Saturday, November 27, 2010

Grilled Caprese Sandwich

Here’s the way I’m making these at the House of Chez Casa.

(If you don’t want garlic on the outside of your sandwich, and thus on your fingers, read the first note for an alternative.)

Blend together:
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
Set aside. [1]
  1. Choose some good, flavorful bread. [2] Use two slices per sandwich.
  2. Cover each slice of bread with fresh basil leaves.
  3. Thickly cut fresh tomato slices (~¼" thick). Blot dry and then salt the tomato. Place on half the bread slices.
  4. Thickly cut bufala mozzarella slices. [3] Place on the other half of the bread slices.
  5. Close the sandwich(es) up and brush both sides with the garlicked oil.
  6. Toast, grill, or, as I do, press. [4] In a press, put the sandwich tomato side down.
When the cheese is starting to leak out of the sandwich, it’s done. In our press, the bread is also nicely toasted at this point.


[1] This was tonight’s refinement; it is a keeper, and is the reason I’m posting the recipe now, even though a recipe isn’t really needed. In the past I’ve crushed garlic and brushed it onto the bread with the EVOO. The flavor of the garlic just didn’t come through. But doing it this way, blending the garlic into the oil and letting it sit? Now we can taste the garlic!

An alternative that has also been very good is to very thinly slice the garlic (like Paul Cicero / Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas) and layer it between the tomato and mozzarella.

[2] Our normal bread in this market is Heather’s 50% Whole Wheat Sourdough. We pick it up either at the Rosewood Market (deliveries T, Th, Sat) or at the local market on Saturday mornings. But if we lived in a different market, I swear I could live on LaMadeleine’s seven grain bread. It’s one of the things we miss about living in Dallas, and we brought a loaf home from our Atlanta Thanksgiving trip. I used the seven grain bread tonight. Yummers!

[3] You really, really, really want the sort of bufala mozzarella that comes packed in water. It gets marvelously stretchy and has a flavor that the hard blocks of mozzarella do not have. I slice it with a kitchen tool that looks very much like this one.

[4] I suppose some day I’d like a sandwich press / vegetable grill with plates that remove for easier cleaning, but this one does me fine for now. Without the press, I would grill this open face to start with and then close it up partway through, finishing with the tomato side down.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ginger/Nut Sauce for Asparagus

I don’t know why I’m keeping the original recipe (below). I usually just edit and move on, but this time I feel compelled to retain the history. Perhaps I’ll discuss this with a therapist some day, but that would mean starting therapy, and heaven knows that’s a road with no end. So here’s the latest incarnation, which seems to be enough for ~10 servings or so.

Put into a blending cup:
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • ¼ tsp (heaping) red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium bulb of ginger root (~1 ½" diameter, looks like 2 Tbsp or so), roughly chopped
Blend until completely smooth. Add:
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) dry roasted peanuts
Blend until completely smooth again.

Toast 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (~3:40 did the trick for me) and put into the juice of ½ a lemon. Whisk into the mixture above.

Enjoy! (and consider adding more red pepper)

Some time back, when we were expecting a small crowd here at the House of Chez Casa, SWMBO opened a cookbook and found a sauce she wanted me to try for some asparagus. We didn’t have all the ingredients, and I was cooking about a dozen different things that day, so I adapted a bit for what we had around the old homestead. It was a hit, and now that I’ve been asked to replicate it for Thanksgiving, I figured I should try to remember what I did.

Toss all of these things together and puree them.
  • ¼ c. tahini
  • ¼ c. chunky peanut butter
  • ¼ c. crushed peanuts
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • ¼ c. rice vinegar
  • ¼ c. water
  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • ¼ c. sugar (I use the unbleached stuff; I might try honey next time)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped ginger root
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. crushed garlic
  • ¼ tsp.crushed red pepper flakes
Taste the stuff & adjust flavors and consistency by tossing in extra little bits of the ingredients.


Our friend BoomBoom Cannon keeps an old mustard bottle on hand for drizzling pretty lines of sauces like this over the food. I’m lowbrow enough to just ladle it on with a spoon.

