Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Farmers market is here !

You know summer is upon us when the farmer's gather weekly on your town common or the parking lot of the local co-op or in my case at Casey Farm in Saunderstown RI. A beautiful farm over looking the Narragansett bay with their own supply of goodies, every Saturday morning other farmers, cheese makers and bakeries join them for a romping good time. Tents pop up, tables come out and are filled with fresh herbs, flowers, vegetables, even shellfish and meats. All to picked through, ogled over and enjoyed under the blue summer skies.

This was the first time I had been to the market, sad to say as I have lived in the area for 30 years, but hey, what can I say ? I bought into the whole "why buy local quality when I can get mass produced ,chemically enhance food for 1/3 the price?" I have been to farmers markets , so before you storm my home in the middle of night with fiery sticks and pitchforks, please try to calm the townsfolk, I have just not been to THIS one. A mistake I have now corrected and am grossly ashamed to admit.

The day was one of those days the New England tourism bureau likes to film propaganda. Blue skies, big sun, salt air, bumble bee's doing their thing, little children running around in funny hats chasing farm cats while unconcerned parents sip fresh ground coffee and munch on warm baguette's with local honey or gooey cheese made right down the road. So I tossed on my Birkenstock's, (kidding, I do not own Birkenstock's), and joined the happy mob.

Grabbing a coffee and Cinnamon roll, which was more like a cinnamon croissant, light, fluffy, just a little cinnamon and brown sugar,( ), I toured the tables letting the colors and smells fill my head and imagination. Seeing what dinner plans would pop into my head or where the morning would lead me. I also took some pictures and just enjoyed the people watching. Everything looked great, the selection still a little sparse, mostly herbs, lettuces, radishes, flowers, but the promise of more to come was in the air. As I heard the farmers answer questions about what was on the horizon I realized this will become a weekly pilgrimage over the course of the summer.

I picked up some fingerling radishes, single bulb garlic stalks that look like scallions or baby leeks, Arugula, assorted wild flowers and some one pound bone-in pork chops. A smoked cheddar and some of the creamiest Blue cheese I have ever had, ( ), filled my bag.

Since it was not my night to cook dinner I had visions of a salad with the Arugula, one of my all time favorite greens, the radishes, garlic and blue cheese, all tossed with a Mint and mustard vinaigrette I had been thinking about since i had noticed the Mint was looking particularly jaunty in the herb garden the other day. I made a quick call to JM to make sure she did not need anything for "her" dinner and was told to she was still planning and she would figure it all out by game time.
Let me tell you she did!

It all started because we have an abundance of Rhubarb growing in our garden and every year we say "we need to do something WITH this !"

Rhubarb Salsa :

1 c rhubarb, diced small; blanch for 10 sec and rinse with cold water to stop cooking

1/2 c yellow (and/or orange, red) pepper, diced small

1 Sm jalapeno, diced small

1 slice red onion, diced small

Mix juice of 1/2 lime with big pinch of brown sugar and small pinches of salt & black pepper, then stir into veg and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Rub for chicken:

Grind together Balinese long pepper, fennel seed, dried thyme, dried rosemary, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper, ground sage. Then grind in juice of 1/2 lime and enough olive oil to make a loose paste to massage onto chicken.

Refrigerate for at least two hours.
The salsa was made, the chicken marinated, then tossed on the grill as the house and yard filled with that amazing odor of grilling meat and fat hitting the open flame. The wild rice simmered in the kitchen while I put together the salad and made Mustard Mint dressing, with a little Rice Wine Vinegar, O.O.,S/P, fresh mint and a squeeze of Lemon. JM was on the grill and Bob Dylan was on the stereo.

So it was that Chicken JM was born!
I made the salad I had been thinking about earlier and we had a wonderful summer evening.

My day started out with a great trip that I hope to make a summer ritual and ended with a face covered in chicken juice, it's only May!

live'r let die

Liver you say? Liver, really? Chicken livers? Beef? The bodies filtration system makes a fine meal for me and my family?, I don't think so. My Mother made chicken livers every once in while, they were dried and gross and had weird texture, like warm paste. Well my friend, my Mother made chicken livers too and let me tell you, properly handled the chicken, or beef liver can be a wonderful thing. First off, they are cheap, I mean cheap and a great source of protein. Secondly and most importantly, if they are not overcooked and properly seasoned, they are delicious.

