Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rock you Like a Hurricane

Look, I'm not going to start bad mouthing the Governor or my Bloomie just because the hurricane wasn't eventful. I'm really glad they took the steps they did and I am super grateful no one got hurt and not many homes were damaged. My favorite weatherman Lee Goldberg stayed close to the facts and did not sensationalize or try to instill false fear.

We took a little walk around this morning and its sad to see all the trees downed but the only thing that died apparently was any respect the general public had left for the news reporters.

With all that said, I can't help but feel a bit disappointed. The hurricane was a bit like my first sexual experience with a boy. I wasn't quite sure when it ended and I kept waiting for something amazing to start. The hype was convincing yet the actual happening was nothing to write home about. And both left me deeply confused about how to feel. Am I happy? Grateful? Is that it? It was no ones fault either. I guess that's just how these things go. Its a natural occurrence.

I was so out of sorts from the lack of sleep, the anxiety, the hours of waiting and all the worst-case-scenario thinking and the preparation! I packed 3 Go Bags, filled the tub with water and every other container that I had. We moved the mattress away from the window. Moved all the plants inside and sealed the windows. Whatever! Anyway with all that I had liver failure this morning. I should say, I tried to make beef liver and eggs and it failed!

Again, I was misguided somehow thinking this was going to be spectacular so I saved it for this morning when we were able to celebrate our safety. My mom used to make this and it was so delicious. I dipped it in seasoned flour and sauteed it with oil and butter until well done and a little crusty. Uh. P took one bite and the look on his face said it all. Fail!

We're all safe and that is a great thing. Why do I feel so miserable?

You Were Always on My Mind

We were about to have a catastrophic unprecedented hurricane but after I could not fit one more ounce of worry, dread or fear into my head the only thing I could think of is 'I'm hungry, what's for eats?!' Then that thinking went into an angst spiral... If we're still alive, will we have enough food to eat afterward? If the gas goes off, what can I fix that doesn't need to be cooked? If the power goes out in what order will we eat the food in the fridge? How long could we live before we start to loot the yuppie grocery on the corner?

I was pretty sure our already weakened roof was gonna collapse in on us at night or the dead tree facing the bed was sure to smack down and kill us from the wind. I needed to have a satisfying meal.

I seasoned and browned some chicken legs and thighs with what I called Hurricane seasoning, a nice Cajun blend I found at Sahaadi's. I stewed that chicken in wine, stock, garlic and grape tomatoes until it was falling off the bone and juicy. I stir fried some amazing Napa cabbage and then just glazed it with some soy sauce and corn starch, a little pepper oil. Unbelievable! And served it all over some nice Jasmine rice.

You know you're a foodie when you truly are fearful of unthinkable realities but for like 20 minutes all I could talk about was how good that Napa cabbage tasted and how juicy I got that chicken.

'Cause I Got a Peaceful Easy Feelin'

Not Ray's Pizza is our neighborhood corner pizza joint. We tried to buy whole pies but it is the slice that is king here. It's not the best slice you've had, but you don't even want it to be. Its on your corner. That would be too dangerous. However, the stuffed slice is damn good. Damn good.

Before the hurricane was to come we rode out to look in on our friend J's cat, Fanny. She, like female cats tend to do, musta got upset and pee'd and poo'ed on J's bag. I like that about cats. They're not real emotional like dogs, but they sort of let you know what's up when you screw up. In this case, J left the house for an extended period of time. Fanny wasn't havin' that.

Fanny was all purrs when we visited but she'd said her piece already. She'd made her statement.

They had me spooked to the bejesus about this hurricane hitting directly over the city for the first time ever and what that might mean. The day before you think your life might change drastically, things look different. It's like the day before you finally decide to cut your hair. All the sudden, your hair looks not too shabby. Hey, its kinda flattering! I like my hair! You think, but you're wrong, your just scared. Brooklyn looked beautiful this day. It had started to rain and the gothic beauty of the buildings and architecture was very visible.

We rode back and stopped for that slice at Not Ray's. Just a plain cheese slice and Coke. It tasted like heaven. A quiet peaceful heaven before you die.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs

If I had a dime for every time I made pasta but didn't bother to feature it or write about it, I'd have enough to buy a mink stole. That's how old I am. I think of a mink stole instead of an IPad or fancy tech gadget. Mind you, I don't wear furs or even fancy expensive things. Buy me a slice of pizza and I'll follow you anywhere. And I call pasta, spaghetti or fettuccine or linguine, whichever kind it really is. Pasta always seemed a little bit pretentious. I mean, I'm making it out of a box, not fresh. Chances are it was 88 cents, which is my ideal price for a box of thin spaghetti. Whole wheat now unfortunately that they've taken all the fun out of white flour that a girl can't even enjoy a vat of white buttered noodles without feeling all kinds of shame.