Edit, post-Thanksgiving notes:

On amount:
We had five bundles of asparagus to steam, and had nearly half the sauce and a quarter of the asparagus left over. Make less sauce.

On flavor:
I should have at least doubled the red pepper (proportionally). Even Gary, who admits to being afraid of Thai-level spice, thought it could have done with more pepper.

Mark brought broccoli steamed & tossed with lemon (juice & zest) and garlic — just the way Vincent taught us. The very sharp garlic there blended with the ginger/peanut sauce in a great way. Think about adding more garlic and substituting lemon for some of the vinegar.

Before he stumbled onto the combination of sauces, Gary suggested boosting the sesame flavor with some toasted sesame oil. I had considered adding some sesame seeds to the finished product to some texture interest. Perhaps some toasted sesame seed added at the end would do the trick.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Caramelized Sweet Onion Chutney

Some weeks back, SWMBO complained noted that she had quite a bit of trouble making my onion chutney. I can’t imagine why! Just because I never turned the thing into a proper recipe and she had to open (and juggle) no less than three posts to figure out what to do, that’s no reason to go and get all admonitory. (The originals are here: post 1, with red onion confit; post B, the first caramelized chutney; post III, caramelizing in the crock pot)

Still, her point was well-taken, and so dorky boy will now try to rectify the situation.

As soon as you get home from work one evening, put
  • 2 lbs. of sweet onions, thinly sliced, and
  • ¼ lb. of butter, cut into pats
into a crock pot on low. Stir occasionally throughout the evening, but otherwise keep tightly covered. Before you go to bed, make very certain that the cover is completely in place (our old Rival with a glass lid will let steam escape if the lid is not precisely centered; the new Hamilton Beach is more forgiving).

When you get up the next morning (some eighteen hours after you started cooking the onions), give them a stir and add:
  • ½ c. honey
  • ½ c. tawny port
  • c. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 c. golden raisins, and
  • 1 medium ginger root, grated (yes, this is new to the recipe, and optional; adding ginger to the blueberry chutney was a wonderful step and should be here as well).
Stir, recover tightly, and go back to work.

When you get home that evening (some twenty-four hours after you started), check for consistency. I find that I usually need to turn the temperature up to high and stir every now and again (while cooking dinner and annoying the cat with music turned up way too loudly) to let it simmer down and thicken up a bit. Seldom have I added salt & pepper at this point, although I’d be willing to bet that SWMBO would appreciate a bit of pepper. We’ll see next time.


Pesto is easy enough to make. Grind up some basil, pine nuts, sharp grated cheese, garlic, and olive oil. Adjust proportions to taste. Keep it on hand for spreading on crackers, for putting on fish, for tossing onto a quick pasta, for... Well, let’s just say that we go through a lot of the stuff here at the House of Chez Casa. So I’ve been playing with the proportions quite a bit. Here’s what works for us at the moment.

Grind together:
  • 1 loosely pressed qt. (1 tightly pressed pt.) basil, washed
  • ½ lb. (8 oz.) Locatelli Romano, grated
  • 1 ½ medium heads of garlic, crushed
  • 4 oz. (~1 c.) walnut pieces, toasted (in our toaster oven, about 4 min. 20 sec. gets them really dark & nutty without being burnt)
  • 4 oz. pignoli (~1 c. pine nuts), opened
  • ~1 c. EVOO, drizzled into the food processor slowly
Yield: approximately 3 c. of pesto.

I prefer doing this in a food processor, but have had nearly as good a result using a regular old blender.

You can adjust the amount of nuts and oil to change the texture. This version comes out thick enough that it doesn’t fall off a spoon when it comes out of the fridge. Too much oil, and it will flow off whatever you put it on. Too much nut and it won’t be sticky enough to stay on your cracker.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roman Cheese

This is my version of a recipe for spiced cheese that goes back a couple of millenia. I used to buy a similar product from the Antiqua Culinaria Romana / Castra-Rota at our local market on Saturday mornings, but they stopped showing up (for reasons I haven’t heard). Anyway, I missed their cheese balls, went to the Latin sources, and tried my own adaptation. Here’s where we are now:

Put into a food processor
  • 10.5 oz Ile de France spiced goat cheese buchette (plain will do, but it’s not quite as good)
  • 6 large cloves garlic (~1/2 medium head), mashed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 stalk celery (with leaves if possible; thinly slice the celery before putting it into the processor to avoid having strings)
Process until smooth.

