Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day BBQ

Thursday ended up with me being extremely ill for some unknown reason. I made myself miso soup for dinner and Jen had leftovers. Neither of these things were noteworthy enough for pictures or descriptions. Due to the healing properties of the miso soup I was in tip top shape by Friday evening where we cleaned out much more of the leftovers from the fridge. We also spent the afternoon driving around and looking into purchasing a gas grill which we ended up not doing which is probably for the best since owning two grills while still living in an apartment seems a tad excessive.

Saturday we went out to discover, much to our amazement, that we could get the best table in the best restaurant in our city at 7:00PM on a Saturday night! It's great to live in a city where you're the poorest resident. It means that while everyone else is out partying on their yachts for the long weekend you get the run of the town! I can't wait until Labor Day!

On Sunday we visited friends upstate in an adorable little town where we sat around and drank mojitos while one of our friends did yard work. We are great friends.

I started by soaking and grilling a mess of corn on the grill. My new thing is eating grilled corn plain with no butter, salt, or pepper. For some reason I find this delicious, something that certainly would have been a cause of great sadness when I was a younger man.

I got a couple of racks of pork ribs and defrosted a sirloin from the freezer and threw it all on the grill.

I used this Sublime Swine rub from
DennyMike's Cue Stuff as my pre-oven rub and tried a new rib-cooking technique. I slow-roasted the ribs at 300 degrees for 90 minutes then turned off the oven and let them cook an additional 30 minutes before removing them, letting them come to room teperature then finishing them on the grill.

I got this jar of FunniBonz barbecue sauce about a year ago when we still lived in the city with homes that maybe, one day, we'd be able to make ribs. Today that dream came true.

I find that dreaming really, really small is the secret to true happiness in life.

I also chopped up the remaining kale and made this salad with olive oil, lime, avocado, tomato, a touch of cayenne, salt, and pepper.

With some of the leaves from the basil plant I tossed together some tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic, sald, and pepper.

For this salad I cooked some sweet potatoes until just tender, chilled them, tossed with dijon, mayonnaise, red onion, green onion, celery, cayenne, Old Bay, salt, and pepper.

I made way too much food but that didn't prevent me from purchasing a gigantic wedge of cornbread! I sometimes feel guilty about not making my own cornbread but then I think about running the oven on a hot day and the fact that buying it already made only costs about two dollars. Then I feel much better.

We opted to go to Longford's, as we often do, in lieu of making our own dessert.

I don't know if there are any creative ways that I'll come up with for utilizing most of this stuff so it may be quiet on the blog front for this first week of June.

Apparently our local farmer's market just started back up on May 30th (which we missed) so we will likely return soon to our roots. Since we don't have the exorbitant fees to sign up for a farm share around here we'll be buying our produce a la carte.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Catching Up

The past two nights have consisted of uninspired dishes that are hardly worth mentioning. However, that wouldn't be like me if I didn't mention them anyway! Enjoy!

On Tuesday I made some veal scallopini which I wrapped up with pancetta that I'd forgotten to put in the previous night's pasta. It worked out for the best because the pasta arrabiata had been delicious enough without the need for cured pork to be added to the mix.

Tonight I made tacos with everything left to clear out of the fridge. I used up some shrimp from the freezer, chopped up some kale, sliced watermelon, shredded cheddar, chopped tomato, and served it up to make our own tacos.

Perhaps Memorial Day will lend way to much more interesting fare.

Or just some grilled stuff. We'll see.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Angry Pasta, Angry Jen

Hey! There are two types of people in this world: Chumps and people who follow our blog. Which one are you?

I got some more asparagus from Kate & Mike's Naturally Grown in Woodbridge, Connecticut. While this asparagus is always so good it makes me want to enjoy it au naturale, you can only have so much plain steamed or grilled asparagus. For tonight the mission was to put it together with some other ingredients for something a little more interesting.

First, however, it was time for another in a long line of kale salads. For this one I used some nice organic watermelon. I only bought it because I don't think we'd ever had organic watermelon before as it is fairly uncommon. It was also cheap which, in tandem with scarcity, is one of my favorite food pairings.

I cubed up the watermelon with some kale, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

For the pasta I browned some garlic, orange zest, lemon zest, and a little vidalia onion olive oil. I would normally add red pepper flakes and dried oregano to this but apparently Jen performed a mercy killing on our ancient red pepper flakes and we didn't have any oregano so I omitted them from the recipe. I added some concassed tomatoes, scallops, and shrimp with the asparagus tips. Essentially this is an arrabbiata sauce which is Italian for "angry." Jen seemed fairly docile until her Halak on the Canadiens let in a really soft goal. Hard to tell if the pasta affected her temperament at all. I haven't done a science experiment since the eighth grade but I believe this one needs a variable. Or a control. One of those.

