Diary of a Hurricane

September 11, 2011


When I find myself cooped up inside my apartment in the city during a disaster, perceived or real, my first inclination is to cook. I still vividly remember the evening of September 11, 2001, when my best friend and I hunkered down at our kitchen table in our apartment in Bay Ridge, and methodically chopped and minced our way through several giant bunches of basil, making an exceedingly fine pesto, not speaking at all over the voices emanating from the radio. Trying to figure out what to do with our hands, our minds, our thoughts, ourselves while despair and sadness settled in over the city. I have never been able to make pesto without thinking of that night. Cooking soothes my nerves and allows me to make things beautiful and pleasing even when the world seems to be crumbling around us.

Last night I remade a clam chowder that I first made two weekends ago on the eve of Hurricane Irene’s presumed landing in New York City. Though the city ended up being spared the flooding that hit other parts of the Northeast, with all the precautions advised by the city government, my roommate E and I  stayed home and in our case cooked our way through the entire weekend with clam chowder, mushroom risotto, herbed scrambled eggs and cinnamon milk bread all making appearances in the kitchen.

I really like this particular clam chowder recipe. Its more of a clam-corn chowder and surprisingly hearty without being too thick or rich. The final dish results in a light, thinish cream broth with a pleasant “sludge” of potatoes and corn in every spoonful. I didn’t have clam juice so I used some mushroom broth instead which gave a nice earthy flavour.

The next time I make this soup I think I’ll save a bit of bacon and fry it crisp to sprinkle over the bowls of soup with some freshly chopped chives.

Clam and Corn Chowder (from Gourmet, Aug 2007)
Serves 4 . About 40 minutes start to finish.

3 bacon slices, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 bunch scallions (5 or 6)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups corn (from about 4 ears)
1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups mushroom broth or 16 oz of clam juice
1/2 cup water (you could omit this I think)
2 pounds small hard-shelled clams, well scrubbed
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cook bacon in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring, until slightly browned but not crisp. Chop white and pale green parts of scallions (reserve greens) and add to bacon along with 1 tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in corn, potatoes, clam juice/ mushroom broth, water, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a rolling boil, uncovered. Add clams and return to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until clams are just opened wide, 5 to 8 minutes (discard any clams that remain unopened after 8 minutes).
Chop 1/2 cup scallion greens and add to chowder along with milk, cream, and remaining tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring, until heated through (do not let boil). Season with salt and pepper.

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Garden Notes: Basil Pesto

August 20, 2011

I have noticed that there is a large, not very sociable locust (or grasshopper?) that fumbles about in my basil plants every time I go to pick veggies out of my community garden plot. He does leave appreciative nibbles all throughout the basil patch, so I can’t really be annoyed with someone who is obviously enjoying himself so much and who is so tidy about his munching. In the long run there is plenty of basil for both of us.

In the summer months, particularly in August when tomatoes, basil and summer squash are in abundance, I tend to make a lot of pasta dishes, tossing warm noodles with barely sauteed vegetables and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. My favourite noodles are cappelini, corkscrews (for warm pasta salad) and a new discovery: pappardelle (especially tasty with a hearty meat sauce).

Last night I made up a batch of pesto with basil from the garden which I tossed up with fresh peas and pappardelle for my supper. (I was overly generous with the garlic– used five large cloves, which I would say is excessive– so the following recipe (adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook with the yellow cover) is more correct. But if you like garlic and don’t mind walking around smelling of it for the next few days, then by all means add more.

For supper tonight, a wedge of toasted foccacia with fresh mozzarella, a generous slather of pesto, and slices of tomato has me rolling around on the kitchen floor in raptures.