My Friday at the market started out with plans of roasted Sausages, with grapes and balsamic vinegar, (some thing we will be seeing in the near future), I was having a hankering for mashed potato's, light fluffy, garlic ,buttery starch. The sausages at the store looked less than appetizing and I was forced to continue my search, adapt, overcome and such. A few weeks back JM and I were craving Livers. A cold blustery New England day on the shore, drizzle of rain and comfort food was calling. However on that day chicken livers were not to be had, we later discovered Friday is the day the chicken liver usually hit the shelves and they last as long as they last, then it is tough luck Charlie, (or in this case, Bruce), until the following Friday. Something to keep in mind when buying livers of any kind is that freshness is your friend, not to say you ever want to but "old" food, but with an internal organ I like to find one that recently had an owner.So shop somewhere where you see the Livers one day and they are gone the next, if you notice the same package of liver hanging around your store you might want to ask your butcher, or look elsewhere.

So with liver in hand I trundled off home and eagerly awaiting my dinner companion. I usually treat livers rather simply and just salted, peppered them with a little red chili powder for spice, then dusted with flour and into a hot pan,(with high sides, Livers spit and pop as they cook, so care is to be taken). Peanut oil works best for the frying as it has a high burn temperature and little flavor. Let them get a good crust, golden brown, before turning and try not to fool with them too much, you can bruise or damage them easily and you want them to seal, holding in all the goodness until your fork pierces them. Once flipped, I added a thinly sliced Vidalia Onion, one large jalapeno, sliced, seeds and all. The livers should take around 3-4 minutes per side.
Then finish the cooking with a splash of chicken stock. You can also add red wine or demi glaze or Marsala, all which make a nice different flavor profile. Give the stock/wine/demi a couple of minutes to mix with the roux that has formed from the flour and oil and you will have nice coating sauce for your livers and something to soak up with your mashed potato's. The livers should be medium rare to medium, still pink and juicy, if you feel like your livers are overcooking you can take them out of the pan and let the onion/jalapeno finish with the sauce and add the livers at the last few minutes or pour the sauce over the cooked treats.
A simple side salad and some garlic rubbed French bread finished out the meal, everyone was fat and pleased. The lesson here is, just because your Mother made a horrible mess of your chicken livered childhood do not fear the Reaper and give it another try. As we age our taste buds mature and you might find a new pal in the liver. Of course all food is not for everyone, you might find you still think eating liver is something to be saved for the brink of starvation, but at least you tried.

I was going to include a picture of two to entice you into the LiverDome, but sadly Liver is not the most photogenic of foods, so cook your own and enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stocking stuffers

Keeping your shelves stocked with certain staples makes cooking a great dinner on the fly easy. If all you have to do is buy a protein , some veggies and come home to a house filled with international goodies and flavors, your imagination and palate are your only limitations. Most condiments and oils, vinegars have a pretty decent shelf life and if you live alone or with one other person, your fridge has space to spare. We have a chest freezer and small “college” fridge in the basement which gives us more than enough room to play with, but we are bit on the excessive side.
Having all the extra’s makes Italian/Mexican/French or American Bistro meals an easy dinner. You buy some chicken, you have a lemon, look, some capers, chicken stock, butter, little fresh parsley right outside your door,,my, my….. “chicken picatta” at your finger tips. Put a date on your spices and condiments and make sure you rotate your stock, but with simple planning you can keep a well stocked larder and make any recipe from any book, including your own at any time. Here is a partial list of some of the things that live in my fridge at all times.
1) Sambal….Asian chili paste
2) Capers
3) Olives of all colors
4) Soy sauce
5) Sesame oil
6) Hot chili oil
7) Red and green curry paste
8) Hoisin sauce
9) A multitude of mustards
10) Hot sauce(s)
11) BBQ sauce, or three
12) A buttermilk based salad dressing
13) Pickles
14) Lemon/lime
15) Onion red and white
16) Mayo
17) Anchovies/anchovie paste
18) Sun dried tomato paste
19) Harissa
20) Pickled herring, just kidding, wanted to see if you were paying attention

