Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yellowtail is to wine what the Olive Garden is to food

Both are an abomination.

I admit that I once thought that Berenger White Zinfandel was the bottom of the proverbial barrel but I now declare Yellowtail to be the worst of the popular wines. Given a choice I would make myself down the kool aid swill that Berenger produces before subjecting myself to another glass of what they call Shiraz.

Think about it...Yellowtail is everywhere, on the sides of busses, on buildings, in full page ads in magazines yet you can still buy it for 6 bucks a bottle. At the same time the 'winery' is reaping heaping profits. Math may not be my subject but if they are spending massive dollars on ads, reaping massive profits and charging about 2 bucks a bottle to the much is left to devote to the quality of the wine? 5 cents maybe.

I daresay even Gallo spends more than that on their jug wines.

With so much good wine at good prices there is no reason to consume nickel bottles of swill.

To leave you with a rant about the worst without giving you something better to drink would be the lowest of the low.

Cartlidge & Brown Syrah from California is an excellent wine for about 10 bucks a bottle. While slightly more expensive than swill the money goes into the bottle, not advertising. Besides which they call the grape by it's proper name, not the made up sounding marketing name.

Move up from swill and thank me later.

Eating Light faux Caeser

I love a Caeser salad, but I don't love the calories. To lose a few pounds I am trying to restrict myself to 2000 calories a day. This means fruits and vegetables are my primary foods. No one ever got fat on too much Swiss Chard.

I really wanted that creamy, garlicky, cheesy dressing but in the interest of calories and not wanting to weight my mesclun down (no Romaine in the house) I made a lighter version, and damn it was good.

4 cloves garlic
Juice of two limes
1 egg white
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 anchovy filets
2 teaspoons parmesean cheese

Put everything in the food processor and pulse the hell out of it, then add...

1 tablspoon prepared mustard

Pulse again and lightly dress your salad. I used 1/3 of the dressing on a huge mass of greens for myself, so it was roughly 120 calories for 8 cups of mesclun.

The flavor was citrusy, garlicy, and intense. I really loved it. It is worth making even if you are not watching calories.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Composed Salad

I am not lazy...I swear I'm not. No updates because S.O. and I have been in Budapest. I took my computer intending to photograph and write about what we ate while there but the best intentions get wiped out when you are searching for that next wonderful bit of goose liver. I gained weight, no kidding, not massive amounts but enough for me to be careful about consumption for a few weeks.

S.O. had a version of this salad at the David Gregory restaurant (now closed) in D.C. and has been craving it ever since. The dressing I made is a lightened up version of their creamy herb and we chose our own vegetables. On a warm night this is a great starter when you want the vegetables to be the primary food group.


The juice of two limes
1 cup of dill fronds
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 anchovy
1 fresh egg
Black pepper
Dash salt

Combine everything in food processor and set aside.

You can use any vegetables you have. We chose mesclun, lightly dressed, fresh peas and greens very lightly blanched and chilled and zuchinni lightly grilled along with some fresh cucumber. Drizzle the dressing over the veg and serve on chilled plates.

Did I say delicous?

It was, of course our pledge to eat light ended with the salad. We polished off a bit of chicken paprikash afterwards and had some of the leftover chicken made into a hash this morning.

We like to eat.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pork Confit John McCain

John McCain gets a confit because you just can't eat a confit when young. It needs age and fat to be worth anything at all. It's not good for you, but you might think it is until you keel over from a heart attack and need health care.

1 Pork leg or shoulder
The pork should be beaten, tortured if you will. The skin should be cut with a knife. The flesh pounded with a hammer. Once this is done you can set it aside.
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cum
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 to 6 pound pork shoulder or butt, bone in or out.

5 onions, sliced
30 garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 gallons pork, goose, or duck fat.

Melted pork, goose, or duck fat Combine first 10 ingredients in large bowl rub over the pork and coat well. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 275°F. Place onions, garlic, thyme sprigs, and rosemary sprig in large ovenproof pot. Pat pork dry with paper towels and place atop vegetables in pot. Pour enough melted fat over the pork to cover by a few inches Cover and place pork in oven. Roast until pork is tender, about 8 hour keeping pork covered in lard at all times.

Carefully remove pork and put on rack to drain any remaining juices. Leave for about an hour.

Put the pork in a large crock or bowl or bucket, packing tightly. Strain liquid in pot discard solids in strainer. Allow juices to settle at bottom of a container. Carefully pour enough fat from the pot over pork in bucket to cover by 2 inches. Cover and put pork in a cool place for at least 2 weeks and up to 6 months (keep pork covered with fat).

Let it sit there in your cold dark celler for a while.

The pork should be really old when you eat it. One of two things will happen. When you re-melt the fat and slice the pork into a skillet to warm you will either experience a delicous surprise or it will be putrified and rotten. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton Bread

Your pleas have been heard. I have now over 1,000 e mail demanding that I do dishes based on the political candidates rather than 'meaningless' celebrities and so I shall. You may or may not like the result.

