Normandie Kitchen

Shared food in a share house

Tag: eliseo


This is a bright, herbal, pungent sauce that works well with any kind of grilled meat. Or bread, or cheese. Or potatoes. Or on cold pasta, or on warm pasta. It would probably be great with fish, too. It’s originally an Argentian sauce, and we always make it when we prepare grilled skirt steak; but we inevitably end up dumping it on everything, and even simply eating it with a spoon.

chimichirri and hangar steak

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Beef cheeks (carrillada) with port, apple, and honey

This is a simple to prepare Andalusian tapas. It also makes a perfect main, or a component of a big Andalusian feast (we’ve done it — it’s spectacular). This recipe takes the more common soffrito-and-wine preparation for cheek meat, and gives it a light, sweet, early autumn afternoon flavour with the addition of honey and apple.


Brad, Eliseo

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Mayonnaise and aioli

Mayonnaise is a simple sauce, made by combining egg yolks and oil. It is used widely — from salad dressings, to spreads, to dips. It’s very quick, easy, and safe to make — and the homemade version is a far, far better sauce to make than you can ever buy. There’s really no excuse for bottled mayo. Aioli is just a spiffed-up version of mayonnaise, with garlic, lemon, and sometimes herbs. You can play around with almost any combination of oils, and seasonings, and make spectacularly good aioli, in about 5 minutes.

Lime and cilantro aioli

When Maggie lived at the Normandie house, she made aioli regularly (we ended up calling it Maggie sauce). At some point, we had to tell her she was forbidden to make it again, because we were eating it by the spoonful, right out of the bowl.
–Maggie, Eliseo

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Cauliflower kuku (frittata)

This is a very good, simple-to-prepare, dish. It’s a great main, or side-dish, or tapas. It’s got a rich flavour from the browned onions and cauliflower, and a great texture — somewhere between a torta and a quiche. It’s also a pretty effortless dish, so it’s a great addition to any big meal, Persian or otherwise.
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Ground lamb kebab (kubideh)

This kebab has a perfect oniony-meaty flavour, and a fantastic texture — a completely satisfying, kebab experience. Because of a dispiriting lack of decent Mediterranean street food in LA, we turn to this recipe to beat the doner kebab cravings. Kubideh is perfect served with rice, or in a wrap. It’s (of course) best done over charcoal, but it’s easy to make under a broiler, too.
Brad, Eliseo

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Chile con carne (Texas red)

Few foods are as iconic, and deeply embedded in the American Southwest, and northern Mexico as chili rojo con carne. The origins of this recipe are with the vaqueros and rancheros of northern Mexico; and it’s traditionally been made with little more than chunks of steak, chili, and cumin; onion, garlic and oregano.

The definition of “classic chili” can be contentious, and ground for heated, almost violent, debate. If you grew up in the north, midwest, or especially the northeast, you’re probably thinking of a tomatoey stew, with red beans, and optional ground beef. Maybe with corn. That “chili” has nothing to do with the dark, earthy, moderate-to spicy classic version. There are no beans. There is no corn. There’s very little tomato. This version is within that tradition — similar to Texas red, or Eliseo’s mother’s chili.


Brad, Eliseo

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Steamed-bun (bao)

This is one of the simpler recipes for steamed-bun (bao) dough we’ve found. It produces a fluffy, sweet, nicely textured bao, and you can stuff it with the typical Chinese char siu, or the Vietnamese banh bao filling — or a shiitake filling. You can pretty much stick anything inside them, and it will be good. In Japan, in the winter, steam cabinets with a variety of bao, or man, are everywhere. When I lived in Yonago, there were almost always pork, curry, pizza, mushroom, and blueberry.

char siu bao

Brad, Eliseo, Wendy

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Conserved bitter orange peel

The end result of conserving peel in syrup is a fragrant, tender preserve that you can use in cooking, cough remedies, or for eating directly. If you use the juice of bitter orange for cooking, it’s a shame to waste all the peel, because the zest of the bitter orange has a clean, intense flavour that most sweet oranges can’t match. You can almost easily eliminate the bitterness of the pith, if you like, by soaking the peel in several changes of water.candied_peel


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Cochinita pibil

Pork in banana leaf is one of the most common foods to be found in Yucatan. Slow cooked, falling-apart tender meat, with a tang of bitter orange, the earthiness of annatto, and an aroma of allspice. It’s like a Caribbean version of northern Mexican barbacoa, or Texan barbecue. The brilliant red of the sauce looks alarmingly spicy, but in fact cochinita pibil is not hot at all. In itself. The spice comes with the blazingly hot habanero salsa you may or may not want to add. This makes great tacos, or salbutes, served simply with pickled onion and salsa. But cochinita pibil is even better as a torta (sandwich).
Brad and Eliseo
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Eliseo Melero

Eliseo is the owner of the Normandie House, and along with Brad, the lonthe maestro with a future mealgest resident. He’s also the most accomplished cook in the house: he enrolled in the Cordon Bleu after arriving in the States from Mexico because he didn’t know how to boil water and wanted to cook for himself. He graduated and went to cook, and then work as executive chef in fine dining restaurants, from Colorado to Alaska to Arizona.

Eliseo is the master of classical techniques — sauces and stocks and desserts and delicate cuts of meat. He’s also the most creative garnisher in the house. Anything you see pictures of, with elaborate heaps of flowers or drizzles of candy are his.
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