Monday, January 30, 2012

For the Weekend, Or, Weekend Recovery

My friend Robin and her friend Robin came up with a twist on the martini:

One part vodka
Two parts blood orange juice

Shake well and pour into cocktail glasses.

Splash one part ginger ale, garnish with freshly grated ginger.
Bloody delicious.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

SOPA

Yeah--late to the party.
First off, I could not connect.  Where I come from, this is what sopa is:

Heat a little oil in a sauce pan.  On medium, saute half a pound of vermicelli or coiled pasta until lightly browned or toasted. Feeling wild? Saute a half cup of frozen carrots and peas as well.  Crumble in a cube of instant broth, chicken, veg or beef, add a quarter cup tomato sauce.  Add a cup and a half of water.  Cover saucepan, simmer on low until the broth is absorbed by  the noodles.

This was a go to dish when I was raised, an instant hit with my son when he was younger, and comfort food to my grandparents.  Long ago, after traveling to Europe and arriving in France, worried about what they would find to eat, they were delighted to be served this dish. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pork Tenderloin

This is an  easy piece of meat, one that I have often sniffed at, skeptically, and avoided.
Was it the cost? The strange shape?

For some reason I slipped it in my shopping cart. 

Season a pork tenderloin (1-2 lbs) or two with garlic salt, pepper, sprinkle with dried or
chopped fresh rosemary.  Grate the zest of one small lemon over it.  Let sit on your counter for
an hour to absorb the seasonings.  Place, fat side down, on a tin foil lined roasting pan,  in a 400 degree oven for thirty minutes.  Remove from oven, turn fat side up, return to oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.(Five to fifteen minutes).
Remove and let rest, another 5 to 10 minutes.
On your  platter or cutting board, slice cross-wise to thickness you deem fit.  Serve with whatever delights you, macaroni and cheese, ratatouille, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes.  A dream in seasoning and tenderness.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Slow cooking




Sometimes you have the centerpiece of a feast that deserves special treatment.  Like a lamb roast, donated by an occasional carnivore, in search of the perfect approach.  And yes, you have to risk a new approach will turn out delectable, despite misgivings and a suddenly unreliable oven.

Gigot a la cuillere
Which is French for lamb tender enough to eat with a spoon.

Heat your oven to 210 degrees.
In a Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.  Take your four pound lamb roast, shank or shoulder and brown on all sides.  Remove lamb, pour out oil and fat.  Add a bottle of plonk (white--if, like some you have an aversion to $2 Chuck, find a $4 bottle at the grocery story) and deglaze, scraping up any bits and pieces.  Add a cup or two of chicken stock, bring to a simmer.  Add browned lamb, five crushed garlic cloves, a bay leaf, a sprig of parsely, a sprinkling of dried rosemary or a sprig of fresh.  Cover and place in oven, for 5-7 hours, (that is correct, not a typo) turning the lamb hourly.  If the stock seems overly reduced, add a half cup of water as necessary.

What's great about this slow cooking is that it allows you plenty of time to check your email, write a few chapters of your novel, set the table, take a nap, chat on the phone, all the time not worrying at all at all about what's in the oven.  Unless you're mildly neurotic, like me, and you spend your 5-7 hours fretting (baselessly) about how it will turn out.

 Remove from oven, let rest fifteen minutes or so.  Serve sliced or shredded, with your choice of sides, (creamed spinach! roast potatoes!) to general acclaim.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When Life Gives You Turnips

Few things are more "local" than a nearby friend offering you the bounty of her own garden.  I've eaten turnip raw (peeled and salted), oven roasted, added to mashed potatoes (oh, my children still mock me for that effort), but no experience with turnip greens.  Up till now.

So, if you, too, find yourself with a bushel of greens, here are my recommendations:

Slick a low and wide saucepan with olive oil. Add a two cloves garlic, one meaty shallot, and saute briefly, until tender.  Sprinkle in a half teaspoon of chili pepper flakes, and whisk around. Add your cleaned and chopped greens (a pound or so) and stir until covered with oil.  Cover and let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.  Stir at your leisure.  Remove lid, add a half cup chicken stock, sprinkle with salt, and cook, covered, on low, for fifteen minutes.

You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Wishes

My definition of civilization is below.
"The country of Bhutan’s emphasis on GNH, or 'Gross National Happiness,'dates back to 1972 when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the term. And they back it with a Gross National Happiness Commission set up in 2008 to guide public policy. Here are a few examples of how the commission reviews public policy proposals. Do proposals:
  1. Increase or decrease levels of stress in the population?
  2. Discourage or encourage physical exercise?
  3. Increase or decrease “economic security within the population”?
  4. Increase or decrease “material well-being within the population”?
Their prime minister explained to a reporter from The Guardian:
'In the end, the development must be about furthering human civilization … to increase and improve the level of human well-being and happiness. We are talking of happiness, not of a sensory kind. The human being has material as well as emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs.'"
What would the US capitalism look like if these were our guiding principles? How truly civil-ized.
May Bhutan's conception spread. 
Thanks, Karen, for pointing the way.
Read the entire article here, and happy new year!