Wednesday, March 30, 2011

mediterranean chicken in the lower east side of manhattan - aka "belly dancing chicken"

Through the magic of cooking and blogging I am able to transform regular ingredients into exotic ingredients from far away lands with the application of herbs, spices and heat all in a two hour span. I know that may sound like some kind of tricky mumbo jumbo but its absolutely true. Take this chicken for example: yesterday evening a long time friend, a buddy I have known since we were both 18 years old or so calls me up and says "I have some chicken breasts and I am thinking of grilling them, do you have any ideas?" Well thats like asking if there is sand on the beach - of course I have ideas. Fortunately my friend is usually pretty well stocked so when I asked him about mint he said "growing in the garden" and when I asked about feta cheese he said "a half pound in the fridge" so before you know it he was pounding out his chicken and spreading this mediterranean mixture I had described to him inside the flattened breasts and rolling them back up and tossing them on the grill. We also discussed a potato that was first parboiled then sliced and rubbed with olive oil, oregano and coarse salt that was also grilled. (he sent me a picture from his cell phone)

The consensus between his 9 year old daughter, her 9 year old friend who was over for dinner, his girlfriend and him was - no leftovers - so as much he was hoping to save some for a nice lunch these delights disappeared faster than a wizard in a sandstorm. Well, since I now have mint and lemon zest and chicken and oregano on my mind - I had to get busy.

I had chicken thighs not breasts so I made a nice rub but since I didnt have feta I had to use goat cheese and since I didnt have a garden with fresh mint I had to use some dried mint I had dried myself from my last mint purchase so my version was going to be slightly different. I made a nice mixture in my mortar and pestle of goat cheese, garlic, oregano, mint, lemon zest, salt and olive oil and this was rubbed all over the thighs then I ground fresh pepper over the whole lot and they were allowed to rest in this for half an hour before they were first seared on the stove top then popped in a hot oven.

Chicken is out of the oven looking perfect and doing its resting thing while I slice some cucumbers and fluff up the rice with some of the marinade that I had reserved on the side just for this very flavor footprint, I wanted everything to stroll harmoniously together.

Now if you cant tell these are three different plates then you have no business in my kitchen. The flavors were outstanding, the chicken was juicy with a nice crispy skin, the rice danced ever so seductively with the rest of the plate - it was like belly dancing with out the music and with out the belly dancer but with everything thing else that makes you feel exotic, a little of the far away right here in Manhattan.

Monday, March 28, 2011

teach to learn, learn to teach

You have heard it "those that cant do - teach - and those that cant teach - teach gym" as the old saying goes but I guess those people already know how to cook. As old as I am I learn something new everyday and I mean every single day and as a constant learner I am now learning how to teach, how to pass on what I know to future generations.

Cooking is one of those arts that you can never stop learning, you may be good at one thing but you might need help with another so there is a never ending supply of things to learn. Today I taught a young student interested in embarking on a career in the culinary arts two of my favorite things to make. Eggs and dessert and what better eggs than Davidsons - Safest Choice, all natural eggs.

Brunch is a no brainer in my world and thats only because I've made it hundreds of times and since it is something so second nature to me it is one of the easiest things for me to teach since it is all technique, no recipe here. We started boiling water and separating eggs for the hollandaise while we thumbed our way through some pages of the Larousse Gastronomique.

While things were whisked and resting and english muffin toast was toasting we got our plates ready with some cucumbers, carrots, avocado and salmon.

Watching her do the "oh my god this is gonna be good" wiggle that some people do when they know they are about to taste something delicious was enough good feeling to last me for weeks.

This tasted fantastic, no doubt, but she has such a refined sense of smell and taste for her age it is exciting to think of the wonderful future she has ahead of her and to listen to her dissect the flavors was very impressive. She had two I had one - she liked it that much. Toasted english muffin with smoked salmon and avocado drizzled in copious amounts of hollandaise with a carrot and cucumber salad, you have seen this one before.

When we had our fill of eggs benedict we made a flourless chocolate cake out of the left over egg whites for dessert - this sealed the deal for the day. Chocolate, raspberries and cream foam how can you not like it? "Give a man(woman) a fish he(she) can eat for a day, teach a man(woman) how to fish he(she) can eat forever, show a man(woman) how to cook fish and everyone is happy" thus spoke Christo!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

sharing my strength

Every now and again this ol' dog gets thrown a bone and everytime this ol' dog gets a bone he throws it so that others can chew on it too. Now I know that is a metaphor with all kinds of mixed meanings and implications but the genuine and whole hearted feeling is whole. Share our Strength is something I have been happy to partner with for the last three years. If you havent got on board I dont know what you are waiting for.