The dry good are just as important, however here is where dating and packaging becomes a little more important. Things tend to lost on the shelve or forgotten, pushed aside or fallen behind. Plastic air tight containers are good, as well zip lock baggies. Here are some of the things rolling around our kitchen cabinet. I am going to discount the obvious,, sugar, flour, salt, if you don’t already have these things you may well have starved to death already and will not find this list helpful at all.
1) Blue corn flour
2) Canned tomato products…paste, whole, chopped
3) Red wine vinegar
4) Rice wine vinegar
5) Balsamic vinegar
6) Cider vinegar
7) High grade virgin Olive Oil..for finishing salads/sauces
8) Peanut Oil (burns at a higher temp than other oils)
9) Vegetable oil
10) Crisco
11) Instant grits
12) Panko crumbs
13) Raisins, golden/black
14) Kidney beans/chic peas/navy beans, canned for a quick salad or soup addative
15) Dried pinto/black beans
16) Assorted rice’s, brown/white/wild…couscous
17) Dried chili peppers
18) Sardines
19) Assorted stocks, chicken/beef/fish
20) Hormel chili, every once in a while I just don’t have the energy to do anything

Along with this goes the spice crowd, which can have anything you are fond of, or needed 1 tsp of for some obscure recipe you were trying and the bottle went back on the shelf, never to be opened again. If you can’t remember what you used the spice/herb for, toss it. If it seems like it was not that long ago, try to use it for something, add it an old favorite, or invent a new one. I usually have curry powders, chili powders, garlic powder, onion powder, stay away from garlic salt/onion salt, better to add your own salt.
As for salt I like sea salt and kosher, but do keep “table” salt around for salting water or melting the ice at the kitchen door in the winter. Fennel seeds, caraway, nutmeg, ginger powder, Chinese five spice, garam masala, vanilla bean, mustard powder, smoked paprika and anything else you come across and find yourself needing. I do keep some dried herbs, but try to use fresh, or my own dried herbs from the gardens abundance of the summer months.
It all sounds like a lot of work, but if you spend one day late in the summer turning all your basil into pesto, tying and drying your herbs, making chutney out of your hot peppers, you’ll have winter filled with stuff you made and do not have to buy. Tastes great and might even give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The same goes for making stocks. Store and save your chicken bones in the freezer, when you have enough, make a batch of stock and freeze it in small portions, or fill ice cube trays, freeze and pop out little sauce additives, sometimes all a good sauce needs is a little stock, or demi glaze.

If you are making a batch of cookies, make two, take one and roll it up in a log, wax paper it, freeze. Then the next time you are having a late night cookie crisis you can cut a few slices and have warm fresh cookies with your milk. I love making lasagna but always have a hard time eating the entire thing, so frozen portions end up in plastic bags right next to the meatballs and meat loaf. If you keep a list of what is in your freezer posted on the door you will find it easier to remember and use what is in there. You can essentially make your frozen dinners, putting Stouffers out of business.
I always have chips and salsa, hummus and crackers, olives and pickled jalapenos at hand for that snack on the fly, or impromptu Baseball snack, you never know when a game may go extra innings. Olives, cheese and an apple served with crackers may come in handy when you forget to turn the oven on after you have already out the roast in. So eat, enjoy and experiment, the foods in your fridge and on your shelf may maker strange yet welcome bedfellows.
Just one more note, if you come across these chips and you like spice and flavor, buy these and get the big bag, hide it from your friends and have yourself a party.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

you can't always get what you want

Off to the market I go,checking to make sure i have my "green" bag from the co-op, doing my thing to slow the amount of plastic trash floating around the planet. I have a plan, a vision, something in mind for dinner, i can see it now, all coming together on one glorious plate, the flavors melting together in my mouth, the colors, a painting on the plate, the smiles of my guest(s), it all seems so right.

However when i get the store, my trusty butcher, my friendly meat dealer has not provided me with the cut of meat my heart desires, woe is me as my hopes are dashed and i have to plan on the fly, improvise, adapt, overcome, hell, it works for the Marines, why not me? Looking at the meat department shelves through tear stained eyes I survey the landscape and spy some Top Round roasts, not only on sale, but in my size range for two people. Elbowing my way past a little old man with similar intent , I make for my prize and go to return the baby spinach i had picked up to go with my now defunked plan of mustard/marjoram/panko crusted pork tenderloin.

