Category Archives: Cooking

Green Soup: Garlic scape, English pea, scallion

I am a terrible soup maker. This is an amazing soup. You should make it. Go to your farmers market and pick out three green vegetables that look beautiful. Just three! Don’t overdo it.

This past weekend I noticed a pile of very beautiful English peas — something I don’t often find in the grocery store. Hunting around a bit more, I found wonderfully curly garlic scapes (the stems of garlic bulbs). They have a flavor somewhere between garlic and chives, and they are very crunchy. Rounding things out are scallions — both the bulbs and greens.

For this recipe I’ve tried to include actual quantities and cooking times, but on the other hand this is the kind of recipe that you can adjust to your liking without ruining the inspiration. Continue reading

Fried Chicken

A few years ago during a Christmas vacation I volunteered to do most of the cooking. I enjoy it. The guests enjoy it. It’s win-win. Overconfident in the previous night’s well-received steaks, I decided to go out on a limb and make fries to accompany hamburgers. I had never made fries before. I had never deep-fried anything. If anyone reading has attempted them, then you’ll know how foolish it was of me to not only go solo on a new technique but go off recipe as well. Imagine a shallow pan, several cups of olive oil, and a gas burner. Now imagine me dumping a giant portion of raw matchstick-cut potatoes into that. Keep in mind I have no idea what the temperature currently is or even should be. The oil immediately bubbled over and rushed towards the flames. I later learned olive oil is unlikely to catch fire in this scenario, but at the time it was very scary and more than a little embarrassing.

From that point on, I made it my quest to quietly perfect the art of frying. There have been some missteps along the way, but I’m confident now. To this day I’m afraid to try fries again, but I do have a foolproof fried chicken recipe to share. Continue reading

Great Steak

I was going to title this recipe simply “steak au poivre,” because that’s really what it is, but I wanted a slant rhyme. There, I’ve said it. I am not proud of myself.

Slant rhymes aside, a great steak is an excellent recipe to memorize, because invariably the need for one will arise. In my case, that’s whenever I’m alone in the house and can thus fill it with the smoky meaty smell of a giant unapologetic steak, without worrying about the dietary needs of others. In fact this is quite an easy recipe to follow, but I’ve gone perhaps a bit overboard in explaining. I wanted there to be a reason for each step, so that if you were tempted to skip or alter anything, you’d at least know why it was there in the first place.

Oh, and I’ll give you one cheat.

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Kitchen Disasters

It’s amazing what I go through for good pizza.

So I made a pizza last night, using a grocery gift card from a thankful houseguest. I was off work early and was looking forward to lots of elaborate chopping and dish-cleaning. Call me a cooking masochist. The final product was delish but a little too crispy. I remember thinking, “OK do the exact same thing next time but decrease by 5 minutes.”

It was the first time I had used the new pizza stone correctly. The last time it took like 35 minutes because I didn’t preheat the stone; I was pussyfooting around the hard part: moving a raw pizza skillfully onto a hot stone. This time it was only 15 minutes, which is an amazing decrease! Well, I cheated a little. Instead of making the pizza and sliding it onto the stone, I took the hot stone out and quickly made the pizza on top of the stove. I don’t think it lost too much heat in the 3 minutes or whatever it took.

But let me back up a bit.

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Food Torture Porn

Occasionally…OK, very often…Eats Meats West will accumulate miscellaneous sets of excessively close-up, unhelpful, or otherwise just plain bizarre photographs from various cooking adventures. Generally, the goal was to inform the reader, but somewhere along the way we lost our focus…and well, they come off as more than just a little horrifying. So we present to you here, those disastrous images that have fallen through the cracks.

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Salmon, Braised Cabbage, Fingerling Potatoes

It’s been a while since Eats Meats West last posted a recipe. Cooking is hard. Just kidding. Really, it’s been tough to find a new angle. No one wants to read yet another article about roasted chicken? Wait, that wasn’t a question…don’t answer that! So here we are, preparing uncharacteristic yet still altogether familiar ingredients: salmon, cabbage, potatoes — a sort of bridge meal through this lingering muggy summer. Ostensibly, the goal was to prepare 1) new, 2) simple, and 3) healthy (/healthier) meals for J, who either defaults to pasta of his own divination or instead requests yet another meat and potatoes option from me. This meal has potatoes? Oh right. But they’re simple potatoes. So to put it simply: chopping will be coarse, there will be no marinades, and herbs will be kept to a minimum.