Well it just so happens that Pyrex and Sandra Lee, yup, "that" Sandra Lee are teaming up for the Great American Bake Sale with Share our Strength.

There are rules for pyrex and if you break them well then you end up with broken pyrex so dont break them.

Anyway I got some Pyrex in the mail so I made a casserole since casseroles are fun. Spinach in a bechamel sauce with breaded and lightly fried chicken cutlets and puff pastry - kicked up chicken pot pie. Now its your turn to get out there and share your strength.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

how do you make the best green chile in all the land?

Dont ask me. If you ask me how to make the best chile in all the land I will lie. I have never in my life given someone a recipe that was accurate. I eat by taste, how can I write a recipe. I wish that I was a culinary genius or some kind of needy whatever and that I wrote it all down so you could worship me but I am not. I am a Cowboy Warlord that will lie to you in a heartbeat.

Throw all that like hope and piss in the wind and if you are lucky you get chile. Did you get all that? Its as close to not lying as I can get. You can click this link for another version without a recipe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

take a deep breath and hold on tight this post is all over the place

Where should I begin, I know, how about smack dab in the middle. The biggest cooking event of the season is happening just next weekend and you are in the loop. You dont want to miss this one and you cant blame me if you do. Here's the scoop:

HSN Cooks Spring Weekend Event Presented by Bon Appétit : March 26-27

Add mouthwatering ideas to the menu as
HSN & Bon Appétit bring you world-renowned chefs, including premieres such as Ken Hom, The Lee Bros. and Jacques "Mr. Chocolate" Torres. Find delicious inspiration & enjoy free shipping on select foods as we celebrate spring in the best of taste. For women who enjoy cooking, the HSN Cooks Spring Weekend Event Presented by Bon Appétit is the ultimate kitchen and food shopping experience with celebrity chefs and culinary experts presenting high-quality kitchenware, time-saving appliances and tasty cuisine.

  • New and best-selling items from top brands: Wolfgang Puck, Emeril and Easy Exotic by Padma Lakshmi.
  • The premiere of The Lee Bros., southern food-enthusiasts.
  • The premiere of Chef Ken Hom, notable Chinese-American chef and author with his signature wok collection and healthy stir-fry cooking guide.
  • New food brand premieres including: Jacques "Mr. Chocolate" Torres, Aunt Ida Baked Goods, Leonetti's hand made Stromboli and more.
  • Special event pricing, select free shipping, value-packed bundles and HSN Card offers.
  • Special offer on Bon Appétit subscriptions, plus tips and solutions from Editor Dede Wilson.
There you have it - be sure and mark your calendars and guess what - HSN gave me a $10 gift card for mentioning this and I want to give it to you - I will even pay the 44 cent postage but you need to tell me why you want it and then I will perform some kind of highly subjective selection process and give it to you. You dont need to follow me or tweet me or jump through hoops do back bends or anything. Now on to other matters.

See that poached egg dish? That was the last of the 10 pounds of corned beef I made.

Rye toast cups were filled with corned beef hash then topped with a poached egg all while floating in a mustardy hollandaise sauce - how's that for tasty? I said I was going to post the green chile burrito process but thats going to have to wait so I guess this post isnt as all over the place as I first thought. So tell me why you want 10 bucks to shop on HSN and make it good and its yours.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My blog has been blogging since some of you were kids

Six years ago I had some kind of foggy notion - to some of you this might feel like a revelation but to me it was nothing more than a foggy notion - and this foggy notion was some kind of idea of what it would be like to make an online log of my nonsense, something they were calling a blog. I wrote in journals all my life and no one would get to see them unless I showed them to them and these journals were chock full of drawings and collages and poems and thoughts and clippings and what ever else struck my fancy. Blogs were the perfect format for me plus I wouldnt have to lug my books around to show people, people were sitting in chairs waiting to see in the comfort of their own environs. Six years later everybody has a blog. I am not saying I was the only one because I wasnt, there were other blogs back then but there wasnt a "blogging community" like there is now. Mommy blogs and gripe blogs and HNT blogs and secret blogs and gazillions of food blogs and you name it are all a click away. In six years some of you went from being teenagers to becoming experts on food and wine - a lot can happen in six years - me I just got older.

