28.5.07

crash and broil.






















Apparently my system wasn't quite ready for that health kick idea thing that I mentioned a few posts back. My pesky substance abuse issues came out of almost nowhere to rear their knobby little ugly unpleasant heads again, and this time the lucky winning substance was.........yay, pork!!!

It seems I'd fallen victim to a wicked pork jones. I dug the uncooked pork shoulder out of the freezer (leftover from last month's jerk-a-thon), I braised that baby and finished with a hoisin glaze...dug in, and.....uh...nothing. It was fine, but I was left unsatisfied. I still felt the heavy hand of a pork jones resting uncomfortably on my own (uncooked) shoulder. WTF.

I eventually turned to the internets for distraction, but matters were not improved by photos like these (good and accurate quote from the Comments section on this page: "You could make a plate of shit look appetizing."), and before I had any idea what happened I was in the tenacious grip of a nascent Hot Dog Binge. Fuck! It wasn't a pork jones at all, it was a total barnyard slaughter refuse meat sausage jones!

LOL (and I mean that in a tone of voice you cannot hear, but I assure you that it is completely, crushingly ironic and emotionless, possibly the utter opposite of laughter). I have not had a hot dog or any sausage in some time, excluding the, ahem, France trip, so this started out as a "treat". But the hotdogs I was using here were very small, about the size of my index finger. So a "binge" on these babies was kind of like a binge on, I don't know, say....falafel balls. They're 50 calories each (the index finger hotdogs)!

Anyway, my point is, the other reason that this turned nutritionally ugly and grim was that, while nothing fancy, they were really great hot dogs: yeasty bun, ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions. And thankfully, just in time really, they just about matched my crazed wiener junkie mind's hot dog...but you know, about 1/6th the size (yes, I just talked about the diminuitive size of my wiener, and called myself a wiener junkie, LOL again)...

I'd waited for my man. And he turned out to be made of chicken separator meat, among other things.

Number eaten in past two days? 10.

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UPDATE: I just realized that all this trauma could've been brought on by the Lemmy Kilminster arrangement I've shaved my lush facial hair growth into:























That's Lemmy, not me.

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23.5.07

blankfilling upcatcher.

















What you see here are leftover pics from the France trip, foisted upon you semi-indiscriminately. Directly above and below is the kitchen area at the gig in Nancy. This place was a bit disorienting, as you can see.





haphazard defined.

















It's as if I plated this during an evacuation of some sort. And yet I still had time to add my signature garnish of carelessly trimmed chives. It tasted a'ight: duck confit over wilted red cabbage and pistachios with a honey-mustard-tarragon vinaigrette.

Man, does that sound, um....fancy. It's not my fault. I'd planned on trying to recreate this amazing duck salad I had at Brasserie Le Coze in Atlanta 10 years ago, but by the time I got around to making dinner today, I'd lost the eye of the tiger and just kind of nudged this into formation.

UPDATE: Leftovers were better, probably due to the addition of duck bacon drizzled with maple syrup. C'mon, cabbage is good for you! And duck fat is healthy!

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And then these bitches showed up: from left, tarragon-sea salt, cassis, and cardamom bonbons.

19.5.07

cod piece time capsule: 1997.

















Yesterday our fishladies were having a big ol' sale on kabeljauw (cod), 500gr for 7 euro. Usually I try to avoid budget seafood, for hopefully obvious reasons, but these dames are trustworthy, and I found myself leaving with a kilo of good shit.

I showed Mara my booty, and after she recovered the brown one said (perhaps due to subliminal suggestion) that she had a hankering for something that tasted "nice and round" for dinner, and referred specifically to a dish that we shared early on in our official dating era at a restaurant in Atlanta called Van Gogh's (many chefs and concept refreshings ago).

I myself have been jonesing for some New Orleans-style cookin' for a good spell, and so I leveraged the compatibility of my design goals across the broad spectrum of cough cough hack. The result was the following suprisingly delicious kabeljauw dish, presented in the protein-on-top-of-starch style of 1997.

We started with something like chorizo-spiced caramelized apple + goat cheese quesadillas, because you know me I'm always looking for interesting vegetarian shit:


















...and we finished with some bonbons from Unlimited Delicious: rosemary sea salt; tamarind-chile-sambal; and kiwi mustardseed.


















