In the UK slices of white loaf are added to hot bacon fat. As the bottom absorbs some of the fat and crisps in the pan, it is flipped and crisped on the other side. It makes for a delicious side for bacon and eggs and takes nary a minute.
For the faint of heart, you can toast your slice slightly first, inhibiting its ability to suck up bacon fat. It will still crisp nicely.
This morning I had a revelation. It is December 2nd, and we're almost out of Thanksgiving leftovers, down to a little cranberry sauce and Susan's delicious stuffing. What is stuffing? Bread. What if I added a couple of handfuls of stuffing to the hot bacon fat?
Wonderful, crispy, savory, deliciousness, the perfect foil for a fried egg and a couple of slices of bacon, that's what. I'm sorry I didn't think of this last week. My arteries probably aren't, but I am.
Got any stuffing left over from your Thanksgiving meal? Fry it up in bacon fat. Out-bloody-standing.
It's a cool night and I wanted a rich, warm cocktail, but not necessarily icy. I opted for a V.C., but built it as I would a Sazerac, but one with no ice. It's delicious. You can taste the harmonious blend of all the different components, and the sweetness of the rye is not lost to the cold.
Here's how it's done:
Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice, set aside.
In a shaker over ice, stir together 3/4 oz (1 jigger) each rye, brandy, and sweet vermouth until chilled. Add a dash or two of both bitters.
Empty the rocks glass and swirl a touch of B&B in the chilled glass to coat the glass.
Strain the chilled mixture into the rocks glass, then twist over the glass a thick slice of lemon peel-- I use a vegetable peeler for a wide, thin twist bereft of bitter pith. Drop the twist, its precious, flavorful oils gaily now skimmng atop your cocktail, into the glass.
Preheat oven to 400.
1. Roasted tomatoes
Core and halve (around the equator) six or eight large-ish tomatoes. Saute cut side down in a hot saute pan with some olive oil. (Do two batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan.) After they caramelize (about 5 minutes), transfer them to a baking pan. Deglaze the saute pan with 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar and pour this concentrated goodness over the tomatoes. Roast about 30 minutes. Lots of liquid will form. I drained this and kept it and will add it to my next batch of soup, chili, or stew.
2. Eggplant and tomatoes
Slice one large, two medium, or a bunch of small eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Score lightly, season with S & P, and add to a backing dish which you've rubbed with a tbls of EVO. Sprinkle some fresh grated Parmesan over the eggplant, then top with this slices of tomato. Sprinkle fresh chopped herbs all over and roast for one hour.
We had red chard.
My chicken stock was frozen, but three sandwich bags worth of frozen peels and onion stubbs created a quick vegetable stock while I started the dish. (OK, there were a couple of chicken femurs in there too.)
Stem the greens, rinsing well. Finely dice the stems, and saute these, along with a chopped medium onion, a grated carrot and a chopped celery stalk in some olive oil. Don't skimp on the oil. Use about 3 or 4 tablespoons. Season with s and p and allow to cook down and sweeten, about 10 minutes.
Add a cup of pearl barley and stir to coat with the vegetables and oil. After about a minute, maybe two, add 1/2 glass of white wine. Stir until absored.
Start adding ladlefulls of hot stock to the barley. You'll need about 5 cups in all. It shouldn't be dry, though nor should it be soupy.
Add a few handfuls of chopped greens and allow them to wilt, about two minutes. Add 1/2 can of cooked beans (I like to use a little of the liquid too; it adds a nice mouth feel). Check the seasoning.
You could top this with a drizzle of olive oil, some parmesan cheese, shredded basil...
The leftovers were taken to work the next day. That evening, the final leftovers were introduced into a soup. I sauted onion, carrot and celery, added the leftover barley (and some leftover lentils from Sunday's evening meal, see below), some chopped cabbage, some chicken stock, a frozen arugula pesto ice cube from this spring's early crop, a couple of leftover canned tomatoes and their juice, and some sauteed sweet potato cubes. I sauteed these in duck fat because I had it and it makes them taste good. It was very tasty. Soups are easy. They can be anything.
Wait, that's not it. That's Thailand's gorgeous new P.M.
There it is.
This is a tasty dish, requiring a bit of work, but very nice for a dinner party. It can be largely prepared in advance, with ten minutes of work prior to serving. This is for four people.
Combine two chopped shallots or half an onion, two cloves chopped garlic, two tablespoons shredded ginger, juice of a lime or two, two tablespoons of brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of red curry paste, a teaspoon of fish sauce, 1/2 a teaspoon of sesame oil, and 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and mix really well.
Cut a pound of salmon into 4 filets and cover with about 1/2 the marinade. (Save the rest to add to the risotto and drizzle around the finished dish.)
Lime Cardamom dust
Crush a dozen little black cardamom seeds from inside the pod in a mortar and pestle; save a pinch for the risotto, below. Zest a lime. Mix the two in a small microwave-safe bowl and zap for 10 or 15 seconds at a time until the zest is dry. Sprinkle half of this dust on both sides of 8 sea scallops. (Save the rest for the finished dish.) Season them with salt and pepper too.
