Friday, August 27, 2010

Hush, Hush, I Think I Heard You Drinking My Wine Now

With some old bread, leftover salmon, radishes, dill, and butter I made these toasts for lunch.

Tonight Jen didn't get home until after 10:00 PM so we had dinner quite late. The original intention was to use the grill but I've discovered that using the grill that long after sundown is a difficult and dangerous proposition. Luckily it has been unseasonably cool and a combination of stove burner and oven sufficed nicely. My butcher specially cut this piece of USDA Prime for me and it was fantastic.

(I'll spare you the detail about its marbling. You're welcome.)

Along with the ribeye I also steamed some corn from corn from Mitchell Farm; baked a potato with sour cream and dill; and made a salad with kale, roma tomatoes from Mountain View Farm, balsamic, olive oil, and shaved Manchego.

For wine I opened this bottle of Deep Purple Lodi Zinfandel. I most purchased this one because of the label. I think they're targeting aged hippies and fans of the musical group such as myself.

I mean, you'd have to be a fan of the group to really get anything about this bottle. First of all they use a font reminiscent of Deep Purple's. Not good Deep Purple, mind you, but rather The Book of Taliesyn era Deep Purple or Deep Purple Mark I for you fans out there. This is not a look that could at all be associated with the Deep Purple that anyone knows or remembers. This is a look that conjures up images of Rod Evans and Nick Simper. This wine doesn't even try to make you be fooled into a Mark III or Mark IV lineup which actually produced some fantastic music but, in the United States anyway, is largely unknown.

No, this is Shades of Deep Purple era, a time where British bands were still trying to figure it out as The Beatles years died down. It was a time when you could have a song on your album titled Why Didn't Rosemary? without a hint of shame.

Luckily the early Deep Purple had a lot of the attention from how terrible it was drawn away by the even more horrific early days of Pink Floyd. It was like both bands had to pay 2-3 years of crappy-song-and-album dues before finally reaching the critical year of 1970 and being able to release albums that anyone would actually want to listen to. Black Sabbath was wise to hold off

I'm sorry, I think I got off on a tangent there. As for the wine it is quite delicious but, sadly, does not really form any coherent message on the label other than generic 60's hippie terminology and reference. It took me about ten minutes to read the super-psychedelic font on the label. Here's what it says:

  • Fruit Bomb - I think this was a song by Jefferson Airplane.
  • Blackberry - What hippies from the 60's now use to communicate with each other on Facebook and post blurry scanned pictures they took at Monterey.
  • Vanilla Fudge - Another band from the 60's. I think they were loosely implying that this is something you'll taste in this wine but that is clearly a lie. They just wanted to see if anyone would remember Vanilla Fudge. Answer: they still don't.
  • Exploding - I thought hippies were supposed to be all about peace and love.
  • Nice & Spicey - Probably the only accurate description of the wine in this list. They should have used a different font to illustrate this point. I suggest Verdana Bold.
  • Monster Fruit - I have no evidence to support that this is a psychedelic band from the 60's who released albums with an 18 minute instrumental on side B. I also have no reason to believe this is not true.
  • Black Pepper - Any wine worth its salt has to claim, somewhere, that there are hints of black pepper. Somehow they missed "cherry notes." I'm sure they were kicking themselves as this went to print.
  • Hedonistic - Reminding hippies of their hayday.
  • Cinnamon & Clover Over and Over - Something that wine snobs (some of whom are former hippies) will tell you they taste in a wine to seem superior to you. Don't worry, they're just lying. The art of being a wine snob is to learn as many of these stupid things as possible. Want to seem like you know about wine? Just tell people you taste tobacco and they'll cover their gaping mouth with the palm of their hand while silently holding you in reverence.
  • Drink Me! With Pizza, Burgers, and Brownies - And this is where it all breaks down. In case anyone was curious what country this wine was made in they need look no further than this line.
To top it off, on the back of the bottle the wine asks: "Are you experienced?" While keeping with the hippie theme this just distracts me as it is not a reference to Deep Purple at all. I think they should have saved this for their sereis of Jimi Hendrix themed wines. Here are some suggestions for names:
  • Manic Grape-Pressin'
  • Third Grape From The Sun
  • The Wind Cries Riesling
  • Red House
  • Spanish Rioja Magic
  • Castles Made of Sangiovese
  • Little Zin
  • Voodoo Chilean Malbec
  • and, of course, Foxy Lady.