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Seared Scallops and Shrimp, with Shiitake Black Rice and Fresh Zucchini

With a house guest in town watching the calories, Eats Meats West turned to its favorite marine invertebrates: scallops and shrimp.

Vowing to keep the dishes as simple as possible, I gave the seafood only the most basic of seasoning (salt, pepper, chopped mixed French herbs).  Sautéed shrimp are of course no big deal, and neither really are scallops.

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Scalloped Tomatoes

No matter how many times I write or say the words “scalloped tomatoes” I want to say “scalloped potatoes” because despite seeing this recipe on TV [and rare of rare things, followed it in real life] I still don’t think it’s real.  Pages and pages of Epicurious searches didn’t turn up a recipe, and the first search on Google indeed brings up the Barefoot Contessa recipe.  Loads of images on Google Image Search only corroborate the theory that Ina Garten is the only major contributor to the life of this dish.

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Roasted Chicken with Miso

I wanted to do a roasted chicken, but as that’s on the boring side of weekend culinary activities I also wanted to spice things up a bit (ugh, I just vomited in my mouth…Why do I suddenly sound like someone from the Food Network?)

Somehow I settled on the idea of a roasted chicken with miso, which is not a “miso-roasted chicken” because the point was to incorporate both the usual flavors of a roasted chicken with those you’d expect from a miso dish.  To me “miso-roasted” would be something that involves basically making a miso marinade and dunking the -insert meat here- in it.

Eight minutes into this thought process I decided I had invented the idea.  A quick recipe search revealed otherwise.  It turns out a ton of other amateur chefs have incorporated miso and chicken, but they all seem to settle on chicken pieces.  It’s as if their aim was to take Asian chicken wings and extrapolate them upwards, rather than start with a typical roasted chicken and hybridize.  I couldn’t find a recipe involving a whole chicken.

You’re welcome, folks.

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Pork Shoulder

I have called my mother literally 17 million times asking for the same pulled pork recipe, and without fail I always not only forget it but also consciously adjust aspects to fit my needs at the time.  So instead of pork shoulder or butt, I’ll use a tenderloin.  And instead of cooking for 6-8 hours in a slow cooker, I’ll simmer it for 3 hours on the stove.  The result is always something vaguely resembling pulled pork but with an asterisk.  Well, enough is enough: it was time to prepare [as close to] traditional [as I could muster] pulled pork!

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Blue Crab Boil

If there’s one thing living on the east coast has taught me, it’s that crabs just love amputating each other if it means the chance of escape. Well, I’ve learned other things, but most pertinent to this entry is the amputation thing. Maybe they’re upset because I was about to boil them to death. “Well stop making yourself so delicious,” would be my response. This time of year they’re super cheap ($15 for a dozen, though the two of us needed only six), but I still never think to go out of my way and find them. They’re always an afterthought. Anyway, J requested, and I delivered.

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Sour Cherry Vodka

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Spicy Shrimp

This is a simple preparation of pan-fried spicy shrimp, so I’ll go over just a few of the interesting steps — namely the marinade and the frying preparation.

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Rutabaga Parsnip Puree

What could have turned out to be a fibrous inedible mess was saved by the kitchen’s most racist accessory!

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Kale Chips

It’s that time of the year when your CSA unloads on you yet another pound of kale.  “Mmm, kale and beets.  I’m so glad I joined this CSA.  Nothing says summer like week upon week of beets.”  I don’t actually belong to a CSA, because in Brooklyn it’s like $600 a season, but it’s still the authentic feeling I get when I see kale.  Still, having 1) once again being smitten by the beauty of kale, and subsequently 2) realizing yet again “fuck, I have to eat this,” yet also 3) I need to stop being such a fatty queen; I decided to buy them and try kale chips.  It’s the best of both worlds!

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In which I try to explain Asian marinades whilst wine-drunk.

Oven-roasted broccoli and Roma tomatoes
Salmon filet
Asian glaze for both

I’m not quite sure if this salmon turned out overdone or just right.

The charring was limited to the skin and was obviously a result of the glazing.  That was the point?

