Monday, May 3, 2010

A Sunday at Per Se

By way of simple exposition, I turn 30 this week and I have the most amazing girlfriend there is. She took me to Per Se for dinner at 11:30am on a Sunday. This is a highly recommendable time for a nine course dinner. You're brunch hungry, but when you leave three hours later, you still have the wherewithall to reflect.
She probably chose Per Se because of the mildly obnoxious man-crush I have on Thomas Keller.
The affinity starts with Thomas Keller's philosophy on food, an art of comfort and surprise, nostalgia and invention. I aspire to that kind of cooking, but what I really admire him for his attention to detail, and the lengths he and his staff go to for their customers. Sure, a personalized printing of the menu probably didn't take up too much of the staff's time, they print new ones every day. But, when you walk into one of the premiere restaurants in the world and they hand you a menu with your name on it, though, you feel kinda special.

I'd seen the salmon cone muse bouche on the French Laundry episode of No Reservations, and I've been wanting to try one since. I'm not the biggest salmon lover, so I took the fava bean one and let my girlfriend have most of the salmon one. The cones are packed farther down with creme fraiche and chives. The recipe is in the French Laundry cookbook. I'm going to have to give it a try this summer.
These tiny wonders were just the start of the onslaught of food. Beyond the courses I go into in detail, they bring several rounds of bread, I had a dinner roll, a hoop of duck fat rye, a slice of walnut baguette, another of a rye baguette with currants, a salted butter from Vermont, an unsalted butter from California, these were just the options I indulged in. I'll not wax too poetical, though. I'm aware I'm starting to sound a bit much like Anthony Bourdain, and you likely want to look at more pretty pictures.

Another TK signature dish, "oysters and pearls." There's a savory tapioca under the sauce, and white sturgeon caviar next to the oysters. I'm not the biggest oyster fan either, but this was an amazing plate to start with. The oysters themselves were even better than the oysters I had fresh out of the ocean on Miyajima.

The first dish of the Tasting of Vegetables. "Bouquetiere de Legumes de Printemps Cuits et Crus"
Spring vegetable salad, with gelee of their vegetable stock and a pine nut coulis. Right off the bat they plate a ton of flavors in a very delicate balance. The spring onion blossoms were a great touch here and later in the beef course of the Chef's Tasting menu.

"'Gateau' of Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras"
Most of the foie gras I've had comes off as meatloaf paste. Granted, I love meatloaf, and spreading it on crackers is pretty fantastic. This was many times more refined, like the difference between top shelf vodka and the Vladimir $6 a handle piss that comes out of Scobeyville, NJ. This looks like a cake, but the strawberries are pickled, and those whimsical translucent green twirls are celery. The top layer of the "cake" is a strawberry gelee, which was sweet, but just enough to balance the incredibly rich blend of foie gras and whipped yogurt that is the heart of this plate. The toast was also exceptional. How good can toast be? Well, this raised my bar. No butter, the bread is baked with enough fat already in it to promote the browning. It must have been toasted by a high heat applied directly to the surface of the bread. There's about an eighth of an inch of perfect tawny crispness on either side, with about a half inch of pillowy white delight inside. As if that wasn't great enough, when you get about half-way through this plate, they bring you a NEW plate of toast so that you have fresh warm toast for the second half. Details.

"Dover Sole 'Farci aux Olives Nicoise'"
Delicate pickled asparagus adds the bright notes to this hearty fish laden with olives over diced potatoes and an emulsion of egg and garlic.

"Garbanzo Bean 'Croquettes'"
When I saw this plate I thought, "Come on, it's falafel. Must we be so pretentious?" On one hand, I know Thomas Keller is being playful with his menu. On the other hand, even if he called them flalafel, they still wouldn't have been any less impressive. Each croquette is topped with a candied slice of meyer lemon set in a coriander gelee adding a spiciness and broadening the cultural setting of the mashed and fried chickpeas. Beyond highlighting how great something simple and familiar can be when done with the best ingredients and attention to detail, these guys were incredibly satisfying.

"Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster Mitts"
Despite the morel cream sauce over the lobster and split English peas, this was my least favorite plate. The few slices of morel in the sauce just put the lobster to shame for both richness and subtlety. Still, it made for a fantastic picture.

This was my girlfriend's least favorite, but the few bites I managed to steal were some of my favorite of the whole meal. "Coddled Squire Hill Farms' Ameraucana Hen Egg" with brioche soldiers, smoked onion white sauce and a black winter truffle puree. The yolk in the egg was cooked with a gradient from puddle through pudding to wet clay. Everything was just so intoxicatingly comforting. I could probably make it through six of these before reason kicked in and/or my heart just clogged to a standstill.

"Four Story Hill Farm's Suckling Pig 'Porchetta'"
The porchetta by itself was a bit cloying, but it played so nice with everything else on the plate, especially the pickled green tomatoes. I would have been thrilled with a plating of twice as much of the polenta "grits" and collard greens and just a hint of the porchetta.

"White Asparagus Amandine"
This compared to the porchetta plate was the second time the vegetable tasting flatly outdid the chef's tasting. This plate was a playful riot of satisfaction from start to finish. Green almonds, ever had them? Ever heard of them? TK is showing off a bit here, but it's the kind of grandstanding that's hard to hate on because it's so clearly validated by the end-product. The plating, while pyrotechnic in terms of composition, was also understated, deftly drawing attention away from the morels and the "ramp top subric" that are the passion and backbone of this plate. The subric here was a cake similar in consistency to the falafel, but dark green and full of rampy exuberance. This is the one that had me making my girlfriend's favorite enrapt faces of food fugue.

"Snake River Farms' "Calotte de Boeuf"
Thomas Keller takes what is typically a scrap cut of beef, the strip around the outside of a rib-eye, and turns it into one of his signature dishes, and one of the most amazing pieces of beef I've ever had. The spring onions were a great pairing, very subtle with tones of vanilla. The other things on the plate were less memorable compared to the heavily marbled and yet still seriously meaty "calotte."

"Marscapone Enriched Yukon Potato 'Agnolotti'"
A decent plate, and a great accompaniment to the calotte de boeuf.

"Soup and Sandwich"
Fantastic soup, but the sandwich was a bit heavy. The "minestrone" was a combination of pickled vegetables, ravioli and vegetable stock, lightening the palate after the beef course. The goat cheese sandwich played well with the tomato marmalade, but very greasy.

"Gorgonzola Cremificato"
At this point in the dinner, this course proved a little much for my girlfriend. The pickled green tomatoes lightened the gorgonzola and polenta cake beneath, but after six courses plus the breads and craft butters, well, the body can only take so much indulgence and we were still a course away from dessert.

"Mango Sorbet" over rice pudding with rice wafer and whipped jasmine tea. Just when I thought I was done making faces, they put this down in front of me. The mango sorbet was stunning, but the real winner here was the rice pudding. The jasmine tea was a nice touch and held up to the robust mango, but the rice pudding was best by itself as a subtle refrain between the outbursts of the burlier flavors.

Pineapple Sorbet with lime macarons, compressed golden pineapple, papaya and persian lime salt. What is compressed pineapple? It's that fin sticking out of the sorbet, half a vertical slice of pineapple pressed and dried. My girlfriend likened it to a very fancy fruit roll-up. The rest of the dish was an invigorating interplay of tart and salty.

"Swiss Roll"
Another of Thomas Keller's signature dishes, a play on the form of the swiss roll snack cake. The birthday candle was as adorable as it was tasteful. The plate was beautiful, and many of the details were superb, especially the pineapple foam and the glace a la creme fraiche, but the cake itself was a bit timid. How gorgeous is this plate, though?

"Trinity and Hearts"
Rhubarb Jam, a yogurt-based Bavarian cream, crystallized rose petals and rose-scented yogurt sherbet. I only managed a bite of this before my girlfriend housed it. It was very good. I'm not the most dedicated dessert fan, though, and even ended up giving up a great deal of the swiss roll.