Deep Purple Wines, if you are reading . . . those are free! Get to work on this, please.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Coho Ho and a Bottle of . . . Radishes?

Okay, quite possibly the worst post title yet.

This is the part of summer that I love, the part where it forgets to be 100 degrees every day and settles down into the seventies and gives me a break, no need for air conditioning, and the ability to turn the oven on without wanting to die.

I started off by making these little baguette slices with butter, sliced radishes, and dill. I hear from most people that they hate radishes. I seem to remember really liking radishes as a kid when my parents planted them in the garden. This was probably the only thing from the garden that I would eat other than the corn and strawberries.

This is one of my favorite things to make in the summer though I usually get around to making it a little earlier in the season.

My fishmonger (the one who, it turns out, gives me facts about fish that are greatly misleading!) recommended this coho salmon. I smeared it with Dijon mustard, fresh dill, salt, pepper, and sprinkled some panko bread crumbs on it before searing it in a pan and finishing it in the oven.

I made a kale salad with Hepworth Farm tomatoes, dill, and lemon as an accompaniment. It was a fantastic dinner which was only to be topped by ice cream at Longford's. Jen got the same flavor that her father thought was "disgusting."

We really can't make heads or tails of that assessment as it is, quite empirically, delicious. It's ice cream! When's the last time you had "disgusting" ice cream?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hake: Land Astronauts

Today I got some Hake which just came off the boat. What boat? I'm not sure. My fish guy just says they come off of boats. I'm not much of an outdoorsman. I just assume that hake are a species of super-advanced fish which have mastered sea travel aboard boats and wear masks filled with water so that they can breath on land.

So, in my mind, hake are kind of like Krang the Conqueror. I think most marine biologists would be shocked to see how accurate my estimate of hake is. And to think, I didn't even have to spend $160,000 to go to marine biology school or wherever it is that you learn about fish and oceans and stuff.

I should change my last name to be more reflective of my skills and knowledge. From now on I will be Nathan Bridger.

I seasoned up the hake with some chili, cumin, lime, tequila, cilantro, and cayenne, then seared it in a pan and roasted it until just done. I served it up on a tortilla with kale, the remaining corn from our scallops the other night, some avocado, salsa, cilantro, and manchego cheese.

Every time I combine tequila and lime (outside of a margarita) I feel a little guilty. Mostly because it seems like something that should be on an Applebee's menu specialty created by a celebrity chef like Tyler Florence or Guy Fieri. To think, if this blog gets about six or seven million more followers I may be able to have my own Applebee's menu items coming soon!

Be on the look out for Nathan Bridger's Ultimate Chili Cheese Jalapeno Tequila Piquillo Pepper Popper Sliders!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Captain Oxheart

That tomatoes of Mountain View Farm in Kent, Connecticut continue to be the best I've had this season. The latest variety of choice is the variety named (not for the squeamish) the oxheart.

While roughly the same size, shape, and meatiness an actual oxheart it is comes along with far less of the guilt and revulsion associated with eating organ meats. Hearts are not tops on my list but I far prefer them to brains. I have a strict rule against eating anything that anyone (or anything) has been thinking with. This is why my adventures with Indiana Jones have been decidedly kept to a minimum.

The oxheart tomato is a fantastic tomato for slicing and eating au naturale. I paired this one with some Gouda Parrano, tired of the typical mozzarella accompaniment.

Along with some fresh sourdough bread this was pretty much all we had for dinner. Actually we had something else but it was just some amalgamation of leftovers that followed a tough act.

Just hoping I can eat enough of these during their incredibly short season so that I am sick enough of them to get me through the remaining 48 weeks of the year. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Say Tomato

The window for tomatoes, actual delicious tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, is a small one. As we do every year we are taking advantage of sampling the tri-state area's finest tomatoes with every chance we get.

As a child I hated tomatoes. It wasn't really until my teenage years when my father decided to plant some tomato plants out in the yard that, I really developed a taste for them. I think it was because those tomatoes were delicious. They were red (instead of white), soft (instead of crunchy) and could be enjoyed with nothing other than salt and pepper.

I often find myself hating tomatoes as an adult whenever I'm greeted with a disgusting white and crunchy tomato on a sandwich. I'm much happier to just omit the tomato rather than slice up these abominations just for the sake of having something red on a sandwich.