Have no fear, before i departed i dusted off the gentlemen and helped him reach a smaller top round on one of the upper shelves, chivalry is not dead, but meat before honor i always say, OK, so I have never said that, but it fits and i will continue to say it from now on when circumstances fit.

With roast in hand, some Brussels sprouts, a sweet potato, bag of popcorn and some hood ice cream sandwich's i got out of the store before i caused any more disturbances. My point is ,( you were wondering), no matter how well you plan or how well your grocer is stocked ,things do not always go as planned and you need to be flexible. It happens all the time, more often with fish, as i go to the market and the fish i desired is just not up to snuff, or not there at all, but it can happen with meat or veggies, hell, even condiments. I do not always go with a plan, or a menu in my head, sometimes i just go and see what catches my eyes or stirs my hunger.

Farmers markets are the best place to browse, let the market and season dictate your dinner plans, this is the best time of year as new things arrive every week. New colors, new textures, new flavors to combine in a new way.

The aforementioned roast was 2.2 lbs, just right for two over eaters ,with a small chance of leftovers for a sandwich the next day. I liberally salted and peppered the meat and rolled in chopped thyme, rosemary and oregano, (provided by the little greenhouse, so loving tended to by JM, that lives right outside the kitchen door). A dash of garlic, onion powder and some Olive Oil finished the prep on the mighty beast, it was still early afternoon, so covered into the fridge it went.

The Sprouts and sweet potato were clean, trimmed and chopped accordingly, seasoned with whole garlic cloves, cumin, ground coriander, S/P+ O.O.,(olive oil) and some crushed red pepper flakes.

A quick easy set up and my work was done for the afternoon, so i settled into a Orioles/Blue Jays game and some cracker jack, (Baltimore won in a walk off 12/10 in the 11th). Really i was only in the kitchen for 15 minutes, tops. Cooking was also a breeze, 15 minutes at 475 degrees, giving the roast a five minute head start, I did not want the garlic to burn in the sprout mix, then turning it all down to 350* for 35 minutes, taking out the roast and letting it rest for 10 minutes while the sweets/sprouts finished up. I had some mushrooms running around in the crisper so those ending up in a saute pan, with some O.O. splash of red wine and some demi glaze that has been in the freezer for the past 9 months, all packaged up in little zip lock bags, portioned for quick sauce use.

Just another one of those things that is great to have on hand, takes little effort to make and stores well. If you make one good size batch of demi glaze a year you have happy sauces all year long. It is easy to make and if you need help, just ask me, or look it up, or wait long enough and keep following along, i am getting low and will have to make a new batch in the upcoming months, so I will be happy to walk you down the garden path.

Something else to keep in mind and is often overlooked is letting you meat rest, all meat needs to rest after cooking, I go with about 5 minutes per pound, just cover it with tin foil to keep it warm and let nature do the rest(ing). Even meat that appears overcooked can even out in the resting time and become a nice juicy dinner.
A simple plating and nice salad rounded out the dinner, sadly it was so good all hopes of leftovers were dashed upon the rock as JM and I cleared our plates like Olympic hurdlers, better luck next time. I like having leftover and the challenge of making them into something, but I am fine with starting fresh every night and tonight is movie night, so we are headed to Tio Mateo's Mexican Grill for shrimp tacos. They make the best Diablo sauce, dark, scorched and spicy, I highly recommend them if you are in the East Greenwich RI area. They also house some of my Black and White photos so I hold a soft spot in my stomach for them, Matt and his wife, whose name i can never remember,( and have met to many times to ask politely), do a great job, good prices and really fresh ingredients. Sadly they recently took Horchata, ( a Mexican drink made of rice milk, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg), off the menu, due to lack of interest on the part of New Englander's to try something new, (my words, not theirs, so don't chastise them if you see them, send all complaints to my complaint department). I will answer all your complaints and comments in due time, well comments will get a quicker response than complaints. But some feed back would be nice. Enjoy the day whatever it brings, and if you can,, eat it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

everybody to the grill, there's a fire!

Have to say I love to grill, no heating the house, less clean up and the smell of meat on an open fire makes me feel animal. Last night Fish was the sacrificial lamb, Mahi Mahi to be precise, so nice I had to say it twice.

