Mar 24 2009

Read and apply… rinse accordingly

It has been rather gloomy here in Minnesota.  It would normally not bother me, but I have been needing some sunshine and hope. This doom and gloom bullshit is killing me. That being said, I am reading a new book. The Foie Gras Wars How A 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired The World’s Fiercest Food Fight by Mark Caro. Not the most pleasant reading so far. The animal rights activists are giving me nightmares. Beware. 

I am guilty of not reading as much I would like and what I was reading was pretty craptastic literature. I am engrossed in this book. There will be a pretty lengthy review once I am done, which should be done in a few days. What I will say is that it is turning out to be some enlightening stuff. My mind is on foie gras overload.

So now I have fowl on the brain. I spoke earlier about having purchased some cool proteins at the local Asian market. One of those was quail. Now I am trying to decide a way to prepare them that doesn’t me to require some sort of Michelin chef inspired skill. I wanna go simple and really taste this bird. I implore you wise food and non food readers: What would you do?

Mar 20 2009

Is there fun on the menu?

Oh Friday, where have you gone? Instead of having fabulous dinner plans, we are tiling the laundry room. Don’t get me wrong, I would sit in a cardboard box with my man, but I want to go out for a nice dinner. I don’t want to go to Home Depot. Okay, I am sounding like a spoiled brat. Maybe it is the imminent arrival of Spring, but I am antsy. I want to be out and enjoying life. Now I have to remind myself of all the great things to enjoy this weekend and the ones that might send me over the edge.

Pro-Beau trying not to yell at me when I glue myself to the floor.
Con-When I eventually do glue myself to the floor and I blame him.

Pro-Sleeping in.
Con-Having to get my lazy arse out of bed.

Pro-Friends coming over tomorrow night, lots of fun and drinking to come.
Con-I am going to feel like total shite on Sunday.

Pro-I am making Italian Beef sandwiches tomorrow!
Con-I am trying out a spicy chicken dip that may give our guests gut rot.

Pro-Sharing the weekend with Beau, he has nowhere to run. Muah ah ah!
Con-In order to keep me in whiskey he has to go to work on Monday.

I am trying to find some balance in my life. Yeah, I just realised how lame that sounded. Happy Friday! Screw the pros and cons and have some fucking fun.

Mar 19 2009

Paddy’s aftermath

Oh boy, I drank quite a bit Paddy’s. I was really behaved for most of the night, until we came home and watched the American Idol I recorded. Then I drank til I passed out on the couch. Alone. With a horrible pain in my back and neck. Good times, good times.

In the two days that have followed I have done quite a bit of thinking. About what to eat that is. Nothing makes me want to eat more then being hungover. I have to constantly stuff food into my face. I love leftovers and whenever it is the day after a binge there never seems to be any. I feel like pasta is the best hangover food, but if you ever get any sort of creamy sauce, the next day is seperates and turns into an oily mess. So I did my research and made a big pot of alfredo pasta. The secret to the sauce is cream cheese. I added pork, spinach and peas. For the next 3 days I had leftovers, delicious creamy leftovers.

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I looked at some recipes and found this gemof fatty yumminess. The sauce was started with a stick of butter. I know, it’s a lot of butter. I added garlic and red pepper flakes, once the butter is melted, I put in the 8 ounces of cream cheese. After the milk, I added Parmesan until I liked the taste. I used quite a bit, but it ain’t easy bein’ cheesy!

It was good, but even better, it was awesome the next day… and the day after. Happy hangover, no matter what day it is.

Mar 17 2009

Kiss me, but I’m not Irish.

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Sigh. I love Paddy’s Day. L. O. V. E. So while Beau and I were celebrating at midnight last night, we got to thinking about when we met. At an Irish pub. Drinking Powers Irish whiskey. Now for those of you who like whiskey, Powers is the only way to go. Sooooo good. It is actually cheaper then Jameson for those of us that are feeling the economic crunch. I have been known to drink half a bottle on Sunday Fundays.

So Beau’s father came over for dinner last night and brought over the family leprechaun. It is so cheesy cute. They have an Irish surname, so why wouldn’t they have a tiny matriarch? Wherever you are, go and let your hair down. I am going to drink until I’m green. That sounded kind of bad.