And herein is where I attempt to explain my marinade, or at least, what my wine-drunk mind imagines the definitions of the ingredients used to make it:

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Clover Club, Prime Meats

Despite earlier setbacks Funny Nurse and I recently finally made it to Prime Meats (albeit with quite a wait…more on that later) for more than just chitchat with the maitre’d.  But first, FN and I donned our best drag makeup and headed over to Clover Club for a cocktail, as it was just past 5pm.  Clover Club was, as usual, not that crowded.

The waiter asked if we’d like to sit at one of the many tables at the front, which was swarming with – you guessed it – yuppie spawn.

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Roast Chicken, Zucchini, Gravy, Cheese Bread

Whole roast chickens are really not difficult at all.  I’m not sure why there is such a preoccupation with them, but maybe it has something to do with the perceived need to intricately dress and stuff them.  Literally the only stuffing ingredients for this chicken can be found on this cutting board.  A roughly chopped onion, some smashed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, a few slices of butter, and salt & pepper.  I generally prepare all of these things first, and I make sure to put the salt and pepper in a separate bowl.  This is to keep the prep area as clean as possible.  Yes, after touching the raw chicken I touch the onion, garlic, thyme, and butter too; and yes, I’m going to wash the cutting board anyway.  I just find that when rubbing the skin and sprinkling the cavity of the bird with salt and pepper, it’s a lot easier and cleaner to not have to deal with salt and pepper shakers.  You’re basically going to be fondling the hell out of the bird, and you don’t want to have to stop to wash your hands every time you need to crank…the pepper mill.

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Pumpkin Seed Shrimp, Snap Peas

Note to self: “Maine Shrimp” are red when raw, so when you see ‘em in the store and think you’re getting a ready to go shrimp cocktail, think again.  Won’t make that mistake twice!

In tonight’s Experimental Monday’s, we experimented with pastes, the logic of which being that a straight batter might be too overpowering for such a small shrimp, and yet a marinade might actually overcook the tiny shrimp (if it were acidic enough).  To me a paste is somewhere in between.

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Meaty, Meaty Breakfast

Mmm; meaty, meaty breakfasts are the best!  The more meat the better.  The meat in question being turkey kielbasa, which yes, is a bit of a cop-out.  After last failing to watch a hashclosely enough, we thought we’d give it another try here at EMW.  Plus, we’d received these nifty silicone poaching pouches for Christmas and needed an excuse to try them out.  Note to self: read directions first.  Apparently, you have to spray them with oil before cracking the egg, because otherwise it’s difficult to get the egg out.  Also, the oil possibly distributes the heat better.  I was a little scared to undercook these, and the tops looked so runny the whole time, that I actually overcooked them.  “Why is the hash in a ring formation in the pan,” you ask?  It’s definitely a neurosis, but some part of me believes the interior of the pan is just that much hotter than the rest.  You want the food to cook as evenly as is technically possible.  “Evenly” being the key word.  And yes, that is a cat hair.  They’re everywhere.  Get over it.

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Fried Chicken Sandwiches

When you have several liters of infused oil sitting around, you don’t waste it.  Eats Meats West believes in the power of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  They’re juicy, hard to overcook, small, cheap, and of course flavorful.

A batter was made with equal parts beer and flour, which was flavored with some cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.  Beer batter is such a good standby for dinner, because it doesn’t require multiple steps (flour –> egg –> more flour/other starch).

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Venison Burgers

It didn’t start out this way, a “Mis-Adventure,” that is.

Funny Nurse and I had recovered from the holiday break and came into some ground venison.

You know, like when your friend is like, “I have some venison I need to get rid of.”   Happens all the time.

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Buffalo Meat Loaf

No, that’s not a mirage; a recipe was in fact followed, for Eats Meats West has actually never put together a loaf of meat!

Perhaps not surprisingly, Epicurious lists this recipe in a group of simple healthy meals.  I was a bit skeptical about the side dish (roasted quartered tomatoes and shallots) since they mostly seem to just be along for the ride, but they were actually a great compliment.  Tomato [ketchup] is of course a traditional accompaniment to meat loaf, and I liked how this preparation didn’t try to fiddle with the basic flavor qualities of the fruit.