Basil Pesto

3 garlic loves
1/2 cup pine nuts OR lightly toasted walnuts (can do in a dry fry pan over medium heat)
1 tsp salt (can cut salt to 1/2 tsp but the saltiness means you don’t need extra in your pasta)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiana-Reggiano
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (with or without a little stem)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Have ready a big bowl of ice water. Turn the water off and drop all the basil in (to blanch it) then quickly transfer the leaves to the ice bath to stop them cooking. Spread leaves out onto some paper towels and roll them up to dry them. The blanching keeps the leaves and the resulting pesto nice and green. If you don’t care about the colour or are planning to eat the whole batch at once, you could always skip the blanching process. In a food processor or blender (if blender, rough chop the ingredients ahead of time), chop the garlic finely. Stop motor then add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper and basil. Process until finely chopped. (if you want to freeze, keep the cheese out although I always just blend it in anyway.). With motor running, add oil in a steady stream, blending until incorporated by not completely smooth.

Makes about a cup. Keeps in fridge for 1+ week. Store with surface covered with plastic wrap.

When adding to pasta, for every two parts pesto, whisk in one part of hot pasta cooking water into the pesto you are about to use and then add to your pasta. But you probably already know that. 🙂

Odds and Ends

February 1, 2011

Friends sometimes ask me what sort of things I find handy to have in the cupboards. Here’s a surprising one: toasted sesame seeds. They can be found cheaply at any Asian grocery store and probably other ethnic food stores or decent sized groceries, though I haven’t looked since I am so spoiled with variety here in New York City. I find a jar full lasts for months and can be brought out and shaken over sauteed greens,  mixed salads and chicken curries. This evening I was craving a quick, fresh bite of salad to go with my supper (a tasty if a little dry mushroom omelette… I need some omelette making coaching) and I wasn’t in the mood to sort and wash lettuce leaves so I put together this carrot salad in about 4 minutes flat. Especially in the winter, a good crunchy bite of veg helps round out a meal nicely.

Carrot and Sesame Seed Salad for One or Two People

2 decent sized, preferably organic carrots

1 healthy drizzle of olive oil (1/2 T or 1 T?)

1 healthy drizzle of rice vinegar (1-2tsps?)

A few healthy shakes of toasted sesame seeds (1/2 or 1 T?)

A large pinch of salt and a few turns of fresh ground pepper.

Scrub the carrots and chop off the ends. Grate the carrots on the largest grater setting. With a fork, toss in a bowl with olive oil and vinegar. Shake in the sesame seeds, toss some more. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

(If you want to get fancy, you can add shredded red cabbage for colour. A pinch of cumin or dried coriander probably wouldn’t hurt either.)

Pumpkin Curry

January 30, 2011

Lest you think that all I do is stew up large vats of meat, might I share with you a most delightful recipe for pumpkin curry that I just discovered a couple of weeks ago. I had clipped the recipe from (believe it or not) an old issue of Bon Apetit and had been thinking of making it for over a year. The perfect opportunity came up when I went up to spend a cozy weekend at my friend M’s place in Connecticut, the weekend after our second to last snow storm. The snow was piled 28″ high in the woods behind her house– clean, fluffy, white, snow cone worthy snow– and the atmosphere was begging for a nice, slow cooked stewy dish for lunch. After a pleasant morning of  snow shoeing,  we lit a fire in her little pella stove, made mugs of tea and tucked into platefuls of this  luscious curry served with buttered brown rice. The curry is 100% vegan and is so hearty and rich, you will barely have space for seconds. I revamped the recipe the very next weekend, cutting the coconut cream to half a cup which I think makes it a little less rich but also helps to limit the risk of heartburn after your second plateful…

Pumpkin and Cashew Curry

(adapted from Bon Appetit, Oct 2009)

2 T vegetable oil, divided

4 1/2 cups 3/4-inch cubes peeled mix of pumpkin and butternut squash

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

8 curry leaves (I used dried)

2 small red onions, sliced thin (or one red and one yellow onion)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 T finely grated peeled fresh ginger

3 dried chiles (the long, thin red ones from Indian or Mexican stores)

3/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 15 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup creamed coconut

1 15 oz can of chick peas, drained

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro plus additional for garnish

Juice from  half a lime

2 tsp (or to your taste) of Kosher salt

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves; cook until seeds pop and leaves sizzle, 30 seconds. Add onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until onions are golden, 4 minutes. Add chiles, cashews, turmeric, and cumin; stir-fry 1 minute. Add coconut milk and coconut cream. Increase heat to medium high. Boil until thickened, 2 minutes. Return pumpkin to pan and add chick peas; reduce heat to medium. Simmer until pumpkin is tender, 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and lime juice. Sprinkle in the Kosher salt and a turn or two of fresh ground pepper.

