Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tomato Shooters

I used to think that a craving was my body's way of telling me what it needed and that I should indulge my craving and that it was healthy, even necessary to do so. I now know my body as the liar it truly is, if my body had it's way I would have a 40 inch waist instead of a 30.

Tonight after leaving Looped with Valerie Harper (Brilliant Performance) I went to the subway station at 44th and passed John's Pizza. My body started to scream about how much it needed a pizza and suddenly I was ravenous.

However once home I realized I did need to eat something so I looked in frig and pantry to see what I might yield. I had some super ripe cherry tomatoes and a little whole milk mozzarella, but I did not need a pizza. (I still wanted a pizza)

The result of my playing with my food is one of the easiest appetizers you will ever make, or use them to perk up a salad. My 'recipe" was for the 12 tomatoes worth I made, but clearly you can make as many or as few as you like.

12 cherry tomatoes halved
Mozzarella cheese grated
Anchovies as desired

Place the sliced tomatoes close together on a baking pan this will keep them from tipping over and you won't have to cut their bottoms off.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and oregano. If you are going to make the anchovy version drape half an anchovy over each at this point, otherwise sprinkle lightly with cheese and put in a very hot oven or under a broiler for a few minutes, stay with them.

All you really want  is a slight warming of the tomato and the cheese to melt. If you made them for company you can slide a toothpick half way in like a little tomato sucker, if you made them for yourself plop them one by one into your mouth and feel virtuous for not having pizza.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spaghetti with Onions

One of the most rewarding things I do is recipe reconstruction.

Using remembered tastes and descriptions along with information about the chef I can often re-create the recipe and give a client a childhood favorite again.

Recently I got stumped...really stumped. Sicilian Granmothers can do that to me upon occasion.

Spaghetti with onions, his Sicilian Great-Grandmother made it and he loved it, but other than spaghetti and onions he had no idea what went into it. No tomatoes for sure, and it was his favorite. She died when he was 11 and no one else in the family knew exactly how to make it. For 30 years this man has been craving this dish and my first 8 attempts were failures.

In order to finally 'get it' I had to go back to Sicilian basics...and some French ones. Eventually it came out that when Sicilian Grandpa had died Grandma married a Frenchman.

Meaty taste, no visible meat....lots of onions....

By George I finally got it.

1 lb. onions thinly sliced
1/4 lb butter
1/2 pound romano cheese finely grated
8 anchovies
Red Pepper flakes
Buttered bread crumbs (toasted)
1 cup finely chopped parsley

Take 1/2 of the butter and melt it and brown and caramelize the onions on a low flame. It will take close to an hour. Add salt and pepper and mush in the anchovies.

Bring salted water to a boil, cook spaghetti to al dente and reserve some of the pasta water. Toss your spaghetti with your onions adding the red pepper and parsley as you go. Now the rest of the butter and the cheese, tossing as you add.  Taste...if you need more salt or pepper do it now. Use a little pasta water if it is dry.

Serve in warm bowls with bread crumbs on top.

I just have a feeling that one day the French man began to make an onion soup and the Sicilian woman decided to turn it into a pasta. However it came is fusion at it's finest.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Bitter Ball, Party of One

The Bitter Ball began at the Country Club in New Orleans, it was a party for anyone and everyone who had ever been hurt by love. It was of course held on Valentine's Day.

It was a lot of fun and it was picked up by one of my clients who did a Bitter Ball in Palm Springs and then one in Vegas. Both menus were a lot of fun.

One of my readers, recently divorced asked for a Bitter Ball recipe for this year. The premise behind the food is that it be made with ingredients that are on the bitter side and/or ingredients that make you stink, and be repulsive to anyone with romantic intentions.

For those of you who are happily partnered and cooking for your partner or an ingredient search, there are a multitude of recipes on this site for you.

This is dedicated to anyone and everyone who has ever been hurt by love.

Pork and Kim Chee Noodles

1/4 pound ground pork
1 small chopped onion
1/4 pound brussel sprouts quartered
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (add more if you like it hot)
1 large handful shredded basil
1/2 cup Hot  Kim Chee chopped

2 ounces any noodles cooked and put in ice water to stop cooking (Asian are great but if you have pasta, use it)

The sauce....

10 cloves garlic chopped
A little neutral oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Brown pork and onion, add the sprouts, soy sauce, hot pepper and toss in noodles. In another pan barely warm the garlic and add in the vinegar.  Toss the Kim Chee with the noodles in your wok or pan along with the basil. Plate and drizzle vinegar garlic sauce.

This is a very delicious and STRONG tasting dish. The next day you will reek of garlic and fermented cabbage and isn't that what being bitter is all about. You are now ready to go to the movies and not have anyone sit in front of you, next to you, behind you...generally within 8 feet. Breathe deeply and get extra butter on your popcorn.