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That’s a nice way of saying the fridge was dangerously low on ketchup, but in all seriousness the added bonus of using shallots and tomatoes in a deep roasting pan (the recipe calls for shallow for some odd reason) is that when it comes to the deglazing those brown bits left over aren’t wasted.  I’m not sure why the author of this recipe instructs the home chef to deglaze with water, and not wine or even stock for that matter.  I feel like that would be too thin.  Plus, surely, you would pair this dinner with a dry red wine (which we did).  And if you’re wondering where we found the ground bison, so were we!  Luckily,Staubitz carries bison burgers in its freezer of horrors.

Stuffed Chicken Breast, Green Beans with Pepitas

A certain someone has recently suggested that I might want to actually describe how I cook these dishes (the nerve!), and maybe even post recipes.  This presents a number of issues, not the least of which is the general rule that I don’t use recipes.

I don’t use recipes.

It’s sort of my thing.

Wow that came out really douchey (which it is).

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It’s not at all to say that I’m a genius cook who can come up with anything on the spot; on the contrary, in my mind I have a very limited repertoire and often make bad – if not inedible – dishes.  And not using a recipe isn’t for lack of confidence in other cooks, it’s more so the issue of experimentation.  Meaning, I cook for lots of reasons, but above all it’s the experimental quality of home cookery that draws me back time and again.

Moving on…tonight’s two dishes came from Epicurious.com, my go-to source.  I skimmed the recipes a few hours ago, made a shopping list, and then put it together in the kitchen from memory.  Certainly, this strategy doesn’t work with baking, and sure enough I’m not a great baker.   But I find it’s a proven strategy for meats; once you learn how to site the correct temperature, you can fiddle with the herbs and vegetables surrounding it.  “Site the correct temperature?”  Wow, that doesn’t make any sense, does it?  I’ll try to explain my method in more detail in later posts, and it’s perhaps a subject for a separate day anyway.

In any case, despite my heavy investment in commercial-grade Calphalonpans, I’ve actually never shoved one in the oven.  This feature, being an unusual and major selling point for a nonstick pan, would surely have come up before – but no.  I decided to get over my fear that something dire would happen.  Perhaps the Teflon would sublimate into mustard gas.  Perhaps my face would melt off.  Who knows?  As long as you don’t go over the rated maximum temperature (in the case of Calphalon Contemporary, I think it’s 450 or maybe 500), there’s no problem, basically.  Of course, I’ve yet to clean this particular pan, but I’ll leave that up to the cats.

P.S. Pepitas (aka, pumpkin seeds) are SUPER RIDIC high in fat, yet they are commonly referred to as a healthy food.  This is perhaps for their high iron, protein, polyunsaturated fat, and blah blah other stuff content (which can be lessened when cooked).  Maybe someone could explain this to us.  I feel tricked.

P.P.S. It don’t hurt to have a sharp knife, despite the omnipresent threat of cutting your finger off when cleaning it, when stuffing a chicken breast.  Surprisingly, you don’t really need to worry about “sealing” the chicken flesh with toothpicks or something because it’s 1) already pretty sticky and 2) has a substantial enough mass.  Forgot to mention that.

Holiday Food Porn

There were just too many holiday meals to recount individually in detail, and admittedly this is more of an experimental gallery showing off Eats Meats West’s new Canon T1i.  The dishes (some produced in-house, others provided graciously by family and friends) included fennel seed-encrusted pork loin, mustard roasted red potatoes, horseradish sauce, peppermint ice cream pie, chicken Marsala, egg rolls, and strawberry cake.  So without further adieu, presenting the Eats Meats West Winter Holidays 2009 Food Porn Gallery:

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Brunch Calling

Sometimes you wake up, and you get that calling.  A calling to immediately make breakfast, as if you had been dreaming about turkey bacon, scrambled cilantro eggs, fresh Asian pear, and hash.  Today was one of those days my friend, and no amount of shaving for too long and subsequently burning 80% of the hash would deter me.  Longingly looking on from the nearby windowsill was Artemis, who despite her meowing, could not deter me from my quest.  Maybe next time, kitty.

Sausage and Peppers

In commemoration (adoration?) of MTV’s new and surely soon-to-be cult realty TV sensation, Jersey Shore, Eats Meats West is preparing what is plausibly its most straightforward dish yet: “sausage and peppers.”

As MTV seems to have yet post an official recipe (bitch), I can only glean the components and preparation.  Or perhaps these two are one in the same, and that’s it.

