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Holidays with Zuni Cafe

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Christmas and New Years provided an excuse to try many new (wonderful) recipes from the Zuni Cafe cookbook.

For Christmas dinner (4 people) we made the Crown Roast of Pork with the suggested spice rub of coriander, fennel, and garlic. Salted three days in advance. Amazing flavor -- I loved the coriander and fennel! I accidentally left it in the oven a tad longer than I would have liked. Even so it was juicy and flavorful. Our guests (our moms) liked it - they probably like their meat a little more done anyway. As she says, don't forget to gnaw on the bones. We served this with Zuni polenta (sage and onion variation). Her recipe is a five to one ratio of water to polenta, and you don't need to do too much stirring. It cooks low and slow, and then has a resting time in a double boiler (which we manufactured from a pot, a bowl, and a ramekin). I used Bob's Red Mill organic polenta. It was the best polenta I ever made. We also tried the salad of pear, fennel, walnuts, and parmigiano reggiano. Good combination. But I think I would have liked the fennel "dressed" a little more. Also, we don't have a mandolin, so the fennel slices didn't get as thin as they should have. Paper thin slices would be better.

For New Years Eve we made (what else!) New Years Eve Gougeres -- the full recipe complete with pickled onions. I've made the gougeres before, and they always turn out wonderful. the bacon sandwiches are great with champagne, and the pickled onions were fun. We also had boneless Roast Leg of Lamb (garlic and rosemary version). Only had a chance to salt for one day but it still turned out great! Temperature and timing targets were right on. Served with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Braised Fennel. The fennel recipe was excellent with the splash of pernod at the end to round out the flavors. It was a big hit with our guests and they all wanted the recipe.

This is my desert island book for sure. Thanks, Zuni!

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  1. Sounds wonderful - thanks for sharing! I love that cookbook.

    1. Wow that all sounds wonderful! I got the book as a gift for Christmas and cant wait to try some of these recipes! Thanks for all your helpful advice!

      1. You've inspired me to search out this cookbook. We have a couple of boneless legs of lamb in the freezer. . .

        1. Oh, holidays w/ Zuni are the best! I took inspiration from the beloved mock porchetta and onion panade to create a pork loin seasoned alla porchetta and then stuffed w/ a chard and onion bread stuffing. It was delicious! (I will post a brief report and photo on the thread where I asked for advice.)

          I made an oven-baked polenta that has been discussed here on CH, but I wasn't quite satisfied w/ the results. I'll have to check out the Zuni recipe. After participating in many cookbooks of the month and checking out many books from my library, Zuni still remains my cookbook soulmate!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Carb Lover

            I haven't made the Zuni polenta yet, but I have eaten it in the restaurant. That polenta is absolutely divine. It actually changed my mind about how I felt about polenta. I first had it in June of 2006 and then in October of 2007. I found it worthy to order again on my two trips to SF. I'm extremely intrigued by the recipe and it is on my "to make" list this winter.