Hillary Clinton gets a bread because no matter how many times you punch her down she just keeps rising. Whole Grain Breads are also good for you, they are filled with fiber and your body works better with a whole grain bread than a doughnut. This bread cannot be made in a machine it requires hand tending. You have to show up at the polls and you have to show up to knead. There is also a surprise in the center of the bread because Hillary always has a surprise in store. It ain't over 'til the lady in the pantsuit says it is.

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole oats
1/2 cup ground flax
1/2 cup Rye Flour (more or less for kneading)

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Add all-purpose flour, and salt. Beat on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally (or beat 300 vigorous strokes by hand). Stir in whole wheat flour, oats and flax until well blended. Scrape batter from side of bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hour or until almost double.

Punch it down, you know you want to. It sticks to your hands a little doesn't it. It's not going anywhere. Remove and place on a well floured board. Oil your hands so the dough won't stick and gently begin kneading incorporating more flour as you go until it looks more dough like and less batter like.

Rub olive oil and on the dough and place covered in the refrigerator over night. You think a little cold is going to stop this bread from gotta be kidding. The next morning punch it down again. It's going to rise again, face it when you come home from work it will be time to bake.

Cut parchment paper and put on a cookie sheet. Shape your dough any way you want. The dough is your representative, you want it round, tell it to be round, you want oblong, you tell the dough and use your hands. This is grassroots baking kids. Once shaped let rest for an hour.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove loaf from pan; cool on wire rack.

It's a big loaf, it will last a while, enjoy it.

As for that surprise in the center...we all make promises we can't keep.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Drunken Pink Chicken

I have just been enjoying the drunken theme too much to discard it quite yet and this dish can be made in a hurry and is quite delicious.

8 chicken thighs (yes you can use breast just reduce the cooking time and the flavor, the thighs have so much more to offer from a culinary standpoint.)
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic diced
2 large carrots sliced
2 large ripe tomatoes chopped
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
olive oil
1 bottle good Rose wine (Many of the 2007's from France are a deal and really good.)

Salt the chicken and brown each piece in olive oil and set aside. Throw a little more oil in the pan and toss in the chopped onion, when very soft add the garlic, when the garlic begins to soften throw in the carrot and tomato and stir around a little.

Dump the whole mass in a 9x13 baking pan. Put the pan back on the heat and deglaze with the Rose, toss your seasoning in the wine, give it a little more salt. Turn off heat.

Carefully lay the chicken on the moist veg bed skin side up. Pour the wine over everything. It should reach almost to the top without submerging the chicken. Bake uncovered at 375 for one hour, 30 to 40 minutes for those awful dry frozen breasts you picked up at Sam's Club, Costco or Trader Joes that you are trying to use us in a way that hopefully won't be as tasteless as the last 5 dishes you made with them.

Because of the Paprika the chicken does pick up a pink tone and looks so pretty surrounded by spring vegetables. Asparagus is a great accompaniment.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stuffed Pork

Stuffed Pork Loin.

1 2 lb pork loin rose cut (ask the butcher to do it for you)
1/2 cup pesto sauce
2 large apples
2 large onions
1/2 cup cooked rice
Salt and Pepper
olive oil
Splash of brandy or Cognac

Slice the peeled apple and onion thinly. Saute together in a saucepan with some olive oil until they both become creamy and carmelized. Deglaze pan with a touch of cognac and let cool. Stir in the rice.

Unroll the pork loin and salt both sides. Rub the interior with the pesto and then stuff, roll and tie. Rub a little freshly ground pepper on the outside of the roast and put in a shallow pan in a 350 over for about 45 minutes. rest and carve into slices. If the pork is not overcooked the roast will be moist and the inside literally creamy.

Delicous at brunch topped with a poached egg.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Jordan Ett's State Fair Drunken Beef Stew

Keeping with the theme of drunken food I am doing this particular recipe for my nephew Jordan. He loves to cook and is always busy. This dish is ideal in a slow cooker. In the photo Linnea is on the left with Jordan in the Center and I am on the right. My big visit of the year typically involves the Minnesota State Fair. I freely admit that there is very little about the State of Minnesota that I like (Other than my relatives)but I do love the State Fair. The spectacle of deep fried 'everything' on a stick is endlessly amusing, but I really love the animals, baked goods and crafts. This fair really is for the Farmers and it is a great way for us city folk to connect with the wonderful men and women who feed us. I have an enormous appreciation for the small farmers who manage to hang on despite the odds. If you have a farmers market or green market near you shop there.

On a related note...Beef; what is typically sold in the grocery stores is of very poor quality, filled with antibiotics and grain fed. Grain fed beef should always be avoided. Feeding cattle grain is horrible for their digestion and they must be given huge quantity of antibiotics to tolerate grain. In addition it destroys the balance of the Omega3 and Omega6 fatty acids and makes the beef difficult to digest and unhealthy to eat. Even the beef sold by Whole Foods (whole paycheck) as grass fed is grain finished to fatten it up and therefore very unhealthy. Talk to the Farmers in your area and see who has grass fed and finished beef and order from them. The taste will amaze you with it's natural richness and you will be doing something good for yourselves and the planet.