This creme brulee came out as a bonus desert to the tasting of vegetables. It was exemplary of its kind and, at a modest three inches across, was a delightful dollop of indulgence to close the plated portion of dinner.

But wait, there's more. After dessert they brought out a second, tiny, yet incredible dessert. This was a honey-ginger pot au creme. Ginger-infused honey lurked beneath an exquisite stiffened cream in an adorable little piece of ceramic reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh's honey pots. Another fantastic bit of interplay, the spoon they give you fits perfectly around the curve inside of that tiny little pot, allowing you to attack even the very last lick of an incredible meal, not including the selection of seasonal chocolate truffles, (fennel and dark chocolate and olive oil in white chocolate were particularly stellar) chocolate covered hazelnuts, adorable little sugar candies, nougats, caramels and a selection of bonbons that they bring out as you brace yourself for the check.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A monday for new things.

So many beautiful foods tick by without time to write. Today is that auspicious overlap of the venn circles for "Time to write a blog post" and "I ate something novel yesterday that I haven't written about yet."

This novel thing was not breakfast, however, which was the tried and true bacon egg and cheese on a croissant from a cart vendor. This one was from the cart on the north west corner of 62nd street and Broadway. Unlike a lot of carts which opt for the Muslim-friendly turkey bacon, these guys use real pig, and for that, they will eternally have my $3.50 for cart breakfast in the neighborhood.

Lunch was also typical of these posts, in that it was free. This wave of institutional windfall was catered by Dallas BBQ. I had a chicken breast with a wing still attached, a spinach salad with raisins, walnuts and a creamy mustard dressing, some corn bread and a giant pair of beef ribs that had everyone going through the line making Flintstones jokes. It wasn't BBQ to break your heart, but it sure filled me up. It almost shut down my desire to even think about food for the rest of the day, save for a spare chocolate covered pretzel or two.

I was so full of cornbread and char that I was debating skipping dinner, but the girl friend wanted to get out a bit, so we finally ate at Madiba, a South African joint near her apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I've had African food before, but mostly Ethiopian, so I wasn't really sure if I knew what to expect. I tend to expect African food to consist mainly of curries, to be very bold without as much heat as Indian food, and to be very comforting and satisfying. While I realize the absurdity of lumping African food together, much like generalizing American cuisine is a misleading attempt to draw homogenous characteristics from a vast wealth of disparate regional cuisines, I found that in this case my assumptions were graciously upheld.

In the mood for a broad culinary adventure, we split an entree and several of their sides. Heading the spread was their Durban Bunny Chow, curry served in the hollowed-out end of a loaf of bread with a selection of three sambals, similar to Indian chutneys. We had the mutton curry, which reminded me of the curry in Japanese karepan, except that this meat was not mysterious balls of indescriminate spongy parts, but rather sizable chunks of stewed mutton. There was a very prominent note of corriander and another curry spice I cannot place by name outside of the similarity to karepan. The sambals, banana and coconut, cucumber mint and yogurt, and a mango chutney went from feverently addictive to satisfying to inedible in turn.
The banana and shredded coconut soaked in coconut milk was fantastic. We actually asked for seconds as the first dish went in the first five minutes of eating as we destroyed two amagwinya, a deep-fried flatbread that I would recommend as a "must-order" for anyone dining here, especially if you can get them to bring you some of the banana coconut sambal on the side. The mango chutney had that edge of basement that you find with some canned foods that makes me think that the can was not sealed tight enough or the food had just been in the can too long. Fortunately, it was very easy to just throw the cup of sugary basement paste to the side and forget about it.
There was plenty enough food. Of the other two sides we ordered, I would definitely recommend the chakalaka, a stewed blend of beans, carrots, tomatoes and onions that was rich, deeply satisfying and surprisingly tangy. Good but not gaga was the uputhu, boiled cornmeal topped with onions stewed in a tomato sauce. I could see this food being a staple of the Zulu diet, as the menu claims, but we had a large portion of the cornmeal, akin to grits or cream of wheat, left naked in the bottom of the bowl after we'd eaten down through the tomato-onion gravy in what I thought were reasonable proportions. Even after using the grits as an excuse to make our way through the second bowl of banana-coconut sambal, we still abandoned more of the unsalted and unseasoned white gloop than the untouched mold-tinged mango jelly. With a little salt in the grits and a higher gravy to cornmeal ratio, the uputhu could be a regular favorite of mine as well.

