Archive | June, 2006

Bistec de Casa Abuela

30 Jun

As a kid I thought it was perfectly normal to eat tofu with chop sticks, roll galumpkies with my grandmother, steal corn from the field behind the house, apples from the orchard down the road and pick asparagus from my mom’s garden (who would also threaten to turn my pet bunny into hassenpfeffer every time he pooed in the house, (which was fair, he was a stringy old hare) but don’t worry, it never happened, Bandit lived on to torture my dog for many happy years).

But let’s be honest, we didn’t eat the good stuff everyday, there were plenty of meals featuring hot dogs and mac & cheese and stuff purchased from the Schwan’s man. But even mundane meals usually had a special touch. Mac & cheese was always served with stewed tomatoes. It was years before I found this was not a universal. Our spaghetti sauce was made by my mom and I from home grown tomatoes.

One of my favorite things to help my mom with though was making homemade tortillas. She would knead the masa and then I would take a little ball and moooooosh it between the two sides of the cast iron tortilla press. I loved this process not only because it was fun but also because it meant there was going to be one helluvan awesome dinner that night. Maybe enchiladas, or mole, or, oh my god, could it be? Posole!

Head below the jump for a bit more random ramblings and the recipe for Bistec de Casa Abuela.
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Goats, Peas & Cheese

27 Jun

I was really looking forward to Friday night last week. Not for the reasons you’d probably think. No clubbing, no partying, actually, no, well, nothing. Yeah, the boy was going to play poker and my big plans were to cook something delicious, open a fabulous bottle of wine and sit on my butt and watch crap TV.

Doesn’t it just suck when life feels the need to mess with your plans? I was exhausted when I was finally able to leave work, it was 98% humidity, getting dark and ominously stormy. Rather than further abusing my already bruised brain, wasting time waiting in a line and lugging around heavy bags on the 2 mile walk home in the rain I decided it was time to have a little faith in my pantry.

This is what the pantry coughed up: Peas, orzo, garlic, vegeta, lemon juice, olive oil, and yes, leftover cheese (this time of the herbed goat and Parmesan varieties). Yeah, I could work with that!

I remembered being intrigued by a method of cooking pasta “risotto” style that was everywhere, but, rather than staring at a computer screen for the umpteenth hour of the day, I figured I could wing it, I mean, I can make some pretty serious risotto, how hard could it be?

The answer? Not hard at all, and insanely delicious!

I started with a glug of olive oil, some garlic (and yes, I was so tired, I used a garlic press), cooked off the rawness, added a few handfuls of orzo, cooked until they gave off a slightly nutty aroma, tossed in about a 1/4 cup lemon juice, stirred everything around just to be sure the orzos were absorbing properly and then just barely covered them with warm water, added a healthy pinch of vegeta, cranked the heat down to barely there, covered, and then headed to the wine rack to ponder my choices.

About 7 (or so) minutes later, I peeked under the lid, decided the little guys needed a stir and some more liquid and some peas. In they all went, on went the lid and I went back to contemplating my toes (there was noooothing on TV). Two more minutes, one final stir.

Goat cheese goes in bowl, orzo goes on top of cheese, more cheese goes on top of orzo, stir, sit down, relax, forget the day ever happened, watch Pride & Prejudice.

Yes, what started off an ominous evening was saved by leftover cheese and Mr. Darcy. Thank you Jane Austen!

Pillows Of Love

23 Jun

People who love food can have some pretty serious shopping quirks. Some, like lobstersquad, are just not to be trusted around kitchen gadgets. I am not to be trusted around condiments. And the boy? He is not to be trusted around cheese. He’ll stand in line (which is something he hates more than, well, anything) just to get the perfect mozzarella. He’ll indulge my traveling whims just to see the exotic cheese.

But one of the problems with this obsession is the leftovers. (Yeah, right, as if having leftover cheese could ever really be considered a problem!) Some people can get truly crafty with leftover bread, me? I can resuscitate any slightly past its prime cheese.

There was the most delicious pizza.

The most decadent cauliflower ever.

And more cauliflower (this time with peas and pasta).

Trust me, there have been more leftover cheese meals chez Granny Cart, but I didn’t write them up for fear that you guys might OD on cheese. No one wants their friends to die of a cheese OD! But this latest recipe, oh yes, this one, this one I had to put in front of you guys. It could not possibly be simpler. It could not possibly be more decadent or delicious or sexy or perfect or amazing. This recipe (if I even dare call it a recipe) could have only one possible name… In large, booming fight-announcer voice:

Pillllllllloooows Ooooooooooooooooooooooof Loooooooooooooooooooooove!

