Saturday, February 15, 2014

Barbarism and Barbecue

According to this post in Salon, barbecue traces its roots back to cannibalism. According to this post, (in my honor, may I add), by goddess Margaret, all that should be right up my alley.

How appropriate, then, that I should have recently developed a savage addiction to Ken Bruen's work. London Boulevard (a play on "Sunset Boulevard," get it? I was halfway through the book before I could figure it out) is dripping with violence, blood, noir and hard boiled allusions; I was going to return it to the library, but then changed my mind. Working through its references should fill my summer reading list.

Although Bruen's Irish, his writing style is strictly US of A. And what embodies that legend most? Bar B Q.

I will not post the recipe, I will merely give you the link for the most amazing Carolina pulled pork sandwiches. Last night we used the smoker, and let me tell you, dinner was smokin' hot.

Sounds like a 4th of July recipe, to me. That was a revolution, right? We are a violent bunch of people.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

You CAN do this at home

I love manila clams.  They're small and flavorful, and pop open, when steamed, in minutes.

1/2 pound per person.
(what follows are ingredients per person/serving)

In a saute pan add a splash of olive oil. Saute a tablespoon of minced shallots until translucent. Add a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of minced jalapenos.  Cook a few seconds, until soft.  Add half an ounce or so of sliced Spanish chorizo, saute briefly.  Into sauce pan splash a bit of white wine about.  Once half-evaporated, add a half a cup of broth (fish, chicken or vegetable) and bring to a boil.   Toss in your rinsed clams, lower to a simmer, cover and check after three minutes.  The clams will be opening right before your eyes.  If not, give it another minute or two, but no longer.  (And don't pry open the closed ones, they're shut tight for a reason).

Serve in a soup bowl with plenty of the spicy broth, crusty bread and sweet butter.

Soooo satisfying!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crab Risotto
The kids have flown, the spouse is out of town. Sola, perduta, abbandonata, as the Puccini aria goes.
On the upside, the menu is all my own.

Here's something I made for myself.  Full confession: I actually had shrimp stock in the freezer, making it so much more memorable.

In a heavy sauce pan heat  a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil.  Add a tablespoon of shallots.  Stir until transparent, or cook until caramelized a bit. Stir in half a cup of risotto, heat through.  Splash with white wine, stir until evaporated. Add salt.
A half a cup of watered down stock at a time, add to sauce pan, stirring over medium heat, until liquid is absorbed.  Keep doing this until the rice is done to your desired consistency (cooked through, but not mushy). This may take 15 minutes.  At last,  stir in a teaspoon of unsalted butter, a scattering of chopped herbs: tarragon, parsley, chives and half a cup of crab (canned, I'm not fussy) stirring until heated through.

A little fume blanc with your meal, and you could be singing like this.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Sipping

Grammercy Park, NYC, outside my daughter's dorm.
My daughter heads home today, and in honor of her return from the cold we'll have a celebratory cocktail and nosh.

Drink recipe via the glamorous and ebullient Nigella Lawson

The Poinsettia:

Per champagne glass--
a splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier
Fill halfway with cranberry juice
Top with sparkling wine.

This, and my daughter, will be sure to make the evening sparkle.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sweet Potatoes are Your Friends

To many of us, these weird looking tubers make an appearance once a year or so, filling pie shells, or topped with mini marshmallows.  I used them on Thanksgiving for a wonderful casserole, mixed with butter, brown sugar and topped with pecans.  Pie filling posing as a side dish.

Afterwards there were unused sweet potatoes left in my fridge.  Not up for a brown sugar binge, I searched, and I found.

Thank you, Chicagolist.

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.  As it warms, scrub clean your tubers, then cube (skins, warts and all).
Toss them in a baking dish, add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil per potato, and toss again til they are well-coated. 

(You can add pepper and a dash of cayenne--but this way the subtle sweetness is more pronounced)

Roast for 20 minutes, remove from oven, mix them up, return to oven for another 10-20 minutes until a bit crusty on the exterior and meltingly tender on the interior. 

Divine. I promise you, too, will thank Chicagolist.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits

This happened because I couldn't bear to throw away the buttermilk, again.  I usually keep it around for pancakes, because it's better than milk.  But there was that quart, staring at me accusingly.

Biscuits, it whispered to me, suggestively.  Buttermilk biscuits with melting butter and apricot jam.  Buttermilk biscuits with any leftover gravy. Biiisssscuuuuiiiiits--

All right already!
Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix 2 cups flour with 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt and 6 tablespoons unsalted very cold butter, cut into small pieces.

If you have a food processor, combine the dry ingredients then add the butter, and pulse into course meal.
Otherwise cut the butter in by hand.  Mix in one cup buttermilk until just combined.
Pat the dough out gently onto a floured surface, cut into rounds.  Repeat with scraps (handle the dough as briefly as possible, for best results).

Bake for 10-12 minutes- until light golden brown on top. 
What, too many for one person?  Freeze them on a cookie sheet, repackage, then bake at your leisure, again at 450 this time for 20 minutes.

Coffee, apricot jam and biscuits.  Perfect for a winter morning.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Holy smokes, it's that time of year again--the end of the year.  Perhaps I think not blogging will slow things down, but it hasn't worked, not yet.

I hope your Thanksgiving festivities were tastefully rollicking, and that the following days were filled with pie and more pie for breakfast. It was a sad morning for me when I realized I had already eaten the last of the pie.


In between cooking and eating and cleaning up there are thoughts of Christmas and Hannukah gifts.  I think I have found one that really out does itself in a stunning lack of self-awareness.  More in a moment.
Cut to--The Hunger Games, which, however way you slice your turkey IS all about class warfare--no more glaring than the contrast between Katniss's home town of District 12--and the gleeful gaudy carnival atmosphere of the capitol. Each and every resident a preening Louis XVI or a gloating Marie Antoinette. 

The gift I was talking about?
You can find it right here.  What is it?
The New Hunger Games Capitol Truffle Collection.
A mere $225.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Excuses, Excuses

Gentle reader, I was so giddy about having an essay up, that I forgot to let you know.
If you are interested in a true crime story, you can find it here, at The Toast.