28 February 2005

sensitive young men

k... so i'm sitting here on a monday afternoon, and the weather can't make up its mind. it's sunny and warm(ish) one minute and cloudy and looking for all the world like it's going to rain the next. i don't know about you, but that kinda weather makes me want to listen to the soul searching of sensitive young men.

so i'm listening to "hallelujah" as done by jeff buckley. leonard cohen has written a lot of beautiful music, but this song takes the cake, and buckley's rendition of it just breaks my heart it's so gorgeous.

more later.

25 February 2005

polenta with sausage ragu

3 cups water
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, for grilling
1 pound pork sausage, removed from the casings
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely minced
1 carrot, finely minced
1 bunch thyme leaves
1 bunch oregano leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/2 cup white wine
1 (16-ounce) can peeled san marzano tomatoes and their juices
salt and pepper

in a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. add the cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring constantly. lower the heat to a simmer, season with salt and cook 5 to 7 minutes, until the consistency of thick oatmeal. pour the polenta into a clean but not greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish and allow to cool 30 minutes.

meanwhile, in a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat until just smoking. add the sausage and cook over high heat until it begins to brown in its own fat. drain the excess fat and stir in the garlic, onion, carrot, 1/2 of the thyme, 1/2 of the oregano, fennel seeds, white wine and tomatoes and bring to a boil. reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes, until mixture has a thick ragu consistency. stir in the remaining thyme and oregano.

meanwhile, preheat the grill or broiler. cut the polenta into quarters, then halves each quarter diagonally to make 8 wedges. brush the wedges with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, set over the grill and cook until slightly charred and crispy, about 10 minutes.

divide the polenta wedges equally among 4 warmed dinner plates, top with a ladle of the ragu and serve immediately.

23 February 2005

chicken tomato soup with tortellini

this is one thing to make with your stock. there are many other things one could make with something as versatile as a well-made stock.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 or 5 pieces across the breast
1 lg onion, cut as for the stock
5-6 small carrots, peeled and quartered (or you could use those pre-prepped baby carrots)
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
about 2 quarts chicken stock
1 family size package of barilla three cheese tortellini (click on the title of this post for more info)
3 T olive oil
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, for serving
salt and pepper

liberally pepper the chicken chunks, and heat olive oil in heavy dutch oven over med-hi heat. brown well in small batches and remove to a bowl. add onions and saute quickly until starting to caramelize. you'll notice quite a bit of what appears to be burnt stuff on the bottom of the pan. fear not, this grime is what will provide a good deal of the flavor for your soup. pour in about 2 cups of the chicken stock, and stir until all that grime has been loosened from the bottom of your pan. add the rest of the vegetation (minus the parsley and tomatoes but including the bay leaf), the rest of the chicken stock and the chicken. cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 30 mins.

add the tomatoes and tortellini. cook over med-lo to med heat until the pasta is done, about 10-12 mins. check for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings accordingly. turn off the heat and allow to cool about 20 mins.

add the chopped parsley and stir well. serve with parmigiano-reggiano scattered over the top. any sort of garlic bread would make a lovely addition to your meal.

ok... a 2 parter

ok... this morning i started a big pot of chicken stock.

one whole chicken, cut into pieces, giblets and other organs removed
one decent handful parsley stems
6 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic
2-3 (depending on size) carrots, scrubbed and quartered
one heart of celery, including greens, roughly chopped
2 lg yellow onions, cut first in half and then in thirds
20 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
enough cold water to cover 1" deep

assemble all the ingredients in at least an 8 quart stockpot. cover with cold water and put over medium heat. cover and heat just till it gets to temperature, then drop the heat all the way down and cover.

cook at a bare simmer for 6-8 hrs. strain out all the chunks and stems and such. cover tightly and refrigerate or freeze or use immediately.

22 February 2005

k... i'll get to dinner in a sec...

i've had about as much of this fucking rain as i can take kids. this current crop of bullshit thunderstorms started last thursday and except for a few hours here and there, it has continued unabated ever since, dumping close to a foot of rain in the los angeles basin.

we need a nice hot santa ana and we need it NOW.

anyhoo, i'm cooking tonite. stupid me ventured out into that shit to go to my local grocery emporium. i needed to lay in some provisions. i got soaked to the bone loading the shit into my sport utility beast btw.

so... without further ado... tonite's dinner:

grilled lemon pepper shrimp

2 lbs 6 to 8 count shrimp
2-3 lemons, juiced
2 T freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 T salt
3 T olive oil
4 T unsalted butter
splash additional lemon juice

peel and devein the shrimp and place them in a gallon size ziploc bag. put the lemons in the microwave for about 15-20 secs, and then slice in half around their 'equator" and squeeze the juice into the ziploc bag. add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. smoosh around to coat thorougly, and stash in the fridge for up to 8 hrs.

