Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Great Oz

The Great Oz
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
When I was a little girl, I had an obsession with The Wizard of Oz. I was Dorothy for Halloween almost every year, and Judy Garland remains a favorite for both her talent and tragic life.

We visited the Dinnerman's mom on Thanksgiving, and this sign resides now above her stove. I couldn't help myself.

I used to quote the movie as a child, and would say, "The fatificent Oz has spoken!!!"

Fatificent. Maybe someday it will be part of the vernacular.

Countertop Cholecystectomy

Here you go, all my insatiable fans. This turned into a lovely ragu with some pappardelle in a red sauce.

My life is without purpose.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Plan B

Look at what we will be nibbling on for a while!

This was so easy it doesn't really warrant instructions. Rub kosher salt into a 2-3 lb pork loin roast. Let sit in fridge all day. Wrap with bacon and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in a 375 degree oven (I used the convection setting).

I left it in for approximately 45 minutes, then let it rest for about the same amount of time before cutting into it. The center was a little pink, which I love, but freaks some people out (including one who lives with me). Those people can eat the ends!

Winner, Winner, Chicken (Liver) Dinner!

I've been lacking confidence in everything about myself all week - especially my cooking ability. The title of this post is really stupid, too, I think.
In reality, everything I've made has been delicious: the oven-roasted salmon, the asparagus, the roast chicken, the potatoes and brussel sprouts.

But that didn't stop me from worrying yesterday about my first attempt at chicken liver ragu - so much that I cooked a bacon-wrapped pork roast as a backup!

The ragu over pappardelle was delicious, by the way, and very easy to do. I think cleaning the livers was the hardest part; it was not straightforward to me exactly what needed to be cut away.

Whatever I did worked, and that's all that matters in the end I suppose.

To make this, I took a pint-sized container of chicken livers and cleaned them. One of the livers had the gall bladder still attached, which had to be removed. I trimmed the shmutz and blood vessels and hard things off the liver lobes as best as I could. I was struck at the variation among the different livers in size, texture, color - everything.

Anyway, then I sauteed the livers in olive oil with some minced garlic and onion, salt and pepper until they were no longer raw-looking.
I added a splash of red vermouth and a splash of dry red wine and simmered for a couple of minutes. Then I cheated by dumping in a quart of my meat sauce I had thawed from my freezer stash. I suppose it's not really cheating; I'd made that meat gravy from scratch. It just seemed too easy. I then simmered the concoction for about a half hour. It smelled so rich and delicious and tasted even better!

I wanted to make this with dried porcini mushrooms and not have it so tomato saucy. But my man has both an issue with mushrooms and a strong affection for pasta with red sauce, so, you know, I have to please my audience! He's a customer who is worth keeping satisfied, for sure.

Don't be afraid of liver!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pistachio-crusted Cod

I made this for dinner last Thursday. Originally I had meatloaf planned for that night, but the rainy warmth called out to me for something less 'cold-weather hearty'. Plus, the man was feeling bloated, he said, and we really haven't been eating as much fish as I like to.
This couldn't have been more simple. I approached the fish counter at Whole Foods and asked for a couple fillets of cod. As I was perusing the selection of seasoned panko crumbs next to the seafood case, the fish guy said that the mustard variety went well with cod. But they were out of that flavor, and I already had the pistachio panko in my hands. He said a customer reported that the pistachio crumbs went especially well on fish with a layer of pesto underneath, so our dinner fate was sealed in that instant.

It could not have been more simple. I simply placed the cod in a foil-lined baking sheet, salted and peppered it lightly, then spread it with a thin layer of store-bought pesto, and sprinkled with the crumbs. Into the oven it went - convection set to 375 - until it looked done. (Sorry about that, maybe 20 minutes? I use my senses and not the clock to cook.)

Meanwhile, I made a pot of brown rice. I sauteed garlic, a shallot, and a jalapeno in some olive oil until it started to brown ever so slightly. I then added a splash of cider vinegar, some home-made chicken stock, and the brown rice. This simmered away for a while, and when it was almost done I threw in a drained and rinsed can of black beans.

The broccoli was simply steamed.

This entire meal was ready in well under a half hour with minimal prep work. It was light but filling, and the leftovers tasted great the following day!

I can't take full credit for the pesto-pistachio combo, but that's what it's all about - the give and take of bits and pieces that lead to the creation of your own thing - in cooking and in life!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fried Egg with Pesto

Fried egg w/pesto...
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Just thought I'd offer you a view of what I ate this morning, on top of some leftover brown rice and black beans.

In other news, my abs are really sore from taking a Pilates class last night - my first one in months. I used to go 4 times a week, but seem to have replaced that with spinning of late.

I do love the burn, however.

Hope you all are having a fantastic Friday and enjoying the brilliant orange maple leaves as much as I am.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

There are So Many Colors in the Rainbow!

I've been thinking about it for about a week - how many colors we can turn, both literally and otherwise. These thoughts came to me in that space between sleeping and waking one morning last week.

Red: Flushing, blushing, physical over-exertion, anger, fury, sunburn...

Orange: Too much beta-carotene ingestion (try eating pounds of carrots and see what happens)...

Yellow: Liver failure, fear, cowardice, also derogatory for Asian I think, which pisses me off...

Green: Envy, sometimes also associated with nausea, but I don't believe that faces ever turn green literally...

Blue: Lack of oxygen, face paint...

Purple: Extreme physical over-exertion, face paint...

White: Blood draining from one's face (induced by fear, illness, whatever), face paint...

Black: Moles, malignant melanoma, stuff the football players use under their eyes to alleviate glare...and face paint.

Yes, I am crazy. Thanks for wondering, and thanks for reading!

On a culinary note, I am roasting cod with pesto and pistachio crumb topping, simmering brown rice with black beans, and have already created a salad of Bibb lettuce, tomato, feta, spicy olives, and red onion.

Happy days are here again! A change has come.

And dear readers, feel free to augment my color cause list. I'm going to eat dinner now.