This can be half-cooked ahead of your dinner party. Mix together a tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of sweet paprika, and the leftover pinch of cardamom dust. Heat 4 cups of seafood stock until it simmers and keep it aside. In a large saucepan or saute pan, saute a chopped shallot in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add a tablespoon or two of shredded ginger, two cloves crushed garlic, one teaspoon of red chili paste and the spice mix and saute for 30 seconds. Add one cup of short grain rice and stir to coat the grains in the flavor mixture. Start adding the stock, a ladle or two at a time, and let the rice simmer away. You can do this until about half the stock is absorbed, then stop. The risotto will be half-cooked but you can pick it up again just prior to serving dinner-- the salmon will be broiling and the scallops will be searing at the same time. But for now, go relax, have a drink, chill out with your guitar before your guests arrive.
Bringing it all together
After several cocktails with your guests, maybe a salad or something to start, preheat the broiler. Start heating the remaining fish stock and the turn on the heat under the risotto. Heat a saute pan. Open a can of coconut milk. Get ready to multi-task.
The rice will take longest, about 10 minutes so start that first. The scallops will sear about two minutes each side, and the salmon will broil in five minutes, so you'll start these when the rice nears completion. Or, wait til the rice is done before starting the seafood. It'll hold for a few minutes.
As the rice nears completion-- you're tasting as you're going, right?-- add about 1/3 can coconut milk and stir well. Add about a tablespoon of the leftover marinade and stir again. Lay the salmon filets on a foil-lined baking sheet and throw under the broiler. Add some bacon fat, duck fat, or vegetable oil to your hot saute pan and saute the scallops for about 2 minutes per side.
Mound some rice in the middle of each of four plates. Top with a piece of broiled salmon. Place two scallops next to this, which a small pinch of leftover "dust" next to the scallops. Drizzle a little marinade around the edge of the plate.
This would be nice to top with a little chopped cilantro and a couple of Thai basil leaves... a quarter lime would not be out of place. I'd drink a New Zealand sauvignon blanc or a crisp lager with this.
Let's all explore the universe of grilled cheese sandwiches. Let's get slightly adventurous with additional fillings (without drifting too far from the path of righteousness). Let's use that expensive cheese that ought to really only be served by itself, bereft of honey, balsamic vinegar, or chutney and nuts. Let's use bread that doesn't come in a plastic sleeve. Who's with me?
Basic grilled cheese:
Preheat oven to 350.
Preheat cast iron pan over medium heat.
Butter two slices of whole wheat bread.
Turn one slice over, butter side down (ew).
Cover this slice with lots of grated Cheddar.
Cover with second slice of buttered bread (butter side up).
Carefully transer the greasy mess to the hot pan.
After a couple of minutes, gently lift the bottom of the sandwich with a spatula; when it is golden brown, flip the sandwich and place the pan in the oven.
After approximately 5 minutes, remove the pan, remove the sandwich, cut it in half-- diagonally is nice-- and scarf down.
Our garden is ripening. Pea pods have appeared, though they still resemble snow peas. A single green fruit adorns one tomato plant. Most of the spring greens have aged to the point of toughness and bitterness, though we can still pluck the occasional tender leaf. The beats are of varying size. Yesterday I thinned them, primarily to get the leaves, which I turned into beans and greens.
Saute half a chopped onion in olive oil.
Add some cleaned, chopped greens like beet greens, chard, kale (from which you've cut out the tough central stem). Use more than you think, they'll cook down significantly. Season well with salt and pepper.
After the greens reduce, about two minutes, add a few cloves of chopped garlic and half a can of white beans, with a little bean liquid. Add half a cup of chicken or vegetable stock or water, and a bit more salt. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Cover and let cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove lid. If too moist, allow to simmer lidless for a few minutes.
A modified Thai Beef Salad would be a good compromise, and except for the beef, I had all the ingredients on hand-- or at least enough to approximate the dish.
Five minutes prep work, then you have a couple of hours to kill (read: drink) while the marinade works its flavor magic.
This is a great dish for a hot night, especially delicious when paired with cold lager.
1. Season your steak well S and P. I used sirloin, a mid-priced cut that grills well.
2. Make the marinade. Mix together:
one chopped shallot (or half an onion)
grated ginger, about the size of a ladyboy's thumb
two cloves minced garlic
juice of two limes
Let this sit and stew for a few minutes while you replenish your drink.
four tablespoons vegetable oil
two tablespoons brown sugar
one or more tablespoons red curry paste (this is mild)
splash sesame oil (optional)
splash fish oil (optional)
3. Set half the marinade aside-- this will be the dipping sauce. Marinate the steak in the rest, for a minimum of two hours, preferable many more.
4. After a few cocktails, nonchalantly light your grill. Grill steak to MR, then let it rest for at least five minutes. Slice it and serve it with lettuce leaves and lots of fresh herbs. Roll up the meat and the herbs in the leaves and dip into the flavorful sauce. Don't wear your best shirt. In fact, eat naked.