I like my spaghetti like I used to like my beer. Cheap and lots of it. Once in awhile I love to really take my time and make a rich meat sauce with all the bells and whistles. But mostly, I make fast, quick noodles with meatless sauce which is usually spiced canned tomatoes. This time I made a quick clam sauce, lessened the olive oil and used a bit of chicken stock, along with the clam juice, parsley, lots of garlic and lastly, loose pants.

Sweet Wonderful You..

Leftover night. Chicken with fresh spinach, Vidalia onions and mayo on warm pitas served with corn chips and Chipotle Salsa. Also a side of that amazing braised Savoy cabbage.

I can't say enough about Savoy Cabbage. Its super good for you, loads of vitamins and even has those antioxidants that everyone goes on about. It gets the title of the sweetest and prettiest of the cabbages plus you don't get that sulfur smell like with the others during cooking. To me, its so buttery tasting. Its one of those vegetables that people need to express their love for. If you want to watch some hardcore food porn on this cabbage, check out Lidia's Italy. The episode where she makes Zuppa Gallurese. I almost couldn't watch it. By the end of that episode that soup is all you can think about. And all it is is bread, cabbage and cheese. She's good.
I love Lidia. She knows and loves her food. She's been to the towns recipes originated from and drank wine with the town folk. She has a romance with her food. She doesn't just share recipes she makes love to them. Of all the silly celebrity chefs on TV, when Lidia takes a bite out of her food, I know its as good as she says it is.

And I Wanna Spread the News, If It Feels This Good Gettin' Used...

I wasn't kiddin' about finding 1001 uses for chicken thighs. You have to. Sometimes its the only affordable meat. I was thrilled to think of using my thighs this time for Chipotle Tortilla Soup! Hee Haw! This was a winner for me. I made the homemade broth and added these huge tomatoes that were slightly wilting. At the end you just smash them down and their flavor bursts into the broth along with onions, garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaves and peppercorns.

Another quick tip I never heard is that I use the thick stems of the cilantro bunch in my stock. You have to rinse them well since they hold the majority of the dirt but I keep them in a bunch and then just take out at the end.

I deboned and shredded the chicken, added corn, lots of fresh cilantro leaves, carrots, canned fire roasted tomatoes. When it was simmering nicely, I added 3/4 cup of long grain white rice and lastly, my chipotle salsa.

I served it up with lots of tortilla chips, green onions and grated white cheddar cheese.
Chicken soup but SO much better.

Touch Me in the Morning

More use of the Chipotle salsa this morning over poached eggs, the rest of my sweet corn, corn meal mash and just a smattering of julienned toasted pepperoni. I was touched by how pretty it was on the plate! Success!

Friday, August 19, 2011

And This Bird You Cannot Change

My friend at work was kind enough to give me a bunch of her home grown tomatoes from her garden. I immediately thought to make a chipotle infused roasted tomato salsa. This time I used the canned chipotle peppers and lots of the adobo sauce added in with my char broiled tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos. With all that in the blender I add just a bit of cold water, salt, a big bunch of cilantro and lime juice.

I love this salsa with meat. I was working on an idea. I had just read that the Aztecs of central Mexico were the first to domesticate turkeys as a food source beating out the pilgrims by about 2 centuries. I had two nice turkey thighs so I baked them with the fresh rosemary she also gave me. I pulled the meat from the bone leaving on the crispy skin and then laid those handsome juicy little fellers on a bed of corn meal mush with a nice heaping stripe of salsa on top. And to further the Aztec theme I added freshly cooked corn off the cob in nice chunky pieces. Better than you think! And the plate was rustic and bountiful, felt like a Mexican Thanksgiving. I mean I know I was one grateful

Let Me Go Crazy On You

Women get the curse and they need meat. Or someone might suffer. That's how it is for me anyway. Aunt Flo comes and she taketh away rational thinking. And she also brings a bag of monstrous painful cramps, headaches, body aches as well as disdain for humanity. They used to think menstruating women could sour milk or taint meat. There is also a good joke, 'Don't trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn't die'. Trusting isn't the problem so much as I feel you should be on your best behavior around us. Its like a cat, you can pet it and all is fine but you stick your finger up its little butt and its gonna scratch your eyes out. It's gonna go apeshit crazy on you.

I like a cheap steak that I can wrestle with so to tire me out a bit. But the real surprise here was this Savoy Cabbage. The buttery soft flavor coming out of this unassuming green was incredible!
Since I was already eating beef I didn't want to put bacon in my vegetable side, so I simply cut the cabbage into thin strips, sauteed it with garlic, oil and a little butter, then when it got a little color I deglazed with chicken stock and let it steam for just a few minutes. So sweet and delightful!