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Green Shrimp Curry

Funny Nurse and I experimented with green curry recently, and pictured here is the result.  I chose to go the shrimp route, whereas she opted for chicken and tofu.  Somewhere between claiming we didn’t need recipes yet relying on the back of the curry paste bottle (precariously perched on my fridge door – uncapped, no less), we came up with what was ultimately pretty passably Thai.

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Thanksgiving

Eats Meats West moved kitchens (OK…apartments) over the Thanksgiving break, resulting in a delayed feast.  The belated menu consisted of:

Roast Chicken (there were only 20 pound turkeys left)
Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Asparagus
Pumpkin Whoopee Pies

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Recession Special Casserole

The subtitle for this post would be Recession Special / We’re Moving, if I knew how to do that, because…well…both are the case.  You gots here your typical bottom-of-the-bag broccoli, chicken andouille, and scraps from three cheeses.  Fresh cipollini onions bring up the respectability factor…a bit.

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New York Strip, Scallion Garlic Shrimp, Mashed Potatoes, Macaroni, Asparagus

Eats Meats West teamed up with arch-rival blog, I’m all about the food, for a rare détente dinner – furiously but hastily thrown together in about two hours.

What may come off as a somewhat expected list of dishes should still be commended if not simply because of the sheer speed and efficiency with which it was accomplished.  The grocery bags were not even in the trunk before we started planning out the use of the limited counter space and four burners.

Upon return to the kitchen I instinctively tossed aside every utensil and spice from the stove before realizing that normal kitchens (unlike those in NYC) actually have space for more than two tiny pans.  What luxury!

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Brussels Sprouts, Baby Potatoes, Old Bay Chicken

The subtitle for my memoir is going to be “Brussels Sprouts, a Love Story.”  We’re finally at that part of the season when retailers will sell them still on the stalks.  Loves it.  Just throw them in with some potatoes (which are slightly smaller to even the cooking time), salt and pepper those bitches, roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then drop them down to 325 or 350 for about 40 more minutes.  The chicken breast is admittedly boring, but I’m trying out another recipe for Old Bay wings, which I’m blatantly stealing from The City Bakery.  More on that soon, hopefully.

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“So you had a bad day.”

$20 worth of cheese later…

…food coma.

Monkey Bread

OK so technically, J made this monkey bread, but that doesn’t detract one bit from its glory!  Let’s hope this becomes more than just a Halloween breakfast tradition.

One Girl Cookie

Funny Nurse and I hit up One Girl Cookie this morning for breakfast, and against all odds we accomplished said goal.  By “odds” I’m referring exclusively to rain, which in New York justifies nearly any lazy activity you can think of.  Delivery for lunch?  Sure.  Don’t exercise today?  Obviously.  Show up late to work and make lots of hurried, tiresome guffaw sounds throughout the day?  Guaranteed.  I was a little off the mark with the choice of One Girl Cookie for breakfast, not because they don’t do breakfast per se.  Rather, their idea of breakfast is – how shall I put this – healthy.  I was anticipating your typical egg sandwiches, made with some artisanal spin no doubt, but with fried eggs and cheese nonetheless.  Instead we both ordered yogurt with granola and stewed pears as well as a baked egg dish, which FN claimed had cream, though I wasn’t sure.  One of my yolks was runny (a plus), while the other was not.  We joked that next time we should just order a cake for breakfast.  (I wasn’t joking.)  Also, the family tree 4-panel painting in the dining area reminds me of Ilya Kabakov.  Or is it just me?

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Shrimp Spinach Fettuccine

Headaches lead to making fatty salty carb bombs.  Intending to make a shrimp appetizer the evening before, I instead stopped the dishes at three and threw the marinating (soy, mirin, miso, salt, pepper, honey, and shallots) shrimp in the fridge overnight.  I sautéed that with some fresh (OK, it was a little stale) corn and tossed it all with some spinach fettuccine.  Also butter.

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Leg of Lamb, Roasted Baby Red Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce

J gave the cranberry and lamb combo a good-spirited try, but in the end it wasn’t gelling with his pallet.  I can’t really blame him, since it’s a type of combination (tangy fruit + gamey meat) Americans seem to avoid except on holidays.  What’s up with that anyway?  Why are we comfortable with Ikea’s meatballs with lingonberry sauce, yet we never think to boil down some cherries for our steak?  Maybe that’s just it; the extra work.

