Wednesday, January 30, 2008

With nuthin' in yer gut, ya better keep ya mouth shut...

Breaded Tilapia with French Fries

"What did they do to this fish? Batter it to death?"

"Fish and chips, mate. National dish."

"More like a fuckin' natural disaster."

-- Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Carlyle in "Formula 51"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I wanna be haunted by the ghost...

Is there really any animal more deliciously evil than a Pig?

There is something so gratifyingly sin-filled about preparing, cooking, and devouring the cloven hoofed beast...

Okay, maybe I'm getting a little crazy there. But you have to love an animal with so many useful -not to mention utterly delicious- parts. The French figured it out a long time ago, and dammit all if I'm not going to follow their proud culinary traditions.

Point being, last night Kerrie and I had Cassoulet for dinner. A traditional slow-cooked dish of beans, duck, and various parts of pig.

And it was excellent...

Cassoulet recipes are a dime-a-dozen, but I used Anthony Bourdains. It was something where the prep had to be stretched over one weeks time, but it was worth it. It was SO worth it...

Pork, Pork, Pork - Suck it Born Again Yippies...

U2 & BB King - When Love Comes to Town
Edwin Starr - 25 Miles
Donovan - Season of the Witch
Joan Jett - Bad Reputation
The Pogues - Haunted

Monday, January 21, 2008

If that's your best, your best won't do...

Last night was long overdo...

Last night, Kerrie and I sat down to a proper meal of small plates and lots of wine. Yup, my favorite of all: Tapas.

I can fondly call on the memories of that first time I had a tapas meal. It was one of those crisp September days where one second its scorching hot out, then it's suddenly cloudy and a chill descends on everything.

I am, of course, referring to Ann Arbor and the ever-amazing Cafe Felix.

Ever since that day I've craved not only the food, but the atmosphere and style of the tapas meal. I even told Kerrie that if I ever wind up on death-row, a very lengthy tapas would serve as my last meal.

The meal I prepared last night consisted of 5 small entrees and 2 desserts.

Plate 1 - Cheese & Baguette
Plate 2 - Pan Seared Scallops with Pico de Gallo & Chipotle Smear
Plate 3 - Polenta Fries w/ Marinara & Shredded Parmesan
Plate 4 - Scampi
Plate 5 - Beef Tenderloin w/ Balsamic Glaze
Ruby Port & Lindt Truffle

Blush Ice Wine & Cocoa Creme Brulee

Everything was just as I wanted it to be. It took just under three hours to eat and it was perfectly relaxed. Plus, Kerrie and I have found that scallops are now on list of "Seafood that doesn't suck". Maybe I'm just a little too proud of myself here, but the scallops REALLY impressed me after I had prepared them. Granted, scallops are easy to do but these were so... right. They were cooked to what I figure is "just right" in the sense that there was no offending odor, they were butter-soft, and despite the uber-spiciness of the dish, they were really good.

I was less adventurous with the wine selection, but to be fair - when you find one really like, you just go with it. I'm a fan of the Protocolo, as it went with the beef and the polenta very nicely. The white, a 2006 Vega Sindoa, was a surprise hit because of how well it went with the cheese plate. The Ice Wine, a gift from Kerrie's parents from the very cool South River Vineyard in NE Ohio, paired very well with the Creme Brulee.

All things considered, it was an exceptional evening if not overly tiring. The wines certainly hit me a little harder than they used to. (I can hear Wes laughing maniacally from all the way down here...) Nonetheless, this is as close to perfect as a meal can get for me. The kind where hours disappear and the food never seems to stop.

Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It
The Gypsy Kings - Hotel California
Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
Bobby Bland - Turn on your love light
Mojo Nixon - You Can't Kill Me

Sunday, January 13, 2008

...When the bullet hits the bone...

If there is one thing I love, it's a classic "comfort" dish.

The thing is, if you say "comfort" most people think of meat loaf or fried chicken or something very 'Merican! Well, what about other countries? Surely they have the concept of comfort food too, right?

I bring this question to the table, because I make a dish -Puerto Rican in origin- that I swear to you is the definition of "comfort". Simple, sustaining, and fucktastically good.

Chicharrones de Pollo

1 1/2 Boneless Chicken Thighs
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
1/4 Soy Sauce
1/4 Rum (I use Bacardi Ciclon)

1 Cup Flour
1/2 t Paprika
1/2 t Cumin
1 t Season Salt

Cut Chicken into bite sized portions and place in a large plastic bag. Add the Lime Juice, Rum and Soy Sauce to the chicken and marinate overnight.

Preheat fryer to 375F.

In a bowl, mix Flour, Paprika, Cumin and Season Salt.
Coat chicken liberally with flour mixture and fry until dark-golden. (3-6 minutes)

Serve with Tortilla, sliced limes and chopped Cilantro.

13'th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me
Golden Earring - Twilight Zone
Sex Pistols - New York
Wiseguys - Start the commotion

Thursday, January 03, 2008

January 1'st was a nice day. Unfortunately it was the last day of the Holiday break and the return to work loomed overhead like the employment-equivalent of Fat Man & Little Boy. Although 2008 felt suspiciously similar to 2007, I made every attempt to enjoy the last day of vacation. I slept in late, lounged around watching TV, and enjoyed the simple elegance of a perfectly chilly day...

...which ultimately made for some really good eating. As the daylight slowly turned to dark, I realized it was the perfect night for a fire, a bottle of Chardonnay, and some Sausage & Spinach Soup in Bread Bowls.

Sausage & Spinach Soup

Olive Oil, foor cooking sausage
1 lb Italian Sausage, casing removed
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
6 Cups Beef Stock
1 14oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
Pepper, to taste
1 Cup Chopped Spinach

In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil then cook sausage until browned using spoon to break up any big pieces.
Deglaze pot with red wine. Reduce until almost dry.
Add beef stock and bring to a simmer.
Add tomatoes and pepper.
Simmer for about 30 minutes, skimming away any scum that rises to the top.
Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes more.


Van Morrison - Into the Mystic
Gene Chandler - Groovy Situation
Pizzicato 5 - Baby Love Child
Bob Dylan - Most of the Time
U2 - All I want is You

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's almost over now, almost over now...

New Years Eve...

Always fun, always a chance to go all-out and do something a little special for dinner.

I'm not a big big fan of going "out" for New Years, only because there are too many crazy jerk-offs on the road. Plus, I like being in the kitchen on New Years. It's like being at work, except everything comes together the right way.

Last night I made what has become a standard at home, the Mixed Grill.

A simple mix of Beef tenderloin, Chicken tenderloin, sauted Zucchini & Yellow Squash, and pan-roasted potatoes served with a perfect Rosemary Demi Glace, the Mixed Grill is probably my favorite meal. Actually... I have a lot of "favorite" meals.

Anyways, we started off the meal with fresh baked bread and olive oil for dipping, moved on to a couple of Spinach and Red Romain salads, the dove right onto the entree.

We finished off the meal with a game of Shanghai and a few slices of my Chocolate Everything cake.

All in all, a good end to a pretty good year. Plus, right near Midnight, I was able to use on of the greatest Homer Simpson quotes evar:

"Ohh, will this horrible year never end??!!"
-Homer Simpson, while watching the New Years Eve ball get stuck right before Midnight.