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roasted cod

crayfish, calvados, cream, fresh corn salsa, roasted garlic mash

500 gr cod filet
2 tbsp cajun seasoning
4 tbsp walnut oil

350gr potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup cream or milk
1/2 tsp. roasted garlic stock paste
1 tsp. duck fat
1 tsp serious Dijon mustard, Zaanse Schans is perfect

1 ear of corn, de-corned
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced small
1 tbsp butter

1 cup scallion greens, chopped

1 cup shrimp or lobster or clam stock
1 tbsp cajun seasoning or to taste
1/4 cup calvados, brandy, or cognac
1/2 cup cream
100 gr crayfish, shelled and cooked


Put on some water for the potatoes. Preheat oven to 200C.

While these things are happening, combine stock, calvados, and seasoning. Reduce for 10-15 minutes, or until you have about 1/8 cup left. Add cream and remove from heat.

Combine corn and 1/4 cup water, boil for three minutes or until water is evaporated. Turn off heat, add butter, red pepper, and 1/2 of the scallion greens.

Rub the fish with the cajun seasoning and oil, and place on the middle rack in a 200C oven for 15 minutes. Brown the top if it's not already.

Boil the potatoes until done. Mash them and add the other ingredients, using the cream to modulate consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, and cover.

Reheat cream sauce, add crayfish, and simmer over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes or until crayfish are warmed through. Add remaining scallions at last minute.

Plate potatoes, fish on top, corn salsa over that, top with the sauce. 1997!

Serves more than 2, probably 3.

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16.5.07

pizza, pizza, bad, bad.
















In a convulsion of vegetarian desperation, I bought a package of
Demeter Pizza-Pizza Tofu Filets the other day. They smelled a lot like day-old Dominos Pizza, which is not a thoroughly bad thing. However, they tasted like what I imagine Red Light District-purchased pizza tastes like: dried herbs and cheese plastic that has been melted and re-melted a number of times. On the plus side, the tofu taste was almost nonexistent.

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13.5.07

the weight is over.















Foto: Isabelle Vigier

BTW, the hypothetical casual reader may jauntily skip past this entry as it is decidedly unentertaining and exists solely for my possibly eventual personal reference.

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If it ever stops raining again, it'll be beach weather soon, and this ugly-ass motherfucker has not really successfully found his seat on the fitness train yet in 2007. I've been eating like a 'tard for weeks now, if not months. So, unfortunately, it's crackdown time beeyatch.

The thing is, I can't even think of what I might want to eat that doesn't involve cheese, pork, bread, or pasta. So here are some things I should probably try to cook over the next couple of weeks to see if I can add any non-tuna recipes to my extremely small list of healthy morsels that I make regularly. All the members of this first batch are coming from Epicurious because I've been using their recipes for a very long time and kind of know what to expect. This was very difficult, none of these look remotely appetizing to me at the moment.
  1. SPINACH SALAD WITH STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE
  2. BULGUR RISOTTO WITH PEAS AND ASPARAGUS
  3. QUINOA WITH MANGO AND CURRIED YOGURT
  4. TOFU- AND WALNUT-STUFFED MUSHROOMS
  5. STIR-FRIED TOFU AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS IN SPICY BLACK BEAN SAUCE
  6. FARINATA WITH SAGE, OLIVES, AND ONION
  7. VARKENSHAAS (Ha...OK, I realize that this is a pork recipe)
  8. BAKED BANANAS
  9. ROASTED BEETS WITH CUMIN AND MINT
  10. STIR-FRIED TOFU AND VINE-RIPENED TOMATOES (I know this sounds hideous, but the recipe looks interesting.)

And here are a couple useful ideas from eGullet:
  1. Su-miso (Japanese Vinegar and Miso Dressing)
  2. Makloubeh (Palestinian national dish...this is not quick or healthy, but it looks great.)
  3. Pare Tumis (Stir Fried Bitter Gourd)
  4. From-scratch Green Bean Casserole (Um, not healthy. But it'd be interesting to try a version without cream)
  5. Duck Biscuits with Cilantro Jelly (OK, not healthy at all, but holy fuck!)
  6. Lebanese Spicy Fish with Tahini Sauce (Samke Harra)
  7. Macchi Fry Koliwada
  8. Nobu style black cod without the 3 day marinade
  9. Brinjal and Chickpea Gojju (Kathirikkai-kadalakka gojju)
  10. Grace's Corn & Blueberry Relish (this would be nice with duck...)
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OK, so my list of healthy recipes contained roughly 75% healthy recipes. This bodes poorly, as making lists is normally the easy part of dieting.