I had some grape tomatoes so I also deglazed the pan that I cooked the steak in and quick threw in the tomatoes, garlic with a bit more stock and then just tossed that with some left over wheat pasta and fresh basil.
Now leave me alone or I'll rip you a new asshole....darlin'.

Monday, August 15, 2011

All My Troubles Seem So Far Away

After seeing a coworker with steamed pork dumplings for lunch, I got the craving bad. Plus I actually had ground pork thawed and waiting for a home.

But life throws you wrenches. From last night's torrential rain came a big ole' hole in the ceiling in our apartment building. The butt ugly cracked hundred year old linoleum now made worse by splattered sheet rock and rotted ceiling gook mixed with rain to give it that final 'yes girl, you are living in squalor' feeling.

I realized I really couldn't be bothered with laborious rolling and delicate food tonight. But I still wanted the flavors of those dumplings. So, I took all the ingredients and made an Asian burger! Burgers always make me feel better. Ginger, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot pepper oil, white pepper. Then in place of the cabbage, I used finely chopped up carrots and left over broccolini.

To keep it healthier I stayed away from the cheese and buns, instead layered it with thin sliced sauteed potato and spinach.

We are in an apartment that we can barely afford and yet it constantly smells in the hall and now it looks even worse. These kinds of injustices can get a monkey down. But when I saw how cute this little burger looked all peakin' out at me through those garlicky potato slices, I just had to put my troubles aside for a moment. With each bite I remembered another reason why we love this apartment. The great location, the beautiful neighborhood, easy access to all trains, a block from PathMark and Target, we never see the other tenant and we're on the top floor. Man, that burger was good at what it does.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

White Lace and Promises

I guess it makes sense that the best quality food I ever ate or the best liquor I ever drank was from my time with Virgin when sales reps and other fairies would magically pay for everything, always. Was it just a dream? Let's have Italian today but make it close, we gotta get back to uh,...talking endlessly about music in the back offices of a record store. It was a dream, I'm convinced. A convenient old Italian Restaurant just down the side block from Times Square was a step into another time where older male waiters really cared about serving food and providing a dining experience that included forever full wine glasses and ne'er an empty bread basket.

They had sauteed chicken livers on their menu and it opened up another world for me. I'm not sure how they prepared them, I only ordered it once but I remember feeling joy in my my mouth, in my stomach and in my core. I felt like a bride on her honeymoon! Sauteed Chicken Livers prepared delicately and with the utmost care by some unknown Italian saint in the back of that black swinging door inside of that magical old restaurant that seemed to not exist until we stepped down into it.

With P gone for the weekend I needed to feel that good love even if I had to create it myself. I followed a choice recipe from Mario Batali
Instead of risotto I used potato gnocchi with a side of steamed broccoli rabe.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Eyes Abhorred You

P loves thin crust pizzas and has never been a fan of the deep dish pies or the 'everything' variety. And somehow I still allow him to hang around. Me, I love all pizza and I can really appreciate the big drippy slices of cheese that they serve up. But I also love the thin crust too. When I'm in charge of the toppings though, I can get a little heavy handed.

So as a compromise I've been doing these mini pizzas on Thomas' Wheat English Muffins halves featuring lots of vegetables and just a smattering of meat. This time I did just garlic and olive oil on the bottom. On that I chopped lots of steamed broccolini, thin sliced Vidalia onions, shiitake & Cremini mushrooms, crumbled Italian sausage, basil, a thick slice of a ripe heirloom tomato and shredded mozzarella cheese. I topped each with an anchovy. Cute!

Taste in food and music have traditionally been key factors in choosing partners for me. P's grandfathered in so he could start to like Chamber music at this point and I'd have to deal with it but there was a time. I once broke up with a guy in high school because he chewed weird. I'd rifle through the music selection at the start of a date. The first sign of a Styx tape and I was out of there. It wasn't that I was shallow. Everyone is shallow in high school. We were ignorant. Say what you will but certain strains of music seemed to paint a grim awful future that would haunt my dreams. Catch a guy passionately singing along to 38 Special, Chicago, Dr Hook..BIG warning signs...Foreigner! Get out of the car now!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boogie with Stew

I forgot why I had all this chicken and pork at once. PathMark had a deal so low, they paid me to take the chicken home or something. I graciously accepted but then had to put something together fairly quickly. I also had some nice country pork with no dinner plans.

I wasn't sure exactly how to use them together but just started to braise them both in the hopes a brilliant idea would come along. Well it didn't so in the end I did a simple stew with carrots, potato, onion, peas and corn. Who doesn't love a hearty stew with tons of tender meat? Well one mentionable is that I put diced peeled apple in the stew and it was nice with the pork!