Chris cooks and Trenesa takes the night off…
You know why? Because it’s quick and I have no time to brush more than six teeth. Slice more garlic than you think. For one bunch of Broccoli Rabe, I use 5 cloves, very thinly sliced, and I fry them ever so gently with a few sprigs of roughly chopped of flat leaf parsley and two pepperoncini. If you only have red pepper flakes, just put in a few, once you turn the heat off. In a pot of boiling water, a third of the way full, drop a spot of olive oil and another sprig of parsley. Add a dash of salt, cut off the stems below the wire on the Broc. Rab and simmer, covered for about 8-10 minutes. I know that’s a long time and you might like it crunchy, but you know what? It’s not good crunchy. It’s good just as it begins to go tender–no mush–but no crunch. One piece orange polyester pant suits with a wide collar, flares at the bottom, and buttons that went all the way down the front seemed like a good thing too for a while, but what it was, was experimental.
Lift the greens out when they are done, and let them drain in a colander while you cook about 9 ounces of the best quality pasta you can buy (Manducati’s Rustica on Vernon Blvd. has some of the best opposite the cash register) until al dente. Save some of the cooking water from the pasta (don’t forget to salt it before the pasta goes in.) Combine the Br. Ra., the garlic, and the pasta in the pasta pot over a low flame, and give it a few tablespoons of the pasta’s cooking water to smooth things out, along with a handful of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano to zip things up. Taste for deliciousness, salt and pepper.
I have pizza dough rising in the oven for Ferdinand and Hotel for Dogs on the kitchen counter to remind Jonathan to take the DVD player with him when he meets Kelie and I downtown to tape the final segment of the Trenesa/Chris episode for Dinner Confidential. Friday night at the movies for Ferdinand is going to have to happen on location, because Mr. Daddy is also Mr. Camera Man. The laundry is done, the dishes are done, my house is swept, I have new mascara and I am SO NERVOUS.
I just have to calm down; I have about as much time for nerves as a mother between contractions.
To Do (before Wednesday) List:
*pack for Italy including aprons, cooking coats, music, class menus and snacks for the plane (for me) and car insurance
*make sure everybody coming from all points has what they need for getting to the house.
*convince all that they should pack/remove half of what they pack. No need for high heels or hair dryers
*don’t forget hat
*tape and edit (I am SOOOO excited!!!!!!!) final segment of Trenesa/Chris episode for Dinner Confidential
*start a new blog called backtobetty.com I know; it’s a lot with the taping and the editing and the leaving for Italy but I couldn’t help myself. I got a bee in my bonnet and I just had to do it. I’m going to cook Betty Crocker’s 1956 cookbook, one recipe at a time. I’m doing it for America. We need to remember what we forgot.
*call the dentist, or at least consider it
*rest or sleep or relax or something
If there are no eggs in the house, the milk was left out on the counter, the only leavening you own is freshening up your fridge, your coffee got cold in the cup because you forgot you had to take the dog to the vet and you volunteered to make 24 cupcakes for a second grade classroom birthday situation–do I have the recipe for YOU!
This is for 12 cupcakes. Double if you need 24:
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup of (european style is best but Hershey’s works) unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
Sift all of that.
In another bowl, whip together 6 tablespoons vegetable oil with 1 cup of sugar. Add 1 cup of the following mixture: 1/2 sour cream or yogurt and the other half part milk and part coffee. Stir in 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and whisk by hand, just to combine.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut squares out of parchment. Shove them into the cupcake pans, using the bottom of a glass. Fill the tins to the top.
Bake until the tops are firm and spring back when you touch them, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. This is critical.
For the frosting: 1 stick room temp. unsalted butter. If you have no time to soften, cut it into teeny weeny bits and whirl it around for a while in the food processor. Add 1 pound confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons of whole milk. Push the “on” button until it’s completely smooth. That’s it. Fill a pastry bag with a cup of frosting at a time and squirt a Hershey kiss sized dollop on top of each one. (Remember the kids are within four walls.) If you are missing the pastry bag, use a large ziploc bag by cutting a half inch off from one of the corners.
