Monday, December 10, 2007


There are, sadly, those days that just start off wrong. Preceeded by insomnia and foreshadowed with a wrong number at 5am, the day dawns dimly. Noon comes, and you are hungry, jittery from the black coffee breakfast, and generally in a foul mood. What you should do is eat some soup and get back into bed, white flag waving, but that would just mean Tuesday would begin like a Monday--full of the undone. The alternative? Something befitting a cold, crisp winter day--a mix of flavors, a little bit rich but not so decadent that the afternoon is shot. Some modicum of nutrition can be good too...My solution? Introduce Mr. Waldorf to Sr. Lardon, a salad that is green and crisp, studded with tart pink lady apples, and surprising with little bits of bacon tucked behind its leaves. A sharp vingrette with mustard cuts the fat, and a poached egg on top cuts the vinegar. It is a meal in itself, or the beginning to the kind of meal that tucks you in at 8pm, fat and happy...

A head of tender lettuces--I used a mix of baby gem and red leaf, but whatever looks fresh will do.
One small head radicchio
Three slices of bacon (applewood smoked is nice)
One pink lady (or other tart and crisp) apple
Almost equal parts good olive oil and champagne or white wine or maybe even red wine vinegar
A spoonful of dijon or whole grain mustard, to taste
A dash of honey
Salt and pepper
As many eggs as people, the freshest you can find.

Serves 2-3 as a meal, more as a starter

There are two ways to do the eggs--semi-hard boiled if you are lazy, poached if you are ambitious. For the former, put your eggs in a pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off the water and let sit for 5 or so minutes. Do this when you are nearing the end of your salad making, or after you are done if it makes your life easier.
To poach, bring water to a boil with a little salt and vinegar in it. When you are ready to poach (JUST! before you serve) turn down the water to just the slightest simmer, crack one egg at a time into a bowl, and slowly and gently slide into the water. Cook for 2 min, then fish out with a skimmer or large spoon.

  • Slice the bacon crosswise so you get small pieces. Discard fatty ends.
  • Toss into a pan at semi-high heat and let bacon crisp and render. Stir occasionally.
  • While you are doing that, wash lettuce if unwashed and pat dry. Put into a large bowl.
  • Slice the apple in thin slivers. Toss into bowl with greens.
  • When the bacon is done to your liking, take the little pieces out of the pan and put on a plate with a paper towel to drain.
  • Drain off most of the bacon fat, then put the pan back on the stove on pretty high heat. Cut the raddiccio in four pieces and put into pan. Let the raddichio brown to your liking--the longer it's on there, the more mellow it will be, and the softer. If you take it off earlier, you will have a mix of textures--some bits cooked, some bits still raw and escarole-bitter. You choose. When they are done, take off the heat and slice lengthwise into ribbons. Toss into bowl.
  • In a jar with a top or a cup, put oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Shake or whisk to combine. If your eggs are ready or near ready, pour dressing over contents of bowl and toss. Plate, then put eggs atop--if poached, the yolk will get runny and good as soon as people bite in. If hard boiled, it is a nice counterpoint to slice the egg in half and put yellows up nicely on the plate. Finish with some freshly cracked pepper. Dig in.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Burrito De La Madre Del Dios (part 2)

Ehem. Let me begin by apologizing for my previous post, which, while unquestionably justified, was perhaps out of line with the spirit of the blog. Without further ado, here are the ingredients: You're looking for Texas Ranch Style beans in the black can with a picture of beans on the front. It's pivotal that you have the right beans as they are the corner stone of the burrito. The other ingredients are: Tortillas, Pace Salsa (medium), Swiss Cheese, and some kind of meat or meat substitute of your choice. When the burrito began I used Polska Kielbasa, but when I became a vegetarian I started using tofudogs. I now use fakin' bacon, but it's up to you. What you do is you take out that tortilla and lay it on a plate see? Then you open up that can of beans I was telling you about, and you scoop out precisely half of the can and put them beans right there on top of the tortilla. Then you kind of pick up two opposing ends of the tortilla and rock it back and forth so that you get a nice row of beans lined up all nice like a great wall dividing east from west tortilla. Oh I forgot that you can also use some rice if you want. If you're gonna use rice then you should cook some up and then line it up on top of the beans you know what I mean? So it's like every ingredient you put on is just building up the great wall higher and higher. Ok. So you put some rice on there maybe, but not too much, just enough to cover the beans, and then you put the salsa on top of that. You want to add a good deal of salsa on there. You'll thank me for it later, I promise! At this point there's not a lot of heat going on inside this burrito so I pick up the plate and stick it inside a toaster oven. Now if your toaster oven is like mine, the plate is not going to fit all the way in, so you just kind of shove it in there as far as it will go and leave the door open. Then you put it on broil, that way it's only heating up the top of the burrito and not getting your plate too hot. Alright, so it's kind of warmed up now, so you take it out and put you're fakin bacon in the toaster oven for a few minutes, and then line them up on the burrito wall. Then you put your swiss cheese on. A word about swiss cheese: I like to get the presliced square kind. That way, you just fold it over and you have two rectangular pieces that line up perfectly on the burrito wall! So now that you got that cheese on there, you're going to want to stick it in the old toaster oven again. Once that cheese is melted, you take the plate out and fold the burrito over the great burrito wall and place another two rectangles of cheese on top to secure it. Then what? Well, you stick it in the toaster oven again and wait for that cheese to melt. At this point the cheese is going to melt pretty quickly. Do you know why? Because as the burrito gets higher and higher, it gets closer to the little heat rod things in the toaster oven! Ok, so now the cheese is melted and you take it out and you look at it and you ask yourself does this look like a really awesome burrito? And if the answer is 'Yes, it does look like a fucking awesome ass burrito', then you eat it. And that's it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cheese Please

Homely Pies

I saw Waitress. And then I made pies. I don't bake, because that takes discipline. They came out, well, like pies only a mother could love. But they tasted pretty good...