I got some grate cherry tomateos from Hepworth Farms which may have been the finest cherry tomatoes I've ever had in my life. Along with some kale, feta, and olives I made this salad which was thoroughly enjoyable.

These tomatoes are grown on the Hudson river, about 90 miles from us by Amy Hepworth. She may enjoy eating maggots but she can grow one hell of a tomato.

You keep eating those maggots, soul sister!

I took yesterday's leftover heirloom tomatoes along with some corn from Mitchell Farm in Southbury, CT; bacon; sea scallops; and bacon. This is one of my favorite flavor combinations in the entire world.

We broke with the whole local theme by importing our wine from Chile but what is one to do?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tomato Season is On

On Thursday I was not feeling well. After getting home I simply took everything in the fridge and turned it into salad.

I can tell I am sick when I make nothing but a giant salad for dinner and simply watch Jen eat it as I look on lethargically. This particular salad was perhaps one of my finest of the kale variety. It had kale, grilled corn, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, heirloom tomato, and quinoa.

Yesterday was a day of great sadness. I spent most of the day sleeping and watching movies on and off all day. Today I slowly regained my strength over the course of the day until, at dinner, I made a fantastic heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh bread.

For the main course I pan roasted a chicken breast and cooked up some zucchini with fresh sage (from my mother's garden), garlic, and ricotta. The zucchini was from the same farmer's market visit last weekend where I purchased the corn. This was a very tasty main course but after the fantastic tomatoes as a first course it was just a little anti-climactic.

Next time I'll serve the zucchini and chicken first with the heirloom tomatoes as the main course.

Look out convention, I'm about to buck you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grill Us To The Greek

After work I took a nap. A two-and-a-half hour nap. It was quite remarkable. When I woke up I was a little groggy and a little late in getting the grill started but by the time Jen got home I had concluded that making the choice to take that nap was the best decision I'd ever made in my life. She asked if that included asking her to marry me. I said, "Yes. But not to worry, asking you to marry me was definitely top five material."

I cut up a chicken yesterday and marinated it for close to 30 hours in a Greek marinade with kalamata olives and feta cheese. Then I slow grilled it while I enjoyed an Arnold Palmer that I had fixed myself. My post-nap day was turning out to be just perfect.

I also grilled up some green beans from Sunday's farmer's market. I foolishly did not make note of the farm they were from. I've let our readers down by missing an element of this meal that I could have pointlessly cataloged! And for that I am truly sorry.

The grilled corn came from the same farm as the green beans. This was the finest corn we've had so far this year.

Already well separated from any Greek theme at all I picked up a bottle of Ayinger Brau-Weisse which we split. If you like Bavaraian beer I would highly recommend this. Perfect for a warm summer evening.

[Insert pretentious note here to include (but not limited to): hoppy flavor; thick, billowy head; bready nose; drinkability; yeasty notes; etc.]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chilean Sea Bass and a Bicycle Helment Made Entirely of Avocado

Today I picked up Jen from the airport. If you haven't been to the Delta Marine Terminal at Laguardia I highly recommend a trip. It combines all the sterile lifelessness of an abandoned Hollywood back lot movie set with the general unpleasantness of being at an airport. Admittance is free and parking is only $6.00 an hour! According to Foursquare there's even a martini bar there! However, my eyes seem to disagree with that assessment.

I took some Chilean sea bass out of the freezer and thawed it especially for this occasion. After seasoning it with some cumin, chili, salt, and pepper I seared it in a pan and finished it off in the oven. I used a mango with some chives from my mother's herb garden, red onion, cumin, chili, cayenne, and lime juice as an accompaniment.

As a side dish I made one of the sillier looking dishes I've ever seen. This is some steamed quinoa with lime and olive oil and dusted with cumin and paprika. I sliced up an avocado for the top and couldn't help but notice that it looked like the quinoa was wearing a cycling helmet. I think I should recall this presentation for next year's Tour de France. Just like me to think of ridiculous cycling-themed plate presentations a month too late.

Perhaps I can break it out early for the Giro d'Italia!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bachelor "Weekend" 2: The Revenge of the Leftovers

Jen was back from Salt Lake City just long enough for both of us to run off to Rhode Island last weekend. Upon returning home we were seized with an urge to have something light and moderately healthish for dinner. I use the term "healthish" which I just made up in place of "healthy" since the latter is a term that can always be contested by someone more self-righteous than one's self. For every vegetarian who consumes largely fried vegetables is another who roasts their vegetables. For every vegetarian who roasts is a vegan who abstains from all animal byproducts. For every vegan avoiding animal-related foods is one who eats only food that is raw. For every raw vegan is one who scoffs at any grain that has not been adequately sprouted. Etc.