In the spice drawer:
whole fennel seed
whole coriander seed
red pepper flakes
In the fridge:
chile garlic paste
In the freezer:
chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
coconut milk (in an ice cube tray)
homemade chicken stock
In the cupboard:
really good balsamic
really good red wine vinegar
” sherry vinegar
excellent olive oil
pure maple syrup
black pepper corns
Last night I went out on a wobbly limb, driven by a box of tofu about to expire. I fired the oven up to 450 degrees, set it to broil, and moved a rack to the top slot. I gave a spill of grapeseed oil to a sheet pan and then squared off the tofu into 1/2 inch bits. I sliced a few shallots, and halved 3 cloves of garlic. I tossed every thing with a good spoon full of mild curry powder and everything that I smashed in my mortar and pestle: a petal of allspice, a few cardomom pods, about a teaspoon of coriander seed, the same of fennel, a dash of cinnamon, ginger and salt. One more toss so that the tofu was coated evenly with the oil and then under the broiler until starting to crisp. I soaked rice noodles in hot water to soften. In a saute pan: 3 cloves of sliced garlic, 12 leaves of fresh basil, 1 sprig of parsley until just going golden. Then a good spill of chicken (or vegetable) stock, reduce a bit, a swirl of butter and a good solid squeeze of fresh lime juice. Gave it a pinch of the chile/garlic sauce. Tossed with the (drained) noodles, the tofu, and lightly dressed and salted brand new watercress leaves.
Who knew tofu could be so good?
People are always asking me what’s on my list. I just came home from Fairway in Redhook.
2 whole chicken breasts (organic) 1 with skin, 1 without
1 pound minced (organic) beef
1 pound of tofu
1 1/2 pounds Parmegiano di Reggiano
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
1/2 pound whole milk goats cheese
1 pound of unsalted butter domestic
1/2 pound of unsalted French butter
2 half gallons of organic whole milk
1 dozen organic eggs
1 bunch fresh parsley (the rest of the herbs are in my backyard)
1 bunch watercress
1 bag baby spinach
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 head garlic
1 pound of (organic) strawberries
1 pound of (organic) carrots
1 box jolly green giant baby peas
2 pints Ben&Jerry’s full fat ice cream (1 fossil fuel, 1 vanilla)
2 1/2 gallons tropicana oj
1 gallon grapefruit juice
1 small (naked) green juice
1 box kashi cereal
2 pounds of Pasta- 1 specialty brand, one de cecco
1 can san marzano tomatoes
1 loaf Eli’s 9 grain bread (I slice it, freeze it, and toast it when I need it)
1 pound Lavazza espresso (my fav is Illy, but it costs.)
1 box blueberry Celestial Seasonings Tea
1 bag pretzels
2 chocolate bars-1 cadbury, 1 lindt
1 pound of jasmati rice
1 pound of pencil thin asparagus
1 box of German beer (been in business since 1496)
I forgot: saffron threads and cake yeast
There was no evidence of volcanic activity simmering beneath my surface yesterday. In fact, I could have easily stayed on the couch pondering the possibility of lifting an arm close enough to the paper to turn a page. No matter if you point a family in the direction of cereal boxes for breakfast and Found Food for lunch, at dinnertime, it’s time for dinner. They rise up like a synchronized swim team looking for something assembled and hot. I figured I should move on it early. The best thing to do in these situations is to make something that’s going to hold and anybody can put together once it’s done. That way, if the bed calls you home before 7 say, you’re covered. I cut up new potatoes with thin skins and tossed them with olive oil and salt. They went on the left of the sheet pan. Down the middle, thin wedges of shallots, tossed the same. On the right, peeled red beets, cut into wedges same as the shallots, tossed with olive oil and kosher salt, same as the shallots, same as the potatoes. No need to think, just set the oven to 425 and set the sheet pan in there with the timer on for 30 minutes. If it’s not all caramelized and tender the way it should be, give it another ten. Meanwhile, get out out a cake pan. Give it a little spill of olive oil and a few more roughly chopped shallots, a few whole cloves of garlic (no need to chop), a whole sprig of parsley and a few sprigs of that fresh thyme I know you have growing on your window sill. Unwrap a skinless whole chicken breast on the bone. Season it with kosher salt all over and give it a grind of pepper. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a cup and whisk in a few teaspoons of dijon mustard with a fork. Spread this all over the top of the breast and set the breast onto your bed of shallots and garlic. Drop a few more thyme sprigs and few more halved cloves of garlic over the top, and set it in the same oven with the vegetables until it is no longer pink close to the bone, but just. Make a mustard vinaigrette by putting a teaspoon of dijon in a jar, a drop of pure maple syrup, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a swoosh of red wine vinegar. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a grind of pepper. Lid on, and shake. Whenever the people are ready to eat, shred the chicken, toss leaves of arugula, fresh basil, chive and parsley with the vinaigrette and taste for salt. Toss loosely, the roasted vegetables with the chicken and the greens. That’s it. At anytime. Write a note that they should leave some for you in case you wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
I’m going to Italy to teach in a few weeks, and I’m going to be gone for 18 days. Guilt has entered my bloodstream and is flowing freely through my veins.
