Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I don't know beans

The time has come for yours truly to cease blabbing - I mean blogging. The last few years have been educational and have yielded a few fun "pen pals" from the foodie world.

From time to time I may graze some blogs, but I am no longer interested in recipes. I don't use them. The best things I make for my personal chef and catering clients have sprung unformed from my 5-watt brain and then have refined themselves in my dreams, day and night varieties.

I wish you all well.

Your (former) blogger friend,

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stepping Aside

It's time for a break. I'll be back the second week of September after some beach time. Keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Update - Stevie does doggies

Yesterday Jonah attacked my partner/spouse, Peter, twice early in the morning, backing him into a corner but not actually doing any real harm. He had bonded so well with me and I think he was being protective and jealous. Whenever Peter would come home from work or downstairs in the morning, Jonah would growl.

I had to return him to the adoption agency yesterday afternoon. Had a good cry in the van afterward. In the space of less than 2 weeks I became super fond of him, even with his phobias, his hatred of the out of doors, his freakish behavior when he heard aluminum foil being crinkled, and more. What follows is my original post about him. I intend to get another foster dog, perhaps as soon as Monday.

Previously on "Stevie Does Doggies":

We took Jonah in last Monday as a foster pet. He's not close to behavior that would encourage anyone to want to adopt him. He is afraid of everything, hates being on a leash, and hides most of the time under one table or another in our living room. As a matter of fact, in 6 days he has not even left the living room (other than to go out to do those things that a dog must do every several hours).

I've proposed to his adoption coordinator that we should consider anxiety medication, but, as so often happens with volunteer situations, I have not had a reply.

He is a handsome dude, about 30 or so pounds, and will come curl up at my feet from time to time. Just wanted to share him with you.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shrimp ceviche with taramosalata

ceviche photo: ceviche ceviche.jpg

You will need to find a Greek or Mid-Eastern market to get taramosalata, which is a dip-like paste of carp roe. That being said, I've made a substitute version that's easier to find: take a jar of caviar off-the-shelf at the supermarket (buy the best - most expensive - one they have). Mix it with sour cream or yogurt. Voila! You've done it!

This time I "cured" whole shrimp (10 oz. 21-25's for 2 servings) instead of slicing them in half. Drop peeled shrimp into boiling water. After 30 seconds drain and rinse under cold water. Steep in a mixture of lemon juice (1 lemon), lime juice (2 limes), shallot, and salt for 30 minutes (in the fridge). If you're not going to eat the shrimp immediately drain off the juice to stop the "cooking" and keep them refrigerated.

Toss in a mix of taramosalata and sour cream (proportions are up to you - I go about 1 to 1) or the substitute I suggested above. It's a delicious protein for a hot summer's supper.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cornish hens (what, again?)

It's been quite a while since my last Cornish hen posting, and my technique has evolved.

Spatchcock one bird (dinner for two).
Brine in 2 cups water (with 2 Tbs kosher salt dissolved in it) for at least 2 hours; or up to 4.
Rinse well and dry. Drizzle with butter, season with pepper, and place lemon slices under the skin (optional).
Insert temperature probe if you have one and roast in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes.
Place under the broiler to brown the skin. Target temperature is 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast - where the wing is attached. Let rest 5 minutes.

Is that easy, or what?

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Changing of the Swiss Chard

Chard is a beautiful thing; to look at, to cook, and of course to eat. One good-size bunch reduces down to 2 perfect servings.

Strip the leaves from the stems. Chop up the stems. Wash it all thoroughly of course. Chop the leaves coarsely.

Mince up some garlic (I use lots) and some onion or shallot or scallion. Saute in olive oil and butter over medium low heat for 2 minutes.  Add the stem pieces for 3 minutes, then add the leaves. Toss frequently for 5 or 6 minutes until wilted and tender. Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of powdered ginger, and a generous pinch of garam masala if you have it. Naturally you'll want some salt - how much is up to you.

I think Swiss chard goes on my desert island list.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just keep those seafood cakes coming to the table, Maestro

I've posted this before, but this is a new version, a better version, cakes to be copied. The secret ingredient: corn tortillas pulverized in the food processor. They aren't dried, rather, fresh and soft. I guarantee you have never had anything quite like this before.