In terms of general restaurant review, the waitstaff were welcoming and attentive and the food was all very earnestly satisfying and, save for the cornmeal, very robustly flavored without taxing my girlfriend's limits of spiciness. Hopefully they buy a new jar of mango jelly before the next time we go, but we will definitely be back.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday is either free or over priced.

Just when you start to take free food for granted, you are met with an unexpected boon of exceptional free food that really makes you feel fortunate to work for an institution of higher learning, as if being in the top economic percentile of the world population simply by virtue of being an American with a job wasn't fortune enough. Kind of makes you feel like an ass hole for spending time on a Tuesday afternoon to write pithy drivel about the things you ate on a Monday instead of working in a soup kitchen in Sarajevo. Can't really make it to Sarajevo on my lunch break, though...

It was one of those mornings where I skip breakfast, partly because I frequently get bored with eating and wait for real inspiration to eat (often only to fall prey to something mediocre but easy and/or free) partly because I realize that, as an American, I'm in the top percentile world wide for fatasstedness, and I could probably stand to skip a few mornings of bacon and eggs.

I was afraid the meeting to approve our collective bargaining agreement with the university would run long, though, and I didn't want to run out of blood-sugar while the union reps explained exactly how they dumped probation-term health benefits and paid leave incoming employees for the sake of securing 6 weeks of personal use vacation a year for those employees who have worked as university staff for 30+ years. I want to remember all the details I can use to taunt future rookies, assuming that the university ever rescinds its hiring freeze, not that I'll ever be on staff for 30 years, so I bought a pack of Grandma's brand "homemade style" oatmeal raisin cookies from the cafeteria vending machine. This cost me a dollar.

They weren't terrible, but the oil they use leaves this waxy sheen across the inside of your mouth. It was very unpleasant and obviously the result of machine-assisted baking that would never occur if they were in fact made in someone's actual home. Thanks to the goodies provided by my local union post-voting, I was able to hold these vendy cookies up to what I thought might be fair competition, but even the oatmeal raisin cookies produced by the university's in-house catering service in ridiculous amounts far outperformed "Grandma's" in flavor as well as mouthfeel. I also put down a 1" cube of carrot cake petifour and two chocolate covered cream puffs. It's important to eat a balanced breakfast.

I thought after the cookie binge I ought to get a salad, but free food tempted me again. At least for lunch I ate what some might call a healthy meal. To my surprise and for reasons I am still uncertain of, I managed to avail myself of the tail end of some luncheon in the faculty cafe. Pecan roasted chicken, fingerling potatoes, very thin asparagus with roasted peppadews, three-color tortellini with marinara sauce and mixed field greens rounded out what was probably the most well-ballanced meal I've eaten all month. The chicken was surprisingly good considering I was eating well after the buffet was originally served. The potatoes didn't fare as well, but there was plenty of butter on hand. I would have been happy with that meal had I paid $12 for it, but it was free. That's really a lot of free. It's like when this really cute girl you like asks YOU out before you can ask her. Maybe not, but it was rad.

Then dinner sucked. I am perhaps being unfair given the delightful freegan feasts from earlier in the day, but Habana Outpost in Ft. Greene does not deliver the quality or quantity to justify their price tags. if a "Catfish Burito" is going to run me over $8, it better be plated with an actual side item and contain more than one piece of catfish tucked in all the rice and lettuce. Not that the catfish itself was bad, although the chicken in one of my companion's chicken burrito was pretty dry and uninteresting. The guac and chips was decent, but only about $4 of decent, not $6 of decent. The corn and cotija cheese that is a staple at the Habana Eco-Eatery family of restaurants was reasonable at $2 an ear for city prices, but still more expensive than the same item at Cafe Habana, two for $3.75. Also, for the tail end of June, the corn was not particularly succulent or vibrant. If you need a place for 10+ people to drink margaritas outside in Ft. Greene, this might be your joint. If you want to actually enjoy eating, maybe not.