Spoon over rice; garnish with additional cilantro. (I like to toss a pat of butter into the hot rice and mix in the cilantro as well as some salt and pepper. Looks pretty and makes the rice SO delicious. )

I sit here at my computer completely mortified as it has been so long since I posted and what I am about to post is from a dinner party ONE whole year ago. The text was written all the way back then, but here I am posting it now a year later. Since then, of the couples involved in the dinner party, one set has gotten married and two others have had babies! Things are moving fast, my dears, only goodness knows what is coming next.

The Beef Eaters Club


Several weeks ago, the Beef Eaters Club met for our quarterly beef dinner at my house. The beef eaters club is me and a group of friends from graduate school who decided earlier on this year that it was necessary to meet periodically to indulge in the consumption of beef. Since about half of us are unemployed or part time architects and the other half are employed architects (which isn’t saying much in terms of salary, if you get my drift), a quarterly meeting to indulge in steak and red wine is about all we can afford, and just about all we need, red meat and wine being items to be enjoyed in moderation. The kick off Beef Eaters Club in July was a small but delightful gathering of four of us at Les Halles in midtown. Our October club meeting came shortly after myself, Nancy, and Amanda had seen “Julia and Julie” (yes, you know where this is going) and coincided with a particularly broke moment for most club members.
We decided to stay in…


The result was a ten quart creuset pot brimming to the top with the most delectable braised beef dish that I am yet to encounter. Julia Child’s boeuf bourgignonne” is magnificent.

I’ll admit, much as I love “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” I have found some of Julia Child’s recipes a bit fussy in the past. Generally I do quite well with pastry recipes, but past experiences with her pâte sucre (sweet pastry) and her tarte tatin (upside down apple tart) have been less than desirable, with ponderous, heavy pastries as the result. That said, Nancy’s heart was set on boeuf bourgignonne, and having seen the reverence paid this dish by all the characters in the movie, we determined to enter this bliss ourselves.
Boeuf bourgignonne is bliss. We doubled the recipe and used three different cuts of meat and good slab bacon (lardons).

Jason and Nancy came over a few hours early to help prepare the dish, and… We followed the recipe almost verbatim (yes Julia, we braised the white onions separately in butter and wine… yes, the mushrooms sautéed in their own pan too… these are the extra steps I tend to cut out , but for this dish, you must keep the onions and mushrooms separate until that final combining just before serving. The result is a uniqueness in each flavour, which mysteriously blend into one beautiful composition at the end. Julia is brilliant…) The two steps I cut out: we did not soak or boil the bacon before sautéing it. I figured that 4 hours in the oven would be sufficient to break down the rind. The other thing we did not do is strain the stew after it came out of the oven. I mean, really.


By 6.30 when everyone was arriving, the aroma had traveled all the way downstairs to the front lobby of my apartment building. Beefeaters arrived, noses twitching appreciatively even before they stepped into the building. We started with my favourite goat cheese with thyme and olives as an appetizer, moved on to a refreshing winter salad with gorgonzola, pears and pecans, and then had the beef with herbed sweet potato and potato gratin, and sautéed swiss chard with pine nuts and golden currents. Dessert was a plum galette with hazelnut gelato.

By midnight, all the men had gravitated to the floor of the living room (I suppose lying prone allows more flexibility to rub your tummy appreciatively).

Says Nancy:

“It was a wonderfully warm night of cooking, collaboration and conversation. Sure, it was an involved recipe, requiring numerous pans and even more hands, but it was relaxing to chop and chat that afternoon in your big, beautiful kitchen. Over the course of the day, I enjoyed the simmering smells and watching the crowd of friends grow. And then, in a truly cinematic moment, we revealed the Bourgignon to a collective gasp and applause. After all the preparation and presentation, tasting the dish surpassed my expectations: the meat was succulent and so full of flavor; the tender vegetables maintained their integrity in the midst of that savory sauce. My only regret is that there weren’t leftovers.”