prepare grill. heat to med-hi. cook shrimp 2-3 mins per side. melt butter over med-lo heat. skim foam off the top and add the splash of lemon juice.

sauteed zucchini with garlic and onion

2 lbs small zucchini, sliced on angle about 1/2" thick
3 cloves garlic, chopped not fine
1 lg sweet onion, cut in half around its "equator" and then thinly slice the halves
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

pour olive oil into large saute pan over med/med-hi heat and immediately add the onions. saute 2 mins and add the zucchini and saute till just soft, about 2-3 mins, stirring frequently. add garlic and cook just till soft, about 30 sec. salt and pepper to taste.

tomato and mushroom salad with garlic-lemon vinaigrette

1 bag darkish salad greens
1 lg tomato, cut in half and sliced 1/4" thick
6 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 cucumber, sliced 1/8" thick (peel or not according to your taste)
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, sliced thin
juice of 1 lg. lemon
2 T champagne vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

put ingredients thru green onions in a large bowl. in a small bowl, combine lemon juice, champagne vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. while whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil. toss immediately with the salad and serve.

20 February 2005

fear and loathing no more

Author Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself
32 minutes ago
ASPEN, Colo. - Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of fictional journalism in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday night at his home, his son said. He was 67.

16 February 2005

pork tenderloin recipe for bryan :)

1/2 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
4 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup canola oil pork tenderloin, silver skinned removed
1 small eggplant, cut in half, lengthwise
1 small zucchini, cut in thirds lengthwise
1 smallish red bell pepper, cut in half, de-seeded
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 sweet potatoes, skin on, washed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
salt and black pepper, to taste
canola oil, for cooking

in a bowl, mix together the soy, garlic, ginger, scallions, honey, dijon, wine and oil. toss with pork to coat well and let marinate for at least 4 hours, refrigerated.
pull the pork out of the marinade. place marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil and reduce by 25 to 30 percent. meanwhile, in a large, hot saute pan coated lightly with oil, pan sear the pork until brown on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes total. glaze the pork every 3 to 4 minutes with the reduced marinade.
in a large bowl, mix together the eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion, and sweet potato. toss lightly with oil, season and place on hot grill. cook vegetables until just done but still a little crunchy, chop into 1-inch pieces and check for flavor.

lemme know how it works out for you!

15 February 2005

this was sposed to be last nite's dinner, but...

stoopid me forgot to get eggs, a vital component of this dish.

spaghetti carbonara

1 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cubed or sliced into small strips
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus more for serving
freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce. bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.
meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.
add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. beat the eggs and parmigiano-reggiano together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

12 February 2005

omg... this is too kewl

click on the title of this post... more later!!!

08 February 2005

ok... shrimp tacos with fresh salsa

so i thought i'd throw everyone a bone. we're not having this for dinner tonight, but it is one of my favorite recipes, so here goes:

shrimp tacos

2-3 lbs 16-20 count or larger shell-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 lemons
4 limes
1 T sugar
2 T sea salt (i prefer french gray salt)
1 T coarsely ground black pepper
2 shots silver tequila (preferably a good one like patrón)
4 good-sized cloves garlic, minced fine
2 serrano chiles, minced very fine (if you like it really hot, leave the seeds and ribs. if not, remove... and PLEASE wear gloves!)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

place all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and stash in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but up to 6 if possible. the shrimp will be sort of gray and almost look cooked from all that citrus. if you can't use shrimp this size, thread them on wooden skewers that have soaked in water for a half hour or so.

cook over medium-med hi coals (or flame if your grill is gas or stovetop) for a couple minutes a side. serve with salsa, flour or corn tortillas, avocado, and cheese if desired. i'd recommend a nice sharp jack if you can find it.

fresh salsa

4 lbs almost overripe tomatoes (romas are best, i've found)
1 lg. red onion, diced fine
1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, diced fine
4 limes, juiced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced fine
2-5 serranos OR 1-2 habañeros (depending on how hot you and yours like your salsa. 2 habañeros would result in a truly assplosive salsa... ie, if you think it's hot now, wait till tomorrow!), minced fine - PLEASE WEAR GLOVES!!!
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
sea or kosher salt
plenty of freshly ground black pepper

combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive (ie, no metals) bowl. cover tightly and store in fridge up to one week. also, for a killer guacamole, mash 3 or 4 avocados and add about half a cup of this salsa. it's wicked good.

