Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

pigAfter the jihad flattens American culture, we’re going to regret the end of barbecue. That became clear last week. The Wife and I travelled from Jacksonville, FL to Louisville, KY and back. To make the road trip palatable, we turned it into a brief tour of barbecue establishments in northern Georgia and Tennessee. Besides Texas, Tennessee and the counties of states in the vicinity of Tennessee house the greatest barbecue joints in the country. Should you ever make it to this part of the map, here are some places of note:

Pig N Chik (Atlanta, Ga): The Pig N Chik is worth visiting for their mustard sauce, which goes brilliantly with their brisket. The pulled pork was a little bland, but at least it wasn’t shredded in the manner common to chain barbecues. The biggest downside to the Pig N Chik is that it’s in Atlanta and you have to deal with Atlanta’s distinctly anti-human traffic. Plus it’s in a strip mall.

Martin’s (Nolensville, TN). Good God, I love Martin’s. The Wife and I shared the Big Momma Sampler of ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and brisket. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten that much meat, but I felt fine afterward. Even Thanksgiving didn’t make me grin so gluttonously. Nolensville is a little outside Nashville. If you’re willing to travel a short ways into the Tennessee country, you’ll make your belly happy. I shall return for their redneck taco.

Stone House Q (Nashville, TN). The Stone House Q is a lovely place, particularly if you love sausage. The sampler is designed for one person, but that person is extremely large. The Wife and I were able to share one with more than satisfactory results. The Stone House Q was the only restaurant we visited which served sausage on their sampler. It was too salty for The Wife, but I dug its secret sweetness. They also served the best baked beans of the lot, if you’re actually interested in sides.

A road trip really is the best way to feel American: much better than waving a flag or voting or attending a ball game. This country has such fine and varied geographies and cultures and cuisines. I get reminded of that any time I travel by car. Even Tennessee, maybe especially Tennessee, whose college and pro teams play a brand of football that is as inept as it is unattractive, whose hills are likely replete with inbred thousands if not millions, has a unique beauty to offer. I’ve seen similar beauties along the gulf coast of Mississippi and the badlands of South Dakota, places too many folks take too many pains to avoid. But go there. See those lands. Taste those foods. That’s how you can connect to this country at the physical level. The real thing is much better than that fool Kerouac could ever describe and probably, now that I think of it, too strong for al-Quaeda to end.

Leftovers

Posted: July 31, 2012 in cooking, marriage
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Note: this post may offend the hungry. In my defense, everything that involves food on this blog represents my anti-hunger stance. Also, I’m talking about leftovers, okay? Also, I don’t do that phony liberal conscience stuff.

On Sundays, The Wife and I stock the fridge. To make room, I sometimes throw food at a pot and see what happens. Last Sunday, this happened:

It’s as good as it looks.

Here’s what I used:

1lb andouille sausage (you could and probably should use Italian sausage)

1 cup of chopped green peppers

1 cup of chopped onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

4 cut mushrooms

13 cherry tomatoes (if you’re making it straight, you might use diced tomatoes)

1 tbsp. oregano

1 cup tomato sauce

2/3 cup heavy cream

On medium heat, saute onions and peppers for three minutes. Add the garlic and oregano. In a minute, deglaze with white wine. Add the sausage. Cook, stirring regularly for six minutes. Add mushrooms. Stir, man! Cook till mushrooms are nice and soft. Add cherry tomatoes and tomato sauce. When the sauce is hot, add the cream, and stir as though God or your version of The Wife waited at the table. She is not impatient, so don’t go crazy. Just stir with love till the cream and sauce are mixed and warm. If you like, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over it. I set the cheese on the table, because the wife likes to add it herself.

Do I have to tell you to serve over pasta? I mean, do I?

Love and Wok

Posted: June 20, 2012 in cooking, marriage
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Marriage has two purposes: to join two souls in perfect union and to stock a kitchen with kick-ass gear. My best man and his wife, for instance, bought us a wok. I tell you that I love this wok. Add it to my list of loves.

Last night, I used the wok to prepare bowls of orange chicken. I didn’t need the wok, exactly. You can use a sauté pan if you like. But the wok is mighty. It demands faith and regular use. Lately, I’ve begun several new relationships.