Four seafood cakes
6 oz swai or other delicate white filets
6 oz shrimp (size doesn't matter, dear)
4 corn tortillas, reduced to crumbs in a food processor
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the fish and shrimp into 1/2 inch pieces. Place them in the food processor and add 1/4 cup tortilla crumbs, chili garlic sauce, thyme, and salt and pepper. Process until well combined but not totally turned into a paste. Do it with pulses. Form into 4 "burgers."

Coat the outsides with more of the crumbs. Heat oil and butter in a skillet and saute over medium for absolutely no more than 3 minutes per side. 2 minutes on the second side is very likely enough.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pile on the pilaf

Can't tell you the last time I simply posted a recipe from a cookbook (except maybe my own). Attribution is to Jane Brody.

Actual title: Pilaf with a Purpose (adapted)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1/2 cup broken angel hair pasta
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup bulgar
2 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/3 cup basil, torn
1/3 cup dry-roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1 cup garbanzos, canned, rinsed, and drained

Saute pasta in butter and oil until browned, c. 3 minutes.
Add mushrooms and onion; saute c. 4 minutes
Add bulgar, stir to coat; saute c. 3 minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients and stir to blend.
Bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

A feast for a King (or is it a Pasha?).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pasta primavera with pig and pun

Technically speaking the addition of ham isn't exactly kosher (ha, ha). This was a perfect warm weather supper.

1/2 box rotini or linguini or angel hair or spaghetti or ... oh heck, pasta

10-12 grape tomatoes chopped
1 1/2 cups diced ham
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, nuked for 30 seconds and diced
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
1 Tbs julienne of basil
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 Tbs minced chives
2 Tbs grated parmesan

Cook the pasta. Saute the next 8 things very lightly. Drain and add pasta. Toss. Place in bowls. Garnish with chives and parm. Go to town. Or go to the movies.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tomato coulis

Had dinner at a restaurant last week where something like this was served with bread. I recreated it in my own fashion yesterday. Very tasty, very fun, very expensive if you ask me to make it for you. LOL

1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded, roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
olive oil as necessary
salt and pepper

Roast the tomatoes at 225 degrees for a few hours. Nuke the bell pepper for a couple of minutes to soften. Put them in the food processor with everything else and whir until combined but not thinly pureed. Spread on quiche, or toast, sauteed fish.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shrimp ceviche and pasta salad (not for amateurs)

I'm into minimalist descriptions, so bear with me.

Shrimp ceviche: 21-30 size shrimp (1/2 lb. for two servings), shells removed, sliced in half lengthwise (across the back).

Drop them into boiling water for 20 seconds only.

Drain and rinse under cold water.

"Cure" them in the juice of 2 lemons and 2 limes, some chopped onion, a jalapeno (seeded or not), a bit of salt, for 30 minutes.

Toss them with: cooked pasta (5 oz. dry), artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, diced radishes, diced celery, a bit of salt and pepper (to taste).

Dress them with low fat yogurt, olive oil, coconut milk.

Prepare for heaven (in the culinary sense).

P. S. I got paid for making this.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One "hot" dog with Crout, please

Meet Sparky, my latest pet care client. He's 13 weeks old and possessed of all the qualities a King Charles Spaniel is famous for: affection, affection, affection, and near-terminal cute-itude.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Linguini carbonara

What an easy and satisfying supper. Serve it with a salad or other green vegetable.

Google will take you to dozens of variations of recipes to follow. I'm just here to remind you how wonderful carbonara is. My work is done.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Arugula pesto - are you game?

Arugula is not to everyone's taste. Those with taste, however, love it. 4 cups arugula packed, 2 Tbsp garlic, salt and pepper, 2 Tbsp pine nuts (or in my case, salted and roasted sunflower seeds), olive oil.

Put the pesto in the food processor, and the garlic, salt and pepper, and nuts. Drizzle in maybe 1/3 cup olive oil and turn on the motor. You are done.

