Cover image for Salt & pepper : 135 perfectly seasoned recipes
Salt & pepper : 135 perfectly seasoned recipes
Jordan, Michele Anna.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 238 pages ; color illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


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TX819.P3 J67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Presents one hundred recipes that use a wide range of salts and peppercorns, including red Hawaiian alea salt and Indian Malabar peppercorns, and offers insights on the history of these seasonings.

Author Notes

Michele Anna Jordan is an award-winning writer, cooking teacher, restaurant critic, and radio personality. She is the author of nine cookbooks, including POLENTA and CALIFORNIA HOME COOKING. She lives in San Francisco and Sonoma County, California.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Not so very long ago, newly enlightened gourmets sneered at the bland food they were raised on by saying that the only seasonings used were salt and pepper. No more. Now the ideal of a truly up-to-date gourmet is a dish finished with costly designer salt imported from France and hand harvested from very particular salt fields that are as carefully delimited as the finest vineyards. Peppercorns are similarly vetted, the best carrying unpronounceable names and hefty price tags and ground in the finest (most expensive, that is) pepper mills. Jordan describes this latest foodie phenomenon and carefully distinguishes between the different salts currently available, such as trendy fleur de sel and the prized Celtic gray sea salt. In addition to fish and beef baked in salt crusts, Jordan offers recipes for pepper-based dishes and even a method for producing pepper-scented writing paper. --Mark Knoblauch

Publisher's Weekly Review

Early in what she calls her "love letter" to salt and pepper, Jordan exclaims: "Salt tap dances naked on your table, makes you blush with delight. Pepper taps you on the shoulder and invites you behind closed doors." It's hard to resist such unbridled enthusiasm, and it's easy to succumb to the spicy mix of history, folklore and recipes that Jordan serves up. A fascinating if lengthy introduction leads to a carefully honed selection of dishes arranged by coursesÄwith a side trip through condiments. Not just used for its flavor, salt is sometimes part of the actual cooking method (Shrimp Roasted on Rock Salt, for example); it also creates a suavely unusual Halibut Gravlax and tangy Preserved Lemons, which can be served as an appetizer or included in a stew. Pepper, in all its forms, works its magic on everything from Spaghetti Carbonara to Walnut Pfeffernsse cookies. Teacher, caterer and prolific author Jordan (Polenta; California Home Cooking) proves that man's oldest spices need not be treated as old hat. Though she may infuriate the dietetically correct with her breezy use of bacon fat, raw eggs and all that salt, she will delight fellow hedonists with her insistence on the freshest ingredients and the boldest flavors. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Salt used to be table salt, and pepper always came preground in a jar, but thats no longer the case, and Jordans engaging new book includes everything the discerning cook needs to know about fleur de sel, Tellicherry pepper, and more. Introductory sections covering such topics as The Flowering Sea, Jewish Barbecue and Other Salty Miracles, and Repetitive Pepper Syndrome are followed by a diverse collection of delicious recipes and several useful appendixes. Recipes are for dishes where salt or pepper is really an ingredient, not just a seasoning, or that rely on techniques such as flavoring with a salty brine; Grilled Figs with Prosciutto and Black Pepper, Pepper-Crusted Pizza with Porcini and Sage, and Lamb Loin Baked in a Salt Crust are among the delectable choices. Recommended for most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Salt: Magical Salt "I love you more than salt," the mythical young princess says to her father. Her older sisters, articulate in their hyperbole--more than gold, they tell the king, more than my own life, as much as God--are rewarded with riches and kingdoms of their own. The arrogant king, devastated to be so poorly valued by his favorite child, condemns her to a life of loneliness and poverty in exile. The king's next meal is flat and tasteless, and so is the next, and the next, and the next. For thirty days, his food lacks flavor. You might conclude that it is sadness and loss that eclipse his pleasure, but it is not. He summons his chef and demands an explanation. "You value salt so little, your majesty," the chef explains coyly, "that I no longer use it in your food." You can see where this is going. The princess is returned from exile, reunited with her secret fiancé--the wily chef, of course--and given a lavish wedding and riches that far surpass those granted her sisters. The king's food sparkles with taste and savor once again. I was told the story by a cooking student, a woman from India who remembered