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Anyway, I pulsed the lamb’s “stuffing” in a food processor until it was a mealy pulp.  I’m looking for the correct term but coming up blank.  “Stuffings” or “dressings” seem to normally be bread-based.  This was more of a fatty herb mixture.  I pounded the lamb and rolled it tight with the bacon/garlic pulp, cooked it at 450 for about an hour and a half, and then let it rest for fifteen minutes.  I was all prepped to make a pan sauce, but I let the drippings cook a little too long, and they burned as a result.  Next time I’ll pour off the drippings after about an hour so that there is something to work with.  The potatoes were pretty damn delish.  You can see in this image the honey-mustard glaze, pre-whisking.  I started them at 450 in the convection oven and then dropped them down to 325 after the outer layer was crisp (about an hour total).

Cafeteria, Raines Law Room

Yah, I’ve never been to Cafeteria.  LB was like, “I guess we could just go to Cafeteria.”  It was too dark to take a good picture, but let’s just say burger + fried egg + goat cheese + truffled fries = excellent beer food.  Later we checked out Raines Law Room, whose speakeasy stylings really hit you over the head.  I mean, if the signless doorway and shady bouncer weren’t dead giveaways, probably the tin ceiling and 20’s men and women painted profiles were overkill.  We got it!  Still, it was an extraordinary and surprising experience to be taken to the back where we were warned that the standing room space would be “tight.”  By that the bouncer apparently meant we’d have only a few feet between us and the next group.

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Sage Chicken, Zucchini

Just a simple fried sage chicken breast with zucchini sautéed with some of the leftovers from the previous night’s meal.

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Stuffed Spaghetti Squash, Pumpkin Seeds

Returning from an indulgent wedding weekend, I decided to take Experimental Mondays down a notch and roast a variety of autumnal vegetables.  One of the halves of the spaghetti squash is full of bits of brussels sprouts, pear, garlic, onion, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  The other half is similar but with baby broccoli, parsnip, garlic, onion, sage, salt, and pepper.  Oh, and butter.  Maybe not even enough butter, though.  The corn’s preparation was just to basically stick it in the oven whole.  I could have soaked it in water first, but I didn’t want to steam the kernels so much as get the temperature to a point where the starches start to caramelize.  I don’t think I really got there, but it was a valiant effort.  For dessert I toasted some leftover pumpkin seeds in honey and salt.  I would definitely make this again.  The spaghetti squash in is of notable usefulness since as your fork digs into the filling, it slowly scrapes away the squash’ flesh (which looks like noodles, as you can see).  On the other hand, it did take a fucking hour and a half.

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Asian Fusion Chicken Lettuce Wraps

By “Lettuce Wraps” I mean lettuce sticks that are too narrow to wrap anything.  And by “Asian Fusion” I mean whatever I had in the pantry.  It’s really just a curry powder-less curry with all of the other usual staples (lime, coconut, pepper, garlic, etc).  OK, there might be some miso in there.  Don’t judge me.  I gotta say, though, boneless thighs fall into a nice middle ground between chicken breasts (which, let’s be honest, are beneficial only in their easiness) and a whole chicken (which, while delicious, is obviously not always conducive to a 2-hour meal).  $2.15 worth of chicken thighs was a little too much for one person.  The orange bits on the plate are shaved carrots, and the other objects are pine nuts.  Pine nuts go with everything.

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Pressed sandwiches (various)

Too much cheese?

I’ve concluded that I’m not allowed to term these panini since they weren’t made in a panini press.  They’re george-foreman-lean-mean-fat-reducing-grilling-machine-wiches.  That rule doesn’t really apply to everything, I suppose.  I’m trying to imagine what to term the products of a chinoise.  Bloody for sure.

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Cafe Chilli

Shrimp & Chicken Dumplings, Panang Curry with Shrimp, Wontons (filled with indeterminate meats)

I’m working my Thai way up to the new Ghang outpost, which recently opened in the long-defunct Miriam (may she rest in peace) spot on Court Street.  I love that I couldn’t order my dumplings by naming their components; rather I had to use their official name, “Pretty Package.”

