 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-centimeter) loaf pan that’s been lined with parchment paper. Press the mixture down into the pan to compact it and make it even, then fold the excess parchment paper over the top to cover the chocolate mixture completely.
Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. To serve, take out of the pan and slice into thick pieces. Arrange on a cutting board or on a fancy plate.