Consolation desert: Vosges brand Mo's Bacon Bar, bacon crumbles and smoked salt in milk chocolate, not bad, although bacon dipped in chocolate is generally better fresh. Also, some kind of foreign sandwich cookie with vanilla icing and a cookie textured like a more delicate vanilla wafer but chocolate flavored. Yuppie impulse buying at The Greene Grape. I also got a pack of lamb merguez sausages, dried chantrelles and some duck hotdogs, to be featured in future bloggings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday from trashy to healthy and back again.

Living with roommates puts an edge of uncertainty to stocking foodstuffs. My apartment operates under very lassez-faire rules in terms of what you can eat. Basically, if it's in the apartment, you can make use of it how you see fit. Before becoming roommates we were friends old and fast, so there's no bitterness over finishing a loaf of bread or snagging an ice cream sandwich. Occasionally, though, I find myself with ambitious culinary challenges when I forget to check if the gouda fell to a midnight snack attack or the left-over tuna casserole is not there to take to lunch tomorrow. It was in a convergence of these sorts of disappointments that "corn porklins" were born.

Without tortillas or bread in the house, I was forced to make some late-game compromises. I saw a box of Jiffy cornbread mix, thought of the taylor pork roll in the fridge and set about making some tricked out corn muffins. Pour the mix in a bowl, add an egg and 1/3 c. of...
Well, it should have been milk, but we were out of that too. I instead grabbed a carton of chicken stock out of the fridge, hoping it wouldn't be too savory for breakfast food. I also thought adding some mayonnaise to the mix might keep things moist and add a little more cohesion from the egg protein. I ladled out two big spoons of white goop into the mixing bowl before I realized I was shoveling out Miracle Whip, not mayonnaise. While most people's venn diagrams of the two don't leave a lot of room around the edges, they are drastically different in terms of food chemistry. At this point, though, there was nothing to do but plow forward; mix in the pork roll, add a chunk of Oaxacan cheese and throw them in the oven while I made myself decent for work.

about 20 minutes at 400F later, these crispy golden badboys popped out. All accidents asside, they came out beautifully. They taste like corn dogs made into muffins with a stringy mozarella bonus in the middle. Deferring to my girlfriend's greater aptitude at whimsical names of things, the "corn porklins" were born. If I ever start that white trash bakery, these will be a staple item.

Maybe it was just the name "corn porklins," but I felt inspired to do my colon some good over lunch. That inspired my run to the Whole Foods salad bar. It's a lot easier to stomach grazing for lunch if you can sneak two types each of tuna salad and curried chicken along the side. The tuna salad with apples and nuts mixed in was unexpectedly fantastic. My hopes for "Chuck's tuna salad" fell disappointingly short. Perhaps I should have known. The chicken korma was worlds better than the vindaloo, but this was perhaps because the thicker korma sauce stood up better on it's own without rice to deliver more of the sauce.
As for the actual salad bit, I mixed a little of every type of green they had, and then added carrots, cucumbers, red onions and a light sprinkling of blue chese crumbs before adding "Korean Kimchi" and "Real Blue Cheese" dressings. The combination conjured memories of hot wings and my favorite Korean BBQ joint in Osaka. Perhaps not the healthiest salad, but still a very good dose of roughage.