So, before you launch into a tirade about how the quinoa I have made is not true quinoa because it is not sprouted and how I used a little (gasp!) olive oil in any of these dishes, please consider that I am not a health nut and I do not wish to engage in a sprouted grains arms race with you.

Upon returning we had a salad of baby spinach, quinoa, tomatoes (picked from my parents' garden), chives (also from the garden), fresh mozzarella, olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.

We followed this up the following night with chicken breast, baked potato, steamed asparagus, and more tomatoes from the garden. Profoundly boring and yet so relieving after so much Italian food, burger, and hot dogs.

As I run through the cleanup phase of the summer I have spent less than $100 on groceries in the first half of this month, working my way through the items in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. As Jen returned to Illinois to visit her family I treated myself to an even less interesting dinner than a mere chicken breast. I upped (or downed?) the ante by having a baked potato with Parmiggiano-Reggiano and kale tossed with lemon and olive oil.

Boring dinners will never be the same again.

With Jen out of town (and with it being the actual weekend) I had to work hard to regain my bachelor cred. Thinking quick browned some garlic and onion in a little olive oil then tossed in the remainder of the pepperoni I used for last week's English muffin pizzas.

I also through in the remaining spinach and some fresh basil with the pipe rigate to make this ridiculous dish that I call "Pepperoni Pizza Pasta." I think if there are culinary research scouts scouring the internet from Domino's or Papa John's I may be receiving a call any day.

Either that or an award of American Culinary Excellence. Could happen.

Since this was a high class dish I needed to pair it with a wine. Beer was far too common to accompany such a fine dish. That's why I picked this bottle of Shiraz from Oxford Landing. I've got to say it was quite delightful. Very peppery. Or was that the pepperoni? Or the pepper I used? Not really sure but I think the wine's excellence is because it was established since 1958. That's right, established since 1958. Other wines are established in a certain year. Oxford Landing enjoys the act of establishing so much that they are still doing it.

It also may have something to do with the 93% shiraz grape and 7% viognier. Personally I like a 91% shiraz and 9% viognier but I'm not going to split hairs. The wine was still quite good.

According to the back of the line I was not tasting pepper at all. It was red cherry, raspberry and liquorice.

Huh, I thought those flavors were coming from the pepperoni. I have a lot to learn.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bachelor "Weekend"

August has started out, pretty much, in an effort to reduce our grocery spending whilst cleaning out the fridge, pantry and freezer. Like all cost cutting measures this has meant a decline in dinner enjoyment. Luckily for Jen she was out of town much of this week on business so I had one of my now infamous bachelor weekends. A bachelor "weekend" for me consists of leaving the house only to go to work and eating at my computer desk. Jen is safe to not worry about me getting involved in anything more nefarious as I am far too lazy.

On the first night I finished off the pork dumplings Jen made for Chinese New Year. They were still very good if not a bit freezer burned. It wasn't so much the extra-long freezing time of six months as it was the
St. Patty's Day power outage that took its toll on these little guys. But with enough tamari and sweet chili sauce even freezer burn can be masked.


Jen was kind enough to leave me with a huge batch of cookies the night before she left. This left us with about ten eggs left in the freezer. We generally only use eggs in baking and maybe go through ten a year in other applications. Jen is usually against the use of eggs in non-baking applications. She'd be just as likely to server herself a bowl of baking soda than make an egg for breakfast.

Still on a pretzel roll kick I made myself a lunch sandwich on Wednesday with cheddar from the world's greatest least expensive cheddar producing countries: England Australia! I fried up some Canadian bacon, sliced some tomato, and fried an egg for the top.

It was quite delightful. If you have the ingredients, I highly recommend this for a rainy day brunch.

For dinner I used up some leftover tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and English muffins from the freezer along with a stick of pepperoni that's been residing in our crisper long enough to owe us at least a few hundred dollars in back rent.

This bachelor "weekend" was brought to you by Kronenbourg 1664, La Première Bière Française. In the time Jen has been gone I've put back four of these bad boys. That's right, four! I guess that's why back in my college days they used to call me, "Four Beers in Four Days Beaudry!"

I guess in some days I've never grown out of my wild and reckless college years.