Wednesday, March 31, 2010

With the Exodus done...

...let the 40 years of cleaning begin!

(OK, you got me...I skipped summarizing last night's second seder at my folks...Let me assure you, it was full of warm friends and family...both old and new...lovely food and storytelling.)

To be honest, I was zonked! But I did manage to make a hostess gift after my nap...

I had thought about making this adjustment to the Pecan Farfel Brittle the first time I made it (Monday!), but wanted to see how it came out before I played with it...So I figured I'd do it "next time" which became today after I saw my mom cop a piece or two for her ride home:

Pecan Farfel Brittle, vers. 2...even better than vers. 1, IMHO, 'cuz it gets another dimension: chewy.

Here goes:

-Heat oven to 350 and toast 2 c matzah farfel (small, cereal-sized, pieces of matzah) on a sheet pan for 25 mins until goldish. Pour into bowl to cool and line pan with Silpat.
-In a heavy pot, combine a half c water with 2 c sugar and a pinch of salt on med-high heat. Stir with wooden spoon until dissolved, then boil - Without stirring, swirl ONLY - until caramel colored. (Don't leave this alone; once it starts to color, it can burn in a flash!)
-While sugar is working, chop 1 and a half c pecans and a half c dried apricots (yay, version 2!) and put into bowl with farfel. Spray wooden spoon with oil.
-When sugar's golden, immediately cut the heat and add farfel, pecans and apricots. Mix to combine and quickly dump onto Silpat, smoothing into one thinish layer.
-Sprinkle on about 1 t (finishing) sea salt and cool completely before you break up into chunks.

Yes, my friends, it's even better...wait, I'm sure there's a chocolate version swimming in my head on the look out...

Meanwhile, I have another load of dishes for the dishwasher...

Monday, March 29, 2010

They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat!

Ah, the pervasive theme of Jewish holidays...and the food for this one is particularly yummy!

(I think that's because, for us, it's a once-a-year endeavor.)

Whatever the reason, this year's seder was marvelous! We combined wonderful family and friends with delicious food, flowing wine and lively story-telling....the recipe for a successful festival celebration!

-Our Menu-

-Hummus w/Carrots
-Deviled Eggs

(Traditional) Starters:
-Gefilte Fish
-Chicken Soup w/homemade Scallion-Dill Knaidlach (aka matzah balls)

Main Attraction and Co-Stars:
-Grilled Greek Lamb
-Deep-fried Artichokes and Lemons
-Potato Gnocchi Squares
-Roasted Asparagus
-Arugula Baby Spinach Salad w/Pignoli and dressed w/homemade Sherry Vinaigrette

Sweet Endings:
-Pecan Farfel Brittle
-Fresh Strawberries
-Candy, Candy, Candy (Assorted boxed Passover specialties that few of us eat, but are as intrinsic to the seder as the matzah...think jellied fruit slices.)

And lotsa wine...

OK, I hope I don't lose ya with all this...
There are a lot of dishes broken down below in varying degrees of detail...
As always, feel free to email me or post a comment if you'd like specifics or have questions.

Here goes:

Deviled Eggs
-Mash hard boiled egg yolks (about a dozen) with about a half c light mayo, 1 t dijon mustard, seasoned with salt, ground white pepper and a sprinkle of granulated garlic...after filling into their little eggy half shells, sprinkle smoked paprika on top for decoration and hightened yumminess.

Scallion-Dill Knaidlach
-Thinly slice 8 scallions and combine with 6 oz schmaltz (rendered chicken fat...comes frozen in a small 7 oz tub, so use most of it and let it thaw first) in a bowl and micro on high for 25-30 seconds.
-In a med-large bowl, whisk 8 eggs, a half c minced fresh dill, 4 T seltzer, almost 1 T salt, a half t each ground ginger and white pepper, the schmaltz/scallion combo and 2 c matzah meal to form batter.
-Cover and refrigerate overnight.
-When ready to cook, make T-sized dumplings from batter and gently place each into simmering soup...When they float on the top, they're done.
[This makes about 32 soft ones...'cuz I like my matzah balls soft...]

Grilled Greek Lamb
[I doubled this for the 12 of us and had plenty, but not too much, left over...that could be due to the 2 Who Don't Eat Meat at the table...]
-In a 2-lb zip-top bag, marinate ... a 5-lb butterflied leg of lamb, trimmed of fat, in a half c olive oil, juice from a lemon (tossing the lemon into the bag), 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 T dried oregano, 2 t salt and 1 t ground black pepper ... in the fridge over night, up to 24 hours...
-When ready to cook, pitch marinade and on med-high heat, grill (about 8 mins a side depending on thickness) to an internal temp of 125...and let it carry-over cook until 135 for med rare.

Deep-fried Artichokes and Lemons
See the Decisions, decisions entry for the basics on this... (and yes, that's a link over, huh?) This time I trimmed 5 gigunta artichokes and sliced them rather thinly, stem to tip.

Roasted Asparagus
Easy peasy...and again, I doubled this...
-Heat oven to 375 and spread a trimmed bundle of fresh asparagus in one layer on sheet tray...sprinkle with 2 t olive oil and salt and pepper to taste...roast for 15 mins. C'est tout!

Potato Gnocchi Squares
After the trial...the fixes made this dish Rock! This too I doubled...
-Preheat oven to 400.
-Prepare half sheet pan: Line with parchment paper and lightly coat with olive oil.
-Boil 3 large baking potatoes (about 2 lbs) that have been peeled and cubed in salted water until fork tender.
-Rice them (or mash 'em if you don't have a ricer) into a large bowl.
-Mix in 4 T butter, salt and ground black pepper, minced leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 2 T minced chives or 1 finely chopped scallion, and 4 beaten eggs.
-Pour mixture on to lined, oiled sheet pan and bake for 25 mins until crusty and brown.
-Cool thoroughly and cut into squares. Can reheat in 350 oven for 10 to 15 mins.

-Top bag o'arugula/baby spinach mix with a quarter c pignoli (pine nuts) and dress with:
-1 part sherry vinegar to 2 parts olive oil (to make about a third c), salt and ground black pepper to taste...and whisk to combine.

Pecan Farfel Brittle
-Heat oven to 350 and toast 2 c matzah farfel (small, cereal-sized, pieces of matzah) on a sheet pan for 25 mins until goldish. Pour into bowl to cool and line pan with Silpat.
-In a heavy pot, combine a half c water with 2 c sugar and a pinch of salt on med-high heat. Stir with wooden spoon until dissolved, then boil - Without stirring, swirl ONLY - until caramel colored. (Don't leave this alone; once it starts to color, it can burn in a flash!)
-Immediately cut the heat and add farfel and 1 and a half c chopped pecans (you can chop 'em while the sugar is working...and spray spoon with oil). Mix to combine and quickly dump onto Silpat, smoothing into one thinish layer.
-Sprinkle on about 1 t (finishing) sea salt and cool completely before you break up into chunks.

Jewish philosophy seems to always temper the good stuff with a little bitter; the awful stuff with lots of sweet; remember those you've vanquished; and retell the stories so the memories don't die. Works for Passover and life in general...Hope your holidays are as sweet!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Ready" is subjective

Did you see the markets today??? Packed. Packed I tell you! Sheesh...