As accompaniment Jen picked out a bottle of Cabernet Franc Rose from Tabor Hill which we acquired on our wine tour of Michigan last summer. We purchased this wine straight from the next town over from the vineyard after touring it. That's just doing our part in reducing our carbon footprint! Just forget about the flight to Michigan, the flight back, and the fact that we weren't allowed to take it on the plane so Jen's dad had to drive it back to Illinois, then back to New York later that year.

Hey, we're no heroes. We're just doing our part to help the environment.

Last night I used up the last of the giant four-pound container of strawberries to make strawberry ice cream. I think that these strawberries may be mutant or have some strange quantum properties that reverse or neutralize aging. They were in the fridge for a week and were essentially unchanged. Generally I'm used to strawberries going bad within minutes of purchase, often in the car ride home from the store. I'm curious if these are actually even real strawberries and not just strawberry-flavored pieces of plastic based on their unprecedented integrity.

When we lived in New York City our annual tradition was to go to the local Mister Softee truck which parked on our corner. There we'd spend about $10 for some kinda nasty soft serve ice cream generally in the form of a pineapple sundae. We'd then take this home to enjoy during the NHL Playoffs. This year we had to change this up to a nightly trip to Longford's where we pay about $6 for some really great homemade ice cream usually in the form of a cone to eat while we watch the NHL Playoffs.

That's just one of the many perks of our new suburban lifestyle.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Almost Grilled Mahi-Mahi

If there's one thing I love it's a food that's so good they have to name it twice just to get the point across. That's why I love mahi-mahi. I was able to get a superlative fillet of mahi-mahi (or just mahi to those who don't like to have fun) from my local fishmonger. My idea was to grill it up but I was, once again, lazy and pressed for time. Jen who was all for getting a gas-powered grill for such occasions has since changed her tune so it looks like we'll have to reserve the grilling only for those days where we have more than thirty minutes to prepare dinner.

I woke up at 4:00 AM so I was leery of having anything to drink but I started with this 'otter Summer Ale from Otter Creek Brewing.

I pan seared the mahi-mahi with a little Old Bay, salt, and pepper. I also steamed some asparagus from Kate & Mike's Naturally Grown in Woodbridge, Connecticut. I also made a sherry shiitake risotto with some more of the shiitake mushrooms from New Jersey.

For dessert we watched the Canadiens get thoroughly defeated by the Flyers. This was far sweeter for me than it was for Jen. Normally when we just have some yogurt or ice cream Jen isn't known to shout out so many four-letter words.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Too Lazy To Grill

We have decided that the time to get a gas-powered grill is upon us. After returning from work, giving Jen her most recent driving lesson, and coming home we determined that we just don't have an hour to wait before we made dinner. While I love wood-grilled anything, it just doesn't cut it on those nights where you just need some quick flames on your food.

We were going to head straight to Home Depot to pick up a grill but realized that would require an assembly time longer than the wait time for some hard wood charcoal to ignite.

Using my new method of working kale into every salad we consume I made this tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad with kale along with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The result was fantastic. The basil flavored the kale enough so that it was like eating giant clumps of delicious basil.

In lieu of grilling (on gas or hard wood) I boiled up some hot dogs and served them up with chopped onion, relish, mustard, and ketchup. Sadly we were out of normal nasty yellow ketchup so I had to use Dijon instead which just isn't the same. A generous sprinkling of celery salt was enough to make one forget about the missing mustard.

For beer we had this evening is a little controversial. I can already hear the screams of horror coming from my father-in-law as he gazes upon this picture with pure horror in his eyes.

The beer was Thomas Hooker's Watermelon Ale. Much like last year's watermelon beer (21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon, this beer was a refreshing but odd choice. It probably wasn't quite hot enough to enjoy the refreshment factor as it was merely in the low 70's this evening. Nonetheless we tried Connecticut's finest and enjoyed it with our slightly-before-the-season meal.

I happened upon a four pound carton of strawberries today so Jen macerated a bunch and made some shortcake to go along with it. We tried our darnedest to make whipped cream but we had no cream and everyplace in Westchester closes by 6:00 PM so we were forced to omit this part of the dessert.

Still, Jen makes a bangin' shortbread.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Artichokes are at Steak

Tonight's dinner was a last minute sort of amalgamation. I had purchased these great big globe artichokes the other day for an incredible deal at only $2.50 each! That's $5.00 for both Jen and I to each have an artichoke the side of our head. Unfortunately the purchase was also the end of the road and they've been in the fridge since Monday night, unsure of what to do with them or when to use them.

I started by taking a series of pictures of myself with one of the artichokes to show scale. This was mostly me procrastinating from the unsavory task of actually preparing the artichokes, something I am not hugely happy to do.