Mar 16 2009

Fishy and it feels so good

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Hope everyone is making it through Monday without screaming. I was looking through the various pictures I have from all the craziness I’ve been making. I feel like I’ve been drawn to comforting dishes as of late and I think I just want to give my tummy a hug any chance I can. I’ve been kind of a stressful mess, so cooking has become less about mess and more about the enjoyment of it.

 

Risotto is a dish that people get kind of freaked out about. It is easy to put together and just as easy to make into hospital food. I was originally going to make a pea risotto, but Beau is a stickler with his peas. He fucking gives me a stomach ache when he gets picky about what I make. Grr. Anyhoo, a friend of ours gave us some pan fish he had caught and I figured that would be just what the risotto ordered.

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I used a tin of anchovy when I was coating the arborio rice. I thought the fish flavor would go well with the glass (maybe two) of white wine I used to start the dish. People say you need to have chicken stock or just use water. I used chicken bouillon broth, so those other people can lick my saucepan. With the last cup of broth I added about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Since the fish is cooked separately it doesn’t turn into fish flakes and you get some nice chunks of fish. I finished it with a chiffonade of basil. It looks really pretty and green against the red of the rice.

 

 

It was kind of a romantic meal, which I used during the week to change it up a bit. It will be fun to try different combos and variations of risotto. Casual risotto with spam maybe. “I’m mad at you” risotto with frozen peas. The possibilities are endless, I’ll keep you posted.

Mar 10 2009

Finding my way back into the kitchen

I consider the kitchen a fun place. A really fun place. But since the house is in upheaval because of repairs, I have to walk through the madness to get there. The kitchen is no longer a safe place, it has become a sanctuary. Somewhere to run when I feel as though I am losing my mind. As a result, I haven’t been cooking, more pulling my hair out and crying into dishtowels. Seriously, the past few weeks have been stressful. Maybe I should take up meditating before I start eating my hair.

Being sick or having to move some piece of furniture has stopped me from doing anything fun recipe wise other then the sandwich/soup combo. (snoring) So now that I am back to 100% health wise, I am pulling out the big guns. I have a fridge full of fun proteins and I am determined to get back into the kitchen. It has been hard to cook and take pictures and remember what the hell I put in the dish to begin with. Part of spring cleaning is going to go towards cleaning out my cluttered mind. There are so many things I am working on that I want to share. I’m off to go plan dinner, hopefully I don’t break a leg on the way there.

Mar 06 2009

Pork belly in your belly

There have been a few requests for the pork belly recipe I used that fateful night.  I loosely followed Gordon Ramsey’s pressed belly recipe.  Seeing as how we got the pork from an Asian market rather then a butcher, the piece wasn’t even on all sides.  Wonky, wonky.  Needless to say, pressing the pork belly became kind of impossible for me.  I tried weighing down the pork with every heavy can in the kitchen and it just got too ridonkulous.  Ugh. 

They say the belly shouldn’t sit on the bottom of the pan, so I used some carrots and celery to keep it lifted along with the head of garlic.  Don’t forget to convert the temp from Celsius to Farenheit.  The crispy skin is the best part, so let it sit in the oven for the last stage of cooking till it gets nice and crackly.  Some bubbles will pop up.  Pork rinds… yum.

I hope you like this as much as I did.  It is a fatty dish, but it’s pork belly, live a little.  I am working on doing some Asian dishes with pork belly.  Will keep you posted! 

Recipe from Gordon Ramsey’s the F Word.

Mar 05 2009

Valentine’s Part Deux

String of hearts
image by aussiegall

Tuesday night was our official Valentine’s night. We had been on our fast during the actual date. It didn’t feel like Valentine’s though, but that was more then okay. We have tried to have date nights and had it end in disaster. It got me thinking how glad I was to be without the pressure of a holiday or special occasion that night. It made it that much sweeter.

Dinner at a Russian place, Moscow On The Hill, was filled with flavoured vodkas and yummy starters. Lovely chicken liver pate, beef perogies and borscht was not nearly enough food to two people. I drank too much. We left dinner, if you can call drinks dinner, and made our way to the Fleetwood Mac show. So after stopping for another quick drink we had a date with destiny. Well I did anyway, I love Stevie Nicks.

The show was great, we had great seats and I screamed like a Japanese tween when I saw Stevie. Screamed. Right in beau’s face. It sobered him up a bit I think. I grabbed some more drinks and somehow a woman in the queue bought me a shot of tequila. That was the beginning of the end for me. I made it through as much of the show as I could and then realised I needed to go home.