OK, maybe it was me: I got a late start...wanted to make brekkie for my guys...and I had to get organized...which for me is NO small feat! I wrote list after list (threw out a couple, wrote more)...and finally got on the road.

Stop One: In. Out. And flowers for the table...but only a third of my GPS marked off.

Stop Two: In. Wandering, wandering...slip cover for the family room chair?...too costly and too dark... Out. Didn't have much on the list for that store.

Stops Three, Four and Five: Why am I still looking for another slip cover for a chair we're probably replacing within the year? Out. Out. Ooooo, lovely table cloth. Out.

Stop Six: In. Need mostly produce and Passover provisions...Um, 'scuse me...uh, what genius put the Passover stuff a) in the store's busiest thoroughfare, and b) next to the BREAD???

Not only that, but our friends at Stop Six were out of practically everything! That means Stop Seven...Oy...

Got home and my non-limping men helped unload and put away the groceries while I finished up at Stop Seven.

And John, being the ever-hungry ever-lovin guy he is popped leftovers in the oven for dinner consisting of yesterday's baked pasta and the potato square experiment for tomorrow's seder.

The potato squares - a riff on a potato gnocchi recipe I read in a magazine - tasted great, but didn't exit the pan as I had envisioned. I think I need an additional egg to keep it together. I promise to post the recipe after we taste it tomorrow.

So after I boil the eggs, butterfly and marinate the legs of lamb and make the matzah ball batter we dine on the last of the chametz (not kosher for passover stuff) ... well for me at least for the next 8 days...

Oh, and I treat myself and unwind ... with one last sippa whiskey...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I "think" I'm ready

But probably not.

I have my seder menu planned for 12, including options for my vegan future sister-in-law, and my GPS (aka shopping list) sketched out for tomorrow's schlep to the markets...

And for the first time in about a quarter century, my brisket's taking a holiday. I'm not making it and I'm kinda sad to break with that tradition - I know my mother-in-law would be if she were up here: She's usually not a seconds kind of gal, but she makes an exception for my brisket - overall though, I'm OK with it and hope my guests will be too.

Even without the brisket, I think I've put together a meal befitting a celebration but that'll be in the (taste)buds of the're also welcome to add your 2 cents as it unfolds...but that food schpiel might have to wait until Tuesday when things calm down.

Tonight though, as the hockey guys gather and the days of pasta-abstinence loom, I decided a 'clean out the fridge' baked penne would soothe the athlete and the soon-to-be carb-deprived.

Here goes:

-Preheat oven to 400.
-Put on salted water to boil the pasta.
-Saute a half c diced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 t olive oil and season with a half t salt and a quarter t ground black pepper.
-When soft, add a half c diced rosemary ham (luncheon meat) and saute to brown meat a little.
-Add 1 c sliced cremini mushrooms, 2 c chopped fresh kale and season with a half t salt, quarter t pepper, 1 t aleppo pepper flakes and a half t nutmeg.
-While the kale wilts and the mushrooms color, start on the cheese mixture.
-In a large bowl, combine 1 15-oz container ricotta, 1 c shredded cheese (I only had a Mexican blend in the house - monterey jack, cheddar, asadero and 'quesadilla' cheeses, thank you Weggies - and the flavors worked fine!), 2 beaten eggs and a half jar (28 oz size) of Trader Joe's bolognese pasta sauce (a little sweet for my taste, but rather good).
-Add the sauteed veg to the cheese mixture, drain the al dente pasta and add it too, mixing thoroughly.
-Put about half the remaining jarred sauce into the bottom of a 12-ish x 8-ish baking dish and pour the pasta/cheese/veg into the with the rest of the jarred sauce.
-Bake for about 30 mins or until bubbling...

Oh, wondering why there's no parmesan in here? Didn't have any; had to adapt.

And that is the beauty of cooking!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let the preparations begin

Our annual spring ritual begins weeks in advance while snow still covers the land: My mother calls to see which night of Passover I want to hold the seder.

"The first," I said thinking the boys' spring break would begin the next day.
"Fine," she said, "I'll do the second."

Well, that was before all this happened...unemployment, Dill's dislocated knee, Mom's unfortunate 12-rounder with a tree and another school day added to spring break...but this happens in every family (even if it's not in a kooky clump or as extreme as this) and the story of the Exodus must be told.

So, I'm sitting here, putting fingertip to keyboard thinking about what I will make this year...

There will be some old standards and some soon-to-become standards as old and new friends ring our table. Some will be store-bought - McCaffrey's Supermarket makes a killer Sephardic charoset that's a chunky, rich spread and the soup broth and gefilte fish will come from wonderful independent shops - but all will be homemade, even if it wasn't made in my house.

Right now, my biggest conundrum is the main course: Do we want Chicken Marbella? Are we having brisket at my Mother's? How about grilled leg of lamb? Is this the year to go through with the sushi threat? Or maybe make MY fried chicken using matzah meal...

All I know is tonight's pizza night and I'm grateful for those talented guys in the shop up the street who feed us each Friday night...

I'll make salad, pour wine for my Rock of a husband and me and we'll kibitz over which entree we've wanted to eat since last year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can you self-declare a mitzvah?

Yesterday, a very dear friend had rotator-cuff surgery to repair an injury from all the marketing pitches she throws. Today, I dropped off a few things to make her recovery brighter, sweeter and funnier: Flowers, wild cookies ("The ones with the fruity bits?" "Of course!") and Christopher Moore's latest paperback, Fool.

(And lemme tell ya, his version of King Lear, is a classic. My favorite tho is Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal but here's his web site for more Moore - - and you can choose among the side-splitting treasures. By the way, his vampire stuff makes that teenybopper series seem like_____, fill in the blank yourselves, but be creative!)

So, I feel like I did one - a good deed, a mitzvah - but is it kosher?

Hope so. Even though I know tonight's dinner isn't: pork scallopini. (With haricots verts and couscous...)

Here goes:

-Warm the oven.
-Start the basis for the sauce by rough chopping a half c dried apricots and adding to a small sauce pan with about three-quarters c wine...Finally! I used up the fridged chardonnay and augmented it with pinot noir...add a sprig fresh rosemary and 1 star anise. Simmer slowly until reduced by about half.
-In saute pan on low heat, sweat 1 thinly sliced medium shallot and 2 minced garlic cloves in about 2 T olive oil.
-When translucent, add the green beans (8 oz or so) straight from the poly-bag from the freezer and saute on medium until cooked through. Pick them out of the pan, leaving as much of the aromatics as possible, and keep warm in oven.
-While the beans are cooking, cut 1 lb pork loin into 2-inch medallions and pound each thinly.
-Season with an Indian-inspired spice mix, or with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
-Add another T of olive oil to the bean-vacated pan and saute the scallopini in batches on med high heat, keeping the cooked ones warm in the oven.
-As the pork cooks, start the couscous by heating 2 c boxed chicken stock with 1 t saffron threads and a quarter t each ground white pepper and ground ginger (I didn't feel like getting the "fresh" hand outta the freezer...oh well) to a boil. Add 1 c couscous, stir to combine then turn off the heat. Five mins later, fluff and it's ready.
-When all the pork is resting in the oven, remove the rosemary and star anise from the reduction and pour into the saute pan, scraping up all that's left from the pork. Add 1 t seasoned fine flour and whisk to combine. I didn't have enough sauce for my liking, so I added another quarter c or so of stock to enrich it.
-Return the pork to the pan and serve over couscous. And squirt the juice from a quarter of a lemon on to the haricot verts before serving.