Drunken Beef
A little Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 veal knuckle bones
2 lbs beef stew meat (try to find some that has marbling, fat adds flavor)
5 large onions peeled and chopped into large chunks
20 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 lb. baby carrots
1 cut chopped celery with leaves
4 cups chopped spinach
1 bottle of beer (dark is good)
3 cups beef broth (Rachel Ray lies, canned never gives it the 'cooked all day' taste, but since you are cooking it all day anyway go ahead if you have no homemade stock on hand)
1/4 cup sweet Paprika
A little sour cream for garnish

Get the crock pot out of the cupboard, plug it in and set on the counter. Dry the beef if it is damp and liberally salt and pepper. Cut into smaller pieces if they come larger than bit sized. Put a little oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown in the hot oil, along with the veal bones. Stir them around and let them get kind of crusty. The more brown the more flavor. When ready dump in crock pot.

Put your onion in the hot pan and the moisture from the onion will begin to deglaze the pan, when they begin to brown add in the garlic and continue for a few minutes until the garlic has softened. Dump on the meat.

Put in a touch more oil and throw in all the veggies except the spinach, par cook them for about 10 minutes. Remove, cover and refrigerate.

Pour the beer in the hot pot and make sure you stir in every bit of brown clingy stuff when pot is fully deglazed dump beer on beef. Stir in the paprika.Add the stock. The beef should be fully submerged but not drowning. Put on the lid, turn on high and go take a shower, get ready to go to the Fair.

When your Father starts telling you to get your shoes on since it is time to leave turn the crock down to low, tie your shoes (if you wear sandals put some sunscreen on the top of your feet, you know how easily you burn)

When you get home take the veal bones out of the pot and add in the vegetables, turn back on high and give a good stir. Go tell your Mother about how much fun you had and how you REALLY are old enough for the haunted house now and promise not to have nightmares. Taste the stew and add salt if needed.

Put some water on to boil for a few noodles. When the noodles are cooked plate them and dump a good serving of stew on each plate, top with a dollop of sour cream. Have your sister get Daddy a beer and Mama and Uncle Karl a glass of red wine. Sit down and enjoy.

I'll put the leftovers away and it will be even better tomorrow for lunch.

Olive Tapenade

This one is so easy I am always surprised that they charge so much for it when they put it in jars.

2 cups olives pitted (REAL olives, nothing from a can or jar)
2 cloves raw garlic
Juice of one lemon

All goes in the food processor and puree. You can make it chunky or very smooth. Spread it, dip it, eat it.

This is especially good as a sandwich spread, try it with humble tuna fish or some smoked salmon and cream cheese.

I use it in the lamb meatballs but have also thrown a few tablespoons in a pasta sauce at the last minute or based a whole simple sauce around the tapenade for a shrimp pasta.

A staple in my refrigerator and keeps for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Drunken Pasta for Katie

I apologize for taking so long between posts. I had a visitor from out of town over the weekend and we were quite busy showing him the town. I have some great photos (not taken by me) to share along with some brunch recipes, soon to be posted. In the meantime there is always room for another pasta.

No canned pasta or jarred sauce should ever be used by adults. Pasta with sauces of varying types is one of the easiest meals to make.

Katie posted a request for drunken pasta and I have learned that she does not eat pork (she had a piggie when she was young as a pet) so the traditional Tuscan is out. I lightened up the whole concept for Summer and created this dish. Of course my photos did not turn out well, so I shall wait until I make the dish a second time before posting a photo. This is for 4 appetizer or 2 main portions. (Dear America, you would be a thinner country if you ate more vegetables and less pasta. Try it as a starter.)

1/2 lb bucatelli (bucatini)
1/2 lb of asparagus, in one inch pieces
1 large bunch of basil
1 bottle of white wine
15 cloves of garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
A good splash of olive oil

Finely chop all the garlic and set aside. Finely chop all the basil and set aside. Finely grate all the cheese and set aside.

Take a splash of oil and 1/2 the garlic and simmer until the garlic just begins to brown. Toss in the wine with two cups of water add a good dose of salt and bring to a boil. Break pasta in half and put in pan.

Meanwhile simmer the balance of the garlic with the chili until soft.

When the pasta is almost al dente remove and drain saving the liquid. (This will be much less liquid than you traditionally cook pasta in so stir often). Toss the pasta in the hot oil and add a good splash of the wine mixture. Toss in the chopped asparagus. Toss in the basil and cheese and distribute with tongs. Turn off the heat and add the egg yolk stirring through. Plate and top with a a bit of reserved basil.

This will be creamy and delicious and utterly drunken.

Serve with a nice crisp white or rose wine.