Friday, January 27, 2012

I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In

We took M to our favorite brick oven pizza restaurant, Savoia on Smith Street in Brooklyn. We wanted to check in on him, see if things were going well, if he needed any support and generally just to visit. Its always seemed a little arrogant to me to assume you could hold any answers to another man's life. I either cherish or resent any advice people give me. I think the main gift is just to let them know you want to help, that you care.

The night was chilly so being seated next to the warm brick oven felt special and inviting. I love a restaurant with dim lighting, candlelit tables like this one. This allows the romance with my food to fully bloom.

I screwed up and didn't get pics of the amazing appetizers. Firstly, mussels steamed in garlic sauce and a big basket of assorted breads with olive oil. Secondly, was the grass-fed beef carpaccio with arugula, shaved parmigiano and yellow roasted peppers. That was special.

The pizzas we'd split were the Quattro Stagioni; tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichokes, black olives, ham, mushrooms and the Frigitella; mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sausage, crushed chilli pepper and parmigiano. These were each so individually delicious.

For dessert we'd share a lemon custard tart and tiramisu which was not typical or ordinary at all. It was the kind you wanted to crawl in and eat your way out of.

The thing about M is that you may start out to check on him but he always somehow becomes the mirror facing back at you. You look and see that it isn't about figuring out the future or any silly particulars that we have little control of anyway. Just the fact that you are seeing a live friendly face staring back at you is proof enough that all is always as it should be. The important time is now.

Damn that food was good.

'Can' We Still Be Friends?

I was on a roll cleaning out my pantry stock this week. I hadn't done a grocery run and had to rely on old friends. I normally poo poo canned soups because its so easy to make your own. I'm a sucker for packaging though. I saw this new Campbells's Harvest Orange Tomato soup and I put some directly in my cart for a rainy day. Well this was that day. It didn't need it I should say but I doctored it up with a can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, herbs and lots of very thinly sliced garlic sauteed in a little olive oil. I toasted some turkey pepperoni slices for the top. That soup was on it!

For the dipper, I made a low cal grilled cheese with apple slices, onion and tomatoes on flat sandwich bread.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You Get What You Need

This was a pantry conception soup. Instead of concentrating on what I didn't have in the fridge, I needed to focus on what I did have to construct a meal. I had two links of sausage left and I managed to make a cool Pasta Fagioli soup mostly from canned staples. I cooked the sausage, added onions, chicken stock, canned cannellini beans, canned spinach, orzo pasta and canned tomatoes. The pasta cooked in the soup helped thicken it up and together it was a whole satisfying meal. I didn't need to add salt just pepper since the canned goods usually add enough.

A little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and you don't even miss the crusty bread slice accompaniment.

But in the Meantime Baby

All the post holiday humbug has left me a little uninspired food-wise. I am confident that ideas will return but in the meantime I'm relying on my little friends around the corner called #1 Chinese Restaurant.
I got one each of the Beef and Chicken Curry, a small boneless BBQ spare ribs and two egg rolls.

Its always scary when you create that one day suddenly the urge, the will, the ideas will all go away without warning. I recall back in the 80's my friend KK was constantly quoting Nina Hagen lyrics in my ear. This particular song comes to mind, Pollution Pirates. Isn't it funny how someone will beat words into your head so much that you don't even hear them? Today I stopped and read the lyrics to that song I'd heard every night. Its a great song!
I'll get my cook on again real soon.

Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes

I forgot why we chose to eat lunch at the corner diner. We usually just go there for inexpensive breakfasts. In the past, I had an obsession with ordering Spaghetti and Meatballs off of diner menus. Its a psychological thing because 95% of the time, its not very good. Why would I still then order it? Especially here in NY where its almost sacrilegious with all these amazing Italian restaurants. Was there one time in my life where I had the best spaghetti and meatballs ever at a diner? Or does it represent something more? I think back to a time when sitting at a booth near a window at say a Big Boy or a Denny's was a very huge treat and ordering something other than the burger platter was probably a huge deal. Your meal being served in courses was a novelty. Those were special times. And they still are for me.

I was all psyched up to get the garlic bread and iceberg lettuce salad with lots of blue cheese dressing but this plate, although priced reflective of having sides, came with none.
P kept saying I could take my leftovers home and I remember thinking, what the hell is he talking about. There will be no leftovers. And there weren't.