I wonder if my dinner cancels out my mitzvah...
But I'm OK with that...dinner was delicious!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

GinGer's Virtual Restaurant

Imagine me, owning her own restaurant!
(Grammatically incorrect, I know, but this way it brings out my ethnic side, Oy!)

--Suzy's Sandwiches, Salads and Sweets--

A friend has suggested that I follow this dream in order to be gainfully employed once more...I'm not quite yet in change-my-life I'll stick to the Facebook version where I have to give my employees (John and the boys) sweets to keep them working, pick up the trash, answer the mail and buy stuff.

HEY! That sounds just like home!

Maybe that dream's a nightmare and I'm not cut out for a restaurant gig! Besides, you can't run a restaurant without planning: it's A -say it with me- Recipe for Disaster!

Just like tonight...
was going to be...
until I foraged in the freezer and found:
Leftover slow-cooked pork! from...OMG, a month ago? Could it be? According to my list of posts, it is...So what? I scored a biggie for dinner tonight...Disaster averted!

Here goes:

-Grabbed a baguette from the freezer, bottled bbq sauce from the fridge, a piece of (MY) fried chicken from the freezer and some other stuff, made a salad of shredded romaine lettuce, halved artichoke hearts with a vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and stone ground mustard...
-Lovely martinis courtesy of the Mixmaster General...because we've finally recovered from Saturday night...

...and now I'm makin' Wild Cookies per Dill's request yesterday...Welcome to GinGer's!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I am a 5'-1" Survey Monkey!

A monkey of all she surveys!

Whoops, you've caught me playing with a new toy on the internet....

Actually, I was learning...and it was Fun! So it felt like playing...even though I spent my day either in front of the computer - resume-ing, email-ing, (a little bit of) Facebook-ing (I'm an honest gal! well, maybe more than just a little...) and learn-ing - or in the car, shuttle-ing...and my neck hurts.

See, we have one of those Funhouse or Magic chairs in the study that lowers of its own volition. And I don't often realize that I'm craning up at the screen until the sharp pain skewers my neck and I'm hit with the memory of sitting on phone books (plural) to reach the kitchen table as a kid. In terms of height, I've always been on the deficient side of average: That's me in the front row for all school pictures; never airline attendant material; petite pants need to be tailored; guys got me a long grabber thingy to get stuff in the pantry...

Yup, when I played lacrosse in college, coach called me Peanut, so I've heard it all: Peewee, Short-Stuff, Lil'thing, Shrimp....

Which brings me to tonight's dinner: Shrimp scampi. No great twists or turns tonight...gotta taxi Jere to work on a project across town this eve, so it had to be easily assembled and fast cooking once I returned from the outbound schlep. (Remember, he doesn't eat anything that lived in I didn't have to have it ready before he left.)

Here goes:

-Put salted water to boil for pasta...used what was left in a box, about a third of a lb, the shrimp were the stars anyway.
-Mince 5 garlic cloves and dice a third of an onion, defrost shrimp if necessary. Many thanks, Sous Chef Extraordinaire as I scrambled to play taxi!
-Heat pan on med low and melt a T each butter and olive oil. Add garlic and onion to sweat.
-Season with salt and cracked black pepper (about a 2:1 ratio) then add crushed red pepper flakes to your taste...I did 1 t.
-Add 1 lb shrimp to pan...I had a bag o'uncooked shell-on (poor John hates working for his dinner! Sorry!) lovelies that mostly defrosted beforehand.
-As they start to turn pink, splash on a third c white wine...yes, it's that same chardonnay from the fridge...grate on a t fresh lemon zest and toss in a T dried parsley flakes (Hey! It's what I had!)...season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper (2:1 ratio works here too).
-Keep a lid handy, 'cuz the shrimp'll cook faster with it on and you might want to encourage the process like I did.
-When all the beauties are pink, squeeze on the juice from a third of a lemon and pour over the drained spaghetti.
(Aside: John has this thing that if there's green on the plate, the food is least it seems that way to me. Anyway, I put about a c and a half of poly-bag frozen peas into a long-handled sieve and John floated them in the pasta water when the spaghetti was almost done as not to cool the water too much. Worked like a charm in nuthin flat!)

Remember, it's tough to survey when your chair is sinking...maybe I can get that grabber-arm-thingy from the pantry and lift myself up...Nope, forget it, I'll just scampi to bed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Electronic Void

For the first time since they became de rigueur for professionals, I don't have a cell phone. And I feel rather naked.

No contacts or calendar at my easy fingertip disposal; no moooing when it vibrated to let me know an email needed my attention. (It didn't matter if that email came from Anthropologie!)

But I also feel somewhat liberated...whodda thunk? futzing with the Bluetooth ear piece, no playing with the profiles so it doesn't BRRIIIIINNNGGG!!! in an echoing bathroom tether to Boss 'Um, Mom, are you still at Weggies?' 'I'm checking out.' 'Oh, we're out of cat litter.'...You get the idea...

I do catch myself stealing glance over at the basket where my Beloved Blackberry used to recharge, unwinding from its hectic day of showing me emails, sending off others and, yes, connecting me with The Call. A friend with a souped-up edition referred to my antiquated model as "quaint"... I referred to it as my lifeline to the world.

Feeling particularly sad to be in an electronic vacuum - an you know how cold they are! - today, The Bubbles dictated chili for dinner!

Here goes:

-In a large pot - dutch oven, what have you - fry up about 2 strips applewood smoked bacon in about 1 t olive oil...remove bacon when crispy and add 3 minced garlic cloves, a half diced (leftover) red onion and 3 diced celery ribs (of the smallish size, about a half c total) to the remaining fat.
-Sweat the veg on med heat adding salt and freshly ground black pepper.
-Next, add 1 lb ground beef and when it's almost cooked through, add 1 minced jalapeno (see yesterday re: seeds & ribs), 1 t cumin, 1 t Chinese 5 spice powder, half t adobo seasoning and 1 T chipotle in adobo sauce. Continue sauteing until the meat has completely browned.
-In another pot, start the rice...I made 2 c rice and tried something new here, so alter your proportions accordingly. Each c of rice needs 2 c liquid to get 4 c liquid, I drained 2 15-and-a-half-oz cans beans (tonight they were Pintos) into a measuring cup (got almost 2 c liquid), added 1 8-oz can tomato sauce, the rest of the boxed chicken stock from the fridge and made up the difference with water...add a 3-inch cinnamon stick and when boiling, add the rice (I used jasmine rice and it reminded me of a lovely Thai lunch I had with a friend on an Opera Saturday back when I was connected to the electronic world, sigh...), cover and leave alone for 18 mins.
-Add the beans to the meat pot, 2 14-and-a-half-oz cans diced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.
-Cook and occasionally stir until rice is done.

Quaint or not, I may feel naked, but at least I'm a little warmer!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So it is requested... it is done. Yeah, I'm getting in the Passover mood and paraphrasing Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments...