Love grilling Mahi as it holds up well both to the flames and any flavor profile you care to impart on it. I went with cumin, Lime, smoked Paprika, garlic,onion powder, not usually a big fan of the garlic or onion powder but i was pressed for time and it hits the fish quicker. A nice blast of salt and black pepper, drizzle of Olive Oil and away we went. Most of my time and energy went into a platter of veggies, Baby Eggplant, Fennel, Portabello Mushroom, Yellow Holland Peppers, Jalapenos, Red Onion, Zucchini and a tomato, which I tossed with fresh Oregano, Mint, Thyme and Garlic, Olive Oil/Balsamic vinegar. More salt and pepper and let them soak up the goodness for an hour or so. While those were resting I set about making a Tomatillo sauce to go on the Fish. Tomatillos, if you have never used them make a great sauce for just about everything short of Corn Flakes. To save a little time I pre peeled the tomatillos, around 3/4 of a pound and grilled them until the blackened, around 8 minutes total. Grilled 3 thick red onion slices and 3 jalapenos, about the same cooking time and let them sit in a bowl to cool for 5 minutes. Then the whole mix went into the blender along with 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of salt, a small handful of cilantro and the juice of one lime, blend on pulse until sauce-like and you have a cool accompaniment, warm or cold, for everything, makes a great sauce for Tacos.After the Grilled veggies cooled enough to touch I rough chopped them, added more S/P, dash of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and tossed them in a bowl with a little more fresh herbs I had saved from my previous chopping. The Fish came off the grill after about 4/5 per side, I have a kettle grill which tends to grill very hot, also I like my fish on undercooked side, as well as meats and frankly most things. Though the Mahi will take to longer heat, it is nice a little rare, more flavor and beter texture, if your meat and fish are fresh, and why use them if they are not?, rarer is better for most cuts, with the exception of tougher cuts that require braising and long slow cooking times to bring out the flavor.

So, fish came off the grill, sauce hot the plate, fish on top, veggies on the side and a wedge of lime, little more S/P and a side salad with light dressing finished out the meal,, all in all, JM and I ate well,, once again, a happy ending.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial day weekend...The Aftermath

Sounds more ominous than it really is, or was,( the title, that is), but the weekend has come and gone. Good food was made, good food was eaten, good food was digested, you get the rest. Friday was a drive day for me and after a long day on the highways and byways of America's roadways on a holiday weekend nothing says lovin like take out. Zoey and I went Thai Blue Ginger in Greenfield Ma, located right on Main st, sadly they have no website, but they do have a delightfully spicy Drunken Noodle dish which we have enjoyed in the past. Sadly, shrimp and take out equals overcooked shrimp, which I can't blame the folks at TBG for, especially has we delayed in picking up our food, so it sat even longer than it might have had we been on time. One of the things i like most about Thai, and noodles, they keep well and just fine at a summer room temperature. We also had a Green bean, Shrimp, coconut, curry dish, with a name too long to remember, sadly the dish was as memorable. Again, Shrimp, time and take out equaled a less than stellar dish and again, not their fault. I highly recommend Thia Blue Ginger, but i would take the time to eat there, which I have and is delightful. The decor is what you would expect and the Owners/waiters/sisters are pleasant and generally helpful. The spot is small, but never feels crowded even though the tables are close and they usually seem to have a good crowd.

Saturday, tag sale, big fruit salad and cookies, cookies and more cookies. I made some Peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies with Blue corn meal flour which got good reviews and a few requests for the recipe, so though it is not perfected, (nothing in cooking is, or should be), here are the basics, try em and fool around, i plan on making them again in a few weeks, just got a little cookie'd out and can only eat so many, nice to have an event to pawn them all off on...

Follow the recipe on a bag of Toll house chocolate chip cookies, substitute 1 cup of Blue corn meal flour, (which you can find at Whole foods and some Co-Op type markets), for the equal amount of white flour, also add 1 cup of Peanut butter chips and a pinch of Chimayo Red Chili powder.