confessions of a self-taught chef

ok... i thought i'd give a little backstory today, seeing as i haven't figured out yet which pork tenderloin recipe(s) to post. i wish i knew more about bryan's skillz as a chef, because it might help me narrow down the possibilities. (a quick note: pork tenderloin is a cut most decent chefs have a multitude of recipes for, some of them much easier to deal with than others.) i might supply the recipe for a killer marinade or brine and suggest bryan grill or pan sear the thing, or i might post a recipe for a more labor-intensive and skill-demanding east-west asian-french fusion thing a la ming tsai.

speaking of ming tsai, wasn't it cool that he wiped the floor with bobby flay on iron chef america? i know, i know... a true food snob might look down his nose at the food network, but gawd... there are some kick-ass cooks on there. michael chiarello (check out his website. click on the title of this post.), host of "easy entertaining w/..." published a cookbook in 1999 call tra vigne. one of the points he makes in this book is that the closer you remain to the season you're in regarding your food choices, the easier and better your cooking will be.
i understand that might be a lot easier to do in southern california than in most places, seeing as we have fresh fruits and vegetables here during times of the year they're not normally seen elsewhere. also, there's an abundance of farmers' markets in these parts. but even the grocery stores have had gorgeous asparagus for $1.49 a lb lately, so we've been eating a lot of it. mostly roasted with some smashed cloves of garlic and lots of pepper.

i used to be a boring cook. what i cooked was generally good, but i didn't have an adventuresome bone in my body. tacos, meatloaf, that sort of thing. and i used mixes. stuff in boxes. i wouldn't think of that now, though, and that's mostly because of food tv. granted, i still make tacos. but they're shrimp tacos, made out of shrimp i marinated and grilled, with salsa i made myself instead of the old boring gringo tacos made out of ground beef.

i felt a certain something with a few of the hosts, and began to procure cookbooks. alton brown's are good for beginners. he even has a "gear" book, wherein he explains all the various pots and pans, cutlery, appliances, et al. he encourages using multi-taskers. a potato masher IS more than just a potato masher, after all.

i watch the shows of many other cooks. i will leave divulging their identities for another post.

i have one bit of advice. look long and hard at the produce department the next time you're at the grocery store. see what's cheapest? buy some and go home and click on
http://foodnetwork.com and do a search based on that ingredient. look through the recipes rated "easy" and pick one. sometimes you'll get lucky and there will be links to other recipes from that show. it makes deciding what to serve with, say, roasted beets, a lot easier.

and... if there is a farmers' market in your area, please go look around. i've found the produce to be much nicer and oftentimes considerably cheaper than at your typical megamart.

mr. brown was right. anything can be good eats.

traffic roolz!

hey... i had the good sense to post something to someone else's blog... something about why i don't think chicken stock should just be white... and she wrote back and sent me a killer link (see above).

i also recommend you check out her blog... it's here: http://knifeskills.blogspot.com/ .

be warned though... if you're like me and just looking at ooey gooey desserts makes you gain five lbs, you might want to rethink visiting the blog.

and she says she's a cook, not a baker! ha!

07 February 2005


k... i happened across this guy bryan's blog. check it out here:


he posted a reply to my last post (the one with the coq au vin recipe) wanting to know if i have a good recipe for pork tenderloin.

i'm gonna dig thru my 1,000's of recipes and find him not one but at least a couple killer recipes for pork tenderloin.

i'll get them posted later today.


06 February 2005

coq au vin

k... if this tastes half as good as it smells...

4 chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
2 bottles côtes du rhône
3 cloves garlic, smashed
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
6 oz salt pork or pancetta, sliced into lardons
26-40 pearl onions, peeled
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
2 c chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2-3 T tomato paste
1 medium onion, quartered
2 large carrots, quartered
2 large stalks celery, quartered
1/2 c flour
2 T water
2 T unsalted butter (if necessary)
salt and pepper

heat large, heavy bottomed saute pan (ie, NOT nonstick) over medium heat. salt and pepper chicken pieces and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. set aside. put pork lardons into saute pan with 2 T water and cover. cook about 10 mins, or until most of the water has evaporated, and remove lid. cook additional 10-12 mins to crisp lardons. remove to bowl, and add peeled pearl onions, salt and pepper, and cook 10-15 mins, or until golden brown. remove to bowl with the lardons.
brown chicken pieces in small batches, and remove to plate. add mushrooms and cook till golden brown and delicious, about 10 mins. remove mushrooms to bowl with lardons and onions, cover tightly and put in fridge.