Friday, January 20, 2012

But Then I Fooled Around and Fell in Love

All day at work I could think of nothing but these thinly sliced baked potatoes that I had made awhile back. I was messing around with potato ideas and sort of made them by accident. Seasoned these were like the best snack ever, but what else could they be? I was leaning towards pizza for dinner.

I love roasted grape tomatoes how they pop in your mouth with all the juiciness of a fruit. I wasn't sure what I was gonna do until I started putting on the toppings. So olive oil and lots of garlic to start, thyme, spinach, potatoes, grape tomatoes, sweet Italian sausage, white onions and then finally, minimal cheese on top.

This pizza was a rustic peaceful piece of pleasure and I can't say enough about it. More of a vegetable tart than a pizza but with all the anticipation and excitement. I loved it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Your Thing, Do What You Wanna Do

Burgers are special, always good, personal creations that everyone can claim. I like experimenting with different meats and flavors. This night I made a ground chicken apple soy burger. Ground chicken mixed with small diced green apple, red onion, a bit of Panko crumbs, an egg and seasoned with soy sauce and ginger, a little sesame oil. This is a winning combination of flavors and the great thing is that you don't need cheese or bacon to top this burger. A little spicy mustard will do.

Paired with sauteed savoy cabbage, the perfect winter vegetable braised in a little chicken stock. A lighter take on burger night.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Suddenly the Wheels Are in Motion

Have you seen the Idaho potato commercials? The blond spokeswoman actually sounds and appears to me like she's made of potato matter. She makes me crave potatoes. Her voice is rough like she has dry potato dirt in her lungs. I dig her.

After seeing the commercial a few times I rushed out to grab a couple of potatoes and made baked potatoes with sour cream, dried tomatoes and dried jalapeno sprinkles, lots of salt and pepper. Simple but chocked full of flavor.

The main break through was the realization of how many different variations that you could do with this perfect base, the baked potato. Suddenly the floodgates opened with ideas and fun topping themes. I know its been done very well by the way, but mostly with high fat toppings. I think I'll finish out the winter with new lower cal inventions using heat and salsa, yogurt and chicken stock. And they're cheap too!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Can't You Hear Me Knocking?

A fun lunch for a bad occasion. Our good friend was being sent to prison. Not a good day. We needed to say goodbye or good luck or something although all the words seemed wrong. Do you ever wonder if you make any difference at all in any person's life? Your words or your concern, your gestures, your intent. People say beautiful things to me occasionally but within a few hours I usually forget they ever said them. I usually think they are just trying to be nice anyway but I know what the real truth is.
When P overshoots and tells me something too nice, I immediately wonder why he felt he needed to go overboard. Am I that big of a mess? Why would he patronize me?

I try to be sincere when offering advice or encouragement. I don't have any answers I know that but you got to come up with something at times like these. Like the freak that I am I had brought with me to the restaurant little cut out picture figures of all of us so T could put them up on his wall and think of happier times. A pic of P's from the back carrying a 12pk of beer home on a cold winter day. A pic of me trying to look badass with my bike gear on crossing a bridge and so on. But I lost the nerve to give them to him. After hearing all of his new reality, it felt like a mockery. So there they were looking up at me from the bottom of my purse as if to say good job asshole.

Even the food which was amazing by the way, fell a little flat. Beef brisket and pulled pork sandwiches from the Smoke Joint. Sides of mac and cheese which I think was their best ever, baked beans, corn bread, coleslaw and BedStuy potato salad. These are winning dishes. We ate and talked, but I don't remember the food at all this day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

I got hit with a nasty little bacterial infection this week but I was determined to have some of that great fresh ham meat. I needed to stay resting and let the antibiotics kick in so I worked through P. I don't think this is what they mean by creative cooking.

I told him to prepare the bread, to put on the olive oil. To shred the meat and slice the cheese. Spread the roasted red peppers. Wrap the sandwich up in foil and toast it until its crisp and steaming hot.

He did good! I waddled over in my robe and snapped a quick fuzzy shot of the process and the finished product.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Just Another Day, du du du du du du

I'm a month behind on food posts so I'll just say that this was a super cheap piece of London Broil that I marinated and quick pan fried. I topped with a generous spoonful of my tart tomatillo salsa. I cooked the rice in a mix of tomatillo sauce and chicken stock and threw in a can of pinto beans for a nice little stewed side. Nothing wrong with that!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Have I Ever Done To Deserve Even One of the Pleasures I've Known

I love after a holiday you might find a great deal on a big piece of dinosaur sized meat! They had these fresh ham shoulders for a steal at Pathmark. Kinda weird choice since we had just finished off a large roasted spiral ham at Christmas but I figured we could make it different.

