Sunday, August 31, 2008
With my face somewhat
less swollen I braved a
9 hour day at the MN
State Fair with my niece,
nephew and brother.
We had a blast. The
Fair is one of the things
about this state that I
Enjoy. I find the food
on a stick, (most of it
deep fried) to be interesting
if to my standards largely
inedible. I love the baked
goods that win awards,
the farmer's produce,
the quilts, the bands,
and the rides. Even the
rides that make me dizzy.
Jordan and Linnea have grown up SO VERY much this past year they were delightful companions. I share interests with both of them. I love to play softball and bike. I am outdoors a lot just like Linnea and I am a big fan of the theatre which seems to be a natural calling for Jordan. We had plenty to talk about. I have interesting relative whom I like to be with...how cool is that.
Foodies beware of the State Fair food, even those things you might recognize as food are not what they claim to be. Deep fried turkey is actually steamed and largely flavorless, pot stickers are deep fried dumplings and the Chinese restaurant that sells them is completely unaware that the name is a cooking method. A malt in the dairy building isn't a malt at all, but soft serve ice cream covered in syrup. A malt and a sundae are essentially the same things. Fresh squeezed lemonade will either be a stand where they squeeze it and shake it to order (delicious) OR a stand where they sell pre-fab crap that tastes like syrup, not lemons. In other words there is NO truth in advertising so buyer beware. Ask questions or risk eating some pretty nasty stuff.
With still limited jaw ability I had to forgo my usual apple from the farmers and settle for fresh pressed cider, which tasted pretty good. I did have an order of onion rings and still feel a bit guilty about that. I managed soft food, but not truly healthy.
Today was brunch with MYRNA and several others from Northfield Minnesota including Myrna's husband. I know people from e-mail and comments on the site and I had a completely wrong picture of Myrna. She is a pretty young Blondie, with a tattoo. For some reason I never expected a tattoo. She also makes a mean chocolate torte and she has promised to share the recipe, which I will then share with all of you. It's like a super rich brownie with a creamy center. MMM.
My brother and sister in law put this shindig together so I got to taste a LOT of food, most of which I didn't cook and all of it soft enough to not challenge my jaw. It was as tasty as it was high calorie and I did have a second helping of these wonderful creamy potatoes with a lot of shallot. I'm full.
No recipe today...we will be back to our scheduled programming later in the week. Stitches out on Thursday and my chewing capacity should be fully restored soon enough. My face may even begin to look normal again.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A VERY web savvy reader found this photo of me back when I had The Country Club in New Orleans. I kept the chickens for the fresh organic eggs, not to eat. As much as possible I used organic locally grown food. I miss keeping chickens. If my landlord would let me I would have a couple of birds and a honey bee hive.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Necessity is the Mother
of invention and I could
really use a Mother
I had an upper jaw graft, (old problems I did not take care of for a long time) and in many ways I am fine, but I look like I was the loser in a bar fight and I am not allowed to do any serious chewing or speak at all, for days. I must have as little jaw movement as possible. You can imagine how hard that is for me.
Egg drop soup, got tiring, veggies pureed in broth only go so far, while I love the peach tree out back there are only so many fresh peach and juice blends you can make before you need some FOOD.
The solution was to make up something satisfying that would literally melt in my mouth. Even for those of you who can both speak and chew, this is a great recipe.
1/8 cup capers chopped in a food processor until they are about as big as a grain of kosher salt. Set aside.
2 ounces smoked salmon
2 ounces wild caught salmon (Farmed Salmon is bad for you and the environment, don't eat it)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
a few drops of lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Puree everything in the food processor except the corn starch. This should be a creamy mass the texture of a pate'. Remove to a bowl and stir in the cornstarch.
Lay down one wonton wrapper and dampen the edges, put a teaspoon of filling in the center and put another wrapper on top, press out all of the air and seal the edges, as you make them, set them aside, until you filling has run out. You will have a least 50 ravioli.
The dipping sauce:
1/2 cup whole milk Greek or Bulgarian style yogurt.