  • ~2 Tbsp EVOO to texture & taste
It’s quite tasty.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Random notes on Christmas Music

A friend from high school posted a link to Shonen Knife's "It's a New Find" at nearly the same time that a niece posted a status saying "Tired of the same ole thing!!! Ready for a change!" This odd juxtaposition in the Facebook Continuum provoked me into replying to both status. (Yes, the Latin plural of the noun /status/ is, in fact, /status/. It's 4th declension. Deal with it.) And THAT lead to a conversation with another friend from high school (who is also sister of the first friend and wife of another friend -- that's the way it goes when you grow up in a small town, no matter how big that town subsequently becomes; friends are multi-connected in lots of vaguely incestuous ways).

Be all that as it may, the conversation produced some links I know I'm going to want to find again in a few months. So, I'm pasting is some stuff here so that I'll be able to find it later. It's useful, but not normally so at this time of year. And it mainly has to do with two of my favorite (but very different) Christmas songs.

~~~Enter ComBox~~~

**Comment 1, MMe: Space Christmas is one of my seasonal favorites. I've inflicted it on students nearly every year.

**Comment 2, Multi-Connected Friend: @ Michael -- Is Space Christmas on a particular album? I am guessing the band name is Shonen Knife...

** Comment 3, MMe:
Shonen Knife *is* the band:
They've been turning out songs for 30 years with a "Ramones do Japanese girl pop" sound.

“Space Christmas” is a song from their earlier days; it was a single, then got picked up on a mid-90s sampler (that I suspect you would like).

You can hear the song (with a vid of them doing some other song(s) live) on YouTube.

**Comment 4, MCF:
Thanks, Michael! I am looking for Christmas songs to make a compilation CD for a friend. The biggest chore will be to go through the CDs I already own, to see what I want to include. But I have my eyes open for other stuff, too. In fact, I noticed (on fb, sometime, somewhere) that you liked a song titled something like: "Won't be Home for Christmas This Year" or something like that. I've been meaning to look for that one, too.

Sigh. I may or may not get this done for my friend. I've been wanting to do it for a couple of years now.

By the way, do you have the Christmas album, "We Three Kings" by the Roches? Their version of the title song is really nice.

** Comment 5, MMe:
I have a collection that I call HHHMA: A Depressive's Christmas. I use it as an antidote to all the enforced cheerfulness. This is just long enough to fit on a CD (66 minutes, 19 songs). If you like, I can burn you a copy and send it your way.

My full Christmas mix is 16.4 hours and 293 songs long and includes a lot more chipper stuff (mariachi, polka, swing, folk, standards, jazz)....

But the song you are remembering is by Phil Madeira from his 3 Horseshoes album. It's official title is “Christmas This Year.”
If you have an e-dress that accepts large attachments, I can send you an iTunes readable AAC file.

If you do or pandora, you might also be able to listen there.

[Update, 25 Dec 2016: I miss the tin whistle, other instrumentation, and the studio recording of pub voices singing along, but a live solo version hit YouTube four years ago. So you can get a feeling for the song here. But you really want to buy 3 Horseshoes. It’s a great album.]

**Comment 6, MMe (again):
Oh, and I completely missed answering your question about the Roches. No, that is a collection I don't have.

I couldn't find lyrics to Madeira's song anywhere online, so I've just transcribed them. I keep wanting to quote them anyway, so this will make it easier.

“Christmas This Year”
by Phil Madeira

Every December like moths to a flame
we used to drive north every year just the same,
but we’re sick of the traffic so we’re staying right here,
and we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas this year.

Packages, sweaters, ski boots, and gloves --
packed to the gills ’til the car door won’t shut.
By the time we’ve gassed up we’ve got no yuletide cheer.
So we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas this year.

OK I admit it, it ain’t just the drive;
by the time we get back here we’re barely alive.
’Cause sometimes vacations can summon old tears,
and we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas this year.

Don’t worry, we’ll call ya, we’ll put the kids on;
whatever it takes to strengthen our bond.
And in that sweet moment we’ll wish we were there.
Still we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas this year.

Tell Santa to forward the gifts to our house.
And maybe once in a decade you ought to drive south.
Just give us some notice, God knows we’ll be here.