Eating any kind of actual dinner got delayed by the bounty provided by my office. This celebration was for the departing Dean Diller who was headed to be Dean of Cardozo Law School. You could tell he was dearly loved here from the fantastic spread I shall here describe via haiku

chicken satay sticks
coconut and sauce, nice touch
solid but still plain

who doesn't just love
shrimp cocktail and cocktail sauce
you cannot go wrong

salmon, cream cheese, toast
quality ingredients
topped witha pickle

nondescript quiche thing
I prefer not to wonder
what lies within you

prosciutto, melon
you guys are so good apart
please, keep it that way

red tomato dome
releases green seed goo drops
when bitten into

red onions, cheese, meat
I don't know the specifics
but devoured six

deserts, to have one
is to say yes to them all
or at least a few

So my actual dinner wasn't until much later, and exhausted from laughing lustily at Featherweight and a stellar performance by Crush at the Magnet last night, the girl friend and I opted for more comfort food to push back the impending dreary weather. So it was that I had to throw away a white Haines t-shirt after trying to stir oversized beefaroni the way Italian chefs toss a risotto. I caught all the beef and the roni, but a pretty significant splatter of sauce Pollock-ed my shirt and even got a splat on my brown dress pants. The pants are worth cleaning, but the shirt had already suffered an erruption of kombucha tea, and so I applied a liberal coup de grace of mustardy hand print for good measure before casting it in the trash.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday is your favorite, really.

What better way to start the day than strawberry shortcake a la mode?
I woke up to a strange itching in my palms and soles of my feet. By the time I got to work, I was developing a rash on the insides of my elbows and wrists and the central features of my face had turned bright and puffy. I thought to myself, "If I'm going to suffer a mysterious allergic reaction before I even eat anything today, well, then I'm damn well going to pamper myself for breakfast."
In addition to the benadryl from Duane Reade that possibly saved my life, I also got a small tub of vanilla Hagen Daz Five. Five is a sub-brand of Hagen Daz that puts a very simple five ingredients together to provide for a very rewarding and honest flavor payoff. The vanilla was a great compliment to the strawberries and homemade shortcakes. Their mint1 is, of itself, even better.
So I pandered to my inner six-year-old with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some short cake and some strawberries in brown sugar to take my mind off the swelling and itching and whatnots.
Lunch was just leftovers, more of the chicken noodle kugel I made last week in an attempt to help my girlfriend ward off a cold. Comfort food with ridiculously high concentrations of garlic will cure just about anything but bad breath and body odor.
Kugel can really sit on you, and I didn't want to eat right before my improv class show because I was getting a bit jittery, but the gf and I tried out the very creatively named Pad Thai on 8th ave between 29th and 30th Streets. Their fried spring rolls were not bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to order them again. I did like their Pad Cei Ew, although they spelled it Pad See Yu, but I'm no expert on cramming Thai phonetics into the ill-equipped roman alphabet. Point of the story is, I like pad see yu/cei ew just about everywhere I've had it, and this was more of the same. I wouldn't mind the noodles being a little more sopping with the sauce, and the chicken could have been a bit less done, but the chinese broccoli/chinese kale/kai-lan was done to perfection, still very alive in texture and yet yielding some cellular structure to the absorption of the sauce. Wherever you eat your Thai food, try the pad sea yew.

1 It comes off very bright and very rich at the same time, without any conceit of leaving in big chunks of leaf to provide a false sense of wholesome purity. It is wholesome, but refined, even to the point of removing showmanship or conceit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday eats last week's leftovers then makes more leftovers for next week.

Strawberry shortcake is a classic part of American summertime and usually relegated to desert options, but homemade shortcakes without all the cream and syrup, make excellent morning starters. I had made the shortcakes for a BBQ on Sunday, and do to some crossed communications, so did two other guests. This afforded me the opportunity to fill one entire plate with various forms of strawberry shortcake, and also meant that I had plenty of shortcakes left when the smoke cleared.

Sharing a shortcake on the way to work will only get you so far into your day, however. It was more leftovers. There was a chicken breast, thigh, and leg from a chicken I'd roasted in a south western dry-rub, cornbread stuffing with sausage and roasted peppers, and a buttermilk spinach and corn succotash that came to me in a flash of inspiration as I was roasting the chicken last week. The method is worth repeating.

I started with about 2 tsp. of cumin seeds in hot canola oil, allowing them to sizzle and pop untill they started browning, then I threw in a box of frozen spinach and a box of frozen corn already thawed and drained. I also added 1/3 c. butter milk and some adobo seasoning with pepper. I let that simmer for a while so that the flavors could really get to know each other, and then I stirred in 2 tbsp of matzoh meal to soak up the moisture. I would highly recommend giving it a shot as a side to any south western or indian foods. It also kept and reheated extremely well as leftovers.