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Andoillie and romaine salad

Experimental Mondays took another week off to feature a simple romaine salad with a Dijon vinaigrette and a few slices of chicken andoullie sausage.

Crab boil, mashed potatoes

“Ahhhh, stop holding on to each other’s limbs!  You’re only making it worse!”

Why do they insist on making it harder for themselves?  I guess I should be thankful, since without the dismembering I would have nothing with which to flavor the clarified butter.  Thanks [murderous], dudes.  J suggested a good ole fashioned crab boil, and I didn’t disappoint.  The rule is that he orders and pays for the crabs, but I have to carry and cook them.  We visited no fewer than six grocery stores in search of the recipe’s stated 1/2 cup of Old Bay Seasoning.  Epic fail.  Luckily, I had stocked our spice cabinet with “creole seasoning” a few years back, which neither of us had remembered.  Before I moved forward with the meal, though, I offered J a taste test with the Old Bay Seasoning and the generic “creole seasoning.”  Yah, it took him two seconds to differentiate.  The potatoes are augmented with Cowgirl Creamery Comte, skim milk (because we didn’t have cream), butter, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, the aforementioned “creole seasoning,” and a ladle or three of the crab boil water.  Dear future house guests, our deepest apologies if you wake up in the middle of the night to find a fragment of crab exoskeleton clinging to your scalp.  It was out of our hands.  You see, without crab-specific tools (Christmas wish list if anyone is listening!), that shit was flying everywhere!  Perhaps the biggest surprise came in the form of a total absence of the cats.  Crabs count as seafood, right?  Maybe not in the eyes of the cats.  Even in the initial cleaning and subsequent murdering they had no interest.  YOUR LOSS.

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Bruschetta, miso-glazed shrimp

Mondays have really turned into experimental dinners lately. Tonight I gave J a break and made a whole grain bruschetta with some chevre we had lying around. The shrimp were an excuse to use the miso paste. “Shiro Miso” sounds a little like a character from Heroes. I bought the miso solely to have enough in my basket to use the credit card. Note to self: produce is cheaps! Oh, right, what’s in the miso glaze? Probably should mention ingredients in a food blog. That no one reads. Shiro miso paste, garlic, soy sauce, honey, table sugar, basil, jalapeno, and ground pepper.

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Bachelor’s Dinner: steak, Red Hawk, dandelion greens

Another J-less night, another GIANT steak, in this case a flatiron trimmed of the fat.  This time, I did the beef two ways: 1) the usual standard salt and pepper skillet plus oven preparation, and 2) cubed and curried.  I did this mostly because I’m not that great at cutting fat, so I was left with a few straggler pieces.  Once again, the greens were a throwaway, especially since I flavored them with some of the extra curry sauce.  What a mistake that was!  Dandelions should never be curried.  Make a note of that.  Also featured is another Cowgirl Creamery cheese.  This one’s the stinkiest yet: Red Hawk.  It reminded me of an Epoisses that lingered in the fridge too long, and truth be told I should have eaten this earlier.  It’s hard to say given its age if the slightly metallic aftertaste was normal.  Still, I quite enjoyed the flavor and texture.

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Chicken, Fig, and Goat Cheese Pressed Sandwiches, Brussels Sprouts, Arugula Salad

You’d think the pressed sandwiches (I’m intentionally avoiding calling them panini because I’ve decided the Italians didn’t invent smooshing stuff inside bread with heat and pressure) would be too moist, but they actually held up way better than my usual attempts at melding cheese with non-cheese.  I think next time (who am I kidding – I never repeat recipes, if you could call them that) I’d add a few pieces of shallot.

The bread is a standard Trader Joe’s brioche.  Having lived in France I’m of course not immune to the self-loathing we all experience when buying baked goods at a grocery store (Harris Teeter’s La Brea, I’m looking at you), but as far as locally available brioches go I don’t think those at TJ’s are all that bad.

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New York Strip, Endive Salad

“Kittie, get out of there!” Whenever J is out of town I make a giant, unforgivable steak.  And not like a tiny fillet. This is a huge piece of beef. The salad is mostly a guilt-reducing throwaway. I did add in some onions, blue cheese, some black things (olives?)…let’s be honest I didn’t bother to take an in-focus picture because it was all about the steak.  I took nine pictures of the steak.  Loves it.  The smell lingered into the next day, as it should be.

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