Dress fish with it, dress pasta with it, or dress gnocchi with it. Or use it for hair removal.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pork medallions

For those of you who would comment anonymously, save your time. You will NOT be published. You will NOT be read. To the rest of the bloggers who enjoy ideas, read on.

Time for a rant about brining. If you have not tried it with pork (any pork, all pork) you are missing out on a valuable technique for flavorful and tender meat. If you insist on cooking your pork until there is no trace of pink in it, go somewhere else now - this post is not for you.

Brine for one pork tenderloin: 2 cups water, 2 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp sugar; refrigerate for 4-6 hours; rinse well, dry and slice into the little gems you see above.

Saute in butter and olive oil (add some pepper and maybe paprika) for 3-4 minutes per side. The center should still be pink. It won't hurt you. If you need proof, send $20 to my PayPal account (id provided upon request).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Catfish on a Hot Tin Plate

Poached catfish

Okay, the plate's not tin. This is an unorthodox method of preparing this not-universally-popular bottom feeder. What you see above is two halves of a large filet. At the bottom of the fish (in the center where it's been cut) is a rather dense strip of flesh. I sliced that out with my sharp chef's knife (and some of you didn't think I was a sharp chef!).

Bring enough broth (must be able to cover the filets completely) to a full boil. Slide in the filets, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. My work is done here. I tried two garnishes: Cajun seasoning (as above), and some arugula pesto. The latter is my favorite.

Use wine or plain water if you wish (salt the water, though, or it will be very bland).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

You Slaw Me

I recently took a vow of brevity. What do you need to know about slaw? I thought so.

I prefer savoy cabbage because of its flavor. I also make chayote slaw from time to time. Using my food processor with the chopping wheel starts things off with a whir.

Of last I've been using olive oil, a touch of mustard, and a bit of celery salt. Have been avoiding mayo. An open can of coconut milk presented a nice opportunity for some variety.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Turkey does tortilla (Hamburgesas de pavo)

Crumbs made from corn tortillas bring a south of the border flair to these little cosas.
As per the picture at right, I just cut them up and then processed them for a few minutes to break them down. Then I use them just like dried bread crumbs (although I don't dry them).

1.25 lbs light and dark combined ground turkey
1/4 cup corn tortilla crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Don't 'spec' I need to tell you how to cook them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stir fry, don't bother me

Of late I am writing short posts;
Though filled with much pith and some boasts.
When cooking I can,
With deft moving hand,
Make food while imbibing some toasts.

Many of you reading this are experts at dealing with leftovers. May I count myself among you? Brussells sprouts, scallions, a bit of radicchio, brown rice, kielbasa, soy sauce, fish sauce, and broth, in that order. Ecco, dinner.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Miso/Tofu/Coconut milk soup - really!!!

From my dim 5-watt brain comes "mistoco".

Just arrived there the other day while shopping at the Giant. And here it is.

1 lb silken tofu
1/4 cup miso paste
1/2 can coconut milk

Blended and heated.

That's all, folks. (Cue the Woody Woodpecker sound.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Brown rice - Are you nutty, or what?

It came to a pot of brown rice;
Not fluffy like white, but quite nice.
When cooked with some lovin',
It goes in the oven.
Says Alton, you don't roll the dice.

Don't you just hate when TV cooks add lots of "love."? I've found that hatred and anger don't actually change the taste of my food, as long as nothing gets thrown at anyone. But enough about me.

I'm a huge fan of white rice, but partner Peter always cooks brown. Recently the brown rice had not been turning out to be what our pea-pickin' hearts desired. I found this method from Alton Brown on the Food Network page. What's unusual about it is the use of the oven. It turned out to be quite superb. One caveat: he said bake for one hour. If I had not checked it after 50 minutes it would have been ruined.