Couple of spoonfuls of yogurt for breakfast... I suppose lunch was vaguely Atkins like-- not that I espouse dieting except the "eat less exercise more" kind.
Anyway, it was very tasty, filling in a way that only lots of protein can fill you, and probably healthy as well-- though "healthy" comes last in my book. If something is unhealthy but tasty, eat it anyway if you enjoy it. The happiness it brings you outweighs the calories.
1. Pre-heat broiler. Open a can of sardines packed in olive oil. Drain, reserving the oil.
2. Saute a chopped shallot (or a bit of chopped onion) in a little of the oil. (Or lightly saute a finely chopped garlic clove for a few seconds until fragrant.)
3. Add half a bag of baby spinach and a few tablespoons of canned white beans to the pan and some salt and pepper and saute about a minute until just wilted.
4. Transfer spinach to oven-proof dish. Top with sardines. Top sardines with break crumbs, and drizzle the crumbs with a bit of the leftover oil.
5. Broil until just browned, about a minute. Add a squeeze of lemon and eat your way to thin.
I also baked a loaf of focaccia this morning and am now going to eat some with some cheese and a beer, nullifying any lightening effects of my earlier meals. Dinner out with friends at Elements, a restaurant known for its charcuterie... And tomorrow I'm determined to have spaghetti and meatballs.
When Mark Bittman announced his retirement from the NY Times Minimalist column last week, the paper published a pastiche of his most viewed videos. I was intrigued by his recipe for "quick" preserved lemons. Cutting the lemon took a couple of minutes only, then a quick stir with some salt and sugar (2:1) ratio and then let it sit for an hour.
A tablespoon full made a great addition to a chicken and chickpea tagine, whose leftover sauce became the base for a pot of harira (which also benefited from the addition of the lemon).
The lemons are tart but also sweet, and offer a pleasing, tight texture.
I made it recently and it really is good... though I agree with Susan that it might have benefited from a bit of lemon zest.
It's rare that I follow recipes to the letter but I think I did with this one, down to including the "juice" from the canned chickpeas, something I'd ordinarily spurn. (Canned beans are a standby for me. I do love home-prepped dry beans, but when you're in a hurry....)
Bonito-- shaved, dried tuna. I bought some ages ago to make broth for miso soup. It really does add a briny dimension to the dish. I bought it at one of the Asian stores in the Strip District.
The dish also reheats well. I melted some butter and sauteed the leftovers in it.
I used cauliflower and potato, resulting in a mock Aloo Gobi. Neither were cooked, but it's a simple matter to cut and roast a cauliflower and peel, cube and boil some potatoes.
While they cooked, I made a basic mirepoix, sauteeing chopped carrots, celery and onion in some EVO with S and P. I know that this is French technique, but it adds an incomparable flavor base.
While they sauteed, I made my spice mix, starting with cardamom.
A little cardamom goes a long way. The raisin-looking green pods can be added whole to dishes; they're inedible, but add an exotic, citrusy flavor to rice dishes, soups, and sauces easily.
I also like the little black seeds (which resemble slightly larger poppyseeds) inside the pods. These needn't be fished out of the finished dishes. However I prefer crushing these seeds into powder with my mortar and pestle. If you start with about a dozen seeds it takes about 30 seconds. I have a one-ounce jar of the seeds which will probably outlive its use to me.
So, in my mortar I pestled the dozen (or so) cardamom seeds. To this I added a rounded tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of Tumeric, 1/2 teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of hot paprika, same of cinnamon, then very little clove powder, grated nutmeg and cayenne. Took about a minute in all, and I eyeballed the measurements. Let's call this "garam masala."
The vegetables were still softening over medium heat, so I peeled and grated some ginger and garlic, and finely chopped the garlic. The potatoes were done, so I drained them and added them back to the warm pan to dry.... the cauliflower was starting to brown nicely at 350, but needed some more time (about a total of 30 minutes).
I added the ginger and garlic to the vegetables and sauteed about 30 seconds, allowing the aromas to bloom. I added the spice mix and stirred to coat the vegetables.
I added about a tablespoon of butter to the pan, and when that melted added about 1/8 cup of flour, stirring them together for about a minute to make a roux, which would give this saucy dish a pleasing consistency. I next added about two cups of stock* slowly, a little at a time, first allowing the liquid to pick up the burnt sugars that had cooked out of the vegetables from the bottom of the pan, then to slowly incorporate the thickening action of the roux. It took me about two minutes to add all the liquid.
I added the potatoes, then, when it was finally cooked about ten minutes later, the cauliflower. I let the whole thing mingle together for about 10 minutes, eventually adding a little more stock and salt. It then went over leftover wild rice, finished with a spoonful of yogurt. Some chopped cilantro wouldn't have been out of place, nor some chopped chives, but I had neither.
*stock: I make this with whatever I have on hand. I free all my bones and vegetable scraps for this purpose. My stocks, as a result, are never the same. Stocks are frozen in old 1-quart yogurt containers. I suspect this batch of stock had some chicken and duck bones in it, the duck leftover from some earlier duck confit. So, technically, this batch of Aloo Gobi could not be deemed vegetarian.