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Wednesday

10 Feb

It’s snowing here today.

I’ll be heading out to work in just a minute.

I’m crossing my fingers for pizza.

Stay warm.

Head below the fold for a few additional photos and a salad that is worth making any day, not just on a snow day.

The Osprey

19 Sep

I spent Saturday chasing, and being chased by a hunting osprey.

I think he was migrating.  He never looked totally comfortable with the perches he chose at intervals on Kinderhook Lake.  Sometimes he would take a break and watch me in my little blue kayak.

I like to imagine that he was trying to figure out why this floating, bobbing thing insisted on peering at him through the viewfinder of my camera.

Other times he would tail me as I headed for another nook of the lake.

And then twice I watched him dive ohsoveryquickly and surface from the water with a silvered, squirming fish between his talons.  Then he would fly off to another tree and feast on his treat before tailing me again.

It was a very good afternoon.

“Toast” For Dinner

3 Oct

I did something on Sunday night that I haven’t done in years. I cooked something, note for note, from a recipe from the Food Network. Wait, that’s not quite true. I cooked two things, note for note, from two recipes from foodtv.com.

Allow me to explain.

onions on toast

On Saturday morning I woke up kinda early and aimless, so I tottered out into the living room (I hate mornings) and turned on the tv. I don’t quite know how it happened, but somehow I got sucked into watching Tyler’s Ultimate. Now, to be sure, this was no attempt at trying to deduce whether Bill Buford‘s right or wrong, this was simple, brainless tv-zombie zoning out. But then again, it wasn’t.

Tyler Florence can actually cook. He can chop onions really fast and not cut his fingers off, a skill which indicates a long history of chopping onions and means someone has done their time as a peon in a professional kitchen.

But, he’s also kind of annoying both in print and on tv. He has a certain character trait that I sometimes worry I have too. It involves being in your 30s yet sometimes talking like you’re in your early 20s, inserting the word “like” into sentences a lot, using kinda faux surfer slang (and the word kinda) and allowing boring, flacid adjectives to slip out while trying to describe something you’re very excited about. These are the things that make Tyler annoying.

But, I repeat, the man can cook.

Unlike the original Tyler’s Ultimate (which I always dug) where he would travel around the world looking for the best way to cook something, this show is all about cooking at home. The episode I caught was Tyler’s Ultimate Shrimp Scampi.

And may I indulge in a quick aside? Thank you.

No one should actually eat shrimp scampi. Strike that. No one should eat shrimp scampi unless it’s made with the very best shrimp. Come on America, wake up! Shrimp are kinda nasty (see, there’s that word again), especially the shrimp that are commonly available for sale at the local mega-mart, frozen, previously frozen or possibly even already cooked. They’re not suitable for consumption. So don’t. If you feel the need to make this scampi recipe, make it with something more flavorful, like bay scallops of dry dayboat scallops, or medallions of monkfish. You can thank me later.

Sorry for that, because, of the three recipes Tyler made on his show, the scampi was the very last one I wanted to talk about. What I really wanted to draw your attention to are the sides from this episode: Caramelized Onion Toasts and Broccoli, Parmesan and Lemon. These are the things that caught my eye and what I ultimately (heh) made for dinner on Sunday night.

The onion bruschettas (I refuse to use dumbed down Food Network speak and call them toasts) were sublime. I cannot wait to mix the leftover onions with some pasta for a quick after work dinner this week. They were sweet from the long slow cooking, savory from the anchovies and deliciously salty from the olives and cheese. If we ever move into an apartment big enough to have a dinner party in, this will be my passed hors-d’oeuvres, no question. This would also be awesome as a pizza topping, or a tart topping, or heck, just bathe in it, it’s that good!

The cauliflower (I substituted it for broccoli given our household’s predilections) was good. Nothing special, but really darn good. The sprinkling of lemon juice at the end is pure genius, it really lifts the dish from something run of the mill, to something rather special. And if you eat the cruciforms over a bed of mixed greens, the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and cheese mix to make a darn tasty salad dressing.

I was very impressed by these dishes. They were easy as pie (actually, far far easier than pie) and super tasty.

The evening was completed with a dessert of Financier‘s macarons. They’re probably not as good as Pierre Hermé‘s insanely famous pastries, but at least for now, I finally have some inkling as to what all the fuss is about!

Head below the jump for the recipes for Caramelized Onion Bruschetta & Cheesy Lemon Cauliflower.
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Clam Clam Clam Clam

21 Aug

Lovely Claaaaam! Woonderful Claaaaaam!

Sorry, woke up with a craving for some Spam. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here).

I love clams almost as much as I love stupid Monty Python sketches (Helloooo Polly!), and that’s a lot!

I love steamers. They’re the Graham Chapman of the clam world.

I also love the funny two-necked Adriatic clams we had in Croatia. They’re the Michael Palin of the clam world.

But my very favorite clam is the Little Neck. They’re the John Cleese of the clam world for sure!

My very favorite place to get my very favorite clams is at the Union Square Greenmarket, but it’s never easy. The stand on the west side of the park often sells out very early on Saturdays, a day I tend to be rather lazy.

So when the planets align and I do manage to get my paws on some Clammity Claaams! Wonderful Claaaams! I get rather happy schmappy.

The last time this happened I brought my Little Necks home, purged them and then threw them in the oven to roast. When they were all nice and bacony (clams are the bacon of the sea) I pulled them out of their shells and added them at the very last minute to a lovely risotto. Good times people, good times!

I was happy as a clam.

Head below the jump for John Cleese Risotto.
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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!