Let's change the subject: I also need some new salads. We are actually pretty great salad makers, but they generally follow a now-familiar pattern: greens; dressing with acidic, barely sweet, and pungent flavors; cheese; nuts; maybe a dried fruit if I can sneak one past the mooperbird. All good when executedly carefully, but also a really overdone salad concept. So, here are some newish salad ideas/reminders:
  1. Chicory, Caramelized Apple, Salted Pecan and Beenleigh Blue Salad with Mustard and Honey dressing (Um, yeah...that's the same salad as always.)
  2. Radish, Cucumber and Apple Salad
  3. Roasted Pineapple and Avocado Salad
  4. Watermelon- Feta Salad
  5. Tomato, Fennel and Watercress Salad with Fennel-Tarragon Vinaigrette
  6. Pear, Arugula, and Pancetta Salad (Not really a new salad, is it.)
  7. Honey-Roasted Pear Salad with Thyme Verjus Dressing
  8. Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios (Totally not a new salad.)
  9. Arugula Salad with Manchego, Apples, and Caramelized Walnuts (OK, just stop...you've made all of these before.)
  10. Goat Cheese Salad with Pancetta, Dried Cherry and Port Dressing (etc.)

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Some targets from an old Lebanese cookbook I stole from Andy (borrowed! I mean):

  1. Kallaje: (grilled haloumi sandwich with garlic, lemon, and marjoram)
  2. Courgette with walnuts and allspice
  3. Honeydew with cardamom, yoghurt, honey, and lemon
  4. Beet salad with cumin, mint, and ricotta
  5. Avocado bi tahini

And, a mixed bag from FoodTV:
  1. Arugula Salad with Grilled Tamarind Shrimp and Chile-Lime Vinaigrette
  2. Duck Confit on Corn and Baby Butterbean Succotash with Smoked Tomato Ketchup
  3. Marlin with Ginger Bbq Sauce
  4. Tarragon-Dijon Tuna Salad on Mustard Rolls
  5. Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon
Some as-healthy-as-Louisiana-cooking-gets recipes from Louisianan John Folse:
  1. Skewered Rosemary Shrimp with Louisiana Pesto
  2. Crawfish Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
  3. Pickled Mirliton Sticks
  4. Crawfish and Green Onion Sausage Cabbage Rolls
  5. South Louisiana Shrimp Rémoulade
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12.5.07

inauguration of the pleasure dome.

















Goodness, I think I'm falling for Leoš Janáček's Glagolitic Mass. And I am generally no fan of big clunky choirs in orchestral pieces.

Speaking of people falling for things, this is an interesting piece of scholarship on Hollywood's appropriation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as TV series signal music (telling you when it's time to be sad, happy, etc.).

Slate has a half-interesting piece this week on a failure to define what makes American food American.

Off the Broiler has a post about South City Kitchen, one of our favorite old Atlanta "dining-at-the-bar" hangouts.

And Holy Jesus, what gratuitous food porn over at Chuck Taggart from Looka!'s Flickr account.

9.5.07

post-jerk.






















God, it sucks when a reliable old recipe lets you down, or when you let down a reliable old recipe. One of these two things happened during Tuesday's "World of Exotic (to a Dutch person) Flavors" dinner: this BBQ shrimp recipe that is usually quite great was really just...not good. I blame over-confidence...I think we just thought it was the "easy recipe" of the evening and didn't pay enough attention to it. Ah well, I guess it's better to start out with something lame-tasting and increase the goodness than the other way around, right? Menu was:
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Mangoritas (tequila, blue curacao, lime, and mango puree)

Tequila-marinated shrimp + rosemary mayo
Duck confit quesadillas + tomatillo salsa

Jerked pork shoulder
Platanos fritos
Aruban black beans in coconut milk
Hearts of palm salad with mint and lime
Cornbread

Ginger-lime crème brulée



Klary's photo:

















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jerk-marinated pork shoulder in the oven.


marinade:
3kg boneless pork shoulder, in one piece
6 big scallions, chopped
1 large sweet onion, peeled
1 head of garlic, peeled
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp allspice, ground
2 tbsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
6 adjoema chiles, fire-roasted, seeds removed
1 cup fresh-squeezed OJ
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of 1 lime

sauce:
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons brown sugar or more
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or more


Blend all marinade ingredients to a paste in a food processor or blender. With a sharp knife, score the thick fat on the pork shoulder in a diamond pattern. You might want to use gloves for this: pour 2/3 of the marinade over the pork and massage a thick coating of the marinade into the pork. Place in a roasting pan and cover with a lid or foil. Refrigerate to marinate at least 24 hours or up to two days.