Make sure you cook on a good thick cookie sheet and lower the temperature to *370, cook for 11 minutes, let rest on the cookie for 2-3 minutes and transfer to cooling rack. I find the cooling rack transfer works really well with all cookies, as the heavier cast cookie sheets retain their heat so well it is easy to burn the bottoms of your cookie, and nobody, I mean nobody, like a burned bottom. Try a small tester batch, you may need to increase the cooking time by a minute or two, most home oven are not perfectly calibrated, and feel free to tweak the mixture to your liking, the next time i make them I am going to up the Spice amount and try to increase the Blue Corn to flour ratio, see if I can get a better blue hue to the cookies, but all in all, the were a success and i hope yours are too.

Saturday night was a simple Grilled Blue fish, marinated in lime, thyme and garlic with a splash of olive oil, little salt and pepper. Add the lime juice about an hour before service or it will "cook" the fish. A compote of grilled Portabello mushrooms and roasted Pablano peppers, topped with a local Goat Cheese, (will get the name for you later), and a garden salad with Ginger mango vinaigrette finished out the dish. Though the fish was out of season, late summer is Blue running time on the east coast, and I cooked it a few minutes too long, Zoey seemed to enjoy it.

Sunday was more tag sale, without the cookies, got rid of everything which was pleasant, nice to unload some stuff, now we can buy more! But, back to the food...Zoey had some nice fresh frozen peaches, so she decided to make a peach upside down cake. Out came the cook books and away she went, with some nice results, see pictures. She thought it was a wee bit dry, but Cool Whip and coffee made it nice.

In the afternoon I made some Goat cheese/Blue fish spread with the left over Blue, added some lemon juice and fresh thyme, black pepper and salt, served with water crackers and Black olives, a nice afternoon snack.
For dinner, Scallops marinated in Lime and Chili powder, two small top round steaks hit the grill, some grilled corn and a salad rounded out the meal. Zoey finished up with some cake and Cool Whip, I hit up some Bart's Mint chip ice cream and passed out in some cool clean sheets.
Now the sun is shining and the grass is growing, so I am going to cut it, will be back later, best to all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

memorial day weekend

I will be out of town for a few days and likely away from both stove and computer, so eat drink and be merry, see ya soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

day two

Well, most of the day was spent in the garden pulling weeds and getting everything ready for JM to plant some stuff so we have more food to play with, and food we grew, which is a plus. Not sure what will get planted this year, but you can count on tomatoes, Jalapenos, herbs galore, maybe some water melon and beans, enough basil to make pesto for the winter and a smattering of other good stuff. Nice to get out in the sun, sweat out a little toxic waste and dunk my head in the ocean for a treat afterward, the water is still freezing by the way, not quite martini cold, but still more than just refreshing. Last night's dinner was a smashing success, sirloin, with Chimayo spice mix, grilled red onions, grilled jalapenos, (of which I had 5), beet salad and a green salad with some rolls rubbed with garlic, very simple and very good, all thanks go to JM who was at the helm, tonight I am on deck.
Made two batches of cooking for a yard sale this week, chocolate chip, large chunks, with Kahlua and from the, Necessity is the Mother of Invention column, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies with Blue corn meal flour,, I ran out of white flour, and they came out good! Have to bake a little longer, around 2 minutes, and they have a slightly grainy texture, but very slight, all in all, I was pleasantly surprised. Was hoping they would have more of a blue hue, but i did mix some white flour in there with them, around 60/40%, leaning to the white flour side of things. Wrapped them up in wax paper logs and will bake on Saturday, hopefully giving tag saler's a little incentive to buy our old stuff,,ones mans garbage, is another mans garbage, so long as it is not mine anymore. have been on a none keeping crap kick the past few years since my fathers death, read a book, give it away, not going so far as to keep only what i can carry on my back, but trying not to get to bogged down with accumulated stuff,, other than cookbooks and Cd's of course.
Tonight looks like country style pork ribs, bone in, (is there any other way?), which are marinating in some magic Hat beer Ben left in the downstairs fridge back when he was still drinking. They have been soaking in it for a few hours and need to be turned in a bit, then drained and dry rubbed, am going with cumin, black pepper, salt and green chili powder, toss em on the grill and baste them with the remnants of 3 BBQ sauces cluttering up the ice box, mix in some sambal, ( spicy Asian chili mix,,,, amazing mixed with ketchup on french fries, made that little discovery in Hawaii last winter). Picked up some baby eggplant, portabello mushrooms and red onion for grilling, am going to marinate in garlic, Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, oregano and thyme, the herbs coming from the little greenhouse box JM threw together this past fall, which saved out little herb collection and has helped out all winter long. Cooked some new potatoes while the cookies were spinning around the mixer, tossed with O.O, white vinegar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mint, they have been chilling since around one, so should make a nice cool touch to dinner, there are a few rolls left and i had top bake some tester cookies, which will come in handy around the 7th inning stretch tonight.
Got some Dylan on the tune box, a fine iced coffee and a cigar, except for the nail i stepped on in the garden of good and evil the afternoon looks rosey. I am off to toss my riblets around the pyrex and put away the dishes from last night. Hope your cooking.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