1/2 sweet red onion
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Finely grate the red onion into the yogurt and stir in the lemon and pepper.
Now you are ready to cook your ravioli.
For 8 ravioli, I put a touch of oil in a nonstick pan and placed them in the hot oil until they began to brown and sizzle. I then poured on 1 cup of water and when it came to a boil I put on a lid and reduced the heat so they would steam through and be very soft. When the water was almost gone (8 minutes) I removed the ravioli with a slotted spoon. I drizzled with the yogurt and carefully slid them 1/2 at a time into my swollen and distorted cavity of a mouth.
Both the wrappers and the filling melted in my mouth in an explosion of flavor. I plan to make them again when I am healthy and again for a party.
I didn't eat all fifty.
I put a number of them in the freezer by laying them out on a cookie sheet not touching, freezing and then tossing in a plastic bag and squeezing out all the air. They will be great this way for several months.
Amanda sent me this link to a Daily News story I never even knew was printed. She wanted to know if I was the same guy. I am in fact.
The lasagne recipe is a great dish, I wish I had a picture of it.
Amanda sent me this link to a Daily News story I never even knew was printed. She wanted to know if I was the same guy. I am in fact.
The lasagne recipe is a great dish, I wish I had a picture of it.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
For those of you who thought that the Public Theatre's production of Hair was too clean, that it lacked grit, soul, energy, love, sweat, tears and anger; run, or take a train to Asbury Park, New Jersey and see this definitive production of the Love Rock Musical Hair. Staged by the Revision Theatre .
I was in a cast many years ago and have seen this show in several incarnations and have never been left with such a powerful punch as this version provides. If for any reason the director and choreographer of the Public version do not go to Broadway the producers need look no further than Andy Goldberg (director) and Elisabetta Spuria (choreographer) to find the talent needed to have audiences on their feet, not because they have been invited to join a Mama Mia type dance party, but because they have been touched deeply.
From the moment the lights come up and Aquarius begins as the souls of our pasts are given a summons from a Royal medium the chills begin. All around us the ghosts appear and as they grow stronger in voice they become real and it isn't a nostalgic look back, we are there. It's 1968 and we are at war, young men are needlessly dying in a war we know is wrong.
The voices are powerful and strong as the past comes to life as real and vital as anything we have experienced.
Many versions of hair make Berger the 'star'. Here we see him on his own methadrine trip, one of those selfish types who talk a good game and will someday be a Republican excusing his life with a yearly cheque to some charity.
As we become fully a part of the tribe, the tribe moves above us, around us, in front of us immersing us in their world.
When Claude sings 'Where do I go?" and the cast turns to him in the final chorus we are a part of them beseeching him to join them in being free, not to give his life for some idiotic thought of patriotism. We as the audience know no matter what the sacrifice, nothing changes.
As the show draws to a close we want them to stay, celebrate their youth just a little longer, be a part of something important, sing and dance for as long as you can. Don't become us.
It can't happen.
We know who they are, and we know who they will become. A population that has allowed the president and the congress to run roughshod over our constitution. We, who are complacent sheep going along with anything to be perpetuate the illusion that we are 'safe'. We who as the lights go on and souls of who we used to be depart sit stunned with tears in our eyes for what we have allowed ourselves and our country to be.
Theatre this evocative should run much longer than 3 weeks. The City of Asbury needs to give this amazing company an extension on the Carousal building and when it finally closes spend their resources turning the space into a Theatre, not some wasteful shopping court. If equity is an issue, guys bend your rules, you do it all the time to screw actors. Bend them again to give them a chance to be seen.
I'll make the trip to New Jersey again for this, but not to buy a pair of sunglasses.
Go to the website, read the names, remember these performers. Keep your eyes on them as they continue to work and hopefully fulfill the promises so many of us have failed.
So how do we go from here to a punch recipe? Hey, I'm a food writer, it may not always be a smooth transition but what is?
The one thing I remember about the 60's was punch, fruit juice (always eventually spiked) was served in big Christal or glass bowls. As hard as this cast works an Angel Hair pasta recipe just wouldn't cut it. They need something to rehydrate as they skinny dip til the sun comes up.