Despite having such a huge pile of leftovers for lunch, I set out to make a massive home-cooked meal for dinner as well. The cornbread stuffing made a return to round out a heaping plate of meat-n-taters fare.

It wasn't my best attempt at meatloaf, but it wasn't terrible. The worst of it was just the quality of the ground beef. I don't think I'll be using ground beef from Mi Bario Meatmarket again. There were a lot of small pieces of things that aren't exactly meat. It kind of breaks up the rhythm of blissed out shoveling when you have to pull chunks of cartelage out of your mouth. It was also kind of light on the loafiness, coming out more like an enormous sausageburger. I underestimated how much bread crumbs I had left in the kitchen, and didn't realize until too late that I had most of a cardboard can of matzoh meal left.

One fantastic triumph as a result of the greater meat to loaf proportions was that a tremendous amount of sausage fat rendered out of the loaf during cooking, and made a delectible confit bath for roasting red skinned potatoes and garlic in. Fat-tastic.
Continuing my experiments with frozen bricks of veggies, I made green beans with garlic in a dry vermouth bread sauce. I let garlic and olive oil over low heat for a long time as the meatloaf was roasting. Just as the garlic started to brown, I added a frozen brick of green beans, flipping frequently to get the frozen bits to melt. I added a shot or two of Dolan's dry vermouth and let it simmer as the spinach heated through. Add a pat of butter and matzoh meal to the pan juices till they resemble very wet gruel, and then stir everything together and allow about a minute for the bread sauce to lose a little water weight.

And that pretty much covers everything except the tuna kugel. It turns out I've been making kugels for years, but I've been mistakenly calling them "casseroles." Silly goy.

This was supposed to be tuna loaf, but again, not enough bread crumbs, so it ended up being much more delicate and creamy in texture. I made it in addition to the meatloaf so as to include my vegetarian roommate into the dinner feasting. It was actually quite fantastic and I found myself regretting the time and stomach space spent on the sub-par meatloaf. I couldn't be authoritatively explicit about what went into it now if you were willing to pay me substantially for rights to the recipe, but basically I mixed the following together, dusted the top with bread crumbs, and then laid pats of butter over the top: two cans of tuna, tablespoon of horseradish, half a cup of mayonaise, two eggs, 1/3 c. panko crumbs, fresh corn cut from the cob, vidalia onion, green pepper and Oaxacan cheese. Baked it at about 400F untill it was good and golden on the top.

I guess if that's recipe enough, I will gladly take your money.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thursday staggers towards the good ol' days.

Look, I"m gonna level with you. I'm in the middle of playing a lot of Soul Calibur 2 a la the Gamecube via our Wii. I'm in between rounds of team battle, and at the moment my roommates are clicking away as their sprites swing sharp objects at each other. I'm up to bat in a second, but I just thought I'd take the time to tell you about what I ate yesterday.
If you guessed that I had oatmeal for breakfast, you were right. If you guessed that I stewed a diced apple into a double version of the oatmeal recipe from Tuesday, well that's not guessing, that's stalking, and quite frankly, I'm, well, oddly flattered. All the same, please stop.
I just ran the boys for three rounds, and now I'm spent and it's cold in here so I'm shivering as I type. I could really use a nice bowl of soup like the Italian lentil soup I had for lunch on Thursday. I kept soaking pieces of a multigrain roll in there and then fishing them out all soggy with warm tomato goop.
And then there was the Japanese curry for dinner, also goopy, all coriander and pork fat blended into one of the most delightful, honest, satisfying food stuffs I have found. I added carrots, onions, potatoes, chicken and cabbage to this one, and then had it over rice like someone might have someone else over something in an experience they hopefully both find thoroughly enjoyable. Ok, I have no idea if my curry enjoyed being eaten, but it's a great image, just roll with it.