’Cause we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas this year.

Now don’t don’t be offended, and don’t be upset;
I never intended to make you regret
those wonderful moments so special and dear.
Still we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas,
Christmas this year.

No we ain’t comin’ home.
Yeah we ain’t comin’ home for Christmas this year

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peanut Butter Bars

This one comes from a steak buffet place in Weston, WV via my step-mother. I adapted the proportions to fit a single 12 x 17 pan.

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together:
  • 1/2 lb. of butter
  • 2/3 of a 16 oz. jar of smooth peanut butter (~10-11 oz.)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 c. brown sugar (approximately one 16 oz. bag)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2. Slowly sift in 2 c. self-rising flour and continue creaming together.

3. Switch your stand mixer from regular beaters to small dough hooks and add 2 c. oatmeal (this will get very stiff, so I end up switching to a very stout wooden spoon).

4. Press the mixture into a buttered or non-stick 12 x 17 / 13 x 18 jelly roll pan.

5. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. The consistency will be like a chocolate chip cookie bar.

6. For the icing, mix until smooth & consistent:
  • 1 & 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • the rest of the jar of peanut butter (~5-6 oz.)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. milk
5. Pour over the partially-cooled bars and spread evenly.

Cut into squares & enjoy!

Salmon with Citrus Glaze (Alton Brown)

I can’t take credit for this one. We saw it on one of Alton Brown’s shows, Good Eats. I used it last summer when the St. Tommy’s alumni crowd gathered in the mountains of north Georgia. I used it again last night when we had a small mob over to have our house blessed. I did it from memory, but then on a whim searched the interwebs and scared up a link for the top of this post. Both times I’ve made it, I was feeding about a dozen people, so my procedure is for two sides of salmon. The other major difference is that I use less salt that most people, Alton included.

1. Into a small food processor, put
  • 2/3 c. dark brown sugar
  • the zest from 5 lemons
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
2. Blend until smooth.

3. Cover a large jelly roll pan with foil (it needs to be a pan with a decent lip, not a flat cookie sheet; there will be a lot of liquid).

4. Put 2 whole sides of salmon onto the foil and spread the glaze over them.

5. Leave the salmon to marinate at room temperature for an hour or so. It will throw off quite a bit of liquid. Don’t sweat it (fortuitous pun not intended).

6. Position a rack in the oven so that the salmon will be about 3" from the flame / element and let the broiler preheat for a couple of minutes.

7. Broil the salmon for approximately 6 minutes.

8. Turn off the heat and let the salmon sit for another ~7 minutes.

Serve and eat now. I like to serve it on a bed of low-country grits (slow cooked in milk all day long).



Tonight (27 June 2011) I modified the glaze slightly. I added fresh, grated ginger to it. Yummers! The proportions were probably also much different. I glazed three salmon fillets and one portobello cap (for SWMBO). For this, I started with the zest of three lemons, approximately 1/3 c. of brown sugar, nearly a Tablespoon of black pepper, only a bit of salt, and a chunk of ginger about 3" x 1". It was very tasty.

Bloody Mary mix

A little while back, SWMBO discovered that she actually likes a well-made Bloody Mary. She discovered this over Sunday Brunch at one of the best eateries in town, Motor Supply Company Bistro. Motor Supply has great chefs who are members of the slow food movement, buy local ingredients, craft new menus every day, and make some of the tastiest fare you will ever want to spend time on your tongue. They also have some of the best wait staff around, including one server who knows SWMBO’s dietary restrictions and palate and has never made a bad recommendation. It was this server who ran down the list of ingredients (but not the proportions) in a Motor Supply Bloody Mary.

I chased those flavors around a few times and made a few changes of my own. For instance, the best Bloody Mary SWMBO has had at Motor Supply was made with a tamarind-infused vodka. Since we go through alcohol rather slowly here at the House of Chez Casa, I didn’t want to flavor a whole bottle that was likely to be asked to serve in a variety of drinks. So I added tamarind to the mix. Other changes I made just because the results were good.