2 cups sugar
1 huge ginger root cut up
2 cups water
Warm the water on the stove and simmer the ginger root in the water for 30 minutes then stir in the sugar to make a syrup.
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup lime juice
1 cup unsweetened Cranberry juice
1 cup Cherry juice (tart if you can get it)
1 cup Pineapple juice
7 cups water
Once the syrup is made, stir in all the fruit juices and chill. Serve like a lemonade over ice and if the party calls for it spike it with some booze. Vodka, rum, or tequila blend best with fruit juices, but hippies can't be choosers so use what you've got.
Best served at final cast parties to celebrate a job well done. For this cast I would man the Barbecue at no fee, and I'm expensive.
Ephie Aardema, Julia Arazi, Casey gensler, Kyle Taylor Parker, Marah Meese, Mike Russo, Scoop Slone, Keith Antone, Steven Charles, Joay Caldwell, Spiro Gallatsatos, Martin Gould Cummings, Deidra Grace, Iliana Inocencio, Britt Johnson, Hannah Shankman, Anita Welch
Brian Green, All Coffey, John Gronert, John Manga, Jim Mcilvain, Steve Pleasnarki, John Luckenbil
Band Conductor: Andrew Hertz
Set Design: Russell Michael Scramm
Lighting: George Hansel
Costumes: Steven Epstein
Sound: Simon Ghezzi
Assistant Director: Heather Foard
Associate Set Design: Dawn Von suskill
Production Stage Manager: Julie Meyer
Assistant Stage Manager: Ann Marie Chiatia
Music Direction: Andres Hertz
Choreography: Elisabetta Spuria
Director: Andy Goldberg
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
If you look at the Kane Sisters web site you might think that you are in for an evening of song, dance, bawdy burlesque if you will. (David A. Rudd pictured)
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are no top hats and canes to be found in this farce. In fact by the time the actors appear for the bows we are dying to see some actual act from these Kane Sisters. The curtain call would have been a perfect opportunity to pull out the canes, the hats and the fancy socks and give us the number. But alas, yet another opportunity was missed.
With a plot as thin as Angel hair pasta and jokes from tired drag queens throughout history, you might wonder what this show has to offer and why on earth they get their own cookies.
This show offers some of the most talented cast members of any fringe show. Actors that make their caricatures into characters. Actors who are given no jokes who still manage to get laughs out of almost non-existent situations. There are too many talented folks to cite each one so I am printing the cast list out. They make a show that in lesser hands would have been unbearable into an evenings entertainment. I want to see more of all of these folks.
The Newscaster ............Zach Kleinsmith
Pice ............................... Andrew Dawson*
Shifty .............................Brent Erdy*
Lynn ...............................Elizabeth Bove*
Rory .............................. Patrick McCarthy*
Belva ..............................Sheila Stasack*
Romaine ........................Elizabeth West*
Merkin .......................... Brent Erdy*
Stinky .............................Nicholas Gorham
Buddy ............................. Christian Pedersen*
Lana ................................Marc Geller*
Nova ............................... Bill Roulet*
Slats ................................Christopher H. Matthews*
Pansy .............................. Marta Reiman*
Buster ..............................David A. Rudd*
*member Actors' Equity Association
Marc Geller who wrote and directed and acts in this bit of fluff shows his strengths only as a director. He coaxes the most out of a bare stage and out of his fellow performers.
So this talented cast gets a chocolate chip cookie, a thin one. It's been done about a thousand times before; there is little original about this recipe but if you do it well and put love and enthusiasm into your baking, these cookies will get a round of applause.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons salt
3 sticks butter softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 beaten egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy
2 packages dark chocolate bits (if you get chips, get one large chip and one mini chip)
Stir together your dry ingredients and set aside. In a large mixing bowl cream butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla and brandy. Stir in flour mixture with a spoon; stir in chocolate chips. Then get your small ice cream scooper or a tablespoon. Shape cookie dough into little balls. Place about 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets, or us parchment if your baking sheets are as old as mine. Bake at 325° for about 15 minutes, or until flat and browned. Cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in airtight containers. This recipe makes enough cookies to feed a cast party.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I admit it, I am a lousy photographer. You won't even know what that image on the right is until I tell you, but it was so frigging delicious I had to photograph the dish.