Yes people, pillows of love.

And what are these sexy little packets of joy?

Nothing more than chunks of the very best fresh mozzarella, wrapped in wonton wrappers and boiled for a few minutes just until the outside is all moist, oozing and gooey and the inside of the cheese is still slightly cool and toothsome.

I’m drooling just thinking about them again…

Store bought wonton wrappers are much silkier than homemade ravioli wrappers, and are only say, about 10,000 times easier to use!

Since it was ungodly hot the day I finally got around to making these little pockets of joy, I prepared a very simple salsa crudo, topped with some toasted pine nuts, and, just to gild the lily, some grated Parmesan cheese. It was too much.

What would have been perfect? The world’s simplest marinara. Or maybe butter (browned with sage, or just the best you can find). Or, oh man, some of the truffle pate (brought back from Croatia) I have stored in the fridge with a wee glug of olive oil. Doh! Why didn’t I think of that before?!? Ha, oh well, I guess I’ll just have to make them again.

Life is rough…

The Queens’ Salad

21 Jun

My friend V likes to refer to herself as Queen V as she shares the name of one of England’s famous rulers. I too share a name with a former Queen of England (she of the lace) but, well, V got there first, so, I have to make do with sharing my nickname with a comic strip and musical heroine. Sigh. No matter though since every woman is Queen of her domain, it doesn’t really matter who gets the cooler nickname… I mean, that’s so junior high!

As I’ve mentioned before, QV has quite the way with all things piscine. While we were all up in Vermont, she introduced me to her wonderful tuna pasta salad. Now, if you’re anything like the boy, you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “There is NOTHING wonderful about tuna salad.” And, you’d have every right to say that. It seems a lot of people had very early, truly traumatizing run ins with tuna in childhood. But, if you like say, tuna melts, or even salad nicoise, please give this salad (or your own variation) a spin. It’s easy as heck, light, healthy and darn tootin’ tasty.

As I was telling QV I had made her salad she sorta looked blankly at me and said “That’s not my salad anymore, that’s your salad now!” So, now I hand it off to all of you, to make it your salad (feel free to keep calling it the Queens’ Salad however).

Head below the jump to find out how to make the Queens’ Salad.

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heirloom·modern: Cold Tomato And Lemon Soup

19 Jun

Hello everyone, happy Monday! I’d like to introduce a new editorial feature today that I’m hoping will become at least a monthly, if not more frequent, feature. heirloom·modern is a way to resurrect forgotten recipes and give them a new lease on life. First up a cold summer soup from the Seventies.

Giorgio Sant’Angelo’s Cold Tomato And Lemon Soup

(Adapted from Food In Vogue by Maxime de la Falaise)

A few months back I picked up this book at The Strand . I thought it was cool, but I never really took it seriously until this weekend. Published in 1980 (back when Vogue had good food writers other than Jeffrey Steingarten) but containing recipes that go back to the ’40s it is broken down into two categories; recipes and menus that were features in the magazine, and a collection of surprisingly good recipes from celebrities (including a wonderful recipe for poulet a l’estragon from Jacqueline Onassis that will just have to wait until the weather is cool again).

This recipe comes from a menu created by the fashion designer Giorgio Sant’Angelo (apparently he was a favorite of Diana Vreeland) that showcases the flavors and aromas of lemons. The recipe as it was printed is barely a recipe. There’s ingredients that never get used, no measurements and steps that should be eliminated (as well as a few ingredients I felt should be added). If ever there was a recipe that needed (and deserved) a makeover, this was it.

What I came up with was easy, cooling and delicious, perfect for the first truly hot summer weekend in NYC. If I were to make this again there are four changes I would make. 1. I would add a rib or two of celery for sweetness. 2. I would make this only when I’m sure the onion I’ve just purchased that was marked “Vidalia” was in fact a vidalia. 3. I would use thai or lemon basil in place of the parsley as a garnish. And 4. I would eliminate the ice cubes completely.

I served this with a charcuterie plate and a lovely South African Chenin Blanc. Actually, at first the wine wasn’t so lovely, but the minute you tasted it after tasting the soup, the entire flavor profile of the wine changed dramatically. It mellowed and became almost buttery sweet. A wonderfully pleasant and surprising pairing.

Head below the jump for my version of this delicious summer soup.
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