Alton Brown's brown rice (stick around until I find how to make Betty White's white rice)
1 1/2 cups brown rice, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water (or, if using broth, go to 2 3/4 cups)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place water, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place rice in a square glass baking dish  or 8" square casserole with a lid. Pour liquid over rice. Stir. Cover with foil or lid and bake for 50-55 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. I find it a life-saving technique to set a timer with a loud signal tone.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Angel's in America

My first non-food related posting in perhaps forever. After 6 weeks of trying to see through a gas bubble in my right eye which replaced my vitreous fluid when a detached retina threatened my vision, I have another foster (dog up for adoption who needs a place to crash). In this case, Angel, who is in renal failure and is considered un-adoptable. There are no real symptoms at the moment, other than the need to go out to pee at least every couple or three hours (except for 10 pm to 5:30 am when she snoozes in her crate without protest).

Her prime foster parent, Chris, needed a vacation from the U. S. Army and I agreed to take Angel into my home for the duration (9 days). She is a shy and loving bit of canine joy.

I feel blessed to be able to give her my attention, love, and careful care, however briefly.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gumbo, the movie

Okay, it isn't a movie. But I did movie around the kitchen a fair amount making this. I am no longer a gumbo virgin. This was a gumbo three-way (me, and two versions of the dish). My one current personal chef client wants seafood once a week. It's a challenge to prepare in advance any fish dish and have it be fresh and tasty when re-assembled at home. I've learned a lot by doing this.

Version 1: the real thing
Make a roux (two tablespoons chicken fat and two tablespoons flour). Separately saute the "trinity", celery, onion and green bell pepper. Add broth (in my case 2 1/2 cups). Add andouille sausage (in my case 4 oz.). Add frozen cut okra. Add 6 oz crushed tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes. Cook rice separately. When you're ready to eat, add 10 oz. shrimp and let it bubble for 3 minutes. Serve over white rice or stir it in (as per the photo). My seasoning was one thing: Cajun seasoning from the market. It has cayenne and salt. This is not a very detailed plan, but do what I did and go to Google where you'll find a thousand variations on the theme.

Version 2: not the real thing
My client didn't want okra, so I pureed zucchini as a substitute. My client didn't want andouille, so I added liquid smoke. Result: a very good, if slightly different, flavor. She did want shrimp. And I gave her some shredded chicken into the mix. Tomatoes and rice as before. Can you spell swell?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

White on rice

When cooking a pot of white rice,
Some knowledge is handy and nice.
It needs to be timed;
Not nickled or dimed.
It's not about throwing some dice.

Once upon a time, yours truly was married to an Asian lady of great talents and skills, one of which she taught me: how to cook white rice. So what did I do when I was off on my own, far, far away from those halcyon days? I forgot how to do it. Until I remembered.

I was surprised to learn how many Asians on the west coast use rice cookers. I understand they can do other things, but I consider them essentially mono-taskers. Like Alton Brown, I have no room for mono-stuff in my kitchen.

This method is extremely simple; but you must pay attention. It had been years since I had rinsed my rice, but three changes of water is what you start with. Next you place 1 cup of rice in 1 3/4 cups water. Set your timer for 20 minutes and hit start. Bring the water and rice to a boil and let it go until the water is absorbed/evaporated to the point where holes punch up through the grains. Reduce the burner to minimum and cover the pot. When the timer goes off, turn off the burner and DO NOT OPEN THE POT FOR 5 MINUTES. Now you drop in a tablespoon of butter (optional) and a sprinkle of salt and fluff with a fork. Serve up rice cumuli to your fans, your family, even your enemies. You will be a conquering hero.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The other white meat, pork

Remember those billboards about "the other white meat?" I think that was a brilliant ad campaign. Not as good as a limerick, but pretty good nonetheless.

I wanted to cook up some pork;
So tender it cuts with a spork.
Some poaching in butter;
My heart all a-flutter.
Not bad for a champion dork.

So, I'm developing ideas for a gypsy food truck (that means unlicensed) run out of my van, and serving various sandwiches. One I would like to master would be a pork cutlet cooked so as to be tender enough to be eaten without my dentures (I made that up; I don't have dentures).

Boneless pork loin cutlets, brined for some hours, dried, pounded to 1/4 inch, seasoned a bit (but no salt due to the brine), poached in butter for 2 minutes per side (starting from room temperature). For the sandwich I'd top it with chayote slaw, Asian flavored.

BULLETIN: It worked!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Calamari critters

Never made this before. Will make it again. We love calamari. We even love squid. And there's nothing tentacled about that opinion.