When I woke up the next day I was hungover, but it felt welcome because of the great night we had. I wish I had taken photos, just to remember all the fun of Tuesday night. This is my post Valentine’s post and I just want to report, it doesn’t matter what day of the year it is. Grab someone you care about and go and have some fun.  You deserve it.

Mar 02 2009

IT is I… Pork Belly

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Roasted pork belly over sauteed brussels sprouts slaw.  Didn’t get the skin as crispy as I wanted, but it was my first time.  Just have to keep on pluggin away!

 

 

So yesterday should have been an extremely productive day. It wasn’t. Instead of cleaning the basement and doing responsible things, Beau and I watched an entire season of Amazing Race. Right now they are on season 14, but a reality channel was doing a marathon of season 9. The show is great because I like watching the dysfunctional couples. The group dynamics and personalities is what makes reality television great.

Well one of the challenges on the show was when they were in Thailand. Each member of the team had to eat a big bowl of stir fried grasshoppers. I’ve eaten bugs, I think they are crunchy and fun. I am also the girl who as a toddler got a fly stuck between her teeth while out in my paddling pool. Now I like the fact that the show tries to teach you something about the culture of the country they are in. Grasshoppers were the added bonus. I like to think the food community as a whole are opening the door to our stomachs and closing the cultural gap one insect at a time. I mean, that was their challenge. Eat a food that thousands of people eat on a daily basis. They weren’t saying drink out of a toilet.

I have a point here, somewhere. I was thinking that mainstreaming what we eat and how we eat was the way to go. Now I think that the realism of what things are makes it that much cooler. I told someone I was making pork belly last week. They gave me a face and I just explained that that is what bacon is before they cure it. Then it was, “Ohhhhh. I love bacon.” They come from the same foundation, but they are two unique and separate foods. I like each for different reasons and would not replace one with the other. I suppose it is all about perception. It’s not that different to how we see other people. Some find me brash and rather strange. I drink a lot of whiskey and I think gossip sites are awesome. Scary movies are really scary to me. I’m from the UK and I live in the Midwest now. People look at me like I am a bowl of grasshoppers sometimes. But I would rather be myself then have to explain that I am just a version of something that makes people comfortable. I don’t want to mainstream myself. Call me pork belly, cause I haven’t been cured yet.

Feb 27 2009

Put that in your Glad family of products.

Santiago in a dish
image by michaelwhays

I haven’t posted about anything because I have a bunch of excuses. But after watching the Top Chef finale, I feel I have to. I think the characters from this season were great. They were charming and weird and stubborn and did stupid shit and were peculiar looking. Like me! One of the best parts of the finale for me was having Richard Blais back. I read his blog on Bravo and think he is the cat’s pajamas. The food was what it was. Every finale Tom says cook us the best meal of your life. I’m sorry, raw fish is not on my list of things I want to have in the best meal of my life. Now I’m also not a trained chef and I really like Chef Boyardee. so take what you want from that. Stefan is a great villain, but watching him comfort a crying Carla melted my frozen heart. A little. Maybe when he grew in body weight, his heart got bigger as well. Like no one else saw how chub he got when they came back for the finale.

Why do they keep bringing back Rocco? Yuck. And his comment about how he is tired of eating foie gras, dude, not all of us are having it thrown at us for every meal. Is there a goose fairy granting food wishes all the time? Toby Young was back and I don’t think anyone cared. If they bring him back next season I am starting a petition, or writing some really nasty shit on the web. Listening to him has become painful. Gail was busting out the married cleavage and it was nice to have her back for the two part finale.

I feel like I should talk more about the food. Looking back it was Hosea’s challenge to win. He is a seafood chef and so much of the finale was based around those ingredients and cuisine of New Orleans. The surprise twist worked in his favour and he really did cook some really nice food. He payed homage to the region which I found really thoughtful. Carla, sigh. I wish she could have executed everything better, but she seemed to have accomplished the most that she could. She was a breath of fresh air in the world of reality tv. I miss her already. Stefan was… Stefan. He cooked well and was arrogant. Done and done.

I feel the show has lost it’s luster for me. The super product placement and Padma’s presence was enough nonsense to stifle a rhino. I hope the next season brings the laughs and skill. Farewell Top Chef, but hopefully farewell Toby and crappy cameos.