in large dutch oven, scatter carrots, onions, celery, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and tomato paste. place browned chicken pieces on top.

deglaze the saute pan with 1/2 to 1 c of the côtes du rhône, using a wooden spoon to scrape up and incorporate any of the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. pour wine over chicken and mirepoix in dutch oven. add chicken stock and the rest of the wine, cover and place dutch oven on whatever shelf of your fridge that'll support it. leave overnight.

the next day, remove dutch oven from fridge about an hour before you want to put it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. place dutch oven in lower third of oven and cook 2 to 3 hrs, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.

when chicken is cooked, remove to a heatsafe dish and cover with foil and put in a 180 degree oven to keep warm. strain cooking juices thru a colander or mesh strainer to remove herbs and now cooked to death vegetables. put strained juices back in dutch oven and reduce over medium heat by 1/3, 25-45 mins. when reduced, add the lardons, pearl onions and mushrooms to the sauce.

place chicken on cooked egg noodles and spoon sauce on top.


born of a broken man

like autumn leaves
his sense fell from him
an empty glass of himself
shattered somewhere within
his thoughts like a hundred moths
trapped in a lampshade
somewhere within
their wings banging and burning
on through endless nights
forever awake he lies shaking and starving
praying for someone to turn out the light

- zack de la rocha, late of rage against the machine

k... the coq au vin is going to wait till later. like i'll post the recipe when i stick it in the oven in about 2 hrs.

i got 3 hrs of sleep last night. i am rather stoned, and about an hour ago, i had a bloody mary. i'm feeling a little bizarre and the sound of the blender out in the kitchen is about to curdle my blood.

05 February 2005

fucking eh i'm a good cook

well, not just me. also my husband.

we're tag-teaming tomorrow night's dinner. we're having coq au vin. we saw it on "good eats" the other day... "cuckoo for coq au vin". this of course set wen'l and i to drooling, and we vowed to make it at our earliest convenience... say sunday.

we got it in the fridge soaking. all the prep is done. the chicken needs many hours in which to drunken itself in almost 2 bottles of côtes du rhône. i'll have the recipe posted tomorrow. anyhoo, it's not even cooked yet and i can already tell it's going to be one of the most exquisite things i've ever eaten.

if you want to make your honey something lovely for dinner on valentine's day, i'd highly recommend it.

anyhoo, i'm just sitting here blogsurfing. i oftentimes do this when i'm bored. there's a bunch of really pointless shit, but once in a great while, i've come across something worth spending some time with. i've bookmarked a bunch. i spose i should ask if i can give a couple of these bloggers some props with a link. who knows.

if anyone who's here checking out my joint on a reply to theirs, please let me know if this would be copacetic.

oops... dessert!

coffee granita

2 cups lukewarm extra strong coffee or espresso
1/2 c sugar
2 T coffee liqueur (optional)
1 t lemon or orange zest

dissolve sugar in coffee. add liqueur and zest. place in 9x13" baking dish on level surface of freezer. every 30 mins or so, with a dinner fork, scrape newly formed ice from the sides of the dish into the middle, being sure to break up any large chunks.

after about 3-4 hrs, scrape surface of granita with fork, and spoon into a large, airtight container. sput back in freezer for 2 more hours.

scrape granita into bowl and top with barely sweetened whipped cream.

damn... has it really been this long?

well hello kids! it's so nice to see you after such a long absence!

i hadn't cooked anything spectacular in weeks. who knows. maybe i was afraid of going off on a rant, cuz much of wot's been going on in the world lately is really pissing me off. don't be too surprised to read all about it though... soon as i get some perspective.

but tonight's dinner is...!

pork ragu with potato gnocchi

1.5 lbs pork loin (i got mine in 4 1" thick boneless chops)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 carrots, chopped fine
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 t dried rosemary
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 17 oz pkg delvecchio potato gnocchi, cooked per pkg instructions

heat olive oil over med to med-hi heat in a 3-4 qt heavy saucepan or dutch oven. season pork with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, being careful to not overcrowd the pan. remove to a plate. turn heat down to med-lo to med and add onions, carrots and celery. sweat till the onions are translucent, add garlic and cook one more minute. add red wine to pan and scrape whatever bits are remaning stuck to the pan. add pork and juices back to pan, and add tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and lemon zest.

cook partially covered over low heat for an hour or so. taste for seasonings, and add salt and/or pepper and more of the herbs, if desired. remove lid and cook until pork begins to fall apart. when it does, break into smallish bite sized pieces.

serve over cooked gnocchi.