lamb, beef, whatever.

At DD's birthday last night we had a seating plan, which worked out wonderfully I thought. I mean, just look at what happened as soon as people got out of their assigned seats (above).

Photos here.


Today I needed to use up some Cheap Dirk Fish I'd defrosted ("Alaskan Wild Salmon" it's called...it's nothing like what you normally think of as salmon, I wonder if it's humpy). This is an adaptation of a recipe from Cradle of Flavor, I would happily do this again.


ikan boemboe roejak (spice-braised fish).

1-2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
3/4 cup hot water

4 shallots, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece fresh ginger, 2 inches long, peeled
2 red Holland chiles, stems removed

700gr Cheap Dirk Fish

4 tbsp peanut oil
2 pieces cinnamon stick, each 4 inches long
5 cloves
2 whole nutmegs, cracked open
2 thick stalks fresh lemongrass trimmed and tied in knots, or 2 tsp dried lemongrass
4 tbsp ketjap manis
3 canned tomatoes, crushed
4 tbsp water

Combine tamarind extract and hot water, stir, set aside.
Add next four ingredients to food processor, blend to a paste, adding a little of the peanut oil if you need to.
Gently fry paste until garlic and ginger no longer smell raw, about 5 minutes. Make sure you don't burn your garlic.
Add fish, stir to coat fish with paste, saute for 5 minutes or so, taking care not to burn the paste.
Add rest of ingredients (including tamarind water), simmer for 45-60 minutes until nicely reduced and things taste right. Remove lemongrass (if using fresh) and warn diners about the remaining whole spices (cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon). Or remove them, but I like to leave them in if there are going to be leftovers.





Spent the afternoon hobbling and wincing and whining, but also playing vicious Scrabulous games against and making semi-complicated soups with El Carote Negro. Plus I made a nice red onion chutney (above) that was really good with a stinky Swiss cheese that H-Poes brought over (Appelfelder? Alpenfunker? Alfenpunkle?).

The carrot soup...yeah. It's really one-dimensional without good garnishes, and even under the best circumstances I can enjoy a couple of cups of it and then I don't need to see it for a couple of months.

In any case, I really think it needs the toasted/fried seeds, or a nut of your choice instead. And fresh cilantro/coriander.


white bean soup with caramelized leek, spinach, and brown butter.

3 or 4 cups white beans, cooked, preferably from scratch so that you've got some of the cooking liquid

1 or 2 cups vegetable broth, depending on how much liquid the beans already have
a little rosemary
6 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag of washed, sliced leeks (400gr?)
a little butter

6 fresh sage leaves
6 tbsp butter

2 handfuls of spinach
Parmesan, for grating
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg

salt to taste (mine was undersalted, the beans require a good bit)


carrot soup with ginger, apple, pumpkin seeds, and Surinamese piccalilly.

1 medium onion
5 large carrots
2 inches of ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 granny smith apple
1 red apple
1 can mandarin oranges with liquid
2 tsp cumin seed, ground
1 tbsp ground coriander seed
2 tsp cayenne
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp to 1 tbsp Surinamese piccalilly (or maybe substitute 1 tsp habanero hot sauce and 1 tsp prepared mustard)

salt to taste

1 cup pumpkin seeds or a mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, lightly fried and salted
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Saute. Boil. Puree. Adjust seasoning. Garnish. Serve.


red onion and blackcurrant chutney.

2 tbsp walnut oil
3 medium red onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
tiny pinch ground cloves
even tinier pinch ground cumin
3 or 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 or 4 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp raw cane sugar
2 or 3 tbsp cassis, blackcurrant, or blackberry preserves
1 tsp tomato purée
75ml water

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions til soft. Add garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Add everything else, simmer for an hour, adding water as necessary (or possibly a little vinegar if needed). By the end everything should be nicely reduced, deeply purple, and you should be out of liquid. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Cool to room temperature and serve with stinky cheese.


let the hammer down.

I am 45% 65% 10% not actually sure anymore that I broke my big toe this morning at 6:15am, but it really seemed like it.

I was rooting around on our combined medicine cabinet/toolbench/recycling staging area for something with which to blow my nose, in the dark, and also in that squinty, I'm-about-to-sneeze way, and I grabbed something that dislodged a hammer from its moderately high perch. Hammer, meet big toe. Cue not-very-muffled and highly profane yowls of disbelief.

I've had the good fortune to never have been seriously injured, and this is not a "serious" injury, but for me this pain is (outside of some mercifully brief dental or back pain moments in the past) unprecedented. I'm sure that the healthcare professionals among you are thinking that an X-ray could pretty much resolve the uncertainty in my diagnosis.

If it's still this bad tomorrow then yes I'll think about an X-ray. My reason not to would be the sucky fact that there's no real treatment for an allegedly broken toe other than "don't walk on it" and "take some Vitamin D". And I don't like hospitals.

In the meantime, let's work together on something more uplifting and positive: let's figure out a lowfat, vegetarian version of this.

We could also reminisce about ludicrously decadent meals of yesteryear. Pictured above: Rutz's uniquely flaky olive focaccia from 2009's Berlin trip. Below: the foie gras overdose that followed.