And bless their hearts, the boys washed all the dishes.

Sage and Tomatoes

June 12, 2010

Summer cooking is such a pleasure. Vegetables virtually beg to be eaten raw or just barely cooked, and after a long day at work, you can easily come home and make yourself an attractive plate of food in less than 20 minutes.

This was a quick pasta sauce I made after discovering a cheese and garlic sausage at Faicco’s Italian Specialties on Bleeker Street. Just a 1/4- 1/2 pound of this tasty sausage makes up a plate for two– the meat is full of flavour, a bit salty and rich so you barely need to add any salt and you can scrimp on the oil. Set a pot of salted water to boil and when its boiling, cook up about a 1/2 lb (or less) of whole wheat corkscrew pasta. Meanwhile, slice up about a 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes. Slice up a large sprig of sage into thin strips and a sprig of oregano if you some. In about a tsp of olive oil, saute up the sausage (remove from its casing or chop into small bits) with a grated garlic clove, and a quarter of a white onion, sliced in rings for about 5 minutes till meat is just done and onions are softened. Toss in the tomatoes, saute another few  minutes, toss in the sage and oregano, saute another few minutes until tomatoes start to release their juices. I’d add a tablespoon of water or stock and cook another few minutes (I just started freezing homemade chicken stock in ice cube trays. I throw a cube or two into everything.)
Toss in the cooked pasta and a bit of pasta cooking water, mix and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh grated parmesan.

Eating Fish

January 18, 2010

Since I’ve been back from Cape Town, I have been craving chips (french fries or potato wedges) which I had quite a lot of when I was visiting South Africa. The South Africans love their fried potatoes so much they even have a sandwich composed of white bread, a very thick layer of chips and ketchup. I had a portion of one of these sandwiches at Maryam’s Kitchen, downtown Capetown, and delicious as it was, I didn’t need to eat for hours since it sat very solidly in the bottom of my tummy the rest of the afternoon. Thankfully, I’ve returned to Brooklyn to brimming sackfuls of potatoes from my CSA share, and have thus far made myself fried chips and eggs for breakfast two times in four days…

I ate a lot of very tasty fish while I was in Cape Town, including the prerequisite trip to Kaulky’s in Kaulk Bay for freshly caught fried fish and chips at the water front. While in Kaulk Bay, I had this lovely plate of preserved sardines and lemons at the Klipkantein for breakfast one morning with a good cup of rooibus tea. I’d say we all need to eat more fish for breakfast in general.

I resisted cooking too much in Cape Town (after the cooking extravaganza in London over Christmas), but we bought a fabulous bit of yellowtail tuna which I broiled with leeks for our dinner one night. My sister in law made a delicious salad to go with the fish (black sesame seeds, salad greens, red peppers, strawberries, chick pea sprouts, wasabi… I have to beg her for the recipe) and a steaming potful of sticky rice.

Broiled Tuna with Ginger and Leeks
4 large fillets, cut into two or three so you have about 8 to 10 pieces. Rinse and pat dry. Season very lightly with salt and pepper.

Marinate in the following for at least 15 minutes:
1/4 – 1/3 c soy sauce
1-2 Teaspoons hot chilli sauce
4 garlic cloves minced (we used roasted garlic)
1-2 Teaspoons white sesame seeds
2-3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 heaping Tsp grated fresh ginger
Generous pinch of sugar

(Quantities are approximate, this is very much a pinch of this and a dash of that sort of recipe)

While fish marinates, slice up one large leek (wash and drain sliced leeks in at least 2 changes of water so you don’t end up with sand) and saute this on low heat in about 1-2 tsp of oil or butter. When the leeks have started to soften, add a heaping tsp of fresh grated ginger to the pan and keep sauteing until leeks are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat broil to high setting. Arrange fish skin down on a baking pan (line with parchment paper or foil). Pour any marinade from the bowl over the fish and drizzle with another tablespoon or so of sesame oil.
Broil in top part of oven about 10-15 minutes until fish is brown and cooked inside (test with a fork, if fish just starts to flake, take it out of the oven. You don’t want to over cook.)

