About Me

My photo
on the downward side of the age mountain.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Follow Your Creativity Not the Recipe!

I found a recipe by Mark Bittman in the NYT that got me thinking. The article heading was, “For Moister Chicken, Tuck the Flavor Inside”. There were three easy techniques he used, an herb compound butter stuffed under the skin of a bone-in skin-on chicken breast. A boneless skinless chicken breast smeared with a tapenade lookalike and folded over and finally a Japanese inspired chicken breast wrapped around a scallion and cooked.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/dining/18mini.html?emc=eta1

It was Sunday and I wasn’t ready for a Japanese meal but I still wanted to wrap my chicken around a scallion. I stared into the fridge, willing an ingredient to jump into my mind. I settled on an appetizer spread we had eaten the previous night. It was a goat cheese, lemon, artichoke goop that was flavorful and would fit the bill. I lay the chicken breast out and cut it into thick slices and pounded them thin.Next I cut them into pieces about 3” long and spread them with the cheese mixture. A sprinkle of S&P topped a slice of scallion and they were ready to be rolled and tooth picked.

Now I had a dilemma. These were not neat and clean rolls, the cheese mixture had an ooze factor not found in the original recipe. So I did the next best thing and rolled them in flour, egg, and Panko. As you can see the “recipe” had taken a big morph.

Frying up these morsels took no time. They were juicy and fun to eat. I served them with chopped red and yellow tomatoes splashed with balsamic and chiffonade basil, haricot verts tossed with sautéed shallots and butter and a dessert of fresh peaches and almond flavored whipped cream.

Next time I really must follow Bittman’s Japanese version but until then I’ll be playing with this scallion wrapped chicken idea.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I was Bitten at The Bite

The Edge has many culinary events. Some to beef up the food bank, others as fund raisers for worthy causes. This past weekend it was The Bite; a food, wine, and beer extravaganza helping to raise money for the Special Olympics. We woke to a gorgeous day with a perfect al fresco temperature. Through the years this event has added “Iron Chef” competitions, culinary demonstrations and a good selection of haute and junk food.

After grabbing (and donating $) a glass of wine we surveyed the crowd. It’s never a dull moment on The Edge. Humans sporting flip flops and tattoos were rubbing elbows with their Birkenstock elders. Each clothed in their own fashion statement. The common denominator was the abundance of porcelain hued skin, even in August.

It wasn’t that we were hungry but why else should one go to a food event but to eat? NSSP wanted the haute. I wanted to bottom feed. His haute was sold out so we stumbled to a cheese steak booth. Next door cheese fries were giving me the come hither. We split up only to find that NSSP’s cheese steak line was moving faster than the fries. With sandwich in hand NSSP turned to me and consoled me with, “You really don’t need them.” He didn’t see the tear of disappointment nor read my mind that was screaming, “I want to gorge on cheese fries!” I trudged behind NSSP to a table to split our sandwich. I made a mental note in the future not to bring him to a grazing extravaganza unless he was ready for some serious chow.

Once slightly sated we ambled around the event, I had brought my camera (its first public excursion) to play with my new found photographic knowledge. It’s not hard to entertain me at food events I am a junkie for watching people cook. There was the giant paella pan, a bubbling flat cauldron of colors and smells.
Posted by Picasa
Skewers of shrimp, the usual Edge bento. My heart stopped. Tucked away, off to the side was a PB&J booth.

I have worked many restaurant lines and watched even more, but this one with its efficiency and simplicity of product grabbed me. I started taking pictures of the finished product when Photo Lesson 101 tapped my shoulder. “You need action! You need human involvement. Take pictures of people making the food!”

“But what if the pictures aren’t good? I can’t control their movement or the composition!”

“That’s why you have a digital camera stupid! Look, like, save, or delete.”

I snapped, and snapped and was having a great time, honestly I had no idea how the pictures would come out but I was working on the process.

I looked up and realized NSSP was on the other side of the booth.

I sidled over and was captivated by the owner’s sandwich savvy. A squirt of peanut butter a smear of jam, topping of bread and off the grill station for a toast up. I was salivating and damning the beef whiz sandwich we had just ingested.