On the one hand, it's nice to get a full night's sleep. On the other hand, I think I can safely nominate "Witness Protection Program" as one of the Least Relaxing Dreams Ever. Someone poured a fifth of bourbon into my laptop keyboard through my broken windshield while riding on the hood of my car during a high-speed chase. And of course, while wrestling the assassin's rifle barrel away from my face, all I'm thinking is, "when was my last backup?".


That you? Yeah, that me. Hopefully exiting a bit of a silent period, not just in these esteemed pages, but in general. Maybe when it got real cold a few weeks ago, my bear-like personal dimensions thrust me into a sort of automatic hibernation. If you look at it that way (which makes perfect sense, no?), then it wasn't really such a long time, was it.

Here's what I wanted to make for lunch today. Below is the compromise.


vegetarian garbure (i'm kidding! it's just cabbage soup).

3 onions, chopped into bite-size pieces
3 carrots, diced
1 sprig of thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1 clove
1/2 tsp celery salt
freshly cracked black pepper

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 head of green cabbage, core removed and chopped into bite-size pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
3 or 4 drops liquid smoke

salt to taste

Gouda, Emmenthaler, or Gruyere, for grating




Wish I'd found this when I was sick this weekend. I think I've said before that sometimes Bourdain's world-weary cynicism schtick gets a little self-conscious and predictable for me, but then just frequently enough he slips into a different gear, an inspired zone where he seems not only smart, credible, and entertaining, but also engaged and happy, and so I keep watching.

The clip above is from the Best of Season 4 finale, and the brief clip with the Paulistas makes me want to watch that episode first.



return of the living dead.

Or, just me, which is horrifying enough. Happy that my time in sick bay was limited to two days on the couch and that my nose is once again useful as a breathing apparatus.

During my convalescence, I ate nothing but incendiary, flat-out spicy-ass Asian food, hoping to chile pepper my sinuses into submission. Starting with that kimchi jigae, the next step was ma po tofu, and somewhere in there some leftover Surinamese thing which I'll elaborate on in a minute. All of this punctuated by short bursts from my sriracha gun...sriracha on toast with butter, etc. It was the only thing that made me feel any better. Ah, endorphins...

The Surinamese thing. Pictured above, it doesn't look like much, but it's something I've talked about before, basically a can of Morjon sardines plus some other stuff and some green beans, simmered for 30 minutes and served over bulgur or rice or quinoa. It's different every time I make it, but it's always been surprisingly great (and cheap!). Truss me.


mark's surinamese sardine + green bean thing.

200 gr green beans, trimmed
1 big oval can Morjon sardines in tomato sauce
1 healthy tbsp Javanese sambal (a shortcut for adding shrimp paste, palm sugar, and habanero)
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or processed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 cup bulgur
2 cup water
1 tsp sambal, possibly the same sambal you used above, possibly not
1 tbsp ketjap manis
2 tbsp butter or equivalent




Mara's birthday. I'm sick. My eyes feel like kicked testicles.

On the upside, I'm watching/listening to Tremors for the first time. And taking pictures of the neighbors.



boo, hiss, slurp.

I'm sick. Hopefully not with Mara's 3-week-long head cold. Time for some homeopathic sinus deblockificationizer and een beetje bed rest.

Plus a quick and desperate kimchi jigae.


kimchi jigae.

1 cup kimchi, cut into manageable bites
3 tbsp mirin
1 fa chong
1/2 cup scallion whites
1/2 cup scallion greens
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup tofu, cubed
2 cups dashi



i need a reason to blow some shit up.

Maybe I should just try some new recipes. Saveur's Best Recipes of 2009 has a couple of versions of things we cook quite often these days, but here's something we've never even seen before, khandvi (source).


Above, Mara's Thoroughly Repeatable mung bean gyoza with soy, sriracha, ginger, and scallions...really great.



po' boys.

As you may know, I'm just now emerging from a month-long period of rather intense work. Today is my first day back, and in order to reconnect with home life, we cook.

Or, I cook, cause the Mara is still sick (also going on nearly a month of off-and-on illness, not really a classic January for the Moop) .

Dus: shrimp po' boys tonight, cherie. Go Saints.


shrimp for po' boys.


16 or 20 shrimp or so
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

3 eggs
1/2 cup Tabasco or Texas Pete

peanut or corn oil for frying

Combine first 4 non-shrimp ingredients in a bowl for dredging. Combine next 3 non-shrimp ingredients in a bowl for dipping. Heat oil to 190C or so. Dip the shrimp, then dredge, and fry, 3 or 4 at a time. Drain on paper afterwards and assemble po' boys pretty immediately, meaning: 3 or 4 shrimp plus shredded iceberg, thinly sliced tomato, and plenty of mayo, all on wide and crusty French bread. Serves 2 or 3.



leave it.

This is the ceiling of the room I've been staying in this week. The dangling tags are the birthplaces of all the other people who've stayed in this room, at least the ones who were born in South America or Northern Europe...the rest of the world is on the walls.




My new camera is awesome, have I said that already? Since my preferred times of day could all be classified as "low-light", it would make sense that I would have a camera that functions in this environment. And now, I do. Thanks scim!

For example, in the above picture, you can almost tell that it's me and the evil Dr. Maracasmasher in those two TV screens.

And below, you can read my laptop screen on a photo I took in almost complete darknuss. Blur-Be-Gone!