I don't know if he were joking, but Jere asked The Question yesterday morning in reference to tonight. Of course I was clueless...and The Bubbles were asleep...but then he saved me: Can you make your mac and cheese? While wondering what he had been dreaming...I said, Oh Yeah!

So I put what I needed on the GPS, aka the shopping list, along with the rest of the week's staples...and in the haze of last night's hedonism, buoyed only by the delicious spring weather, went on my merry way.

Here goes:

-Boil pasta in salted water until al dente; I used fusilli since it was what I had and those little ridges gloriously captured the sauce.
-Preheat the oven to 400.
-In another pot, melt a stick of butter then add 6 T flour to make a roux.
-Add 4 c milk and 1 c chicken stock...recipe I use for guidance calls for all milk but I had 4 c in the jug, didn't wanna crack open the new one, so I augmented it with boxed stock in the fridge...stir constantly as you bring it to a boil.
-Add the cheese in phases, as each clump melts...I use a combo: It's what's leftover in the fridge and whatever else l feel like adding when I procure the rest...Today I used: a third lb each grated guyere and gouda with olives (thank you trust sous chef!), a half lb chunked brie sans non-melting rind and 2 T (leftover) gorgonzola.
-Season with 2 t salt and 1t ground white pepper and a half t each of smoked paprika and freshly grated still needed 'something' so I added 1 t worcestershire sauce and it did the trick.
-Finely dice a jalapeno, removing as much of the seeds and membranes as your taste dictates since that's where the heat resides, and add to sauce.
-Combine the pasta in the sauce and pour into a 9 x 12 (ish) baking dish and make the topping: half c panko bread crumbs, 2 T parmesan cheese and 2 T olive oil. Mix to combine and sprinkle on the whole shebang.
-Bake until brown and bubbly...about 20 mins.

We ate what we had created...and it was good. OK, so I'm falling short on the Biblical references, but you get the idea!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

If it's Saturday, it's...

Hockey Nite in Skillman! Yes, you read correctly...Cars rolled up and deposited happy lads armed with sticks and gloves and rollerblades ready to hop and roll their night away...They would be fueled by (Thank You Joan!) black and white cookies, frozen pizza and their tight bond.

We, on the other hand, were still in (need-of-) comfort mode ... Oh joy! There's a small strip steak in the freezer! ... And, what's that? Meet you in town for drinks and nibbles? Kewl...we'll be there for drinks after nibbling at home. Ah, so much better than the place John took me last Saturday night!

(Backstory: Early last Saturday afternoon, I lamented a bit to John that the new austerity measures would impact our already-less-than-stellar ability to go out on the the ER that night, as our senses of humor returned, he turned to me and warmly said: And you thought we couldn't go out tonight!)

The gorgeous weather demanded we grill...and as we learned last weekend: ya gotta listen to the weather!...and eat I was in charge of steak, John took the potatoes' reins and with some poly-bag string beans...we embraced spring.

Here goes:

-Preheat grill on high.
-Slice 2 potatoes into rounds about a half-inch thick and toss in a bowl with 2 t olive oil, salt and pepper.
-Arrange in 1 layer on the grill, close the lid (so it's more of an oven) and turn them after about 10 mins. When the second side is also toasty brown and grill marked, move potatoes to an upper shelf or colder area of the grill to finish cooking through.
-On dry steak (ours was maybe 3-quarters of a pound), rub a dash of salt, ample pepper and a sprinkle of aleppo pepper flakes onto each side...grill to your personal perfection.

A lovely meal...great time with friends...a potentially lost sweater...and waaaaaay too much alcohol adds up simply to: A lovely meal and a great time with friends!

I'm sure the lads would concur - MINUS the Alcohol!! - but they'd say instead: Yeah, pizza and pals...that's cool.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The gift of sleep...

What a difference a day makes! Or shall I say, night?

Aside from last night's comfort dinner, I needed a good night's sleep and a chance to sleep in, just a little even, so I could shake yesterday's feeling of inundation.

Thankfully, Dill and his immobilized leg could fit in the MiniCooper so I could sleep 'til 8 and John could drop him at school by 7:30a.

I'm grateful for this beyond compare and it worked like a charm!

Got up today, renewed and rejuvenated! And got tons accomplished: Headed back in to office for last dribbles of electronic stuff; made phone calls; vacuumed; and, most importantly, got caught up here for you! ; )

As with Friday nights in the employed times, it's pizza night this lean evening...even the jobless deserve a break, doncha think?

I've got the glasses chilling and I'll make a salad...the birds are chirping (really, they are!)...the lads are happy, if not limpy: Jere took a bike spill this afternoon - Band-Aids (brand adhesive bandages...don't need the J&J cyberpolice on my tush!) everywhere!...and all's good in our little corner of the world.

It's amazing what a little sleep can do!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Good for what ails ya!

I think I hit the Wall-of-Fun today...overtired and overwhelmed...

Some days just cry out for steak...and today's one of 'em...comfort food at its most basic...and man, I need comfort.

At 4p, I had NO idea what we'd have for dinner...the Bubbles hadn't materialized by then...So I surveyed the lads for what they'd like: Dill said baked beans.

The Bubbles started bursting around the beans: There's a flat iron steak in the freezer that I can do a la Korean BBQ ... and anything goes with baked beans, right? Yay! We have liftoff!

Here goes:

-Pop the steak in a zip top bag and add the following as you go to marinate the (1+ lb) steak for at least 20 mins: a third c soy sauce, 2 T rice wine vinegar, 1 T sesame oil, 1 and a half T dark brown sugar, 1 t chili garlic sauce, 1 T ground bean paste, a half t each ground black pepper and grated frozen ginger root.
-Cook to your liking, how you like - I used the (small) cast iron skillet - and slice on the bias.

This time, I made it into sandwiches on a baguette that I drizzled the cooked marinade onto and topped with the leftover broccoli slaw from a few nights ago...My darling Mixologist treated me to a LOVELY-OMG-I-NEEDED-THIS martini...and I think the sandwich got higher reviews than the beans.

Med-rare steak, carbs and a drink with a garnish...what's more comforting than that?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hey! I said, You can keep my things, they've come to take me home...

This is a story about support, letting go and how food can (hopefully) heal.

With all the craziness this week, I knew I had to make my way into the old office to finish packing and I was kinda anxious about it...

What? You say...Ms Cool-as-a-Cucumber, nervous? Yup, you see...

...I didn't want to break down...True, I shed a couple on Friday...but none since...and I was really afraid it was gonna happen when I went through the elevator doors and down the hall to my cubby.

Now I have nothing against a good can be a really cleansing release...but it can also be full of self pity, and I'm just not there.

So, with the support of my good friends, especially Pammy whose arms, little did I know, were keeping my spine straight, I was able to pack essentials into a couple boxes.

That's the support.

Going through my cubby under the caring watch of my former coworkers, I left assorted 'stuff' hangin on the walls and on the shelves...things that made my work space comfy and quirky...things I had no place to keep.

One friend - who actually has an office with walls! - asked for a memento. I told her she didn't need something to remember me by...we'd be in touch. But she pressed and I acquiesced...happily. And what I gave her surprised even me: A framed Degas ballet-dancer print. I wasn't going to put it up at home and was no longer sentimental about it.