Place the remaining 1/3 of the marinade in a saucepan and add water, sugar, and vinegar. I boiled this down for about 20 minutes until the raw ingredients weren't raw and the flavor was nice and round. This sauce goes over the pieces of pork when you serve it.

When ready to cook, let pork sit at room temperature at least one hour, then preheat oven to 450F/Gas 8. Roast for 30 minutes at this high heat, then lower temperature to 300F/Gas 2. Bake an additional 2.5 hours. I then uncovered it and blasted it at 450F again to try and crisp up the crust. Let roast rest at least 30 minutes before carving. Cut into caveman/cavewoman hunks and slather with reheated jerk sauce. Serves 6-8.

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Since we know nothing at all about white wine, this article was very helpful in steering us towards a 2005 Alsatian Gewurztraminer from Antoine Heinrich, and a 2005 Riesling from Rudolf Müller to drink with dinner, and they were actually especially nice.




5.5.07

jerk.






















Sarkozy. When we were in France, lots of people we spoke to at shows were seriously freaked out about the possibility of a Sarkozy presidency. A few were determined to leave the country if he won. Where would you go, we asked. "Belgium" was almost always the answer, which makes pretty good sense considering the absence of Christian Democrats in their recent political history. Anyway, it's depressing to see people continuing to sacrifice themselves like this, feeling like they have no political or social choice but to not be there anymore, an emotion I'm rather in touch with.

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Participation in Klary's newest eG foodblog has precipitated an evening of Caribbean cooking on Tuesday, with some unprecedented attempts at Aruban recipes featuring prominently on the menu. It's a style of cooking that I've been attracted to for years, but my actual cooking experience has historically been limited by access to authentic ingredients (beyond Jamaican jerk). This is a problem that we no longer have, as Amsterdam is crammed full of tokos that carry all of the exotic greenery, tubers, and grains required, so it'll be interesting to finally dig in, and specifically into the Antillean side of things for a change.

Another obstacle: it's very hard to find good English versions of the recipes that feature the ingredients that we have access to here. The following black bean variation is adapted and translated (by me) from the Rotterdams Kookboek by Linda Roodenburg. I just made this last week for the first time, and the recipe called for cubing the bacon and leaving it in there...I just found that a little too fatty when combined with the coconut milk. So now I'm treating the smoked pork element more like a ham hock: cook it in the pot but don't serve it. In fact a ham hock might work better than the bacon.
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aruban stewed black beans.

500 gr dried black beans
100 gr salt pork or bacon, in one piece
2 large onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
4 tbsp fresh celery leaves (selderij), chopped
4 cloves
2 tsp adobo seasoning
1 madame jeanet or adjoema pepper, whole
1 tom yam bouillion cube or 1 tbsp tom yam or even tom kha soup paste
freshly ground black pepper

Soak the beans overnight, if desired. Rinse the beans, put them in fresh water to cover by an inch or so. In a frying pan, add a tbsp of olive oil and saute the bacon with the onion for 5-7 minutes until browned nicely, add the garlic, and saute for a minute or two. Add this mixture to the beans, along with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook until beans are tender, checking every 30 minutes or so to make sure you've got enough liquid. When beans are done, remove the bacon and pepper and serve.

1.5.07

tequila snipers, okonomiyaki, etc.

















This was my first Queen's Day where I was actually selling something instead of walking around all day buying things I didn't need, and you know what? It felt wicked smart.

This was also the most decadent Queen's Day in some time, which feels considerably less smart after the fact. We actually partied like it was 1999 (or earlier): 7am shooters and seriously skinned knees; 9am space cookies; 10am red wine; 12noon okonomiyaki and beer; 1pm long-distance tequila shots administered via water rifle (BTW, the body-art advert was my idea, a completely, um..."site-specific" concept, IOW, that's a great back); 2pm many tiny beers; 3pm excellent broodje warme beenham (sauteed ham with mustard and mayo, no photos, I was too hungry); 4pm twice as many tiny beers; rinse and repeat.

I have to say that we're incredibly fortunate that Sniper Mike was not terribly accurate with the tequila rifle (excepting the photo below, that was a good shot): most of it went in your eye instead of your mouth. I was happy to have (literally) limped home by 9pm and picked up some takeout from Top Thai which was even fresher-seeming than their normally pretty decent standards.

Best of all, I was given a plastic horsehead puppet early in the morning. Second best of all: the surprising number of outlandishly outfitted women who would stop to admire the free jazz stylings of a trombone/melodica/bicycle horn/dumbek quartet.