1 lb. squid, cleaned and with the tentacles
big can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs tomato sauce
medium chopped onion
garlics (as much as your significant other can stand to sleep next to)
fennel (yep, and with fronds too) chopped
salt and pepper
red wine (or in my case 1/2 cup Shiaoxing)
1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti (or better, linguini if you can find it)

Have you noticed that the 16 oz. box of pasta which had morphed into 14.5 oz. is now 13.25 oz? That's like reducing a quart of milk to 30 oz. and calling it a "sort of" quart, or a quart "wannabe." How long before we get 26 oz. of tomatoes in a 28 oz. can?

The factory's methods are lewd,
By weight we are now getting screwed.
They must think we're dumb;
Sit sucking a thumb.
We ought to declare a great feud.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Legs even a pinup model would envy

I'm a leg man.

R U? 

Nothing extraordinary here, except extreme efficiency in getting dinner on the table in the midst of an activity spate  (I know that's not how you use the word, but I'm busy, don't bother me). Several chicken legs, rubbed with bottled Cajun seasoning and left to contemplate their lack of navels in the fridge for a couple of hours.  300 degree oven, covered, with a little broth for 2 hours while the spate is being dealt with. (If only the dealing had had to do with blackjack.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Seafood dumplings

I met a nice fish in Hawaii,
An often farmed brand known as Swai.
Light, tender, and white;
Quite often at night
It's heard singing through "Bali Hai."

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a wholly inadequate quote for this picture. It's worth a free blog site, which is, as we all know, what this is. Aided by my camera phone. Anyhow, I experimented today with an idea I will sell to a client for a dinner to be prepared for her for Monday. These are moist and delicate little pillows.

6 oz shrimp
6 oz flounder
3 scallions
1/4 cup egg white
pinch each of salt, pepper, and cayenne

All gets buzzed in the food processor and results in a pretty wet pudding. It will hold together when molded with wet hands. To prepare for eating I boiled some broth, slipped the dumplings in and let them poach at a very low simmer for 3 minutes, flipped them and let them go for 3 more. They are served here over ramen noodles, but for my client it will be Jamaican rice and peas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bowl games and layered things

Ice cream



Do ice cream makers spin the other way if you're below the equator?

Do missing socks actually go to the Planet of the Sock Puppets, where they are ruled over by Shari Lewis?

Is a secret drone is being used by the US government to manipulate us? And it's Wolf Blitzer?

Pure ice cream may be just vanilla.
I dream of it when I'm on my pilla.
With berries of straw,
It puts me in awe.
Then morphs to nice screams at Godzilla.

When is this blog going to address the topic suggested by the title? RIGHT NOW!

I had a look at Michael Toa's blog this morning. It's about ice cream and the use of condensed milk. Fascinating fact: the condensed milk and other ingredients don't need the churn from an ice cream maker, good news for those of us who don't own one. I really want a sushi machine, but that's another topic all together.

I had occasion to make a pastel de tres leches (the traditional Latin American cake) recently. I was left with some of the three milks that I hadn't used. I threw them into the freezer where they became an exquisite ice cream with just a minimum of stirring over the 2-3 hours it took for it to firm up completely.

Google will help you find hundreds of recipes for the cake. The basics of the ice cream are these:

1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 can fat free evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together and freeze, stirring 2 or 3 times over 3 hours. You are done.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Medical Pot Roast That We Inhaled

The scene: a DC Safeway store
The motive: needed a protein for dinner
The catalyst: 30% discount on chuck roast
The result: done deal

Cast of characters:
That 3 lb. hunk o' meat
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 1/2 onions - sliced into half moons
8 oz sliced mushrooms
2 cups beef broth
6 oz "manufactured" baby carrots
The pot (not prescribed by a doctor)
The oven (the heat which, if you can't stand it, keeps you out of the kitchen)

The wind howled as the sun groped it's way up from the horizon behind a dark and thick cloud cover (it was a sunny morning). The chef stumbled from the bed to the bathroom, down the stairs, and lurched into the kitchen (I got up, went down and turned on the coffee maker, visited the smallest room in the house, went to the front door to check for the NY Times). Unaware that there was a pot roast in his plans for the day, the chef groped around in the fridge and freezer for some darn thing to cook for dinner (I had no plans until I went grocery shopping later in the morning). He reached for the vodka bottle chilling in the freezer and made a Desperation Martini, booze in a glass with an ice cube (I waited patiently for the coffee to be ready). Hands shaking, the vodka splashed onto his wife-beater as he chugged a glug of it (I don't wear wife-beaters). The chef went back to bed (I read the paper, drank my coffee and prepared for my day).