That's the letting go.

I drove up to my folks next...bringing them my (spectacular) fried chicken for dinner...I think I've mentioned it's one of my Mom's faves and after her run-in with a tree, she needed something special. I was so happy to high-tail it up there bearing sustenance...and I think it helped her feel a bit better.

That's the beauty of food....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A new way to call...

So it's not by's the personal touch...but the Bubbles populate just the same. Tonight, they gave me leftover chicken, soft tortilla shells and chipotles in adobo, so I made tacos to the roar of the crowd!

I bet you're wondering if dinner's any earlier 'cuz of my new circumstances...Nope, dinner's at can (temporarily!) take the gal outta the workforce routine, but you can't take the routine outta the gal! Especially with everything else goin on at our place!

To round out dinner, I cracked open a bag o'broccoli slaw and with a few accoutrements - Thanks Dill! - we had a lovely side that would also work as a funky topping too...

Here goes:

-Warm the oven for the tortillas...Yes, I learned my lesson the last time!
-French half a red onion, reserving half for the slaw, and mince 2 large garlic cloves.
-Sweat in a medium pan while slicing the 2 cooked chicken breasts (about 1 lb) in thin strips.
-Add chicken to pan to warm, salt and pepper it.
-Season chicken with a half t ground cumin, 1 t adobo, about 2 T chopped chipotle in adobo sauce (from a frozen chunk...You remember that I keep the remnants of the tin in the freezer and lop off a chunk as needed, right?) and a small tin (8 oz) of low-sodium (un'flavored') tomato sauce.
-Heat through and serve on the tortillas with fresh (from-the-grocer's) salsa and small goat cheese chunks...I could've used shredded cheese I keep in the freezer, but I had the chevre, it's mild, and I didn't want it to go bad. Worked wonderfully!

-Dill cut up an apple in thin strips and mixed it with the bag o'slaw and the onion while I made the dressing.
-To a half cup of mayo, add 1 heaping t stoneground mustard, juice of a lime, salt and pepper.
-Toss all together and that's it! A refreshing side or topping is yours!

And the crowd goes wild! Golf claps everywhere!

And while I finish my lovely martini - Thanks John! - I should be updating my resume instead of blogging...Oh well...I'm trying not to feel guilty for taking this 'break' from raining chaos...At least the weather's turned...I'm sure it's a sign of wonderful things to come!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March

Pshaw, not me...I've been through enough, doncha think?

I went through the day tying a loose end here, opening a door there...a little cream of wheat for brekkie with the guys - home today because of the storm carnage - and a pot of strong java to steel my soul.

Mom got out of the hospital; took care of unemployment application; no answer at any orthopedist's office for Dill; worked on resume; tried desperately to get out of the electronic void having NO Blackberry creates; and totally forgot about my plans for tonight. Yikes! Where's Eve's email address???

Every few months, my friend holds a 'salon' to discuss stories in Lilith Magazine ( and I had promised to make Wild Cookies for this issue's oft-postponed gathering...

These cookies are my signature...people rave about them...people dream about them!
So they are MINE, and that's why I had to remove the recipe, because they're now (June 2014) my income...

I'm betting that tomorrow, the phones will be answered, electronics will succumb to my whim and the rain will stop so on Weds we'll get a long-needed rainbow (yeah, I know St. Patrick's Day should be on Tues, but I'm taking a wee bit o'literary license)....Hope yours is bright too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Easy as Pi

We three were downstairs when I called the math wiz to join us: JERE!!! CUMM'ERE!!!:
What's today?
You know, today...
Um, Sunday?
The date...It's March...
That was yesterday.
Oh, the 14th?
And that makes today?'s Pi day!
(Guess the wiz needs a bit of wake-up time before the math cells work!)

We'll have pie for dinner!
Shepherds' ? Nah...
Quiche? Nah...How 'bout...
Chicken Pot Pie? Yay!

But there's so much to be done before I can think about Brekkie!
My Irish husband's been perseverating on proper soda bread since the beginning of the month, so I obliged this morning...(basically) using his grandmother's recipe.

Here goes:

-Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 2-qt casserole.
-In a mixer, combine 2 c flour, 2 c whole wheat flour, 3 T sugar, 1 T baking powder, 1 t salt and three-quarters t baking soda.
-Cut in 6 T butter until you have coarse crumbs.
-Add about 1 and a half c golden raisins and 1 T caraway seeds.
-Moisten with 2 beaten eggs - but hold back about a t for a wash - and as much of 1 and a half c buttermilk as the dough will take.
-Mix until it just comes together in a bowl; turn onto a floured surface and kneed about 10 strokes.
-Form into a ball, put into casserole, cut a shallow X in the top and coat with remaining egg...bake for an hour 20 mins.

So, things come in threes, right?

As the bread baked, the phone rang and wouldja believe, my vortex of crap deepened:
In the hospital?
30 stitches?

Last night, my mother had gone 12 rounds with a tree through the sunroof of the car. Dad was OK, but shaken. The car was done for.

Thankfully, that's all that was done for...a few diagnostic tests later...Mom would probably be discharged Monday and despite the significant fright and a new hairdo, not permanently worse for wear.

Survived the rest of the day with no new surprises...

Still the comfort chicken pot pie can provide sounded better and better...

Here goes:

-Preheat oven to 350.
-Cube 1 potato (to about the size of a die) and 2 chicken breasts (about a pound total, into 1-inch pieces) and poach in about 2 c boxed chicken stock with a half t smoked paprika, salt and pepper until done.
-Add in about a cup chopped kale when the chicken's almost done. Transfer solids to baking dish - to the dismay of my Master Mixologist, who kept me in cocktail-onion-laced Martini joy, I used a rectangular 8x13x2 dish for the pie (WHAT? You can't have pie in a dish that's not round!) and keep the broth warm.
-Sweat 1 diced celery rib, 1 large shallot and 2 large garlic cloves in about 2 T butter. Add about 1 T chopped fresh rosemary and 1 t chopped fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Forgot I had wanted to add some bacon, so at this point I added about a quarter cup diced applewood smoked bacon...if my mind hadn't been elsewhere, I would've added it at the start of this step. No harm, no foul.
-When translucent-ish, add 2 T flour and whisk to form a roux. Add 1 and a half t stone-ground mustard to roux and whisk in the reserved broth to make the sauce.
-Put the sauce over the chicken 'n stuff and with (vented!) pie crust and bake for about 30 mins or until golden...I forgot to put a wash on the crust, so browning took a bit's been one of those days!

Pie crust (makes 2):
-In bowl of food processor with metal blade, spin 2 and a quarter c flour with 1 c cubed chilled (!!) butter and a t salt until it looks like wet sand.
-Drizzle in up to 10 T ice water until the dough comes together in a ball...
C'est tout...really...divide it, make it into a ball, refridgerate it, freeze can use it immediately or store it...and it's wonderful.

I'll beware the Ides of March...but really folks, can it get much nuttier?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ya Can't Make This Stuff Up! you know this week's been so totally out of the ordinary - for Anyone... right?

Hold onto your hockey helmets folks: It wigs out beyond comprehension. can't make this up.