more day one

JM is home from a long day at the salt mines and drawers are being open and shut, the refrigerator is open and foodstuffs are falling on the floor as the knives come out and vegetables meet the cutting board. I have been a way for a few days so there seem to be some things rotting, hard to eat all that food when one is alone. As Americans we waste so much, we buy wonderful fresh produce, meats and dairy and then struggle to eat it all before it sours. Last week i salvaged a huge bunch of basil that i had bought for a low low price, i think partially because it was on the edge of going south and turned it into some Pesto, using pumpkin seeds, since there were no Pignoli, (pine), nuts or walnuts in the house. It came out well, though a little bitter due to the earliness of the stalk and stem which i hastily ground up along with the leaves, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan. Added a little honey to mask and stored in the basement fridge for a latter date. I guess my point would be, if we take the extra few minutes when managing our larder, we can make some pretty cool stuff and have it for a rainy day. I am big on condiments and having all the little things hanging around the house, capers, anchovies, mustard's, soy sauce, a few kinds of vinegar. If you stock the little stuff, making a great meal on the fly becomes very easy, add a protein, toss a salad and see what happens. Some of my best specials back in my working days came from using all leftovers and things that had to "move", creative flavor profiles from stuff i would not have thought of had i had not an abundance of it on hand. Foods can make strange bedfellows and often afterwards you are amazed and shocked you never thought to put such things in one dish. Substituting one cheese for another, add a spice, try a different cooking method, it's all part of the process and if you are not afraid to experiment your concoctions can become favorites. Well, i am needed in the kitchen and the Red Sox game nears, will let ya know how dinner was after i have tasted it, though i am sure it will be fantastic as JM is a fantastic cook.

day one

Well boredom has overtaken me and i am joining the cyber world, kicking and screaming, leaving bloody broken fingernails along the way. People say, why blog? why spend your time, why put your thought out there? why not I reply, they are not doing me any good rolling around inside my head, clogging up important space i need to store baseball statistics and music references from the 70's/90's and the new era. Why the crazy title Bruce? Because i love to cook, have been doing so for thirty years, most of them professionally and make some rather interesting stuff. Everyday someone will ask me what I am making for dinner, or what i had last night and they always say "yum", or really? and give me that same quizical look my dog used to give, turning his head sideways and rolling his eyes back into his head when I asked him if he wanted to go outside in the 10 degree weather to pee. So, if you like to cook and find you need some daily inspiration or ideas about what to make or want a good laugh, which every once in while i might just provide, this would be the Blog for you. I would love to get you started with a doosey, but tonight is not my night to cook, it is my room mates, we take turns, or at least try to and last week i pulled a few double duties, so she is on deck. For the time being we will just call my roomie JM, until she gives me permission to add her name to this daily diatribe. I do believe however that tonight is going to be some grilled steak, not sure of the cut, most likely to be rubbed with some Red Chili spice from Chimayo NM, the finest red chili i have ever come across, which i have shipped to me from a lovely family owned shop called Milagosso Mercaditio, at this writing they still have no web site, but i would be happy to pass along a phone number and mailing address to anyone who loves flavor over heat, but enjoys a good burn on the side. Aside from Red and Green chili powder they make the best spice mix i have come across, which shines on Fish/Poultry and anything with feet. I am sure some grilled jalapenos and veggies will accompany this meal as well as a garden salad, which graces my table on most evenings. OK, so lets eat and see what this brings for us, the future awaits and there is plenty to eat, come hungry and come often.