Oh, the food. My apologies. Put onions and mushrooms in the bottom of a Dutch oven, lay the well-salted and peppered beef on them, top with more mushrooms and onions, garlic powder, and the broth. Place in a 325 oven. After one hour add the carrots. After another 1 1/2 hours, wake the chef and serve dinner.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Say "Cheese, Cheese, Cheese, Cheese, and Artichokes"

Recently I melted a few different cheeses in the microwave and then layered them in a small loaf pan. It made for a marvelous amuse bouche when chilled, sliced, and served up on a bit of bruschetta, or combined with some sliced meat in a tortilla wrap. Evolution being what it is I have moved forward and found different combinations of cheeses to use and then got the brilliant interesting idea to blend them with artichoke hearts. Normally I prefer frozen artichokes, but my snarky ethnic interesting neighborhood Giant doesn't carry them. I went with canned (not marinated).

Included: horseradish pepper jack, brie, gouda, Velveeta, one can artichoke hearts finely chopped.

Having recently published my eminently readable interesting "Velveeta Monologues," I had to throw some of the official cheese of the 1950's into the mix.

Soon to be published: "Noah's Nine Hundred and Fifty Years of Married Life (or how his sons Spam, Shemp and Curly Japheth kept him from offing himself)", the sequel to "Noah, I said make an arc, not an ark, you putz."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Yakisoba - and haiku to you

wok heats over flame;
so much to chop; make cocktail
and sip, grasshopper.

I've learned only in very recent years how one's mise en place makes an enormous difference in the ease of putting a meal on the table within a reasonable amount of time after one's spouse has come home from work. Witness this:

With enthusiasm: "Hi, honey, I'm home."
With resignation: "Hullo."
With anticipation: "What's for dinner?"
Snappishly: "A goddamn stir-fry if I ever finish chopping everything up."

Compare with this:
"Hi, honey, I'm home."
"Hello, dear."
"What's for dinner?"
"The mother of all stir-fries which will be ready in minutes as soon as you're ready."

Mise en place is what makes the difference. It doesn't take a long time to chop up stuff, except when you feel under the gun. Get out your Tupperware and do the chopping in the morning or even the night before. In most stir-fries there are things that go into the pan (wok or not wok) in sequence. Simply put them in separate containers. When it's time to cook get that pan or wok hot, hot, hot. While the oil heats put your bottles of soy sauce, cooking wine, vegetable oil, sesame oil, whatever, next to the stove.

I designed this one carefully, using pre-cooked noodles. My result was a one-dish dinner. If there's ever a divorce in this family it won't be from a complaint that "his mise was never en place." (I wonder if they can develop a pill for it?) "If you need more than four hours to get everything in place for a stir-fry, contact your physician immediately. Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for stir-fry activity."

Oh, what's in it:
vegetable oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1 huge clove garlic, minced
4 mini and multi-colored bell peppers
4 baby bok choys
4 scallions, green and white parts, 1" long
6 medium button mushrooms or baby bellas
leftover cooked sliced steak
8 oz. yakisoba noodles
To taste: splashes of Shiaxing wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ginger (the dog, not the spice)

I convinced Peter that fostering dogs awaiting adoption would be a good idea in this transitional period AS (after Scooper) and BD (before another dog to be determined). Suddenly last night I got a call from a rescue agency in need of fostering this adorable retriever/spaniel mix (as best anyone can tell). And no, this is not a prelude to my waggish suggestion of a Chinese fortune cookie reading, "Dog, the other white meat." I fetched this guy from a boarding facility this afternoon.