My John, knowing I needed a bit of TLC, made Irish oatmeal for me this AM and let me alone to organize my new life of working from home to look for a job.

I made good old proper tea and we were thrilled with the oatmeal, so much so that we actually kind of relaxed. (Lemme know, via comment, if you want directions for the oatmeal...and you'll get 'em of course!)

Dill came home from the SATs; Jere started his new chore of vacuuming to our amusement (i think he's gonna get a call from the NY Yankees' ground crew soon!); John napped and I plugged away...

...and the rains and winds were wickedly whipping...

One tree's down...and another...

Gather the animals!

What? It's still Hockey Night in Skillman? Can't buy pizza with the new belt tightening; I'll make pasta. Who's coming over? Brian and Timmy. Better make double!

So the guys arrived in an ark and no sooner had warm-ups begun, Timmy's upstairs lookin pale...Um, Dillon fell and he needs you...

I bolted down; found my eldest on the slab floor; and in a pained voice heard him say, "I'm pretty sure my knee's dislocated." John looked at me, I said ambulance.

What better way to spend a Saturday night?

John stayed upstairs waiting for the EMTs and I tended to Dill and his concerned pals. And man, were they concerned. Brian carefully took off Dill's skates, made him comfortable...and helped him laugh away a bit of the pain. These guys are Great.

John went with Dill in the ambulance and I followed, zigging and zagging my way around blocked streets, about 10 mins later...arriving to find his patella back where it should be...and relieved that color was returning to Dill's face. A bit of juice, a lesson on the crutches, a signature here, a signature there...and an hour or so later, we were on our way home...easier said than done with tree carnage EVERYwhere!

Our 12-minute trip took more than an hour.

By the time the garage door went up, our nerves were frazzled and we were hungry. John took the cooking reins and I took the mixing ones...Make it Strong! he said...My Brown-and-Serve chef prepared grilled Gouda and Havarti on multigrain bread with tomatoes while I shook a couple mean Martinis.

And for the moment, our family room became an oasis of calm in this week's storm.

TGIF? Not this week...

Crappy day...found out the Governor no longer needs my services...hate leaving my DHS family...hate looking for work...hate worrying about the finances, worrying about confidence, and most of all seeing the worried look on the boys' faces.

Man this sucks: I love my job; I love the job 'my' Department does; I love the work I do to help others...

But, OK...John, running rings around so-called supportive spouses, offers to pick up pizza or Chinese or ribs or whatever - and what does Dill say? Whatever's in the freezer!

He knows there's a store of hors d'oeuvres/pizzas of the mini and personal variety/skewers/etc in the basement freezer and empathetically thinks this is the easiest dinner around.

And what do I say? OK! Break open the cartons and preheat the ovens!

Here goes:

-My caring children and husband get me through a tough time with hugs, compliments, smothering and dinner...

Gosh...hope tomorrow is better...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Fantastic" beats out Chinese

It's amazing what happens on the rare occasion that the Speech Bubbles don't appear...

(Frankly they may've appeared, but empty like my spot on the bleachers...yes, my baseball nerve's still raw. Sorry.)

...I start to think take out, especially on those rare occasions when it's just the boys and me, and miraculously the Bubbles appear with inspiration...burgers...basil...goat cheese...horseradish...I can do something with that!

A quick call home:
Me: Do you want Chinese or Fantastic burgers?
Jere: Why have Chinese when I could have something 'Fantastic?'

Done deal!

Here goes:

-In a bowl, combine about 10-12 minced basil leaves, 2 minced garlic cloves made into a paste with a bit of salt, 1 t worcestershire sauce, a half t powdered fenugreek seed, a t ground black pepper with 1 lb (80/20) ground beef.
-Preheat cast iron skillet to almost smoking.
-Form burgers (this made 4 OK-sized ones...would be considered small for some) with an indentation in the center so they don't plump to silliness and cook to your desired doneness.
-For the sauce, warm 3 T goat cheese with 2 T cream, 1 t prepared horseradish, pinch of salt and a heavy grind of black pepper...whisk to combine.
-Serve burgers topped with sauce on bread of choice (baguette for us).

Tonight I made the green beans and tossed 'em in a heaping t of store-bought pesto...a nice complement to my martini - my Master Mixologist was drinking and dining with old pals. Oh and I have to put martini glasses on my poor vessle didn't quite make it out of its frozen slumber...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In heavy rotation

There's not a lot we can count on...Saturday mail service may soon become a memory...but I can always count on enough eggs in the fridge to do Baked Eggs for dinner...

And while one egg is un oeuf, this takes a dozen.

(Sorry, couldn't help myself...besides, how often can one be punny in two languages?)

I intended to complement it with haricot verts and toasted ciabatta, but I forewent the veg in favor of getting the masses fed quickly...especially since this is heavy on the prep and quick on the cooking.

Here goes:

-Preheat the broiler and, if it's within the oven, put the rack in the upper middle can put it higher but the cooking process is faster...and I need the time afforded by having the flame further from the food. [Um, Mom, didja know about Trotsky? No, you can't use Wikipedia as a cited source. Huh? Grandma's birth date?... I guess I can count on interruptions!]
-In a small bowl, toss a third cup parmesan with a thinly sliced shallot, 4 minced garlic cloves and cracked black pepper.
-Shred about a third to a half cup rosemary ham (lunch meat) and chiffonade about 7 to 10 basil leaves.
-Put 4 au gratin dishes (ea. about 8" x 5") onto a baking sheet and into these add a pat of butter and about 2 T cream...pop under broiler for about 4 mins until golden and bubbly.
-Now, get the eggs ready: crack 3 eggs per serving into separate dishes...I end up doing 3 each for the lads, 2 for me and 4 for John.
-When the cream mixture is done, quickly add the eggs then sprinkle on the parm mixture and the ham and basil.
-Return to broiler for another 3 minutes or until the eggs are just shy of your preferred consistency (they carryover cook) ... I like 'em yolky, the guys prefer 'em a bit harder so I take mine out a bit sooner.
-Toast the bread and take a deep breath after the mad dash!

I guess I can always count on cheers for this meal during The Call and more when it hits the table. I love 4 clean dishes!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This is a story about...

... baseball's end and the pizza dinner that followed.

The first is harder than trying to order Chateaubriand for One and the second is easier than pie.

My talented firstborn has put aside his baseball career and it makes me sad. No more cheering; no more pins and needles (they hurt, but it was good, hopeful, pain); no more hangin with the other Baseball Parents; no more watching someone I love do something so well on the field (for now anyway). For me it's a void, and I don't do empty well.

So for the time being, aka tonight, I did my best to fill what I could - our tums - and let the martini drown my sorrows...we had individual pizzas on naan (bread) and they were quick and tasty.

Here goes:

-Preheat oven to 500 degrees. You can use a pizza stone and if so, pop it in the oven cold so it heats as the oven does. I didn't use it 'cuz it isn't big enough for three pizzas. (I used baking sheets instead.)
-Assemble any and all options for personalization...Our assortment included: marinara sauce, half a green pepper thinly sliced, mozzarella slices, goat cheese, havarti, rosemary ham (lunch meat), olive tapenade, basil leaves, olive oil and herbed gray sea salt...
-Pop toppings of choice onto the naan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Our 3 variations all had marinara and were finished with a drizzle of oil and salt, but were certainly individual:
One had 3 cheeses, peppers and basil; another had goat cheese, peppers, ham and basil; and the other had mozzarella, tapenade, goat cheese and basil...