I steamed them for about 25 minutes then threw them on the grill before tossing them in lemon, garlic, red onion, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

While they marinated I enjoyed this delicious new Italian beer which had been recommended to me. Menabrea Birra. (Warning: Do not check out their website if you are against Apple's anti-Flash stance and do not want to feel instantly wrong. Also, do not check out this website if you are intent on learning anything about their product.)

I also had this great sirloin steak in the freezer that I defrosted and grilled up along with the artichokes.

To accompany it I wanted to make creamy polenta with Reggiano Parmiggiano. So I went to the local store and found that they didn't have any cornmeal. I wasn't sure what to do so I came home to see what other grains I had and found a giant bag of cornmeal. Now I'm thankful I didn't find any at the store as I am not in a race against time to use up all the cornmeal making corn muffins and cornbread all day.

With no NHL playoff games on tonight we were forced to watch some backed up shows off of the TiVo. It's too bad because watching the Bruins blow their series against the Flyers would have been the perfect accompaniment.

I guess it will have to wait tomorrow. Go, Bruins!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chicken Derangement

The last time we made Chicken Madness was on the eve of Jen's terrible knee surgery. This is a Jen favorite, our version of a sandwich made at Wisemiller's in D.C. Generally Jen makes this dish but tonight I put it together based (mostly) on Jen's instructions.

Since I don't follow instructions very well there were a few modifications, much to Jen's dismay.

I rendered four strips of bacon, removed them from the pan, sauteed up half a yellow onion, half a red onion, one jalapeno, and a red pepper. Then I took some boneless, skinless chicken seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder, and seared that in the same pan, finishing in the oven.

I served it on a kaiser roll (not traditional), did not cut the chicken breast into strips (not traditional) and used arugula since we didn't have any iceberg lettuce (not traditional). I did, however, fight the urge to make a flavored mayonnaise and did use just plain mayo (+1 for Nate).

As an accompaniment: spicy Grillo's Pickles, and Alexia Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Seasoning.

Jen did all she could to stop the involuntary cringing when she heard of all these renegade moves I had made. However, as with every dinner we've ever had together, she admitted at the end that it was quite tasty.

I call this dish "Chicken Derangement" since it is not 100% faithful to the dish that is so popular it has its own Facebook page with 53 members (previously called "fans").

And you know something has to be huge if it has its own Facebook page!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chilly May Bolognese

With May temperatures in the forties I was struck with a sudden urge to make bolognese. More importantly: to eat bolognese! I had most of the ingredients necessary in the freezer and fridge and was fairly certain that I could cobble together a facsimile in a pretty short time.

To start I made a Caesar salad. Since the health benefits of kale have been a theme for the past few months I decided to make a Caesar salad out of kale. The best thing about this nutrient-dense leafy green is that it's so healthy that you can completely cover it in a thick Caesar dressing and it completely balances out any of the unhealthy properties of the salad dressing. It's true! Look it up!

I ended up rendering bacon, cooking garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and ground beef before added diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. I used some dried basil and thyme and a bay leaf for seasoning. I served this along with some fresh fettuccine and a loaf of inappropriately defrosted Jewish rye bread. Shockingly the bread worked as an accompaniment, something I was not expecting.

I didn't add any stock or cream to the sauce, something that traditionally should have been added, because it was tasty enough without.

And since there wasn't any kale in the sauce to counteract it that cream would have went straight to my hips!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May The Fifth Be With You

There's nothing quite like a holiday that tells me exactly what I'm supposed to make for dinner. Or at least narrows it down substantially. It would be convenient if such a holiday occurred weekly as to make my grocery shopping that much easier.

Yesterday, in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo I purchased as many Mexican-themed ingredients as I could with no real idea of what I was going to make. Here's what I came up with:

As with most of our minor holiday feasts there was enough food for six people which is handy because that gives us enough leftovers to each have it for lunch (and possibly dinner) the next day and probably still throw some away because we're sick of it.

Nothing much to really say here. Chips and salsa. I did use some chips from Laurel Hill out of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Having grown up fifteen minutes from Attleboro, Massachusetts I was never aware there were any food companies there. I thought all they had there was Yankee Spirits (fantastic liquor store, by the way) and The Emerald Square Mall (I'm shocked that they do not seem to have a real website but rather link to a Facebook page).

Beware of the latter. I heard it is built on a swamp and is sinking! You can even see the cracks in the floor!

For a salad I just tossed together some kale with assorted Cinco-themed ingredients: lime juice, cumin, cotija cheese, toasted pepitas, chili sauce, etc. You get the idea.