I am very fortunate that I have a lot of good friends. One who appears out of nowhere whenever I think of him. He lives in LA and has a house in the UK but appears in NY anytime I need a friend. Either we have a psychic connection or my phone is bugged.
M called me the evening before he was due to arrive and wanted to make sure I had no plans for dinner. I said I was free, let's go somewhere and started to suggest restaurants. His response; I'm good with potluck, let's just hang out at your place and I'll have whatever you are having. I told him he would get a pasta, that I had a full day and no time to shop.
One of the great benefits of living in NY is that you can get pretty much anything DELIVERED. The following morning at 9 a.m. my doorbell rang and there was a delivery man with a bag of gorgeous short ribs, a bottle of wine and a box of seriously dark chocolate.
Clearly I was meant to cook and M wanted dinner, not pasta.
I tend to avoid short ribs in the summer, though I love them, they are a slow cook and all day affair. Due to the wonderful convenience of the crock pot I went for it.
6 gorgeous short ribs
1 large onion chopped
5 cloves garlic chopped
2 ripe Roma tomatoes chopped
1 cup Rose wine (okay you can use any wine, but I had Rose open)
1 cup Stock (whatever you have in the freezer)
1 cup white beans
1/2 pound fatback or slab bacon in chunks
Brown your onion til caramelized then add the garlic til soft. Dump in the crock. Salt and pepper your ribs and brown them in the same pan. Toss in the fatback and saute til golden. Dump it all in the crock and de-glaze your pan with the wine. Dump it in along with the stock, the beans, the tomatoes. Stir, turn on high and cover.
Go take a shower, have breakfast, make some more coffee...whatever you do in the morning.
After about an hour reduce the crock to low.
Go away, come back 5 to 10 hours later. Your house will smell amazing.
Remove everything from the pan with a slotted spoon and turn the crock to high again to reduce the sauce.
Separate your elements. Put the beans in a bowl, the fatback on one plate the ribs on another. Once the sauce has reduce a bit dump the ribs back in and turn to low.
Take your fatback and put skin side down in a cold nonstick pan and turn to medium. Wait for it to sizzle and brown. Get your hand blender out and puree the beans. Turn your fatback over and crisp and brown the other side. When crisp move to a plate and re-heat your bean puree. Put a little bean puree on the plate, layer the bits of crisp fatback and drizzle a touch of balsamic over the whole thing.
Okay, I know the photo is awful, I reduced it to BW because I was hoping for artistic. I failed. Anyway, the taste of the fatback is like a foi gras. It loses a lot of it's salt and absorbs much of the meaty goodness of the ribs. With the creamy beans and the slight acidity of the vinegar it all melts in your mouth.
Trust me, this tastes way better than it looks. Forget calories, in fact don't even tell your guests what they are eating until they taste. They will be shocked that it is fatback.
Fix a nice green vegetable, you have just eaten a portion of fat, you need the fiber.
Put your tender gorgeous ribs on the plate with the crisp light vegetables and go for glutinous to virtuous. With enough wine you will forget the fact you have been eating creamy slices of fat.
I recommend a rich, dark, dense, expensive Malbec to have with this feast, but any red will do.
You COULD have it as one dish and throw away the fatback, but that would be wasting some pretty good fat in my opinion.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I have not had a large appetite lately and have been cooking less than normal, but Sunday I got seriously hungry while at the Farmer's market in NY.
I am a big fan of our Farmers, I literally used to work for food when I first moved to NY. Eating well has always been a priority and cash was low so I worked for Ed and Carol at Treelicious Orchards my first year off the plane. I love my Farmer's for making sure that I ate healthily and well.
This past Sunday (77th and Columbus market) Ed had the most beautiful peppers in many varieties and suddenly I was starving. I got my peppers and some of his delicious fruit and was on my way.