it from childhood, when she had likely heard it from an English nanny; there are many versions of this tale throughout Europe. Common salt is more essential than we like to admit, each version cautions us. Another scene: It is Halloween, the eve of el Dia de los Muertos, and a young Mexican girl is boiling an egg. After it is cooked, she runs it under a cool spigot, holding the hot egg even as it burns her impatient hands. When at last it is cool, she removes the shell and carefully breaks the egg in half, revealing the round yellow yolk, the kernel of life at the core, which she quickly discards. She lifts the lid of a nearby box of salt and takes as big a pinch as her fingers can hold, depositing it in the hollow of the egg. She continues, pinch after salty pinch, until the center of the egg is filled. She fits the halves together and tiptoes silently to the bedroom she shares with her sister, where she awaits the stroke of midnight. Eventually, the hour comes, she puts the egg with its hidden seed, its talismanic treasure, into her mouth, chewing and swallowing quickly so that the jewel of salt does not burst and leave her parched, for she must not take a drink. Her sister wakes and calls her name, but she pretends to be asleep. To speak would break the spell. Who will it be? Who will appear in her dreams and offer her a quenching drink of water? Her life's mate, the story goes, and she falls asleep imagining his face. Ah, magical salt. It seasons our tales, and spices up our language, each word, every phrase a nod to a single truism: Life is tasteless without salt. Pepper: The King of Spice Salt is indispensable. The earth is cloaked in salt; a salty tide moves within us, too, every moment lapping at the edges of our cells. Without it, we die. Pepper is superfluous. Salt's culinary spouse is expendable, entirely unnecessary for existence (the ideal marriage, one partner frivolous, one keeping the house afloat). It is a gift, a luxury that we have come to take utterly for granted. "Saltandpepper" is nearly a single word in our kitchen vocabulary and the thought of doing without the pepper part is all but inconceivable. But should something occur to put pepper absolutely out of reach, we could live. We would mourn its loss, and with every bite be aware of its absence. But we would live. In the end, we might get over the loss of pepper without too lengthy a struggle. We have no innate physical longing for it, as we do for salt. We delight in the presence of pepper in our food, but the memory of its taste would fade in a single generation; we cannot pass sensory knowledge to our children, we can only entice them with descriptions, always inadequate when it comes to taste, completely ineffective when it comes to smell. No one would believe our stories. If pepper vanished, it soon would become myth, an enchanting mystery, a tale of the King of Spices who one day walked off into the wilderness and vanished, the Atlantis of spice, nothing more than a tantalizing rumor. Sure, they would think, and what is the moral of this tale? The King would be replaced by . . . allspice? long pepper? coriander? All have been used as we now use pepper--that is, in almost everything--at one time or another. But don't worry about pepper vanishing--there is plenty, millions of vines of it wrapping themselves around the earth, a savory circumference, an equator of savor and taste and heat, a lusty belt around our middle. Perfect Deviled Eggs It's important to know how to make perfect deviled eggs, a classic American appetizer and picnic dish. A purist, I eschew additions such as pickle relish, capers, minced onions, or olives, but think a strong jolt of aromatic black pepper is essential. Once you've mastered the purity of these flavors, there are, however, some delicious variations, one in which green peppercorns are used along with black, and one made with the intoxicating smoked salt imported from Denmark. Because the egg whites tend to wobble on their rounded bottoms, it's best to serve them on top of greens, such as a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, spread over the plate, or a bed of arugula. 6 large fresh eggs 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard Dash of Tabasco Sauce 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, crushed 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt Place the eggs in a single layer in a medium saucepan and add water until it is at least 1 inch above them. Set over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool for 2 or 3 minutes, and then transfer the eggs to a cold-water bath, changing the water two or three times as it warms. When the eggs have cooled to room temperature, carefully peel them, rinse them, dry them on a tea towel, and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and set the whites on a platter. Press the yolks through a potato ricer into a bowl or place them in the bowl and mash them with a fork. Mix in 1/3 cup of the mayonnaise, the mustard, Tabasco, pepper, and salt. If the mixture seems a little dry, add the