NSSP turned on his charm and The Peanut Butter Guy was spilling his story. Eyes ever watching his crew and deftly executing his creations we learned that he and his partner came from Nevada seeking a better lifestyle and finding it on The Edge. They set up a PB&J food cart and are fulfilling a dream. Life can be so simple when you’re in your 30’s.

I mentioned that I am an open faced PB&J gal and The Peanut Butter Guy’s eyes lit up as he tempted me with a sandwich he was creating for a special such passion and love for a food product. Note to self do lunch at their cart before the rains descend.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

How to Take your Watermelon for a Walk

I love the Japanese! their sense of beauty and view of the world is unique. Who else could create Hello Kitty,Kabuki, and Samurai Swords?

Now those Amazing Asians have solved the problem of taking your watermelon to a party!

Hope your all are enjoying the summer!


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Me and my Virgin Oven

I’m sure my reading public (big joke) all knew that it wouldn’t take me long to break my resolve and fire up my Electrolux oven. She gave me the come hither look every time I nuked something in her poor cousin. I was horny for pizza and not the mediocre On the Edge kind. I wanted Queen ArtoEat’s version. I went to grab my pizza book…Only to remember that it was packed away with my Joy of Cooking collection. Rats! Not to be detoured I hoofed it downstairs to my used to be office that NSSP has commandeered.

Stroking the Italian section I found a Pizza cookbook by Rosario Buonassisi. The book had not made it up to the kitchen counter because it was more historical-“From its Italian origins to the modern table”. It would have to do. Perusing the recipe I had a sneaky suspicion that it was a bad translation. It just wasn’t right. Too much water, not enough oil, salt, and not a mention of Semolina 00 flour; no problem, I would remedy that.

I used to make my pizza dough in Vickie Viking but have recently opted for the manual method. Yes, it takes a bit longer but hey! It’s fun. Mounding the flour and making a hole I added the proofed yeast, water/oil/salt mixture and grabbed my fork to blend it in. I like the challenge of incorporating the liquid w/out breaking through the wall of flour encircling the liquid. It is the same technique when making pasta but this time the liquid has yeast added.

I couldn’t wait to fondle the dough and was soon trying to knead the mass. The problem was that the recipe called for more liquid than I am used to using so it was looser. Undeterred and with dinner looming I alternated with the addition of semolina flour and all purpose flour until it was a consistency I could knead w/a minimum of dough sticking to my hands. A smart tea towel protected the dough from the elements until it had risen.

I turned my attention to The Virgin Oven. What secrets did she hold? Would she bend to my wishes? Well first there was the humbling task of yet another locked keyboard, light swearing, and a fumble for the instant read card. The next challenge was that I wanted to remove one of the swank rolling shelves and add my less than pristine pizza stone (would that be o.k. w/ The Virgin Oven or a violation?)

NSSP wandered into the kitchen and seeing me in a compromising position fondling the rolling racks whispered, “When is dinner?” Surprised at the interruption, I nodded to the Card of Knowledge and he backed away mumbling that he would get a beer in the Man Cave.

Now my dough was pregnantly plump and ready to become my first offering to The Virgin Oven. I stretched, cooed, and ended up w/ a shell that would max out my peel and stone. Along the way I realized the dough was supple, forgiving and ready to hold my simple toppings of drained balsamic basil marinated tomatoes, chiffonade basil and fresh mozzarella. But how would The Virgin Oven perform? And the dough! I decided to invoke Julia Child’s mantra, play dumb and act like the pizza was just the way I wanted it to come out.

The surprise was- It was just what I fantasized!! Halfway through the cooking I looked at the puffy crust (like Angelina Jolie’s lips) and knew I had entered into a new level of pizza perfection! Then The Virgin Oven showed me her chops- Not only could I cook at 500° but her sliding rack gave me an aerial view of the pizza! I was humbled and psyched.

To hell with selling The Edge and keeping an antiseptic home! I want the Virgin Oven and me to rastle up some amazing grub and do the cooking dance that only a Chef and tool can execute. She’s mine and I love her!