In the freezer I had a chunk of goat meat with no bones. Typically goat is hacked and most cuts contain bone so when I saw this I grabbed it, having no idea how I would cook it. It was about 3/4 pound. You can substitute any meat you like but realize that chicken might get overwhelmed by the strong flavors. I would favor pork or lamb.
3/4 pound of shaved meat (Easiest to do when frozen, shave with a slicer or a knife until you have thin slices.)
1 medium onion
5 peppers from sweet to hot sliced in very thin small strips
10 cloves of garlic (pureed with some olive oil in the food processor)
6 small flour tortillas
2 chopped ripe tomatoes
1 sweet onion
A big bunch of cilantro
Wrap your tortillas in some foil and warm in the oven. Saute the onion and peppers together until they are caramelized. Lay the thin slices of goat in the skillet, salt and cook just until done. Dump all the garlic in at the last minute to glaze the whole mass and divide into the warm tortillas topping the the tomato, onion, cilantro mixture.
NOTE: Wear kitchen gloves when seeding and chopping peppers or the oil may make your hands burn.
As we say in the south, these were slap your mama good.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
The Fringe Festival in NYC has begun. I always to to several shows, often based on the time and location of the performance because it is so difficult to make intelligent choices based on one paragraph blurbs.
One does not go expecting full transferable productions, one goes in the hopes of seeing sparks of talent,writers, composers or actors you may want to keep your eyes on.
"Nudists in Love" did offer glimpses at some talent. The music by Nirmal Chandraratna has a few nice moments, the voila playing by Jessica Mui was really lovely. There were two performances that did not resort to characture, both Ashley Anne Harrell and Nick Algier had nice comic moments and great voices. I would love to see their work in the future.
That said the book and direction were a mess. The gimmick was a musical about nudists with no nudity, more on that later. There was no particular viewpoint...suburban families are bad, except when they are not??? Nudism is good???
A man is ousted as garden club president because he goes to a nudist camp, so everyone shuns and judges him until they find out they dislike the new president so they decide to make him uncomfortable by going to the meetings NUDE. The clever prop gimmick employed is ruined by putting the actors in bodysuits decorated with fig leaves. The clever props might have been funny if we weren't so aware that in essence everyone was fully dressed and therefore had nothing to hide behind those props. A blackberry hooked to a belt is much funnier than a blackberry held over a fig leaf. Jokes about how hirsute a character was fell flat, because the actor had no hair. Nothing much worked.
Since it is my mission to put the best forward I bring you...Stuffed Fig leaves ala Nick and Ashley...
I was in a market the other day and they had clusters of fresh figs complete with branches and beautiful leaves. I knew they were edible but in the two preparations I made I didn't much like them. I have great grape leaves in the back yard which are much more tender and
I used them to wrap shrimp and finally...success.
4 large fig leaves (or substitute grape leaves)
16 whole shrimp, bodies peeled, heads intact
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 375°. Wash the fig leaves, and put them on the table, shiny side up. Put the shrimp in the middle of each leaf.Place the seasonings in the melted butter and toss the shrimp with the seasoning.
Put 4 shrimp on each fig leave and roll up the leaf to make a package. Put the folded side down when you place it on a baking sheet so that it will stay closed. Pour a little water and the oil in a shallow baking pan and put the packages in it.
Put the baking sheet with the four packages in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remember, it will continue to cook a bit after you take it out of the oven, so don't cook it too much. Put the packages on plates, and let each person open their own. It is good with a squeeze of lemon. Make sure you suck the butter out of the shrimp heads.
If you use grape leaves you can eat the leaf when done, while the fig leaves are edible, they work like a banana leaf in this presentation and pretty much exist to cover/steam the shrimp.
To learn about the actors...visit Nick and Ashley
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Sometimes we all need a bowl of chicken soup. It can help cure just about everything or to quote Stephanie Lee..."It can fix most anything 'cept the break of dawn and a broken heart."