remaining mayonnaise. Fill the centers of the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Variations: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (see Resources, page 216) in 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and use it in place of the kosher salt. Reduce the quantity of black peppercorns to 1 teaspoon, add 1 teaspoon crushed dried green peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon green peppercorns in brine (drained); top each stuffed egg with 2 or 3 brined green peppercorns. Serves 4 to 6 Shrimp Roasted on Rock Salt Shrimp roasted on a bed of hot salt are succulent, tender, fragrant, and not at all salty; the salt serves to transfer heat efficiently, not to flavor the shrimp. They can be served simply, with just a squeeze of lemon, or with this sweet-and-sour sauce studded with peppercorns. 2 to 3 pounds rock salt 12 large shrimp in their shells 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns 1 tablespoon lemon juice (more or less, to taste) Pinch of salt Lemon wedges, for garnish Preheat the oven to 400°F. Select a heavy pan with a lid that is large enough to hold the shrimp in a single layer. It should be at least 2-inches deep. Add rock salt to form a 1-inch bed in the pan. Set the pan in the oven and heat for 30 minutes. When the salt is very hot, set the shrimp on top, cover, and roast for 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp, cover the pan again, and roast for 2 minutes more, until the shrimp turn pink and are hot and sizzling. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and add the honey, peppercorns, lemon, and pinch of salt. Place the shrimp on warmed serving plates, drizzle each portion with a little of the butter, and serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges. Serves 4 Grilled Portobellos with Black Pepper Polenta Portobello mushrooms are so meaty and substantial (and fairly inexpensive, too) that they make a hearty main course not only for vegetarians, but also for anyone--they are definitely not a compromise. Portobellos stand up to bold flavors, such as the vinegar and pepper in this marinade. Although I normally prefer fresh herbs to dried, I made this for the first time using a commercial mixture of bonnes herbes (chives, dill, basil, tarragon, chervil, and white pepper) from Penzeys Ltd., and was very pleased with the results. To use such a mixture, be certain it is fresh and full of good aromas; use 2 teaspoons in the marinade and 1 in the polenta, and continue as directed. 1/2 cup sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar, such as Vinaigre de Banyuls (see resources, page 216) 1 shallot, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon snipped chives 4 teaspoons freshly cracked black peppercorns 1 teaspoon minced fresh chervil 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil 4 teaspoons kosher salt 4 large portobello mushrooms (about 8 ounces altogether), cleaned and stems removed 1 1/2 cups coarse-ground polenta 1 tablespoon butter 2 ounces (1/2 cup) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or dry Jack, optional 1 lemon, cut into wedges Sprigs of fresh herbs, for garnish In a medium bowl, mix together the vinegar, shallot, garlic, 3 teaspoons of the pepper, 1/2 teaspoon each of the chervil, tarragon, and basil, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Set the mushrooms, gill-sides up, in a single layer in a nonreactive container and spoon the marinade over them. Turn 2 or 3 times so that the mushrooms are completely coated. Let them sit for at least an hour. Prepare the polenta about an hour before you want to serve dinner. Preheat the oven to 350°F and start a charcoal fire or heat a stove-top grill. Put the polenta in a 2-quart container such as a soufflé dish or a rectangular Pyrex baking dish, add the remaining tablespoon of salt, the butter, and 6 cups of cold water. Stir with a whisk and be certain to break up any lumps that form. Bake for 40 minutes, stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon peppercorns and 1/2 teaspoon each of the chervil, tarragon, and basil and optional cheese, and bake until all the water has been absorbed and the polenta is tender, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and set aside, keeping it hot. When the fire or grill is hot and the polenta has been cooking for about 20 minutes, grill the mushrooms, tops down, rotating once to mark them, for 10 to 15 minutes, until they begin to become tender. Turn them over and continue to grill, again rotating them once, until they are completely tender, from 10 to 15 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the caps. Transfer to a work surface. Cut the mushrooms on a slant into 1/4-inch-thick slices, as you would cut a duck breast or a thick steak. Arrange on a platter, garnish with lemon wedges and sprigs of herbs, and serve immediately, accompanied by the polenta. Serves 4 to 6 Steak au Poivre Blanc "It was my favorite seduction dinner when I was single," a friend told me when I mentioned steak au poivre, "and it always