We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, May 28. 2015
Wednesday, May 27. 2015
I love regional Italian cuisine - all except the Neapolitan (except for their world-class desserts). We have dined on local fare in Italy from the Alps and the Veneto down to the southern tip of Sicily.
Sicilian fare is as different from Southern Italian as Southern Italian dialect is from Sicilian. Sicilian food was heavily influenced by the Greek invasion, the Moslem occupiers, then the French Norman occupiers, then by the real French, then the Spanish. Never was part of Italy until recent years and it still is not, really.
Raisins, pignolis, wild boar, sardines, risotto, couscous, eggplant of course, Pecorino, lemons and blood oranges, pomegranites... and octopus. I love that Sicilian food.
You would be hard put to find this quality and variety of a Sicilian menu in a single restaurant in Sicily itself. Their Timballo looks amazing. Check out the menu just for fun. It's the real deal: Bar Eolo. 190 7th Ave.
I happen to love Borscht, but I never make it, Mrs. BD has never made it, and I've only seen it on the menu in the old Russian Tea Room. My Mom, Yankee WASP that she was, would make it to please my Dad. A refreshing cold soup.
Everybody knows how to make Harvard Beets. They are just sweet-and-sour beets, but on a bed of buttercrunch lettuce it's a salad.
Another one, to put on tasty lettuce: COLD BEET SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE & SUNFLOWER SEEDS
And a final one today (as pictured): Roasted Beet Salad with Mint
Friday, May 22. 2015
An Italian classic and a Maggie's HQ favorite. This recipe calls it an antipasto but we use it as a secondi.
Capers are a good garnish, also sliced baby gherkins.
Marcella insists you only use canned Italian tuna, but...
Saturday, May 16. 2015
That's real Italian cooking.
Continue reading "The “first-class” experience “costs an arm and a leg”, but “you get what you pay for”"
Saturday, May 9. 2015
Mother's Day breakfast. Make a good mess in the kitchen! Don't wake up Dad either.
Who knows, she might even decide she likes you brats. Real Maple syrup with it, on the side.
Friday, May 8. 2015
It may be a phony Capitalist commercial day invented by Hallmark to sell their stupid cards, but we Americans are generally forced to observe it now. That's ok, but every day should be Mother's Day (and Father's Day too). It's #6 in God's Ten Suggestions.
We'll have 3 mothers here for lunch, along with misc. other family. I'm cooking of course, but maybe a daughter or two will lend a hand. Darn well had better do, with 10 or so of us here.
My simple rustic American menu:
Grill: A few fat one-and-a-half-inch thick Costco ribeyes - or maybe butterflied lamb
Creamed spinach and/or grilled vegetables with olive oil. (I usually grill onions, sweet peppers, yellow and green squash, mushrooms, maybe some asparagus or eggplant, and toss in a bowl with oil, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper.)
A Trifle for dessert, with Bird's Pudding (but no sherry, rum, or Riesling to flavor the Pound Cake - makes it better but we have some careful teetotalers and kids). Somehow, I have two large English glass trifle bowls. (For a very large crowd, a punch bowl works well but it takes a lot of stuff to fill a punch bowl and it doesn't really fit in the fridge, so for over 15 people best to use individual stemmed glasses)
Strawberry, Blueberry, Kiwi, Raspberry, Banana is my plan. A good few hours in the fridge is good for a trifle.
Tuesday, May 5. 2015
Potatoes, mashed or fried, are the most popular side dishes in North America. Rightly so - the original tiny wild potato is from the Americas although it is really inedible.
Whatever you intend to do with a potato, you need to select the variety for the job at hand. If you have ever made gluey mashed taters, or had taters disintegrate in a stew, you know what I mean. Wrong potato. All of our potato types have been genetically-engineered for specific qualities. Special thanks to Mr. Johnson who came up with the Yukon Gold a few years ago.
This is handy: All The Potato Varieties You Need To Know About
As I have commented in the past, it's fun to think about all of the foods the New World native farmers and plant breeders contributed to Old World cuisine. For starters, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, beans, maize, zucchini and summer squash, winter squash and pumpkin, cocoa, strawberry, sunflower, sweet potato, peanut, vanilla, etc. etc.
At the time of the European invasions of the New World, there were few communities of pure hunter-gatherers (eg the Eskimos). Farming was big, supplemented by hunting-gathering. If you recall, the Pilgrims took over Indian hundred-acre cornfields.
Thursday, April 30. 2015
It cooks while it rests.
Sunday, April 12. 2015
I sauteed a pile of chopped carrots, onions, whole head or two of garlic, celery (all skin on) in olive oil until browned.