I'm starting to think it's gonna be a long spring...Maybe a friend's new baseball book will be the home run I need...

Monday, March 8, 2010

This too shall pass

At least that's what they tell me...but whether it does or not, the Speech Bubbles dictated that we have Rice and Beans for dinner...

After a long day, this meal is as easy as it is satisfying...both really important today. And it takes only two pots, so clean up was kind to my soux chef who also had a tough day. John, aka My Favorite Mixologist, also eased our day by pouring a delightful Malcolm Lowry cocktail. Ahhhh...
I'll hafta do a cocktail post sometime...But back to the main course...

Here goes:

In pot 1 (rice):
-Boil 2 cups chicken stock with 1 cup (canned) coconut milk and a 3-inch cinnamon stick. When boiling, add 1 and a half cups rice...cook about 18 mins until liquid has evaporated and rice is al dente.

In pot 2 (beans):
-Heat 3 15-oz cans of drained beans...I mix 'em; tonight I used 2 navy and 1 black...2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes with juice, quarter cup chopped frozen chipotle in adobo, 2 hefty T recaito, dash salt and pepper and 1 t adobo seasoning.

Serve contents of pot 2 over contents of pot 1 and you have very content eaters!

(may I please have another MLowry?)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What up with that?

Watching the Oscars tonight, the best way I could describe the outfits, speeches and winners was: What up with that?

Getting ready to watch the Oscars tonight, I made my award-winning fried chicken...
You haven't heard of my fried chicken?
Well, to be honest, it hasn't had much wide-spread attention, but if it did, my guys wouldn't be the only ones giving it a standing ovation, if I do say so myself. My mom actually asked for it as part of her birthday present one year...

My backstory opens with a overly-obsessed woman in a tiny kitchen...
I used to have a Fear of Frying - OMG, all that FAT??? - so much so that John still teases me that I would refuse to bread and fry fish fillets when we first started living together. (Aaaages ago! Don't ask!)

But one day, I craved fried chicken that the fast-food-in-a-paper-bucket version couldn't I made it myself. And it was good. And Look! It didn't soak up nearly as much oil as I thought it would. Yay! I was on to something...

I played around with it a bit over time - dutch oven deep frying v. cast iron skillet shallow frying/one dip v. two - and became partial to the double-dipping shallow each her own.

Here goes:

-In a big bowl, soak a cut-up, bone-in, chicken or your favorite parts - today I used just thighs and breasts (that I cut in half for more-reasonable portions) 'cuz they were the most-economical at the market - in about a quart of buttermilk with about a half cup or more of Frank's Hot Sauce. Marinate for 20 mins to 2 hours...whatever time you have.
-Prepare the dredge mixing 1 and a half to 2 cups flour, 3 T salt, 2 T ground black pepper and 1 T smoked paprika.
-Heat enough canola oil to fill a cast iron skillet about half way (an inch to an inch and a half deep) to 350 degrees. The Behemoth took about a half gallon...that's enough to frighten even the most fool hearty, but really I got most of it back in the end. Yes, recycling strained oil is cool.
-Start dippin. Pull each piece out of the buttermilk, dredge in flour and repeat, placing the pieces on a wire rack over a sheet pan (gotta limit the mess!) to dry.
-Carefully place the chicken into the pan, being sure not to crowd it so the oil temp stays somewhat constant. I keep a thermometer probe in the pan and fool with the flame to achieve this.
-Cook on one side until only about a third of the top looks raw, then flip to get the nice same brown crust on the other side.
-Drain on another rack over a baking sheet. Cooking in batches, be careful to keep the raw stuff away from the cooked stuff, two sets of tongs and everything.

We also had a salad of diced tomatoes, green pepper, shallot, celery and dressed with 1 t salt, ground pepper, 1 T olive oil and 1 T basil chiffonade...I made this earlier and the salt drew out enough juice that the salad didn't need additional acid.

My trusty soux chef contributed one of his favorite things: Buttermilk biscuits...and in a bit of a twist, he used the drop method - as opposed to rolling and cutting - in a muffin tin. Yummy!

Overall, the curtain fell on a winning evening...the awards may be over, but I still have plenty of golden fried chicken waiting for me in the freezer!

John asked me if I considered making any improvements to the chicken and I had a thought: What if I use matzoh meal instead of flour? Then we could have it at Passover. Wouldn't the look on my mother's face be priceless when she says, "What up with that?"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Decisions, decisions...

After weekend after weekend of snow, temps below normal and gray skies, today was a Lovely day in our neighborhood: 51 degree-high (tho my car said it was as warm as 63 a couple times) with bright sun. Ahhh...

Can spring be far? Probably. But this mirage of warmth leads me to ponder: Grill the salmon or roast it? Of course I could do either inside or outside...but I'm debating using the bbq or the oven.

(BTW, it's totally nifty that we have a natural gas tanks, no bags o''s ready when we are! Let's leave the flavor discussion for another time, shall we?)

I settled on shoot me...and making a sauce from jarred olive bruschetta (yes, I realize I used the wrong word last week-then I meant crostini, now I mean relish), fresh shallots, garlic, some cream and maybe some wine, pesto or dijon if necessary. I'm also riffing on fried artichokes and putting it all on a bed of lettuce.

But my soux chef has deserted me. He's off in Rapture, killing Big Daddies and cavorting with Little Sisters...or something like that...No! Get your mind out of the X ratings! It's rated M, for Mature (HA!), and he's hundreds of feet underwater playing the BioShock 2 video game.

The BIG problem for me is that with all the prepping I'm doing, the cocktail glasses haven't gotten chilled and my favorite mixologist isn't mixing! Yet.

Here goes:

-Do the fryin, before the fish...
-Prepare four artichokes by peeling off all the tough outside leaves and trim the stem about a half dressed veg should have the stem peeled and the 'top' trimmed by a half inch and only the tender 'yellow' outer leaves showing. (Please check a 'legitimate' cooking site to see how to dress an artichoke!) Slice laterally in quarters and place in aciduated water.
-Slice a lemon super thinly...for the first time, I used the mandolin the guys gave me for the holidays...John's used it, but he always uses 'tools' before I do, even if they're mine...
-Heat about two inches of canola oil to the 325-degree to 350-degree range.
-Meanwhile, chop 2 cloves garlic and thinly slice 1 shallot for the salmon sauce.
-Start by frying the lemon slices, salt them while draining, then fry almost dry artichokes and salt them while draining.
-Heat about 1T olive oil in large pan, and salt & pepper the salmon steak. Put the salmon in the pan, 3 mins one side, 2 mins the next...pull off to a plate and cover to warm.
-In the empty pan, add the garlic and shallot to soften then add a hefty 2T olive bruschetta, a splash of white wine...that chardonnay is still hangin on in our fridge...a t dijon and two splashes heavy cream...salt and pepper...
-Build a salad of half romaine heart and half a thinly sliced red pepper...dress with half t lemon juice, half t dijon, salt & pepper, T olive oil all whisked...put salmon on salad, and salmon sauce on the salmon...fried stuff works well in self-serve bowl...