worked." Whether you are courting Aphrodite or merely fixing dinner, the many variations of steak au poivre will rarely if ever let you down. In this version, white peppercorns, whose flavors blossom with high heat, are the key ingredient. The result is a sultry dish with a great depth of flavor. If seduction is your goal, don't skimp on the red wine and don't overeat (or overfeed your guest); you want a little hunger to linger after the meal is over. 4 tablespoons white peppercorns 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 1 tablespoon kosher salt 4 thick steaks (New York, rib-eye, or market steaks), about 8 to 10 ounces each Olive oil 1/2 cup dry Marsala 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup half-and-half Using a mortar and pestle (or a tea towel and rolling pin) crush the peppercorns to medium coarseness. Combine the crushed peppercorns and the salt in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush each steak on both sides with a little olive oil. Using your fingers, cover both sides of each steak with the peppercorn mixture, pressing the pepper into the steak. Set the steaks in a single layer on a plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and heat a large, very heavy skillet over high heat. When the skillet just begins to smoke, add the steaks. Cook on one side for between 4 and 5 minutes, turn, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more for rare steaks (6 to 7 minutes for medium rare). Turn off the oven. Set the steaks on a warm platter and place them in the warm oven. Reduce the heat under the pan to medium, add the Marsala to the hot skillet, and deglaze the pan, using a whisk or wooden spoon to loosen pan drippings. When the Marsala has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, and reduce by one-third. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with half-and-half until you reach the desired consistency. Set each steak on an individual plate, top with some of the sauce, and serve immediately. Variation: You can use duck breast, from the Muscovy duck, instead of the steak. Remove the skin of the duck and continue as directed in the main recipe. Before serving, cut the duck in 1/4-inch slices, cutting at a slight slant. Spoon sauce onto individual serving plates and top with several slices of duck. A single duck breast will serve 2 to 3. Serves 4 Roasted Strawberries with Black Pepper Serve these strawberries with vanilla bean ice cream, black pepper ice cream, or a spoonful of mascarpone, and with cookies such as biscotti or spicy sugar cookies alongside. 2 pint baskets strawberries, stems removed 3 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Rinse the strawberries in cool water, place in a strainer or colander, and shake off most of the water. Slice the strawberries about 1/8 inch thick, place them in a large bowl, and sprinkle them with the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toss the strawberries with the black pepper, add the balsamic vinegar, and put the strawberries and all of their juices into a large sauté pan or a large ovenproof dish. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the strawberries are hot but not mushy. Divide among individual dishes and serve immediately. Serves 4 Playdough, Cooked To color dough with natural ingredients, use water in which you have boiled yellow onion skins or red or golden beets. 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup table salt 4 teaspoons cream of tartar 2 cups water 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 10 to 15 drops of food coloring (or more, as desired) Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out onto a smooth work surface (unfloured) and let cool. Knead the cool dough several times, then place it in a heavy-duty plastic bag. The dough will keep for several months if stored in a sealed bag between uses. Makes one 6- to 8-inch ball Excerpted from Salt and Pepper: 135 Perfectly Seasoned Recipes for the Cook's Best Friends by Michele Anna Jordan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Magical Saltp. 1
Common Salt, Common Sensep. 4
The Flowering Seap. 8
Salt, Salt Everywherep. 12
Red Rocks, Crimson Crystalsp. 14
Salt's Mysteryp. 15
Jewish Barbecue, the Best Bacon, and Other Salty Miraclesp. 16
Koshering and Kasheringp. 21
Snowflakes on the Windshieldp. 22
Brining for Flavorp. 26
The King of Spicep. 29
Citizenship of Pepperp. 32
The Question of Qualityp. 33
Cat Cityp. 35
Rice Wine and a Crescent Moonp. 40
A Brief History of the Worldp. 42
a salt and pepper cookbook
Seasoning to Tastep. 47
The Shaker Dilemmap. 49
Shake It, Don't Break Itp. 50
Freshly Ground Pepperp. 50
The Best Pepper Millsp. 51
Repetitive Pepper Syndromep. 52
Appetizersp. 53
Soupsp. 70
Pasta, Rice and Other Grainsp. 83
Main Coursesp. 96
Side Dishesp. 136
Saladsp. 147
Spice Mixtures, Condiments and Preservesp. 159
Dessertsp. 186
Beveragesp. 195
Craftsp. 205
appendix: tasting notes and recommendations
Common Culinary Saltsp. 211
Commonly Available Peppercornsp. 214
Resourcesp. 216
Glossaryp. 221
Bibliographyp. 228
Indexp. 231