I have offered Ferdinand a new “Don’t Forget Your Mother” program called “A-Dollar-A-Day.” For everyday that I am teaching/cooking from sun up to sun down across the ocean, Ferdinand makes a dollar. His answer to it: “it’s too bad you couldn’t a stay in Italy a little longer, Mom.”
I accomplished my goal of reducing his stress, but it wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. So I am going for the WOW factor.
I’m making Popovers.
I think I might serve his with what will be very much like the inside of a chicken pot pie. I want mine with snail paced scrambled eggs stirred in a saucepan over a simmer of a flame, with a few shavings of Gruyere, and a side of oven roasted wild mushrooms.
(Be sure your popover pan is HOT.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees; butter the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes in there. When it comes out, paint each cup with butter. Have all of your ingredients at room temperature, including the melted butter.
1 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of melted butter
In a blender, or using hand held beater, combine all of the ingredients; blend til smooth. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes UNrefrigerated. (This is when you want to get the empty pan in the oven.) Bake for 25 minutes without opening the door. Don’t even touch it. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for another 15 minutes. (this is when you want to get the whole rest of the dinner ready, so that when those puppies are out of the oven, you are ready to sit down and eat.
What I love about a 7 year old is that after you have been standing in front of the refrigerator for a good 10 minutes with the door open, waiting for somebody to pop out of there in an apron and a hair-do and say “Hi honey, I’m here to make dinner for you and your family”–you turn to your child and say, “We’re having burgers” and they say, “YES!”
Buy chuck–it’s juicier. I like to cook it on one of those iron pans with the grill creases. If you buy sirloin because it’s leaner, then add just a dribble of heavy cream, which will be nothing compared to the fat you’ve saved by changing cuts. Form the burgers without a lot of handling–it makes them tough–and salt on both sides with kosher salt (add pepper later.) Heat the pan up before the burgers go on and add a spill of olive oil so that you get a nice crust. I like to spoon a little butter over the burgers as they cook, but instead–and I’m talking teeny weeny here–you could just slap a teaspoon of frozen butter onto the top of each one, and it will melt into the meat all on it’s own. One burner over, get a pot of cold water ready with a good pinch of kosher salt and a splash of olive oil, and add cut up Yukon golds–if they’re new, no need to peel. Simmer gently until tender, then lift them out with a slotted spoon. Using the same water, add a head of chopped up broccoli. As soon as it is screaming green, get it out of there and pour out the water. Drain the broccoli really well-no fooling around. To the pan you just dumped the water from, add a tablespoon of butter (or so) a, spill of olive oil, a few sliced cloves of garlic, a sprig of fresh parsley, and your broccoli. Season with another pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper. Out they come. Another bit of butter and olive oil into the same pan, and in go your potatoes. Bang them around in there and season with salt and pepper. (They are beautiful with fried fresh mint and a swizzle of fresh lemon juice if you want to go crazy, but I’m just trying to stay basic here.)
And that’s it. If you have it in you, you direct the others to scoop some ice cream.
Who won the Queen of the Compost prize last night? That’s right–Faye Delicious. I saved every leek root, asparagus peel, artichoke leaf and mushroom stem from the job and lugged it back from Manhattan in recycled grocery bags to my farmette in Queens. I couldn’t find Ferd’s flashlight, so I had to wait until this morning to dump it. No idea how long this bout of goodness is going to last–there is always the possibility I could start chain smoking and hanging out in curlers, bad lipstick and a house dress.
I stirred the whole thing up–that’s what they tell you to do–and it looks pretty good.
Except for making myself a lunch of Tre Colori Rice (red, brown and wild) with a dijon and fresh orange vinaigrette, toasted almonds and fenugreek infused picholine olives over a bed of sassy arugula, I have been useless today. Not even dressed and it’s 3 o’clock.
I have to remember if I’m working a job cooking soup to nuts for 15 I have to start a little earlier than noon–I’m too young to smoke.