Arrange broiled fish on a platter and spoon sauteed leeks over the fish. Serve with salad and sticky rice. You could probably use any other nice white fish such as tilapia, or mahi mahi.

Scaling Fish

January 12, 2010

(I won’t even explain where I’ve been. There’s no point, I am officially useless at keeping up this blog…)

I spent Christmas in London with my Uncle and Aunt y and cousins. Christmas in London is always a fabulous mix of Nigeria meeting British culture: I revel in endless cups of tea and English shortbread while we cook up pots of jollof rice, egusi soup and other homey favourites.

This year a good friend of the family, Uncle Olu, decided to cook the bulk of our Christmas dinner. Uncle Olu is a seasoned cook. Even better, he can cook endlessly, with seemingly no end of energy. I am in awe.

Our Christmas menu involved jollof rice (a pilaf cooked in tomato sauce), moi moi (steamed bean cakes– in this case Uncle Olu filled them with boiled eggs and fresh stewed tuna), yam potage (white yam stewed in tomatoes), fried plantains (my aunty sprinkled in cinnamon– very new thing for me), lemon and herb roasted turkey (I always end up doing the turkey… ),fruit salad, green salad, roast potatoes, piles and piles of Uncle Olu’s fried tilapia and  my Christmas butter cookies (Gourmet, December 2005, may she rest in peace).

Two days before Christmas, my uncle and aunty, Uncle Olu and myself piled into the car at half past six to drive out to the Billingsgate Fish Market on the eastern end of London to buy fish whole sale for the holiday meals. We bought a case of whole tillapia, another of sea bream, more of  prawns, and a small whole tuna. This of course meant that we ate fish non stop for practically the rest of the week, but it was all delicious and I learned some good tips from Uncle Olu about how to scale fish.
First you fill the sink with cold water and submerge the fish. Then you scale the fish by working from the tail towards the gills with a table knife, going against the grain of the fish to fleck off the scales. This is surprisingly easy and very satisfying to feel the smooth skin once the scales are off. Its a little trickier around the gills and the eyes on the head. We saved all the heads either for stewing or seasoned and fried them up with the rest of the fish. After scaling, we cut the fish at the neck and squeeze the gills out. For the larger fish, you slice a third of the way down the belly and squeeze out the innards. Not the most pleasant but it goes quickly. Next Uncle Olu gives the fish another good rinse in cold water then soaks them in lemon juice and water. After which we seasoned with salt, pepper and bouillon cubes from home (okay fine, Knorr cubes for those of you who are in the know…)


And thats it! We stewed some in a lovely thin red tomato sauce which resulted in sweet, tender pieces of fish which we ate with white rice. The rest we pan fried or grilled for Christmas dinner. (I convinced Uncle Olu to let me season some with ginger, scallions, and soy sauce… when it was cooked he admitted with surprise that it was delicious. Whew!)
It was a feast.

Meanwhile, I’m in Capetown visiting my brother and sister in law. I’ve had some interesting adventures with vegan cupcakes…

White Foods

October 31, 2009

“If you want your cabbage chopped, washed, dried, sprinkled with salt or vinegar, there is nothing healthier. To enjoy it more, sprinkle with honey vinegar. Washed and dried, with chopped rue and coriander and sprinkled with salt. It does you good, permits no disease to remain in the body, and does the bowels good. If there was any disease present internally, cabbage will cure all, remove all sicknesses from the head and the eyes and cure them. Take it in the morning before eating.”

Cato (234 BC to 149 BC) from On Farming

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I love a good food quote, although I just read some rather asinine things Cato had to say on keeping slaves—he was notorious for his brutal views (ah the Romans)—but I’ll give it to him that his recipe sounds intriguing.