Oh and for those wondering about Jere and the fish or Dill's hockey game...they ditched us. Yup, they left us to fend for ourselves while they went to the BIG state-playoff basketball game. Go Cougars!

Good thing I know how to cook!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The crack of the bat...

Friday nights are most often take-away nights: I'm too burnt out to cook and John's too burnt out to argue the cost.

But tonight was more for convenience. Tonight actually marked an annual event - much like a solstice does - which is the start of baseball season.

So as tryouts begin, we join the many parents who sit on pins and needles as our spawn hit, field and throw their hearts out for a few precious spots on the high school teams. With all this pressure, who can concentrate on cooking?? An excuse? Perhaps. But it's my excuse and I'm stickin to it.

We ordered from the pizza place up the street and got a mix of hot and cold subs...the parm sandwiches didn't have enough marinara for my liking, but the flavor's right on.

And yep, I guess - based on last night's pasta and tonight's sandwiches - I like to be sauced. (Lemme know if you get the pun.)

Ah well, Dill's first tryout session finally finished at half nine...dunno what's on deck for tomorrow...but those pins are really starting to sting my butt. Just a few more days, just a few more days, just a few more days...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

For some, taste is personal...

...for others, it's in their mouths. And so it went tonight as it often does: Adults give dinner a thumbs up; Lads eat as much as they have to in order to respectfully ask to be excused.

The amusing thing is that Dill kvetched only about the veg, and yet he left the pasta in the bowl...go figure. At least he was feeling better, even after fistfuls of Cheez-Its, strawberries and other assorted snackies that I'm guessing were the hors d'oeuvres. Sheesh! I even threw the croutons he requested Sunday onto the pasta.

Jere, on the other hand, just wanted to get back to his homework. The guy has priorities.

As for mine - priority, that is - I coulda used a bit more sauce...but I liked it. And John, well, he rarely meets a plate of food he doesn't find the bottom of.

Here goes:

-Start salted water to boil for 1lb whole wheat spaghetti and heat large non-stick skillet.
-Saute about 4 slices applewood smoked bacon that's been cut into half-inch pieces, add about 2t olive oil then 4 large minced garlic cloves, half onion cubed (leftover from last night's dinner), pinch salt and nice grind of pepper and saute until translucent.
-To this, add half a cubed apple, 1 and a half t chopped rosemary saute then add 3 cups chopped fresh kale, 2 splashes white wine (the chardonnay in the fridge), 2 splashes chicken stock, more salt & pepper (more p than s!) and a nice grate of nutmeg...just before tossing with the pasta, add about 2 and a half T cream.
-Top with grated parm & leftover croutons - gotta get rid of 'em somehow!

All in all, it was an OK dinner...dealt with leftovers, didn't have to defrost anything, mixed together crazy stuff...a typical night. Not the hit my young friend Evan was in his school play, but not a flop either. (Maybe that's why my Beloved Blueshirts lost in OT to Cindy, who knows?)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Anywhere but here...

...was the sentiment of the day. So dinner took its cue from a warmer part of the world...

When Jere rang, and asked The Question, I replied much like I did with Dill yesterday: Hmmm, dunno; Is there anything you have a hankering for?

And get this - I am NOT making it up - he said, "something that you make." While he clarified that he in NO way was being complimentary, I take it as a compliment. You can take it as you will.

So as the protein speech bubbles burst overhead: Do we want shrimp? Pop. Steak? Pop. Burgers? Pop. Then, I struck today's gold: Pork loin!

How 'bout, tacos? Yay! We'll have them in a traditional, aka few toppings, style. A quick stop at the market for tortillas, a chance meeting with a friend - Hi Lieve! - and we're cookin.

Got home, got the frozen loin into the defrosting tub (stainless steel bowl filled with hot water), set the martini glasses to chilling and resurrected the Behemoth (our enormous cast iron skillet)!

Here goes:

-In a pan on medium, sweat 3 minced garlic cloves, half a sliced onion and half a thinly sliced red pepper in olive oil. Salt and pepper the veg.
-Add a heaping T recaito, about 2T chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It comes in small tins (about 7oz) and since I don't use a whole tin at once (ever!), I keep the rest in a zip-top bag in the when I cut off a chunk, some recipes get more peppers than sauce and others get more sauce than peppers...c'est la vie.
-Cut the pork in half laterally, then in half-inch slices and saute in the pan (that already has the veg) with a bit more salt and pepper to season the meat.
-While the meat is cooking, thinly slice accouterments: about a half of a romaine lettuce heart and about three-quarters cup scallions (6 skinny guys or 3 chunky ones). And crumble a half-cup feta. (It's what I had!)
-When the pork is almost fully cooked, add zest of half an orange and a t of honey.
-Serve on warmed, soft corn tortillas. (Note: We didn't warm the tortillas, even though John suggested it, and they fractured...I ridiculously chose eating quickly over eating well. Silly me.)

The whole shebang made 12 tacos...I didn't serve anything else with it (it's that quick thing!)...and it's a good thing poor Dill's tum was still acting up 'cuz the three of us polished 'em off! He's feeling better, so I'll be sure to make enough food tomorrow night!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blood is thicker than office cubicle partitions...

I feel a bit badly: I didn't cook tonight...and it's funny how these things happen.

The "call" didn't come from Jere this afternoon, but from Dill at about 5:30. He caught me debating whether or not I would do a mitzvah*. And up until his call, I was leaning toward going out of my way to support a grieving coworker.

So I don't end up sounding completely callous but only my usual amount of callous, lemme explain: The coworker I'm talking about isn't a close friend and she doesn't work in my unit but her mom passed away this weekend after a long illness. And I thought I'd go to the visiting hours tonight because she is a rather needy lady without a ton of friends.

But I guess I was waiting for something to sway me toward home...and Dill did it.

Poor guy was home sick yesterday with a 24-hour stomach bug, so when he asked 'what's for dinner?' and I kept true to my heritage replying 'is there anything you want?' And he said: Fast Food? (Yes, we're Jewish if you couldn't tell...go figure) I HAD no choice but to provide the nourishment he requested. After all, he was weak and starving! What's a mother to do?

So, I chose my child's request over my opportunity to do a mitzvah. However the guilt is strong in this one, and I'll prolly wind up making her a batch of my Wild Cookies or killer bread pudding to throw in her freezer.

Speaking of's back on and King Henrik was lookin GOOOOOOD!

*Literally, a mitzvah is a commandment in Jewish law, but figuratively, as it's used here, it's a 'good deed.'

Monday, March 1, 2010

Some things are better the second night, and...

...some things are just eaten the night after.

So was the case tonight.

Last night's feast left just enough for a light meal: There was leftover duck, steak and a little smoked salmon (that, shhh, became the cook's treat!), crostini - yeah, that's the term I was lookin for yesterday when I wrote about bruschetta, silly me! - the sauces, some pan-roasted apple...

I made another salad, 'cuz the kale caesar was a HUGE hit with Jere (he said it was the BEST part of last night's dinner), this time with romaine and made a bit of tuna salad using olive oil packed Italian tuna, capers, lemon juice, pepper and thyme.

All was good...

...especially the Hershey's kisses for dessert!