UPDATE: I keep dinking with this recipe and most recently modified the proportions for the after-party for Augustine Broadbent’s baptism; I started with 2 64 oz. bottles of juice then and am cutting the recipe in half here. This incarnation now dated 28 January 2012.

UPDATE: The Dr.’s tastebuds keep changing. For instance, she has lost her beloved pimento cheese, and has been cutting lemon way, way down. So below is for the batch I made on 9 Feb ’13 (and the recipe’s still working for her as of 12 Nov. ’16).

So here it is, the current incarnation of my Bloody Mary mix:

1. Put into a blender:
  • 1 Tbsp. Tobasco
  • 1 tsp. bitters
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 2 Tbsp. A1
  • 1 tsp. pickle juice
  • the juice from ¼ lemon
  • the juice from ¼ lime
  • 1½ oz. (¼ 6 oz. jar) Kalamata olives
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • ½ Tbsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. pure cane sugar
  • ½ Tbsp. horseradish
  • 1 3/4 oz. tamarind patty (I get this at an Indian grocery in 14 oz patties and used 1/8 patty. Watch for seeds; I chop the patty coarsely in order to find & remove the seeds before putting the tamarind into the blender.)
2. Open a 64 oz. bottle of tomato juice and pour enough into the blender to make it 2/3 - 3/4 full.

3. Run the blender until you have a smooth (if somewhat viscous) concoction.

4. Run the contents of the blender through a food mill into a large pitcher (to get any bits and bobs, especially from the tamarind patty), pour in the rest of the tomato juice, & mix well.

5. Pour 64 oz. of the mix back into the tomato juice bottle (this is why I buy a bottle rather than a can -- resealability).

6. Split the remaining 16 oz. or so between two rocks glasses.

7. Put the bottle of mix in the fridge and do something about those two rocks glasses.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

THE MMR/Autism article withdrawn from the Lancet

The announcement is terse:

Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children

Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al[1] are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.[2] In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were "consecutively referred" and that investigations were "approved" by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.


[1] Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, et al. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 1998; 351: 637-641. [with live links]

[2] Hodgson H. A statement by The Royal Free and University College Medical School and The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust. Lancet 2004; 363: 824. [with live links]

What it means has been unpacked a bit by many news outlets. I’m archiving here those of the WSJ and the NYT.

First, the New York Times article (live links have been stripped; sign up for the NYT to follow their links).

February 3, 2010
Journal Retracts 1998 Paper Linking Autism to Vaccines

A prominent British medical journal on Tuesday retracted a 1998 research paper that set off a sharp decline in vaccinations in Britain after the paper’s lead author suggested that vaccines could cause autism.

The retraction by The Lancet is part of a reassessment that has lasted for years of the scientific methods and financial conflicts of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who contended that his research showed that the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine may be unsafe.

But the retraction may do little to tarnish Dr. Wakefield’s reputation among parents’ groups in the United States. Despite a wealth of scientific studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism, the parents fervently believe that their children’s mental problems resulted from vaccinations.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the retraction of Dr. Wakefield’s study “significant.”

“It builds on the overwhelming body of research by the world’s leading scientists that concludes there is no link between M.M.R. vaccine and autism,” Mr. Skinner wrote in an e-mail message.

A British medical panel concluded last week that Dr. Wakefield had been dishonest, violated basic research ethics rules and showed a “callous disregard” for the suffering of children involved in his research. Dr. Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet, said that until that decision, he had no proof that Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 paper was deceptive.

“That was a damning indictment of Andrew Wakefield and his research,” Dr. Horton said.

With that decision, Dr. Horton said he could retract the 1998 paper. Dr. Wakefield could not be reached for comment.

Jim Moody, a director of SafeMinds, a parents’ group that advances the notion the vaccines cause autism, said the retraction would strengthen Dr. Wakefield’s credibility with many parents.