We’re coming to the end of our wonderful CSA (community supported agriculture) deliveries and the lettuce has given way to copious quantities of cabbage, turnips and cauliflower. Did I mention copious quantities of cabbage? I mean… lots of it. And cauliflower. I’ve been thinking out loud about these pale vegetables and the kind of nutrition that they give us, so I did a bit of research into cabbage. Cabbage, apparently is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in dietary fibre, vitamins C,K,A, B6, calcium, iron (who knew?) magnesium, manganese, folate, potassium, and thiamin. Cabbage also has a varied history and appears in raw, cooked, and pickled form on virtually every continent—from Chinese versions of bok and napa cabbages, to Korean kim chee, to Russian stuffed cabbage and borscht soups, to Irish corned beef and cabbage, not to mention Indian poriyals and uppama and of course the ubiquitous sloppy coleslaw found all across American diners.
Here is a terrific link to history and lore on cabbages that I found—it made me rethink my current ennui with cabbage. http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch33.html.

A quick and delicious dish I’ve come up with to eat through my cabbages before the next CSA delivery arrives is as follows:

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Sautéed Cabbage

½- 1 head of cabbage (any kind), shredded into long thin bits
1-2 ears of corn cut fresh off the cob.
1 garlic clove grated or minced
1 shallot or small onion sliced in thin rings
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 curry leaves if you have them
A handful of unsweetened dry coconut or a handful of chopped cashews.
2-3 tablespoons oil

Sauté the shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil till onions start to soften and garlic is starting to brown. Add the shredded cabbage and sauté till beginning to soften, then add in the corn. Sauté till cabbage is cooked, though not soggy. In a separate pan heat 1 to 2 tsp oil and add the mustard and fennel seeds and curry leaves. Heat till the mustard seeds start to sputter, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut or cashews and sauté just until coconut starts to brown. Pour the spice and coconut mixture over the cabbage and corn. Mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

This is tasty as a side dish or as a light supper served with rice.

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I was channeling a little bit of Julie and Julia the other day, and Whole Foods had a sale on boneless chuck, so I bought one and half pounds of beef and made myself a mini pot roast for the week. I am generally not a huge beef eater (although I seem to be eating more of it recently, stay tuned for the beef eaters quarterly news letter featuring beef bourguignon…) Beef has always felt like a luxury to me since I like to get good quality meat that is grass fed and humanely raised—the price is generally out of range for my weekly food budget. The scarcity of it in my diet, however, does make me appreciate it all the more when I have the occasion to cook it. A tasty pot roast or stew will go a long way in my household of one and means lunch for an entire week.

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This particular roast is one of my favourite pot roast recipes, discovered a couple years ago when looking for a recipe for a Seder supper. I’ve only added garlic and substituted canned diced tomatoes for tomato paste in an otherwise perfect recipe from epicurious.com. What I love about the recipe is the tangy tomato sauce that cooks down with the dates into an unctuous sweet-savoury pudding. The recipe is nice served with rice and some cooked veg like ratatouille (a zucchini, a small eggplant, a couple of tomatoes, some fresh rosemary-thyme-oregano, garlic, and sliced onions, cooked just till the vegetables start to fall apart.) I also like the meat sliced cold in a sandwich, with a little bit of mayonnaise and the thick tomato sauce used in place of a condiment.

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Pot Roast with Oranges and Dates

1 ½- 2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast,
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cups chicken broth or white wine
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle roast on each side with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Heat 1 tablespoons oil in heavy wide ovenproof pot or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add roast. Cook until brown, about 8 minutes per side; transfer to plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil and onions and garlic to pot. Sauté until dark brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Mix in vinegar and allspice; boil until reduced to glaze, scraping up browned bits. Add broth, orange juice, and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Return roast and accumulated juices to pot. Scatter dates around roast; sprinkle with parsley.
Cover pot; place in oven. Braise roast 1 hour. Turn roast over, cover, and braise until tender, about 1 hour. Tilt pot; spoon off fat from top of sauce. Cool uncovered 1 hour or just let rest in pan for 15 minutes before slicing and serving with sauce.