I opted at the last minute to make enchiladas rather than tacos. I browned some garlic, tossed in some jalapeno and onion, and browned up some ground beef. The beef was from Simply Grazin' in Skillman, New Jersey. While I love Simply Grazin's beef it is a little difficult to fully appreciate the beauty of the meat when it's cooked with tomato, spices, wrapped in a flour tortilla, covered in enchilada sauce and baked in the oven with melted cotija cheese.

Still, the knowledge that I supported yet another wonderful purveyor of fine food helped me digest better and sleep soundly in a state of smug satisfaction.

I served this up with simple brown rice which I tossed with some pinto beans and a little chili.

I had some sad limes, the kind that when you cut them open it's like cutting open a balloon filled with saw dust. After getting about six drops out of two lime I had a few winners and was able to make Jen a margarita with some tequila and agave.

I hadn't had a Dos Equis in years. In fact, I think the last time I had one it was purchased at Yankee Spirits and I was still in college. I forgot how much I actually liked this beer. I confess that one of my guilty pleasures are the Dos Equis commercials featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World. I'm a bit ashamed about how much I love them but I just do. I love how mild his appreciation for the product that he's selling is. "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." It's quite remarkable. He admits to not being a big drinker then qualifies that he only prefers Dos Equis. In no way does he really endorse the product or say that he enjoys it exclusively.

And that is the most interesting part of all. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


There's nothing more I love than finding a food I've never heard of before. Today that happened as I came across a fish called Barramundi. Barramundi is apparently "Australia's favorite fish." Funny that I haven't heard any of the Australians I know ever mention this particular sea-dweller.

As someone who's spent his entire career working with food it's always a little embarrassing to find something out that is new. Particularly since I'm the go to person for everyone that I know to send a text message at any time of the day to ask me if they're making their pie crust correctly or if I know a better way to sear a flank steak.

I sauteed a giant plate of spinach with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I call this "Brooklyn Fish Camp Style" as it closely resembles the style of fresh sauteed spinach they serve at their fantastic restaurant.

I also made a baked potato with sour cream and parsley. Nothing too fancy. Just a microwaved potato because I was making a baked potato for me and Jen, not for our descendants.

Having never cooked barramundi before I wanted to make sure I got a good sense of how it tasted. I marinated it with some lemon and olive oil, cooked it up in a pan and finished it off under the broiler for a minute or so. In the pan I tossed some butter and parsley then drizzled the fish.

I must say, the Australians have been keeping a wonderful secret from us all these years. The fish is tender, flaky, and delicious. I really can't imagine a better white fish. And it was quite reasonably priced. Assuming Australia will continue to export this I think I'm going to put this into the dinner rotation effective immediately.

To top it all off I enjoyed a Whale Tail Pale Ale from Cisco Brewers on Nantucket. Much like their Sankaty Light beer I am very impressed with this beer.

Not pictured: a repeat of last night's delicious crisp with vanilla ice cream. Also not pictured: the fact that I can no longer fit into any of my pants. I actually had to take some pants to the tailor to be taken out. I guess I've come a long way from when my doctor told me that I had to try to eat as many cookies as possible.

I think she'd be singing a different tune these days.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Unseasonably Seasonal

A bout of lousy weather, in the form of ultra-humid rain, has left me unable to grill. Unfortunately the only option left was to use the oven. A dim prospect in this unseasonably warm temperatures, yes. However, it's all in the name of having a delicious dinner which is of paramount importance.

A few times a year I'm able to procure fresh garbanzo beans. It's a treat to eat these during their brief season. Luckily a year is long enough to forget how terrible a task it is to peel them one-by-one. Over a pound of beans results in this pitiful yield of fresh beans.

I cooked up the garbanzos with just a little butter, olive oil, garlic, and parsley. I was also fortunate enough to get a nice veal chop from Provitello Farmsin Elba, NY. For you history buffs out there you'll remember this is where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. For what they lack in maintaining Napoleon's exile they make up for in producing excellent quality veal!

Also to accompany these lovely items: some more shiitake mushrooms from New Jersey.

Jen also woke up early this morning to make this fantastic strawberry rhubarb crisp (an abandoned strawberry rhubarb pie). Topped with a little vanilla ice cream it was pretty much the most delicious dessert one could ask for on a disgustingly humid May evening. Jen's recipe called for the cut berries and rhubarb to be tossed with a little sugar and flour and then sit for one hour. Always one to up the ante, Jen allowed them to sit for two days. This was fueled by a need to overdo it in tandem with a lack of desire to make pie crust.

The charm of this Spring meal may have been a bit more enjoyed had it not been for the scorching heat and humidity in our apartment. It felt more like we'd frozen the garbanzo beans and waited until late July to have this meal.

Hopefully there'll be a chilly day in late July where we can have ribs and corn on the cob to even this all out.