Like many non-white American dishes, orange chicken might seem fancy or beyond your skill level. Honestly, though, it just requires patience, organization, and timing. Try to remember that a shit version of orange chicken is served at Panda Express. If that fool can do it for minimum wage, you can too.

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons of orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup of soy sauce

1/6 cup of water (This depends on your taste. You might want more water to cut the soy flavor. If so, watch out how much sauce you actually add to the chicken, because you don’t want the meal to be too saucy.)

Tablespoon of red pepper flakes

Tablespoon of chopped or minced garlic

Green onion to taste

Tablespoon of honey

½ tablespoon of ginger

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan. Cook at medium temperature. Slowly stir in other ingredients. When they mix (liquids will have blended together), turn heat to medium-high. When sauce boils remove from stove.

For the chicken

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bell pepper (You could use half a green and half a red, too. If you want to go super veggie, add another half a yellow pepper), roughly diced

1/3 onion, roughly diced

1 tablespoon black pepper*

1 teaspoon coriander

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 cut-up chicken breasts

Flour

Coat the chicken in flour and spices. Cook pepper and onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil at medium heat. Set aside. Cook chicken halfway through, then set aside. Wipe excess flour from wok. Add second tablespoon of oil and combine chicken, veggies, and sauce. Turn heat to low. Sauce will reduce and chicken will cook through. Serve over rice. Duh.

*Note the absence of salt, though just about every recipe you’ve ever read called for salt. Dude, salt is a fine preservative and heart-clogger. It is not necessary to add salt to every meal, especially not a meal that includes soy sauce. Try the dish without salt. If you need salt to enjoy it, you have the discriminating taste of a raccoon.

Note: I would’ve taken a picture but, um, we ate.              

                Let me speak on behalf of shrimp, my fourth greatest love.  Fellow Jews call it trafe, but shrimp is our perfect food.  A jumbo shrimp is an ounce or so of protein in a protective but not impenetrable shell. It can be cooked any way you like: grilled, boiled, fried, sautéed, seared, etc.  It goes with any sides.  It can be enjoyed hot or mild.  Almost any cooking spice will reveal a new, fine flavor, though I don’t recommend nutmeg. 

                More than fish, crabs, bodybags, corrupt cops or the smell of piss baking in the streets, I associate shrimp with New Orleans.  They make me stupid with nostalgia.  I remember eating them by the pound at an age when I didn’t eat.  Every so often, Dad and I used them for bait.  I’d rip off the head and stab it with a hook.  Simple psycho fun for a kid, much more fun than fishing. 

                Last night, I made a shrimp etoufee for the fiancée and our neighbors.  We went for middle class nuttiness, folding napkins, pulling out the china and crystal.  The neighbors brought over some good wine.  Briefly I though just how nutty this was: creole dishes go with beer and whatever you’ve got around.  This is food for just folks.  But it was a pleasant nutty.

                Shrimp can be ruined: just keep cooking the fuckers and you can make useless rubber on your stovetop. But an etoufee is pretty easy creole. If you’ve got fresh shrimp, rice, and a hell of a lot of butter, you’re in good shape.  It’s the last night of Passover, you should obviously try out this recipe, which I ripped off from Emeril.

2 lbs. fresh large shrimp

2 onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 sticks celery, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

Half a stalk of green onions

A generous helping of parsley

Salt (to taste)

Cayenne pepper (to taste, start with a teaspoon)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon flour

1.5 sticks of butter

                Get your sauté pan hot on medium heat.  Melt the butter. Halfway through the melting process, add the onions, celery, and green peppers.  Cook for about ten minutes, till the onions and celery are translucent and everything’s got a buttery sheen.  Add the garlic and cook about a minute or two.  Then add the shrimp, salt and pepper.  Cook till the shrimp start to turn on both sides.   This should take about four minutes.  While they cook, mix the flour with the water.  Add to the pan and stir.  When everything starts to thicken, turn the heat to medium low.  Taste to see if it’s peppered to your liking.  Add more if necessary.  Let this cook 8 minutes.  Then add the onions and parsley.  Cook two minutes.  Serve over rice.  For sides, French bread and soft butter.