You always brown bones, meat, and carcasses for a French, Anglo, or American stock. I browned a pile of veal bones, chicken wings, a chicken carcass, and turkey legs in the oven. Then I threw it all in the stewpot with a jug of Chardonnay, a bottle of cheap ruby port, some water, a handful of fresh thyme sprigs and a handful of fresh parley, a handful of frozen blueberries, half of a small can of tomato paste, a handful of dried oyster and porcini mushrooms, and a handful of peppercorns, and low-simmered it all for 6 hours. Three hours with lid on, three hours with lid off.
Then I strained it all, and I am reducing it a bit more. Smells good. Not sure what I would call this, except delicious and fragrant. Not for beef, though. As a base, you can add currants or berries or berry jam to it for a venison sauce, some chopped apple for a pork sauce, mushrooms for a poultry sauce, etc.
It's glace when a stock is reduced to a syrupy state, which I rarely if ever do. You have had glace in restaurants though, on the plate under a piece of meat. I just aim for a thick, intense stock and I call it "jus" or "gravy," although it is not gravy. It's super-jus.
Stocks and glazes, including:
Saturday, April 11. 2015
Wednesday, April 8. 2015
Tuesday, April 7. 2015
Sunday, April 5. 2015
I love deviled eggs. An egg salad sandwich is good too, with some celery in it, lots of pepper, on white bread.
Thanks, Easter Bunny, for laying all those pretty eggs. Easter Eggs for Grown-Up Tastes
What does Resurrection mean? Easter and the Cosmic Christ:
It's that gentle knock that can eventually get you out of the chair or sofa, and open the door.
That painting hangs in St. Paul's in London. I was surprised to see it there.
Thursday, April 2. 2015
Popularly known as Easter. The word Easter comes from the Teutonic goddess of spring, Eustre.
Bon Appetit: Our Ultimate Guide to Easter Food
Easter menus from New York’s restaurant past. Hot Dogs for Easter?
The BD family will also be celebrating another almost- arising from death on Sunday. My father in law recovered from his quadruple bypass after a near-fatal heart failure, returning back home from San Diego on Saturday and we'll all provide an Easter feast for them down in NJ after their Mass - if they can get to Mass. They never miss Mass. At worse, a priest visits but they do not need that yet. Guy emails me that he feels great.
Along the way, he learned that one or two drinks per day can help prevent future heart problems. Will not need to twist this Irishman's arm about that wholesome remedy. It seems mild to moderate alcohol enjoyment prevents heart disease. Diet, otherwise, does not seem to matter at all so no fruits and greens and nuts for this Irish meat and potatoes mensch.
Sunday, March 29. 2015
It's getting into Shad Season now in the Northeast. Just had my first shad roe dinner of the season with pals last night. They made it with a caper and mushroom sauce with chopped bacon on top, on a bed of spinach, with roasted potatoes. It should be fully pink in the middle.
Many of us in Yankeeland welcome this brief season when the Shad migrate from the ocean up the rivers to lay and fertilize the eggs, with the females filled with their delicious egg sacs we call Shad roe.
If you drive over the Hudson River, the Connecticut, or Housatonic bridges, you will see the shad fishermen's nets spread out right now.
The roe, cooked with bacon, is as good as food gets. Do not overcook it - it is Shad caviar. But the meat of the Atlantic Shad (a large type of herring, I believe) is underestimated. It requires an expert boner which makes it expensive, but it's as tasty a fish as exists. The Shad is full of crazy bones.
It's a brief season for Shad, and there are Shad Festivals all over the Northeast.
Photo above is Shad roe. My Mom loved it, and so do I.
Photo below is a Shad fisherman on the Potomac, c. 1900
Saturday, March 28. 2015
Now that we have finally been informed by our intellectual superiors that a real breakfast is healthier than fattening grains and fattening fruit, a new heresy appears to attack the dietary consensus: Breakfast is not important (unless you are a growing child or do physical labor all day)
Of course not. I thrive on coffee for breakfast, maybe with a cigar or some tobacco. A good diner breakfast, much as I love it on the rare occasion, puts me to sleep instead of giving me energy to do things.
Thursday, March 26. 2015
It's the time of year when people begin to cook the game in their freezers. Readers know that I like to make a gallon or so of Gibier Sauce or Gibier Glace each fall or winter, and freeze it.
There are other tasty sauces too for game (or for chicken, pork, even steak) and they are easy, and fun, to make.
Whether it's meat from the field or meat from the market, these sauces are tasty and good fun.