Atop, you have peach, nectarine, and raspberry pie with a flaky cornmeal crust. To the side, you have the same, made of the extra, but its only a top crust. That worked well because this was one juicy pie. I should have broken down and added a bit of cornstarch, but no, had to be a purist.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A la Bernadetta

Of late I've been on a summer salad kick, particularly those of the sort that could be a tasty addition to things tossed on the grill, or a meal all by its lonesome. Another quality I look for in a salad is evidence that it will age well, gently mingling flavors, becoming more complex with the passage of days. These are the midlife partners of salads--dependable, varied, healthful. But moving on:
The latest sprouted from two bunches of broccolini that ended up in my basket at Safeway. They were green, fresh, and most importantly, a dollar a pop. I had nearly forgotten about them, thus, though not for the last time, wasting two perfectly good dollars in the name of a bargain, when I came upon another epicurean impulse purchase--the bags of artisan Italian bulk foods that I picked up at Rainbow a while ago: farro and cecci. Translation: spelt and Italian chickpeas (they actually translate to "grass peas," cute, eh? I thought so.) Faced with these orphans, one of my favorite of Angele's creations, "Pasta a la zia" someone or other, came to mind. Its a classic mixture of olive oil, anchovy, garlic, red pepper flakes, and broccoli, often served with orrichiette, little ear pasta. It also should be served hot, and gets rather gummy and less attractive the next day. I took the spirit of ol' zia whoever (zia=aunt) and created "insalata a la zia Bernadetta," in honor of my aunt Bern, who is looking for good things to make for lunch with veggies and legumes. I omitted the anchovy because when I went to open the tin it looked a little bocholistic, and added kalamata olives for their briny, salty flavor instead. I also tossed in a bit of arugula because I had it, and I thought the peppery taste would be good. Capers also came to mind, but alas, the cupboard was bare. Feta could make the whole thing more Greek. Do as you will...

1-2 bunches broccolini, heirloom broccoli, or the crowns of the regular stuff. I like a lot of broc.
1 cup farro (spelt), soaked overnight if desired
1 cup uncooked cecci soaked overnight, or one can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic (to taste, I tend to like it garlic laden), minced
Chili flakes, 1 tsp or more, to taste
8ish kalamata olives, minced
one bay leaf
herbs, if you like (I had fresh oregano, it was kind of nice)
Juice of one lemon

Cook farro and cecci, with a bay leaf, according to package direction. Farro freezes pretty well, so you may want to cook more to speed up your grain salad making at a later date. You don't have to soak the farro, but it cooks more quickly that way. Shorten the cooking time and taste if you do soak it.

Put farro and cecci into a large bowl

Blanch broccolini in boiling, salted water about 30 sec, then run under cold water.

In a large, cold skillet, put olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Turn on heat to medium, and let the flavors infuse a bit. I then poured off a bit of oil into a cup for later flavoring as needed, but I might have had a bit more than a 1/4 cup to begin with. Turn up heat a bit and into remaining oil, add broccolini and saute until it softens a bit and picks up the flavors in the oil. Salt to taste as you saute. Turn the vegetables into the large bowl, making sure you get any oil and little bits remaining back in the pan. Add olives, and squeeze lemon on top (you need lemon, you do, maybe even a spot of zest if your inclined that way). Toss together and taste, adjusting seasonings (more salt, more chili) as needed. If eating immediately, toss in arugula and herbs. If not (better to wait a bit) cover and put in fridge for at least an hour. When you are ready to eat, add any herbs you might like (stick to Italian flavors--parsley, the oregano was rather nice, mint would be a different route...could work...). Enjoy alone as a meal, or as a side to broiled or grilled fish with lemon, roast chicken, etc.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Summer of Squash

In keeping with the colorful and squashy mood of the latest entries, I have decided to add a tasty new recipe for your enjoyment. In terms of food nomenclature, I am not particularly fond of the use of "patties" along with loaf (in reference to the meat variety). Maybe that's partly because I am not fond of hamburger and for that matter hamburger patties. It sounds sketchy, unappetizing, and mysterious. However, this latest recipe is redemptive and has opened new doors to the world of "patties," or the preferred fritter or cake.

I first tasted the Zucchini Pattie with Feta in Sebastopol. After an endless day at work, defeating few hours of rock climbing, and a long drive to the country, Zoe, Rebecca, and I found ourselves feasting on these oval wonders made by Zoe's mom. The crispy browned outside mixed with the melted feta on the inside made for an excellent and tasty treat. And the yogurt sauce dollop on top made for a refreshing touch.

The great thing too is that you can mix it up, i.e Yellow Squash Patties with Goat Cheese. The world is your squash garden.


Coarsely grated zucchini (from about 3 medium)
Spice of choice
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
All purpose flour or breadcrumbs
Crumbled feta cheese
Chopped Italian parsley
Chopped green onions
Chopped fresh dill

Olive or corn oil for frying

Plain Greek yogurt

Toss zucchini and salt with a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Press out excess liquid and transfer to another bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add flour as needed so the consistency is on the drier side.

Fry in skillet over medium heat.


Good cold as well.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Anna Spencer Davies and I once got in the most ginormous fight because I was convinced that it was not "categories" but "categlories," and ritously asserted that belief in that way that I am at times known to do. I, in case you too are confused on that count, was wrong. No glory there. But anyway, this is just to say (oh WCW) that I may have eaten your plums, and you can now add LABELS at the bottom of your POST (I see all of you are posting like crazy, so this will be indispensible) so others can search by type of recipe. For example, "vegetable," "entree," "snarky comments a la dylan," etc. Play on, players.