He has two adoption applications in the works and may well be with us only until the weekend.

This may be the first posting of a cartoon in a food blog (it certainly is via my blog). But this one  appeared in The New Yorker quite a few years ago. What makes it more salient is the fact that the adorable pup you see above is named Ginger.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pam gives birth to a limerick (and Cabbage and Pasta)

With pasta and cabbage by Pam,
It's poetry cuisine's slam.
So simple it's dumb.
But don't cut your thumb
Knifing napa or savoy or ham.

When I read Pam's post about cabbage and noodles I did indeed go directly to the store to buy a large head of Napa. I waffled, then decided to go with Asian clear rice noodles and Asian flavors. You need no guidance here. Just cook some cabbage the way you like it and serve it with macaroni of any provenance. Go have a look at what Pam did.

On a more pedestrian note, I still have no communication between my excellent digital camera and my computer. But I've gotten my phone to agree to take some pix after a period of severe recalcitrance. Not great photo-journalism, but adequate for my purposes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rouladen - Was ist das?

Roll up some beef with some stuff inside. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Make some gravy, or some gnocchi, or some potatoes, or some red cabbage, or some au gratin something. In your best "Hogan's Heroes" German accent, cry out, "Das ist gut!!!"

During my Denver days, 2001-2011, I had dinner at the home of an extremely boring German lady numerous times. You may be asking yourself why I was there so often if she was that boring. Good question. Professional necessity is the best answer I can give.

Until today I never made rouladen myself. I consulted a few recipes and realized that it is so easy even Col. Klink could have done it. With our temperature hovering just a skosh above 20 degrees F, this is perfect "get in where it's warm and have a warm and comforting meal" weather.

I have largely given up posting recipes. If you can spell Google you will be boondoggled with more recipes than you can shake a Bier Stein at.

I served some gnocchi with my rouladen and some arugula wilted with hot bacon grease and tossed with a few finely sliced radishes and mushrooms.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Want a biscuit?

Dinner invite from fish-a-vegetarian friends.
To satisfy my own ends,
Wanted to bring an amuse bouche.
Had a container of Pillsbury Grands.
Cut them in thirds with my own hands.
Stuffed 'em with peanut butter/chutney - some.
Gouda cheese - others. 
Baked 'em. Neat little mothers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Liar, liar, Lance on Fire (and turkey in Turkey)

This is a food blog, but I have something non-culinary to get off my chest. I admired and revered Lance Armstrong for many years. I accepted his denials that he cheated in order to gain ground in the bike races in France. I honored him to the extent of buying a "Live Strong" bracelet to help support his cancer foundation. Now the 'dope' comes out of the gym bag and he admits to doping. And guess why. Because he wants to be allowed to compete professionally again. He wants to find a way to worm himself back into product endorsements and the millions of dollars he can 'inject' into his bank account. I, for one, do not support his endeavors. We have been cheated by him in the same way that he cheated the cycling world. Sorry, Lance, your pants will be burning forever as far as I am concerned. On to something that actually matters - a different turkey - one of the edible kind.

Wikipedia told me that turkeys (the birds) were imported to Europe from Turkey (not the bird) long ago. I have a friend who spent this past Thanksgiving in Turkey, where they don't celebrate the holiday (except that the birds do). She had a celebratory dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I haven't cooked a whole bird in the last few years. Parts have been the way to go. I love drumsticks (I've even played timpani with them), I love thighs (I've played ... uh, oh, don't go there), I love the breast (someone help me get out of this downward spiral).

Today's chapter, excerpted from my autobiography, is titled "For the birds: how I cook budgies and other 'cheep' critters." Did you know that turkeys have been known to drown in a rainstorm if they stick their heads up into the air and "gobble"? I don't know if that's true, but I hope it is.

All you do is start by brining the thighs and/or drumsticks for 2 to 3 hours, rinse well, and dry with paper towels. Heat your oven to 300, put the thighs and/or drumsticks (I wouldn't use this method for breasts) into a pan and add some stock, some onion and carrots and green peppers and celery and pepper. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until tender enough to eat without your dentures.