I had such great results with Nigella Lawson's Aromatic Slow Roasted Pork recipe ( awhile back that I tweaked it for this fresh ham. I seasoned it with pepper flakes, dried herbs, soaked it with tangerine, orange juice and soy sauce, poked it all over with garlic cloves, put stock in the bottom of the roasting pan and let it slow roast for about 12 hours on 275.

Perfect crackling!
And the meat, the meat was so juicy and tender, it just fell apart like pulled pork but it had a little more chutzpah.

I made this overnight so we woke up to the alluring smell of roasted beast. I had to use some for breakfast, so I steamed a bunch of flour torts, poached eggs on top of the meat fried up with some onions and roasted tangerine slices.

And a big chunk of cracklin' on top!

I know I don't deserve this. But I sure am grateful!

Looking Back On the Track For a Little Green Bag

I love the color green. I love when I find nice fresh tomatillos and come home with my little green bag. I know I'll be able to make some fun. A vibrant green sauce like this roasted tomatillo salsa can add pep to so many dishes.

I took a $2 sandwich steak and made steak and eggs rancheros. The tart tomatillos and lime can cut through the heat of the serrano peppers. Its invigorating and a nice eye opener for breakfast!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

A bunch of firm tomatillos
serrano or jalapeno peppers (3-5)
(1) yellow onion
(3) cloves of garlic
big handful of cilantro
squeeze of lime juice & zest
1/3 cup water

Broil the tomatillos, onion slices, peppers until charred. Add to blender along with a bunch of cilantro, salt, garlic cloves, a big squeeze of lime and add the zest while you're at it, 1/3 cup of cold water. Finito!

Heating the sauce to pick up the leftover bits in the bottom of the steak pan doubles your pleasure. Then poaching the eggs on top of the heating salsa saves time and clean up plus the eggs also pick up some nice flavor.

Served this alongside whole pinto beans and brown rice with a nice cool fresh dollop of salsa.

Just Be Thankful For What You Got

My sister R emailed me that she would be making loaded nachos that night and the minute I envisioned them, I could think of nothing else! I looked in the fridge and like a little miracle I had all the fixings for nachos including sour cream! I had leftover tomatillo salsa, roasted chicken, brown rice, pinto beans. You know what, it would just be stupid NOT to make nachos tonight, almost irresponsible. I loaded them up with more rice and beans, tomato, chicken and then went lighter on the cheese. Plenty of pickled and fresh jalapeno slices, a dollop of sour cream and I called it dinner.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tangerine, Tangerine, Living Reflection From a Dream

I bought a bunch of tangerines in hopes of thinking of ways to use them in savory dishes. I daydreamed at work and came up with a citrus glaze to use on my pan fried pork chops but when I got home I did something different.

I roasted the tangerines face down alongside my pork chops in an iron skillet in the oven after browning them stove top. They came out so luscious and juicy, caramelized and sweet. Bursting with tangy citrus flavor! The rind was tender enough to eat the whole thing like a pear. I know people do this all the time on the grill but in the oven, picking up the juices from the meat...out of this world!

Spinach on the side with tons of garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lemon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Need An Around The Way Girl

Let me tell you a tale about the dangers of having a pizza place on the corner of your street. Not Ray's Pizza in Fort Greene is like what they call an Around the Way Girl. Its right next door practically, the guys are super friendly. They have a lively atmosphere, feels like a little taste of real Brooklyn inside with history. I'd travel to it if I had to but I don't and that's the beauty of it. The pizza isn't the best you've ever had but its pretty damn good and certainly real NY pizza. They sell slices too, of all kinds. They sell a stuffed meat slice that makes you wanna kiss every person behind that counter...with your tongue! They're always busy so the pizza is fresh and never sits around long at all. It's affordable.
We ate this whole pie. A large sausage and mushroom pizza. That's kinda scary.New York takes its pizza seriously though. Did you ever see this great clip from Jon Stewart?
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Me Lover's Pizza with Crazy Broad
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