Sunday, March 22. 2015
Cooking is chemistry. The Maillard Reaction is why every amateur cook dreams of a high-powered industrial stovetop with a big gas flame - "Cooking with gas." That way, you can brown things, even fish, while keeping the inside rare. Readers know that's how I cook steak, always on the gas stove (well, sometimes on charcoal for steak, lamb, and Bluefish but it's the same idea.) Chicken is more flavorful browned too regardless of what you use it for after.
To make a great European-style meat stock, you want max flavor. That's why you use the M Reaction to first brown all the bones and meat scraps, and the vegetables too (mushrooms, garlic, carrot, celery, onion, etc), before you throw them into the stewpot with the water, peppercorns, herbs, and wines.
I only use two stovetop heats: Max and Very Low/simmer.
For some recipes you do not want those intense flavors, which is why lots of Asian stew-type recipes use unbrowned meats. Boiled chicken, for example, pork, or shrimp, and lightly boiled vegetables and roots. The Maillard Reaction is thus avoided to permit more subtle flavors. Very pleasant things like like sashimi, carpaccio, steak tartare, etc., take subtle to the max.
Megan talked about browning her beef stew beef in the oven to make it easier. Not a bad idea. Browning chunks of beef or lamb for a stew in a pan is messy, and who will clean the damn pan? And, for a stew, you don't care how well-done the meat is.
Maple sap begins to flow when there are sufficient daily temperature swings between below and above freezing. That tends to be towards late February-early March in New England, depending on latitude and the weather. Curiously, Sugar Maple sap does not just flow up from the roots - it flows both downwards from the branches and up the trunk, depending on the time of day and the whim of the tree.
Our Vermont friends have been busy getting ready for sugarin', so it's time for some info. We tend to think of Vermont maple syrup, but Canada is the major producer. We consume it abundantly in New England and do not approve of the cheap substitute goop in the supermarkets. We buy the real stuff by the gallon when we can, especially the Grades below Light Amber. You can buy the rather intense Grade B here, but I think I prefer the third level of Grade A - Dark Amber. This place sells all of the grades.
- Put it on oatmeal like the Pilgrims did.
Friday, March 13. 2015
With an Irish father-in-law, the boiled dinner is de rigeur around here on, or close to, St. Paddy's Day. I'll make up a big pot this weekend even though he is still in lovely San Diego, slowly on the mend and eager to get home.
I happen to be one of those people who love that New England Boiled Dinner, aka Irish Boiled Dinner, aka (per reader) "a greasy, one-pot slopfest."
Cook the heck out of the meat, for hours, until it almost falls apart. Lots of whole peppercorns, Allspice, cloves, bay leaf, and garlic in the pot.
The carrots are optional, in my view - and the cabbage is the best part. For a large volume of food with generous leftovers for all, I am using 2 packaged corned beefs, 6 turnips, a small bag of carrots, a couple of giant onions, a small bag of parsnips (yum), a bag of potatoes, 2 or 3 large cabbages. That's all that will fit into our largest stewpot.
We're gonna need a bigger stewpot.
A large pot of hot mustard on one side, and a pot of beer on the other side. Great peasant eats, and the spices perfume the entire cabin.
Update: Had to do it in multiple batches but reusing the water from cooking the meat.
Sunday, March 1. 2015
Yummy, quick, cheap and easy for an early winter supper. Best with pancetta, but bacon will do in a pinch. Thin spaghetti, please, always, and more ground pepper than you think. Maybe linguine instead of spaghetti is ok.
Tyler shows you how.
It's sort of a Southern Italian version of bacon and eggs, also good for a 3 am meal after bar-hopping and flirting all night.
But the classic for that purpose is Whore's Spaghetti, the highly-flavored Spaghetti Puttanesca. Capers, olives, and anchovies. White anchovies in jars or fresh, not the disgusting brown ones in tins.
Sunday, February 22. 2015
My favorite winter puddings are Indian Pudding, Bread Pudding, and Plum Pudding (with hard sauce, please).
Bread Pudding is the easiest to make.
All of these puddings require something to be served on top. For Bread Pudding, I've seen Rum Sauce, Lemon Sauce, Vanilla Sauce, etc etc.
Or the old standby, English Custard Sauce. No need to make it yourself - you can buy Bird's at Amazon. Ol' Mr. Bird invented it because his wife had an egg allergy. A bird, allergic to eggs...
God made pitchers for pouring custard.
What are your favorite cold weather desserts?
Wednesday, February 11. 2015
I was raised on these things. In winter, baked beans with hot dogs and toast. Ketchup on the side as the vegetable. I still like that old, filling, Yankee poverty food.
To get it right, probably should use dried Navy Beans, but the canned would work too. A crock pot item? Why not. It should come out firm, not soupy.
Saturday, February 7. 2015
(Page 1 of 21, totaling 515 entries) » next page