I have made many friends probably not made a few too, I have had people that can neither cook nor write, offer to teach me how to cook and write. I have had some people think I was a woman, I guess because of my sensitivity, and then be all confused when they find out I am not. I have also learned a great deal about humanity. Blogs are a great thing. So to toast my blog and the blog world I offer up a little drunken pasta with a salmon cake. Cheers.

Whew, celebrations out of the way lets make room for the good stuff. Salmon gnocchi. Did you catch all that - that was the recipe. I found that cute little wooden thing at a flea market yesterday and I thought it was for making gnocchi, maybe it is maybe it isnt - I used a fork to make mine, I tried the little gadget but the grooves didnt seem deep enough.

The gnocchi were so perfect with their little bits of salmon and the yukon gold potato.

Salmon gnocchi with a Meyer lemon caper butter sauce - creamy, silky, pillowy softness with more flavor than deserves to be on a fork.

You know I wish I could share. I have made gnocchi several times and I always say this but this time its more real than the last - these are the best gnocchi I have ever made.

Friday, March 11, 2011

no need to linger longer lets eat

A lot of you have probably noticed that I post what I think are teaser pictures on my facebook before I post the blog post and if you do notice then you might have wondered what happened to the salmon cakes? Wonder no more because I am going to give you a little step by step visual "recipe."

Start with a huge piece of cooked leftover salmon with a pistachio crust* - if you dont have this then there is little reason to keep on reading.

Break up that side of salmon.

Add three eggs, some lemon zest, some bread crumbs, some diced onions, carrots and celery not forgetting to salt and pepper to taste.

Form into cakes.

Fry the cakes till golden.

Plate with a carrot and cucumber salad (using the mandoline to cut the carrots and cucumbers is a whiz of a time saver) that has been dressed with lemon juice and olive oil then top with the salmon cake and a little chipotle mayonnaise some more lemon zest a little spring onion a pinch of salt and a few turns of your pepper grinder - mine has a mix of szechuan, white and black peppercorns, I even put on a little parsley cause its fun - then simply sit down and enjoy a delicious lunch.

It sounds easy because it is. I might have spent a half hour to 45 minutes putting this lunch together partly because I make stuff like this all the time and mostly because it really is easy. Enjoy your weekend everyone - spring is in the air.

*you might be seeing a trend here - I work a big party I come home with extra salmon

Thursday, March 10, 2011

ridiculously delicious challenge round 3 - recipe re-do

Let me begin by thanking everyone who voted for me in round 2 of The Marx Foods Ridiculously Delicious Challenge because now I am in round 3. Round 3 is a non voting round so you will also be happy to know that I wont be pandering for votes. This round is different, in this round I need to pick a first choice and a second choice from the 15 entries that moved on and recreate my first choice. I chose Katie at the Kitchen Doors Dillicious - for two reasons 1) I had already made something like this before that was actually a guest post on Marx Foods and 2) I wanted to make it again. My second choice is Fettucini a la Carbonara from We Like to Cook because I just so happen to have some Guanciale in the fridge thats burnin' a hole in my cheese drawer and I know this isnt the best way to describe those grains of paradise but they are like spicy earth and I can imagine them in this eggy pasta delight. Since we are talking about all these choices I can pretty much guarantee that no one will pick mine, who is going to try to recreate the coconut threads?

Without further ado here is my take on this dish. The original used Dill Pollen and the Szechuan peppercorns so I did the same and added in Saffron. I steeped the peppercorns in warm olive oil with a few of the saffron threads to infuse the oil. I mixed sour cream with cream cheese and added in some more saffron that I let soak in a little warm water to bring out the color.

The cucumbers were loosely peeled and cored of their seeds and piped with the saffron cheese and sour cream filling then I spooned over some of the Szechuan and saffron oil and sprinkled on some dill pollen and some Himalayan pink salt then I squeezed lemon juice over the whole thing and scattered some feta chunks around just for flavor fun.

The results were amazing and I quote "these look great and they taste great and they are actually kind of filling" my twelve year old son said this so if he approves imagine what your refined and grown up taste buds are going to say.

If you want to see what he was talking about I will show you the plate he plowed through - I guess they would be a little filling if you ate six of them.

Update: got word from adult palates - Outstanding depth of flavor!
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