Alternatively, broil them, starting skin side down and ending skin up for crisp-itude. I would think this might be suitable for breasts as well.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cornish hen sous vide

I have had a fascination with sous vide cooking for several years. Unfortunately I can't afford professional equipment and have made do with attempts to use standard pots and pans and thermometers. Today I had my greatest success ever. Much of it is due to our range which has a center/rear burner for very low simmering. I put a large pot of water on it and managed to hold it right at, or near, 160 degrees for 3 hours. As for the bird, it was brined for 2 hours and then sealed in a freezer bag with a stick of butter, a couple sprigs of sage, some garlic, and some pepper. I was able to squeeze out nearly all the air, enough so that the bag sat down in the water in the pot. The resulting texture was of utmost tenderness and moistness. The flavor was gentle and delicate, all in all a delight.

If you aren't familiar with sous vide, I'd suggest you Google the term. Probably you will find a more comprehensive description than little old me can provide. It's doubtful that things for which I might like a lower temp will be possible, such as seafood, eggs, and such, without a circulating heater. But one can certainly try various cuts that require long cooking. Maybe ribs, roasts.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

There's no "V" in lasagna (oh, yeah?)

Maybe two weeks ago I warned the blogosphere (that includes you) of Jenn's impending use of the "V" word at her place, jennsfoodjourney. If you click on that link right now you may still catch her recipe, chicken queso pasta. Her casual, unremarkable, confident inclusion of not only Velveeta, but Ro-tel, should be a model of the "just lay it out there" school of recipe sharing. No headlines, no hype for the Official Cheese of the 50's, just matter-of-fact presentation. That's what I meant to do here, except now I'm blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Okay, what I've done is to make a big tray of lasagna with a hefty layer of Velveeta in a middle layer and served it to my spouse, and a lady of a certain age who just got back from the hospital following a minor heart attack and an angioplasty. Our fourth was her son who had bused his way down from Pittsburgh to DC to be with her for a few days. Bottom line: everyone had seconds. No one asked any embarrassing questions about ingredients. I will go to my grave with it as my secret since I know none of you are blabbermouths.

If you are wondering when I am going to get around to the recipe, well, I'm not really going to. You all have your lasagna designs, handed down from grandma to ma to y'all. In short, I used a pound of ground turkey, a 28 oz can of whole romas, a 14 oz can of tomato sauce, garlic, salt and pepper, and four cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and the hero of the day, Velveeta. Oh, and I used real, grownup noodles, not those wimpy no-boil things. (Go ahead, make my day, tell me I'm an idiot.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Going with the grain

I had the intention of boring you all with the saga of my ambitious dinner party from Saturday night. However, time got away and I never was able to seize the camera for documentation. Yesterday I snagged bits and pieces of things from the fridge along with about 1 1/2 cups of dried wheat berries from Whole Foods. I made a salad of it all: the berries, carrot, scallion, heart of palm, marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and celery. It was (and will be again tonight) oh so healthy and delicious. The pic is purloined, but my heart is pure. Oh, and the dressing was left from Saturday when it was used on a faux Thai green papaya salad. Ingredients? Stuff. I don't know. I was busy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Today I crabbed and fussed

I've posted crab cakes before, I think. But this is what I did tonight in honor of my 32nd anniversary with Peter. I had bought a pound of crab on Monday because my supermarket was out of lobsters. But I decided later to go to the waterfront and get a lobster for risotto. There is nothing magical about crab cakes, except when there is. Tonight they were magic. I read at least a half dozen recipes earlier today and they were more different than alike. So I made it up. When is the last time I did that? You don't need my recipe (even if I could remember all its details). I mixed the crab with: about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs made from flour tortillas, 1/4 cup mayo, 2 Tbs mustard, celery salt, 1 egg lightly beaten (just until it whimpered but didn't scream), a touch of cayenne, and a lot of love. (I hate it when TV chefs say there recipe has a lot of love in it. Give me mayo and bacon any time.) Sauteed the little buggers in some butter and EVOO for about 5 mins. per side. And here I am an hour later, reveling in the warmth in my tummy.

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