“Attacking scientists and attacking doctors is dangerous,” he said. “This is about suppressing research, and it will fuel the controversy by bringing it all up again.”

Dr. Wakefield is part of a small but fervent group of doctors who discourage vaccinations because of a seeming link with autism.

Dr. Wakefield’s paper reported on his examinations of 12 children with chronic intestinal disorders who had a history of normal development followed by severe mental regressions. He speculated that the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine may have caused some sort of chronic intestinal measles infection that in turn damaged the children’s brains. He suggested that the combined vaccine should be split into three separate shots and given over a longer period of time.

But an investigation by a British journalist found financial and scientific conflicts that Dr. Wakefield did not reveal in his paper. For instance, part of the costs of Dr. Wakefield’s research were paid by lawyers for parents seeking to sue vaccine makers for damages. Dr. Wakefield was also found to have patented in 1997 a measles vaccine that would succeed if the combined vaccine were withdrawn or discredited.

After years of investigation, the General Medical Council in Britain concluded that Dr. Wakefield had subjected 11 children to invasive tests like lumbar punctures and colonoscopies that they did not need and for which he did not receive ethical approval.

After Dr. Wakefield’s study, vaccination rates plunged in Britain and the number of measles cases soared.

In the United States, anti-vaccine groups have advanced other theories since then to explain why they think vaccines cause autism. For years, they blamed thimerosal, a vaccine preservative containing mercury. Because of concerns over the preservative, vaccine makers in 2001 largely eliminated thimerosal from routinely administered childhood vaccines.

But this change has had no apparent impact on childhood autism rates. Anti-vaccine groups now suggest that a significant number of children have a cellular disorder whose effects are set off by vaccinations.

With each new theory, parents’ groups have called for research to explore possible links between vaccination and autism. Study after study has failed to show any link, and prominent scientific agencies have concluded that scarce research dollars should be spent investigating other possible causes of autism.
Now, the Wall Street Journal article (live links have been stripped; sign up for the WSJ to follow their links).

FEBRUARY 3, 2010
The Lancet's Vaccine Retraction
A medical journal's role in the autism scare.

The British medical journal The Lancet yesterday offered a mea culpa of sorts for its role in launching a global vaccine scare. Its regrets come about 12 years too late.

The journal finally issued a full retraction of a study it ran in 1998 linking measles-mumps-rubella vaccines to autism. The paper, with Dr. Andrew Wakefield as lead author, sent British parents fleeing from inoculations and fed U.S. alarm over preservatives in vaccines.

Even in 1998, overwhelming scientific evidence showed vaccines to be safe. Yet the press-savvy Dr. Wakefield had been getting headlines for his research, and the Lancet's publication fed the controversy by giving him an aura of respectability.

Evidence of vaccine safety continued to build, but the Lancet stuck to its story through 2004, when it was revealed that Dr. Wakefield had been paid to conduct his study on children who were clients of a lawyer ginning up a lawsuit. Even then the journal offered only a partial retraction, saying it had been correct to "raise new ideas."

Meanwhile, Britain's child vaccination rates had plummeted to below 70% in some areas, down from more than 90% in the mid-1990s. The country has since suffered waves of measles outbreaks. In 1998 England and Wales had 56 cases; by 2008 the number was 1,370. In 2006, the first British child died of measles in more than a decade.

The Lancet decision came after the General Medical Council—Britain's medical regulator—ruled last week that Dr. Wakefield had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly." The panel confirmed years of allegations that he had been untruthful about his patients and funding and had shown a "callous disregard" for the children—subjecting them to invasive and unnecessary procedures. Only with the GMC now considering whether to strip Dr. Wakefield of his license has the Lancet finally said it "fully retract[s] this paper from the published record."

The Lancet episode shows how even reputable publications can become conduits for junk science when political causes run hot. Especially amid the scandal over politically motivated climate science, the public needs professional journals to be scrupulous about their standards and honest about the science.