Having had a little procedure yesterday I was off my red wine diet and needed something that would go down easy. Even when you feel rotten chicken soup goes down easy. So whether you've had a bone graft, or feel a little flue-like this recipe will help to heal.
8 cups chicken stock (canned and boxed are never very good)
2 carrots diced
Celery leaves finely chopped
Parsley finely chopped
Fresh Dill finely chopped
8 cloves of garlic finely diced
1 onion cut into semi-small chunks
A little olive oil
Shredded chicken (optional)
1 lemon wedge per bowl
I tend to make my stock in advance and reduce it so that it is ready in the freezer for whatever is needed, but a great time to make chicken soup is the day after you have had a roast chicken. Thrown the bones in the pot with water and whatever else you have and boil it down for several hours. If you don't cook and want a specific recipe grab a cookbook. I never make it the same way twice.
In a large pot saute the onion in the oil 'til it begins to carmelize then add the garlic, just when your garlic begins to brown throw in the stock and all the vegetables. While that is coming to a boil it is time to make the noodles. Come on, you didn't think I was going to open a bag.
Grandma's Thumbprint Noodles
A pile of flour
Salt and black pepper
Crack the egg into the flour and salt it well, then grind in some pepper. Beat with a fork and begin to incorporate flour. It will get gummy then doughy. When it become doughy knead a few times until you have a nice dough that is not too sticky.
You can roll the dough out and cut into nice even noodles, but my Grandma Ett did it with her thumb. Take a little pinch of dough and squeeze/roll between your thumb and your forefinger. Set them aside until they are done and then drop into the boiling stock and vegetables making sure you stir so they don't stick together. They will be soft in about 14 minutes. Throw in the diced chicken if you have it, otherwise just ladle into a bowl and top with the diced herbs and a squeeze of lemon.
This goes great with a light red, or a rose, but if alcohol is forbidden due to a painkiller it's not bad with a bit of club soda and a splash of juice.
It doesn't cure everything, but it never hurts.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Most Minnesotans have gardens and lots of vegetables that they grow. Traditionally the vegetables are put in big paper bags and given to everyone they know. Bags of tomatoes and zucchini are brought to offices and neighbors and after a few salads a lot of folks are at a loss as to what to do with them.
Toss 'em in the soup pot, or even a crock pot and make a kick ass soup. After a long day at the State Fair or whatever other summer activity you enjoy it can be so nice to come home to soup, salad and a glass of wine. it is so easy to make this ahead and warm it up. This version does not have rice or pasta, but if you want some, add it. If you have a different mix of veggies that's fine too. If you live in one of those lands of long winter you need to eat those fresh veggies while you can.
1 - 1 cup Great Northern Beans (okay you can use any bean, but you are in the North)
6 ounces salt pork or chunk bacon
10 cups chicken broth (best if you make your own but the truly lazy can use the boxed)
2 onions, chopped
2 celery stalk, chopped (plus the leaves, they add great flavor)
1 carrot, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head savoy or curly cabbage, sliced
1 cup of garden green beans halved
3 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cups fresh garden tomatoes
1 pound Italian Sausage browned (Yes you can use Jimmy Dean and it will taste fine, but really how hard can it be to get some hot Italian Sausage?)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
Chopped basil or parsley for garnish
1 Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain beans, rinse, and place them in a large stockpot or crock pot. Add salt pork which has been chunked and browned and 6 cups of broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 90 minutes. (overnight in the crock pot)Keep an eye on the beans, if they need more broth add it.
2 Heat oil in a separate large stockpot. Add chopped vegetables (onion, celery, carrot, garlic,) and saute until lightly browned. Add remaining vegetables and tomatoes. Add remaining 5 cups broth. Simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3 Remove salt pork from beans. Dice finely. Transfer half of the beans to a food processor or a blender and blend into a paste. Add mashed beans to the vegetables. Add remaining whole beans, broth, and diced pork to vegetables.
4 Simmer 5 minutes longer. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve with a handful of brown sausage and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and the fresh herbs if you have them.
Serves 10-12, easily. (This recipe makes a lot of soup!)